Gunning Daily News

Winter Travel Tips for 2014

January 10, 2014 9:06 pm

In the frosty days of winter, a vacation is often extremely appealing. For those traveling this winter, keep in mind these tips, offered by Getaroom:

  • Ski off the beaten track. Consider smaller and less crowded ski destinations in Colorado or New England instead of Aspen or Killington. Many lesser-known resorts offer considerably lower rates to attract ski season travelers.
  • Bring a jacket to Sin City. Vegas is cold during the winter, but all of the gaming and entertainment options are still hot. Travelers visiting Las Vegas from Sunday to Thursday can enjoy the lowest rates of the year at five-star hotels.
  • Pick smart flights. If you are headed to warmth such as Miami or Phoenix, then route your flight through southern layovers. The flight with the stop in Detroit might be $20 cheaper, but is it worth the risk of bad winter weather?
  • Find the right hotel. offers a call center staffed by travel experts who help winter explorers find the optimal hotel room for their needs and budget. Ask for's unpublished rate which is typically 10-20 percent less than the lowest rate online.
  • Check in on Sunday. Traditionally a "check-out" day, Sunday is an ideal day to start your trip because rates are often lower than the typical Friday or Saturday check-in rates.
  • Stay informed. Use your phone to check flight statuses and weather alerts. If your flight is canceled you are often better off using the phone to make new arrangements instead of waiting in a long service desk line.
  • Be polite. Winter travel can be unpredictable. It's not the airline's fault that it's snowing or there is freezing rain. They canceled flights for your safety, not to ruin your vacation. Be as polite as you can to encourage airline and hotel staff to take the extra step to help you out.
  • Consider nontraditional destinations. NYC can be magical in winter time, with carriage rides and the city lights reflecting in the snow. Getaroom has many first class hotels in the $100 a night range this winter. Go towards the cold to experience a destination in a new way, and avoid big summer crowds.
  • Prepare your car. Be very careful when planning a northern car trip during the winter. Pack extra clothes, blankets, and food in order to ensure you are ready for the unexpected. Grab a car cell phone charger or a portable battery charging device for that extra peace of mind.
  • Winter travel doesn't need to be a nightmare. Through proper planning and a little bit of luck, savvy travelers can have a great trip, whether it's a ski trip or a beach trip to Florida or the Caribbean.


When to Repair and When to Replace

January 10, 2014 9:06 pm

Deciding whether to repair a broken product or replace it often feels like an expensive guess.

"Repairing broken items or keeping them going as long as possible isn't always the best way to save money," says Celia Kuperszmid-Lehrman, Deputy Content Editor of Home and Appliances for Consumer Reports. "Our report spells out how much repairs usually cost, brands that breakdown and those that don't and cheap fixes you can handle to save money."

Tips on How to Save

Consumer Reports surveyed 29,281 subscribers about their product experiences as part of its 2013 Online Annual Questionnaire. Here's what consumers need to know:

  • Products aren't breaking faster. The repair rates of most products in the latest survey are similar to the 2010 survey results. Some products are breaking less often. For example, laptops had a repair rate of 24 percent, down from 36 percent in 2010.
  • Avoiding a lemon. Check Consumer Reports' "What Breaks and What Doesn't" lists for the most temperamental product types and – from repair-history surveys – the most and least reliable brands for each. GE electric ranges were reliable, for example, while Jenn-Air and KitchenAid were both repair-prone brands, according to the survey. 
  • Save money on repairs. People who used independent repair shops were more satisfied with the repairs than those who used factory service. No matter who does the repair, don't spend more than 50 percent of the cost of a new product on repairing an old one.
  • Warranties don't improve satisfaction. People who had a service contract or an extended warranty weren't any happier with their repairs. They were actually more likely to have had repairs done incorrectly the first time around than people without those contracts and waited at least two weeks for repairs.

Source: Consumer Reports

Tips for Protecting a Home from the Ravages of Winter

January 10, 2014 9:06 pm

As temperatures across the nation reaching dangerous levels, now is the time to make sure that your home is prepared to deal with the icy conditions. Fremont Insurance, a Michigan-exclusive property and casualty insurance carrier, offers a few tips to help homeowners protect their homes against two of the most significant winter risks: ice dams and frozen pipes.

"Certain areas of the country are notorious for their severe winters and the extensive damage that they can do," said Kevin Kaastra, Chief Marketing Officer for Fremont Insurance. "There are some simple things that you can do to prepare your home, and also some steps to take throughout the winter to help minimize your risk."

Ice Dams occur when heavy snow buildup melts during the day then refreezes as temperatures drop overnight. After several days of this cycle, the melted water and ice work up under the shingles entering the attic and damaging ceilings, walls and contents.  To help prevent dams from forming:

  • Keep gutters and down spouts clear of debris, snow and ice, so melting roof snow can flow
  • Keep snow on your roof to a minimum. Roof rakes let you stand on the ground to safely pull the snow off the roof
  • Evaluate attic insulation and ventilation.  Good airflow is essential to a cool, dry attic

Frozen Water Pipes cause extensive damage to many homes and businesses every winter. If you think turning the heat down while you're away or on vacation will save you money, think again. If your water pipes freeze and burst, it could cause thousands of dollars in damage. Homeowners can take some simple preventive measures:

  • Locate and insulate pipes susceptible to freezing – typically near outer walls, in crawl spaces, or in the attic
  • Wrap pipes with UL-approved heat tape and seal air leaks  
  • Disconnect garden hoses and shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets  
  • Drain and shut off the water supply (except indoor sprinkler systems) if you expect to be away for several days
  • Have someone check regularly to ensure the heat is still on and things are okay
  • Make sure you and your family knows how to shut off the water to your home

If you do discover frozen pipes:

  • Never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch
  • If pipes burst, stop the flow of water as soon as possible to minimize damage
  • Be mindful of the risk of electric shock in and around standing water
  • Call a plumber and contact your insurance agent right away


Word of the Day

January 10, 2014 9:06 pm

Fixtures. Any personal property that has been permanently attached to real property and therefore included in the transfer of real estate. The kitchen sink is a fixture.

Q: What Is Guaranteed Replacement Cost Insurance?

January 10, 2014 9:06 pm

A: The most comprehensive insurance policy is guaranteed replacement cost coverage, which will pay to rebuild your home even if the cost to rebuild is more than your policy limit.

This kind of coverage is more expensive and can cost from about $400 to $1,000 a year or more, depending on the area and the price of the home. However, even if you can afford it, this insurance is not available everywhere or for every property. For example, older homes may not be eligible. And some big insurance companies have begun to limit the amount they will pay to 120 percent of the policy's face value.

Simple Tips to Stick to Your Resolution

January 10, 2014 8:06 pm

The start of a new year is often a time for reflection and a resolve to change. Whether the resolutions are big or small, most people by now are already starting down the path to a new and better version of themselves. A new WebMD survey about resolutions revealed that one in three women are making 2014 resolutions each January but almost 60 percent end up dropping them by the end of March.


While the WebMD survey results indicated that most people resolve to exercise and lose weight, others vow to commit to different healthy habits such as getting organized (39 percent), being happier (39 percent), and learning something new (37 percent) – all of which make the list for 2014 resolutions.


An overwhelming 79 percent of women said that the best way to get them motivated to stay on course would be by following small, achievable tips and advice that would make a measurable impact on their health. These tips, provided by Colgate, offer easy-to-follow steps to help women stay on track for a better, healthy lifestyle this year.

  • See Your Doctor – Many of us can fall into the habit of just going to the doctor when we aren't feeling well. Break that cycle by scheduling your annual physical and check-up and start going to the doctor when you are feeling fine.
  • Take a Walk – Working in front of a computer all day can lead to poor posture and eye strain. Try taking a short walk every 30 minutes to give your eyes a break and get a boost of energy.
  • Disconnect – Technology is everywhere. Take some time to disconnect and get away from the TV and other gadgets. Spending time away from the screen with your family or even alone may be just the break you are looking for.
  • Bring the Gym Home – Expensive gyms aren't the only way to get fit. Purchase a jump rope or resistant bands and look for small pockets of time throughout the day when you can get in your own personal workout without having the leave your house.
  • Refresh Your Mouth Health - Add oral care to your healthy checklist this year.


Four Tips for Financial Success

January 10, 2014 8:06 pm

According to the Fidelity 2014 New Year Financial Resolutions Study, 54 percent of respondents are planning a financial resolution in 2014, up from 46 percent last year. With the new year officially underway, millions of Americans will be looking for ways to achieve their financial goals.

Robert Lindquist, Ashford University professor and author of "Financial Independence for the New Generation," offers four strategic tips for managing money and creating personal wealth:

  • Money Is Freedom – To accumulate wealth, we need to save money. This seems simple but many people say that bills prevent them from saving. The trick is not focusing on the amount of savings, but the process. Because it takes discipline to save money, the key is semi-enforced saving – paying yourself first and using leftovers for bills and other needs. Even $1 a day will make a difference.
  • Cut the Card – If money equals freedom, debt equals servitude. We live in a credit-driven society, with high credit card balances and finance rates. Although we need to establish credit for larger purchases, such as a home, the key is to avoid creating debt. To reduce credit card obligations, it's necessary to cut the cards and apply any extra money, such as a bonus or birthday gift to debt reduction. Creating a strategic plan for lowering balances and switching to a debit card can expedite the process.
  • Know Your Debits & Credits – It's important to understand monthly spending patterns and to budget accordingly. This entails creating a personal income statement to identify revenues and expenses, and a balance sheet to determine financial worth. Just taking a look at spending by category can help plan for future expenses. Understanding the difference between a need and a want and carving out money for emergencies will further ensure a well-balanced budget.
  • Invest in Your Future – Many are intimidated by the term 'investment' and unsure about the steps for securing a profitable future. Although an average person may not want to play the stock market, they can invest in their future with basic investment plans, such as an IRA or a 401(k). Additionally, owning property offers a number of financial benefits so a home purchase can be a great investment.

Source: Ashford University

Write Better Bios to Attract More Clients

January 10, 2014 8:06 pm

Writing a client-attracting bio can be a time-consuming challenge that keeps many self-employed business owners, authors, coaches, and speakers feeling frustrated and stuck.  They want "bio pride" but continue to suffer from "bio cringe."

"There is a story-struggle and message-muddle epidemic in force that needs relief now," says Bye-Bye Boring Bio Author and Business Bio Expert Nancy Juetten. "Let the healing for boring business bios begin because 'The Bio Doc' is in."

Juetten offers tips to make a powerful first impression with well-chosen words quickly:

  • Define the priority. Cater the message to serve the need at hand – client attraction, media interviews, or speaking engagements. Juetten says that one-size bios do not suit all situations.
  • Lead with the role that has the greatest potential to attract clients now. "Author/Speaker/Coach is a list of roles as opposed to an intoxicating message about results that a reader can't wait to learn more about," Juetten explains.
  • Reflect on the who, the how and the wow. Specify the ideal client and the compelling result the client can expect to welcome to invite an easy YES decision.
  • Identify the specific, terrific results for clients in crystal clear terms. "Readers need to know that relief or compelling benefits are within reach with you as their service provider, and be willing to invest," Juetten says.
  • Add personality. "What quick stories or sound bites can you share?" Juetten suggests. "People hire me for my head, pay me for my heart, and trust me most when I use both," is an example from Steve Juetten, Certified Financial Planner. It sets the tone to create a relationship and invites clients to lean in to learn more."
  • "Content over Cute" is a good rule of thumb. Name and claim geography and expertise – such as 'Fee-only financial planner, Bellevue, WA.' Then, it is easy for clients searching for that expertise to find, call, and do business," Juetten says.


The Evolution of a Viral Video

January 8, 2014 7:57 pm

The video of a blonde, 5-year-old exuberantly singing, “Santa was his name-O!” during a kindergarten holiday concert while simultaneously translating in American Sign Language captured hearts around the world.

It made headlines and news broadcasts from the New York Daily News and the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail to ABC News and network affiliates coast to coast.

Claire Koch’s mother, Lori Koch, says she posted the video on YouTube because she thought it was “share worthy.” Claire, who is not hearing impaired, has grown up with sign language because her mom and dad, Tom, are deaf. Still, her parents were surprised to see her signing every song for them.

“We don’t use Claire to interpret for us – she did it because that’s how she communicates with us,” says Koch. “Fortunately, the days of parents having to rely on their children to interpret are gone. There’s so much great technology available now for the deaf.”

Koch works at Stratus Video/ZVRS,, the video relay services provider for the deaf and hard-of-hearing that’s developing a lot of that technology.

“Video relay service allows people to make phone calls without relying on friends and family. Video Remote Interpretation opens up whole new worlds of communication possibilities.”

So, how did little Claire’s video go viral? Lori deconstructs the evolution:

• She uploaded her video to YouTube because it seemed “share worthy.”  Music videos are by far the most popular on YouTube – “Gangnam Style” by PSY is the all-time No. 1 most-viewed; Justin Bieber’s “Baby” is No. 2. Humor does well, as do videos with incredibly unusual content. Super cute kids and animals can also attract attention. Lori’s video combines almost all of those elements: The kids are singing holiday songs; little Claire hams it up with a humorous performance; and she’s adorable. Seeing such a young child who is not deaf signing away so expertly may also qualify as incredibly unusual.

• A major world news event involving sign language broke. “The story about the fake fiasco at Nelson Mandela’s funeral came up,” Koch says, referring to the deaf “interpreter” who signed gibberish as he stood alongside global leaders. “That gave me the opportunity to get attention for my story. … Claire’s video put a positive highlight on a bad experience.

• Using the funeral interpreter as a news hook, Lori shared her video with influential people via social media. “I sent the video to some famous people, like Piers Morgan, and news outlets, via Twitter,” she says.  That significantly ramped up her exposure, which included a retweet by Academy Award-winning deaf actress Marlee Matlin, who commented, “This is too cute. Can you spot the child who has deaf parents?”

Lori says Claire was a bit overwhelmed by her 15 minutes-plus of fame, but enjoyed it.

“At school, some fifth-graders came up to her and introduced themselves by finger-spelling their names in sign language,” Lori says. “She was really inspired by that.”

As for her daughter’s potential future as an interpreter for the deaf, Lori says, “I’d rather see her on the stage.

“She can be whatever she wants to be.”

What to Buy in January

January 8, 2014 7:57 pm

Most shoppers think linens in January – and with good reason, since January White Sales have been a staple in the American economy since 1878, when department store magnate John Wanamaker introduced them.

But, according to Huffington Post consumer watcher Jeanette Pavini, there are at least seven other January sale items worth looking into:

  • Furniture – Many manufacturers release new furniture designs in February, which means stores need to clear out inventory now. It’s an especially good time to buy dining room furniture, because pieces not sold in time for the holidays will be deeply discounted now.
  • Gym memberships - Gyms depend on New Year's resolutions to get members in the door, so look for incentives like a waived enrollment fee. But, because many gym memberships go unused, avoid long-term commitments. You can bargain for a good rate, but also negotiate a month-to-month until you're positive the gym is for you.
  • Winter produce – It’s soup and stew season – and diet time – and also the best time to find low prices on healthful seasonal produce like members of the cabbage family including cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, and root vegetables like beets and turnips.
  • Fine jewelry – The holiday gifting season’s over and it’s slow at the jewelry store, making this a good month (before Valentine’s Day) to buy some bling.
  • Gift cards – Right after Christmas, many people are trying to exchange gift cards for something they will actually use. Look on gift card exchange websites to buy cards at a discounted rate. They sell for up to 35 percent less than face value (although around 10 percent seems to be the norm for more popular stores), and you can even purchase them for practical items like groceries, gas or office supplies.
  • Calendars – If you can stay organized on your own until mid-January without a calendar, you’ll be able to save over 50 percent on 2014 calendars and planners for your desk, home office or handbag.