Gunning Daily News

Four Tips for Fall Car Care Month

October 3, 2013 6:57 pm

October is Fall Car Care Month, so use it as an excuse to make sure your vehicle is ready for the harsh winter weather ahead. Taking a few simple steps now can save you the headaches and cost of an emergency breakdown later, says the Car Care Council.

Whether you do it yourself or take your car to a professional service technician, the Car Care Council recommends the following proactive steps to make sure your car is ready for winter driving.

Battery – Keep the battery connections clean, tight and corrosion-free. Cold weather is hard on batteries, so it's wise to check the battery and charging system. Because batteries don't always give warning signs before they fail, it is advisable to replace batteries that are more than three years old.  

Heater, Defrosters and Wiper Blades – Check that the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system are working properly as heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and for safety reasons, such as defrosting. Wiper blades that are torn, cracked or don't properly clean your windshield should be replaced. As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months. When changing the blades, be sure to also check the fluid level in the windshield washer reservoir.

Tires – Check the tires, including the tire pressure and tread depth. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly as tires lose pressure when temperatures drop.

Brakes – Have the brake system checked, including brake linings, rotors and drums. Brakes are critical to vehicle safety and particularly important when driving on icy or snow-covered roads.

"Getting your vehicle ready for winter while temperatures are still mild is a proactive approach to preventive maintenance that helps ensure safety, reliability and fewer unexpected repairs when severe winter weather strikes," says Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

Source: www.carcare.org


Word of the Day

October 3, 2013 6:57 pm

Blanket mortgage. Single mortgage that covers more than one real property, i.e. – a house plus the vacant lot next door.


Q: How Do I Qualify for a Home Loan?

October 3, 2013 6:57 pm

A: Your real estate agent has information on lender loan requirements and will be able to calculate a rough monthly figure you can afford based on the maximum monthly payment for the loan, taxes, insurance, and any type of maintenance fees.  This pre-purchase evaluation by the agent can save you a lot of time spent looking at properties you cannot afford.  

Lenders also routinely calculate what you can afford and can pre-qualify you for a loan even before you begin your home search.  This way, you know exactly how much you can afford to buy.  

Lenders generally stipulate that you spend no more than 28 percent of your gross monthly income on a mortgage payment or 36 percent on total debts.

Ultimately, the price you can afford to pay for a home will also depend on other factors besides your gross income and outstanding debts.  They include the amount of cash you have available for the down payment, your credit history, current interest rates, closing costs and cash reserves required by the lender, and the type of mortgage you select.


Tips and Tricks for Planning the Perfect Halloween

October 2, 2013 6:00 pm

BPT—Planning the perfect Halloween can be pretty spooky, and it's not just because of the ghosts and ghouls that run from door to door. Coordinating Halloween activities, planning a festive party and pulling off the perfect costume for each family member can be frightening. But with a few technology tricks, you'll be rewarded with a lot of treats and plenty of fun to make this holiday one to remember.

Eerie e-vites set the tone for parties

Planning a Halloween party? Email invites are perfectly acceptable for a casual soiree. Send out e-vites a few weeks ahead of time to give friends and family plenty of notice. Be sure to mention that costumes are encouraged, and list any other important details, like if the party is potluck style. The best part of email invites is you'll receive RSVPs electronically, so you can track responses and get the perfect amount of party supplies for all attendees. And if you have an Outlook.com email account, you can flag RSVPs to the top of your inbox for easy reference, and instantly chat with friends on Facebook, Skype or Gmail to firm up last minute details, right from your inbox.

Scary inbox? Organize email easily

If your inbox is a scary sight, it's time to tap your magic wand for an organization transformation. With Outlook.com, it's easy to sort through hundreds of messages in a few clicks. You can use the "sweep" feature to get rid of outdated emails you don't need, like all those costume coupon deals that have expired. 

Frightful or friendly, find the perfect costume

Whether young or old, Halloween is a time to let imaginations run wild and play pretend for the day. Finding the perfect costume for each member of the family can be a difficult and costly process. Track sales from your favorite Halloween supply stores and subscribe to email newsletters to get the latest alerts on costume trends and discounts. After Halloween is over, you can use Outlook.com's one-click unsubscribe to get off all those emails lists with little effort.

Access the perfect trick-or-treat schedule

Hit the candy motherload and have fun with all the neighborhood kids and parents by plotting your trick-or-treat schedule ahead of time. Upload it to SkyDrive and everyone can access it while en route on any device. Then, all you have to do is get your flashlights, candy bags and giggles ready.

Share boo-tiful photos from the day's festivities

Whether you love your smartphone or are a diehard digital camera guru, there are bound to be plenty of fun photos the group needs to exchange. Use Outlook.com and SkyDrive together to share all your Halloween snaps in one mail - the file size doesn't matter - and they will arrive in slideshow format! There's no limit to the number of photos you can share and, since they're all stored on SkyDrive, you can access them on any device anywhere, anytime. Share with Grandma and Grandpa, or gather the kids and relive the Halloween fun over and over again.

 


5 Fast Personal Finance Tips from GreenPath Debt Solutions

October 2, 2013 6:00 pm

As the U.S. government faces its first days of furloughs, many government workers are facing days off without pay. GreenPath Debt Solutions, a nationwide, non-profit credit counseling and education organization, with offices across the United States, reminds furloughed employees that they need to have a plan in place, when it comes to their personal finances.

Here are some steps:

1. Set Up a Budget - Many people think if they have money in their account at the end of the month, they are doing okay. "While this may work in some cases, individuals who may see a drastic cut in their income will need to prepare ahead to make sure their expenses are covered," said David Flores, GreenPath counselor.

A simple way to build a budget is list all income. Then, list all your major expenses (mortgage, car payment, insurance premiums and utilities, etc.) and subtract from your net income. From there, track other expenses, like groceries, gasoline and credit cards.

2. Maintain Your Budget – "Years ago, we taught our clients to place cash each month in an envelope system, for a certain expense," said Flores. "Nowadays, we teach the envelope system as a budgeting concept with the idea that you only spend what has been allotted, and once it's gone, you stop spending." Try to maintain each monthly allotment without borrowing from other "envelopes."

3. Track your Expenses - Tracking expenses is a key aspect of maintaining the budget that you have created. If you do not track your expenses, there is no way of knowing whether you are staying within the budget you have established. "The most basic tracking method involves writing down all of your expenses in a notebook every day," said Flores. "Another tracking technique involves saving receipts for purchases and documenting that information in a notebook or on your computer."

4. Have the Talk – Communication is key when it comes to personal finance. Flores said that individuals should sit down today with their spouse and family and have an honest discussion about money. "People have misconceptions about how they should use money in a household," he said. "Some view money as something they should spend freely each month, while someone else looks at money as something that needs to be saved." Furloughed employees need to talk now about what steps they will take today, in case the government shut-down goes on for an extended amount of time.

5. Ask for Help – GreenPath Debt Solutions offers free debt counseling and coaching sessions, in-person, over the phone or Internet, with no obligation. "We work with thousands of people each year in helping them build a budget and a work plan to prepare for the future," said Flores. "We provide impartial advice from an experienced, degreed professional credit counselor."

A GreenPath counselor will thoroughly assess household income and expenses, find places to save, and develop a customized budget and action plan for achieving personal finance goals. "We encourage any furloughed employee, who has questions around budgeting and expenses, to reach out to us today for free help," he said.

Source: www.greenpath.org.

 


Protect Your Kids from Cyberbullying

October 2, 2013 6:00 pm

Cyberbullying is more than just "kids being kids." While it generally starts as a face-to-face encounter with someone the victim knows, texts and social media can quickly evolve the situation into widespread harassment and public humiliation. Digital abuse or "cyberbullying" can take many forms from sending mean messages or threats, spreading rumors, posting unflattering pictures or pretending to be someone else online. More than 80 percent of teens use cell phones regularly, and about half have experienced some kind of abuse through social and digital media.

"Cyberbullying is a growing issue and it's critical that young people understand the consequences of what they post online," says Ann Cosimano, General Counsel of ARAG®, a global provider of legal solutions.  "Even something intended as a joke could reflect badly on them later when they apply for college or a job. And if remarks are intended to hurt or harass someone, the sender could lose a cell phone or online account. As laws in every state become stricter, cyberbullies – and their parents – are more frequently facing legal charges for harassment."

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, an annual event created to unite communities and educate the public on how to protect children from the effects of bullying.  It's a good opportunity to talk with your children and find out more about their school and online experiences with cyberbullying. Consider these tips to as a way to start the conversation and stay safer online.

"Once your child has a personal phone or social media account, it's time to explain the consequences of what's posted," says Cosimano. "Set – and keep – boundaries that consider loss of phone or computer privileges if damaging pictures or messages are posted or forwarded."

  • Make sure teens know that what goes online, stays online. "Any electronic message is, or can be, made, public very easily," says Cosimano. "I remind my kids regularly: if you don't want everyone to know, don't send it online. Better yet, follow the old adage, if you'd be embarrassed if it was published on the front page of the newspaper, then don't write it."
  • Encourage your children to tell an adult if they see cyberbullying happen. Let them know they will not be punished if they are the victim and reassure them that being bullied is not their fault.
  • If your child is harassed, keep all cyberbullying messages as proof. Depending on the severity of the message, parents may want to involve the school or the police. While going directly to the bully's parents might provide relief, it is not always practical or possible. In this case, letting the school, the cell phone carrier or Internet service provider intervene may be an effective first step.
  • If necessary, block the person who is sending harassing messages. You may also need to get a new phone number or email address and be cautious about who receives the new contact information.
  • "Make sure teens never share passwords with anyone except a parent," says Cosimano. "Don't write it down or place it in a place where others could find it."
  • Parents may want to keep the computer in a shared space such as a family room and limit Internet access in a teen's room. "It's also important to have times when everyone simply turns off all the technology. It's tough when everyone is busy, but set boundaries at meal time or a certain time in the evening when everyone turns off cell phones, tablets and computers."

Source: www.araggroup.com

 


Word of the Day

October 2, 2013 6:00 pm

Mortgage company or mortgage banker. Financial intermediary that offers mortgages to borrowers, and then resells them to various lending institutions, government agencies, or private investors.


Q: Home Sales and Taxes: What about Repairs Made to Get the Home Ready for Sale?

October 2, 2013 6:00 pm

A: If you realize a taxable gain after you sell your home, even with an exclusion, you can reduce your gain with selling costs.  These selling costs may include items that are otherwise considered to be repairs – such as painting, wallpapering, even planting flowers – if you complete them within 90 days of your home sale and provided they were completed to make the home more saleable.


10 Great Dollar Store Buys

October 1, 2013 6:15 pm

If you are pinching pennies, a dollar store can be your best friend. Not everything there is truly a bargain. But consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch recommends 10 dollar store purchases that offer good quality as well as big savings:

  • Cleaning supplies – According the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, most dollar store cleaning supplies work just as well as name brands at a savings of 30% or more – and that includes sponges, mops, and scrub brushes.
  • Food containers – Plastic food containers in all shapes and sizes cost a fraction of the name brands at retail stores and will keep your food fresh just as well.
  • Gift wrap and bags – They will probably be of lesser quality than what you find at the party store. But they are just as attractive, and since most bags and wraps are discarded anyway, why pay so much more than you need to?
  • Greeting cards – Cards may cost as little as fifty cents at the dollar store. You may not find a great selection, for many occasions you will find them a worthwhile buy.
  • Holiday items – From Halloween centerpieces to Christmas décor and Valentine’s Day items, you will find a huge selection of holiday items and candy at the dollar store.
  • Party supplies - You can find paper plates, napkins, and plastic utensils in a variety of colors at the dollar store for about a third of the cost at party supply stores and less than half what you’ll pay at the grocery store. Also look for streamers, plastic tablecloths and helium balloons at great prices.
  • Personal grooming items – Hair bushes, tooth brushes, tooth pastes and deodorants are significantly less expensive at the dollar store.
  • Picture frames – You may be amazed at the variety of picture frames in all sizes available for a buck at the dollar store. Look like a hero and frame your children’s artworks for practically nothing.
  • Scented candles – You can find these in a variety of sizes and colors for a dollar, compared to three bucks or more at other stores.
  • Shampoo and conditioner – Unless you are loyal to one particular label, you will probably find that most shampoos and conditioners from the dollar stores do as good a job as their name-brand counterparts.  

Q: What Is a Second Mortgage?

October 1, 2013 6:15 pm

A: It is a loan against the equity in your home.  Financial institutions will generally let you borrow up to 80 percent of the appraised value of your home, minus the balance of your original mortgage.

You may incur all the fees normally associated with a mortgage, including closing costs, title insurance, and processing fees.

Home improvement loans are often written as second mortgages.  And sometimes you can get a college tuition loan by using a second mortgage.

In case of default, the loan is paid off from the proceeds of the sale of the property, after the first mortgage has been paid off first.