Gunning Daily News

Word of the Day

September 6, 2013 6:21 pm

Graduated payment mortgage.  Mortgage loan for which the initial payments are low but increase over the life of the loan.


Q: Is a Home Equity Line of Credit Similar to a Second Mortgage?

September 6, 2013 6:21 pm

A: A home equity loan, like a second mortgage, lets you tap up to about 80 percent of the appraised value of your home, minus your current mortgage balance. But because it is set up as a line of credit, you will not be charged interest until you actually make a withdrawal against the loan, although you will be responsible for paying closing costs.

The withdrawals can be made gradually as you begin to pay contractors and suppliers for handling your remodeling project.

The interest rates on these loans are usually variable.  Of particular importance: make sure you understand the terms of the loan. If, for example, your loan requires that you pay interest only for the life of the loan, you will have to pay back the full amount borrowed at the end of the loan period or risk losing your home.

 


Know How to Keep Young Athletes Playing Safe and Strong

September 6, 2013 6:21 pm

(BPT)—Playing sports is great for kids. It teaches them the importance of teamwork, helps them stay physically active and creates positive habits that last a lifetime. An injury, however, can sideline young athletes for the season - or longer. A recent study by Safe Kids Worldwide identified measures that athletes, coaches and parents can take to prevent serious injuries so kids can stay in the game.

A sports injury sends a young athlete to the emergency room every 25 seconds in the U.S., according to the report "Game Changers." Made possible with support from Johnson & Johnson, the report takes an in-depth look at data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) to explore the types of injuries sidelining young athletes.

"We uncovered some surprising and disturbing data about how often our kids are being injured playing sports," says Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. "But we also found some inspiring stories from people and programs that are making a marked difference and helping kids learn how to play smart, strong and safe."

A few of the most eye-opening findings of the report were:

* The most common types of injuries in 2012 were strains or sprains (33 percent), fractures (18 percent), contusions and abrasions (16 percent), and concussions (12 percent).

* The most commonly injured body parts were ankle (15 percent), head (14 percent), finger (12 percent), knee (9 percent) and face (7 percent).

* While it may not be surprising that the sport with the highest concussion rate is football, wrestling and ice hockey have the second and third highest concussion rates, respectively.

* In sports played by both boys and girls, female athletes were more likely to report concussions than boys.

Safe Kids recommends communities, coaches, parents and athletes adopt four key strategies to help reduce sports-related injuries:

* Get educated and then share your knowledge. Many parents and young athletes dealing with a sports injury say they wish they had known sooner about sports injury prevention resources. Anyone interested in staying at the top of their game can attend a Safe Kids sports clinic or go to www.safekids.org to learn more.

* Teach children how to prevent injury, including staying hydrated, warming up with exercises and stretching, protecting injury-prone areas like pitching arms and knees, and getting plenty of rest between games and throughout the year.

* Make sure kids know not to suffer in silence. Injured athletes may not report how they're feeling because they're worried they will let down their team, coach or parents if they ask to sit out a game or in practice. In reality, speaking up about an injury can help ensure the child suffers no serious, long-term effects - and can return to play sooner.

* Half of coaches who responded to a 2012 Safe Kids survey admitted they'd been pressured by a parent or athlete to keep an injured child in the game. Support coaches when they make injury-prevention decisions that protect the wellbeing of the athlete.

"Most states have laws to protect young athletes from injuries or repeat injuries," Carr says, "but parents and coaches are the front line of protection for our kids. Working together, we can keep our kids active, healthy and safe so they can enjoy the sports they love for a lifetime."

 


Millennials Take New Approach to Work-Life Balance

September 6, 2013 6:21 pm

(BPT)—More and more, Millennials are on the road for work. In an average month, one in four business-traveling Millennials travel overnight for work at least once per week.

As the line between "personal" and "business" grows thinner and thinner for this generation, Millennials are increasingly finding adventure through business. More than any other group, Millennial business travelers are more likely to add on extra days to their business trip for leisure travel (84 percent) according to the Hilton Garden Inn Discovery and Connection Survey. Millennials are funding these adventures through their business trips, too. The vast majority of this group (85 percent) is more likely to use reward points from their business travel to book a vacation, compared to a year ago.

As the economy improves, business travel across the nation is on the rise. According to the Global Business Travel Association, U.S. business travel is expected to grow 5.1 percent in 2013. As more Millennials hit the road for work, they are keeping top of mind a few, simple business travel perks to fulfill their appetite for personal adventure and discovery:

* Fly for free - Those flying for business can earn airline miles in their name. These business miles quickly add up, allowing travelers to upgrade seats or add another destination without accruing additional cost. Business travelers can then use these miles to bring a friend or loved one on the trip with them - quickly transitioning from business to family vacation or romantic getaway once the weekend hits.

* Earn hotel perks - Frequent stays in hotels offering rewards programs can grant business travelers benefits like free overnight stays, late checkout, and complimentary breakfast. These extras turn a business trip into much more, especially when additional nights are used to extend a business trip into a vacation.

* Discover local hidden gems - Cities often encourage business travelers to experience the local culture while in town and provide package deals with discounts to restaurants, tickets to local shows or events, helpful tips to find transportation in the city and even sightseeing opportunities to explore during free time. This becomes even more common when a city is hosting a large business gathering, such as an industry convention.

Millennials continue to be at the forefront of achieving work-life balance - utilizing business travel to discover new cities, explore local cultures, taste authentic cuisines and connect with new people across the country and around the globe.

 


Can Schools Monitor Students on Social Media?

September 6, 2013 6:21 pm

Are schools allowed to monitor their students on social media? Middle and high schools in Glendale, California are doing just that. School officials have hired a company to track 13,000 students' online posts on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and others, paying more than $40,000 a year for the service, CBS News reports.

Glendale's superintendent says the reason behind this somewhat drastic new measure is an emphasis on student safety. It also allows school officials to intervene if students are discussing suicide, violence, substance abuse, or bullying.

What are the legal implications behind this?

Government Action

The Fourth Amendment guarantees U.S. citizens the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures absent a warrant issued with probable cause. But it also requires government action and a reasonable expectation of privacy in what's being searched.

Government action doesn't apply when private persons are conducting the search. For example, if a friend is snooping in another friend's bag, this may be a violation of the bag-owner's privacy, but the Fourth Amendment wouldn't apply because the friend is not a government figure.

In the case of schools monitoring students' social media, however, Glendale's public school district does qualify as a government entity.

No Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

But the "reasonable expectation of privacy" part is where the Fourth Amendment test falls short.

Students in Glendale can't be seen as having a reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to their social media posts, because whatever students are posting can be seen by the general public. Unless the firm hired by the school district is hacking into students' accounts or using their passwords, then there is no Fourth Amendment issue here.

A similar argument can be made when it comes to trash that one leaves out on one's curb. Courts have ruled that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in trash left out by a curb for pickup, because the (former) owner of the trash knowingly put it out there in public.

So while it may seem invasive, the best way for students to approach this situation is to be informed about their rights. If they don't want their social media accounts to be viewed by certain people, they should set their profiles to "private" and limit the amount of information they share.

The social media lesson here: When you have a public profile, there really is no limit as to who can see this information.

 


Word of the Day

September 6, 2013 6:21 pm

Grantee. Person named in a deed who acquires ownership of real estate; the buyer.

 


Q: Do State and Local Governments Offer Home Improvement Programs?

September 6, 2013 6:21 pm

A: Just about every state now offers loans for renovation and rehabilitation at below-market interest rates through its Housing Finance Agency or a similar agency.  Call your governor’s office to get the name and phone number of the agency in your area.  

At the municipal level, many cities also have programs for special improvements to certain blocks and neighborhoods they are trying to spruce up.  Call City Hall, as well as a Community Development Agency in your city.


6 Tips for Keeping Teens Safe on Social Media

September 5, 2013 8:36 pm

Going back to school is about more than shiny shoes and trendy notebooks. It's also about kids making new friends and adding those friends on social network sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

More than 60 percent of teens in the United States have at least one social media account, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. And while being online is a good way to keep in touch with friends, it's important for parents to be proactive about Internet safety.

Unfortunately, there are people who can use your child's personal information to steal identities, bully them or begin an inappropriate relationship. Help protect students from online dangers by following these safety tips:

  • Keep your child's profile private so that only family and people you know see photos, important dates and other information.
  • Make sure they're not posting personal details, including phone numbers, home address, and the name of their school or Social Security number.
  • Only allow them to publish photos and videos that don't jeopardize their safety or their integrity.
  • Make sure they choose a strong password that can't be guessed, and that it gets changed every three months.
  • Never allow them to accept friend requests from people they don't know. 
  • Keep an open dialogue with your children. Ask them to let you know if they've received private messages from a stranger, or from someone at school who is teasing, harassing or threatening them. Those could be signs of cyber-bullying or even a sexual predator.

Source: GobiernoUSA.gov/USA.gov

 


Life insurance 101: What You Need to Know

September 5, 2013 8:36 pm

(BPT) - Life insurance. Everyone says it's important, but it can be a difficult topic to talk about and even more difficult to understand. However, it is critical to understand this topic because of its importance to building your financial strategy.

Life insurance can help you provide for the people and organizations you care about. Choosing the right life insurance solution gives you peace of mind knowing your loved ones will be taken care of. Here's a quick primer from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans on some of the most common types of life insurance.

* Term life insurance - Temporary life insurance that offers a death benefit and is generally less expensive than permanent insurance. It's ideal for short-term life insurance needs, like when you are raising a family, paying off a mortgage or starting a business.

* Whole life insurance - Permanent life insurance that gives you a guaranteed death benefit, guaranteed level premiums and a guaranteed cash value that increases each year. The guarantees are contingent on all premiums being paid and no loans or changes being made to the contract.

* Whole life plus term protection - Permanent life insurance with added flexibility. It lets you "dial-in" your premium to the level of whole life and term insurance desired. This insurance offers lifetime protection through a blend of whole life insurance plus term insurance and paid-up additional coverage.

* Universal life insurance - Permanent life insurance that allows you to increase or decrease your death benefit and your premium is flexible; subject to any limitations in the contract. Accumulated value in a universal life contract earns interest at the current rate, with a minimum rate stated in the contract.

* Variable universal life insurance - Permanent life insurance that gives you a flexible premium and the potential to build accumulated value. However, death benefits and other values may vary, because you direct how the cash is invested among the investment portfolios offered. The investment performance has no guarantees and you could lose money.

How much life insurance should you have?

When purchasing life insurance, think about your goals for your overall financial strategy, your economic value to your loved ones and your wishes for your survivors.

First you'll need to calculate your economic value - the value of your future earnings over your lifetime. To do so, consider the following factors:

* Your current annual earnings.

* The amount your annual earnings increase.

* How many years you plan to work until retirement.

* The rate of return you expect your invested assets to earn.

Use these numbers as a starting point when you sit with a financial professional to determine the level of coverage you might need. Remember to consider how much of your future economic value you want to replace in the event of your death. This will depend on the financial goals you set for yourself and your survivors.

Life insurance is an essential part of any healthy financial program. It is important that you choose what's right for you and your situation and that you plan accordingly with a licensed professional.

Source: Thrivent.com/disclosures.


6 Sleep-Friendly Bedroom Tips for Your Kids

September 5, 2013 8:36 pm

As kids transition from summer vacations, picnics and barbecues, to homework, sports and after-school activities, they're faced with plenty of new challenges to conquer … one of which may be lack of sleep.

While it varies from child to child, experts say school-aged children need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep per night, depending on their age. But research suggests that more than 2/3 of children suffer from some kind of sleep issue, which can lead to drowsiness, obesity, inability to focus, substandard academic performance, irritability, low self-esteem and more.

"Back-to-school time can be an exciting time for kids," says Brenda Dillon, VP of Merchandising. "Unfortunately, with earlier mornings and piles of homework, as well as new activities and social demands, it can also lead to less down time and more disruptions to their sleep. But just a few simple changes to their bedroom environment can help give them the sleep they need to face the day, refreshed and ready to go."

Here are six simple back-to-school tips from Ashley Furniture HomeStore to help make their bedrooms more sleep-friendly:

  1. Nix the light. Too much light can wreak havoc on a good night's sleep. Be sure to keep your child's bedroom as dark as possible by adjusting the blinds or curtains, turning off the TV, nightlight, illuminated alarm clock or any other disruptive light source.
  2. Help them keep their cool. Did you know that the ideal room temperature for sleeping is between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit? Set the thermostat accordingly to give them a better night's rest.
  3. Let in some fresh air. Oftentimes, unpleasant odors can impact your child's level of sleep. Allowing fresh air into their room each day can help get rid of bad odors, as can choosing aromas that tend to relax (e.g. lavender, chamomile, rose).
  4. Create a bedroom that's uniquely "them."  A bedroom should be a comfortable, clean, inviting place that reflects your child's personality and taste. Help them keep their rooms neat and orderly with creative storage solutions, including kids' storage beds, cubes, or dressers. And be sure they have some freedom to choose the bedding, décor or accessories that reflect their own style.
  5. Say "no" to TV in the bedroom. Reserving this space for sleep alone will lead to a more restful environment and better night's sleep for your kids.
  6. Be sure they have a good mattress. Nothing wreaks havoc on a good night's sleep like an uncomfortable bed. If you can't afford a new mattress for your child, consider investing in a gel or memory-foam mattress topper, as well as new sheets with a good thread count. Pillows should be replaced every year.

Source: AshleyFurnitureHomeStore.com.