Gunning Daily News

Word of the Day

August 13, 2013 8:42 pm

Maturity date. Date on which principal and interest on a mortgage or other loan must be paid in full.


Q: Can a home be sold for less than its mortgage?

August 13, 2013 8:42 pm

A: Sometimes. But it is a complicated process and a lot will depend on the lender.

This process is called a “short sale,” which occurs when a lender agrees to write off the portion of a mortgage that's higher than the value of a home. But, usually, a buyer must be willing to purchase the property first.

A short sale may be more complicated if the loan has been sold in the secondary market.  Then the lender will need permission from Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, the two major secondary-market players.

If the loan was a low down payment mortgage with private mortgage insurance, the lender also will need to involve the mortgage insurance company that insured the low down payment loan.

The short sale can keep the homeowner from landing in bankruptcy or foreclosure. But it is not an easy procedure to approve, and it involves as much, if not more, paperwork than an original mortgage application.

Instead of proving your credit worthiness and financial stability, you must prove you are broke. And any remaining difference between your home's value and the balance on your mortgage is considered a forgiveness of debt, which usually means it is taxable income.

Splash Your Autumn World With The Latest Colors

August 13, 2013 7:40 pm

Did you ever wonder where they come up with the colors that will lead predominant interior design trends for the next year? I recently came across a great piece from Gudy Herder of Eclectic Trends, who appears on

Herder recently attended a trend conference forum from Mix Global Color Research in London, where Sallie Davies from Global Color Research gave her a sneak peak at the newest color and pattern trends for Fall/Winter 2013-14.

If you’ve ever wanted to know how trends are established, Herder explains that Global Color Research holds biennial sessions bringing together top experts from all over the globe from different industries. Trends that are being observed and shared at these events are done two years in advance.

It’s all about future thinking, discussing certain influences, bringing in their own insights, collaborating, and at the end, defining the trends, Herder says. And she is interested to see how every kind of environmental, economic or psychological issues might influence a new trend.

The major trends that are influencing the color and pattern landscape for the upcoming season Fall/Winter 2013/14 are: Flint, Storm, Clash, Alpine.

Herder says there is a certain Neolithic style going back to our roots reflected by rich earth soil colors, warm neutrals, rust. Primitive aesthetics, organic and handmade themes, found objects meant to express our own personality.

She says sophisticated and soft, rough and ready are the opposites that play nicely together. Thick leathers, hemp yarns and rustic and fossil textures are key for Flint category colors like taupey Lascaux, rich rusty Mammoth, and the classic Bone.

We'll come back in the next report and examine the balance of the 2013/14 fall/winter color trends. And take a look at all the color palettes here.


Taming the 'First Day of Kindergarten' Jitters

August 13, 2013 7:40 pm

For many children, going to kindergarten is just a continuation of preschool. For others, it is truly a milestone – perhaps the first time they will be leaving Mom and Dad behind to go off on their own. Whichever it is for your child, the American School Counselor Association suggests 10 things you can do to ensure a smooth transition:

  • Review the route – If your child will be walking to school, take a few practice walks, pointing out landmarks and where the crossing guards will be. Whether walking or busing, be sure he knows where you will drop him off and pick him up.
  • Visit the teacher and the classroom – Most schools are happy to have your child visit a few days before classes begin. Call to make an appointment.
  • Buy supplies together – Take your child to pick out a backpack, a lunch box, and basic school supplies.
  • Make sure clothes are kid-friendly – Choose easy zippers, Velcro shoe closures, and clothing that is easy for kids to maneuver through bathroom trips, recess, etc.
  • Adjust his or her body clock – If summer has meant later bedtimes and wake-ups, start at least a week before school starts to adjust your child’s body clock in preparation for school.
  • Set the scene – Designate where your child will store his backpack, where after school snacks may be found, and where homework will be done. Helping him settle into a routine will make life easier for all.
  • Have a rehearsal lunch – Together, establish a list of nutritious and well-liked foods she can expect to find in her lunchbox. Pack a lunch one day and be sure she can easily open the thermos or juice carton, plastic containers, etc.
  • Get a library card – If you have not already done so, sign your child up for a library card and begin a nighttime ritual that includes at least 15 minutes of reading.
  • Check in with yourself – Parents have every reason to feel apprehensive when they send a child off to school. Take time to calm your concerns and present an enthusiastic face – and don’t hesitate to put a photo or little love notes in his or her lunchbox.
  • Celebrate the occasion – Make dinner the night before school starts a celebration; favorite foods, a cake for dessert, even party hats and blowers. This is a big day in your child’s life. Make it special for all.

What Gen Z Should Know About Saving for College

August 13, 2013 7:40 pm

(BPT) - Is it ever too early to start saving for college? Is it ever too late? Finance experts say the answer to both questions is a resounding "no," and an annual Gen Z & Money survey released by TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation (NYSE: AMTD) indicates that members of Generation Z are hearing the message loud and clear.

Many members of Gen Z (people born during the 1990s) are either already facing, or are on the verge of facing, their own college funding challenges. Head Research, on behalf of TD Ameritrade, Inc., surveyed 1,000 people, ages 14 to 23, regarding saving for college. Survey results and methodology are available online here.

"Many parents of Gen Z kids are still paying back loans for their own college education," says Carrie Braxdale, managing director of investor services for TD Ameritrade, Inc. (TD Ameritrade), a broker dealer subsidiary of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation. "Aware of their parents' struggles, this young generation is concerned about the cost of college. Forty-six percent of those surveyed say their biggest post-graduation worry is having a large student loan balance, and 36 percent worry about being able to afford college at all."

College costs continue to rise - more than 1,120 percent in the past 35 years, according to a Bloomberg report. The average student loan debt owed was $26,600 in 2011, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.

Still, Gen Z has no doubt the investment is worth the money. More than half (54 percent) say obtaining a higher education is critical to achieving success, and 64 percent agree college is worth the cost because it will help them secure employment, according to the TD Ameritrade survey.

"Parents who work with their children early to develop a financial plan and clearly set financial expectations can help better prepare them for financial success later in life," Braxdale says. "And even if they start saving when their child is already in high school, they should remember that every dollar they save toward college now is a dollar less they will owe in student loans."

Fortunately, a variety of college savings plans can help better prepare parents and their kids for the future, including:

  • A 529 College Savings Plan - Usually administered through or sponsored by a state government, 529s offer several tax advantages. Earnings in the account are not subject to federal tax and withdrawals for qualified higher education expenses are generally free of state and federal taxes. Contributions are generally not tax deductible, but parents may be able to exclude 529 money from their taxable estate, making them a possible way to reduce one's estate taxes while helping a child pay for college.
  • Before investing in a 529 Plan, carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses involved. This and other important information regarding the plan is included in the Program Disclosure Statement and Participation Agreement and each prospectus on the underlying investments, which may be obtained by contacting the issuer. Please read each prospectus, the Program Disclosure Statement, and Participation Agreement carefully prior to investing. Investment return and principal value of an investment will fluctuate so that an investor's units, when withdrawn, may be worth more or less than their original cost.

You should be aware that other states may sponsor their own qualified tuition plans and may offer a state tax deduction or other benefits that are limited to residents who invest in that plan. You should consult with your financial, tax or other advisor about state and local tax benefits or limitations based on your specific situation. Favorable tax treatment by your state of residence should be one of many appropriately weighted factors you should consider in making an investment decision.

  • Coverdell Education Savings Accounts - In general, earnings and qualified withdrawals in an education savings account are federal tax free. While 529s are exclusively for college, you can use an ESA to help pay for elementary school, high school or college expenses. There are no minimum contribution requirements, and you can put up to $2,000 per child, per year into the account. Contributions are generally not tax deductible.
  • Custodial accounts - A great way to build assets for children or loved ones, custodial accounts allow you to manage a minor's assets and investments. The account will be in the child's name and Social Security number, but it cannot be accessed until he or she reaches legal age. You act as guardian until the child is old enough and can assume control of the assets.

Braxdale offers some tips for creating a college investing strategy:

  • Start early. Even a small amount set aside each month allows your money to start working for you long before the first tuition bill arrives.
  • Set goals, including the total you want to have saved and how much you will save each year to reach that goal. TD Ameritrade's College Planner can help with goal setting by helping project how much you'll need to save to cover expected tuition costs.
  • Choose an investing vehicle. Decide which type of college investing plan will best help you pursue your goal.
  • Track your progress. Check regularly on your college investing accounts to see if you're on track toward meeting your goals.
  • Consult a qualified tax advisor. Every individual's tax situation is different, so it is important to consider talking with a qualified tax advisor regarding the particular investment vehicle you choose. TD Ameritrade does not provide tax advice.
  • Keep in mind that there is no guarantee that the investment vehicle you choose will achieve its investment goals. The value of an account will go up or down based on the performance of the underlying investments. When funds are withdrawn, they may have more or less value than the total contributions made to the account.

Source: TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation


Word of the Day

August 13, 2013 7:40 pm

Sales contract.  Contract that contains the terms of the agreement between the buyer and seller for the sale of a particular parcel or parcels of real estate.


Throw a Perfect Party, without All the Costs and Clutter

August 9, 2013 8:24 pm

BPT—Whether it's your child's birthday or your relatives are flying in from overseas to take part in a family reunion, your life is filled with special events worth celebrating. Of course, you'd love to salute every one of them with a once-in-a-lifetime party, but how do you do that without winding up with a garage filled with party clutter that you'll never use again and an empty wallet?

It's easier than you think.

Celebrating that special event doesn't have to break the bank or leave you the not-so-proud owner of items you'll have no use for once the party is over. There is another solution: rent what you need. You'll wow your guests and save money in the process.

Not sure what can be rented? Here are some ideas to create a party beyond your guests' wildest expectations.

Create the perfect environment

Many party planners feel constrained by the materials they already own when hosting a party, but the truth is renting opportunities allow you to create an atmosphere limited only by your imagination. If you're looking to hold your party outside, rent a tent. Your area rental business will have tents available in all shapes, sizes and styles, allowing you to pick the perfect one for your event. Heating and cooling units are also available so your guests will always be comfortable, regardless of weather conditions.

You'll also be able to rent tables and chairs, saving you from having to try and borrow these items or, worse yet, buying more for this one occasion. It creates a more relaxing atmosphere for your guests and they'll be able to sit and rest rather than having to stand up throughout the event.

For a more formal affair, your local rental store can also provide linens, table service and stemware to complete your look. This will keep you from having to use disposables or from washing dishes when the event is finished, allowing you to relax and enjoy your company.

Wow them with food

If you're in charge of planning the party, you've probably been nervously pondering what you will do about the food. No other party aspect requires so much work, and often you still find yourself eating leftovers for weeks. But rental stores offer several options that will help you wow your guests and indulge them at the same time.

Keeping foods the perfect temperature is always a challenge when hosting an event, but there are some great options available for rent. An ice table is a great way to keep things chilled in the summer heat, preventing undesirable illness. For hot foods, chafers will keep main dishes hot for hours so guests can eat at their leisure.

When it comes to that main course, grilling allows you to feed a lot of people with minimal prep work. But what if you don't have a grill? You can always rent one. Many rental facilities offer grills of varying sizes, allowing you the chance to pick the right grill for your event.

Consider renting a popcorn machine for your party. People get hungry at different times and a popcorn machine allows your guests to serve themselves and munch on this delicious snack while they wait for the main course.

Activities for kids of any age

Whether it's a birthday party, a family reunion or some other gathering, odds are children will be at your party. If your venue lacks the appropriate activities to entertain kids for the long haul, consult your area rental facility for options.

An inflatable bounce house will keep your youngest guests entertained for hours while obstacle courses or laser tag are great options for your teenage guests. And the biggest kids at your event will enjoy a casino night with the games you rented.

If you're expecting a large number of children at that family reunion, you may also consider renting a helium tank and providing balloons for your younger guests. The kids will be entertained, and you'll save yourself from being out of breath all afternoon.


5 Reasons to Get Flight Insurance

August 9, 2013 8:24 pm

In an age where checked bags are rarely free, flight insurance seems like one of those superfluous added costs that airlines try to shoehorn onto tickets.

But despite a completely valid suspicion about added costs, flight insurance can be a really smart investment, and it can pay off for passengers.

Consider these five scenarios in which flight insurance can come in handy:

1. Trip Cancellation.

Airlines understand that travelers often have to cancel their flights for unexpected reasons, but they tend to be somewhat mercenary in charging cancellation fees.

A discount-rate ticket or one purchased through a discount travel site generally has an inflexible cancellation policy, one that can be mitigated by purchasing travel insurance.

Most basic flight insurance plans will cover last-minute cancellations due to family member illness, injuries, or even political unrest.

2. Flight Life Insurance.

As relatives of victims from any tragic plane crash know, there are potential dangers to health and life when stepping on a plane.

In the event of a flight passenger's death, she may already have life insurance through her employer or individual policy. But flight life insurance can often pay up to $1 million to a passenger's beneficiaries, at a cost of less than $100 per passenger.

3. Lost Baggage.

If your baggage is lost during a trip, flight insurance can often pay for you to buy necessary replacement items like clothing or even prescription medications.

4. Trip Interruption.

Vacations can often be cut short due to inclement weather, unexpected injuries and illnesses, or even a cruise liner losing power.

Many flight insurance plans will cover the costs for returning early due to an unexpected event, and may even supplement existing health insurance in the event of an injury.

5. Stolen Passports.

Having a passport stolen is a nightmare for any international traveler, but some flight insurance policies will cover a replacement.

Ultimately, passengers should base their insurance needs around their expectations for travel, making flight insurance a better buy for international or cross-country flights and not for commuter flights.



Word of the Day

August 9, 2013 8:24 pm

Right of survivorship. A feature of joint tenancy giving the surviving joint tenants the rights, title and interests of the deceased joint tenant. Right of survivorship is the basic difference between buying property as joint tenants and as tenants in common.

Q: What Should I Know about Zoning Issues and Approvals?

August 9, 2013 8:24 pm

A: Zoning regulations establish how the land can be used, either for residential, industrial, commercial, or recreational purposes, or sometimes a combination thereof.  Designed to protect property owners and communities from undesirable, or inappropriate, land uses and/or construction, zoning laws can be very rigid and inflexible.  On the other hand, they can protect your property value and ensure against the stationing of a mega-store right next to your home.  Before you begin any remodeling job, determine how your local zoning laws might affect your project.  You can visit your local zoning office, city hall, or some other local planning board to get a copy of your local ordinance and determine how you will need to seek approval for your project.  Take nothing for granted; some communities even require approval to erect fences.