Gunning Daily News

Q: How Do Capital Gains Work If You Have More Than One Home?

June 23, 2013 6:18 pm

A: For more than one home, you can exclude the gain only from the sale of your main residence.  You must pay tax on the gain from selling any other home.  If you have two homes and live in both of them, your main home is usually the one you live in most often.

Savvy Money Tips to Share With Your Teen

June 23, 2013 6:18 pm

(Family Features) -- Most parents have learned things about money they wish they had known at a younger age. But when it comes to broaching the topic with their own teenagers, about a third would rather talk to them about smoking, drugs and bullying than money. Parents can take the angst out of teaching money management by working it into everyday routines.

"Your kids are most likely interested in money and having more of it, but they may not know where to start," says Susan Ehrlich, president of financial services for H&R Block. "Teaching money skills before they graduate will help them make smart choices and learn from their financial missteps now, so they're better prepared when they're on their own."

Below are several tips:

Encourage learning by earning. You may or may not want your teen to hold down a job while in high school, but you can instill the concept of earning by encouraging occasional paying projects, such as babysitting or mowing lawns.

Practice makes perfect. Ask your teen to manage a portion of the family budget, such as writing the weekly menu and grocery list to fit your budget or keeping track of eating-out expenses every month.

Save now, spend later. Open a savings account for your teen to plan for future purchases. If you're able, offer to match a portion of their savings to encourage the behavior. This can help convey the difference between needs and wants. Verbalize your own wants for something the entire family can save for and enjoy together, then share your progress toward the goal.

Set some limits. If your teen has a credit card, set a realistic credit limit so the balance can be paid in full each month. Your teen will also see the impact of interest rates and annual fees.

Be a good financial role model. Pay your own bills on time and ask your teen to be part of the process. Talk to your teen about the importance of a good credit score and how to maintain it—for example, paying your bills on time accounts for 35 percent of your score. Help them understand lower credit scores mean higher interest that could cost thousands of unnecessary dollars.



Get Your Home Ready for Outdoor Entertaining

June 23, 2013 6:18 pm

(Family Features)--With the warm weather here, it's time to get your house and yard in shape for outdoor entertaining.

Here are a few tips to quickly spruce up your home for your next gathering, so you can spend more time with family and friends, and less time worrying about the prep work and clean up.

Tidy Up the Yard - The first thing guests will notice is the condition of your lawn, so make sure to give it a fresh mow the day before you're having guests over. Tidy up yard debris like extra sticks and mulch, and put away garden tools, lawn toys and garbage cans so they are out of view.

Add Fresh Flowers - Find annuals in your favorite party-theme colors and plant them in ceramic or terra cotta pots to brighten the space. Position potted plants as table centerpieces, near serving stations, and on the patio or deck for pops of color. Use your home as a way to express your personal style and get creative by coordinating flowers with your table linens and furniture upholstery.

Clean Up Your Sitting Area - From picnics and pool parties, to birthdays and cookouts, get your backyard ready for the season. It is a good idea to spruce up your deck at least once a year to remove any weathering and stains that may have occurred, and wipe down lawn and patio furniture that was lying dormant during the winter. Tackle both with a product that is gentle on unfinished wood. Remember to rinse thoroughly any residual product.

De-grime the Grill - Grungy grills are never a welcome part of any backyard barbecue, especially if they were collecting dust and dirt all season. Wipe the grime and grease off the outside of the grill, and clean the interior racks, by scrubbing with a wire brush and a solution of three parts baking soda to one part warm water. Rinse thoroughly.

With the right tips and tricks you can easily prep your home for entertaining and offer your guests a comfortable and relaxed experience during all of summer's festivities.



Take a Break from Technology

June 23, 2013 6:18 pm

(Family Features) As access to technology increases, families may find they are spending more time on their devices and less time together.

Some psychologists worry our growing attachment to technology may result in social isolation.

"We're getting used to a new way of being alone together," says Sherry Turkle, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, psychologist and author of "Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other."

"People want to be with each other, but also elsewhere, connected to all the different places they want to be."

Ready for a Tech Timeout? Foresters™, a life insurance provider committed to the well-being of families, recently launched the Tech Timeout™ challenge in response to a growing awareness that our attachment to digital devices may contribute to a sense of social isolation among families. Tech Timeout encourages families across North America to take a pledge to turn off their digital devices (including TVs, smartphones, video games and computers) for an hour each day for one week and connect with each other in a more meaningful way. The idea is not to eliminate technology, but to create awareness of the dependence on technology, and ultimately improve personal bonds within families.

Easy Ways to Unplug - Carving out space and time for each other can start the channels of communication flowing. Here are some activities families can do together:

  • Board Game Bonanza - Break out the cards, puzzles and board games for a night of old-fashioned fun.
  • Get Out and Play - Find a local trail and set out on a hike together. You will have a chance to interact with your surroundings and one another and be active too.
  • Volunteer - Volunteering can help strengthen community connections and avoid a sense of social isolation. Find a cause your family is passionate about and volunteer with a local organization.
  • Cook Together - Dig out your favorite recipes and try cooking as a family. Assign each person a role in meal preparation. You will not only have plenty of time to interact, your children can pick up some valuable life skills along the way.
  • Take a Tech-free Holiday - Family vacations are a great time to recharge and bond with your kids, but connecting can be tough if you are each plugged into your electronic devices. Fun time together will create memories your children will cherish for years to come.
  • Rediscover Reading - Begin a family reading hour or book club. Starting a discussion about literature will open up communication.



Word of the Day

June 23, 2013 6:18 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: Can I Deduct a Loss on the Sale of My Home?

June 23, 2013 6:18 pm

A: No. A loss from the sale of personal–use property, such as a home or car, is not deductible. They are considered nondeductible personal losses, and you cannot reduce your tax bill by deducting them the way you would deduct stock and investment losses on your tax returns.

Make Over Your Bathroom for Under $150

June 20, 2013 4:41 am

No, that won’t cover the new spa tub you may yearn for, admits Miami decorator Laura Drucker. But the small investment of $150 or less can spruce up a tired bathroom enough to lift your spirits.

Dale suggests six inexpensive bathroom makeover tips that can make a big difference:

Clear the counters – Nothing makes a bathroom more uninviting than a clutter of brushes, make-up, and accessories. Prowl the nearest drugstore, home or department store for a few inexpensive cosmetic storage containers. Get rid of the almost-emptys and the stuff you rarely use and organize the rest in your new mini-bins. Put a hook or two in a cabinet or behind the door to hold shavers, hair dryers, and the like.

Paint a wall or two – Fresh paint wakes up any room. Go for a forest green or burgundy-colored wall for a touch of elegance, or paint all the walls aqua or a pastel shade you like for a calmer, more spa-like atmosphere.

Make it rain – Invest $40 or $50 in a new shower head to turn your shower into a rain forest. It’s a cheap massage, and one you will treasure morning after morning.

Buy a great shower curtain – There are hundreds of patterns available out there. Toss out that boring, old solid-colored curtain and choose one that adds a bit of glamour or, at the very least, makes you smile.

Get a seriously comfy bathmat – The new memory foam mats are pretty to look at and they absorb water and dry quickly. Or choose a seriously plush one you can sink your feet into to feel like you are walking on cloud nine.

Breathe it in – Candles are a great way to add a touch of luxury and ambiance to any little bathroom and, if you choose the right candle, make it smell delicious. Clear off part of a shelf or windowsill, or hang a small shelf on one wall and pick out you favorite scent. If you’re not a candle person, or fear the possibility of fire, find a pretty diffuser to place in the bathroom instead.

Planning to Get Away from Home - On the Cheap!

June 20, 2013 4:41 am

One of the best things about having a welcoming home, is to experience that welcoming feeling as you return from a vacation.  In these tight economic times - especially if you are socking away every penny to improve your home - figuring out how to afford even a day trip can be a vexing exercise

So the University of Florida's Madison Extension has a few practical ideas about how to start making an affordable plan to get away - even if it's just for the day.

First, if there are children of any age involved, UF recommends you include them in the discussion and use the experience as an opportunity to learn money management. Kids

can help plan and set up a spending budget for the outing or trip.

As a result, they become more appreciative of the experience and will be less likely to ask for nonessentials as they become aware of the cost involved in taking a vacation.

One technique the UF report says you can use to identify possible mini-vacations is to sit down with a map, pencil and paper and mark your home on the map. Then draw a circle around your home to represent the distance you can travel on the amount of money available for transportation or the distance you can go and return in one day.

  • Within this circle of about 50 to 150 miles, make a list of all the vacation, recreation, or historical spots that you have not visited, or would like to visit again.
  • Identify cities within the radius
  • Check maps for areas of special interest
  • Contact Chambers of Commerce and automobile clubs for more information on these scenic or recreational spots.
  • Visit your local library. Libraries also receive and lend passes or other deeply discounted admission access to many areas sites - just inquire at the front desk
  • Then rank these in priority order according to places you want most to visit.

You will probably be surprised at the number of vacation ideas in your own backyard!

Create an Outdoor Space that 'Wows'

June 20, 2013 4:41 am

(BPT) - Whether you own a cozy cottage or mega mansion, as a homeowner, you likely embrace the outdoor living trend. But when you look at your deck or patio, does it leave something to be desired? By taking a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach, you can affordably create outdoor spaces that enhance the style and functionality of your home, plus add to the overall value of the property.

Here are a few of the leading trends that the DIY homeowner can use to cost-effectively create an outdoor space that "wows:"

Rent rather than buy

Upgrading or adding a deck or patio can feel overwhelming unless you have the right equipment to do the job. Renting what you need saves money, plus helps you maximize your time so you can enjoy your new outdoor space sooner. From power washers and saws for cleaning and cutting, to utility loaders and tampers for digging and compacting base materials, you'll find everything you need at your local American Rental Association member rental store. Visit for locations near you. Not sure what you need? The pros at the shop are specially trained and can help you choose the best time-saving tools for your project.

Use pavers for patios

Whether you're looking to refresh your current patio space or are starting from scratch, patios are great ground-level entertainment spaces. More homeowners are opting for pavers to level and define the space, which adds elegant detail, rather than a bland concrete slab. Find pavers in varying shapes, sizes and colors at your local home improvement store. Remember, by digging and installing a base layer, your pavers are less likely to shift over time. Dig down and compact base material with a rented plate compactor or a tamper before laying the pavers in the desired pattern.

Define your deck

If you're adding a new deck, composite decking material is the way to go. While it costs a bit more than lumber, it lasts longer and is virtually maintenance-free, which will save you time and money in the long run. It's just as easy to work with as wood and can be cut and assembled in a similar manner. If you simply want to refresh an existing wood deck, rent a power washer to quickly clean off dirt, grime and paint chips. Replace gray and tan paint with deep brown hues, which adds a subtle upscale appearance. Modern exterior paint lasts years and some options even fill cracks in wood, so look for a brand that best suits your needs.

Go native with greenery

Adding plants to your outdoor space helps the area feel cohesive with nature. Not sure what to add? Whether for pots, containers or the surrounding landscaping, consider native lawn and plant materials. Not only will they look great and add color and depth to your outdoor space, but they are typically lower maintenance and many require less water. Explore options at your local garden center or state extension service's website.

Create an outdoor kitchen

Homeowners want to enjoy more time outside and that means cooking and dining al fresco. While a basic barbecue grill will do, outdoor kitchens are in high demand. Building your own outdoor kitchen space is simple. Install countertops surrounding your grill and consider incorporating features like a small fridge, gas burners for side items, smokers or built-in storage spaces for spices and cooking tools. Stainless steel continues to be the go-to material for outdoor kitchen features, blending modern style with the organic look of Mother Nature.

Light the night

The right lighting can take a good outdoor space and make it great. Solar lighting is trending for outdoor spaces, and this eco-friendly option is also affordable. Light pathways with solar landscape lighting - eliminating the need for electrical cords. Jazz up deck posts with post caps that provide a gentle glow. Finally, a string or two of white garden lights adds a twinkle to the beautiful ambiance of a summer evening.

Word of the Day

June 20, 2013 4:41 am

Mortgagor.  Party or person that borrows money, giving a lien on the property as security for the loan; the borrower.