Gunning Daily News

Ways to Gift Back without Emptying Your Wallet

May 10, 2013 4:50 pm

You may feel you can't afford to give back if you are struggling to make ends meet. But, if you look closely, there are ways to make a meaningful gift without emptying your own pocketbook.

Don't sell yourself short by thinking you don't have enough time or the skills to make a difference. Get involved and you'll see the value you can bring to a non-profit organization and how it impacts the world around you.

BMO Harris Bank recommends five easy ideas for maximizing your non-profit gift:

Get an employer match
. Many companies will match employee donations, sometimes up to triple the amount. Contact your company's human resources department to see what options are available. You should also see if your company will donate dollars on behalf of your volunteer hours. For example, if you volunteer with a soup kitchen, some companies will donate money to that organization on your behalf.

Donate your professional skills. Many non-profit organizations have small staffs and can greatly benefit from volunteers with marketing, accounting and computer programming skills. You can help even if you can't donate a lot of money. If you consider the salary value of your skill-based volunteer hours, it adds up and can make a big difference to the organization.

Host a party. Invite a representative from your favorite non-profit organization as the guest of honor. During the evening, allow him or her to give a brief talk about the non-profit's mission, needs and upcoming events. Consider scheduling your party a few weeks before an event at the non-profit so people have an easy way to take the next step in getting involved.

Ask for donations in lieu of gifts.
With the birthdays, holidays, and other gift-giving occasions, come plenty of gifts -- but do you really need another coffee table book or scarf? Instead, ask your family and friends to make a donation on your behalf.

Race for your favorite non-profit.
Help a non-profit's bottom line -- and your waistline. There are countless run/walks scheduled throughout the year and many have a charitable component. A portion of your race registration benefits the organization, but you can also choose to fundraise or donate additional dollars.

Source: BMO Harris Bank

Easy Exterior and Interior Painting Tips

May 10, 2013 4:50 pm

(Family Features)—The task of home painting projects may seem daunting, but by following a few helpful steps you can give your home a fresh, clean appearance and incorporate some of your favorite new home décor trends.

"Whether your painting projects call for sprucing up your indoor space or freshening up outdoor trim, a little advance planning, sweat equity and the right tools can go a long way in ensuring a professional looking result," says Carmen De La Paz, designer and former host of HGTV's Hammer Heads.

De La Paz offers these tips to help you paint like a pro.

Start with the Right Tools
Whether working on interior or exterior projects, be sure to use the right tools -- especially the appropriate tape -- to ensure a professional looking result. For indoor projects, make sure you read the label to find a tape that is appropriate for the surface you are working on and that has EdgeLock technology to ensure sharp, clean lines. For exterior projects, ScotchBlue has an Exterior Painter's Tape specifically designed for exterior paint jobs and is resistant to sun, wind and moisture.

Tips for Exquisite Exteriors
With its exposure to the elements and various surface types, exterior painting has its list of challenges. Here are a few tips to make outdoor painting a breeze:

  • Always use the appropriate nap, or thickness of a roller, for the surface you are painting. Some surfaces, like stucco, tend to have a rougher texture, so be sure to use a thick nap roller to help pull paint in and out of crevices. This will save time and frustration.
  • Remember to pick paint designed for the surface being painted. For example, choose masonry or stucco paint for outdoor projects, or paint that is compatible with wood or metal when painting other exterior surfaces. Remember, outdoor elements will influence how well paint sticks to a surface; some surfaces will even reject the wrong paint. You can avoid this by using the right paint from the start.
  • Be sure to "back prime" any newly installed woodwork. This means you should prime and seal the whole board before installing it. This will protect the backboard from moisture and prevent bloating and cracking once new woodwork is applied.

Ideas for Impressive Interiors

When approaching interior projects, use these tips to make them flawless:

  • When painting big surfaces, such as a wall, use a roller and paint in "X" and "W" patterns for even distribution of paint. This helps you avoid "lap marks" where paint builds up thicker in some areas due to overlapping.
  • When using a brush, load your brush and start by painting strokes in the middle of the paint area -- working your way to the edges. The goal is to lightly whisk the paint on. The brush has more paint on it than you think, so let the brush do the work.
  • If your painting job is ongoing, don't wash the brushes. Instead, put them back in their bags and keep in the freezer overnight. Then, pull the brushes out about 15 minutes before you plan to use them again and you're ready to go. This saves time and water for brushes that are already in great working condition.

You'll be amazed by how beautiful your home can be when you take the time to tackle those painting projects and do it right. Incorporating these tips into your painting routine will get you painting like a pro in no time.

Source: www.scotchblue.com.

Word of the Day

May 10, 2013 4:50 pm

Property tax. Assessment levied by city and county governments on real and personal property to generate the bulk of their operating revenues to pay for such public services as schools, libraries, and roads.

Q: How Does the Seller Determine What Interest Rate to Provide?

May 10, 2013 4:50 pm

A: The interest rate on a purchase money note is negotiable, as are the other terms in a seller-financed transaction. To get an idea about what to charge, sellers can check with a lender or mortgage broker to determine current rates on mortgage loans, including second mortgages.

Because sellers, unlike conventional lenders, do not charge loan fees or points, seller-financed costs are generally less than those associated with conventional home loans. Interest rates are generally influenced by current Treasury bill and certificate of deposit rates.

Understandably, most sellers are not open to making a loan for a lower return than could be invested at a more profitable rate of return elsewhere. So the interest rates they charge may be higher than those on conventional loans, and the length of the loan shorter, anywhere from five to 15 years.

Home Cures That Really Work

May 10, 2013 4:50 pm

If Grandma handed you a moist tea bag to take the sting out of a minor burn, she probably had no idea why it worked – but doctors at a recent community forum confirmed that the home-grown remedy may be just as effective as some over-the-counter creams.

“Soak a towel in cold tea,” confirmed Pennsylvania doctor Marie Savard, MD. “The phytonutrients will reduce inflamed blood vessels.”

The panel of medical experts put a seal of approval on seven other useful home remedies:

Mosquito bites – Crush a low-dose aspirin and dissolve it in an ounce of water. Apply the paste and the salicylic acid acts as an anti-inflammatory to reduce redness and itchiness.

Healing wounds – Reduce scarring as the wound heals by keeping it covered with petroleum jelly and a bandage for three to five days. Keeping the skin soft as it heals is better than allowing it to scab over.

Queasiness – Whether it’s motion sickness, morning sickness or a little stomach bug, try drinking the fruit syrup from a can of peaches. It works as well as some expensive over-the-counter nausea remedies, which are mostly composed of sugar.

Food poisoning – Try ingesting some black tea and a few slices of burned toast. The tannic acid in the tea and the charcoal in the toast should neutralize the toxins and soon have you feeling better.

Hangover – a cup of tomato juice mixed with a splash of Tabasco sauce will stimulate the liver and provide the antioxidants your body needs to replenish.

Congestion/bronchitis – Medicated vapor rub applied to the chest can help. Or boil a pot of water, let it cool for a minute, then pour it into a bowl and mix in a teaspoon of vapor rub to melt. Lean over it with your head about a foot from the steam. Use a towel to form a tent over your head and inhale for five minutes.

Toothaches – Cloves really work. Keep a bottle of eugenol (clove extract), purchased at the pharmacy, in your medicine cabinet. If a toothache strikes, soak a cotton ball in it and apply directly to the tooth to ease the pain until you can see a dentist.

It’s Electric: Six Safety Tips

May 10, 2013 4:50 pm

May is National Electrical Safety Month, and with the weather warming up, it’s time to make safety a priority when working outside near overhead power lines.

Safe Electricity reminds everyone to take note of overhead power lines when working outside:

  • Look up and around you. Always be aware of the location of power lines, particularly when using long tools like ladders, pool skimmers, and pruning poles. Be especially careful when working near power lines attached to your house. Keep in mind that wind can blow large objects out of your control.
  • Keep equipment and yourself at least 10 feet from power lines. Even if you do not come in contact with a power line, the electricity can arc to close objects and people.
  • Be careful when working on or around your roof—installing or cleaning gutters, installing rooftop antennas and satellite dishes, or doing repair work. Never use water or blower extensions to clean gutters near electric lines. Contact a professional maintenance contractor.
  • Never climb trees near power lines.
  • Never trim trees near power lines. Leave that to the professionals.
  • Always follow safety procedures, no matter how boring and mundane they seem.

Source: SafeElectricity.org

Do Your Homework before Selecting a Pet

May 10, 2013 4:50 pm

(Family Features)—What is it about a tiny, fluffy kitten that makes them so hard to resist? For many, it's their looks. Appearance is one of the primary factors when choosing a feline friend, while dog owners tend to focus on size.

A recent survey revealed that 55 percent of cat owners feel appearance is one of the most important qualities when choosing a cat, while 62 percent of dog owners cite size as most important. However, experts encourage people to first consider the animals' temperament, health and nutritional needs when selecting a pet.

"Matching a dog or cat's personality with that of your family is essential," says Steve Dale, certified animal behavior consultant and host of "Steve Dale's Pet World" radio show. "Before bringing home a new pet, owners should research typical traits of that breed to make sure it matches up with their lifestyle."

  • When bringing home a new pet, here are some important factors to consider:
  • Energy Level: Compare your family's activity level to that of the prospective pet. For example, the Labrador is a very active breed that typically needs lots of training, attention and exercise. This breed works best for active families who have the time to give them the exercise and structure they need.
  • Temperament: Although a dog might look adorable, its breed can reveal a lot about its potential personality. Yorkies, for example, are typically friendly dogs, but can be very shy around strangers and need to be socialized properly.
  • Grooming: Grooming your pet can be an expensive and time consuming chore. For instance, a Persian cat needs to be brushed daily, however a Siamese requires very minimal grooming help from its owner.
  • Nutritional Needs: Different breeds have different, and sometimes complex, nutritional needs. For example, a Maine Coon cat is at risk for certain types of cardiovascular conditions and needs help maintaining a strong heart.
Source: www.RCBestInBreed.com.

Word of the Day

May 10, 2013 4:50 pm

Property tax deductions. The Internal Revenue Service allows homeowners to claim as itemized personal deductions money paid for state and local realty taxes, as well as interest on debt secured by their homes. It also allows for the deduction of loan prepayment penalties, and the deduction of points on new loans.

Q: What Is a Lease Option?

May 10, 2013 4:50 pm

A: It is an agreement between a renter and a landlord in which the renter signs a lease with an option to purchase the property. The option only binds the seller; the tenant has a choice to make a purchase or not.

Lease options are common among buyers who would like to own a home but do not have enough money for the down payment and closing costs. A lease option may also be attractive to tenants who are working to improve bad credit before approaching a lender for a home loan.

A lease option also may be a way for the seller to move property in a slow market. Seller advantages include earning above-market rent, retaining all the property income tax deductions during the lease-option period, and attracting tenants who will care for the property as though they owed it.

10 Ways to Save Big on Wedding Costs

May 9, 2013 5:36 pm

If there’s a wedding in your future, you already know that costs can be excessive—and that they sometimes seem to grow out of proportion to every idea you envision. But, say experienced wedding planners, there are plenty of ways to save on the big day without appearing to wed on the cheap.

Planners suggest 10 simple ways to cut various aspects of the wedding cost without sacrificing any of the elegance:
  • Think off-peak or off-season – You can often save thousands on the venue by planning your wedding in the fall or winter, or on a Sunday instead of Saturday.
  • Request larger tables – You’ll need fewer linens and fewer centerpieces by choosing tables that seat a larger number of guests.
  • Choose seasonal flowers – Stick to one or two varieties. Include lots of greenery and fewer blooms – and fill out centerpieces with non-florals, such as lanterns.
  • Skip a sit-down main course – think about appetizers or ‘small plates’ instead of a sit-down entrée, or an open seating buffet.
  • Skip the full bar – Offer wine, beer, and perhaps a signature or champagne cocktail instead of an open bar.
  • Order a smaller tiered cake – Supplement it when serving with a sheet cake waiting in the kitchen.
  • Email ‘save the date’ notes – It will save on postage and get your guests just as prepared and excited.
  • Choose simple invitations – the heavier the invite, the larger the postage cost. Stick to lighter weight versions.
  • Save on table favors – See if you can find something special your bridal party can create – and/or provide one favor per couple instead of one for each guest.
  • Limit the photo opps – Specify the ‘must have’ shots you want to limit the number of photos taken – and be prepared to limit your final photo selections.