Gunning Daily News

Word of the Day

March 25, 2013 6:04 pm

Real estate investment trust (REIT). Entity that allows a very large number of investors to pool their money in the purchase of real estate, but as passive investors. The investors do not buy directly. Instead, they purchase shares in the REIT that owns the real estate investment.

Q: When Do Foreclosure Proceedings Begin?

March 25, 2013 6:04 pm

A: Usually after the borrower has missed three consecutive mortgage payments. The lender will record a notice of default against the property. And unless the debt is satisfied, the lender will foreclose on the mortgage and proceed to set up a trustee sale, where the property is sold to the highest bidder.

Move It or Lose It: 5 Moves to Put Seniors Back in the Game

March 22, 2013 4:24 pm

For Americans 65 and older, falling down can be the worst thing to happen to them, according to statistics from the National Council on Aging:

• One in three seniors experiences a significant fall each year
• Every 18 seconds, a senior is admitted into an emergency room after losing balance and hitting the ground
• Every 35 minutes, an elderly person dies from a fall -- the leading cause of death for seniors

“The projected cost in health-care expenses for 2020 due to fall-related injuries in the United States is $55 billion,” says Karen Peterson, a therapist with multiple certifications, and author of “Move With Balance: Healthy Aging Activities for Brain and Body.” She’s also the founder and director of Giving Back, a nonprofit organization that grows and spreads programs that support senior health.

“It’s important for seniors to keep moving and learning, that’s what helps improve balance and coordination, and even helps build new neural pathways,” says Peterson, who emphasizes the cognitive importance to her workout programs. “But if you’re rather frail, or just very fearful of falling, you’re less likely to get up and move around.” These activities benefit all seniors, from 55 to 105.

Peterson says a fun, social program of games and activities that include exercises specifically designed for seniors helps them address multiple issues, including those that tend to keep seniors sedentary – which only lessens their strength and balance.

Last year, her program was independently evaluated from Hawaii’s Department of Heath, which found a statistically significant reduction in falls from seniors – 38 percent. It also won the MindAlert Award from the American Society on Aging.

“Seniors of all ages need to continually work on improving their balance, coordination, strength, vision and cognitive skills. When they do, they’re less likely to fall – and more able to enjoy life.”

Peterson suggests these moves, which address many different areas of the body:

• The cross-crawl:
After various light warm-ups, begin with the basic cross-crawl, which focuses on the fundamentals of balance. March in place, lifting the knees high. At the same time, reach across and touch the lifted knee with the opposite hand or elbow; alternate and keep going. This can be done sitting, standing or lying down. Once any of these exercises are mastered, Peterson says, participants should continue to challenge themselves. For even greater balance work, and to exercise the vestibular system, close your eyes and count backwards from 100 by threes. “It’s not fun if you’re not conquering a challenge,” she says. Her book includes several challenges for each exercise.

• Forward toe-touch dancer: To improve motor skills, physical coordination and cognition, there are many dance exercises that are appropriate for seniors. If needed, use a chair for assistance. Place your feet shoulder-width apart. Now, simultaneously extend your left foot and your right arm forward. Keep your left toes pointed down, touching the floor; or for more difficulty, maintain the toes a few inches off the floor. Repeat this move with your left arm and right foot. Hold each pose for several seconds, and increase holding time.

• Sensory integration –
the arrow chart: Look at an arrow chart and call out the direction indicated by each individual symbol. Then, thrust your arms in that direction; in other words, say and do what the arrow indicates. For an additional challenge, do the opposite of what the arrow indicates.

• Side-step walk: Walk sidestepping – bring your right foot across the left and step down three to five inches away from the left foot, ankles crossed. The closer the feet, the harder it is to balance. Alternate crossing the foot in front and then behind the other foot as you move along; repeat several times, then do the same with opposite feet. As a bonus challenge, try a reading exercise from a vision card, designed for stimulating the brain/visual system, while sidestepping.

• The cat jump: This activity is practice in case of a fall; the muscle memory of the movement will be etched in your body. Bend your knees in a squat. Jump a little off the ground with both feet, and land softly, like a cat, without jarring your body. Repeat until you are confident in your ability to prevent a spill.

“Research shows that most falls are preventable,” Peterson says. “These and other exercises, performed regularly, are a great way to achieve safety and a revitalized lifestyle.”

Source: www.MoveWithBalance.org.

Spring Gardening: 7 Tips to Get You Started

March 22, 2013 4:24 pm

The ground may still be cold, but longer days are a sure signal that now is the time to get ready for spring gardening. Whether you’re looking ahead toward flowerbeds, vegetables, or a combination of the two, the right preparation in the early spring will make the job a bit easier and the result a joy to behold.


From the gardening experts at a major garden center, here are seven tips to help you start the season right no matter where you live:

Water early – on sunny days in the early spring, even if the weather is still on the cool side, give flower beds and planting sites a good soaking to help get them ready for action.

Prune and mulch – Prune any dead or overgrown tree branches, including fruit trees, and add mulch to the ground beneath. (Do not prune early bloomers, such as lilacs.)

Get a head start on weed control
- Apply pre-emergent weed controls for crabgrass, dandelions and broadleaf weeds. They are most effective when applied during this transition season.

Plant slow-growing vegetable seeds
– Once the ground is fully thawed and watered, plant seeds for slow growing vegetables like peas, lettuce and carrots.

Plant trees and shrubs – They do better when planted while the weather is still cool. This is also a good time to spray existing fruit trees to guard against pests and disease.

Start tomatoes indoors – Plant tomatoes in pots indoors six to eight weeks before you are ready to transplant them into the ground. Choose seeds or young tomato plants – and consider potting peppers and eggplants indoors as well.

Put out the birdhouses – Birds begin to seek out nesting places in March, so if you hanker for sound of birdsong, put the birdhouses in place in the garden now.

Year's Worth of Money & Energy-Saving Tips

March 22, 2013 4:24 pm

In the continuing pursuit to help homeowners save money while helping to make the world a little greener, I tapped The Alliance to Save Energy, which recently posted a dozen ways you can make your home more energy efficient in 2013 (ase.org).

Among those ASE saving ideas are:

New Year, New Light Bulbs - Replace old, inefficient incandescent light bulbs in your home with energy-efficient lighting like new CFLs, halogen incandescents or LEDs – to save between $50 and $100 a year in energy costs.

Spring is Coming
- With spring just around the corner on March 20, get ready to open up your home to new, efficient windows. Replacing single-pane windows with ENERGY STAR-qualified windows can save you up to $1000 annually.

Don't be a Fool for Energy Vampires - This April Fools, outsmart the energy vampires in your home by unplugging what you're not using. Use a smart power strip for automatic savings.

Think Global - In honor of EE Global 2013, share one of the other tips with an international friend, family member, or associate to help save energy worldwide.

Cool Off - Make sure your AC equipment is in top running order, since cooling puts the greatest stress on your summer energy bills.

Keep the Heat Out - Plug energy leaks with weather stripping and caulking, and be sure your house is properly insulated to save up to 20 percent on energy bills.

Back to School Savings - If you and your kids are out at school and work, install a programmable thermostat – or even a smart thermostat – to raise your home's temperature while it's empty. This can reduce energy bills by up to 10 percent.

Temperatures Drop, and so do Bills - Keep the temperature of your water heater at 120 degrees, and insulate the hot water storage tank to save money on heating costs.

End the Year on a LOW Note - You made so many energy-saving changes this year, give yourself the gift of a home energy assessment to see how much more energy you can save next year!

Word of the Day

March 22, 2013 4:24 pm

Title search. A professional examination of public records to determine the chain of ownership of a particular piece of property and to note any liens, encumbrances, easements, restrictions, or other factors that might affect the title.

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

March 22, 2013 4:24 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.

Taking the Intimidation Out of Saving for Retirement

March 22, 2013 12:20 pm

(BPT) - Saving for retirement is a scary prospect for many Americans. In fact, just 14 percent feel confident they will have enough money to live on when they retire, according to the 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. And 60 percent say they have less than $25,000 saved for retirement, the survey reveals.

Retirement planning and saving doesn't have to be frightening or fruitless. Knowledge is power, and when it comes to preparing financially for retirement, the more you know, the more likely you are to succeed - and feel secure about your future in your golden years.

How much is enough?

Uncertainty over how much they need to save is a big concern among workers. Thirty-four percent of Americans have no retirement savings at all, according to a poll by Harris Interactive. How much you need to save now in order to have a good life when you retire depends on many factors, including your current income and age, the age at which you plan to retire and the expenses you anticipate you'll face during retirement.

Fortunately, retirement calculators can help you get a better picture of how much you need to save. You'll find plenty of calculators and information about saving for retirement from resources like freecreditscore.com. The calculators can give you an idea of how much income you'll need from investments to live on during retirement, and how much of your current income you need to save between now and retirement.

Crunching credit numbers

Another important consideration is how you will interact with credit when you retire. It's important to manage credit wisely during retirement, just as it is throughout your adult life.

Studies show that many Americans don't regularly monitor their credit, which can be a costly mistake. In fact, 65 percent of Americans have not ordered a copy of their credit report within the past year, and 31 percent don't know their credit score, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling's Financial Literacy Survey.

Your credit report and score are important during retirement for a number of reasons. First, your score directly affects the cost of many important financial needs, such as auto insurance and interest rates. Also, while you should strive to minimize debt during retirement, it may not be practical - or even desirable - to completely eliminate credit use in your golden years. Finally, not keeping an eye on your credit report and score may mean you fail to quickly catch instances of fraud or identity theft. Senior citizens are often a favorite target for identity thieves and scammers.

Understanding your credit - leading up to retirement and during - should be a key part of your retirement planning. Websites like freecreditscore.com can help by offering enrolled members monthly statements, credit reports, credit score alerts, identity protection alerts and fraud resolution support.

Understanding your Social Security benefits

Too often, people planning for retirement either rely too much on Social Security or overlook it altogether. Neither route is best. It makes sense to incorporate Social Security as part of your overall retirement saving plan, as long as you understand what to expect from the program.

The Social Security Administration provides every taxpayer with statements about how much they can expect to receive when they retire. Your SSA statement is now available online. Simply log on to www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount for an estimate of the amount of Social Security benefits you could receive upon retiring. Knowing how much you can expect from Social Security can help you plan your retirement savings strategies.

Saving for retirement doesn't have to be intimidating. It's never too late - or too early - to take control of your retirement savings goals.

Yes, You Can Lower Your Food Budget

March 22, 2013 12:20 pm

Economists say most American families spend about 12 percent of their monthly income on groceries – but, unless you adjust your buying habits, the spend may increase as prices go up and children grow into hungry teens.


According to supermarket shopping analyst Mindy Hannigan, putting a few, planned shopping patterns into place can help you ease your food budget downward.

  • Start with the deals – Check supermarket mailers and online sites for weekly specials. Plan the family’s meals around the foods on sale each week.
  • Shop with a menu – Once you determine what’s on sale, shop with a written menu – and try to build two meals around a single purchase, such as a roasted pork loin one evening and BBQ beef sandwiches made from leftovers the next.
  • Set a budget – Keep track of your grocery spending for at least six weeks. Add it up and divide by six to find your weekly average. Try not to exceed that average without a darned good reason – such as additional houseguests to feed or a large, family holiday feast.
  • Shave the average – Once you know your usual spend, challenge yourself to lower it by 10 percent. Use coupons if you don’t already. Try store brands instead of labels you know. Search for new recipes, like casseroles and main dish salads, which can help you stretch one can of tuna or a couple of chicken breasts into a satisfying family dinner.
  • Shop alone – Shopping with kids almost always results in extras tossed into the basket.
  • Stick to a routine – Follow the same traffic pattern in the store you shop most often. Since you know where things are, doing so will help you to grab just the items on your list instead of reaching for items you may notice for the first time.

Spring Pest Season Is Upon Us

March 22, 2013 12:20 pm

Spring has sprung! As we begin cleaning, it’s important to keep a look out for pets, as ants, roaches, spiders and other pests that overwinter will likely start to become more active in the next few weeks.

"Now that spring has officially begun, and once temperatures are consistently above 70 degrees, pests will begin making their way out in full force," says Matt Peterson, Orkin's Southeast Division technical services manager. "Insects stay in a hibernation-like state during the winter since cold temperatures slow down their metabolism and reproduction cycles, but as the weather begins to warm, their systems start moving again."

Ants
Many homeowners consider ants to be one of the most serious pests. There are more than 10,000 species worldwide, and about 50 of those in the United States. Ants can infest homes by coming in through the tiniest of cracks, and controlling them is difficult because they leave an invisible pheromone trail for others to follow once they find a food source. There are three main categories of ants: nuisance, health (such as fire ants) and structural (such as carpenter ants).

"Another common sign in the spring is a group of ants with wings which can be confused with termite swarms," said Peterson. "It's a common misconception because of their similar appearance. Correctly identifying an ant infestation determines the best treatment method."

Roaches

In addition to entering a home through cracks and crevices, vents and pipes, other items like grocery bags, boxes and purses can transport cockroaches and their eggs. Because cockroaches are nocturnal, if you see one during the day, that means they were likely forced out by overcrowding—a possible sign of a severe infestation.

Cockroaches are filthy pests. They pick up germs on their legs and bodies and can spread disease, contaminate food and cause allergies and asthma. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), roaches can also carry organisms that cause diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid fever and viral diseases.

"Roaches burrow in mulch or bark for the winter," said Peterson. "But since the ground temperature has been getting warmer, you may start to see more and more of them as the temperatures begin to increase."

Spiders
According to a recent Omnibus survey, the biggest concerns with spiders are that "they could bite, sting or attack me" (50 percent) and "they're creepy" (44 percent). However, there are only two species of spiders in the U.S. that are harmful to humans – the brown recluse and the black widow. Most other spiders are just nuisance pests and like to feed on other insects, so if you see spiders around the inside of your home, that could be a sign of a larger pest problem.

"Sanitation is really the most important factor when it comes to helping to prevent spiders," said Peterson. "Some spiders like moisture and others like dry, warm areas."

Peterson recommends the following tips to help prevent ants, roaches and spiders from being attracted to your home:

  • Remove all unnecessary food and water sources.
  • Seal cracks and crevices around doors and windows.
  • Clean up spilled food and drinks immediately.
  • Keep gutters clear, and direct water from downspouts away from your home.
  • Thin vegetation and do not pile mulch or allow soil to accumulate against your home's siding. This could provide access for ants and roaches to enter your home.
Source: www.orkin.com.