Gunning Daily News

Simple Steps for Smart Spending

April 5, 2013 5:48 pm

(Family Features)—These days, people are thinking more about how to make smarter decisions with their spending. In fact, simple spending cut-backs can mean a huge difference to your family's bank account. Get back to the basics of what you really need, and you'll eliminate unnecessary spending and stress, while keeping more cash in your pocket.

Here are some easy tips to start you down the road to smarter spending:

Create a family spending plan. Start a weekly budget meeting with your family to make everyone aware of spending habits. Be sure to keep track of all transactions made throughout the week and prioritize necessities over luxuries. With families increasingly concerned with how they are spending, according to a recent Cricket Wireless survey, nearly two-thirds of Americans surveyed report paying bills as their highest priority and are using tax refunds to cover basic necessities.

Compare the rates. When reviewing monthly bills, compare the amounts you're paying with others. According to Cricket's survey, wireless phone plans, cable and electricity are considered the top most overpaid bills by consumers. Look for online comparative tools that can help evaluate the advantages between service providers. Consider easy ways to scale back spending on these items, such as going with a more flexible no-contract, prepaid wireless service that can be half the cost than contract carriers, or eliminate the number of movie channels subscribed to through your cable to curb spending and instead go with a lower cost digital movie subscription service.

Carpool with a buddy. Ask co-workers if they would be interested in carpooling with you. This will save you and your co-worker gas money, while also being environmentally friendly. Can't find a co-worker who lives in your area? Many online websites exist to link those interested in sharing rides per region.

Cut those coupons. It may sound old fashioned, but you can score great deals on food and home goods when you dust off those scissors. Clip through your local Sunday newspaper, or search online. Many online sites offer extreme discounts on meals, gifts and services specific to your locale.

Eat economically. If you love eating out on a regular basis, plan to eat breakfast at home. Save your hard-earned cash for leisurely lunches and dinners where you can unwind with family and friends. This trick will lighten the load on your pocketbook, which is always easier to digest.


5 Fast Fixes for a Summer-Ready Car

April 5, 2013 5:48 pm

(BPT)—With summer-just around the corner, it's time to get-your car-in tip-top shape to withstand hot days and long road trips. Summer driving requires your car to run differently, some adjustments and inspections are important to ensure your vehicle lasts season to season. Follow these five fast fixes and inspections to cruise through the summer and avoid roadside headaches.

Tire care

Tires perform differently in different weather conditions, so as the weather changes, it's important to check tire pressure and tire tread. To check tire tread, see if the built-in "wear bars" are visible. These are narrow strips of rubber across the tires that appear when the tread is worn down to one-sixteenth of an inch. If you can see wear bars, your tires need to be replaced.

Now that you've put in the effort to make your tires safe, make them shine. The Tire Shine Coating from Dupli-Color will keep your tires looking like new all season long. It's easy to apply and features Shine-Lasttechnology. Its formula lasts five times longer than silicone-based tire dressings, so tires will keep their shine through rain and other harsh elements. Simply spray it on your tires and hit the open road in style.

De-winterize your car
De-winterizing your car is easy and affordable. First, check all the fluid levels - coolant, transmission, differential, power steering and brake fluid - to make sure there aren't any leaks. It's also a good idea to change the oil between seasons, as oil gets thick and collects condensation if it sits in the engine all winter.

It's also important to thoroughly clean the-undercarriage-of your car after a long winter, especially if you live in a snowy climate. To avoid spending extra money on detailing, clean the undercarriage yourself using a basic water hose or high-pressure cleaning system. In just a few minutes, you can ensure your vehicle is ready for the new road conditions and help you avoid any unnecessary issues.

Paint protection
Winter can be tough on a car's exterior and sunshine will reveal every nick, chip and scratch in your vehicle's paint. Restoring your ride's original factory finish takes only minutes with the easy-to-apply Dupli-Color ScratchFix 2 in 1. This innovative touch-up paint product is available in hundreds of Exact-Match colors for domestic and imported vehicles.

Simply use your vehicle's make, model and year to find your guaranteed matching color code, and use one of the two applicators to fix any scrapes or nicks in no time. With a roller ball tip for precision and a tapered brush for full coverage, ScratchFix 2 in 1 will not only make your car look great, it will also protect the damaged surface from rusting and becoming a big, expensive problem.

Check the AC
Your air conditioning system will be working overtime in the summer, so take time to test it to make sure it's working properly sooner, rather than later. Since the vehicle's refrigerant is under high pressure and harmful to the atmosphere, it's best to leave any inspection or maintenance to a qualified professional. Mechanics can easily trap and recycle used refrigerant with the proper tools, and you can drive off with confidence you'll stay cool all summer.

Inspect hoses and belts
The key to comfortable, safe summer driving is keeping the engine cool, and hoses and belts play a huge part in helping your engine run properly. Hoses pump coolant to and from the engine block, and belts run the fan that cools the system further. If the hoses crack or the belts snap, the radiator will quickly overheat, leaving you stranded. Check hoses for cracks, leaks and loose connections. Hoses should be firm, never soft and malleable, and belts can be visually checked for damage. If anything is noticeably wrong, get it fixed immediately, before you're stranded in the summer heat.

Vehicles need updating and maintenance through the changing of the seasons, but a few easy steps can prevent a summer of unexpected issues and repairs. Start now on these preventative maintenance tips and you'll be cruising smoothly all season long.

Word of the Day

April 5, 2013 5:48 pm

Net lease. Lease requiring the tenant to pay all the costs incurred in maintaining a property, including taxes, insurance, repairs, and other expenses normally required of the owner.

Q: Should I Hire a Home Inspector?

April 5, 2013 5:48 pm

A: By all means. Buying a home without getting expert advice is risky. Once a home inspector uncovers major plumbing and electrical problems, for example, you may decide you do not want to spend several thousand dollars on repairs.

Always include an inspection clause in your written offer. This clause gives you an “out” from buying if serious problems are detected. It also gives you another chance to negotiate the purchase price if repairs are needed. The clause can even specify that the sellers fix any problem that is uncovered before you settle, or close, on the home.

You also may want to consider hiring experts to inspect the home for a number of health-related risks like radon gas, asbestos, or possible problems with the water or waste disposal system.

Get Kids Outdoors No Matter the Weather

April 5, 2013 4:18 pm

(Family Features)- Parents often keep a running list of rainy day activities, crafts and games to keep kids indoors when the forecast is soggy. But if your kids have never dodged rain drops, built a snowman or enjoyed a lazy summer afternoon outside, they're missing out on something wonderful.

Weather was cited as the biggest barrier to getting kids outdoors by 61 percent of parents recently surveyed by the National Wildlife Federation. But the outdoor activities kids love, such as running, jumping, climbing, playing games with friends and taking nature walks, are a great strategy for keeping children healthy and happy.

"Children are safe to play outside in most kinds of weather barring the extremes," said Lindsay Legendre, manager of the National Wildlife Federation's Be Out There movement. "Regular outdoor play is so important to kids' healthy development and a little rain shouldn't stop them from being out there. Parents might enjoy puddle jumping again themselves."

Bring on the Rain. Rain can sometimes be blamed for causing children to catch colds or flu, particularly when their hair or feet get wet. However, rain cannot make you sick. Dress children in waterproof hats, boots and raincoats to keep kids from getting too soggy. If storm conditions develop, get out of any body of water and seek shelter in a nearby building. Prepare for mud and splashes in advance by keeping a heavy mat and dry towels by the front door.

How Hot Is too Hot? When temperatures climb, make sure to have plenty of water available and take precautions, such as applying sunscreen and wearing loose clothing that is light in color. Try to schedule outdoor time during the early morning and evening, which are often the coolest part of the day.

Allergies. In many areas, seasonal allergies are another challenge for parents to contend with in regard to outdoor play. Experts say, in addition to any allergy medications recommended by your pediatrician, there are steps you can take to help allergic kids enjoy the outdoors. Encourage kids to go outside in the early morning and evening when pollen counts are lower. Cool shades or sunglasses can prevent allergens from entering their eyes. Have them shower and wash their hair once they come back in.

Baby, It's Cold Outside. Many moms and dads are reluctant to send kids outside when temperatures drop. The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to dress kids in several thin layers to keep them dry and warm, including warm coats, boots, gloves and hats. It's also important to set reasonable time limits on outdoor play and have children come inside periodically to warm up. And don't forget the sunscreen, as sunlight, especially reflecting off snow, can cause burns.

"Kids should get at least 60 minutes of exercise every day, and it's great if they can do so outside for the fresh air and more room to play," says Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician and author of Heading Home with Your Newborn.


How to Snack Smarter

April 5, 2013 4:18 pm

(Family Features)—Did you ever find yourself skipping a meal so you could enjoy a snack? Well you're not alone. In fact, according to a national survey commissioned by Dole Banana Dippers and conducted by Wakefield Research, nearly 60 percent of women have skipped a meal so they could enjoy a snack without feeling guilty.

With so many hours in a day, it's nearly impossible to just eat three meals. Everyone needs a snack to keep them feeling satisfied throughout the day. However, it's important to make smart choices when you reach for that mid-day pick-me-up. Next time you are considering skipping lunch, keep these tips in mind so you can have your snack and eat your meal, too.

Manage Your Sweet Tooth: Every once in a while it's okay to give into your sweet tooth. Depriving yourself won't make your body or your mind happy. So next time you're craving a sweet treat, reach for something that won't leave you feeling guilty, like fruit or dark chocolate.

Enhance What's in Your Eyesight: You are more likely to eat a healthy snack if it's within reach. So, keep a bowl of fruit on your counter to reach for when you are feeling hungry. And if you find yourself overindulging at work, keep a container of mixed nuts on your desk; they will fill you up quickly and give you extra energy to help get you through the day.

Bring Out the Bowl: It can be hard to stop reaching for potato chips once you start; before you know it, the whole bag is gone. To help keep track of just how many servings you are eating, purchase snacks packaged in individual serving sized containers. If you are a club shopper, or if you just prefer to purchase the whole bag, remember that snacking out of the bag will make you more likely to overindulge. To avoid this, put your snack on a plate or in a bowl; it will help you realize just how much you're eating.

Slow It Down: Do you tend to wait until you are extremely hungry to have a snack? Before you inhale your treats, take a breath and remember that when you eat your snack too quickly, you don't give your body time to digest and process whether or not you are satisfied. Eat slowly and savor every bite. You will feel as if you are eating more than you actually are, and your body will have time to decide if it is full or not.

So next time that 3:00 p.m. grumble rolls around, remember these tips to help you snack smart.


Top 10 Ways to Get Yourself Fired

April 5, 2013 4:18 pm

Short of a company shut-down, most workers believe they won’t be fired unless they are either grossly incompetent or they’ve taken cash out of the till. But the fact is, there are many kinds of workplace behavior that could land you out on the street.

Human Relations specialists at a college Career Day in California listed 10 workplace mistakes to avoid if you want to keep your hard-earned job:

  1. Lying on your resume – Truth matters, and most employers will do educational and background checks to corroborate the information you’ve provided. False claims about your degree or achievements will almost always lead to dismissal.
  2. Too much web surfing – Workplace computers can be monitored. Spending too many work hours surfing in cyberspace is a good way to find yourself unemployed.
  3. Indiscreet job hunting – Again, computers may be monitored, and that includes instant messages. If you’re in the job market, don’t send resumes or job applications to other employers from your workplace computer.
  4. Gossiping – Sometimes the walls really do have ears. Stay away from the rumor mill if you want to keep your job.
  5. Too many personal calls – There’s no such thing as privacy in the workplace. Employers frown on taking or making too many personal calls.
  6. Alienating co-workers – It’s the old ‘works and plays well with others.’ Don’t get yourself a rep for being detached or unpleasant around other employees.
  7. Forgetting to check your work – Double-check your facts and figures every single time. Too many mistakes will likely get you fired.
  8. Not taking responsibility – Pointing fingers never gets you points. When mistakes happen, take responsibility for any error that may have been yours.
  9. Getting involved with the boss – Whether it’s romantic involvement or providing too much sympathetic ear, the result is often somebody leaving the company – and it’s more likely to be you than the boss.
  10. Drinking or drugs on the job – It should be obvious: Sobriety on any job is mandatory.

Word of the Day

April 5, 2013 4:18 pm

Nonconforming use. Use of property that is permitted to continue after a zoning ordinance prohibiting it has been passed.

Q: What Does a Home Inspector Do?

April 5, 2013 4:18 pm

A: A home inspector is a paid professional – often a contractor or an engineer – who checks the safety of a home. Home inspectors search for defects or other problems that could become your worst nightmare later on. They focus particularly on the home’s structure, construction, and mechanical systems.

It is not the inspector’s job to determine whether you are getting good value for your money. He does not establish value, only whether the home might collapse in a storm or if the roof might cave in.

A home inspection typically takes place after a purchase contract between the buyer and seller has been signed.

More Women Are Flying Solo to See the World

April 4, 2013 5:40 pm

So you’re a woman and you want to see the world – on your terms.

Join the crowd!

More and more women are traveling alone or with girlfriends; an estimated 32 million in the past year, according to the Travel Industry Association.

“It’s the new trend in travel and, really, it’s a no-brainer,” says Ruth Yunker, an intrepid solo traveler and author of “Paris, I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Ways,” a humorous recounting of her extended stay in Paris as part-time resident, part-time tourist.

“Women hold the purse strings, so to speak, and we don’t necessarily want to see and experience our travel destinations in the same ways men do.”

The numbers tell the story:

• 28 million single women ages 35 and older – a growing demographic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
• Earnings for women with a college degree have increased 31 percent since 1979 while men’s grew just 16 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
• In 2011, 28 percent of married women made more than their husbands, up from 17.8 percent in 1987.

“We value our independence and we have the means to get up and go, so why not?” Yunker says.

If you’re a woman who has dreamed of taking off on a safari, jaunting across Europe or sampling fried seahorses in Beijing, Yunker offers valuable advice:

1. So you want to travel. You are dying to travel. You have a list of 10 favorite places you’re going to get to … one day. Buy the airline ticket six months in advance. A non-refundable ticket. Don’t fret. Don’t get stopped by all the details. Just do it. There. You’ve taken the first step. You can, and will, worry about all the other details later. But baby, with this ticket, you are now on your way.

2. Bring a few creature comforts from home. I bring my own pillowcase for the airline pillows, my ragged at-home comfy wear instead of new nightgowns for the hotel or apartment, and the clipboard for working crossword puzzles.

3. Pack only clothes you currently actually wear. Do not buy a ton of new clothes for the trip. A suitcase packed with new clothes is a trip doomed to tears, trust me. The old clothes fit you now. You know without thinking how to look pulled together. The new clothes are uncomfortable. They don’t go with anything yet. And they scream brand new traveler!

4. Bring some currency from your destination country with you. Do it. Everyone will tell you otherwise. They’ll say it’s so much cheaper to change your money once you get there. Maybe. But in the mayhem of the airport, suitcases going in every direction, do you really want to be finding the currency exchange? Just getting to the hotel/apartment will be job enough. So do arrive with Euros or whatever currency you need. It doesn’t have to be a huge sum, just enough to ease your arrival.

5. Once at the hotel, unpack your toilet articles and arrange them in the bathroom in the same order you do at home. It makes things so much easier. It’s so nice to be able to leave the hotel/apartment without having had a meltdown looking for misplaced mascara.

Ruth Yunker is an author, humorist, columnist, blogger and diehard world traveler.

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