Gunning Daily News
May 15, 2013 5:26 pm
From $20,000 to $65,000 a year – that’s the tuition cost for one year of college, says John McDonough, a money expert who helps retirees and parents plan for their families’ futures.
“For the 2012–2013 academic year, the average cost for an in-state public college is $22,261. A moderate budget for a private college averaged $43,289,” says McDonough, CEO of Studemont Group College Funding Solutions. “But for elite schools, we’re talking about three times the cost of your local state school. Either way, your kid’s higher education can easily shoot into six figures after four years.”
Along with worrying about rising tuition prices, parents also fear for their own futures if their retirement savings are drained by children’s college costs, McDonough says. Only 14 percent, for example, are very confident they’ll have the money to live comfortably in retirement, he says, citing a 2012 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
“Families feel they’re faced with conflicting goals, but there are numerous ways to pay for college while investing in your future retirement,” says McDonough, who offers insights for parents to keep in mind while planning for their child’s education:
• The ROI of a college education: At a time when so many American families are financially strapped, college is an especially stressful topic because parents know higher learning will help their kids succeed. College graduates earn 84 percent than those with only a high school diploma, according to Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce. Here is how earning breaks down over one’s life time, based on education: a doctoral degree-holder will earn $3.3 million over a lifetime; $2.3 million is estimated for a college graduate; those with only a high school diploma can expect $1.3 million.
• Move retirement assets to qualify for grants: Most parents know about the 529 savings account, but that’s not necessarily the best or only option. Reallocating your retirement assets, such as 401(k)s, can better position a child to qualify for grants and scholarships. This legal and ethical maneuvering may be the single most important factor when considering how to pay for college.
• Know your student’s strengths and weaknesses: Consider independent and objective analysis of your future college student. Assessment might include a personality profile and a detailed search for a future career. Also think about a more nuts-and-bolts approach, including scholarship eligibility, SAT and ACT prep courses, review of admissions essays and an in-depth analysis of chances for enrollment in a student’s top four choices of colleges.
• Make a checklist of financial aid forms: In order to maximize a fair price of higher education, remember there is plenty of data to review. McDonough recommends a checklist with a timeline and notable deadlines. Be ready to troubleshoot the “alphabet soup” of data forms: FAFSA – Free Application For Federal Student Aid; CSS profile – College Scholarship Service; SAR – Student Aid Report; and more. Think about this process as a second job, or find professional help you can trust.
May 15, 2013 5:26 pm
Quit-claim deed. A conveyance by which the grantor transfers whatever interest he or she has in the real estate without warranties or obligations.
May 15, 2013 5:26 pm
A: There are many ways to finance a remodeling project. If you have equity in your home, a good credit rating, and steady income, you can refinance your mortgage and borrow a percentage of the equity to cover remodeling costs. Refinancing is a good option if you can get a mortgage interest rate at least two percentage points below your current home loan rate. Other options include a second mortgage, a home equity loan, or an unsecured loan. Less popular options: margin loans, which are taken against securities you own, and loans from retirement plans, life insurance policies and credit cards.
May 15, 2013 4:26 pm
Sure, virtually everybody knows their shoe size, but very few people are aware of their carbon footprint. And since I provide so many energy saving and efficiency ideas via these reports, it's about time to learn how to calculate exactly how big a carbon footprint you or your household is making.
Enter TerraPass -- the brainchild of Dr. Karl Ulrich at the University of Pennsylvania. Along with 41 of his students, Karl launched TerraPass in October 2004 as a way to help everyday people reduce the climate impact of their driving.
Now you can take action to mitigate your carbon footprint, whether it’s from driving, flying, or energy consumption. TerraPass claims its U.S. emissions reduction projects produce the best carbon offsets the U.S. has to offer. To learn how to calculate one's carbon footprint, click here.
There you will not only find a tool to calculate the carbon footprint of your household or business, but a way to learn how weddings, parties -- even business meetings contribute to harmful environmental impact. For a household, just input your zip code, clarify if you use gas or electricity and enter your average monthly bill.
The calculator tells you immediately the average monthly bill for utility costs within your zip code - so you learn immediately how your consumption stacks up against your neighbors.
Your 'score' comes with an estimate of how much you can spend for energy credits to fill in the hole your household carbon footprint creates. TerraPass carbon offsets support clean energy and other projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a portfolio consisting of clean energy, farm power and landfill gas capture.
May 14, 2013 5:14 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.
May 14, 2013 5:14 pm
Spring is finally here, and it's a beautiful time of year to spruce up your property and get it ready for the warmer weather. For many people, this means creating an outdoor environment that is inviting and fun to use during the warmer months. This is just as important if you're planning on selling your home as if you're going to be living in it.
Nicer weather means that people want to spend more time outdoors working, playing, socializing, and even eating. Most homeowners invest some time preparing their yards and gardens for warmer days, and the same rules apply when prepping your home for sale. Buyers will be tempted by the accessibility and appeal that you enjoy in your yard.
Making your yard and the outside of your home enticing doesn't have to be expensive. All it takes is a little elbow grease and a few key investments – most likely the same investments you make every year as the weather warms up. Here are a few small fixes and embellishments that you can use to your advantage when making your outdoor space appealing:
Clean it up. Your outdoor space can give prospective buyers the impression of an additional "room" when viewing your home. And as with any other room in your home, you want everything to be in order. Stow lawn tools and outdoor toys in a garage, shed, or storage bench when you are not using them. Clean up anything that has gotten grimy during the cold winter months. Wash windows and clear gutters. Rent a power washer from a local home supply store to clean off siding, decks, patios, and fences that look dirty.
Make quick fixes. Replace or repair anything that has taken a beating. Paths and patios should be free of chipped or cracked tiles or paving stones. Shore up fences that are damaged or leaning. Repaint any trim or decking that is in bad shape. Make sure all of your outdoor lighting is working.
Make your landscaping stand out. While you don't necessarily want to plant a huge vegetable garden that will require maintenance (and for which you may not reap the benefits), well-placed and carefully maintained plantings are an easy and attractive way to make your home stand out. If you don't have the time to maintain flower beds, add a few pots and planters brimming with bright blooms. Hanging baskets of flowers are available at virtually any home store or nursery, while small pots of fresh herbs are pretty and you can take them with you when you move. As always, stay on top of weeding and keep grass trimmed and bushes and trees pruned. Investing in some fresh mulch will give your yard a clean appearance.
Add charm. A prospective homebuyer will likely be drawn to the allure of dining al fresco, so if you have a grill or barbecue area, make it inviting with some attractive outdoor furniture. If you have a pool, open it and maintain it. Keep the water sparkling and inviting, and store pool toys out of sight. And don't forget how your property will look during evening hours. Outdoor lighting comes in all shapes and sizes, and much of it is very affordable. Invest in some fixtures that highlight your property's best features. And keep lawn ornaments to a minimum. Remember that buyers want to imagine themselves in your home, so it's best to give them room to imagine their own belongings in your outdoor space.
With summer just a few weeks away and winter just a memory, it's time to get out and enjoy the nicer weather. The best part of preparing your lawn and yard for sale is that you can enjoy the benefits while you are waiting for an offer to come through.
Susie Shortsleeve is a REALTOR® Weston, Mass.
May 14, 2013 5:14 pm
Every year hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. are involved in traffic accidents. Many of these accidents result in only minor injuries, but massive insurance claims. It is wonderful if you find yourself physically unscathed after an accident. However, you will at some point have to deal with your insurance company as well as the insurance agents of others involved in the accident.
Filing an insurance claim and handling insurance adjusters can be quite a task, and it is important to get legal advice. However, here are some things you may want to do on your own in order to better protect yourself.
Make sure you have an emergency kit in your vehicle. This should include pen and paper, a camera (sometimes your cell phone camera can be damaged in an accident) a medical card listing emergency contacts and any known allergies, flashlight and if possible a set of cones or emergency flares.
Contact your insurance company as soon after the accident or injury as possible. Don’t forget to keep safety 1st, and move vehicles off the side and out of the way if possible. Unless you have some very serious injuries to take care of, your insurance agent is the first person to call in case of an accident or injury.
Do your best to get as many details of the accident as possible. This will include taking pictures of the damaged vehicles and any injuries. Make sure to take pictures from different distances as well as from different angles. Also do try to take down the names and numbers of any witnesses to the accident who may later be able to help your case in the event the other driver disputes your account of events.
May 14, 2013 5:14 pm
A: That space may be as close as the next room, particularly if there is unused or under utilized areas in your home. A garage, attic, side porch, large closet, or basement can all be converted to fit the use you have in mind. Or, maybe, a small area can be carved from a larger area like a kitchen or living room to create, say, a powder room. This concept of “stealing” space from a neighboring room is called space reconfiguration and it is much cheaper than a major remodeling job.
May 13, 2013 5:14 pm
Not to be a pest, but I recently discovered a very big ant problem involving very small ants. And while the change of season apparently diverted their attention from the cupboard to the more diverse and easy to access bounty of the great outdoors, the prospect of calling in a pest control service was pretty daunting.
The regional Better Business Bureau apparently hears from a lot of nervous pending pest control clients, because the agency just issued a punch list of warnings to ensure you don't get stung by unscrupulous pest management services. In 2012, more than 786,000 people turned to Better Business Bureau for information on pest control services.
BBB and NPMA recommend the following tips for finding a qualified pest management professional:
Check them out - Evaluate pest control professionals and companies that are members of national, state or local associations. Ask friends and neighbors to recommend pest control companies they have used successfully and ask how satisfied they were with the service.
Always deal with a qualified and licensed pest management company - Ask to see the license or other credentials of the pest control professional that comes to solve your pest problem.
Don’t rush - If a sizable amount of money is involved, get bids from several pest management companies.
Understand before you sign - Before signing a contract, be sure to fully understand the nature of the household pest to be exterminated, the extent of the infestation, and the work necessary to solve the problem. Find out if the pest control company has liability insurance to cover any damages to your house or furnishings during treatment.
If a guarantee is given, know what it covers, how long it lasts, what you must do to keep it in force, and what kind of continuing control, prevention and management are necessary.
Don’t fall for high-pressure sales tactics - Buy value, not price. Beware of companies that offer bargains that sound too good to be true. Be wary of companies that come to your home uninvited and offer to give your house a free inspection for pests or press you for immediate and/or costly treatments.
May 13, 2013 5:14 pm
(BPT)—With many states facing drought this summer, homeowners across the country will be looking for ways to save their landscaping while conserving water at the same time. Even if you're not in a drought-affected area, it pays to keep conservation in mind when it comes to watering outdoors. Using less water is good for the environment and your wallet.
Fortunately, maximizing the efficiency of your watering efforts and taking steps to conserve water outdoors can help trim your water bill this summer, even if you live in a severe drought area, such as in the western regions of the country. Here are simple ways to conserve water, save money and preserve your garden, lawn and landscaping this season:
Efficient, effective irrigation
Traditional watering methods for lawns, gardens and flower beds waste a lot of water through run-off, over-saturation and evaporation. Rather than spraying water over plants, use a method that delivers the right amount of water where it will do the most good - the roots of plants.
Drip irrigation systems can help you water more effectively. These systems deliver water as close as possible to plant roots, allowing you to achieve better results with less water used. You'll also lose less water to run-off and evaporation. Place the system on a timer, and you can also ensure you're watering at optimum times of the day to reduce evaporation and waste. A starter kit with 50 linear feet of tubing - ample enough to handle most gardens and planting beds - costs less than $1 per foot.
Water lawns, gardens and flower beds either early in the morning or as evening approaches to ensure you don't lose moisture to the hot sun. And if a day is windy, hold off watering lawns altogether as the breeze could leave you watering the sidewalk or driveway, rather than your grass.
Reuse, recycle and preserve
Even during a drought, some rain and condensation will occur. Take steps to capture natural moisture. A rain barrel situated beneath a downspout ensures you can catch run-off from your home's roof. While using barrel water may not be practical with most irrigation systems, it's a great option for watering container gardens or even indoor plants. You can also use household water, such as water left over from boiling vegetables or pasta, to water potted plants. Just be sure to let the water cool completely before using it.
You can help plants retain more moisture by placing organic mulch around the roots. The mulch will also help keep down weeds that would compete with plants for much-needed moisture. Depending on where you live and the type of mulch you choose, you can buy a bag of mulch for just a few dollars.
Finally, adjusting the type and location of plants is a great way to grow a drought-resistant garden or landscaping bed. Check with your local agricultural extension or search online for naturally drought-resistant species that do well in your area. By planting these hardier varieties, you can help keep your environment green and growing through a long, dry summer - and avoid the money drain of high water bills.