Gunning Daily News
April 2, 2013 5:52 pm
Living on a budget is never easy – and building an emergency fund or saving for a major purchase may seem too difficult a task. But, said single parent and money blogger Linda Ramos, it only takes a bit of discipline – and a firm commitment – to shave dollars off monthly expenses.
“The trick,” said Ramos, “is not just to save, but to take the dollars you would have spent and put them into a savings account. Then pat yourself on the back for your cleverness and restraint as you watch your money grow.”
Ramos suggests seven painless ways to cut expenses and save:
Better food planning – Forget fast food. Read supermarket ads and plan meals around what’s on sale. Prowl the Internet for meatless recipes and do vegetarian meals once or twice a week. Save on snacks or mindless munching by dividing boxes of cookies and crackers into snack-sized portions when you bring them home from the store…and force yourself to bank a few bucks weekly based on what you are now saving.
Check out the dollar store – It’s chock full of off-brand household products and grocery items – even fresh produce – priced well below retail, that will leave you with extra dollars you can feed into your savings account.
Cutting coupons – Clip discount coupons for groceries and local restaurants. If you must dine out, use a coupon – and if your grocery bill is reduced by $6 when you use your coupons, put at least half that into savings.
Make your cleaning products – Find ‘recipes’ online for making laundry detergents, fabric softeners and other household cleansers. Make your own, and bank a couple of bucks a week for what you save by shunning high-priced brands.
Try the thrift shop – Before you head for the mall, check the thrift shop for great bargains in hardly-worn kids’ clothing, gently used household goods and plenty more. Reward your savings account with a few of those unspent dollars.
Use the library – Stop magazine subscriptions and quit buying or renting movies, video games and more. There’s a huge selection at the local library that you can check out for free. Put a dollar into savings for every two you don’t spend.
Recycle – That means cans, bottles, newspapers and anything else you can recycle for cash – and you know what to do with that cash now, don’t you?
April 2, 2013 5:52 pm
Recording. Entering or recording documents affecting or conveying interests in real estate in the recorder’s office; until recorded a deed or mortgage generally is not effective against subsequent purchases or mortgage liens.
April 2, 2013 5:52 pm
A: When a homeowner falls behind on three payments, the bank will record a notice of default against the property. When the owner fails to pay up, a trustee sale is held, and the property is sold to the highest bidder. The lender that initiated the foreclosure proceedings will usually set the bid price at the loan amount. Successful bidders receive a trustee's deed as proof of ownership.
Trustee sales are advertised in advance and require all-cash bids, which can include cashiers’ checks. Normally, a sheriff, constable, or lawyer conducts the sale and acts as the trustee. Because these sales typically attract savvy investors, inexperienced buyers should come extremely prepared.
April 1, 2013 9:40 pm
Parents sending their children off to college for the first time typically have prepared years in advance for the big occasion. And since tuition rates continue to increase, parents are, more than ever, focused on having their child be successful and graduate, says David Porter, founder of a firm that designs campus wide dining programs and dining halls at colleges throughout North America, and author of “The Porter Principles: Retain & Recruit Students & Alumni, Save Millions on Dining and Stop Letting Food Service Contractors Eat Your Lunch.”
“The average cost for an in-state public college for the 2012–2013 academic year is $22,261, and a moderate budget at a private college averaged $43,289,” says Porter, who has worked with the University of Georgia, University of New Hampshire, Ferris State University, George Mason University and the University of Richmond, among others. “While many American families have seen a sharp decline in their household income, higher education for their children is still a top priority.”
So, what might parents be overlooking when trying to ensure their child starts off a career with a college degree? It’s the school’s dining program and the role it plays in campus life, including the location(s), facilities, the menu, meal plans, hours, operating days and more, Porter says.
“It can and will be the most powerful aspect of day to day life for your son or daughter to connect to their class, make friends, see and be seen and connect to the school,” he says. “The sooner they connect to one another, the more likely they are to return as sophomores and eventually graduate.”
Social architecture, he explains, is the conscious design of an environment to encourage social behaviors that lead toward a goal -- in this case, solidifying college students’ connection to one another, and a commitment to their school, through dining.
“Social architecture is a catalyst for students to connect, make friends and be social; it’s crucial to helping students connect with their school and develop bonds with other students, which are both critical to student success,” he says. “Students who live and dine on campus tend to have higher GPA’s and are more likely to graduate.”
A meticulously planned, student-focused and socially rich dining program on a campus can help a student graduate for the following reasons, he says:
• Crucial social steps: Out of the house for the first time, living alone or with roommates he or she doesn’t know, often far from home, studying challenging material and without the life skills of a mature adult – your child’s well-being is largely dependent upon the friends and colleagues he meets at school. Meals are when families, coworkers and friends come together and bond, and it’s also when students come together to meet new people, study or just blow off steam.
• Meal plan: These have often been the bane of a student’s existence, complete with limited food options, which are often scattered and frequently hamstrung with time limits. And, they can be expensive. But students won’t complain about a meal plan’s price is they’re happy with what they get. Many conscientious students today choose a vegetarian or vegan diet, or they have other diet restrictions, such as gluten, due to their health. A meal plan should complement a campus and the student clock, which is different from that of an administrator’s schedule.
• On-campus: Porter stresses the importance of unifying meal plans with dining halls; otherwise, students tend to experience the campus in a fractured manner. Meal plans that offer off-campus options are even more problematic, he says, because that steers the focus away from studies, students and other areas of university life.
• School pride: If universities are like businesses, then loyal alumni are like customer loyalty and positive word of mouth wrapped in one idea. When all of the factors come together for a pleasant, sociable, convenient and generally inviting dining hall, it’s a concrete and positive way students can see themselves as lifelong proponents of their schools.
David Porter, FCSI, is chief executive officer and president of Porter Khouw Consulting, Inc., a foodservice master planning and design firm. David has more than 40 years of hands-on food service operations and consulting experience and is a professional member of the Foodservice Consultants Society International. For more information, visit www.porterkhouwconsulting.com.
April 1, 2013 9:40 pm
The U.S. is the most severe weather-prone country on Earth, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Each year, there are approximately 100,000 thunderstorms with 10,000 being severe; 5,000 floods; and 1,000 tornadoes.
Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling of Tarrant County, leading provider of fire, water and mold damage restoration services for residential and commercial properties, offers the following tips for protecting life and property.
Have a disaster plan and emergency supplies in place. Your "Basic Emergency Kit" should include:
- Water - one gallon of water per person and pets for a minimum of three days
- Food - a three-day supply of non-perishable food for adults, children and pets and a can opener
- Battery-powered or hand crank commercial radio and a NOAA Weather
- Cell Phone with charger
- First aid kit, non-prescription drugs like pain relievers,
- prescription medications and supplies
- Copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account
- records in waterproof container.
- Sleeping bags or warm blankets
- Fire extinguisher
The beginning of spring is also a good time to inspect your property to
check for any damage winter left behind and to prepare for the spring
storm season. Below are some valuable tips for protecting your property
from severe weather.
- Clear yard of loose articles and debris
- Trim trees and shrubs
- Keep lawn furniture, outdoor toys, garbage cans secured or stored
- Inspect your roof and repair any loose shingles
- Repair siding, awnings, gutters and downspouts
April 1, 2013 9:40 pm
Metal theft continues to attract thieves across the country. Among the targets most often hit are recently foreclosed and vacated homes. These sites pose challenges to owners and banks who attempt to ward off would-be copper thieves, squatters and intruders.
While unsalable homes are still a relatively small part of the national inventory of foreclosed properties, the Department of Housing and Urban Development reports that the worse the economy is in a particular region, the more damaged and vandalized foreclosed homes are likely to be.
As the economy continues to climb out of a recession, Netwatch USA announces six tips to prevent vacant or foreclosed homes from falling victim to copper theft or potential occupation by trespassers or squatters.
Keep up with lawn care and exterior maintenance. This will not only increase curb appeal once it’s ready to sell, it will also let would-be trespassers know that the house is regularly visited and may, in fact, be inhabited. Be sure to keep gutters clean, snow shoveled, and the lawn mowed. Be sure to remove all ladders and tools after maintenance to prevent them from being used for break-ins.
Park a car in the driveway. If you have an extra car, keeping it in the driveway can be enough to make the house look inhabited. You may also want to ask a trusted neighbor to park in the driveway.
Invest in automatic interior and exterior lights. Keeping pathways, doorways, and interiors well-light may scare off potential burglars. Consider automatic lights for the exterior and lights on timers for the interior.
Lock up your circuit breaker. Effective lighting and certain surveillance equipment requires electricity, so lock the door to your circuit breaker. If kept unlocked, thieves can easily access the breaker and cut off the electricity, therefore disabling lighting and some traditional burglar alarms. To minimize electrical fire risk, turn off all unnecessary electrical circuits
Manage where the vacant property’s address is published. Until the property is ready to sell, keep the address as private as possible. Thieves will access lists of vacant homes which will make it easier and more efficient for them to find and break-in to homes.
Check that you have the correct type of insurance. Confirm with your insurance company to see if your policy needs to change now that the property is vacant. More often than not, carrying construction companies’ risk policy will adequately cover you from copper theft and vandals.
“Abandoned homes are, by their nature, a challenge to protect and are especially vulnerable to copper thieves,” says Netwatch CEO David Walsh. “Simply nailing plywood to windows and doors is not enough to scare off intruders and can easily be removed by saws and pry bars. Protecting your property with an effective surveillance system along with proper security measures will discourage potential copper thieves. "
For more information, visit www.netwatchusa.com.
April 1, 2013 9:40 pm
Maintenance fees. Paid by a condominium unit owner to the owners’ association for upkeep of the common areas.
April 1, 2013 9:40 pm
A: It depends on whether one is required by state law. If your contractor offers a warranty, which ensures quality workmanship and required repairs if faulty products or workmanship is discovered, ask to see a copy of the written provisions to make sure you have sufficient protection from defective work. You may want to become familiar with your state law, if applicable.
March 28, 2013 10:56 pm
Living in an older 'historic' home, I believe that some of the dust that has settled on a few ledges and windowsills could be as old as the residence itself. So it was with some relief that the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (acaai.org) came to the defense of homeowners who are constantly fighting a seemingly losing battle against the dust bunnies.
So is dust allergy a sign of a dirty house? The ACAAI says 'no' - however, a dirty house can make a house dust allergy problem worse. And since many substances in dust cannot be removed by normal cleaning procedures, rigorous cleaning methods can actually put more dust into the air making symptoms worse.
The ACAAI offers the following tips for reducing house dust allergens:
Measure the indoor humidity and keep it below 55 percent. Do not use vaporizers or humidifiers. You may need a dehumidifier. Use vent fans in bathrooms and when cooking to remove moisture. Repair all water leaks.
Remove wall-to-wall carpets from the bedroom if possible. Use a central vacuum or a vacuum with a HEPA filter regularly.
If you are allergic, wear a N95 filter mask while dusting, sweeping or vacuuming. Remember, it takes over two hours for the dust to settle back down, so if possible clean when the allergic patient is away and don't clean the bedroom at night.
Keep pets out of the bedroom at ALL times. Consider using a HEPA Air Cleaner in the bedroom.
Encase mattresses and pillows with "mite-proof" covers. Wash all bed linens regularly using hot water.
Do not leave out uncovered food at night, and dispose of food wastes in a tightly sealed garbage can. And if it is an issue, schedule regular professional pest control utilizing integrated pest management (IPM) methods.
Install a high efficiency media filter with a MERV rating of 11 or 12 in the furnace and air-conditioning unit. Leave the fan on to create a "whole house" air filter and change the filter with the change of the seasons. Have your heating and air-conditioning units inspected and serviced every six months.
March 28, 2013 10:56 pm
A: Ask questions that will give you a sense of the architect’s style, approach to design, and methods of work. For example: What is your design philosophy? What important issues or challenges do you see in my project? How will you approach my project? What will you show me along the way (models, drawings, or sketches) to explain the project? How do you establish fees? What would be the expected fee for my project? What is your experience/track record with cost estimating? If the scope of the project changes later, will there be additional fees? How will these be justified? The Washington Chapter of the AIA offers an excellent consumer brochure that provides additional questions and useful information.