Gunning Daily News

Think It's Gone? How to Get That Sold Out Gift

December 5, 2012 6:06 pm

Every parent or grandparent wants to make the holidays a special time, one that the beloved children in their lives will always remember. Be the holiday hero by getting the gifts they really want – those super popular toys making headlines across the country. Of course, the hottest holiday toys quickly sell out. With a few smart shopping strategies, you will be able to get the gifts they really want without a lot of hassle.

Your children or grandchildren are sure to squeal with delight when they tear open their presents and find a Nintendo Wii U, a Disney Doc McStuffins doll or a Furby in one of the hardest-to-find colors. How were you able to get the toys that your friends and neighbors could not get? You followed some simple shopping strategies for locating high-demand items:

Visit the manufacturer's website

The first step to tracking down a popular toy is to find out where the toy can be found. Each manufacturer's website will list where its toys are sold. Contrary to popular belief, not every major retailer carries all the popular toys of this year. Some manufacturers have exclusive agreements with certain retailers, while other manufacturers may stock at smaller toy stores as well as large retailers.

Call early and be courteous
Call when the store opens so you can speak with a department manager before peak shopping hours. Be courteous and ask if a toy is in-stock. If possible, ask for the item to be held for you. If you are told it is out of stock, do not be shy about asking when the store receives its shipments. On that day, call the store and ask if your item was in the shipment. Better yet, be there for when the store opens.

Use technology to your advantage
The Internet has changed the way people shop for holiday gifts. If you are having trouble tracking down a special toy, you can search it online, or use tools like TrackAToy.com, a free resource that helps people find the most popular toys.

Online discussion boards are another valuable resource for holiday shoppers. A quick search and you will find a number of different online forums.

Finding that perfect holiday toy does not have to be an impossible mission when you utilize a few smart shopping strategies. From calling stores in the morning to free online product alerts, you will make this the most memorable holiday yet.

Source: www.trackatoy.com

Boomers on the Road: Plan Ahead and Protect Your Health

December 5, 2012 6:06 pm

(BPT) - Getting older means being a little more susceptible to a variety of health problems while traveling. However, with a little planning and some caution, baby boomers and seniors can have a safe, healthy and enjoyable trip. Here are some pre-planning tips to help get you started:

* Mention your planned travels with your physician. Discuss any medications you're currently taking, and if you'll need refills prior to departure.

* Carry a copy of all your prescriptions with you when you travel. When going abroad, you may also want to know the generic name of your drug in case your prescribed version isn't available locally. Losing a pill bottle or accidentally breaking a vial of insulin - for example - can very easily happen on a vacation, and if you are touring around a foreign country, you may have difficulty obtaining a refill if you don't have this information handy or if your drug is unavailable or sold under a different name.

* Sign up for travel assistance. Nobody plans to get sick or injured while traveling, but it can happen. And sometimes an injury or illness is severe enough to force the traveler to cut the trip short and seek medical attention. Baby boomers and seniors have trusted doctors at home, and often want to return home immediately for medical care. This is where On Call International's medical evacuation and travel assistance memberships come in handy. The annual membership and mature membership offer medical evacuations to the hospital of the member's choice, regardless of whether they can receive appropriate care locally. Visit www.oncallinternational.com/travel-assistance/individuals to learn more about travel assistance.

* Visit a travel medicine specialist. You may be required to get new vaccinations when traveling to specific foreign countries. Ask your doctor to recommend a travel medicine specialist who can educate you about the immunizations that are required or recommended for your destination, as well as any other health concerns specific to your destination.

* Pack over-the-counter supplies. A vacation means getting out and doing new or different activities. This change of pace may result in sore and achy muscles. A vacation also means you might be exposed to new and different germs, which could develop into a traveler's cold or the flu. Pack some over-the-counter medications to help treat potential symptoms, so you don't have to take time out of your vacation to search for a pharmacy or drug store. Hopefully you won't need any of the supplies, but it's always a good idea to have them handy.

With a little pre-planning, you'll be able to have the relaxing vacation you deserve, while also reducing your chances of encountering common health pitfalls that could put a damper on your trip.

Word of the Day

December 5, 2012 6:06 pm

Cloud on title. Defect in the title that impairs the owner’s ability to market the property. This might be a lien, claim, judgment, or encumbrance.

Q: What Should I Consider when Redoing My Kitchen?

December 5, 2012 6:06 pm

A: It is tempting to discard existing appliances when you build new cabinets around them. Rethink the idea. If the appliances are workable, keep them – and save yourself from $1,000 to $5,000, according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. Also keep the present location of major fixtures, appliances and utilities relative to the plumbing, gas and electrical outlets. Rearranging plumbing, wiring and jacks can be very expensive. Refacing existing cabinets can reduce the cost of your kitchen remodel considerably and eliminate the need for new flooring, countertops and appliances. If you must get new cabinets, options such as spice racks and slide out wire baskets can be added later. Also, install cabinets without soffits to decrease labor cost; and avoid trim moldings, or use a simple trim. If you must have a new wood trim to match the new cabinets, order pre-finished trim to decrease labor cost; avoid having the painting or staining done on-site. Other helpful tips: choose neutral colors for fixtures, appliances and laminates and avoid the need for a new floor by sanding and refinishing a hardwood floor that may be underneath the existing vinyl flooring.

Simplify Holiday Gift Giving

December 4, 2012 5:56 pm

(BPT) - Overwhelmed by your holiday shopping list and short on time? Not to worry - here are a few tips to cut costs, stay organized and still buy presents that your friends and family will love.

1. Stick to a budget. Arrive at the dollar amount at which you feel comfortable spending and stick with it. Then, decide on cost ranges that you would pay for those on your list. Setting limits on how much you can spend per person will streamline the overall process of holiday shopping.

2. Be prepared with back-up gift cards. What if your cousin-in-law shows up to your shindig with a cute makeup set for you, but you have nothing for her? Don't let that happen by keeping a stock of extra gift cards. Stores like CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and Target offer a wide variety of them, so you don't have to drive from store to store.

3. Bake simple homemade treats. It's not the cost of the present that counts; it's the thought that matters. Show off your culinary skills with some heart-healthy oatmeal cookies or your delectable apple pie. If you need creative ideas, search Pinterest for mouth-watering inspiration.

4. Give to a worthwhile cause. Make a donation in the name of that friend or family member who has everything. Think about the recipient's philanthropic interests rather than just contributing to a cause that you support. Write a thoughtful card explaining what inspired you to choose this gift for an added touch.

Follow these easy tips and you'll be sure to experience stress-free holiday gifting.

Word of the Day

December 4, 2012 5:56 pm

Closing statement. Written account of all expenses, adjustments, and disbursements received by the buyer and seller when completing a real estate transaction.

Beyond Cash Back: Holiday Credit Card Perks Pay Off

December 3, 2012 6:16 pm

(BPT) - Hunting for deals and door buster sales this holiday? There are several little-known credit card perks to keep in mind before you reach into your wallet.

In addition to cash rewards and extra airline or travel credits, many credit card issuers also offer some valuable benefits which can help you stretch your dollars this holiday. You may also get extended product warranties, price protection and return guarantees on eligible purchases.

Seek out the online deals this holiday
When you shop online this holiday, make your credit card reward site your first stop. You may get exclusive offers such as free shipping and cash back on your purchases.

For instance, Discover regularly offers 5 to 20 percent cash back at hundreds of top retailers through the ShopDiscover online mall, and the offers are even better during the holidays. You log in to the card site and click through to the retailer website, and your purchases earn cash back. Be sure to read the terms - some items may not be included and things like gift-wrapping may not earn cash back either.

Gift cards - always a great gift
Many people save their rewards for the holidays and redeem them for gifts like merchandise or gift cards. It saves on your out-of-pocket expenses - and can often get you a better deal.

Price protection and return guarantee
Just by using your rewards credit card this holiday, you may be able to get the best deal and avoid buyer's remorse.- That's because some credit cards offer a benefit called price protection. If you find a lower price on your eligible purchased item within a specified time frame (typically 90 days) your credit card company will refund the difference.

Not happy with your purchase and the store won't accept your return? You may be in luck. Some credit card companies will refund the purchase price regardless of the store policy if you submit a claim within a designated time frame. Be sure to read the terms to see what may and may not be included in these offers.

Extended product warranty
Many credit cards will now extend the manufacturer's warranty up to an additional year at no additional cost. Check to see if your credit card offers extended product warranty coverage - another way to get a great value from your credit card.

Purchase protection
If a recently purchased item breaks or is stolen, you may still be in luck if you bought it using a credit card that offers purchase protection. Many credit cards offer free purchase protection on items if they are damaged or stolen when the entire purchase is made on your credit card. Not all features may be available to all card members, or they may only apply to certain cards, so it is important to read the fine print on your agreement.

Travel protection
Many rewards credit cards offer points, airline miles or cash back on your airline travel. Did you know they may also offer added travel protection as well? Look for credit card benefits like 24/7 travel assistance that can help with things like rebooking a flight or tracking lost luggage. And see if coverage is offered for things like car rental and flight insurance when you use your card. You may be surprised at the added value these benefits offer.

Know your coverage before you shop and you can enjoy worry-free benefits that will help you earn cash back, stay safe and keep saving this holiday season.

How-To: Prioritize Your Debt

December 3, 2012 6:16 pm

Is all debt created equal? Maybe not. In order to pay down debt faster while paying the least amount of interest, you'll need to prioritize some debt over others so that you can pay the least amount in the long run--being strategic about which ones you pay off first can save a significant amount of money, potentially hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Here's how you can prioritize paying down debt:

Credit Card Debt – Credit cards are a convenient form of payment, but chances are this is your most expensive debt, which is why it's so important that you pay it off as quickly as possible. If you carry a balance on more than one credit card, first pay off the one that charges the highest interest rate.

Mortgage Loan – If you own a home, this is likely the largest debt you carry; however, it's usually at a lower interest rate. Paying off your mortgage sooner rather than later can also save you thousands in interest. Paying extra each month, making an additional payment every few months, or splitting your monthly mortgage into bi-monthly payments are all ways you can pay down your loan faster.

Auto Loan –
Similar to a mortgage loan, auto loans typically charge lower interest rates. And, like mortgage loans, you can potentially save a significant amount in interest by paying off the loan faster.
Student Loans – Although it depends on what type of student loans you have, interest rates are generally low and there are several types of repayment options. It's important to pay these loans on time each month to help build your credit.

Sources: www.helpingmakemoneymakesense.com www.harrisbank.com

Tips to Avoid Holiday Headaches

December 3, 2012 6:16 pm

Holidays are a time for family, friends, and happy memories. But those joyful moments can be associated with stress – from marathon shopping, preparing for celebrations, and traveling. Stress and other stimuli may trigger or increase your headaches.

The National Headache Foundation recommends the following to avoid those holiday headaches:

Maintain your regular sleep schedule.
Those late night parties can play havoc with anyone's health, and especially impact those with chronic headaches and migraine. Try to go to sleep and awaken at the same time each day. Don't skip on your sleep – make sure you get your regular amount of sleep – 8 hours would be perfect.

Maintain your regular meal schedule.
Too often, we skip or miss meals as we travel from mall to mall, or are cooking/cleaning in preparation for a big celebration. If you can't stop for a regular meal, how about packing nutritious snacks?

Moderation is the key to avoid those "hangover" headaches. If you opt for that festive cocktail, sip your drink slowly. Mixed drinks containing fruit or vegetable choices (think Bloody Mary) may have less negative effects than straight alcohol. For migraine sufferers, red wine is a well-known culprit so a glass of white wine is preferable.

Watch that diet. Offerings at those holiday parties may look delicious but may contain foods that trigger headaches such as ripened cheese, chocolate, and processed meats. Some sensitive individuals should avoid food items containing MSG or low-cal beverages with aspartame. Monitor your caffeine intake and avoid or limit colas, coffee, and tea. The cold weather may encourage stopping for a hot cocoa but think twice before ordering.

Sniff easy. As you sprint through those crowded stores, be aware of odors that may produce a headache. Those perfume scents wafting through the air may trigger a headache, and some unfortunate individuals may be sensitive to the smell of pine boughs and balsam trees. With the introduction of no smoking ordinances, public places may be safer if you are sensitive to tobacco smoke. However, private parties may be a haven for smokers, particularly those enjoying a celebratory cigar. Your best bet is to find an area free of smoke and perfume.

Make “me” time. It would be easy to say avoid stress but that would be a gargantuan task at this time of the year. To help maneuver through the holidays, set aside personal time. If you feel you have had more than adequate "family togetherness," take a walk or just take a break from the festivities. Organize your schedule for shopping, cooking, cleaning, and "me" time.

Source: www.headaches.org

Word of the Day

December 3, 2012 6:16 pm

Closing costs. Expenses over and above the price of property that must be paid by buyers and sellers before title is transferred. Also known as settlement costs.