Gunning Daily News

Choosing a Bank: 4 Things to Consider

November 13, 2012 6:10 pm

(BPT) - Life is full of everyday choices, from what you wear to where you shop. One of the most important choices you can make is where you choose to bank. Your bank is more than your corner market or mall - it's should provide ample choices to help you to make the best decisions for your lifestyle.

A bank is more than a place to withdraw and deposit money; it should be a financial partner. If you're unsure of whether your bank is truly committed to you as a partner, consider these questions: Are you paying additional fees for making an in-person transaction through a teller? Do you prefer mobile banking or need access to a branch? Look for a bank with expanded conveniences and financial choices, so you get exactly what you need.

If you're in the market for a bank that fits your lifestyle, here is a list of items to consider:

On-the-go choices
Aside from product and service offerings, it is important that your bank is available when and where you need it. Online and mobile banking are convenient ways to manage your financial accounts. Access to information like balances, pending transactions and banking history allows you to conveniently assess your account activities.

Convenient locations
Most banks' checking products include unlimited access to their branches, but consider how often you use another bank's ATM instead of your primary bank's ATM. Your bank should provide convenient locations and easy access to your money, no matter where you are. If you prefer having easy access to a branch, look for a bank with extended store hours, so you are able to visit it in the evenings or on the weekends.

Checking with choices
Of the products offered by a bank, a consumer's checking account is often the cornerstone of their banking relationship and you should get different checking account options. Your checking account can open the door to a larger relationship with your bank as you reach milestones in life, like buying your first home or preparing for retirement.

When deciding on a checking account, consider what you value in a bank. To find the best checking account for your lifestyle, consider the minimum monthly balance you will keep in your checking account. Some banks have minimum balance requirements as low as $100.

Choose change
If you're unhappy with your bank's options, the process of switching is not complicated. Some banks will even offer services to make the process hassle-free and help customers move their banking activity.

No matter the state of your current banking relationship, don't be afraid to talk to your bank and do your research about your choices. Your bank should make you feel valued and committed to help you make the best choice to fit your lifestyle.

Source: TD Bank

From Arizona to Hawaii, How Does Your City’s Air Fare?

November 13, 2012 6:10 pm

Are you breathing clean? On average, people take more than 21,600 breaths a day, yet two-thirds of the American population does not think about the quality of the air they are breathing.

The AirGenius Awards, sponsored by the makers of the new Honeywell AirGenius Air Cleaner, set out to ‘clear the air’ by assessing the nation’s cities based on specific criteria related to air quality.
So where can you find the cleanest air in America? In short, the answer is Florida. The awards, evaluated by scientists at the leading consulting firm Environmental Health & Engineering, highlighted six Florida metropolitan areas in the top 25, with Palm Bay/Melbourne/Titusville in first place.

“Data on pollen counts, particulate matter and ozone concentrations, public smoking laws, and ‘green’ city rankings for the 100 most populated U.S. cities were used in this assessment,” says Dr. Ted Myatt, ScD, a senior scientist at the leading environmental consulting company Environmental Health & Engineering and Biological Safety Officer at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Massachusetts. “The results are relevant to city dwellers and homeowners, particularly the elderly, young children, and individuals with allergies or asthma.”

Below is a list of the top 10 U.S. areas with the cleanest air:
1. Palm Bay/Melbourne/Titusville, Fla.
2. Cape Coral/Fort Myers, Fla.
3. North Port-Bradenton/Sarasota, Fla.
4. Honolulu, Hawaii
5. Tucson, Ariz.
6. Colorado Springs, Colo.
7. Albuquerque, N.M.
8. Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue, Wash.
9. Charleston/North Charleston/Summerville, S.C.
10. Lakeland/Winter Haven, Fla.

Source: www.HoneywellCleanAir.com.

Word of the Day

November 13, 2012 6:10 pm

Blockbusting. Illegal practice of creating panic selling in a neighborhood for financial gain. Typically exploits racial and religious bias to get homeowners to sell low so the properties can be resold at a mark up.

Question of the Day

November 13, 2012 6:10 pm

Q: What Are Some Costs Associated with Selling My Home?
A: Besides the costs related to making repairs and improving the overall appearance of the home, as the seller you will also need to pay the following:

  • A real estate commission, if you use an agency to sell.
  • Advertising costs, marketing materials, and other fees if you sell the home yourself.
  • Attorney, closing, or other professional fees.
  • Title insurance
  • Excise tax for the sale.
  • Prorated costs for your share of annual expenses, such as property taxes, homeowner association fees, and fuel tank rentals.
  • Any other fees normally paid by sellers in your area, including points, survey, and appraisal fees.

To get a better handle on all costs, ask a real estate agent. Agents deal with this information daily and can give you a pretty good estimate of the closing costs you can expect to pay.

Hassle-Free Shipping Tips for Holiday Gift Giving

November 12, 2012 5:30 pm

For the millions of Americans traveling over the holidays, the details of planning and pulling off a trip can make the season anything but jolly. Fortunately, you can take some of the hassle out of holiday travel by planning—and shipping—ahead.

Ship Gifts Ahead
Instead of lugging gifts on an airplane or having gifts take up space in the car, consider shipping them to your destination ahead of time. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before sending your gifts on their way:

  • Use the proper materials: a new cardboard box designed for shipping, professional-grade packaging tape, and packaging material such as foam packaging peanuts or bubble cushioning (at least two inches all around).
  • Put a label inside of the package, including both the destination and return addresses.
  • Use a shipping option that provides a package tracking number.
  • Take batteries out of toys, electronics, etc., before shipping, and wrap them separately inside the package.
  • Seal home-made holiday treats in an airtight container or plastic bag before packing them in a shipping box. Use an expedited air service, such as UPS Next Day Air.

If you don't have the time or proper packaging supplies, or just need some help preparing gifts for shipment, you can take them to certified packing experts at The UPS Store and take advantage of their Pack & Ship Guarantee.

You can avoid long lines at the post office -- The UPS Store has extended hours during the holidays and also offers USPS services.

Key Dates for Holiday Shipping

Mondays are typically the busiest shipping days.

  • The busiest week of the 2012 season is expected to be December 17 to 21.
  • Most UPS Ground packages require five days or less to reach their destination, but if you're shipping coast-to-coast, it may take longer.
  • If you are shipping internationally, contact The UPS Store location nearest you to determine the best date to ensure on-time delivery.
  • The U.S. Postal Service says packages to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan should be mailed by Dec. 1 in order to arrive in time for Christmas; mail going to other military overseas APO/FPO locations needs to be sent by Dec. 16.

Last-Minute Shipping Dates (for delivery on Monday, Dec. 24)

  • Wednesday, Dec. 19 -- Ship UPS 3 Day Select
  • Thursday, Dec. 20 -- Ship UPS 2nd Day Air
  • Friday, Dec. 21 -- Ship UPS Next Day Air

Ship Luggage Ahead
To cut down on baggage fees and time in line at the airport, you may want to think about shipping your luggage. There are several ways you can do this: shipping a suitcase as-is; packing and shipping a suitcase in a box; or purchasing a luggage box instead of using a suitcase.

By putting luggage in a box, you can protect your luggage and provide a good surface for a shipping label.

Here are some helpful tips for packing and shipping your luggage:


  • Be sure to notify the place you will be staying that you are expecting a package. That way, they will sign for the package even if it arrives before you do.
  • Make sure you have the correct destination address. Some hotels and resorts have a separate luggage receiving address.
  • Put an additional address label inside the luggage or box in case the outside label is damaged or lost.
  • Cut down on your hassle by having your shipment professionally packed at a local pack-and-ship retailer, such as The UPS Store. Expert packing is especially recommended for fragile items and odd or oversized items.
  • By using a shipping option such as UPS, you can track your luggage all the way to its destination, even via cell phone or other web-enabled wireless devices.
  • If you are shipping your belongings ahead to your destination, you'll probably need to send items back home as well. One option is to pack a flattened box and a roll of packaging tape for sending home gifts, souvenirs, or even dirty laundry.
  • Because of the duties and taxes associated with international shipments, it is not recommended that luggage is shipped internationally.

The average weight of an empty suitcase is 10 pounds. To reduce weight -- and shipping costs -- skip the suitcase, and pack your clothes and other items directly in a sturdy box. Select The UPS Store locations now offer two sizes of luggage boxes that can replace a suitcase. A large luggage box weighs about 4 pounds and a small box about 3 pounds.

Both boxes meet airline baggage restrictions, so you could take them on your flight instead of suitcases, if you wish. The small box can be carried on, and the large box can be checked in without assessing an additional oversize charge.

With a little forethought and a bit of planning, a few proactive steps can help ensure your holiday travel goes smoothly. To learn more about rates and your best holiday shipping options, use the online cost calculator at www.theupsstore.com.

Be Prepared

Minimize travel hassles by doing some prep work before you leave town.

If you're checking baggage, don't pack items you can't do without. If your luggage gets lost or delayed, you'll miss those essential items. Pack them in your carry-on bag.

Whether you're driving or flying, make the time go faster with plenty of entertainment for the whole family. Load up mobile devices with games, songs, ebooks and movies. Give each child their own entertainment backpack with age-appropriate toys and activities.

Make sure your vehicle is road-ready. Have it looked at by your local auto shop to be sure everything is in good working condition. Make sure tires are inflated properly. And pack a winter safety kit, just in case.

Shipping Safely
Due to FAA restrictions, you cannot ship hazardous materials, including colognes and perfumes, aerosol sprays, nail polish and cigarette lighters via air service.

There are two good rules of thumb to follow to avoid shipping hazardous materials:

If it's flammable, take it out of your luggage.

If you're in doubt, remove the item from your luggage, or ask a The UPS Store packing expert.

Source: www.theupsstore.com

Celebrating the Holidays with Your Pet

November 12, 2012 5:30 pm

Holiday time means more family time—and that includes time with your four-legged family members. If your pet deserves some special holiday love, here are some "pawfect" ideas to help you celebrate the holidays together.

Stocking Stuffers - Hang a stocking on the mantle for your pet and fill it with holiday toys and treats. A new chew toy, a catnip-filled mouse, special treats to eat -- there are plenty of ways to fill up a pet stocking with fun, budget-friendly items.
Showing Holiday Spirit - Dress up your pet with some seasonal winter outfits. Too cutesy for you? A holiday colored collar can give a more subtle effect.
Safe Treats - Dogs would love to nibble on your holiday table scraps, but that's not always a good thing. Keep your treats out of their reach, and make pets their own holiday bites with the new Sunbeam Gourmet Dog Treat Maker. You can make delicious doggie snacks using ingredients already in your pantry, like peanut butter.
Share the Love with Pet-Themed Gifts - The Top Fin Grinch and Max Sleigh Fishbowl is a fun, decorative piece that will look great in your child's room. Personalized food dishes, mats and pet beds are always a special gift to give. Or, win over the wine lover in your life with pet-themed wine glasses and accessories.
Gifts that Give Back - You can help save homeless pets by purchasing collectible Luv-A-Pet plush toys. This year choose from Chance, the adopted dog; Lucky, the adopted cat; and a special Bret Michaels-inspired version of Chance. Ten percent of the purchase price goes to PetSmart Charities, the largest funder of animal-welfare efforts in North America.

Source: www.PetSmart.com.

Word of the Day

November 12, 2012 5:30 pm

Blanket mortgage. Single mortgage that covers more than one real property, i.e. – a house plus the vacant lot next door.

Q: How Can I Get a Quick Sale, Particularly in a Slow Market?

November 12, 2012 5:30 pm

A: One of the most important things to consider is price. You may want to reduce the price of your home or, at the very beginning, set it at a low price that will generate more buyer interest.

Cash is often an incentive, both for the buyer as well as the agent. You could offer the buyer a $1,000 to $2,000 decorating rebate upon closing the deal. It is also not uncommon to offer the selling agent a $500 bonus. However, some brokers – who supervise agents and run real estate offices – may prohibit such incentives, as do some Realtor boards. Check to find out.

Other common incentives: paying for the property inspection and warranty policy and getting your home preliminarily approved for FHA and VA loans, thereby making it more attractive to a larger number of buyers. Contact a lender who writes FHA-insured and VA-guaranteed loans.

Junk in The Trunk (or Closet) Won’t Help You Sell Your House

November 12, 2012 4:30 pm

I recently ran across some great advice from Bob Fales, a real estate professional in Hampstead, Maryland. Fales says if you are selling your house, having a cluttered closet will damage your chances of getting the best price.

He believes that people will view cluttered closets as a sign your house doesn’t have enough storage. So here are some tips Fales offers to better organize your closets:

First, he says, invest in a closet organizer. Imagine how you (and potential buyers) would feel to see your closets tidily organized.

A closet organizer is probably the best way to achieve the look you are going for - and it doesn’t have to be expensive either. Fales says you can buy ready-made units that fit into most closets.

Most use a modular system that allows you to mix and match units and fit them together as you wish. You can choose between units made of solid panels or wire systems.

Alternatively, you can mix and match them both to meet your needs.

Closet organizers should include shelves for bulky items such as sweaters, drawers for smaller items, and rods for clothing that needs to be hung up. Consider also storage for shoes, such as a rack that hangs on the back of a door.

When designing your system, make sure you consider things such as the length of the clothes that are to be hung, and how much space you need to devote to items such as sweaters. Then, consider which items you need to access easily on a daily basis and which can be stored out of reach.

A closet that isn’t packed with useless stuff is easier to keep organized and will keep your clothes from getting crushed.

Q: What causes a foreclosure?

November 9, 2012 8:20 pm

A: A lender decides to foreclose on, or repossess, a property when the owner fails to pay the mortgage. Unfortunately, thousands of homes end up in foreclosure every year.  

Many people lose their homes due to job loss, credit problems, divorce, unexpected expenses, and during periods of economic instability.

Failure to pay property taxes may also cause a homeowner to lose his home.  Trouble can also arise when owners neglect to pay local water bills and home insurance premiums.