Gunning Daily News

4 Ways to Make Saving a Priority

February 6, 2012 5:04 pm

It’s tough in today’s economy, when so many of us are focused on paying the bills, to think about saving money. But, say the money experts at moneyinstructor.com, it may be time to re-think the idea that putting away small amounts will never add up to anything much.

In fact, little changes in your thinking can make a big difference in helping you reach your goals. Here are four small but sensible ways to help make saving the priority it needs to be in your life:

• The latte factor – Even if you are pinching pennies, you may be allowing yourself a morning or afternoon latte at $2.50 or more several times a week. Multiplied by as few as 10 days a month, that’s $25. Multiply that by 12 months and you’re at $300 a year—not a fortune, but significant enough if you were to start taking coffee to work and putting that $300 in the bank.
• Finding your latte factor – So you’re not hanging out at the coffee bar. Where are you indulging yourself? Begin writing down everything you spend outside of paying bills. After a few weeks, it should become evident where small amounts are slipping through the cracks: the vending machine? Convenience store snacks? Magazines you could be reading for free at the library? Once you determine where your cash is leaking, take pains to patch up the holes.
• Pay yourself first – Uncle Sam takes his bite out of your paycheck before you ever see it. On the assumption you can’t spend it if you don’t see it, become your own Uncle Sam. Put a portion—however small—of every paycheck into automatic savings. Look at the latte factor, above, to realize how it can add up.
• Compound interest - $300 a year may not sound like much in terms of funding retirement. But here’s a quick lesson in how compound interest can make a head-spinning difference. Start with a small amount—say, $50 a month into your company’s 401k plan beginning when you are out of college. Some 45 years later, when you retire at 67, you’d have a nest egg of about $138,000 (figuring a conservative average of 6 percent compounded interest). If you were to increase your contribution by just 10 percent each year (paying in $55 a month in the second year and so forth), you would have over $935,000.

Appliance Warranties Can Save You Stress and Money

February 6, 2012 5:04 pm

These days, making the decision to purchase a new home can be much more stressful than it once was. There are countless factors and steps that need to be taken into account before you settle in. A major factor is around finances and how you, as a new homeowner, will make sure your home's appliances are in check and that your home system components are maintained while avoiding needless spending.

That new kitchen or laundry room may seem like it will last forever; however, if 6 months down the line when your dishwasher breaks or your refrigerator is acting up, you may find yourself stressed—both mentally and financially. One way to relieve stress and protect against unexpected repairs is to ensure your home system components and appliances are backed by an appliance warranty. A homebuyers warranty or appliance warranty will cover replacement or repair costs and give you access to a network of service contractors.

Many homeowners do not realize that simple homeowners insurance does not cover the repair or replacement of all your major home appliances due to normal wear and tear. The manufacturer’s warranty that comes with the appliance also expires within a year or two, and if you purchase a home with aged appliances, this can be a major issue.

If you’re considering an appliance warranty, there are a few options. You can either get an extended warranty for each appliance, or choose a home warranty which covers all appliances in your house. Some home warranty companies let you choose the appliances you want to cover. This can be helpful; if you choose fewer items, you reduce your premium.

An appliance warranty can not only help save you money down the road for when repairs might be needed, but can help relieve stress and provide you with reassurance when investing in a new home. It's your home; you can make sure the appliances within it are taken care of.

Source: American Home Shield. http://homewarranties.ahs.com.

Secret Ingredients to Successful Parenting

February 6, 2012 5:04 pm

Kate Raidt, the author of The Million-Dollar Parent, recently wrote about an episode she had while baking. While whipping up a batch of her famous oatmeal chocolate chip cookies—something she is so familiar with she doesn’t even need to look at the recipe anymore--Raidt completely forgot to put in the eggs, resulting in a disastrous, crumbly cookie.

“In many ways, successful parenting correlates to successful cooking,” writes Raidt. “If you leave out even one simple ingredient, you’ve got a mess on your hands.”

Below are Raidt’s top 5 secret ingredients to successful parenting.
1. Time and Attention – The average child today spends 5 minutes with dad but 20 hours watching television each week. There is no regulation on how long an infant or toddler can be left at a daycare center each day. 71 percent of American households have double income parents. One of the biggest crisis’ we face in America these days are the millions of children growing up without parents and parenting giving them true one-on-one, direct interaction each day. Investing time and attention into your children is the greatest investment you will make in your entire life – and the life of your children.
2. Healthy Eating Habits – Yes, we are a junk food nation, and our children are paying the big, big price. Kids are inundated with processed foods, sodas, juices, fast food and mass-produced cafeteria food—daily! It is critical that parents lead by example and implement healthy options at home and avoid sugary and processed foods.
3. Adequate Sleep – Studies are showing that children who receive even 15 minutes less sleep than their fellow classmates not only have lower IQs but also fall into the B and C category of grades at school. Inadequate sleep also has a tremendous impact on obesity, depression and overall brain development. So enforce strict bedtimes and make sure your children receive at least 10 hours of sleep each night.
4. Positive Discipline – 80 percent of parents are either too permissive or too authoritative. Just like in cooking, if you under-cook a batch of cookies they are gooey and nasty. If you over-cook a batch of cookies, they are burnt and covered in carcinogens. The secret is to bake the cookies on the right temperature for the right amount of time. Same rule goes for parenting: Discipline when necessary by taking away privileges or enforcing time outs—but too much criticism and physical discipline creates fearful children with low self-esteem. Find that perfect balance so your kids come out nice and yummy!
5. Strong Spiritual Foundation – Parenting is the most important job on Earth…and sometimes one of the hardest. Parents who look to a “Higher Power” for guidance, leadership and peace tend to make smarter choices when raising children. And children who are raised in spiritual homes tend to have lower incidents with drinking, drugs, pregnancy and suicide.

Source: www.swparents.com

Word of the Day

February 6, 2012 5:04 pm

VA loan. Veterans Administration-backed mortgage. The VA, a federal agency, operates a loan guarantee program for honorably discharged veterans and widows of veterans who died of a service-related injury. Mortgages call for low or no down payment. Sometimes referred to as GI loan.

Question of the Day

February 6, 2012 5:04 pm

Q: Should I always get a permit before making home improvements?

A: To save both time and money, some people avoid getting building permits. But most cities require them. Besides ensuring safety during construction – housing inspectors sometimes stop by to check on the progress of projects at key points – they are also a source of revenue.

Cities charge a fee when a building permit is issued. Also, work done with a building permit can result in an increase in the homeowners’ property taxes because, in general, a home improvement increases the assessed value of the property.

Permits are usually required when any structural work is planned or the basic living space of a home is altered. They generally cover new construction, repairs, alterations, demolition, and additions to a structure. Some jurisdictions require the permit to be posted in a visible spot on the premises while the work is being done.

Besides structural changes, permits also may be needed to cover the installation of foundations for tanks and equipment, as well as the construction or demolition of ducts, sprinkler systems, or standpipe systems.

By law, all buildings must have a building permit and a certificate of occupancy before they can be used.

Super Bowl Get Super Messy? 10 Tips to Tackle Post-Party Cleanup

February 3, 2012 5:06 pm

They are excited, they are rowdy and they are hungry. They're coming over to watch the big game, and they're leaving behind stains and crumbs for you to clear away. Keeps your home in working order before and after a game-day party using these simple and effective tips from The Maids.

• Make space for coats in a closet or in a bedroom. Put out an extra rug or two in the entryway in case of wet shoes.
• If using paper products, put plenty of recycling and trash containers around the house with extra trash bags in the bottom. When you pull out a full trash bag, another bag is then within an arm's reach.
• If you have a dishwasher, make sure it is cleaned out before guests arrive so you can stash dirty dishes inside to stay ahead of the game.
• Provide insulated can coolers or place sports themed stickers on cups so guests can identify their drinks.
• Cover your food table with wax paper or butcher paper for easy cleanup.
• Have a "cleaning bucket" ready for cleaning emergencies. Make sure to include carpet cleaner and an absorbent rag. A spot from a spilled drink is easy to clean if you are prepared in advance.
• If the party involves all ages, have a room with toys and games where the children can play.
• Provide televisions in other rooms so no one misses the action. Don't forget to put a radio in the bathroom!
• Keep a clearly marked recycling bin within guests' reach for bottles and cans.
• Place moist towelettes near appetizers since messy fingers have a tendency to roam at will.

Source: http://www.maids.com

Question of the Day

February 3, 2012 5:06 pm

Q: How can owning a home pay off at tax time?

A: A home provides many tax benefits, literally from the time you buy to the time you sell. The mortgage interest paid on a home loan up to $1 million for a primary residence or second home is tax deductible every year, as is the local property tax. Other mortgage costs – including late-payment charges and early-payment penalties – are also deductible.

Word of the Day

February 3, 2012 5:06 pm

Value. Market value or present worth. To have value, a property must have utility, scarcity, effective demand, and transferability.

5 Ways to Be the Perfect Valentine

February 3, 2012 5:06 pm

St. Valentines Day—named, some say, for the fourth century Roman bishop who secretly married young soldiers and their brides in spite of a royal ban against it—is celebrated here each February 14 with mountains of chocolates, bowers of flowers, and hundreds of thousands of Valentine’s greeting cards ranging from the silly to the sublime.

But these sweet traditions are hardly an American exclusive. Millions of lovers around the world join us each year in professing their affection—many in ways most of us have never thought about.

So if you want to do something a little different this year to make your Valentine greeting stand out, peruse this list of five time-honored traditions favored by lovers around the world:

• Love spoons – In Wales, where the day honors St. Dwynen, the Welsh counterpart of St. Valentine, there is a centuries-old tradition of presenting hand-carved wooden love spoons to one’s beloved. The elaborate spoons, featuring Celtic knots and flower stems entwined to signify eternal love, are still available today from wood-carving stores in Wales. You can see them online at sites like http://www.welsh-lovespoons.co.uk/
• Turning the tables – In Japan, the Valentine custom is for women to give chocolates to all their male friends and co-workers—with an additional small gift, such as a tie or shirt, presented to their significant other. Then on March 14, in a tradition known as White Day, the men return the favor, giving their ladies white sweets like marshmallow—along with jewelry and other expensive gifts.
• Rhyming poems – In Denmark, there is the tradition of the gaekkebrev – a funny, rhyming poem written by a man to his love. He doesn’t sign the poem with his name, but with dots representing the letters in his name. If the woman can guess who sent the poem, she receives an assortment of cookies and chocolate for Easter.
• Serenades – In Mexico, along with red roses and Valentine chocolates, would-be suitors profess their love by bringing a mariachi band, or a trio of singers to serenade their beloved while standing beneath her window. Then, assuming the woman agrees, they go out for a romantic dinner.
• Love and marriage – In Israel, February 14 carries its share of flowers and candy. But a second “lover’s day,” celebrated on the holiday of Tu B’Av in August, is a commonplace time for proposing marriage to one’s beloved.

Question of the Day

February 3, 2012 5:06 pm

Q: What questions should be asked of an architect?

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.