Gunning Daily News

Tips for Single Parent Success

November 16, 2011 5:40 pm

More than one-third of American children live in single-parent households right now. And 59% of American kids will live in a single-parent household sometime before they turn 18. Patricia Nan Anderson, an expert in child development and author of the book Parenting: A Field Guide, offers the following tips on single parenting. 

1. Enjoy your independence. Parenting alone means never having to ask for a second opinion. So rather than wishing things were different or feeling weak and lonely, revel in your independence. You are master of your fate. Rise to the challenge!
2. Create a support system. Just because you’re independent, you don’t have to do everything yourself. Link up with other single parents. Line up friends and family you can call on in a pinch. Find someone whose judgment you trust to use as a sounding board. You’re the CEO of your family but you need an advisory group.
3. Avoid unwise entanglements. It will seem that things would be better if there were another adult in the house, another income, companionship. And, yes, probably, all this is so. But rushing into a relationship that won’t last hurts you and hurts your kids. Remember that your children are watching your every move; show them how a sensible adult handles romantic interests.
4. Let your kids be kids. Your support system is not your own children. If you’re a mother, your son is not “the man of the family” and your daughter is not your best friend. If you’re a father, your son is not your best buddy and your daughter is not your “little mama” or the family housekeeper. Children shouldn’t worry along with you about finances or relationships or your job. Let your kids be kids.
5. Remember what’s important. Single parents are busy, doing the work of two adults. But make certain that each day with your kids includes a meal together, some conversation, some reading, games, walks, whatever. This goes double if you see your kids only on the weekends. Quality time is key. Nothing is more important than that.
6. Keep it real. Pay attention to what’s going on for your kids and don’t ignore warning signs. If your children are struggling in school, having trouble with friends, seem withdrawn, depressed, or angry, get help. Talk to someone at your child’s school and get a referral to free or low-cost services. Help is out there. Take action.
7. Speak well of your child’s biological parent. No matter what your relationship is or was with your child’s other parent, your child is still related to this person and needs to know that this person has good qualities. Your child will adopt as his own the traits you describe his other parent having, so emphasize the good stuff. Keep your anger and disappointment to yourself.
8. Stretch your dollars. Raising kids is expensive. Most single parents are poor. Those are the realities. So get creative and uncouple yourself from a consumer mindset. You and your kids can have as rich and satisfying a life as every other family but do it, not by buying stuff, but by doing stuff. Doing is often free and doing is how great memories are made.
9. Make time for yourself. Being all things to all your children is exhausting. You need to recharge. Set a reasonable bedtime for your kids and stick to it. Make certain you have an hour or more to yourself before bed to read, think, and breathe. Slow down. Keep your life on a human scale.
10. Look to your future. Unlike in two-parent families, when your child goes off to college or moves into a place of her own, you will be left all alone. Every parent realizes eventually that children grow up and move on but not every parent is ready. Be different. Be ready to grow along with your kids in new directions. Be ready to move ahead too. 

We know from recent history that children raised by single parents turn out well—two became Presidents, after all. Your kids can turn out well too. Make it happen! 

Source: www.swparents.com.

Word of the Day

November 16, 2011 5:40 pm

Property tax deductions. The Internal Revenue Service allows homeowners to claim as itemized personal deductions money paid for state and local realty taxes, as well as interest on debt secured by their homes. It also allows for the deduction of loan prepayment penalties, and the deduction of points on new loans.

Question of the Day

November 16, 2011 5:40 pm

Q: Are buyers protected against housing discrimination?

A: By law, real estate agents may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. They also cannot follow spoken or implied directives from the home seller to discriminate. If you suspect you have been discriminated against, a complaint may be filed with the local Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office nearest you. You may call HUD’s toll-free number, 1-800-669-9777, or visit its web site at www.hud.gov/complaints/housediscrim.cfm.

Prepare Your Home for Winter with New Windows and Doors

November 15, 2011 5:22 pm

As temperatures drop, it's time for homeowners to inspect their windows and doors to prepare for winter. Pella offers energy-efficient products to help homeowners reduce their energy costs, including the new Pella® 350 Series window and patio door line.

"This is an ideal time of year to really evaluate if your home is suffering from energy loss," said John Noel, general manager, Pella Windows and Doors of Omaha. "Before we experience the Midwest's extremely cold temperatures, replacing windows and doors is a cost-effective solution to helping instantly achieve greater energy-efficiency for a home."

Window, door inspection checklist
The first step in preparing your home for winter is by doing an inspection to check for potential maintenance issues. Tips for checking your windows and doors include:
• Inspect the interior and exterior finishes around windows and doors for signs of paint flaking and peeling.
• Look at the weather stripping around all doors and windows. Re-attach any loose portions and replace portions that are ripped or torn.
• Moisture and condensation between panes of insulating glass can occur when the seal between the panes of glass fails. This fogging may be a sign that a replacement is needed.
• Look for signs of air leakage. Improperly installed windows or doors which permit air leakage can decrease energy efficiency.

For more information visit www.pellaomaha.com.

Money-Saving Tips for the Holidays

November 15, 2011 5:22 pm

The holiday shopping season is upon us, and The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) wants to remind its customers there are ways to save during the holidays. The following tips were compiled by Kroger from a variety of sources, including its own associates, mom bloggers and frugal living experts.

• Pair coupons with sales: "Pairing coupons with sales is the best way to get the most for your money. Stockpile holiday cooking staples, using a coupon when they are on sale, so that you aren't running out to the store at the last minute and paying full price," says Marcy Robison, owner of couponing blog www.stretchingabuckblog.com.
• Look for "bundled" savings: Andrea Deckard, founder of the site SavingsLifestyle.com, recommends watching for store discount offers on turkeys and hams that are bundled with other staples. "Many will offer great discounts when you purchase other items during your shopping trip. This is also a great time to stock up so you can have inexpensive protein options available throughout the year."
• Plan the menu: "Planning allows you to identify the shelf-stable items you can buy in advance and the fresh foods to purchase just prior to your holiday meal," explains Margaret McClure, vice president of Kroger's bakery and deli operations. "This will help maximize every shopping trip and avoid the stress of running out to the store at the last minute."
• Search High and Low: Name brand items are usually placed at eye level, so be sure to check the shelves above and below to compare prices. And remember to pay attention to the price per unit, which will often drop when items are purchased in bulk," says Shannon Jarvies, who owns the popular blog www.mrsmoneysaver.com.

For more information, visit www.kroger.com.

Benefits and Precautions to Moving in Winter Months

November 15, 2011 5:22 pm

Many people can quickly cite the reasons they prefer to move in the summer over the winter, such as safer road conditions and better weather. However, moving in the winter cannot always be avoided and there are even some benefits to doing so. As such, reputable Boston moving companies explain the benefits and point out a few precautions to make a winter move go safe and smooth.

Summer is peak season for movers in Boston. This means that demand for vans, trucks, moving professionals, and supplies is higher and generally more expensive. If the date is flexible, some money may be saved by booking between October and April. Plus, some companies may be willing to negotiate as they compete for business during slow seasons.

With dates filling up fast in warmer weather, people need to book their truck, moving services, and professionals well in advance in order to have their needs met. Additionally, the high demand for movers drives some companies to hire people with little or no experience to manage the overflow. This means one can expect better service in winter months and enjoy more flexibility when choosing a date to move - even when booked late.

Although these benefits may be enticing, there are drawbacks to moving in colder months. However, a move at this time can still be safe and smooth. Boston Movers recommend paying close attention to the changing weather and adjusting plans if needed. Allow extra time as cold weather tends to slow things down and rushing can cause accidents and injury.

Make sure the vehicles are in good running condition and are stocked with warm clothes, blankets, shovels and emergency kits. Drive slowly and more cautiously, especially in large trucks.

Before work begins, make sure driveways and walkways of both homes are cleared of snow and sanded. The driveway needs to be plowed wide enough to meet the needs of the turning radius of the truck. Walkways need to be sanded to avoid injury and damage to items being moved.

Cover floors to avoid damage from tracked-in snow, mud and salt. Cover large muddy outside areas with plywood. Properly pack electronics, liquids and plants to ensure they are not damaged from the cold weather.

For more information, visit http://bostonmovers.org

Word of the Day

November 15, 2011 5:22 pm

Promissory note. A written promise to repay a debt on demand or at a stated time in the future.

Question of the Day

November 15, 2011 5:22 pm

Q: Who should be called to the project first, the contractor or the architect?

A: Opinions vary about which professional to call first. Some say the architect comes first because “you have to design it before you can build it.” The architect, who is trained to resolve problems creatively, can help define the project in ways that provide meaningful guidance for the design. The architect can also do site studies, help secure planning and zoning approvals, and perform a variety of other pre-design tasks. On the other hand, a contractor will be the one you interact with on a regular basis and the person who will likely be in your home every day, possibly for an extended period depending on the scope of your work. Many contractors have in-house design services, or design/build firms, and can possibly offer better price and integration between design and implementation. Others may have several architects with whom they work directly, which could also provide a smooth integration between design and implementation.

Are You Ready for Homeownership?

November 14, 2011 5:14 pm

First-time home buyers have an extremely rewarding road ahead of them but the process can be quite tricky for the inexperienced. Buyers that seek education prior to starting their search tend to have the best experience overall because they have realistic expectations and understand how to properly navigate the process.

To gauge whether or not you are ready to own your first home you should ask yourself some serious questions. How attached are you to your current living situation? How entrenched are within your community? Are you prepared to devote the time and resources necessary to make your first home purchase a success? Once you can answer these questions and the answers point in the direction of a move to home ownership you are ready to start the initial phase of buying your own home.

Now that you have determined you are emotionally ready to be a first time home owner, the next step is to gain a full understanding of your financial situation. Evaluate your readiness by asking yourself more questions. Is your source of income steady? How is your credit history? Do you have a down payment or a source such as a family gift? Are you ready for the financial responsibilities that coincide with home ownership? If your answers to these questions are positive then you are ready to start the pre-approval process with your lender.

To keep expectations in check it's a good idea to get pre-approval from a reputable lender. This will help narrow your search to a realistic field. Many lenders will offer a free consultation for buyers seeking pre-approval. To expedite the process borrowers should have certain documents ready for their lender including W-2's for each applicant for the previous two years, 30 days of consecutive pay stubs with year-to-date earnings, and all pages of the two most recent bank statements for all of the borrower's checking and savings accounts.

Once you follow the above steps and gain pre-approval it is time to start your search. Make sure to pick the right real estate agent by interviewing several. It is important for you to be comfortable with your agent and know that they have your best interest in mind. Ask potential agents what their hardest sale was and how they made it work for the buyer. The more you prepare upfront and do your due diligence, the happier you will be with your first time homebuyer experience.

Chip Poli is the CEO of Poli Mortgage Group, Inc.

Warming Up a Heater ― Before It Overheats

November 14, 2011 5:14 pm

There’s already been an October cold snap and November snow flurries. Waiting too long to prepare a heater for its annual winter workout could have chilling effects. Here are some tips on how to get a heating unit ready for action from Cross Country Home Services, a leader in home warranty products. By following these simple steps that include getting a visit from a certified service technician and making sure heating units are covered with by warranties, the coldest months on the calendar can barely register on a well heated home’s interior thermostat. 

Step 1: Turn On Regularly before Cold Sets In
The most common phrase HVAC companies hear during the first cold snap of the year is, “I just turned on my heat for the first time this year, and it doesn’t work.” The only way to make sure your heating unit will work when it’s needed most is to test run it each season. Keeping it in sporadic use helps your HVAC system stay ready. Make sure to vary temperature settings during testing. 

Step 2: Make Sure Unit Is Clear of Debris
Your heating unit needs the same care as your A/C. Leaves, trash and other debris that collect when it’s idle will prevent its optimum use and could eventually lead to a systems failure. Make a point to clear it when you’re raking those fall leaves in the yard. Also, blower fans should be kept dust-free. 

Step 3: Baseboard Cleaning
Not only must you keep the outside unit clear, but homes heated with hot water and/or electric baseboard heating must have those baseboard convectors and radiators kept clean. Obstructions from objects, dirt, even dust will prevent it from running efficiently and may lead to bigger problems. 

Step 4: Change/Clean Filters
Replaceable filters should be checked and replaced once a month in the fall, and twice a month in the winter. Permanent filters should be cleaned at least once a month. This is an essential step to preserve the longevity of your unit and keep it operating smoothly. 

Step 5: Make Sure to Have a Service Plan and Home Warranty
No matter how much care you give your heating units, unless you are a certified technician you won’t be able to handle every problem that may arise. Storms and accidents happen, therefore you need a service plan that affords you access to a certified technician.

For more information, visit www.cchs.com.