Gunning Daily News

Word of the Day

September 2, 2011 12:39 pm

First mortgage. Mortgage on a property that is superior to any other. It is the first to be paid in the event of foreclosure.

Question of the Day

September 2, 2011 12:39 pm

Q: Do government programs exist that can help me finance a home?

A: Yes, although many are designed to assist first-time homebuyers, generally defined by lenders as people who have not owed a home in three years.

HUD offers several programs through the FHA that require down payments of as little as 3 percent. Veterans can get loans from the VA to buy, build, or improve a home, as well as refinance an existing loan at interest rates that are usually lower than those on conventional loans.

7 Ways to Prevent Temper Tantrums

September 2, 2011 10:09 am

Perhaps nothing irritates and humiliates a parent more than a toddler who must be dragged screaming from a store in the midst of a toddler tantrum. But tantrums can be commonplace, especially among toddlers who are intense or hyperactive, or who don’t adjust well to new environments.

Silencing a tantrum by giving in – i.e. buying the toy the child was initially denied – is a sure way to encourage future tantrums. The best way to treat a tantrum, say child behavior experts, is to take a deep breath, keep control over your own temper, and quietly try to calm the child down and/or remove him or her from the premises.
Clearly the best solution, the experts say, is to prevent the tantrum in the first place. While they aren’t foolproof, here are seven suggested ways to ward off temper tantrums:

• Keep daily routines consistent, sticking with a schedule as much as possible, and give the child at least a five-minute warning if their routine is about to change.
• Making sure your child is well-rested and fed before going out may ward off emotional explosions. At home, remove visible temptations (like cookies on the counter before dinnertime) to help avoid confrontations.
• Let your toddler make choices, such as what to wear, what to eat for lunch, or what toys and books to take in the car. Having choices helps children understand they have some control over their lives.
• Pick your battles. Giving in on small things – like letting the child watch an extra 15 minutes of television – may help avoid confrontations over everything.
• If you sense a tantrum coming, try to distract your toddler with a funny face, a little pillow fight, or an offer to read a favorite story. Children can be easily distracted if you use a little imagination.
• Teach your child when he or she is calm. Children who are old enough to talk can be taught that using words is a better way than screaming to get your attention and approval.
• Praise your child for getting it right. When he or she stays cool instead of having a tantrum, praise the good behavior, and perhaps reward it with a small treat or extra playtime.

Think Spring with Fall Garden Tasks

September 2, 2011 10:09 am

For many people, after the fresh summer vegetables have come and gone, gardening chores are finally done. But actually, it should be quite the opposite. With the weather finally starting to cool, fall is the perfect time of year to prepare your garden for spring. A little work now will keep your raised garden beds springing up green all year long.
Cleaning
• Clean out all dead plant debris like leaves, vines, stalks, and roots.
• Fill holes from harvested plants with compost and mix it in. Typically, one trowel full of compost for each square foot is a good guideline.

Planting
• After adding compost, replant the space. One advantage of raised garden beds is that soil stays warmer in the fall and warms earlier in the spring than a traditional garden, which extends the growing season and can help plants mature faster. Depending on your climate zone, a raised garden bed can actually yield crops year-round when used correctly.
• Vegetables - Root crops like parsnips, turnips, carrots, and red beets can be planted now. Cover with straw when frost threatens or snow falls to extend harvest all winter. Cool weather crops like spinach, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, and peas can also be planted in the fall.
• Flowers - Flowers improve the overall beauty of a garden and improve pollination. Plant flower bulbs including tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, daylilies, and crocus for vibrant color next spring. Bury large bulbs 4 to 8 inches deep and small bulbs 2 to 4 inches deep.

Covering
• To further extend the growing season, consider covering raised beds with clear plastic to capture heat like a greenhouse to protect crops from frost.

For more information, visit www.lifetime.com.

Fuel Efficiency Tips Minimize Labor Day Weekend Pain at the Pump

September 2, 2011 10:09 am

Fuel-efficient driving can make a Labor Day weekend road trip less costly. 

The Alliance has calculated that the average U.S. household will spend about $3,325 to power its vehicles this year—about $625 more than last year. But simple fuel efficiency measures can cut those costs significantly. 

“Gas prices going into Labor Day weekend are averaging about $3.60 nationwide, which is about a dollar higher than at this time last year,” notes Alliance President Kateri Callahan. 

“But drivers can celebrate the fact that those costs have come down about 20 cents a gallon since Memorial Day weekend while maximizing their savings at the pump with smart vehicle maintenance and smart driving—steps with the potential to extend vehicle life, too,” Callahan adds. 

The Alliance’s Drive $marter Challenge website has an interactive calculator that shows exactly how much drivers can save. The website also offers tips and resources. Additionally, one-minute video tips produced in partnership with energyNOW! also help consumers save when they are on the road. 

Tips for Vehicle Maintenance
• Tune up.
Fixing a car that’s out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4%. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40%!
• Keep tires properly inflated to improve mileage by up to 3.3%. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3% for every 1 psi drop in pressure in all four tires. In addition, proper inflation improves tire longevity – and your safety while driving. DOE cautions not to go by the maximum pressure printed on the tire’s sidewall, but to find the proper tire pressure for your own vehicle on a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb or in the glove box, as well as in your owner’s manual.
• Use the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil or risk lowering your gas mileage by 1-2%. For example, says DOE, using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed to use 5W-30 can depress mileage by 1-2%; and using 5W-30 in an engine designed for 5W-20 can lower mileage by 1-1.5%. DOE also advises looking for the phrase “Energy Conserving” on the American Petroleum Institute performance symbol to ensure that the oil contains friction-reducing additives.
• Get the junk out of the trunk. Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle. An extra 100 pounds your vehicle’s trunk could reduce your mileage by up to 2%.
• Also avoid a loaded roof rack, which can decrease your fuel economy by 5%.
Tips for Smart Driving
• Avoid aggressive driving. Speeding, rapid acceleration and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds and by 5% around town.
• Avoid speeding. Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly above 60 miles per hour. DOE says each five mph over 60 is like paying an additional 29 cents per gallon for gas.
• Avoid idling. Idling gets 0 miles per gallon. Idling can waste a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner use, but it only takes a few seconds’ worth of fuel to restart your engine, according to DOE.
• Use cruise control. Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas and money.
• And don’t forget to engage the overdrive gear. With overdrive gearing, your car’s engine speed goes down, saving gas and reducing engine wear.
• Plan your trips. Combining errands into one trip saves you time and money. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.
• Beat the traffic. When possible, drive during off-peak hours to avoid stop and go or bumper-to-bumper traffic conditions, thereby reducing both gas costs and stress. 

Tips for Smart Commuting
• If you have a choice of vehicles at home, use the more fuel-efficient one.
• Consider alternatives to driving solo. Take advantage of carpools and ride-share programs to cut your weekly fuel costs in half and save wear on your car if you take turns driving with other commuters. Many urban areas allow vehicles with multiple passengers to use High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes, which are typically less congested, further improving your fuel economy.
• Consider using public transit if it is available and convenient for you. The American Public Transit Transportation Association has links to information about public transportation in your state. 

For more information, visit http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/drive.shtml

Advice for Keeping the Active Family Safe

September 2, 2011 10:09 am

Studies show that 4 out of every 5 students participate in some extracurricular activity outside of their required class load. As fall approaches, family schedules inevitably fill up with these after-school practices, work obligations, parent teacher conferences and more. Before heading out, take a step back to discuss your family's security routines and the measures everyone should take to keep their homes and each other safe throughout the year. 

"Fall brings an abundance of schedule changes and families working to adapt to new routines," says Rebecca Smith, vice president, marketing for Master Lock. 

Master Lock offers these five key guidelines to help balance family safety with a busy schedule:
1. Embrace the key safe. If your children will be coming home to an empty house after school, or you need to provide secure access to your home for the family dog walker, a key safe will safely store your house key for easy entry, and eliminate the risk of family members or authorized visitors losing a copy of your key while in transit. Simply set your own easy-to-remember combination on a key safe, and have peace of mind that family members and authorized visitors can enter your home safely when needed.
2. Talk to your children about a "home alone" routine. If your child gets home from school while you are still at work, or if your family is involved in a variety of activities on weekends, it's important to have guidelines for your children to follow when home alone, including locking the door immediately behind them after entering the house, not spending time outside without a parent home and not answering the door for any visitors.
3. Share schedules. Be sure that your family is aware of each other's schedules including work, school and extracurricular activities. Keeping a calendar updated with everyone's activities in a common room such as the kitchen will prevent miscommunication about who will be home and when.
4. Lock up while on the go. We carry valuables with us at all times. Encourage your children to store cash, jewelry, cell phones or other small valuables in a secure container when at sports practice or other after school and weekend activities. Parents should also secure similar valuables when watching their children's games, heading out for a Saturday morning walk at the local forest preserve or going for coffee on the weekends. These products safely hold your valuables and can also be secured to a fixed object, allowing you or your children to enjoy various activities carefree.
5. Stay safe in the digital space. Use secure passwords and store them well. As your virtual world continues to grow, it's tempting to utilize one, easy-to-remember password for access to all of your important on-line accounts; however, this puts you at a greater risk for a security breach. Instead, create more secure passwords by varying the code for each of your accounts, and using a combination of letters and numbers in each of your passwords.

For more information visit www.masterlock.com.

Word of the Day

September 2, 2011 10:09 am

FHA. Acronym for Federal Housing Authority, an agency created within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that insures mortgages on residential property, with down payment requirements usually lower than prevailing ones.


Question of the Day

September 2, 2011 10:09 am

Q: Are special tax breaks available for historic rehabilitation?

A: Certified historic structures now enjoy a 20 percent investment tax credit for qualified rehabilitation expenses, if they are income producing properties. A historic structure is one listed in the National Register of Historic Places or so designated by an appropriate state or local historic district that is certified by the government. The tax code does not allow deductions for the demolition or significant alteration of a historic structure. For more information, contact the National Trust for Historic Preservation at (202) 588-6000, or visit its web site at www.nationaltrust.org.

Many states offer tax incentives, reductions and abatement programs for owners of residential historic homes. These programs are described on the National Trust’s web site.

Word of the Day

September 1, 2011 4:39 pm

Fiduciary. Person acting in a position of trust, responsibility and confidence for another, such as a broker for his client.

Question of the Day

September 1, 2011 4:39 pm

Q: What about state and local governments?

A: Just about every state now offers loans for renovation and rehabilitation at below-market interest rates through its Housing Finance Agency or a similar agency. Call your governor’s office to get the name and phone number of the agency in your area.

At the municipal level, many cities also have programs for special improvements to certain blocks and neighborhoods they are trying to spruce up. Call City Hall, as well as a Community Development Agency in your city.