Gunning Daily News

Only Half of Couples Discuss Finances Prior To Marriage

May 20, 2011 9:19 am

RISMEDIA, May 20, 2011-With wedding season upon us, many couples will focus on the transition from the single to married life, but not everyone is focusing on the financial aspect of that change. According to a new COUNTRY Financial survey, only half (51 percent) of couples addressed how they would manage their collective finances before marriage. Despite this, 86 percent of all married Americans reported being honest with their spouses about their financial state during their engagement.

When deciding on a money management style, 71 percent of couples elect to manage their finances completely joint. Another 21 percent take a partially joint approach. Eight percent keep their money completely separate. Just 26 percent say the transition from handling money matters alone to handling them together was difficult.

"Finances can cause friction in a marriage. It's important to maintain open communication and be on the same page before and during marriage, especially in uncertain economic times," says Keith Brannan, vice president of Financial Security planning. "Couples should determine who will be paying the bills and what type of accounts they will have. They should also outline a budget of their combined income and expenses."

Marriage timing affects financial transition

Couples married prior to the recession are more united in their financial matters and find joint money management less challenging than those married during or after the recession.

Seventy-three percent of couples married before December 2007 have completely joint finances compared to just 56 percent of those married after.

Those married prior to the recession found it significantly less difficult to transition to handling finances together than those married during or after (24 percent vs. 38 percent).

Despite having a more challenging transition, 66 percent of couples married during or after the recession discussed how they would manage their money before marriage. That is 17 percent higher than those married before the economic downturn.

Recession puts a strain on many couples' marriages

Nearly one in three (31 percent) couples say the recent economic downturn put a strain on their marriage.

Just 24 percent of those who worked with a financial planner say the recession put a strain on their marriage, compared to 35 percent of those who did not consult a planner.

Younger age groups were more likely to feel the strain of recent economic conditions. Forty-three percent of those 18- to 29-years-old say they felt a strain from the recession. That number is at least five points higher than any other age group.

To access video interviews about the latest COUNTRY Index data please visit www.countryfinancialsecurityindex.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Question of the Day

May 19, 2011 10:19 am

Q: How do you determine how much a home is worth?

A: The short answer: a home is ultimately worth what is paid for it. Everything else is really an estimate of value. Take, for example, a hot seller's market when demand for housing is high but the inventory of available homes for sale is low. During this time, homes can sell above and beyond the asking price as buyers bid up the price. The fair market value, or worth, is established when "a meeting of the minds" between the buyer and the seller takes place.

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Word of the Day

May 19, 2011 10:19 am

Urban renewal. The acquisition of run-down city areas for purposes of redevelopment.

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Many Americans Remain Unaware about Gout Risk Factors

May 19, 2011 10:19 am

RISMedia, May 19, 2011-A new survey from the nonprofit Gout & Uric Acid Education Society (GUAES) highlights an alarming awareness gap among Americans regarding the risk factors for gout, a chronic, potentially disabling form of arthritis which now affects an estimated 8.3 million Americans. Among the survey findings are that only one in 10 Americans correctly cited cardiovascular disease as a risk factor for gout, while only one in three Americans correctly reported that obesity is a risk factor, and less than one in five reported that diabetes and kidney disease are risk factors. GUAES released the survey findings in advance of its annual Gout Awareness Day on May 22.

Gout is a form of arthritis caused by an accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints. The crystals form when there are abnormally high levels of uric acid in the body. Gout is one of the most painful forms of arthritis and the most common form of inflammatory arthritis. While gout affects more men than women, post-menopausal women and those with a family history of the disease are also are at risk. Gout can affect any joint in the body and is among the fastest-growing diseases in the United States.

People suffering from gout scored only slightly better than the general population, according to the survey findings, with one in five gout sufferers naming cardiovascular disease as a risk factor for gout, one in five citing diabetes as a risk factor, and one in two correctly reporting obesity as a risk factor.

Furthermore, the survey found that only one in five Americans are aware that family history can be a risk factor for gout, and only two of five patients knew that it can run in families. In contrast, three out of five Americans correctly reported that heart disease and diabetes can run in families.

"These survey findings are cause for concern considering that the incidence of gout has doubled twice in the past 40 years and that gout is associated with other serious health conditions which are also on the rise," says Brian F. Mandell, MD, chairman of medicine in Rheumatology and Immunologic Diseases, Center for Vasculitis Care and Research at the Cleveland Clinic, and a GUAES board member. "While it is somewhat encouraging that a majority of Americans recognize that gout is a life-long disease which requires constant treatment and attention, they are unaware of what may place them or their family members at risk."

For more information about the survey findings and educational resources for patients and medical professionals, visit www.gouteducation.org.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


TrendWatch: Gas Prices May Pass $4/gal Nationwide

May 19, 2011 10:19 am

RISMedia, May 19, 2011-The dreaded milestone that consumers have been hoping to avoid going into this summer may be coming faster than anyone thought: gas prices could soar to over $4/gallon nationwide within the coming week, according to a Yahoo! Finance interview with Tom Kloza, chief analyst at the Oil Price Information Service.

"There's enough momentum to take us up there," says Kloza, who also notes that this weekend's 3.4-cent surge was likely a delayed reaction to deadly storms across the South that temporarily knocked out power at some oil refineries along the Gulf Coast.

Refineries located around the Great Lakes have also been shut down recently for scheduled maintenance, which has led to higher gas prices across the Midwest.

Prices have risen 88 cents since the beginning of the year, with no end in sight as the summer looms. Though prices are not currently expected to rise consistently throughout the summer, Kloza says that price spikes, most notably around the weekend of July 4, will drive prices up sharply from time to time.

Paul Citarella of FleetCards USA TrendWatch provides insight into the effects of a higher nationwide fuel price.

"Fleets are generally used to prices fluctuating, but crossing a threshold like the four dollar mark makes a lot of businesses stand up and take notice," says Citarella. "It makes people think harder about their fuel budgets when suddenly the price is a dollar more than they were paying just a few weeks ago."

Fleet owners have already felt the sting of higher prices nationwide. A recent survey by CNN of average prices by state showed that residents of California, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Alabama, West Virginia, Connecticut and Washington were already paying over $4/gal for gas, with Hawaiians paying the most at $4.59/gal. Mississippi residents are paying an average of 14.23 percent of their yearly income on fuel.

"The fortunate thing for businesses experiencing financial anxiety from these high prices is that the economic blow can be mitigated by smart, proactive fuel management," says Citarella.

Businesses bracing for the summer driving season should take time to examine their fuel spending and take care of any waste or inconsistency now before mistakes become even costlier. With a little bit of preparation and smart spending, the coming year can still be one of growth for fleets.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Home Canning Is Top Food Trend for Consumers Motivated to Eat Healthy, Fresh and Local

May 19, 2011 10:19 am

RISMedia, May 19, 2011-The resurgence of home canning continues to gain momentum with many food insiders identifying canning as a top food trend for 2011. Fueled by consumers' desire to live more healthfully and eat fresh, local foods year-round, more Americans than ever are turning to home canning. Leading the trend is Ball home canning brand with its 127-year history of producing high-quality glass jars in America's heartland. The brand will celebrate home canning by hosting the first annual National Can-It-Forward Day on August 13.

"Summer's bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables is upon us and there's never been a better time to learn how easy and rewarding canning can be," says Brenda Schmidt, Brand Manager for Fresh Preserving at Jarden Home Brands.

Home canning enables consumers to enjoy their fresh, locally grown foods all year long. In addition, fresh preserving lets consumers limit the amount of sugar or salt in foods they prepare and cook with no preservatives.

According to industry data, home canning product sales have risen nearly 35 percent over the past three years as popularity for fresh preserving grows. Jarden Home Brands, makers of Ball brand fresh preserving products, has also seen sales of the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving double in the last year.

National Can-It-Forward Day

On August 13, millions of food lovers curious about canning can learn the ease and benefits of preserving fresh food. Jarden Home Brands has teamed up with Canning Across America-a nationwide collective of cooks, gardeners and food lovers committed to the revival of the lost art of "putting up" food-to create the first annual National Can-It-Forward Day.

A free, live webcast hosted at FreshPreserving.com will feature a day of instructional canning videos as well as cooking demos. Viewers will be able to ask questions and post comments in real time as they participate along at home. The event will film at Seattle's Pike Place Market and those in the area are encouraged to participate in person.

Since canning is always more fun when shared with friends, Jarden Home Brands is also providing instructions for consumers to host their own Home Canning Parties as part of National Can-It-Forward Day. Online resources will provide simple instructions for getting started, including a checklist of necessary items, sample recipes and valuable coupons.

For more information about National Can-It-Forward Day, visit www.FreshPreserving.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Disaster Victims Linked with Emergency Housing Hosts

May 19, 2011 10:19 am

RISMedia, May 19, 2011-Established six years ago as a free service to connect victims of Hurricane Katrina and subsequent tropical storms with homeowners volunteering to provide free temporary housing, HurricaneHousingSearch.org is now available to people driven from their homes by natural disasters of any kind under its new name, DisasterHousingSearch.org.

"This is a 100 percent grassroots, people-helping-people effort," explains Joel Lesser, CEO of the non-profit site's sponsor Creative NetVentures of Atlanta. "When we started the site to help refugees from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, we never dreamed how big and ongoing the response from people willing to devote a spare room, garage or other space to help strangers made homeless by the whims of Mother Nature would be. "Today, six years, many hurricanes, and thousands of helped families later, we are responding to requests from many generous temporary housing donors concerned about the plight of people driven from their homes by floods, tornadoes, and other acts of God by broadening the service to cover victims of any natural disaster, not just hurricanes."

Organized by state, DisasterHousingSearch.org offers a simple way for homeowners to list their available space and for individual victims, FEMA officials, Red Cross directors, and other care providers to access them.

"We want families who are displaced by hurricanes, floods, tornados, fires and other natural disasters to know that DisasterHousingSearch.org is, and will continue to be, available to help them locate temporary housing," Lesser notes. "All of us who populate cyberspace talk about the 'internet community' so much that the phrase sometimes has very little meaning. DisasterHousingSearch.org is our ongoing effort to make that concept a reality at critical moments of great need; moments when a sense of community-on and off the internet-is desperately needed."

For more information visit www.DisasterHousingSearch.org.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Question of the Day

May 18, 2011 9:49 am

Q: How does a lease option work?

A: A landlord agrees to give a renter an exclusive option to purchase the property. The option price is usually determined at the outset, but not always, and the agreement states when the purchase should take place whether, say, six months, or a year or two down the road.

A portion of the rent is used to make the future down payment. Most lenders will accept the down payment if the rental payments exceed the market rent and a valid lease-purchase agreement is in effect.

Before you opt to do a lease option, find out as much as possible about how they work. Talk to real estate agents, read published materials, and, in the end, have an attorney review any paperwork before you sign on the dotted line.

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Word of the Day

May 18, 2011 9:49 am

Undivided interest. Ownership by two or more persons that gives each the right to use the entire property.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Gas and Electrical Equipment Safety in Floods

May 18, 2011 9:49 am

RISMEDIA, May 18, 2011-There are serious gas and electrical safety implications to consider if you are living or working in an area experiencing flooding. The BC Safety Authority (BCSA) reminds homeowners and businesses to take precautions with gas and electrical appliances when flooding is expected.

"Electrical equipment and gas appliances exposed to flood waters can be dangerous if they are re-energized and used without being properly inspected by a licensed contractor," says Greg Paddon, Acting VP of Technical Programs for the BC Safety Authority.

"Moisture, debris and contaminants in flood-damaged equipment or appliances can sometimes be hidden and cause serious risks," adds Paddon.

If flooding is expected and time allows, do the following:

Have a licensed gas contractor remove gas equipment and systems

Have a licensed gas contractor cap the gas pipe leading to appliances

Remove electrical appliances

Shut off the main gas and electrical supply

Secure propane tanks to a stable structure to keep them from floating away

If there is no advance warning of flooding or a licensed contractor is unavailable:

Shut off the main gas and electrical supply

Ensure that all valves and power knobs on all appliances and systems are turned off

Shut off the water leading to and from hot water tanks

Secure propane tanks to a stable structure

Extreme precautions must be taken when returning to a flood-damaged area.

If you smell natural or propane gas, leave the area immediately and call your gas utility. Natural and propane gas smell like rotten eggs

If the main power and gas supply are still turned on, shut them off and do not step on a wet area if you must touch the main electrical panel

Do not plug in or turn on any flood-damaged appliance or system. Call licensed gas and electrical contractors to do an inspection first

Have a licensed gas contractor reconnect any gas system that was removed

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.