Real Estate News

  • Back-to-School Hacks to Keep Everyone Organized

    23 August 2019

    For most parents, and children, back-to-school time is exciting—a time for new clothes, new friends and new schedules to follow. But it takes a lot of planning and organization to keep those schedules on track. From Good Housekeeping Magazine come some sensible hacks to help ward off hectic mornings, lost permission slips and untimely battery failure:

    Play keep vs. toss. Put on a favorite movie and place two cartons in front of the TV. Have each kid try on last year’s clothes while watching the movie, then toss them into the appropriate boxes.

    Keep spares in your car. If you drive your kids to school, pack two or three sturdy plastic bags to keep in your car, one with tech needs like spare chargers and batteries, one with first-aid necessities and extra hair ties, and another with homework helpers like a calculator and extra pens and pencils. 

    Post a family calendar. Keep everyone's schedules straight on a large calendar posted in a prominent place. Color code it if you’d like, and write in meetings, practices and appointments so shared reminders are always in view. 

    Post a chart for little ones. As teachers know, kids respond to gold stars and recognition. Post a work chart on the fridge listing the child’s chores and responsibilities. Getting a gold star for remembering to take out the trash each night for a week should help keep kids on track.

    Use sticky notes. No need to remind your kid three times to feed the cat or take his tennis racquet to school. Post a sticky note on his door, or wherever it can’t be missed. It’s a simple solution, but it works. 

    Get a file box. No more paperwork going missing. Color code file box sections for each kid, giving everyone a place to file past assignments, current or upcoming work, reference materials, etc.

    Start a supply stash. Buy poster board, markers, index cards and other school supplies in bulk while they’re on sale prior to the school year starting. Keeping a stash on hand all year will ensure your children have exactly what they need to complete any and all assignments. 

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Get the Most Out of Your Benefits Enrollment

    23 August 2019

    (Family Features)--A lackadaisical approach to benefits enrollment could leave you short on coverage or end up costing you more than it should. Gathering information and making time to thoroughly consider your options and needs can help ensure you're getting the best value from your employer's benefits package.

    Approach this year's open enrollment with these tips from the experts at Colonial Life in mind:

    Take life changes into account. A major event like a birth or marriage makes you eligible to adjust your benefits between enrollment periods, but there are many other factors that may affect your coverage needs. For example, you may not bother with dental coverage for a newborn, but once that child has some teeth and is mobile, it's a good idea to add coverage in the event a fall damages a tooth.

    Be conscious of changes. It's quite common to allow your benefits to renew automatically when the enrollment period rolls around. This can create problems as plans and coverages often change from year to year. Deductible amounts, office visit copays and even categories of coverage can shift from one year to the next. Even if there aren't any changes to the coverage, there may be a new pricing structure or additions to coverage that could benefit you.

    Dedicate some time. When signing up for benefits for the first time, most people spend at least a little time reviewing each plan option. If you have your premiums deducted from your paycheck automatically, you probably don't give a lot of thought to your benefits, especially if you're relatively healthy. Open enrollment is the time to give them more than a passing thought.

    A survey by Colonial Life showed that 69 percent of employees spend less than 60 minutes learning about their benefits choices, but that limited time commitment can ultimately affect overall job satisfaction.

    "This can be a huge problem for both employees and their employers, because a lack of engagement with the benefits program leads to lower morale and higher turnover," says Steven Johnson, vice president of enrollment solutions at Colonial Life.

    Instead of a cursory flip through the materials, dedicate some time to thoroughly review all the information and make notes about areas you have questions.

    Discuss your options. Benefits can be complicated, and there are a lot of terms and jargon in the insurance world that can make it hard to understand exactly what your benefits will cover. That's why it's a good idea to sit down with a knowledgeable benefits counselor to discuss your family and personal financial situation.

    Technology may be king for many aspects of life, but the survey found that just 11 percent of employees name the internet as the place they turn to learn about benefits during enrollment each year. However, 76 percent of employees turn to humans including HR professionals, coworkers, family and friends.

    There isn't a one-size-fits-all solution for benefits, but a one-on-one counseling session can help simplify the entire benefits process. A private consultation may help you understand how each benefit election impacts your paycheck, as well as simplifying complex benefit concepts, answering your questions and walking you through the enrollment process.


    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • 5 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Plumbing System

    23 August 2019

    You likely think of recycling, food choices and transportation reduction when you think of eco-friendly behavior. But what about your plumbing? 

    "You don't have to overhaul your plumbing system to have an impact on your wallet and the environment," says Joseph Giannone, owner of Joseph Giannone Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning. "When it's time to replace a toilet, sink or washing machine, consider low-impact models that use less water to get the job done. It might be a little more expensive, but it won't take long to recover the cost once you start saving money on your water bill every month."

    New equipment is one reliable way to save money, but you don't have to splurge on a full bathroom update to have a noticeable effect. A few simple habits can reduce the amount of water you and your family use, and just remember to look for eco-friendly features when it is time to replace outdated fixtures.

    To help, the Philadelphia-based plumbing and HVAC company offers the following sustainable plumbing suggestions that will help homeowners save money and conserve water.

    Don't flush anything that's not supposed to be flushed. Paper towels, food, sanitary products and medication should never be flushed. In addition, many products marketed as flushable really aren't. Cat litter and disposable wipes can introduce germs into the water system or clog your pipes.  

    Upgrade appliances and fixtures. The next time you need to replace bathroom fixtures or appliances, get a new model that uses less water, like a dual-flush toilet, a low-pressure shower head or motion-sensor faucet.

    Check for leaks – and fix them. The cost of unseen leaks can add up over time. Listen for drips, watch for water stains and monitor your utility bill for any unexpected surge in usage. If you suspect a leak, check with a plumber you trust to make sure and take the appropriate next steps.   

    Filter your water. If you have concerns about the local water supply, have a home filtration system installed. In the long run, it's cheaper than drinking bottled water, and you'll use less plastic.

    Avoid the use of caustic drain cleaners. Many cheap drain cleaners may unstop a stubborn clog, but they can do a surprising amount of damage to your plumbing. Pipes, especially older ones, can be corroded and weakened by harsh chemicals, leading to breaks, leaks and contaminated water. Whenever possible, choose a more eco-friendly option like a biological drain treatment, or enzyme-based solution.

    "It doesn't take a dramatic change in lifestyle to make a difference," Giannone says. "With planning and practice, many people will notice an improvement in their water bill almost immediately. And with today's technology, you can significantly reduce the amount of water you waste without feeling like it's a sacrifice."

    Source: Joseph Giannone Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning 

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Get Smart About Your Outdoor Power Equipment

    22 August 2019

    Your garage or tool shed may be locked and loaded with an array of impressive outdoor power tools, ready to be put to good use in the aftermath of a storm. However, this equipment can be more hazardous than the weather event itself if not used properly. Here are some recommendations from The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) for prepping to use these products in advance of storm recovery. Doing so will help ensure not only a smooth and effective clean-up, but more importantly, everyone’s safety:

    1. Survey your property. Know in advance the type of damage that might occur during a storm and the tools that you’ll need, i.e., a chainsaw, pruner or generator. Make sure this equipment is in good working order and, if not, take it to an authorized service provider for repair.

    2. Find your owner’s manuals and review them to make sure you know how to operate your equipment. You might have purchased an item, such as a generator, and never had a chance to actually use it.

    3. Have the right type and amount of fuel on hand, as gas stations may be closed after a storm, so stock up in advance. You’ll also need to store your fuel in an approved container. Use the type of fuel recommended by your equipment manufacturer. It is illegal to use any fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol in outdoor power equipment.

    4. Have the right safety gear, such as work gloves, goggles, reflective clothing and a hard hat, if necessary. Not being dressed properly can be just as hazardous as using the wrong tools. Find all of this gear in advance of the storm so that it is accessible at a moment’s notice.

    5. Be aware of fundamental dangers that can occur, such as chainsaw kickback. Always stand with your weight on both feet, and adjust your stance so you are angled away from the blade. Hold the chainsaw with both hands. Never over-reach or cut anything above your shoulder height. Always have a planned retreat path if something falls. Keep firm footing on the ground when using pole saws and pole pruners. Observe the safety zone, which means keeping bystanders and power lines (those above you and any that might have fallen down) at least 50 feet away from your work area.

    6. Make sure portable electric generators have plenty of ventilation. Generators should never be used in an enclosed area or placed inside a home or garage, even if the windows or doors are open. Place the generator outside and away from windows, doors and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Keep the generator dry and do not use it in rainy or wet conditions. Before refueling, turn the generator off and let it cool down.

    Source: The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI)

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Bathroom Heaven: Creating a Spa Oasis

    22 August 2019

    (Family Features)--Transforming your bathroom into a personal home spa allows you to come home to a relaxing environment every day. By making space and removing clutter, along with adding decorative touches, you can achieve a stylish spa-like atmosphere in the comfort of your own home. 

    Whether you enjoy the understated, nature-inspired colors or the calming atmosphere, a spa-like bathroom can be beautiful, welcoming and relaxing. Escape the ordinary with these cabinetry ideas from the experts at Wellborn Cabinet: 

    Float your vanity. When it's time to retreat, a spa-like bathroom promises sanctuary in its design. Floating vanities mount directly to the wall, providing more floor space and creating a streamlined look. By mounting the vanity to a wall, the space is broadened, naturally making the bathroom look and feel larger while allowing for height customization.  

    Although the aesthetic benefits often come at the cost of limited under-sink storage space, this potential pitfall can be overcome with a customizable U-shaped drawer option designed to fit around the sink plumbing in your bath, allowing you to use all that under-counter space. 

    Clever, concealed storage. Style and functionality combine in bath cabinets and vanities designed to create your own private retreat where your space is serenely ordered and uncluttered. Common amongst spa-like bathroom styling is a clutter-free space, which allows for everything to be hidden behind the cabinet doors, making storage solutions vital. 

    To get the spa-like bathroom look, consider adding organizational solutions like a tiered spice rack, sliding shelves and vanity appliance pull-outs. A tiered spice rack keeps your cabinets organized and makes your morning routine easier. Sliding shelves can make your mornings less hectic with a gentle pull that brings bath essentials right to you. Conveniently store hairstyling tools in one location without compromising design or space with a vanity appliance pull-out. 

    Incorporate ample lighting. Design with relaxation in mind; the calm, warmer natural-color tones and ambient lighting help lend a relaxing vibe. Cabinet lighting adds depth, dimension and visual interest to a bathroom. An ideal lighting design goes beyond a centralized ceiling fixture and includes multiple layers of light. 

    Lighting in the bathroom is essential; illumination for everyday tasks can make your bath appear larger, add warmth and set the right mood. Lighting may also be designed to tuck cleanly inside and under cabinets to provide well-placed light without visible fixtures or distracting wires. 

    Infuse natural elements. Nature can be infused into the design by playing on textures with metals, earthy color tones, the graining in the cabinetry and the addition of a subtle waterfall separating the his-and-her vanity to provide a relaxing retreat.  

    Source: Wellborn Cabinet

    Published with permission from RISMedia.