RE/MAX 440
Susanne Porter ABR, CRS, GRI
SuePorteratREMAX@aol.com
Susanne Porter ABR, CRS, GRI
440 South West End Blvd, RT 309
Quakertown  PA 18951
PH: 267-261-4608
O: 215-538-4400
C: 267-261-4608
F: 267-354-6883 
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Traveling Baby Boomers Head to New Destinations, Study Shows

November 7, 2016 1:48 am

A new study by AARP focuses on the travel plans of baby boomers. While travel has always been an objective for older Americans, the AARP study shows that 99 percent of Americans age 50 and up are traveling for fun, with the majority planning at least one leisure trip in 2017, and the average boomer planning a whopping five or more leisure trips throughout the upcoming year.

So where are they heading?

Within the U.S., boomers still favor the predictable choices: Florida, California and Las Vegas. But things are shifting among international-bound boomers, with Latin America taking center stage as Europe moves to the back burner.

According to AARP's study, the top five destinations for international boomer travel include:
  • Mexico
  • The Caribbean
  • England/UK/Ireland
  • Central/South America
  • Italy  
Source: AARP

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Make Mornings More Tolerable

November 4, 2016 1:39 am

Waking up on the right side of the bed comes naturally to some people. For the rest of us, mornings can be painful. Morning person or not, however, your habits upon rising have a lot to do with how the rest of your day will go. Here are some painless ways to turn your mornings into good beginnings:

1. Wake up gradually. Bolting out of bed to a loud, jarring alarm is not the way you want to begin your day. Set the option on your smartphone alarm for ascending sound, so that your alarm starts off quietly and gradually builds, gently rousing you from sleep.

2. Make coffee time sacred. Instead of hitting the snooze button for an extra 10 minutes of poor sleep, take that time to sit quietly with your coffee, tea, cocoa or whatever your morning poison happens to be. The few moments of peace will ease you into the day.

3. Gather your thoughts. Meditate, pray, journal, etc. This will help calm and focus your mind. The frenetic pace of the day is lurking around the corner, so here’s your one chance to get grounded.

4. Exercise. Even if you’ve had a bad night’s sleep and still feel exhausted, getting a workout or a walk in will wake you right up. Exercise boosts your serotonin and energy levels and will always put you in a better mood to face the day.

5. Eliminate decisions. Even the smallest decisions can seem overwhelming in the morning when you’re rushing to get out the door. Save yourself some angst by figuring out what you’re going to wear and bring for lunch the night before. Do the same for the kiddos, too.

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5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Money Management

November 4, 2016 1:39 am

If you’ve been hit recently with a late fee or two, or thought you’d paid that overdue gas bill when you hadn’t, your money management skills may need a boost.

Consumer finance pros at Business Insider suggest five easy ways to make managing your money easier:

Automate your finances to simplify control – Sign up for auto-pay, and monthly payments are automatically charged to your credit card or paid from your checking account. Even if you prefer to pay off the full amounts due each month, signing up to have the minimums automatically paid will ensure you won’t be faced with late fees if you fail to make a payment on time.

Put due dates in your calendar – For bills you can’t automate – such as rent or utilities – enter reminders in your daily calendar a week before payments are due.

Sign up for text or email reminders – As an alternative to writing reminders in your calendar, check with your credit card company, mortgage servicer, auto loan servicer and/or student loan servicer about getting alerts for your due dates. Getting digital reminders can help you stay on top of payments.

Enroll in credit monitoring – Your credit score and credit report are important parts of your financial life, but keeping tabs on them may seem inconvenient or time-consuming. When you sign up for credit monitoring, the service will notify you if things on your credit report look suspicious, which could be a sign of identity theft. If you don’t enroll in a monitoring service, it’s a good idea to review your credit regularly – and if you see mistakes, dispute them.

Download a savings app – If you find it tough to save, download an app like Digit or Smarty Pig, which keep tabs on your accounts and analyze what you can put in a savings account. They can then automatically transfer money from your checking account into a savings account. Another app, called Acorns, will round your purchases to the nearest dollar and invest your spare change.

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Don’t Let the Holidays Sabotage Your Fitness

November 3, 2016 1:39 am

It all started with Halloween. We bought way more candy than there were trick-or-treaters, and tore a little hole in the bag and started sneaking some treats days before the holiday even rolled around. From there, we roll right into Thanksgiving and Christmas, and end up ringing in the new year with the dreaded extra 5 - 10 pounds.

Sure, we can simply accept this as part and parcel of enjoying the fall and winter holidays – after all, we’ve worked hard all year and deserve some fourth-quarter indulgence. But, it is actually possible to splurge a little while maintaining your physique, not to mention your overall health. Here are a few simple strategies to avoid a holiday health meltdown:

1. Make it convenient: Ever wonder how celebrities are able to stay in such great shape? Because it’s so easy for them! From personalized nutrition plans to live-in chefs and trainers, the keys to fitness are at their fingertips because their paychecks depend on it. Try to make diet and exercise convenient in your world, too—make healthy meals on Sunday that you can eat all week, develop a quick home-exercise routine for when you can’t get to the gym, and pick a work-out buddy to help keep you accountable.

2. Keep the leftovers on the move: Bring leftover candy and cookies to work, or donate them to a school. Stock up on take-out containers, and as you’re cleaning up holiday dinners, make a doggie bag for guests. Satisfy your holiday baked-goods craving by hosting a cookie swap, which provides built-in portion control.

3. Strategize party days: Who wants to avoid partaking in the festive foods and beverages of the season? No one! On days when there’s a party or family gathering on the calendar, get a workout in early before having a low-calorie, nutrient-packed breakfast and lunch. That way you can let loose a little later without blowing your calorie goal for the day.

4. Commit to your pillow: To add insult to injury, most of us tend to shortchange our sleep thanks to the hectic holiday pace. However, getting enough sleep is actually essential to avoiding weight gain. The more sleep deprived you are, the higher your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which leads to weight gain. See what holiday-related activities can be cut from your to-do list in favor of getting more sleep, and don’t feel guilty about sneaking in a nap when you can. Your body—and your loved ones!—will thank you for it.

The biggest plus of staying healthy and fit during the holidays? No need to add “lose weight” to your new year’s resolution list!
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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America's Greatest Small Cities Offer an Affordable Urban Lifestyle

November 3, 2016 1:39 am

Are you looking to move to a city, but worried about the high cost? A new study broke down the best (read: most affordable) small cities across the country. Look past the Big Apple and the Windy City and find a space in one of America's great urban underdogs.

Why a small city? Well, urbanites in smaller spots still enjoy the perks of a thriving city scene, but with a cheaper cost of living—generally speaking, that is. According to the Economic Policy Institute, a two-parent, two-child family would need to earn $49,114 a year “to secure an adequate but modest living standard” in Morristown, Tenn., compared with $106,493 in Washington.

To hunt down these small cities, WalletHub’s analysts compared 1,268 U.S. cities with populations between 25,000 and 100,000. The study's data set of 30 key metrics ranges from “housing costs” to “school-system quality” to “number of restaurants per capita.”    

Behold, the top 10 small cities in America:

1. Westfield, Ind.
2. Princeton, N.J.
3. Leawood, Kan.
4. Littleton, Colo.
5. Brookfield, Wisc.
6. Kirkland, Wash.
7. Holly Springs, N.C.
8. Milton, Mass.
9. Brentwood, Tenn.
10. Southlake, Texas

Source: WalletHub

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Choosing the Right Health Insurance

November 3, 2016 1:39 am

When it comes to choosing health insurance, there is no “one size fits all.” Factors to consider include your age, lifestyle, marital status, and more. Whether you’re a newlywed, a new parent, recent college graduate or recently retired, there are several things you should consider when selecting your plan.  

Newlywed
Marriage is an exciting new adventure, and it impacts everything—including your health insurance. When researching plans, make sure the one you choose fits in with your family budget. Look at what you’ve spent on health care in the past and evaluate what you’re comfortable spending on monthly premiums now that you’re no longer single. Evaluate whether or not it makes the most sense to assume coverage under one of your employer-sponsored plans or an individual family plan.    

New Parent
Preparation is key when you're expecting, and this extends far beyond reading parenting books and decorating the nursery. Remember to make sure you choose the right insurance plan before you bring home baby. For new moms (and moms-to-be), plan choice will affect everything from prenatal and maternity care to pediatrician visits and immunizations. Consider the rules for in-network and out-of-network healthcare providers: how long of a hospital stay is covered? What prenatal tests are covered?    

Recent Grad
See ya later college! For new grads, there are many options to choose from when it comes to your health insurance. Whether it’s opting for a plan through your new job, remaining on your parent’s plan, or opting for an individual plan through the healthcare marketplace, it’s important to do your research and pick the plan that best fits your needs. 

Retiree
For those looking to retire, consider whether the Medicare plan you’re thinking about covers the health services you need. Look into the prescription drug benefits offered, how much your premiums and deductibles will cost and what you can manage to pay out-of-pocket based on your lifestyle.

Source:  Anthem.com

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Prepare Your Home for Holiday Entertaining

November 2, 2016 1:39 am

(Family Features)--As the holiday season approaches and you're tasked with hosting family and friends, it can be a little overwhelming to imagine all the work that has to take place for a successful celebration.

However, there's no reason the host can't join in the fun. To help keep calm and have your home ready for the party, follow these tips.

Cleaning
More often than not, the first step to readying your home for a house full of guests is to clean. Start by going room to room seeking out trash, recyclables and things that can be stored away – anything to clear up much-needed space. Once the clutter is cleared, work from the top down to clean surfaces, so any dust or debris that hits the floor can be vacuumed or swept neatly away. Remember to steer clear of harsh or highly fragrant chemicals, which may be an irritant to some guests.

Upgrading
Don't try to sneak by with old appliances this time around. Instead, upgrade your most important resources throughout the house in order to find success when it comes to playing host. For example, swapping out your old, cluttered refrigerator for a Whirlpool French Door Refrigerator with industry-first infinity slide shelves is a useful way to create more space in the kitchen. Its pantry-inspired layout lets families fit and find all their edible favorites. Every section, shelf and bin in the refrigerator was redesigned to deliver smart organization with panoramic shelves and unique features to store 30 percent more than other leading French door bottom mount refrigerators.

Planning
Staying organized and having a precise plan are vital to putting together the perfect night with family and friends. Make sure to nail down the specifics, such as the number of guests, what food will be brought, what needs prepared in advance and what can wait until the big day. Making lists and involving others in the family to help can make a seemingly insurmountable volume of work feel instantly manageable. As you think through your plans, remember to anticipate the unexpected and have an emergency party kit on hand to quickly respond to pitfalls, like spills or broken glass, before they derail the festivities.

Decorating
With all the energy you put into planning and upgrading, don't overlook the importance of taking time to make your home shine with a creative touch. Go festive with holiday-specific decor or keep it classic with timeless decorations placed throughout the home to make it really sparkle. For close family and friends, consider adding personal touches like mementos of holidays past. Or go with a themed approach with similar colors and textures that you carry throughout the house.

Source: www.whirlpool.com

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Daylight Savings Time: Chores to 'Fall Back' On

November 2, 2016 1:39 am

We all lament the loss of an hour as Daylight Savings Time ends—but that loss can also serve as a reminder that it's never too soon to see to a number of chores around the house.

For example, Bel Red Energy Solutions of Seattle reminds its customers to change the batteries in all smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors, and make sure they are all in working condition.

Bel Red explains that since sensors in CO detectors don’t typically last as long as smoke detectors (2-3 years, on average), it may be time to replace one or more of them.

What if you don't have a CO detector? If you’re looking to purchase one for the first time, or replace an aging one, Bel Red suggests a new, low-level CO detector with a 5-year sensor.

Boise Basin Insurance Services, on the other hand, recommends using Daylight Savings Time as a prompt to clean your medicine cabinets. Remember: some medications should not be thrown away in a trash can or flushed down the toilet. Find a drug disposal facility in your area, or contact your local law enforcement agency, for more information.

Boise Basin also suggests taking the twice yearly opportunity to drain your water heater—flushing it out is the best way to remove any built-up sediment, which can lead to reduced efficiency.

And—as long as you're setting clocks ahead by an hour—replace the batteries in those, too!

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Here's How to Avoid Scary Paint Failures

November 2, 2016 1:39 am

Looking to tackle an outdoor painting project? Good for you. However, nothing is worse than dedicating hours and energy to your paint job, only to find out you've hit a big fat fail: peeling and flaking paint, wrinkling, blistering, and hideous "alligatoring," where paint cracks open in a pattern that resembles a reptile's scales.

Below are a handful of tips to avoid these epics fails, courtesy of Debbie Zimmer, spokesperson for the Paint Quality Institute.

Properly prepare the surface.  It was Ben Franklin who said, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail" -- apt advice for almost everything, including painting.  Good surface preparation is essential if you want to avoid the nightmare of early paint failure.  So, before ever picking up a brush or roller, be certain that the surface is sound and clean, with no sign of loose or peeling paint.  Prime any bare or unpainted wood or metal.  Only then should you begin to apply your paint.

Invest in top quality paint.  If the surface has been properly prepared, the best way to protect against frightening failures is to use a top quality 100% acrylic latex paint.  "This type of paint will tightly adhere to the surface below, but remain flexible enough to expand and contract when temperatures rise or fall," says Zimmer.  By investing in top quality paint, you'll get an extremely tough and durable finish that will keep the demons of paint failure at bay.

Work with high quality brushes and rollers.  The best quality tools permit you to apply a thicker, more uniform coat of paint, one that offers maximum protection against forbidding failures.  Choose brushes with split bristles of multiple lengths that are packed tightly together.  And, when working with latex paint, use brushes and rollers made of synthetic material, which are better at holding their shape to give a better result.  

Apply paint only in moderate weather.  When applying any exterior coating, avoid working in spine-chilling temperatures.  They're uncomfortable for you...and, they can have dire consequences for your paint.  Paint forms the best protective film when it isn't too cold or too hot outside, and when the wind isn't excessive.  Still days with temps above 50 degrees F. are ideal.

Source: blog.paintquality.com.

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9 Ways to Get a Jump on the Holidays

November 1, 2016 1:39 am

From the time the first Halloween masks appear in the stores, we seem to rush headlong into the holidays, caught up in what seems like a veritable whirlwind of baking, decorating, and shopping. The home editors at Southern Living and Vibrant Life magazines offer tips on slowing down the rush by getting a head start on the basics.

Update Your Mailing List – Now is a good time to bring your address book up to date, so you won’t be searching around at the last minute for Aunt Minnie’s new address.

Start Saving – Open a new account or start stuffing a piggy bank with loose change, refund checks, and any unexpected little windfalls—perhaps even the cash you ‘saved’ by using coupons. Anything you can stow away in the next three months can help out at holiday time.

Stock the Pantry – As fall begins, many supermarkets put baking supplies on sale. Begin stocking up now on all the ingredients you know you will need later.

Add Gift Cards to Your Shopping List – Purchase one gift card every week as you do your weekly shopping. You’ll be glad to have them to use as gifts anyone on your list will enjoy.

Get Cooking – If you bake cookies, can fruits or veggies, or make jams and preserves, get a head start now. Stored properly in freezers or on shelves, they’ll make great gifts later.

Get Crafting – If you knit, sew, or do other handicrafts, start now to create personal creations to brighten the faces of those you give them to.

Start Making a List – Make a note of it as the people around you mention items they have seen or heard about or think they might like to have. Working from such a list can shortcut the time you spend shopping.

Think About Scaling Back – Gifting is expensive, and all the more so as kids get older. Instead of exchanging gifts with every member of your cousin’s family, send an e-mail now suggesting one gift for the family—movie passes? A restaurant gift card? A basket of heavenly edibles?

Hit Garage Sales – You may find gift items still in the box, new or gently used holiday décor, needed kitchen ware and more.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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