Consumer Real Estate News

    • Capture Family Moments That Matter

      14 June 2019

      (Family Features)--Make your family's learning adventures more memorable by encouraging kids to capture their experiences on paper. The practice of communicating on paper can help lock in memories, plus it's a clever way for kids to practice practical skills in an engaging and productive way.

      Adjust these ideas as needed to match the ability level of each child so the whole family can participate.

      1. Write about experiences in a journal or diary. For older kids, encourage them to use words to describe their adventures. Ask younger kids to draw a scene or image that captured their attention or excited them the most.

      2. Design a diorama about your family's adventures to display in your home to show extended family and friends. Make it a conversation piece by asking kids to think about an endangered species and depict its living environment. Available in standard, glitter, neon, metallic and pastel colors, tools like Zebra Doodler'z® allow little designers to explore the nearly endless possibilities for color coding, sketching, journaling and embellishing.

      3. Take photos to share with friends and family both online and in-person. Get creative with your photo-taking by encouraging kids to think about the story they'll tell through the images. It might be a series of selfies tackling exciting new activities or documenting a sibling's first experience at the petting zoo. Another way to capture photographic memories is a photo treasure hunt, where kids have a list of items to search for and photograph during each outing.

      4. Create a family calendar to plan your summer activities together. Anticipating upcoming adventures is part of the fun. Let kids help you keep track of what's coming up and build excitement with a personalized calendar. Make it a work of art by asking kids to draw icons or small images that depict upcoming activities.

      5. Share experiences on social media. Let friends and family in on the fun by sharing your photos, drawings, dioramas and other creations online. Seeing the positive interaction and praise-filled comments from loved ones can help reinforce the value of creative expression to impressionable young minds.

      6. Create scrapbooks to help remember family moments. Keep the pace of life from fading those precious memories by assembling scrapbooks to commemorate family adventures. Make the scrapbook a family affair with everyone contributing their own creations.

      Source: Zebra Pen

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Brush Up on Your Food Safety Know-How

      14 June 2019

      Federal health officials estimate that nearly 48 million people are sickened by food contaminated with harmful germs each year, and you certainly don't want to be one of them.  

      Most folks know animal products must be handled carefully to prevent illness, but produce can be another culprit when it comes to outbreaks of foodborne illness. Recent outbreaks have been caused by contaminated spinach, cantaloupe and tomatoes, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

      To minimize risk, whenever possible, the FDA says to choose produce that isn’t bruised or damaged, and make sure that pre-cut items—such as bags of lettuce or watermelon slices—are either refrigerated or on ice at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit both in the store and at home until serving. In addition, follow these FDA recommendations:

      - Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
      - If damage or bruising occurs before eating or handling, cut away the damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating.
      - Rinse produce before you peel it, so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto other fruits or vegetables.
      - Gently rub produce while holding under running water. There’s no need to use soap or a produce wash.
      - Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub firm produce like melons or cucumbers.
      - Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria.
      - Remove the outermost leaves of lettuce or cabbage.

      There's also a lot to be said about using more or all of the food waste you usually toss.
      You can reduce food waste by:

      - Refrigerating peeled or cut vegetables for freshness, quality and safety.
      - Freezing foods to retain their quality until you are ready to serve.
      - Avoiding bulk and impulse purchases, especially produce and dairy products.
      - When eating out, bring leftovers home and refrigerate or freeze within two hours.

      The FDA is working with federal partners and stakeholders—possibly in your own community—to help consumers better understand the variety of actions they can take to reduce food waste.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Do You Know Your Net Worth?

      14 June 2019

      The term "net worth" likely makes you think of celebrities and other a-listers. But in reality, your net worth is simply your assets minus your liabilities (debt), and it's a crucial financial number to know. Knowing your net worth lets you understand your current financial situation, and offers a reference point for measuring financial progress and tracking goals.

      To calculate your net worth, estimate the value of the following assets:
      -Money in your bank accounts
      -Value of your investment accounts
      -Worth of your car
      -The market value of your home
      -Any business interests or assets
      -Cash value of your personal property such as musical instruments, art, furniture and jewelry, antiques.
      -Cash value of any insurance policies

      Now, tally up those numbers. Once you have that, list your liabilities, i.e., what you owe. Consider the following:
      -Car loan
      -Student loans
      -Credit card debt

      Add those numbers up, deduct your total liabilities from your total assets, and voila! Your net worth.  

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Painting Your House? Questions to Ask Yourself First

      13 June 2019

      Looking to paint your home’s exterior on your own? Before you do, the Paint Quality Institute suggests you ask yourself these important questions:

      Do you have time? Repainting a home can take a full week or two. For many people, that translates to a lot of vacation days or weekends. Are you willing to make the sacrifice?

      Do you have the patience? While painting can be fun and psychologically rewarding, good surface preparation—essential to any successful paint job—can be tedious. Will you take the necessary time to properly prepare the surface before yielding to the urge to paint? Consider renting power-washing equipment to speed surface preparation.

      Can you afford a contractor? By doing the job yourself, you can save a lot of money; however, having your home professionally painted will be faster and eliminate the need for buying equipment, preparing the surface and doing the actual painting yourself.

      Do you have the right stuff? The highest quality acrylic latex paint costs more than $20 per gallon, but you’ll also need ladders, scrapers, sandpaper, brushes and/or rollers and safety equipment. Do you have these items? Are you willing to invest in them?

      Have you painted before? As with most home improvement projects, painting is easier the second time around once you’ve mastered surface preparation and application techniques.

      Are you afraid of heights? Look to the highest point of your house. Would you be nervous painting it from a ladder? If so, proceed to your search engine of choice and enter “Painting Contractors.”

      If you decide to tackle your painting project on your own, proceed with confidence. The Paint Quality Institute says exterior painting is one of the top do-it-yourself projects (trailing only interior painting).

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 6 Easy Ways to Whip Your Finances Into Shape

      13 June 2019

      Feeling bogged down by debt, or simply financially disorganized? Below are six quick tips to whipping your finances into better shape.

      Create a debt list. If you're in debt, have one cohesive list of all the debt you owe, with interest payments, so that you know your full total owed amounts AND which debts to tackle first. (Answer: the one with the highest interest).
      Understand your total income and plan accordingly. If you have a salaried job, you likely know how much you make a year. But for hourly employees, or those with multiple streams of income, understanding your total income is trickier, but it can help you create a savings and debt slashing plan. List every income source and your average hours worked per month and calculate accordingly. Then figure out how much headway you'd need to make annually on your debt to slash it in the next five to 10 years.

      Set up auto bill pay. There is no reason you shouldn't be using automatic bill pay, which can help you avoid making late payments and ease the overall stress of paying bills. If you're worried that there may not always be enough in the account, set up a reminder the day before your funds would be withdrawn to check in on your account.

      Pay more than the minimum. Paying only the minimum on a credit card helps when funds are low, but seriously slows down any real repayment process, as much of your minimum payment is just handling interest. Try to always pay more than your minimum.

      Automate your savings. You can set up auto transfers with your employer or bank to put a certain amount of every paycheck into your savings account. Stashing 10 percent every month will help build out your savings and/or retirement fund.

      Implement a "no spend" day. To keep expenses low, choose one (or two!) days a week where you spend NO money. Pack a lunch, make your own coffee, cook your own dinner and avoid that online shopping urge.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.