RE/MAX 440
Patty Jo Anzivine
pattyjovine@gmail.com
Patty Jo Anzivine
4550 W. Tilghman Street
Allentown  PA 18104
PH: 610-390-0415
O: 610-398-8111
F: 267-354-6902 
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Protect Your Home from Increased Fire Risk over the Holidays

December 3, 2014 4:21 am

(Family Features) As the holiday season approaches, the risk of house fires increases drastically as cooking, decorating and other traditions require the use of candles and open flames. The U.S. Fire Administration reports there are approximately 128,700 fires during the month of December, a sharp uptick that compromises the safety of your family and your home.

Stay safe this holiday season with these tips:
  • Make sure your tree is at least three feet away from heat sources such as fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, candles or heat vents. If you have a live tree in your home, keep it well watered and remove it after the holiday or when it becomes dry.
  • Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots and excessive kinking or wear before use. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet.
  • Consider using battery-operated, flameless candles. When using lit candles, make sure they are in stable holders and placed where they cannot be knocked down easily. Never leave lit candles unattended.
  • When cooking, stand by your stove and turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so children cannot reach them. Wear short sleeves or roll up long sleeves, and keep a pan lid or cookie sheet nearby to cover the pan if it catches on fire.
  • Make sure your home is equipped with working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. The holiday season is a great time to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and to check fire extinguishers.
Source: Shriners Hospitals for Children

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Four Better Ways to Cut Home Insurance Costs

December 3, 2014 4:21 am

While there are many smart ways to save money on homeowners insurance, there are also mistakes that can result in a highly detrimental lack of coverage.

“Asking about available discounts and comparison shopping is an excellent way to cut insurance costs,” says Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and chief communications officer of the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). “However, consumers who try to save money by reducing or dropping necessary coverage could be left dangerously underinsured.”

Following are the five biggest home insurance mistakes consumers can make, along with suggestions for better ways to save money:

1. Selecting an insurance company by price alone. It is important to choose a company with competitive prices, but also one that is financially sound and provides good customer service.

A better way to save: Check the financial health of a company with independent rating agencies and ask friends and family for recommendations. You should select an insurance company that will respond to your needs and handle claims fairly and efficiently.

2. Insuring a home for its real estate value rather than for the cost of rebuilding. When real estate prices go down, some homeowners may think they can reduce the amount of insurance on their home. But insurance is designed to cover the cost of rebuilding, not the sales price of the house. You should make sure that you have enough coverage to completely rebuild your home and replace your belongings.

A better way to save: Raise your deductible. An increase from $500 to $1,000 could save up to 25 percent on your premium payments.

3. Dropping flood insurance. Many homeowners are unaware they are at risk for flooding, but in fact, 25 percent of all flood losses occur in low risk areas—and damage from flooding is not covered under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. Coverage is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), as well as from some private insurance companies. Keep in mind that significant snow fall in winter may cause spring related flooding to be particularly severe.

A better way to save: Before purchasing a home, check with the NFIP to determine whether the property is situated in a flood zone; if so, consider a less risky area. If you are already living in a designated flood zone, consider mitigation steps that can reduce your risk of flood damage.

4. Neglecting to buy renters insurance.
A renters insurance policy covers your possessions and additional living expenses if you have to move out due to an insured disaster, such as a fire or hurricane. Equally important, it provides liability protection in the event someone is injured in your home and decides to sue.

A better way to save: Look into multi-policy discounts. Buying several policies with the same insurer, such as renters, auto and life will generally provide savings.

Source: I.I.I.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Tips to Prevent Winter Dehydration

December 2, 2014 4:35 am

(Family Features) When the mercury drops, it's more important than ever to stay properly hydrated. During the winter, people may not seem to sweat as much as in the summer, but that doesn't lessen one's risk of dehydration.

"As a hospital physician, I've seen far too many people succumb to dehydration-related health scares, stemming from high-elevation ski trips to travel to simply forgetting to drink water because it's cold outside," says Dr. Ralph E. Holsworth, director of clinical and scientific research for Essentia Water and medical physician at Southeast Colorado Hospital. "Staying properly hydrated can help ensure good health through the winter, reduce dry skin and even help you flush toxins out of your body to reduce the chances of getting a winter cold or flu."

Roughly 75 percent of the North American population is chronically dehydrated. By the time you feel thirsty (and sometimes when you don't) you may already be dehydrated. Whether you're skiing or just taking a walk on a brisk day, experts recommend these tips to stay hydrated throughout the winter season and beyond.
  • Set a daily water intake goal. A good rule of thumb for daily water intake from food and fluids is 2 liters for females and 2.5 liters for males with moderate physical activity levels. Adjust your personal goal to account for climate and activity level. Start your day by filling a tumbler or setting out bottles of your favorite water totaling your goal. Supplement with healthy foods that have high water content like soup, salad and pears.
  • Winter it up. During cooler weather, chilled water isn't very enticing. To make it more appealing, warm a mug of water or add a burst of flavor from your favorite winter fruit like oranges, tangerines or cranberries. Drop in a cinnamon stick for an added flavor kick and enticing aroma.
  • Check the mirror. A tried and true way to know if you're getting enough water is to check your mirror. If your skin appears dry and flaky, it's time to drink more fluids.
  • Drink electrolyte-enhanced alkaline water (also called functional water). Wellness experts agree that disease and infection have a hard time thriving in an alkaline environment. High-pH water can help neutralize acid levels and restore your body to a natural state. Functional water can help you avoid or fight winter colds and flu, hydrate your skin and re-hydrate someone who is showing signs of dehydration.
  • Pack the H2O. From carrying a backpack to wearing a special hydration pack, it's important to bring water with you during winter outings. If you simply can't bring it with you, be sure you have a list of stores that offer bottled water, and keep a supply of it in your car's trunk for emergencies.
Source: Essentia Water

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Five Home Safety Measures for the Holidays

December 2, 2014 4:35 am

The end of the year is traditionally festive and celebratory, but it is also a time when you and your family are most susceptible to home break-ins and fire hazards. In fact, December and January are most common for burglaries, with the average number of incidents increasing by 20 percent during those months. Additionally, the U.S. Fire Administration reports that the most home fires happen in winter months, causing over $2 million in reported property loss.

Despite these statistics, there are effective ways to reduce the likelihood of being victim to these holiday hazards. Porch.com recommends these five tips to keep your home and family safe this holiday season.

1. Prevent Christmas tree fires – The U.S. Fire Administration reports that one out of every three Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. Make sure to only use indoor UL-listed lights for decorating your tree and always turn off the tree lights at night and when you leave your home. If you have a real Christmas tree, make sure it stays fresh by watering it regularly. Dry trees are more flammable, and at higher risk to catch on fire. When using artificial trees, make sure the tree is labeled as “fire resistant.”

2. Check your smoke detector batteries – Test every smoke and carbon monoxide detector in your house and change out the batteries. This is a simple and inexpensive way to protect your home, and should be done every few months throughout the year.

3. Use your home security system – Security systems will deter criminals from breaking into your home. In fact, cities and neighborhoods that have a higher number of security installs have lower burglary rates.

4. Don’t give burglars reasons to break in – The FBI reports that around 400,000 home burglaries occur during November and December each year. Leaving valuable items out in the open and near doors and windows will make your home an easy target for quick break-ins. Wrapped or unwrapped, if you need to leave valuables and gifts out in the open, simply draw the blinds or cover them so they aren’t easily seen.

5. Make it look like you’re home, even when you’re not – Whether you are gone on an extended holiday or just out for holiday dinner, burglars watch for homes that have no activity. Make sure you have an automatic light timer for your indoor lights, and set the timer to change the turn-on time regularly. (Burglars will notice if your lights come on at 5 p.m. every day, for example.) For your outdoor lights, install motion sensor lighting. Have a friend or family member check on your house periodically while you are gone on vacation. In some cities you can even request the police to do “vacation checks,” where they will drive by your home a few times to make sure there is no suspicious activity.

Source: Porch.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Four Myths about Buying a New Home

December 2, 2014 4:35 am

Choosing whether to purchase a new or pre-owned home is a critical decision for homebuyers, and it’s important to know the reality behind some misconceptions about buying a new home.

KB Home, one of the nation’s largest and most recognized homebuilders, debunks three myths associated with buying new construction.

Myth #1: A new home is more expensive than a pre-owned home.

Fact: New homes can be built to accommodate any budget. Buyers can select from a variety of floor plans tailored to meet a range of budgets, so they only pay for what they value. Also, with standardized energy-efficient features, monthly utility expenses can be lower than those of an older home or rental property.

Myth #2: A new home will have features I don’t want.

Fact:
While it’s true that some new home builders produce communities in bulk and sell speculative inventory homes, homebuyers typically get to select the floor plan and features that best fit their needs and preferences before construction begins.

Myth #3: Buying a pre-owned home is better for the environment.

Fact: Just like today’s cars run much more efficiently than the clunky gas guzzlers of the past, all new homes use energy far more efficiently than a typical pre-owned home. In addition, new homes utilize sustainably-sourced or recycled-content products whenever possible when building, and often employ advanced supply chain management and recycling practices to minimize waste in the home construction process.

Myth #4: I won’t save money buying a new home.

Fact:
There are a lot of ways that purchasing a new home can lower the total cost of homeownership. Along with saving on energy and water bills, homeowners generally save on renovations and repairs. More importantly, homeownership can offer long-term financial advantages, including the opportunity to deduct mortgage interest payments from your income taxes and the potential to build equity in your home.

Source: KB Home

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Three Tips for Picky Eaters

December 1, 2014 4:47 am

(Family Features) When it comes to promoting a healthy diet, it can be difficult to convince children to eat their fruits and vegetables. The last thing you want to do is spend quality family time persuading picky eaters to complete a nutritious meal. Get kids excited about adding vegetables to their favorite dinner meals with these tips.

1. Spark interest by getting kids involved. It's easy to get kids more engaged in mealtime by including them while you're preparing and cooking family meals. Teach kids how to measure out herbs and spices, or have them pick out their favorite vegetable to serve with dinner.

2. Embrace variety to keep dinnertime boredom from creeping in. Just like adults, kids can become bored with the same old rotation of veggies every week. Don’t be afraid to branch out from the basics; many grocery stores now carry produce once deemed too ‘exotic’ for their shelves, and most children won’t know the difference.

3. Introduce new foods slowly, pairing them on the table with familiar foods. It can be difficult to get little ones to try new foods -- especially fruits and veggies, so introduce foods slowly. Add in new flavors and tastes alongside their favorite dishes. Try serving your family's favorite dips, salsa or hummus with veggies to get them more willing to expand their taste preferences.

Starting at a young age will help kids establish healthy, well-rounded eating habits to last a lifetime. There's no better time than dinnertime to start modeling smart behaviors for them to follow.

Source: Birds Eye

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What Students and First-timers Need to Know about Renting

December 1, 2014 4:47 am

I recently heard a nightmare rental horror story from a friend whose son recently moved to Boston for college, and was forced to find his own place in a short period of time when on-campus options dried up.

So I went looking for advice for student and first-time renters and developed some great source material offered through the California College of the Arts (cca.edu), which posts the most common mistakes that haunt most first-time renters. Among those mistakes are:

Underestimating monthly expenses - When renting an apartment for the first time, it’s easy to forget to include rent in your monthly budget. (General rule of thumb is to allot one third of your monthly budget to rent.)

Depending on where you rent, gas and electricity, cable television, Internet access, and a phone line are standard items to include in your budget. Also consider the cost to commute to the college via public transportation - if you drive factor bridge tolls, gas, and parking, and remember to include food, entertainment, and school supply expenses, too.

Renting in a less-than-desirable neighborhood - The quality or appearance of your apartment is far less important than feeling safe. Good rent often means having undesirable compensatory factors when apartment hunting.

Bypassing the new roommate interview(s) - A best friend is not always a best roommate. Think about your lifestyle and what you want and need in your living space. Before you commit to live with a potential roommate, identify your needs.

Many friendships have ended because of different expectations within the apartment regarding cleanliness, noise from guests, and judgments about acceptable drug/alcohol use.

Agreeing on what you want and need in your living space is not the only factor to take into consideration when thinking about moving in with a friend; you must also consider if the friend is reliable enough to keep up paying rent and bills on time.

Our next report will provide even more advice to help avoid the most common issues that affect student or first-time renters.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Holiday Shipping 101

December 1, 2014 4:47 am

(Family Features) If one of your holiday tasks is shipping gifts to family and friends across the nation, knowing a few tips and tricks will ensure your packages get to them in time for the festivities.

From shipping deadlines to packaging, there are many factors to consider when sending gifts, especially during a busy time like the holiday season. Fortunately, there are dozens of resources available to help make shipping holiday gifts more convenient than ever. John Budzynski, consumer advocate at the U.S. Postal Service, offers these suggestions to help make your holiday shipping simple and stress-free.
  • Take advantage of services that make shipping more convenient. The U.S. Postal Service lets you order free Priority Mail shipping supplies from usps.com and delivers them right to your door.
  • Be informed about policies for handling fragile gifts or items that may be hazardous, such as perfume, cologne and other liquids.
  • Always include a return address. It tells the shipper where to return the package if it can't be delivered.
  • Pack smart. Pick a strong and sturdy box, cushion contents with packing peanuts, newspaper or bubble wrap, and tape it closed with strong packing tape.
  • Buy postage online and print at home. It not only saves time, but money too; in most cases, you can receive up to an 11 percent discount.
  • Don't get caught in the holiday rush. Schedule a free package pickup from your home or office.
  • Check key shipping dates to ensure your package arrives in time for the holiday. The U.S. Postal Service recommends these deadlines for delivery by Dec. 25:
Dec. 2 - International First-Class Mail
Dec. 2 - Priority Mail International
Dec. 10 - Priority Mail Express International
Dec. 15 - Standard Post
Dec. 17 - Global Express Guaranteed
Dec. 20 - First-Class Mail
Dec. 20 - Priority Mail
Dec. 23 - Priority Mail Express
Source: U.S. Postal Service

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What to Buy in November

November 28, 2014 5:23 am

Whether or not you trust in the Black Friday hype, the financial mavens at Bankrate.com say November is almost always a good time to find bargains on certain other kinds of merchandise:

Cookware – In time to get you revved about holiday cooking, many retailers slash the price of pots, pans and cookware gadgets this month. (It’s also a good time for bargains on flour, sugar, butter, chocolate and other baking ingredients.)

Tools and hardware – Check the big box home and hardware stores for significant discounts this month on drills, hand tools, tool storage and more. The best deals will be on merchandise you can carry home yourself.

Off-brand TVs – While the best deals on premium TVs may not happen until the December/January timeframe, when retailers are making room for the newest models, experts say November is the time to look for deep discounts on off-brand models, especially in the 46-to-55 inch screen size.

Wedding gowns – According to the author of "Bridal Bargains," November and December are excellent months to shop for a wedding dress because there's a decrease in demand as women aren't interested in shopping for one during the typically busy holiday season. (Some stores will even haggle a bit during this slow sales time.)

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Top 5 Cyber Monday Safety Tips

November 28, 2014 5:23 am

The Internet makes holiday shopping so easy—no fighting for parking spaces at jam-packed malls, no waiting in endless lines to get to the register.

But even if you consider yourself a pro, shopping online isn't without risks. These tips from USA.gov can help you protect yourself and your finances as you hunt for that perfect gift:
  • Use a credit card rather than a debit card. Credit card payments can be withheld if there's a dispute with a store, and if the card is stolen, you won't have to pay more than $50 of fraudulent charges. But with a debit card, you can't withhold payments—the store is paid directly from your bank account. And if your card is stolen, you could be liable for up to $500, depending on when you report it.
  • Find out if the public WiFi hotspot you're using at a coffee shop or bookstore is secure. If it's not, your payment information could be compromised over the network.
  • It's risky not to read the terms of service agreement before you buy online. You could inadvertently sign up for subscriptions or get hit with additional fees or restrictions. Terms of service are often in small print or presented right when you are anxious to purchase.
  • Be careful if you're buying event tickets online as gifts. Some venues may practice restricted ticketing, requiring the same credit card used in the online purchase to be shown to get into the event.
  • Use caution buying digital assets like books and music—they can't be given away as gifts if they've been downloaded to your account. You should either purchase a gift card for the book or music site, or check with the company. Some services have ways to "gift an item" but it varies depending on the provider.
Source: USA.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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