June Croissette
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RE/MAX 440   June Croissette
440 South West End Blvd, RT 309  Quakertown, PA  18951
Office Phone: 215-538-4400    Phone: 215-538-4400 Ext. 1210  Fax: 267-354-6834  Cell: 215-872-4966
jcroissette@remax440.com

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The New Nutrition Facts Label, Explained

June 1, 2016 1:00 am

The nutritional value chart labeled on most food and drink items will change to reflect shifting health ideals—the first alteration to the label in over 20 years.

Recently announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the new Nutrition Facts Panel will offer more up-to-date information for consumers.

“Our understanding of a ‘serving size’ has changed over the years,” explains Lori Zanini, registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “The new Panel now lists serving size as what is typically eaten in one sitting. This new format will help by easing or even eliminating the need to multiply several servings and daily value percentages to know how much has been consumed.”

The serving size on a 12-ounce beverage, for instance, will now be listed as one serving, since a person typically drinks the whole amount at one time.

“People should also know that the serving size does not necessarily reflect the recommended portion size,” Zanini cautions. “The MyPlate guidelines are a great resource for understanding proper portion sizes.”

The change will also do away with the Vitamin A and Vitamin C quantities currently listed on the label, and instead include the amounts of Vitamin D and potassium.

“Many people do not consume these nutrients in sufficient amounts,” says Zanini.

The new label will identify added sugars, as well.

“To provide a better understanding of naturally-occurring versus sugars that are added to a product, added sugars will now be listed as an indented sub-item under total sugars,” Zanini explains.

Daily Values (DV) will also become easier to calculate under the new label. DVs are the average levels of nutrients for a person eating 2,000 calories a day—a food item with a 5 percent DV of sodium provides 5 percent of the total sodium that the person should eat each day. Consumers should aim for high DVs in vitamins and minerals, Zanini advises.

“While fully understanding the Nutrition Fact Panel can be confusing, many grocery stores now have registered dietitian nutritionists on staff to help their customers understand how to read labels and select the right foods for their customers' healthy eating plans,” adds Zanini.

Visit EatRight.org to learn more about the new label, or to locate a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area.

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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How Small Is Too Small When Considering Collectors Insurance?

June 1, 2016 1:00 am

Did you know over 90 million Americans collect?

Collectibles, or collectors, insurance, can be a worthwhile expense for homeowners possessing extensive, years-in-the-making collections.

Collections valued below $1 million may be covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy, says collectors insurance expert Keith McConnell, according to PropertyCasualty360.com, but these policies lack sufficient coverage in the event of financial loss. This is because claims are paid at actual cash value, rather than the value of the collectible. What’s more, homeowners may have to pay a higher premium for replacement cost coverage.

With collectors insurance, the policyholder sets the value of the collection—no appraisal is required, unless the collection is specialized or worth more than a few thousand dollars.

Some of the most commonly collected—and uninsured—items are fine art, sports memorabilia, wine, rare books, stamps and coins, antique rugs and tapestries, musical instruments, action figures, dolls, toys, auto and movie memorabilia, and guns. If you’re a collector in one of these categories, collectors insurance may be a wise investment.

Before committing to an insurance provider, draw up a list of items in the collection, including date purchased and amount paid, advises McConnell. Take a photograph of every piece, and store them—and all documentation and receipts—in a secure location.

If you’re having an appraiser assess your collection to determine insurance coverage, be wary of professionals who make offers on the spot— legitimate appraisers are independent and will not engage in this type of conflict of interest. Consult with an antique or vintage item dealer for a referral, McConnell adds.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Minor Aging-in-Place Improvements with Major Impact

June 1, 2016 1:00 am

Remaining in the home you currently own when retiring has its advantages, but only if it’s outfitted to accommodate your needs as you age. One aging-in-place feature crucial to longevity in the home is adequate lighting.

Vision issues brought on by age, like cataracts or macular degeneration, can make living in a poorly-lit home challenging. Because artificial light may exacerbate these conditions, increasing the home’s level of natural light is the best course of action. In fact, according to the Center for Health Design, natural light can help regulate your sleep cycle, boost your mood and facilitate bodily processes.

To increase the natural light your home receives, consider:

Ditching Drapes – Replace thick, heavy drapes with cordless or remote-operated blinds—ideal for those with limited dexterity. Use them to maximize the amount of natural light entering the home during the day.

Installing Skylights – ENERGY STAR-qualified skylights not only provide natural light, but also increase passive ventilation. A skylight can be especially beneficial in the kitchen, where visual acuity is critical. Most skylights are eligible for the 30 percent federal tax credit.

Repainting – Repaint the rooms you use most often with lighter, vision-friendly colors. Look for paint products that minimize glare, with a Light Reflectance Value (LVR) in the 40-60 range.

These minor improvements can have major impact on your enjoyment of the home in the years to come.

If aging-in-place isn’t part of your plans, reach out to your local real estate professional. He or she can help you downsize (or move-up!) come retirement.

Source: Brandpoint

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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What Every College Grad Should Know About That First Job

May 31, 2016 1:00 am

Each year, scores of college grads hit the streets in search of their first job. Before you (or a recently graduated loved one) start pounding the pavement, get ahead of these hard facts, according to Yahoo! Finance.

Credit card debt is a killer.
You may find yourself bombarded with (and tempted by!) credit card offers after receiving your first few paychecks. Carrying credit card debt comes with high interest, and, often, stress. Don’t risk ruining your credit before you’ve established your independence. Charge no more in any month than you can reasonably pay off when the bill arrives.

Your boss is not your friend.
It’s great to have a boss you like, and even better when the feeling is mutual, but remember: your boss’s top priority isn’t you. It’s bottom-line company performance, so mind your p’s and q’s and remember that your job evaluation is worth more than a pat on the head.

Save more than you think you can afford.
Putting off saving “until later” can cost you thousands of dollars long-term. Don’t put off investing in your future. Make saving a priority. Take advantage of company savings options, if possible.

It’s okay to quit.
Few first jobs turn out to be the opportunity you expected.  Statistics show the average young adult has had seven jobs by the time they reach 30. Don’t be hasty. The idea is not to burn bridges, but to build them. Learn whatever you can from every job, and take those new skills with you to the next.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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3 Tips to Save on Rising Rents

May 31, 2016 1:00 am

Exploring the rental market in your community?

We recently turned to ApartmentList.com for rent-saving tips.

Tip #1: Get roommates.
You’re much more likely to find an affordable apartment on a larger, combined budget than on a single income, says Yuki Graviet Knapp of ApartmentList.com. You’ll also likely save on utilities, furniture, and other charges (television, Internet, etc.).

Tip #2: Avoid popular moving times.
During “off” seasons, Graviet Knapp says, landlords are much more likely to give you a deal on rent in order to keep up their occupancy. She says if you time it right, you’ll find yourself in a much better position for negotiating (or simply being offered) a cheaper rent.

Tip #3: Negotiate on a fixer.
Consider an apartment that’s under budget and in need of minor improvements you can do yourself. Graviet Knapp says one-time fixes are much cheaper in the long run than renting a more expensive apartment with all the perks.

Remember, in addition to these tips, to factor in other expenses, Graviet Knapp adds. Does the property charge extra for pets or parking?  Will you pay for your own utility use only, or does the property utilize a ratio utility billing system (RUBS)? Does the property offer military discounts or preferred employer discounts?

Weigh your options, preferably with the help of a real estate professional, before committing to a lease.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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5 Ways to Curb Energy Costs This Summer

May 31, 2016 1:00 am

Our utility bills seem to rise along with the thermometer come summer. Certain steps and upgrades can help cut down on cooling costs and other seasonal home expenses.

One minor task that has major impact is cleaning the HVAC filter, says Ameeta Jain, co-founder of Homeselfe. Regardless of the unit you own, cleaning the filter on a regular basis is important. When the filter is dirty, the system consumes more energy. With a clean filter, the system can cool your home more efficiently.

Another task to consider is mulching your garden, Jain says. Mulch lessens the amount of watering needed for plants, reducing expense and consumption. Mulch works to prevent evaporation so plants have more time to absorb water.

Jain recommends using a rain barrel to collect water, as well. Harvested rainwater can be recycled in the garden, saving even more money on water bills.

Energy-smart upgrades are also a consideration, Jain says. Apply window film to your windows to block heat from entering the home (while preserving the view!), resulting in less use of the A/C. The best part? Window films on the market these days are easy to DIY-apply.

Consider installing a programmable thermostat, too, says Jain. Newer models allow you to set different temperatures for various times throughout the day. You may, for example, want to set your thermostat to turn off while you’re at work and then cool down right around the time you’re on your way home.

Though these tips are seasonally-related, they can be applied year-round, Jain adds: “It’s always a good time to reduce your energy consumption and save on utility bills!”

Source: Homeselfe

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Rebuilding Your Rocky Credit Score One Piece at a Time

May 30, 2016 12:57 am

A credit score is mainly based on your history of managing debts, such as whether you tend to make payments on time. It plays a significant role in your everyday life because the next time you apply for a loan or a credit card—or perhaps a new apartment or insurance—your score could affect the final decision, including your costs.

For the many consumers with damaged credit scores and those with no credit record, here are some ways to improve your credit scores from the FDIC:

Consult with a reputable credit counseling service to help develop a customized plan to improve your credit score, which can help you prioritize your spending choices. Counseling services are available to help consumers budget money, pay bills and develop a plan to improve their credit histories.

Bear in mind, however, that not all counselors are looking out for the consumer's best interests. Be cautious of counseling services that advise you to stop making payments to your creditors or to make your payments to the counselors instead. These programs can be costly, may result in your credit score becoming even worse, and they could be scams. For suggestions on finding a reputable counseling service, visit the Federal Trade Commission's website at FTC.gov.

Understand what information is most likely to influence your credit score. In general, the most significant factor affecting your score is whether you repay debts on time, and how much you currently owe on each account compared to its original loan amount or credit limit.

Additional factors include how long you have had your current loans and credit cards, and the types of credit accounts you have.

To obtain and review a free copy of your credit report, visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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7 Easy Ways to Dress Up an Entryway

May 30, 2016 12:57 am

The entryway or foyer of your home conveys an important first impression to your guests. For homeowners bent on making it a great first impression, designers at ElleDecor.com suggest seven easy ways to make an entryway look larger, brighter, and more welcoming:

Use the Power of Mirrors – A well-placed mirror can instantly open up a space and add a luxurious feel. Splurge on a good one, framed or not as you wish, to grace your entryway for the long haul.

Keep Fresh Flowers on Hand – Nothing freshens up a room quite like a vase full of fresh flowers. They are aesthetically pleasing and will keep your entryway smelling wonderful. Using long-lasting silk flowers will hold down monthly costs, but think about replacing them with fresh flowers before a dinner party or other event.

Play with Patterns and Colors – Your entryway should reflect your personal style. Add a jolt of color, especially in a light, bright foyer, or bring in an unexpected wallpaper pattern to turn the space into something special.

Rethink the Lighting Fixtures – Swap out the lighting fixtures that came with the house for something you really love. The right overhead chandelier or well-detailed wall sconces can add drama and grace to any entry.

Add a Statement Piece – It may be a patterned rug, a tufted bench, a console table or a pair of smaller tables. There should be some element in your entryway that serves as a centerpiece and sets the tone for the rest of your home.

Do Use Some Artwork – Art brings a level of elegance to a room. A well placed piece of art, or a gallery wall of smaller pieces, can be the perfect finishing touch for an entryway that reflects your taste and style.

Don’t Overcrowd the Space – If you're blessed with an entryway big enough for several pieces of furniture, by all means, go for it. But if the area is on the small side, skip the console table because the area will look better with just a few small pieces. A plant stand and a mirror may be all that is needed to dress up a small entry.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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How to Properly Store the American Flag

May 30, 2016 12:57 am

Aging flags often become heirlooms and keepsakes that need to be stored carefully, says Richard R. Gideon, a flag historian. “There is a pretty large body of flag collectors out there,” he says.

The fabric used to make flags often becomes fragile over time. The key to successful storage is finding a place where your flag won’t be exposed to dirt or damaging ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light.If you don’t have a storage room in your home.

If you don’t have storage room in your home, a self-storage unit can be an ideal place to keep a special flag. Here are four tips on how to properly store the American flag.

1. Keep Dust and Dirt Off Your Flag. If your flag is dirty, avoid dry-cleaning it. Before you put a flag into storage, Gideon recommends cleaning it with a low-pressure vacuum and covering it with acid-free paper, which can be found at art supply stores. If your flag needs additional cleaning, Gideon suggests asking a local museum to refer you to an expert in textile conservation.

2. Keep Your Flag in a Dark Place. Never store a flag where it can be exposed to sunlight, says Philip Kauppinen, owner of Grand New Flag. Like a color photograph left in the sun, your flag gradually will begin to fade.

“If it is very old, it is going to be delicate,” he says. “You don’t want to store it in direct sunlight, because that will make it fade and brittle.”

For long-term storage, experts do not recommend folding an American flag.

3. Store Your Flag Flat. There’s a military tradition of folding American flags in the shape of a triangle, with the stars on the outside, but that’s not part of the Flag Code adopted by Congress, according to Gideon. “That is a military tradition,” he says.

On its website, Heritage Preservation, a public policy group, points out that prolonged storage in a folded condition leads to permanent creases in flags.

If you’re using a self-storage unit that is too crowded to accommodate a flat table, carefully roll the flag around a mailing tube that’s been wrapped in acid-free paper.

4. Avoid Swings in Temperature and Humidity. This means keeping flags out of attics, where summer temperatures can soar, or basements, where mold may occur, unless those rooms are temperature-controlled.

If you decide to put your flag in a self-storage unit, choose one with air conditioning and humidity control.

Choose a temperature range that would be comfortable for living conditions. Regardless of their materials, flags do best at 55 percent to 75 percent relative humidity, Gideon says.

5. Respect the Flag. Handing a flag requires proper etiquette.Tom Piazze, first vice president of the Military Officers Association of America, says you should always show respect for an American flag, even when it is in storage. The flag is a symbol of America’s courage, strength and compassion, he says, and it also has come to symbolize democracy.

“The U.S. flag is an emblem of our nation, our country,” Piazze says. “It represents our beliefs, our way of life around the world.”

Here are some guidelines for handling a U.S. flag:

- The flag should never be used as a drapery or as a decoration.

- The flag should not bear any drawing, mark, insignia, word, number or figure.

- The flag should not touch the ground.

- Never throw away a U.S. flag. The flag should be destroyed by burning it in a dignified manner. Contact your local American Legion, VFW or Boy Scout chapter for information about flag retirement ceremonies.

Source: SpareFoot.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Memorial Day Travelers Approach 40 Million

May 27, 2016 12:57 am

On the road this Memorial Day weekend? You and millions more!

A near record-breaking 38 million travelers will trek to destinations all over the country this weekend, AAA projects—the highest travel volume since before the recession, and the second-highest ever. The top five destinations this year are:

1. Orlando, Fla.
2. Myrtle Beach, S.C.
3. Washington, D.C.
4. New York, N.Y.
5. Miami, Fla.

Low gas prices will motivate many travelers to take to the roads this weekend, AAA forecasts. A gallon of gasoline averages $2.26—45 cents lower than last year.

“Americans are eagerly awaiting the start of summer and are ready to travel in numbers not seen in more than a decade,” says Marshall Doney, president and CEO of AAA. “The great American road trip is officially back thanks to low gas prices, and millions of people from coast to coast are ready to kick off summer with a Memorial Day getaway.”

Source: AAA

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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