RE/MAX 440
David J Feinberg

David J Feinberg
4789 Route 309  Center Valley  PA 18034
Phone:  610-509-4358
Office:  610-791-4400
Fax:  610-791-9575

My Blog

31 Percent of Holiday Shoppers Have Yet To Buy a Single Gift

December 18, 2013 4:36 am

Despite the shorter-than-usual holiday shopping season, 31 percent of Americans who plan on giving gifts haven't even started shopping as of early December, according to a new Consumer Reports poll. Of those who have started shopping, 49 percent were less than half way done.

The Consumer Reports poll also revealed that with regard to their holiday preparations, 64 percent of shoppers felt they have things under control and will be ready. However, 36 percent were feeling at least somewhat stressed – including 6 percent who were so overwhelmed that they're unsure if they'll be ready in time, and 3 percent who said they almost certainly won't be ready for the holidays.

"Even though this year there's less days on the calendar to get their holiday shopping done, there are still quite a bit of procrastinators out there," said Tod Marks, Consumer Reports senior editor and resident shopping expert. "The 11 percent who told us they've completely finished shopping already have certainly saved themselves the stress of frantically searching for last-minute gifts."

The Consumer Reports poll also revealed which methods of sending holiday greetings are least likely to be well-received. When asked to rate the tastefulness of various ways people may send holiday greetings, 67 percent of Americans said group text messages were in poor taste, 65 percent said the same about all-purpose greetings posted on social media or the like, while 57 percent said  group emails were in poor taste. 

When asked which holiday gift recipient is the hardest to shop for, 30 percent said it was their spouse/partner/significant other, one quarter cited a parent, while 12 percent said it was the kids.

As for whom Americans will be spending the most money on for holiday gifts, the Consumer Reports revealed the following top responses:

Children (39 percent)
Spouse/Partner/Significant Other (29 percent)
Parent (11 percent)
Sibling (5 percent)
Friend ( 3 percent)

Most shoppers seemed to be doing a good job of controlling their holiday gift spending, according to the Consumer Reports poll. But 36 percent indeed were concerned about overspending – including 6 percent who were very concerned.

Other holiday tidbits from the poll included:

-82 percent would rather receive practical gifts vs. luxury gifts (18 percent)
-60 percent would rather receive cash vs. gift cards (40 percent)
-56 percent would rather host out-of-town guests vs. being a guest at someone else's home (44 percent)
-56 percent would rather have a fake Christmas tree vs. a real one (44 percent)

Source: Consumer Reports

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Prepare Holiday Meals Safely

December 18, 2013 4:36 am

For many families, preparing a grand meal is a tradition they look forward to during the holidays, but it's no fun if someone gets food poisoning. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 48 million people in the United States get sick each year from eating contaminated foods.

You can avoid foodborne illness by following these tips:

1. When buying food:

-Choose fresh items and check the expiration date for everything you buy.
-Foods that need to be refrigerated, such as meat, eggs and milk, should be the last things you buy at the store.
-Place meats (chicken, fish, pork and beef) in a separate bag. The liquids that spill out of these items can contaminate fruits, vegetables and other food in the refrigerator.
-If you'll be driving for more than an hour after you go to the supermarket, take a cooler to store the items that need refrigeration.

2. When handling food:

-Wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling any food.
-Wash fruits and vegetables with a brush to remove any dirt or soil residue.
-Do not wash meats before cooking. This could cause bacteria to contaminate your sink and other kitchen surfaces.
-Defrost meats in the refrigerator or microwave. Defrosting them at room temperature can cause bacteria to multiply.
-Wash the knife and cutting board that were used to prepare meat before using them on other food items to avoid contamination.

3. When cooking food:

-Cook meats after defrosting them. Don't leave them out of the refrigerator for too long.
-Make sure the meats are cooked well inside and out. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.
-Don't put freshly cooked items next to raw foods.
-When cooking meat, do so all at once. Avoid partially cooking meat and refrigerating it with the intention of completing the cooking process later.

4. When storing food:

-Once you've cooked your food, make sure to store it promptly in the refrigerator.
-Remember to eat leftovers like meats, eggs and pastas within the expiration date, which can generally vary between one and five days.
-Check the food storage guide for extra precautions.

Get additional health tips and other relevant information at USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Consumers to Increase Their Holiday Shopping at Convenience Stores

December 13, 2013 4:27 am

Harried consumers seeking to complete their holiday shopping say that they will rely more on convenience stores this year for quick snacks, stocking stuffers, party items and cash from ATMs, according to a consumer survey released by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

One in three consumers say that they plan to buy snacks and other food items from convenience stores more often (32 percent) and that they plan to buy coffee and other beverages from convenience stores more often (31 percent) while shopping this holiday season.

Younger consumers, those 18 to 34, are most likely to grab a quick snack or beverage at convenience stores, with a majority expecting to buy snacks (52 percent) or drinks (51 percent) more often at convenience stores while shopping this holiday season.

In addition to purchasing quick snacks and drinks as part of their holiday shopping excursions, consumers say that they will be increasingly using convenience stores to purchase holiday gifts or related items. More than one in five consumers say that when it comes to making purchases at convenience stores, they will be buying more gift cards more often (23 percent), small presents or stocking stuffers more often (21 percent), and more small items like tape and batteries more often (22 percent). Younger consumers are most likely to purchase these items at convenience stores: more than one in three of those 18 to 34 say that they will be buying gifts cards (38 percent), small presents (38 percent) and small items like tape and batteries (37 percent) at convenience stores more often this holiday season.

"Lottery tickets are always a popular stocking stuffer or office gift, and with the current Mega Millions jackpot now at $400 million we are definitely seeing an increase in sales for what could potentially be an amazing holiday gift," said Lenard.

Convenience stores also will be a popular destination for those planning holiday parties. One in five consumers (21 percent) say that they will be shopping more often at convenience stores to pick up items like wine, beer and snacks that they need for parties that they are attending or hosting. More than one in three consumers age 18 to 34 say that they will be buying more items from convenience stores for parties this holiday season, with 39 percent stocking up for parties that they are hosting and 37 percent buying items for parties that they are attending.

Source: National Association of Convenience Stores

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Hotel Amenities Travelers Can and Can't Do Without

December 13, 2013 4:27 am

TripAdvisor® has announced the results of the TripBarometer Truth in Travel Survey, which reveals the hotel amenities and services U.S. travelers find most and least important.

Free Wi-Fi, parking and breakfast are in high demand, but travelers are not as interested in the mini-bar or spa.

Most Important Hotel Amenities for U.S. Travelers
1. Free In-Room Wi-Fi (89 percent)
2. Free Parking (89 percent)
3. Free Breakfast (84 percent)
4. Free Personal Care Items (72 percent)
5. Free Lobby Wi-Fi (71 percent)

Least Important Hotel Amenities for U.S. Travelers
1. Mini Bar (21 percent)
2. Spa/Beauty Treatments (23 percent)
3. Business Center (34 percent)
4. Laundry Service (39 percent)
5. Free Pool-Side Wi-Fi (42 percent)

"Accept my credit cards" (59 percent) and "hire staff who speak my language" (34 percent) are the top things U.S. travelers wish their hotels would do, as compared to 12 percent who wish hotels would "include typical food from my country in the menu."

Meanwhile, there are some good signs hotels are answering the call. As a result of increasing numbers of guests from various destinations around the world, hoteliers have already put in place a number of measures to address the needs of international visitors. Fifty-two percent of global hotel respondents have made efforts to honor the credit cards that their guests prefer to use, as compared to 44 percent of U.S. hotels.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Appliance Safety in the Home: How to Prevent Tip-overs

December 13, 2013 4:27 am

In light of recent tragedies nationwide involving tipped over appliances, The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently completed a review of various tip-over hazards that can occur in the home.

Families must be aware of leaving children unattended in the kitchen, even if the stove is turned off. Many accidents occur when children attempt to climb on top of a stove door causing the appliance to topple over. With senior citizens, the same can happen when they are leaning on it for support. If the stove is on at the time of the incident, the heat will only make injuries worse and risk of death greater.

The CPSC recommends the following to prevent related tragedies in the future:

-Manufacturers should create better stability in their designs. Models should be able to support 100 pounds on an open oven door. Although this may require some major redesigns, the added safety bonus will benefit everyone.
-Manufacturers should design door hinges that lock in the open position, should an oven start to tip forward.
-Install anti-tip devices that prevent an appliance from working unless they are properly installed.
-Appliances should be programmed to automatically shut off the heat should they begin to tip.

Consumers should be aware that these types of incidents can occur in their home. To prevent this from happening to you or your loved ones, be sure to secure your stove with tip restraints provided by your manufacturer. New appliances made after 1991 should have shipped with them included, but may or may not be pre-installed. The CPSC reports that it is not aware of a single injury or death cause by an appliance with tip restraints properly installed.

For more information, visit http://www.cpsc.gov.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Three Questions to Ask Yourself before Adding a Pet to the Family

December 12, 2013 4:24 am

Whether it's a dog, cat, hamster, bird or other critter, a new pet is always an exciting addition, especially around the holidays when many families choose to bring a new pet into their home.

However, December is often a busy month when people do not have the time or energy to focus on a new pet. Before making this big decision, ask yourself some simple questions.

How much time each day can be committed to the pet? Work schedules, school schedules and other factors greatly affect how long people are home during the day. Some pets require more personal attention than others. For instance, larger, more energetic dog breeds, such as Boxers, will need to be walked at least two times a day.

For those who can't make that time commitment, small dogs or cats may require less exercise time, but still need quite a bit of one-on-one attention and toys to keep them mentally stimulated if the pet parent is gone during the day. Small animals like hamsters, guinea pigs and reptiles may be better suited for those who plan on being gone all day long.

Typically, these pets will be safe in their habitat during the day, provided the pet parent gives them all the requirements necessary to keep them happy and healthy. However, it is still important to nurture a connection with these pets, as many of them love to be held and handled. For those considering a puppy, it's important to consider the time commitment to properly potty train the dog.

What is affordable? Some pets cost more than others. In addition to upfront adoption fees, there are a number of factors that determine the cost of a pet. Large dogs will need more food, certain breeds require professional grooming services more often, young dogs and cats may require special training courses and reptiles can require specialized habitats and heat lamps.

Before deciding on a pet, be sure to research all costs associated with that pet, including costs that could come later in the animal’s life, rather than just immediately. For example, pet parents may not know that it is important to invest in their pet's oral health, which can help avoid costly dental surgeries down the line.

What does the family want to get out of the pet? Being a pet parent is a benefit to both the human and the animal and many pet parents say that their animal does more for them than they ever expected. It's important to ask what the family wants to get by adding a new pet to the family.

Perhaps it's having a cuddle buddy; maybe it's teaching kids responsibility, it could be the thought of having a pet help encourage someone to get physically fit, or perhaps it's having an independent animal who can cheer others up. Whatever it is, consider this feedback before getting a new pet. For those who decide a new puppy is best for their wants and needs, make sure the dog is well socialized before taking them out and about.

Sometimes waiting until after the holidays to add a new pet to the house may be the best option. Getting kids a habitat to unwrap during the celebrations and letting them choose their own pet after the holidays can turn one special day into two.

Source: http://www.petco.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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7 Tips for Winter Storm Safety

December 12, 2013 4:24 am

As Old Man Winter approaches, millions across the nation are threatened with heavy snow, ice storms and power outages. To help homeowners prepare for the iciness ahead, Kohler Generators shares expert tips for storm safety.

1. Assemble a dedicated storm box or bucket. Having items on hand like batteries, candles, matches, flashlights, AM radio, water and even extra cash can be useful if your area loses power. If told by officials to evacuate your home, leave well in advance. Make plans for a safe route and destination where someone will be expecting you at a predetermined day and time.

2. Create a storm to-do list. This list reminds you of the important things you need to do before the storm hits. Things like getting prescription drugs, filling propane tanks, going to the bank and filling your car with gas can be essential.

3. Compile a list of important phone numbers. Essential phone numbers to have on hand can include: utility companies, insurance company, bank, doctors, radio stations and local police. Also, have at least one hard-wired landline phone in the house.

4. Protect your chilled and frozen food supply. Before the storm hits, pack your most commonly consumed items like milk, cold cuts and leftovers in a cooler with ice. Turn your refrigerator/freezer settings to the highest levels to chill remaining food as much as possible. Keep your refrigerator door taped closed to prevent unnecessary opening during a power outage.

5. Store water if you are on a well system. Store plenty of drinking water in clean containers. Also, store water in your bathtub so you can flush the toilet with a bucket of water when needed.

6. Inspect your basement sump pump system before the storm. During a major storm, heavy rains can flood your basement, so make sure your sump pump is plugged in and fully operational. Inspect the pump switch float ball on your sump pump to make sure it is operating smoothly. Also, make sure the drain line is not blocked and extends at least four feet away from your home's foundation. Finally, get a battery backup for your sump pump in case of power loss.

7. Look into an automatic standby generator system. A standby generator is permanently installed outside your home and hooks up to existing gas lines (propane or natural gas). If power is lost, a standby generator will automatically start up and restore power to your home. It can power lights, heating/cooling systems, refrigerators, sump pumps, home security systems, computers and more. With the addition of a standby generator, most issues you face during a storm can be eliminated.

Source: Kohler Generators

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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50 Percent Increase in Homeowners Using Smartphones for Home Remodeling

December 12, 2013 4:24 am

Planese, Inc. released its latest survey of U.S. homeowners about their use of technology to help plan and complete their home remodeling projects. In the survey, homeowners were asked about their past use of smartphones and PCs for remodeling and their planned usage for future projects. More than one out of four (27 percent) reported using their smartphones in the past for a variety of tasks to help with remodeling their homes. The percentage jumped to 40 percent when they were asked if they planned to use smartphones for future remodeling projects.

"This dramatic increase in smartphone use to help with remodeling is driven by a variety of changes: greater use of mobile devices, a need for homeowners to get better results from their remodeling investments and better apps," says Dan Fritschen, founder of www.remodelormove.com, author and homeowner advocate. "Mobile devices are a great compliment to the PC. Smartphones enable regular and frequent communications that are critical to improving collaboration between homeowners and contractors."

Detailed findings from the Planese survey show that for future remodeling projects, respondents plan to:

Find remodeling design ideas
• Use a smartphone (65 percent)
• Use a PC (95 percent)

Get remodeling cost estimates
• Use a smartphone (27 percent)
• Use a PC (66 percent)

Search for a remodeling contractor
• Use a smartphone (56 percent)
• Use a PC (80 percent)

Research products/services
• Use a smartphone (67 percent)
• Use a PC (67 percent)

Do background checks
• Use a smartphone (25 percent)
• Use a PC (50 percent)

Fritschen also noted their studies have found better communication and more collaboration is key to improving the low level of customer satisfaction in the home remodeling industry. "While constant communication in everyday life may be too much for some people, a constant flow of communication is one of the four elements that ensures a successful remodeling project."

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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3 New Year's Resolutions That Will Enrich Your Retirement

December 11, 2013 4:24 am

For many baby boomers looking to retire in the next few years, the biggest worry is not whether or not they can retire, but if they’ll outlive their savings. It’s a valid concern: One of every four people turning 65 today can expect to live past their 90th birthday, and one in 10 will live past 95, according to the Social Security Administration.

For a married couple, there's a 58 percent chance that one of them will live to 90.

With 10,000 boomers turning 65 every day, it’s something on the minds of more than a fourth of Americans.

“I went into this business because I hated seeing people who’d followed the rules – saved money in a 401k, put their kids through college, gave to charity – get to retirement and find they didn’t have enough to sustain them for more than a few years,” says Andrew McNair, founder and CEO of SWAN Capital, and author of “Don’t be Penny Wise & Dollar Foolish.”

“It’s not enough to have a certain amount of money in your portfolio; you want to have a guaranteed check coming in in addition to your investments.”

Whether you’re years from retirement or planning for it now, McNair says these three New Year’s resolutions will be the best you ever made:

• Resolve to plan for expenses in retirement to equal or exceed your expenses today. Many people assume their expenses will decline once they retire – they forget that they’re going to have a lot more free time to do what they love, McNair says. “What are your dreams? Will you want to travel? Take up a new hobby? Meet friends for golf two or three times a week? Those likely are going to be expenses you don’t have now,” he says. Also, once you retire, things don’t magically last forever. The rug in the dining room, the fridge in the kitchen – eventually they’ll need to be replaced or repaired. Also, as you age, medical expenses either appear or increase. Sit down and think about what your ideal retirement looks like, and presume that it will be for at least 30 years. Make a list and take a guess at what those activities cost – even if your retirement is years away. How much money will you need coming in each month or year?

• Resolve to get most of your investments out of tax-deferred plans. If you’re working for a company that provides a match for 401k contributions, by all means, contribute up to the maximum match. “That’s free money – you’d be crazy not to take advantage,” McNair says. But anything beyond that should be invested in something that’s more tax efficient: Roth IRA, municipal bonds, life insurance or real estate. No one expects taxes will go down – they’ll be going up. Uncle Sam already has a lien on your IRA or 401(k); don’t let his lien, the taxes you’ll owe, continue to grow. Go ahead and pay now, and your future retired self will be glad you did.

• Resolve to have a portfolio that generates a steady or guaranteed paycheck. The ideal financial security for retirement is having a guaranteed income that increases with inflation, McNair says. “You want to plan for an income that meets or exceeds your annual income now so, if you’ll be getting $1,000 a month from Social Security at age 62 and your current income is $4,000 a month, you need to have a plan to guarantee $3,000 a month to cover that gap.” Annuities and life insurance are the only investments that provide a guaranteed income you cannot outlive, so consider them for at least part of your portfolio. “You don’t want them to make up 100 percent of your portfolio, but they should provide the foundation,” McNair says.

It’s important to start thinking now about where you want to be in retirement and what combination of investments will ensure you have the lifestyle you want for as long as you live, he says.

“At 65, you don’t want to be making risky investments because you’re panicking about not having enough money.”

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Control the Clutter with Drop Zones

December 11, 2013 4:24 am

(Family Features) After returning home from a long day at work, a weekend soccer tournament or an all-day shopping excursion, it’s natural to want to drop everything and relax. However, literally dropping everything can cause a tremendous amount of clutter in the home, leading to stress, misplaced items and wasted time. To eliminate the clutter that busy lifestyles create, try establishing designated drop zones throughout your house to regain a sense of order. Don’t worry, you can still drop everything and relax when you come home – just drop everything in the right spot.

Entryway
As the first and last access point of your home, a lot of activity occurs here. Coats, scarves, hats and bags are dropped everywhere, while dirty shoes are kicked off and left behind. Basically, the entrance to your home can become a minefield.  To control unruly entryway clutter, try creating a drop zone near the door.  The addition of a coat rack or hooks make it easy to hang up outerwear, while a storage bench is a convenient place to take off shoes and neatly stow them away.   

Kitchen
Since the kitchen is the heart of the home, many family members congregate here. Establish a corner of the kitchen counter to drop lunch boxes, bottles and coffee mugs used throughout the day. To prevent a pile-up of papers and misplaced items, set up a command center with enough space to file mail and bills and store your keys and other small essentials.

Living Room
Don’t let relaxation be delayed because of disorganization. Depending on the size of your living room and how you use the space, you may need to establish several drop zones. For example, a coffee table tray or basket is ideal for storing remotes and chargers. Add storage cubes with bins as a convenient place to store and hide laptop cords, tablets, gaming equipment and children’s toys. Consider labeling a bin for each family member to “drop” or stow their stuff.

Bedroom
To clear clothing clutter, use a valet rod to hang up tomorrow’s outfit or clothes that need to be taken to the tailor or dry cleaner. Additionally, try designating a dresser drawer as a drop zone for jewelry, watches, your wallet or other valuables.

Make it a habit to use your strategically placed drop zones and your house will be organized and clutter free in no time.

Source: Closet Maid

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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