RE/MAX 440
Peter Cerruti
440 South West End Blvd, RT 309
Quakertown  PA 18951
 Phone: 215-429-7273
Office Phone: 215-538-4400
Fax: 267-354-6992 
petecerruti@yahoo.com
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Peter Cerruti

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Poll Reveals Consumers Confused Over Purpose of a Budget

July 9, 2013 6:26 pm

A recent poll on the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) website revealed that 57 percent of respondents misunderstand the purpose of a budget, viewing it as a restriction on their spending, when in fact, just the opposite is true.

“A budget actually provides the structure through which a person can be in charge of his or her spending, directing the dollars to their best use,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC. “Spending should be a reflection of a person’s priorities, but without a plan, the priorities often get pushed aside in favor of the tyranny of the urgent.”

The reluctance to construct a budget suggests that people may be afraid to face the financial facts, choosing instead to allow the most pressing need or want of the moment to make the decision for them. Instead, the NFCC reminds consumers that a spending plan includes the following benefits:

• Creates a thoughtful awareness of spending
• Relieves financial stress
• Increases financial security
• Helps structure a plan for the future
• Allows planning for large purchases
• Assists in meeting financial goals
• Frees up money to designate for savings
• Uncovers money available to invest
• Allows preparation for emergencies
• Avoids late payments through scheduling timely payments
• Finds hidden money for debt repayment
• Potentially raises the credit score

Instead of being restrictive, a budget often creates more money due to smart spending choices. If financial freedom is the goal, a spending plan is the tool that starts the process.

“It’s a shame that budgeting has a negative connotation. Everyone needs a spending plan, but when times are tough, a budget is even more critical,” continued Cunningham. “When every penny counts, it’s important to count every penny.”

The first step to being in charge of your money is to track spending for at least one month. To get started, the NFCC offers a free budget worksheet which is available at http://www.nfcc.org/FinancialEducation/monthlyincome.cfm.

For professional help creating a customized budget, reach out to a trained and certified counselor at an NFCC Member Agency. To find the agency closest to you, call (800) 388-2227, or go online to www.DebtAdvice.org. For assistance in Español call (800) 682-9832.

The actual poll question and answer results are below:
I consider a monthly budget to be…
A. A restriction on how I choose to spend my money = 57%
B. A freedom allowing me to spend my money as I have chosen = 43%

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Top 10 Termite Mistakes

July 8, 2013 10:54 am

Termites. They're hungry. And to them, your house is food. Is there anything you can do to stop them? Can you make your home less appetizing? More than 100 termite experts say these are the top 10 mistakes homeowners make when it comes to termites:

Number 10: Repairing utilities on the property; disrupting the termite soil treatment. If your lawn gets dug up for plumbing, gas or electrical work, chances are good you've compromised your termite treatment if your home has been treated with a liquid termiticide.

Number 9: Piling excessive mulch around the home. Termites love mulch. Too much up against your home holds soil moisture and can be an easy food source for hungry termites.

"The mulch typically used around homes is often a soft wood-like pine, which is a great food source for termites," says Jonathan Schoppe of Dial Pest Control in Roseland, N.J. "I've personally seen termites foraging in and around the mulch just one inch deep. If the mulch is piled very high up on the foundation of a structure, it makes a natural bridge the termites can use to enter the structure."

Number 8: Digging around the home's foundation; disrupting a termite treatment. Liquid termite treatments around your foundation are effective only if left undisturbed. So if you dig around your house to plant a new rosebush, you might have opened a hole for termites to crawl through. If your home is protected by a baiting product such as the Sentricon® System, digging around your foundation isn't a concern as long as the stations stay in place.

Number 7: Leaving old tree stumps in the yard. Dead trees are desirable to termites ─ almost as desirable as your house. Stumps in your yard can serve as a launch pad for an attack on your home.

Number 6: Stacking firewood near the home. If you put firewood up against your house, you might as well also leave out a welcome mat for the termites. They can burrow into the woodpile and then right into your house.

Number 5: Using Do-it-Yourself (DIY) products to try to control termites themselves. Termite control is not like fixing a leaky faucet. Fail to do it right and you and your home will most likely pay the price. This is one time you should leave it to the professionals.

Number 4: Having untreated wooden materials next to the home. Yes, that new fence will keep Fido in your yard, but that untreated wood up against your house also may let termites in. It is best to use treated wood or vinyl fencing, or at least leave a gap between the fence and your home.

Number 3: Constructing additions to the home without expanding termite protection. If you've added a sunroom, expanded your kitchen or poured a new patio, that addition needs to be protected from termites, too. Don't offer up that beautiful new addition as a termite's next meal.

Number 2: Not fixing earth-to-ground structural contact. If a portion of your porch is touching soil, you're asking for termites. Soil + wood contact = termites.

And the No. 1 mistake homeowners make when it comes to termites is: Not getting a professional termite inspection. Termites are not easy to detect, and failing to do so can cause thousands of dollars in damage. Trained professional termite inspectors know termite behavior ─ where they like to hide, what their damage looks like, what they leave behind as evidence. You don't. Leave this one up to the professionals.

Source: Dow AgroSciences

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Secrets to a Foolproof Vacation

July 8, 2013 10:54 am

(Family Features)--Vacations should be filled with worry-free days and endless fun, whether you're zip-lining through the jungle or sunbathing on the beach. Navigating unknown territories, however, can cause unwarranted stress if you're not prepared. As you embark on your perfect getaway, consider these quick tips to ensure that it's a trip to remember, for the right reasons.

Stay Energized. Don't let the journey to your destination dampen the experience and start your dream trip on the wrong foot. Avoid fatigue caused by early flights and long drives by getting at least eight hours of sleep the night before your departure and don't succumb to stress-ridden packing procrastination. While traveling, easy access to sensible snacks, such as string cheese and nuts can keep your energy levels up. For long flights and hotel stays, consider sticking ear plugs and a sleep mask in your bag to help combat distracting noises and bright lights that may detract from a restful sleep.

Stay Connected. Your smartphone, tablet and other portable devices keep you connected and make it easier to engage with the culture and exciting attractions that come with a new destination. Whether you're scouting the hottest restaurants, sourcing directions back to your hotel or keeping up with loved ones at home, being able to access your trusted devices is a must. Don't waste precious sightseeing time searching for outlets. Instead, recharge your devices on-the-go with a tool like the Motorola P4000 Universal Portable Power Pack. Such lightweight and slim devices fit easily into a pocket or purse. It provides up to two full phone charges, plus it's compatible with phones by all manufacturers.

Stay Organized. Avoid spending aimless time digging through your belongings looking for your favorite bathing suit, when you could be enjoying the waves and a beautiful sunset. To stay organized while living out of your luggage, consider investing in a suitcase or duffel bag with multiple zipped compartments designed to house small, hard-to-locate items. Clear toiletry bags are also convenient, and allow you to quickly find your everyday necessities while on the road.

Stay Focused on Fun. It's easy to run out of time when you're exploring a new place. Carve out time for your top priorities by making a pre-trip list of must-do activities. Utilize your hotel concierge, resort guide books and online trip planning websites to help create your perfect itinerary and ensure you get the chance to enjoy it all.

Regardless of your destination, with some planning and essential tools, your vacation will be everything you dreamed of and leave you yearning for your next journey.

Source: www.motorola.com

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Looking for a Greener Way to Clean your Pool?

July 8, 2013 10:54 am

(BPT) - There's no better way to enjoy the summer than by lounging by the pool. Unfortunately, this backyard family oasis requires regular maintenance throughout the summer that can include expensive and sometimes unhealthy chemicals. Have you ever wished there was an easier way you could clean your pool, that was also more eco-friendly?

Just as there are now "greener" choices for many consumer products, there are now some great alternatives for keeping your pool clean that are easier and actually help minimize chemicals and additives. Technology has come a long way, and consumers can now choose from a variety of affordable and more environmentally friendly ways to maintain their backyard pool.

But how do you choose the right one? Here are some of the best pool-cleaning options available today, along with their pluses and minuses:

Manual pole cleaning: For years this was the standard. Lots of sweat, a hose attached to the skimmer basket on one end, a long vacuum pole on the other and a lot of slow pushing as you try not to disturb the debris before you suck it up into the skimmer and filtration system. This method is cheap and "somewhat green" but involves a lot of effort, and it is not highly effective at reducing your chemical usage.

Suction side pool cleaning: The suction side method is similar to the mechanics of manual pole cleaning except that the cleaner is self-propelled in a random pattern by a suction hose attached to the skimmer system. A completely clean pool is not always achieved due to the random nature of the system.

The pluses: low cost and satisfactory results.
The minuses: the method lacks optimal pool floor and wall scrubbing and does minimal water mixing, leaving stagnant water areas that actually demand more chemicals to stay clean. Suction side cleaners also use more energy as they require your pool's filter pump to run during their cleaning cycle.

Pressure side pool cleaning: These units require an independent booster pump and water jet outlet found on some in-ground pools. Note: This is the only option not available for above-ground pools. Pressure cleaners are propelled by water and are often confused with robotic cleaners, but the differences are important. Pressure cleaners do a good job of cleaning but are costly to buy and run.

The pluses: cleaning capabilities and better water-mixing capabilities than suction side cleaners.
The minuses: pressure cleaners are costly to buy and operate and they use the most energy due to the added booster pump.

Robotic pool cleaning: Advances in robotic pool cleaners are transforming the pool-cleaning industry. Robotic technology has advanced, bringing the price in reach of almost all pool owners. Robotic units can scrub and vacuum pool floors, walls and the waterline and remove more and finer debris (down to two microns in size) to help keep your pool cleaner. Robotic units cost only about 5 cents per hour to run and they provide superior water mixing (up to 85 GPM), substantially reducing the amount of chemicals needed.

The pluses: Just plug the bot into the power supply, place the cleaner in the water and press a button.
The minuses: There are almost too many robotic cleaners to choose from and they are not all alike. One of the most innovative is Aquabot, made by the company that introduced the first robotic cleaner in 1982.

Keeping your pool sparkling clean doesn't have to mean long afternoons of work or extra unnecessary chemicals. Now that there are safer and easier cleaning methods, you'll be able to maintain and enjoy your backyard retreat, and take care of the environment at the same time.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips for Traveling With Pets

July 7, 2013 10:54 am

As more vacationers hit the road or fly the friendly skies with their four-legged friends, hospitality and tourism operators throughout the U.S. are increasingly catering to travelers with pets. But, there are still several important things they'll need to consider before packing their bags.

• Don't wait until the last minute to make travel arrangements: Planning ahead is the key to success when traveling with pets. Allow enough time (ideally, three-to-six months, at least) to make informed decisions about the best way to get there, where to stay, what to bring, and what to do. Try to avoid any stressful, last-minute surprises, which can really put a damper on the vacation.

• Ask the right questions: The term "pet-friendly" is often widely used in the tourism business, so asking the right questions is essential. Does the hotel or vacation rental company charge additional clean-up fees and deposits for pets? If traveling by air, what are the airline restrictions for pets? Also, when zeroing in on where to stay, ask about what pet-friendly beaches, restaurants, parks, etc. are nearby. Try to take the time to jot down questions in advance before asking them.

• Consult the Internet: Today, there are more options than ever before for consumers traveling with pets. However, more choices also means there are more decisions to make. The good news is that the web offers a plethora of information on all aspects of pet-friendly travel. A few good places to start are BringFido.com, FidoFriendly.com, and the AAA Pet Book.

• Pack smart: Traveling with pets and big, heavy baggage can not only be stressful, but expensive, as well, especially when traveling by air. At the same time, there are certain must-have items when traveling with pets, such as dog bowls, beds, pet food, toys, and crates. Find out in advance if the hotel or other accommodation comes equipped with these necessary things to help avoid over packing. One particular advantage to staying in a pet-friendly vacation home versus a hotel is that it is more likely to come equipped with beds, feeding supplies, etc. for pets.

• Take steps to help keep pets happy and relaxed: Before heading out for a long journey with pets, try to create an environment that will help soothe and relax them. Some travelers even find aromatherapy or essential oils in the crate, such as lavender, to be an effective way to put their pets at ease when confined to a small space.

Source: Luv San Diego Surf

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Five Tips for Effective Retirement Planning

July 7, 2013 10:54 am

Planning for retirement can be a time of great anticipation as well as great anxiety. And, given the current economic climate, many individuals have changed their plans for retirement by either pushing back their retirement date or have considered working part time during their retirement to supplement their fixed incomes.

According to Jim Cantrell, a certified financial planner and owner of Financial Strategies, Inc. in Brookfield, Wis., while some people close to retirement have changed their goals or approach, others simply don't know what to do.

He provides the following five tips to help create a solid financial plan for the future:
  • Know what you are going to do. If you have grandiose thoughts of spending months in exotic destinations, you will need to put a bit more into your retirement fund than if your goal is to do volunteer work and stay close to home. One of the best ways to ensure that your future plans are appropriate for you is to get involved in activities that are of interest before you retire. For example, if you plan to spend your time volunteering, consider giving a few hours a week before retirement to see if this will work with your future plans. Additionally, if relocation is part of your retirement goal, spend time vacationing in the areas you could potentially call your future home.
  • Know your benefits. It is important to talk to your organization's human resources department well before you plan to retire. Consider items such as health insurance, pension and stock options. Each of these things could have a big impact on your finances once you are retired.
  • Diversify your stock options. As you approach retirement, it is important to ensure that you do not have an over concentration of stock positions. Sometimes senior management and upper level executives have a lot of their portfolio tied up in their company; however, once they retire, they will not have the same level of control in the direction the company takes. Having all your eggs in one basket (or a lot of them) is never a good idea, this is why it is important to consider diversifying your investment portfolio.
  • Move to stable investments. As you approach retirement (approximately five to seven years prior), consider shifting your investment portfolio from a higher percentage of equities to less risky, fixed or stable investments. This will make your portfolio a much safer place to go and get your money when you need it.
  • Have a solid plan. How much will you need to put away to live the lifestyle you currently enjoy, or what things do you plan to cut out? Know what you currently have available and what you will need and put it all down in a solid and workable plan. One of the best ways to ensure that you have a solid plan is to meet with a certified financial planning practitioner (a fee-only advisor is recommended) to create a program that meets all your future needs.
Source: Financial Strategies, Inc.

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Maintaining a Healthy Lawn

July 7, 2013 10:54 am

While regular watering and mowing are standard for maintaining a healthy and attractive lawn, preventing lawn moss and algae is also critical. Moss and algae are harmful non-flowering plants that compete for space with healthy grass when it is on the verge of being in bad shape.

Removing shade helps to keep your lawn strong by providing natural nutrients. So, if you have any trees in your garden, cut branches that prevent the whole yard from receiving sunlight. Also, take down any umbrellas or lawn furniture that may block sunlight from reaching the lawn when they are not in use.

Drainage and aeration also help to solve the issues of compacted soil and too much moisture. You can spike the affected area to allow air in, break up the soil and eliminate excess moisture. You can also work to increase sunlight to the area, when possible, and improve growth of turfgrass. You should also avoid watering your lawn without spiking it first to allow for proper drainage.

Source: TruGreen

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Don't Let Plants Poison Your Gardening, Landscaping Project

July 3, 2013 11:52 pm

If you are gardening or working around your property and come into contact with poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, it can take a few hours to several days after exposure to the sap for signs to show.

Poison Ivy can be found throughout the United States except in Alaska, Hawaii, and parts of the West Coast, according to the FDA. Each leaf has three glossy leaflets, with smooth or toothed edges.

Poison Oak grows as a low shrub in the eastern United States, and in tall clumps or long vines on the Pacific Coast. Fuzzy green leaves in clusters of three are lobed or deeply toothed with rounded tips.

Poison Sumac grows as a tall shrub or small tree in bogs or swamps in the Northeast, Midwest, and parts of the Southeast. Each leaf has clusters of seven to 13 smooth-edged leaflets.

All three plants undergo color changes throughout their growing season and may also sport small clusters of light colored berries.
The FDA's tips for prevention are as follows:

• Wash your garden tools and gloves regularly. If you think you may be working around poison ivy, wear long sleeves, long pants tucked into boots, and gloves.
• Wash your pet if it may have brushed up against poison ivy, oak, or sumac. Use pet shampoo and water while wearing rubber gloves, such as dishwashing gloves. Most pets are not sensitive to poison ivy, but the oil can stick to their fur and cause a reaction in someone who touches them.
• Wash your skin in cool water as soon as possible -- the sooner you cleanse the skin, the greater the chance that you can remove the plant oil or help prevent further spread.
• Use topical over the counter (OTC) "Ivy Block" if you know you will come into contact with the poisonous plants.

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Summer is Here...and So are Head Lice!

July 3, 2013 11:52 pm

Between the slumber parties, summer camps, and backyard adventures, lice have an even higher rate of infestation than during the school year. So what is the best way to avoid contracting lice? Here are a few tips parents, camp counselors and childcare experts should keep in mind to spare their children and families from an infestation:

• Avoid head-to-head contact during play, sleepovers, or other activities at home, the beach and elsewhere.

• Don't share combs, brushes or towels. Do not share clothing such as hats, scarves, coats, hair ribbons or barrettes.

• Once lice are in a family, 85 percent of siblings, 65 percent of moms and 10 percent of dads become infected. Re-check everyone in a household where a lice infestation has been confirmed every few days for at least 10-15 days after an outbreak.

"Lice is a year round issue, however, in the summer, children are being exposed to a completely different circle of friends which brings lice to a ‘head.’" said Rachel Knutsen, co-founder of Ladibugs. "They are heading off to camp with children from around the United States, sharing pillows, towels and hair accessories. They are heading off to the ball field with children from different cities and sharing helmets. Lice is spread in only a matter of 30 seconds of head-to-head contact, so therefore lice becomes an even larger issue during the summer months than when the children are in school."

Source: Ladibugs, Inc.

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Act Now to Keep Pets Safe for the 4th of July

July 3, 2013 11:52 pm

The veterinarians at Chicago Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center remind pet owners to take steps now to protect their pets over the July 4th holiday. Booming fireworks, barbecues and lots of activity can present significant danger to pets. Although most pets are not directly exposed to fireworks, the loud noises fireworks produce can result in stress and anxiety for pets. Pet owners are encouraged to visit their veterinarian in advance of the holiday to develop a plan for keeping pets safe and calm during the July 4th celebrations. If necessary, a veterinarian may prescribe medication to help ease the pet's stress.

Chicago Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center offers the following tips to help pet owners protect their cats and dogs over the holiday and throughout the summer.

Leashes: Keep your pet on a leash when outdoors. An unleashed pet can be hit by a car, bitten by another animal, or otherwise be a danger to themselves and others.

Balconies, decks and windows: Balconies, decks and open windows are dangerous to pets. Both cats and dogs are known to jump or fall off balconies and decks and through open windows. Fireworks can cause even usually calm pets to jump. When on a balcony or deck, pets should be on a harness leash held by a responsible adult.

Food: Pets that get into human food during cookouts can suffer serious health problems as a result. Corn cobs and bones can get lodged in a pet's intestine and require surgery to remove. High fat foods such as hot dogs, hamburgers and sausages often cause stomach upset and can lead to pancreatitis, a serious health problem for dogs. Many foods, including chocolate, sugar-free gum, avocados, grapes and onions, can be poisonous to pets. It's best to always keep pets on their usual diet.

Sunscreen and bug spray: Sunscreen and bug spray should never be used on pets unless the item is specifically approved for use on animals. Bug sprays are particularly problematic because they often contain DEET, a product that can cause neurological damage to pets. Pet owners should check with their veterinarian to learn how to protect pets from fleas, ticks and other pests.

Heatstroke: Heat stroke can lead to kidney failure, brain damage, and in severe cases, death. Keep pets cool when temperatures rise and make certain they always have plenty of cool, fresh drinking water. Leaving pets in an unattended vehicle is especially dangerous on warm days because car temperatures can increase dramatically in just a few minutes.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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