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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How to Make Working at Home Work

August 1, 2013 9:52 pm

(BPT) - Working at home is a growing popular trend. The 2010 U.S. Census reports 9.5 percent of the population spends at least one day a week working at home - an increase of more than 2 percent since 1997. Technology is making it easier for employees and self-employed workers to set up a home office and conduct business.

When deciding to set up an office at home, one challenge many workers face is determining what computer to use - or purchase. Apple and Windows-based PCs are the two staples, and everyone has a preference on which system they prefer. Sometimes it's the user interface of one over the other that's preferred, and in other cases, how chosen programs perform on each platform determines what type of computer workers purchase. And often, workers just want to seamlessly blend in with the office environment, and purchase the same system for home.

With Parallels Desktop for Mac, the difficulty of choosing between the two platforms is obsolete. This software enables users to run all operating systems like Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows XP, Mac OS X, Google Chrome OS and more on a Mac without rebooting. This allows an at-home employee to easily switch between the system provided on work computers and the home computer, even if they're running different operating systems.

This allows at-home workers several benefits:

• If you have a Mac and a PC, then Parallels Desktop software can simply move your entire PC onto you Mac so you have everything on one computer. If you don't have a PC, its wizard lets you simply add Windows and other operating systems to your Mac so you can do everything on one computer.

• Save money because there is no need to repurchase software you already own. All of the PC applications you invested in can simply be moved to your Mac and run in Windows via Parallels Desktop.

• Run both Windows and Mac systems at the same time, allowing you to work in a Mac program while using a Windows platform.
Copy and paste between documents running in both operating systems easily - which is not possible if you must reboot your Mac to change between OS X and Windows applications.

Another challenge working-from-home employees face is taking the business on the road. Those who are self-employed often don't have the luxury of bringing business into the home office, and have to make the office mobile. This requires updating technology so email, documents and files can all be accessed from either a smartphone or tablet.

Another option is to access your computer remotely, allowing you to do everything you'd be doing at home while away. Parallels Mobile for iPad and iPhone lets you remotely access and run all of your Mac and Windows files and applications when you're on the go.

One final challenge is being able to handle the business errands without having to leave the office - or home. Banking, setting up conference calls or ordering supplies can all be done electronically using websites and downloadable apps. This technology allows a home-worker to make business deposits, connect with clients and have supplies delivered to the door - without having to leave.

Seamless connection is key to working at home, because any interruption in getting technology to work is lost time, and potentially lost business. Apps, using the same computer programs you've always used through Parallels Desktop for Mac and mobile devices will help any at home worker to keep all connections with the office and clients going strong.

Source: http://www.parallels.com/desktop

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Seven Small Changes with Big Impact

August 1, 2013 9:52 pm

(Family Features) Ever envy those beautiful homes that seem to get redecorated with every new season? The latest and greatest looks are easy to incorporate if you keep your furnishings neutral and the décor uncluttered. From there, it’s just a matter of bringing in a few simple touches that create a big impact.

Start with one or two easy projects and you will quickly transform your house into a place you’re proud to call home.

1. Transform With Paint
– Every interior designer will tell you the quickest way to transform a home is with a fresh coat of paint. Greet guests with a beautiful new door color. It will give your entire home a facelift with very little time and effort.

2. Warm Things Up – The look of hardwood brings warmth to every room in the house. Even kitchen and bathroom spaces can benefit from the addition of wood-look tiles, which are easy to clean, water resistant, and durable, but with the beauty and ambiance of traditional hardwood. Throw rugs are a great way to accent a wood-look floor and are easy to swap out with the change of season or style.

3. Keep it Clean – Kitchens are prime gathering places and just keeping them clean and uncluttered will transform the look and feel of an entire house. Leave just one or two appliances on the countertops, add fresh flowers and hang a pair of colorful kitchen towels to brighten the space.

4. Make a Space Pop – Add a pop of color and texture with new tile, such as American Olean’s Garden Oasis featuring Oceanside Glass Tile. The tiles, which can be seen at www.americanolean.com, come in various shapes, sizes, colors and patterns, so you can easily show off your own creative style anywhere.

5. Throw on Some Pillows – Filling a room with furnishings in neutral shades is actually the simplest way to embrace new decorating trends. Give a monochromatic room an instant makeover with pillows, artwork and tchotchkes. It’s an inexpensive way to change things up whenever the mood strikes.

6. Be Neighborly – Even if you only have room for a small pot of flowers, make your front porch welcoming. If possible, set out some chairs for neighborly chats, place a small table between for refreshments and add plenty of cushions for comfort.

7. Let There Be Light – Instantly change the look and feel of a room just by changing the lighting. Simply change your bulbs to one offering more natural light or swap out the entire light fixture for instant beauty.

Whether you update one room or transform your entire house, these simple changes will turn your home into a sanctuary that truly reflects your own personal style.

Source: Daltile

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Back to School Survey Finds School Boundaries Play Major Role in Home Buying Decisions

July 30, 2013 11:20 am

Realtor.com® announced the results of its Back to School survey, which analyzed how much impact school boundaries have on buyers looking to purchase a home within two years. It was found that three out of five homebuyers surveyed said school boundaries will impact their home purchasing decision.

Findings:
A majority of homebuyers who said school boundaries will have an impact are willing to pay one percent to 10 percent above budget to live within school boundaries:

• 23.59 percent would pay one percent to five percent above budget.
• 20.70 percent would pay six percent to 10 percent above budget.
• 8.98 percent would pay 11 percent to 20 percent above budget.
• 40.33 percent would not go above budget.

For those homebuyers who said school boundaries will have an impact on their decision, the majority indicated school boundaries will be an important consideration:

• 90.53 percent said school boundaries are "important" and "somewhat important."
• 2.04 percent were "neutral" around importance of school boundaries.
• 7.43 percent said school boundaries are "unimportant" and "very unimportant."

Homebuyers who said school boundaries will have an impact on their decision also indicated that they would give up several amenities to live within school boundaries of choice:

• 62.39 percent would do without a pool or spa.
• 50.60 percent would give up accessibility to shopping.
• 43.96 percent would pass on a bonus room.
• 41.99 percent would offer up nearby parks and trails.

Homebuyers indicated that they would like to be within a certain distance of school boundaries:

• 45.19 percent want to live within school boundaries.
• 33.67 percent want to live within a few miles so their children can ride the school bus.
• 17.20 percent want to live within a mile so their children can walk to school.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips to Keep Children Safe When the Babysitter's Behind the Wheel

July 30, 2013 11:20 am

For some parents, just leaving the kids with a babysitter or nanny can be a nerve-racking experience. But it can be several times more distressing when the babysitter is also responsible for chauffeuring the kids around town. Edmunds.com suggests several steps parents can take to ensure their children's safety while they're in the care – and cars – of others.

"First and foremost, parents should check to make sure the caretaker has a valid driver's license and a solid driving record," says Edmunds.com Consumer Advice Editor Carroll Lachnit. "Be on the lookout for reckless-driving citations, cell phone tickets, excessive speeding and, of course, driving while intoxicated. And don't discount even smaller traffic violations. No red flag is too small when the safety of your children is at stake."

More top tips that every parent should follow include:

1. Check the babysitter's references. There's a peace of mind that comes with knowing other parents in your community have relied on the babysitter to drive their children around.

2. Decide what car the babysitter will drive. It's ideal to lend your own vehicle so you'll be able to make sure that it is in good condition and has all of the features needed to keep your little ones safe. If that's not an option, have a trusted mechanic check out the nanny's car.

3. Install child safety seats. The car that your sitter will use should have appropriate child safety seats that are properly installed for each child who needs them.

4. Sign up the sitter for a defensive driving class. Some nanny agencies require this already. But if you're not going through an agency, or your sitter hasn't taken a class, your insurance agent can help you track one down or you can find a class through your local DMV.

5. Use technology to keep tabs. Parents can install diagnostics trackers that monitor the car's speed, location and performance. Apps and other technology can also be installed to restrict the driver's smartphone usage while the car is in use.

Source: Edmunds.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips to Save Money during a Road Trip

July 30, 2013 11:20 am

(BPT)—Whether you're driving across the country on your annual family road trip or taking a weekend to enjoy the open road, there are plenty of ways to save on the cost of fuel. Here are some easy tips that will help you save money at the pump and stretch the fuel in your gas tank.

Prepare your vehicle. Regular service can spot problems that reduce gas mileage, such as a broken thermostat, low transmission fluid or even something as simple as a dirty air filter.

Prepare yourself. Select a route ahead of time and study it to know exactly where you're going, and where you'll make stops. ExxonMobil's Fuel Finder app includes real-time maps, driving directions and station information for nearly 10,000 Exxon and Mobil retail locations across the continental U.S.

Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving - speeding, rapid acceleration and quick braking - wastes gas and can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Use cruise control to stick to the speed limit on long, straight highways. Wind resistance increases exponentially with speed and your car will work a lot harder the faster you go.

Avoid the heat. When possible, try to get on the road early in the morning or later in the evening as cooler temperatures set in. Not only will it help you save on air-conditioning expenses, but air that is cooler is denser and can actually increase power and mileage.

Follow these simple driving tips and you'll see more savings that you can enjoy on your summer vacation. Time to hit the road.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Liven Up Your Home with Color

July 29, 2013 8:40 am

Family Features—The summer months are all about color. From flowers in bloom to vibrant beach towels and colorful dresses, summer brings with it a multitude of hues.

If you feel that your home is in need of an update, adding a little pop of color can help. Start by thinking about the colors you want to add, where color can make the most impact and just how much you need to give your home a fresh look.

Here are a few tips to get you started on your adventure in color:

Explore Color. Begin by visiting your favorite clothing boutique, stopping into a paint store or flipping through home design magazines for inspiration. Choose the looks you are most drawn to or the colors that evoke a feeling of happiness or calmness. These colors reflect your personal style and will make you feel most comfortable in your home.

Start Small. After picking a color palette, don't go out and paint your whole house with it, start small. Just changing your accent pillows, throws, lampshades or accessories can make a big impact when you are introducing a new color. Remember to make sure the color flows well throughout the entire space, especially if your home has an open floor plan with rooms easily visible from one to another.

Accent with Artwork. Another easy way to bring color into your home is by updating artwork and wall decor. Simply moving artwork from one room to another can give your home a refreshed look. Adding some newly purchased pieces can also breathe new life into your home.

Be Brave. If you're ready to go all out with color, it's fine to make a dramatic change. The kitchen is a great place to go big with color and it's usually the gathering place in the home. To bring bold color in the kitchen, and to set the tone for your entire home, update your cabinetry.

"Colorful cabinetry can be a big commitment, but it also can set your kitchen apart in a sea of design sameness," says Sarah Reep, director of designer relations and education at KraftMaid Cabinetry.

It can feel as though your home has been completely made over by adding just a few thoughtful touches with a few hints of color.

Source: www.KraftMaid.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Recognize and Understand Hidden Fees in Your 401(k)

July 29, 2013 8:40 am

You wouldn’t authorize a company to dive into your checking account at will to withdraw money for undisclosed “services rendered,” right? But according to financial advisor Philip Rousseaux, that’s exactly what many Americans are unwittingly doing.

“While a new law now requires disclosure of previously hidden fees applied to 401(k) plans, it’s up to you, or your financial advisor, to find and review that information and determine whether the fees are reasonable,” says Rousseaux, founder and president of Everest Wealth Management, Inc.

By some estimates, up to 90 percent of fees attached to retirement plans are hidden. As of July 1, 2012, the new Department of Labor rule requires all hidden fees attached to retirement plans and mutual funds be disclosed to employers and employees.

Rousseaux offers these tips for examining and understanding retirement plan fees:

• Trading fees: Trading fees apply to mutual funds, which generally comprise more than half of a 401(k). These previously undisclosed fees are brokerage commissions that are charged to the plan holder every time a fund is traded. The charge is a percentage of the fund’s value, usually ranging from less than 1 percent to less than 2 percent. In some cases, trading fees can double the cost of the transaction. “If your funds are being frequently traded, you may be spending quite a bit on trading fees – in addition to the other fees associated with managing the fund,” Rousseaux says. “If you can’t determine whether the trading fees are reasonable, you should consult with an independent financial advisor.”

• Revenue sharing: These fees occur when mutual funds and other plan providers pay a third party for administrative services such as record-keeping, which the fund is expected to perform. These may be labeled “sub-transfer,” “agent/sub-TA” or “shareholder servicing” and they’re built into the plan’s expense ratio, so it’s not a double charge. Again, the idea is to review these charges and ensure they seem reasonable.

• 12 b-1 fees: This term – named for the section in the regulation that allows for it – applies to marketing and distribution costs. They’re generally paid as commissions to brokers who service retirement plans and they also may be paid to non-investment professionals such as record keepers or insurance companies. Most mutual funds have share classes that provide for varying revenue amounts from 12b-1 fees. Brokers and record-keepers have an incentive to use funds with 12b-1 fees and to share classes with higher 12b-1 fees because they make more money.

Rousseaux notes that it’s also important to look at the expense ratio for your plan, which should now be stated in dollars under terms of the new Labor Department regulation.

“Generally, the lower the ratio, the bigger the fund will grow,” he says.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Budget for Baby

July 29, 2013 8:40 am

Is the buzz about the royal baby giving you some serious baby fever? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average cost to raise a child until the age of 18 is $234,900 — a number large enough to make anyone feel as though they would have to be royalty in order to afford a baby.

Luckily, for those considering parenthood for the first time, there are steps you can take beforehand to help ensure you are financially prepared for that bundle of joy. The financial experts at Money Management International (MMI), a nonprofit credit counseling agency, offer the following five tips:

Take control of your debt — now. If you have credit card debt, now is the time to create a solid debt repayment plan. You'll be surprised at the amount of money you can save once those monthly payments are out of the picture. To explore debt repayment options that offer a reasonable payoff time and the potential for lower interest rates, call a nonprofit credit counselor and register for a free debt and budget counseling session.

Explore your health coverage options. Checkups alone for baby can cost more than $100 per visit. You may also want to explore adding long-term disability and life insurance coverage to your existing healthcare plan. Consider reviewing your maternity or paternity leave policies at your workplace.

Know your options. Daycare is one of the largest added expenses that a new baby brings. Considering your childcare options is an important first step. According to a recent study by ChildCare Aware of America, childcare costs for an infant can average more than $300 per week.

Practice living on a "baby budget." If you are planning to live on one salary, start now. This will give you an opportunity to make the necessary lifestyle changes and cutbacks before your bundle of joy arrives, making for a much easier financial transition.

Get tips from the experts — other moms! No one can give you better advice than people who have been through the experience themselves. So ask your friends and family to share their advice or find a local or online support group for parents.

Source: Money Management International

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Despite Changes to Flood Insurance Program, Still Opportunities to Save on Premiums

July 28, 2013 8:40 am

When Congress mandated changes last year to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), before Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeast, it meant flood insurance premiums for many homeowners in flood zones would rise. According to Smart Vent Products, Inc., that's because for the first time, rates will reflect such factors as actual flood risk and major improvements to the property, while discounts will be phased out for non-primary residences and cases of repeat claims on the same property, among others. Some may see rates jump by 25 percent starting Oct. 1, 2013.

But even as affected homeowners face a potentially large hit to their wallets, opportunities to save significant money on premiums by meeting various criteria still exist. Under the NFIP reforms, the more you can do to reduce risk, the more you can reduce premiums.

"The best thing homeowners can do is to sit down with a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM) and discuss your particular situation," says Brian Shaw of Smart Vent. "A CFM can provide you with retrofitting solutions you can take to your agent and see what the reduction in premium will be."

For example, by raising the home above the minimum required elevation standards or dry- or wet-proofing a non-residential building, owners can mitigate potential damage and therefore lower their premiums. Adding flood vents to foundations or installing breakaway walls are other ways to sharply reduce premiums.

In fact, Shaw notes, by coming into compliance with NFIP recommendations, owners can realize savings of up to 83 percent.

In a typical example, one New Orleans homeowner was paying $1,600 annually for flood insurance, post-Katrina. After discussion with his insurance agent, and consulting a Certified Floodplain Manager, he made modifications including installing automatic flood vents, which sent his premium plummeting to approximately $300 per year. His insurance company even sent him $1,300 back from the current year's premium.

FEMA is also in the process of reviewing flood zone designations, and revising them as needed, in some cases removing homes from so-called "V-Zones."

"Several thousand properties in four New Jersey counties were redesignated in June, so you and your insurer should be familiar with the latest flood zone maps before making any costly decisions," Shaw adds.

Source: Smart Vent Products, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Best Summer Home Improvement Projects for Kids

July 28, 2013 8:40 am

Remodeling expert Dan Fritschen wanted a practical, inexpensive way to keep his 12-year-old daughter engaged this summer. So he encouraged her to install a wireless alarm system in their home, a project she was able to complete within a few hours.

Setting up a wireless alarm system was the ideal project for his daughter Chrissy, who completed the job with the help of two other middle school students. They used an easy-to-install security system, watched a YouTube installation video, followed the instructions, added batteries, aligned the sensors, set up the control box, created passwords, and programmed the dialer to call when the alarm is tripped.

"Many kids can benefit from a bit of variety in the typical summer routine," said Fritschen, the creator of RemodelOrMove.com and author of five books on home remodeling. "Installing an alarm system is one example of something they can do that that offers many challenges and learning opportunities and is beneficial to their families."

Fritschen suggests several other simple projects for preteens:

Test your smoke detectors and other devices
Take a walkthrough of your home and point out important safety devices in kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms like smoke detectors, radon detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers. Test the devices and, based on your observations, have your child create a report to recommend those items that need to be improved or replaced. Children can learn budgeting lessons and financial discipline by creating a shopping list that compares brands, features and cost estimates. Shop for any new devices together and let the kids handle installation and putting in new batteries under your supervision using the instructions provided.

Replace a lockset or doorknob
If the doorknobs in your home are dated, why not let your son or daughter select, with your approval, and purchase a new one to replace the old? Standard spacing makes installing most interior locksets simple. An older child under an adult's supervision can use an electric screwdriver to do the job more effectively. Updating your door's hardware will not only enhance the appearance of your home, letting your child take the lead on installation will provide valuable do-it-yourself (DIY) experience.

Add solar landscape lighting
Solar patio lights that get their energy from the sun make your home safer, add ambiance and let you enjoy patios, gardens and decks at night. Planning and installing wireless lighting is a great project that children will enjoy. Everyone – including your neighbors – will appreciate the end result. You can make the project a teachable moment by giving kids a budget along with your objectives. Have them design an installation plan just like a real electrical contractor for you to approve.

"These projects have little room for error, and will provide children with knowledge that he or she can build something," said Fritschen. "Although your child may roll his or her eyes when you suggest these 'fun' projects, they are wonderful opportunities for kids to be responsible while creating value for the family."

Source: remodelormove.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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