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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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Are Your Holiday Decorations Making You Sick?

December 14, 2016 1:00 am

Most of us like decking the halls during the holidays. However, a recent report from a leading national environmental services company is shedding new light on how the most popular holiday accoutrements could be hazardous to your health.

Whether it's "Christmas Tree Syndrome" or candles that can release unwanted fumes - homeowners, family members and visitors can be at risk. So AdvantaClean (advantaclean.com) has created a "Healthy Home Holiday Check List," so homeowners can celebrate without sickness.

AdvantaClean CEO Jeff Dudan says Christmas Tree Syndrome, for example, can affect people regardless of whether there are real or artificial trees present, according to Dudan.

He says researchers at State University of New York found that 70 percent of the molds found in live Christmas trees can trigger severe asthma attacks, fatigue, sinus congestion and more. Fake trees can cause problems too — especially if they are not wrapped properly and have accumulated dust and mold spores. AdvantaClean offers the following suggestions.

For live trees:
- Hose off your tree to remove pollen and mold and let it dry before you bring it into the house.
- Wear gloves and long sleeves when carrying the tree to avoid sap touching your skin.
- Families with severe allergies should avoid buying a live tree. If you must have it, bring it in the home for no more than a week.

For artificial trees:
- Wrap the tree securely, store in a cool and dry place.
- Wipe down the tree and ornaments.
- Go easy on the spray snow to frost your tree and windows. Aerosolized chemicals can cause irritant reactions in the eyes, nose or lungs.

Since most candles with heavy fragrances are made of paraffin wax and are scented with synthetic fragrances derived from petroleum, they can emit chemicals and fumes that irritate breathing, triggering allergies and asthma - and produce unwanted soot.

So for better breathing choose candles made from soybean, palm, hemp or beeswax. For safer smells use candles that are scented with essential oils.

For more ideas on how to make your home more environmentally safe and healthy year-round, visit advantaclean.com/blog/

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Heat Your Home Safely

December 14, 2016 1:00 am

As the weather cools, we tend to turn inward and crank up the heat. While this is a great idea for staying cozy, it can lead to some health and safety problems. Here are some tips to stay safe.

General furnace safety
If you're turning on your furnace for the first time in months, remember to:  

- Never store or use highly flammable products in the same room as any natural gas or heat-producing appliances.

- Never store ordinary combustibles such as rags, mops or paper on or near an appliance.

CO poisoning prevention
Heating units and other appliances should be properly maintained to avoid the threat of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Have natural gas furnaces checked at least once a year by a licensed heating contractor. In addition:

- Vacuum and clean in and around the furnace regularly, particularly around the burner compartment, to prevent a build-up of dust and lint.

- Never store items in, on or around an appliance as this can obstruct airflow.

- Most forced-air units have a filter that cleans the air before heating and circulating it throughout the home. Check furnace filters every month during the heating season and clean or replace the filter when it becomes visibly dusty or dirty. 

- When installing a new or cleaned furnace filter, be sure to re-install the front panel door of the furnace properly so it fits snugly. Never operate the furnace without the front-panel door properly in place because doing so may create the risk of producing CO.

- Check the appearance of the furnace flame. If the flame is yellow, large and unsteady, the furnace needs to be inspected immediately by a licensed heating contractor to have the condition corrected.

- Never use an unvented natural gas heater in a home. 

- Never use an oven, range or outdoor barbecue to heat your home. These appliances are not designed for this purpose and can cause CO poisoning.

- Make sure all natural gas appliances—such as stove tops—are safely maintained and vented properly.

-Install a CO alarm in your home. Though these alarms may provide an extra level of safety, keep in mind that they require routine maintenance and replacement at least every three to five years to perform properly.

- Even with alarms in place, regular natural gas appliance maintenance is still required. Inspection and routine maintenance are still an effective defense against accidental CO poisoning.

- If you suspect that you or someone else is suffering from CO poisoning, call 911 immediately.

Source: www.socalgas.com

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Financial Well-Being May Be Best Gift This Season

December 14, 2016 1:00 am

While gifting loved ones with holiday cash or gift cards has been a long-standing option, retailers are offering new ways this season give your favorite people some financial well-being instead of the latest toys, fads or fashions.

Among them, according to Sarah Skidmore Sell at the Associated Press, is Stockpile, a company whose gift cards can be redeemed for stock, which is rolling out its products to more than 14,000 stores this holiday season.

Sold at popular retail chains like Target, Kroger, and Safeway, the gift cards may be purchased for a dollar amount of stock rather than the price for a share – and purchases can be in any amount.

Gift of College, which gives people another way to contribute to college savings plans or pay down student loans, began selling its gift cards at Toys R Us and Babies R Us nationally this month.

All 529 college savings plans grow tax-free, and withdrawals for educational expenses are also untaxed. The giver may get also a tax break, as 34 states and the District of Columbia offer either a state income tax deduction or tax credits for such contributions.

Since the average debt at graduation with a bachelor’s degree was more than $35,000 last year, Gift of College gift cards are becoming so popular that some employers are offering them as holiday bonus gifts for their workers, Sell said.

Financial gifts, whether in the form of cash or gift cards, may have tax implications, so it may be advisable to check with a financial advisor if your gift will be substantial. But in most cases, gifts of cash or any of these new gift card options offer a unique opportunity to send love and best wishes in a way that may help recipients develop an interest in thrift and/or in future investing.

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Protecting Your Home against Wicked Weather

December 14, 2016 1:00 am

While the east coast recently suffered through Hurricane Matthew, severe weather can strike anywhere, anytime. The Massachusetts-based Hanover Insurance Group recently shared these tips to help homeowners protect both their families and their properties during a storm.

Know what's in your home. A home inventory is often overlooked. An industry poll indicated homeowners' insurance claims are processed nearly twice as fast if home inventories are completed in advance.

Gather supplies. It is always a good idea to create an emergency supplies kit. Consider including items such as flashlights, batteries, medicines, a first aid kit, cash, a battery-powered radio, and a week's worth of water and nonperishable food for the household.

Prepare your house. Make any necessary repairs to loose boards, shingles, downspouts or other items that can pose problems in high winds and torrential rain. Move any unsecured items indoors, including grills, toys, planters and lawn furniture. Trim or remove any decaying and damaged tree branches.

Have a plan. Learn the local evacuation routes and make note of where local shelters are located. Have key telephone numbers on hand, such as family, friends, fire and police departments, and your insurance agent.

Stay informed. Sign up for alerts if possible. Many towns offer weather alerts to help inform residents of ways to stay safe.

Check your insurance protection. An independent insurance agent can help ensure comprehensive coverages are in place. Some good questions to consider include:
  • Are current rebuilding costs covered?
  • Should separate flood insurance be considered?
  • Are there any gaps in coverage?
​Source: The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc.

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Holiday Tips for Alzheimer's Families

December 14, 2016 1:00 am

While the holidays are often a joyous time for celebrating with friends and families, for families living with Alzheimer's, celebrations can be a bit of a challenge. Read on for tips on helping your family have the best holiday season possible.

Talk to friends and family before they arrive
Explain that your loved one with dementia may have trouble following conversation or tend to repeat him or herself.  Everyone can help by being patient, not interrupting or correcting, and giving the person time to finish his or her thoughts. Help visitors understand that in the middle or late stages of Alzheimer's, there may be significant changes in cognitive abilities since the last time an out-of-town friend or relative has visited. 

Adjust expectations
The stress of caregiving responsibilities layered with holiday traditions can take a toll. Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage. Make sure everyone understands your caregiving situation and has realistic expectations about what you can do. Be honest about any limitations or needs, such as keeping a daily routine.

Involve the person with dementia
Focus on activities that are meaningful to the person with dementia. Your family member may find comfort in singing old holiday songs or looking through old photo albums. As the person's abilities allow, invite him or her to help you prepare food, wrap packages, help decorate or set the table.

When the person lives in a care facility
Consider joining your loved one in any facility-planned holiday activities. Bring a favorite holiday food to share, sing holiday songs and ask if other residents can join in or read a favorite holiday story or poem out loud.

Source: www.alz.org/nyc

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Make Your Home Just a Little Smarter

December 12, 2016 12:57 am

According to a 2016 HomeAdvisor research report, Americans spent on average $564 - $2,260 to install a home automation system, with prices ranging as high as $15,000 to install a hard-wired system. While outfitting your home with a full suite of smart home technology can be pricey and intimidating, there are some smaller ways you can start to incorporate this all-the-rage trend into your abode.

Smart home automation deals with syncing household devices and systems with schedules or responsive sensors, says HomeAdvisor, which means that smart home technology is dependent upon  smartphone apps and wireless internet routers. The goal is to save on costs, and add convenience and security throughout your home.

A good place to start is with your thermostat. A variety of smart thermostats are available, allowing you to automate and control your home’s temperature from your smartphone. Some, like Nest, learn your habits throughout the day and set the temperature accordingly.

You might also want to consider a smart television. An evolution of the Roku and Apple TV external devices, smart televisions have integrated everything you could ever want right into your set - Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, HBO Go, Pandora, network TV, gaming and much more.

Another great feature to consider is smart shades or blinds. These programmable, remote-controlled window coverings allow you to schedule open-and-close times in conjunction with the room’s exposure, putting you in control of energy saving and setting the mood.

Speaking of setting the mood, a whole host of smart light dimmers give you the option to control the lights in your home from your smartphone. This is an especially useful security feature while you’re away from your home for extended periods of time.

Another great security option is smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors—this technology alerts you to not only what the problem is but within which part of your home it’s happening.

While the smart home technology options are endless and fascinating, keep in mind that they are internet dependent, so if your home goes offline, so will your devices.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Personal Finance 101: What is a Fiduciary?

December 12, 2016 12:57 am

Those looking into hiring a finance advisor may have heard the term “fiduciary” thrown around. But what is a fiduciary, and do you need one?

"Consumers are hearing the term 'fiduciary' more often, but increased awareness doesn't necessarily equal increased understanding," explains  National Association of Personal Financial Advisors CEO Geoffrey Brown.

What is a fiduciary? A fiduciary is a professional entrusted to manage assets or wealth while putting the client's best interests first at all times. Financial advisors who follow a fiduciary standard must disclose any conflict, or potential conflict, to their clients prior to and throughout the advisory engagement. Fiduciaries will also adopt a code of ethics and will fully disclose how they are compensated.

Non-fiduciary financial professionals can recommend investments with higher fees, riskier features and lower returns because they earn more money for the advisor, even if those investments are not the best choice for their clients.

Who is a fiduciary? Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) are held to a fiduciary standard of care. By law, they must act solely in the best interest of their clients. To ensure your advisor or a potential advisor is following a fiduciary standard, request to see the advisor's ADV (a form filed with the SEC) or ask if they will sign a Fiduciary Oath.

How can you find a fiduciary? Accountability is important in financial planning. While there are many people in the financial industry who profess to have the client's best interests at heart, they still may have conflicts that impact their recommendations. It's important for consumers to ask the right questions of any potential advisors.  

Source: http://www.napfa.org

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How to Keep Your Pipes From Freezing

December 12, 2016 12:57 am

Winter means toasty fires, steaming cups of hot cocoa and—for many—frozen pipes. Frozen pipes can lead to major damage, so it's important to keep them protected when cold air hits.  

Gary Eisenhauer, a manager at The Sunny Plumber in Las Vegas, recommends a few tips for protecting your pipes as the weather turns cold.  

- When an overnight freeze is expected, slowly run one or two faucets to keep water moving through the lines.

- Outdoor hoses and their connection to water sources are particularly vulnerable to freezing weather. Eisenhauer advises consumers to unscrew hoses from the outdoor facet to allow for drainage and keep outside hose bibs open to allow water to drain.

- All outside pipes and hose spigots should be insulated, this is easy to do with the purchase of an installation kit from your local hardware store.

- Pipes running against exterior walls, like those in kitchens, are often subject to freezing and typically have little to no insulation. Keep cabinets under kitchen and bathrooms sinks open to allow for warm air flow to prevent freezing.

- Pipes in unheated areas like basements, attics and near garages are also susceptible to damage from cold. Take special care to insulate these areas.

- Heat tape is a great product to insulate water pipe. These "pipe sleeves" could be as simple as newspaper wrapped around pipes to keep them warm and insulated.

- During cold spells, Eisenhauer recommends keeping your thermostat set at the same temperature during the night and day – this helps regulate temperatures and prevent unwanted expansion.Source: thesunnyplumber.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Pay Down That Debt

December 9, 2016 12:54 am

Ever daydreamed about what you would do with your wads of cash if you were to win it big in the lottery? If you're anything like those interviewed in a recent survey conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), then your first priority would be less-than-glam: paying down debt.

Among the 1,729 people who took part in this online poll, 87 percent indicated that they would use their winnings to become debt-free. Conversely, only 8 percent would use the funds to invest and grow savings before considering other priorities.

Since most of us will never win it big, the NFCC offers the following tips for paying down debt:

- Rethink the approach toward debt management. When progress is slow on the road to being debt-free, consider increasing monthly payments to make faster progress. Additionally, consider prioritizing all extra payments to the accounts that are charging the highest interest rates. Even the slightest adjustments can make a big difference.

- Pay yourself first. Contributing to a personal savings account and 401(k) before turning attention to other expenses will help keep important financial goals in sight, and will maintain steady progress toward reaching them.

- Declutter the debt. If dealing with more than a few accounts, it helps to merge them into a single loan or credit card with one payment. This is called debt consolidation, which works best when resulting in lower interest and fees.

Source: www.NFCC.org.

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5 Ways to Save Money on Your Next Move

December 9, 2016 12:54 am

Are you planning for a move? Read on for five tips to save money and stress as you relocate.

1. Declutter first.  Start your moving process by getting rid of as much as possible. This does two things: you will score some extra dollars by selling old items, and save money by transporting less. You will also save yourself the hassle of moving boxes from one musty garage to another.

2. Find a professional. While it may seem cheaper to enlist the help of your friends and family to pack up and move you, it can cost you more money and stress.A pro mover is fast, efficient, experience, and has all the tools you need. And when you hire a professional, you don't have to worry about cousin Jimmy not showing up on move day.  

3. Research. Before you choose a professional, do your research. Read reviews, get on the phone and ask questions. These days, you can find a company that will not only move you, but also help you set up your cable and utilities. Bonus!

4. Shut down your services: In order to avoid paying for an overlap of service, consider cutting some of your services in advance if your your billing cycle doesn't line up with your move date. While you can't live without electricity, you could do without those cable channels for a week or two.

5. Plan smarter: The height of moving season takes place between May and September. Consider moving in the off season so you have room to find a moving bargain, and book early.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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