RE/MAX 440
Dale Joy
dalejoy1@verizon.net
Dale Joy
4092 Skippack Pike, P.O. Box 880
Skippack  PA 19474
PH: 610-584-1160
O: 610-584-1160
C: 215-460-5153
F: 267-354-6852 
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How to Recognize and Understand Hidden Fees in Your 401(k)

April 30, 2013 1:02 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 ration 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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Tips for Traveling With Pets

April 29, 2013 1:02 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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Cool Versus Warm Home Exteriors

April 29, 2013 1:02 am

The popular question in the 1970s was “What’s your sign?” In today’s culture, that question has turned into “What’s your color?” According to national color expert Kate Smith, people tend to identify their personalities with specific colors, all of which fall into either the “warm” or “cool” classifications.

“Just as a person may see themselves as having a ‘cool blue’ personality that is calm, confident and in control, a home exterior also has a color personality,” says Smith, chief color maven and owner of Sensational Color. “A ‘cool’ home may feature blues, greens and purples as the primary colors in the siding, entryway and roofing. On the flip side, a ‘warm’ home exterior would have more focus on neutral colors plus hues in yellow, orange and red.”

Smith recommends trying to match up your own personality with the colors used on the home in order to create a cohesive living environment. “Start at the top of the house with a blend of colors in the roofing tiles to set the overall tone for the home,” says Smith.

“For example, a Canyon blend of brown tones features dark mountain, medium autumn and dark autumn colored slate roofing tiles that reflect a warm personality, while an Aberdeen blend includes dark gray, light brown, dark purple, green stone and dark stone tile colors to mimic a cooler personality. You can then move down the house by picking up complimentary colors for the second most visible aspect of the home--its siding.

“There are wonderful accent variations within cool and warm color families that can contrast with the overall color scheme to provide visual balance on a home’s exterior. For instance, you could have a warm Cambridge blend Bellaforté roof on a home that includes light brown, medium brown, dark stone and dark tan tiles matched up with neutral colored siding. Then, add a pop of a cooler color such as deep teal or hunter green for the shutters, trim and front entryway.”

What’s My Color?
For some homeowners, the challenge starts from within. First, they need to determine whether they have a cool or warm color personality before deciding on their home’s personality.

“If you are an outgoing individual who gets all you can out of life, holds a position that requires some form of leadership and don’t tremble at the idea of public speaking, then you’re most likely a warm personality,” says Smith. “These people gravitate to the colors of tomato red, terra cotta, burgundy or olive.

“However, if you are a trusted friend, volunteer in your community, lead by example and are a natural peacemaker, then you’re likely to be a cooler color like navy, aqua or forest green. Certainly there are different ‘ranges’ on the color spectrum, so it’s possible you and your home could be on the high end of the cool tone with a personality reflected more in shades of electric blue. Or, you may be on the low end of the warm tones with a quieter, shy personality that is attracted to these hues for the warmth, strength and energy they give you.

“There’s definitely a color for every person. The challenge is identifying that color and then reflecting it on the exterior of your home.”

For more information, visit www.davinciroofscapes.com.

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10 Reasons to Celebrate National Raisin Day

April 29, 2013 1:02 am

Have you heard through the grapevine? National Raisin Day is tomorrow! As a delicious and naturally sweet addition to favorite recipes and snacks, California Raisins are an all-time classic in lunch boxes, gym bags and grocery carts across the nation. Here are 10 of our favorite reasons to love this all-natural, dried-by-the-sun, small – but mighty – fruit.

1. On-Screen Stars. How many wholesome, healthy snacks can claim an Emmy nomination? Introduced in 1984, the California Dancing Raisins starred in an Emmy-nominated 1989 TV special, Meet the Raisins. The dancing raisins were officially named: Ben Indasun, Justin X, Grape and Tiny Goodbite.

2. Fill Your Tank with the Good Stuff! California Raisins come by their sweetness naturally. Because raisins contain no added sugar, the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food-A-Pedia website shows that a serving of the fruit contributes no empty calories.

3. California Dreamin'. California is the raisin capital of the world and almost all California Raisins are grown within a 60-mile radius of Fresno – in California's sun-drenched San Joaquin Valley.

4. Budget-Friendly Fruit. The USDA ranks raisins as the most economical dried fruit, making raisins the most budget-friendly dried fruit of them all.

5. Year-Round Goodness. Perfectly portable, California Raisins don't spoil, bruise or need refrigeration. They are available January – December and always ready to munch on as a travel snack or an on-the-go, naturally sweet treat.

6. Mighty Good for You. California Raisins are the small fruit with big nutrition. According to the nutrition facts label, a quarter cup serving of raisins has 9 percent of your daily value of fiber and potassium and 6 percent of your daily value of iron. Plus, just a quarter cup of raisins is a serving of fruit.

7. All-Natural Nibble. Their ingredient list says it all: raisins. California Raisins have no cholesterol, no fat and no added sugar.

8. Fruit-tastic! Raisins proudly carry the Produce for Better Health Foundation's Fruit & Veggies—More Matters logo because they are 100% fruit.

9. Heart Smart. Even sweeter news – a recent study presented at the American College of Cardiology's 61st Annual Scientific Session suggests eating raisins three times a day may significantly lower the mean value of post-meal systolic blood pressure among individuals with prehypertension when compared to consuming popular, pre-packaged non-fruit snacks.

10. All-Around Awesome. Last but not least, exceptionally versatile, California Raisins add delicious, one-of-a-kind flavor to both sweet and savory recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack time too.

Source: www.loveyourraisins.com

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Four Tips for Green-and-Easy Grocery Shopping

April 26, 2013 12:58 am

Earth day has passed, but that doesn’t mean your eco-friendly efforts need to fall by the wayside. What you do on a daily basis can have a huge effect on the world you live in, and one action you can easily “greenify” is grocery shopping—something we all do regularly.

These simple steps will help you make green choices to lessen your environmental impact, and keep more “green” in your wallet, too.

Pick products with less packaging.
Efficient packaging can help lessen the waste stream. Consider cartons—products packaged in cartons are an average of 94 percent product and only 6 percent packaging, providing more value and reducing unnecessary packaging.

Use reusable or renewable paper grocery bags
Every year, Americans use approximately 1 billion shopping bags, creating 300,000 tons of landfill waste, according to the Clean Air Council. The next time you go shopping you can help reduce waste by choosing reusable grocery bags or renewable paper bags, which are made from trees, a renewable resource, and are recyclable where facilities exist.

Buy products in recyclable packaging
Recycling is one of the easiest ways to lower your environmental impact. Products made out of paper products can be recycled (where facilities exist) to make other everyday household items like bath tissue, office paper and building materials.

Choose products with renewable packaging
“Natural Marketing Institute data shows that 72 percent of consumers are looking for packaging made from renewable resources,” says Erin Reynolds, Marketing Director at Evergreen Packaging. “With this in mind, look for packaging made from renewable resources, such as cartons. Over seventy percent of a carton is paper, which comes from a renewable source—trees.”

Source: http://www.choosecartons.com

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Springtime is Greener as Remodeling Gains Speed

April 26, 2013 12:58 am

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s (NARI) first-quarter Remodeling Business Pulse (RBP) data of current and future remodeling business conditions is reaching new heights, as quarter-over-quarter increases are seen across all sub-components measuring remodeling activity.

As remodelers approach the busy season, overall current business conditions have seen steady increases since March of 2012, now at a statistically significant 5.97 rating compared with the 5.59 rating from one year before.

“Remodelers nationwide are not only experiencing increased activity right now, but many have a backlog of projects well into the fall,” says Tom O’Grady, CR, CKBR, chairman of NARI’s Strategic Planning & Research. “This current condition is worlds away from March of last year and suggests that the recovery is beginning to gain speed.”

Growth indicators in the first quarter of 2013 are as follows:

• Current business conditions up 1.0 percent since last quarter.
• Number of inquiries up 4.9 percent since last quarter.
• Requests for bids up 5.2 percent since last quarter.
• Conversion of bids to jobs up 1.1 percent since last quarter.
• Value of jobs sold is up 0.2 percent since last quarter.

Sharp increases in the number of inquiries and requests for bids speak directly to an increase in consumer confidence, especially in housing.

“Homeowners are tired of waiting to make improvements—many have chosen to stay put—and better financial positioning has them actively approaching professionals to get work done and enhance long-term livability of the home,” O’Grady says.

More specifically, drivers of remodeling activity include needing improvements due to postponement of projects (83 percent reported this as a driver) and improving home prices with 59 percent reporting (an 8 percent jump from fourth quarter data).

Other significant contributors to overall activity:

• Certainty about the future was reported by 44 percent of respondents
• Economic growth was reported by 43 percent of respondents
• Low interest rates was reported by 42 percent of respondents
• Growth in stock market was reported by 39 percent of respondents

Whereas two-thirds of remodelers forecasted the next three months positively in December of 2012, now 76 percent of remodelers believe there will be growth in the next three months. Only 7 percent of respondents reported declines in the near future.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Tips for Homeowners Who Want To Take Their Spring Cleaning Outdoors

April 26, 2013 12:58 am

Spring Cleaning is an annual tradition in many homes that helps clear out the clutter and dust that can accumulate after several months spent indoors. Homeowners should keep in mind that their spring cleaning checklist should include several outdoor tasks as well.
Here are a few suggestions for completing a quick and easy DIY Spring Home Inspection.

1. Start with a quick visual inspection of the home and yard and surrounding area checking for any obvious signs of distress or areas of concern.

2. Inspect the roof next. Carefully remove debris and look for missing or damaged shingles or flashing. While you're up there, check the gutters for obstructions that could result in water backups.

3. Check the trees in your yard, particularly those near your home or electrical wires. Looks for signs of disease or damage that may weaken the tree and make it susceptible to strong winds. Trim dead or damaged branches.

4. Inspect fences, railings, stone walls and any other free standing items that may have been loosened during the winter months. Look for leaning or loose parts and check to make sure these items are still firmly anchored.

5. Examine porches and decks to ensure stability, paying particular attention to handrails and stairs.

6. Remove debris from the yard, including refuse, loose branches and gravel or dirt that may have accumulated as a result of snow removal efforts. Look for holes or sunken areas that could be a tripping hazard.

7. Inspect house siding and shutters, looking for loose, damaged or soiled areas in need of repair or cleaning.

8. Be sure to examine all your windows and screens and make any necessary repairs.

9. Check the driveway and any walkways for cracks or shifting that could create a tripping hazard and make any necessary repairs to avoid additional damage resulting from exposure to the elements.

10. Examine the foundation for cracks or bulges that could lead to leakage issues if left unattended.

Source: Freemont Insurance

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Are You Healthy? Would You Know If You Weren't?

April 25, 2013 12:58 am

Not too long ago – just after World War II – few people in the United States brushed their teeth with any regularity. Now, the mere thought of going an entire day or night without brushing one’s teeth is simply out of the question for most.

Hopefully, someday in the near future, a similar attitude will prevail regarding mental well-being, says Dr. Matt Mumber, an oncologist and author of “Sustainable Wellness: An Integrative Approach to Transform Your Mind, Body, and Spirit,” coauthored by Yoga therapist Heather Reed.

“Human happiness and well-being are rudderless without awareness, which I define as the quality of paying attention to what’s going on in the present moment from an inquisitive, nonjudgmental and focused perspective,” he says.

An easy way to think of optimal wellbeing might be to envision a three-legged stool, says Reed.

“The three legs include physical activity, nutrition and that underappreciated component missing from too many Americans’ lives – stress management, or a healthy mental state,” she says.

After checking off a healthy diet and exercise from the list, how does one go about ensuring a healthy mind? Mumber and Reed say the key is mindfulness, which they define as paying attention on purpose, non-judgmentally and as though your life depended on it. Framed another way, mindfulness means focusing on something without trying to change it, like the sky holding passing clouds without clinging to them.

They describe the states necessary for attaining mindfulness:

• Beginner’s mind is the ability to see things with new eyes. The Bible warns against putting new wine in old wine skins – doing so risks tainting the new stock. A beginner’s mind opens people to the world of possibilities that exist in the present moment. That does not mean throwing away good ideas from the past; rather, it means to entertain new ideas with a truly open sensibility.
• Trust: Believe in your authority to know your own body, thoughts and feelings. We need to have the confidence necessary to trust that our thoughts and feelings at any given moment have value.
• Non-judging is the ability to see things for what they are, to hold an open and neutral place for whatever comes up within and around you, without thinking of anything as categorically better or worse than anything else.
• Patience is a willingness to continue with the process of paying attention on purpose even when it appears that no progress is being made. Learning and growing through mindful practice happens with time, and we can’t force the outcome.
• Acceptance refers to allowing whatever comes up in the moment to be held in our field of awareness. This is not the same as giving up or being passive; acceptance is merely acknowledgement.
• Letting go is refusing to attach to specific thoughts, feelings or behaviors. This can feel like losing something, but every time we let go, we open ourselves to something new and, potentially, deeper.
• Non-striving: In our goal-oriented society, this may seem counterintuitive. However, non-striving refers only to practicing mindfulness without expectation of some future goal or dream, which helps us better live in the now.

“By having our three-legged stool firmly planted in awareness, we can drop into what we typically call a sense of spiritual wellbeing," says Mumber.

Source: www.sustainablewellnessonline.com

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First-Quarter Economic Growth Stronger Than Expected

April 25, 2013 12:58 am

Recent data indicate that economic growth in the first quarter has accelerated to an above-trend—but likely unsustainable—pace of 3.2 percent, according to Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research Group. A significant buildup in business inventories provided a one-time boost to first quarter growth and is expected to resume a more balanced level in the second quarter. Meanwhile, several other key indicators late in the first quarter, including a downbeat March jobs report, were soft, presaging a more moderate pace for the rest of the year. The Group expects growth to come in at approximately 2.3 percent for 2013—still modest by recovery standards, but a pickup from the 2012 and 2011 pace of 1.7 percent and 2.0 percent, respectively.

“The April forecast reflects the growing realization that 2013 is off to a good start from a GDP perspective, but we expect the stronger-than-expected first quarter pace to slow somewhat in the second quarter,” said Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan. “On the downside, tax hikes, sequestration, and the euro-zone crisis still pose significant risks to our forecast, and the fiscal tightening will likely affect consumer spending and other economic activity in coming months. However, the housing recovery continues to broaden and may be more robust than we anticipate, helping to offset fiscal headwinds.”

The continued housing recovery and rising home prices are expected to provide a cushion to growth this year and present the most likely source of upside to our forecast. Residential investment has made a positive or neutral contribution to economic growth for seven consecutive quarters, ending in 2012, with similar activity expected in 2013. Housing’s contribution to growth also continues to climb home as sales reached multi-year highs in the early stages of 2013.

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10 Must-Have Landscape Tools

April 25, 2013 12:58 am

The world of landscaping tools is vast—you could fill your garage with types of hoes alone. However, you will have to invest money and space in several basic landscaping tools to maintain and improve your property. Here are 10 must-haves.

1. Round point shovel: Arguably the most versatile landscape tool, this shovel has a rounded and beveled steel blade that ends in a point. It digs, scoops, and slices dirt, manure, and gravel. Cost: $20 to $30.

2. Rakes: There’s a whole world of long-handled tools that dig, spread, and gather. Buy a metal-toothed landscaping rake to move dirt, separate rock from soil, and spread mulch. Buy a plastic leaf rake that gathers leaves, grass clippings, and other debris on the surface of your lawn. Cost: $30 to $50 (landscaping rake); $10 to $20 (leaf rake).

3. Hoe: This digging and spreading landscape tool has the blade at a right angle to a long handle. The shape and sharpness of blades vary, making some hoes better for slicing weed roots (gooseneck hoe), and others for breaking up soil (garden hoe). Cost: $10 to $40 (specialty hoe).

4. Flat border spade: The blade is parallel to the handle. This is often used to edge beds and uproot grass. Cost: $60 to $70.

5. Chainsaw: These gas or electric saws have sharp teeth that revolve on a chain. They’re good for cutting wood, downed tree limbs, big branches and trees. It takes practice to use one safely, so get some pointers before revving up. A 40 cc saw with a 16-inch blade is good for most yard work. Cost: $130 to $200.

6. Shears: There’s a wide variety of hand-held landscape tools that cut and trim. You’ll need small bypass shears for roses, hedge shears for boxwoods, and looping shears for small tree limbs. Cost: $20 to $30.

7. Lawn mower: Manual, battery, electric, or gas-powered lawn cutters are pushed or ridden, self-propelled, or hand-propelled. Most can bag clippings. Get a 21-inch gas-powered mower for the average yard. Yards bigger than a quarter-acre may need a riding mower to save time and muscle. A push-type reel mower is a good green choice. Cost: $100 (reel); $300 (gas); $1,500 (riding mower).

8. Wheelbarrow: Made of metal or plastic, wheelbarrows are movers of soil, plants, hay, and basically anything that fits. Most have one wheel and two handles for balancing and steering; some have two wheels for added stability. Cost: $30 to $250.

9. Edger: This is a manual or automatic landscape tool that creates a neat and clear separation between the lawn and adjacent surfaces (such as driveways) and around trees or flowerbeds. $30 (foot powered); $90 (electric); $190 (gas).

10. Hand trowel: This is used for digging small holes to plant seedlings and bulbs for borders and gardens. Cost: $5 to $10.

Source: HouseLogic

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