Broker Owners: Manu Ruggeri and Sonny Shanks
Broker Owners: Manu Ruggeri and Sonny Shanks

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Wednesday, November 11, 2020


Here are a few beloved lawn games the whole family can enjoy!

Bocce Ball

Though commonly played on the lawn, bocce is traditionally played on a court that can give an elegant look to any yard.

Croquet

A manicured lawn set up with croquet wickets might look formal, but in reality, its a laid-back game for the whole family.

Shuffleboard

Having surged in popularity in recent years, homeowners who have the space are putting shuffleboard courts in their backyards.

Badminton

A great activity for the family to enjoy together, badminton is easy to put away when not in use.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Building good credit takes time, and it can be a few years before college students or graduates have a good enough credit score to get a credit card or loans at low interest rates.

A student credit card can help as a college students first credit card, though it does come with some conditions.

First, a student will have to do more than attend college. Theyll need some type of income, and without any credit history, a card may be difficult to be approved for.

One way to get around this is to get a secured credit card, which requires a cash deposit of anywhere from $300 to $5,000 as collateral. The deposit will be paid to the card issuer if you dont pay your bill. Secured cards may have high activation fees, as well as annual fees.

Some secured cards allow customers to move to unsecured cards, which simply means that you wont have to give the lender a deposit after 12 months of good credit behavior, such as paying bills on time.

Other credit cards aimed at students allow co-signers, or people you know who have an established credit history and will be responsible for the bill if the student doesnt pay it. Such a card may be needed if you dont have a steady income and are applying for your first credit card.

Most student credit cards dont have sign-up bonuses, rewards points and other perks, though some offer lesser rewards for newbies; however, that shouldnt be the point of getting your first credit card as a student.

The main point is to use your student credit card as a tool to learn how to responsibly use and manage small amounts of credit, pay bills on time, and spend within your means. Students are unlikely to buy big purchases with credit cards, but to pay off what they can afford each month without paying interest.

Starting good credit habits early in life can pay off years later when you want to get an auto loan, home mortgage or apply for additional credit cards.

If you dont use your credit card well, remember that any negative information can stay on a credit report for seven years in most cases. That can be a long time until youre able to qualify for a credit card at all, let alone one with a good interest rate.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Are your closets overflowing with pictures and other framed goods that would undoubtedly look much better hung in a prominent location than hardly ever seeing the light of day? Hanging pictures is a great way to tie a room together and add some character and personality to your space.

Instead of simply hanging one picture here and another one there, you can work through your collection a whole lot quicker if you think outside the box and cluster pictures, creating a gallery wall.

But before you go grabbing for a hammer, nails and maybe even a level, assess the space and items you have lying around and come up with a plan. While you may not stick to it 100 percent once you get started"and thats okay"having even a rough idea of how you envision the space when its complete will save you a lot of trouble.

Stick to Your Style. While you may have swooned over gallery walls in other peoples homes or in design magazines, trying to recreate something youve seen will most likely leave you feeling less than impressed with your own creation. Tune into your own personal style and incorporate photographs, artwork from your children, greeting cards, a favorite piece of fabric or any other trinkets that truly mean something to you. When creating a gallery wall, anything goes.

Mix and Match. Variety is key here. From various sizes of artwork to numerous textures and even different colored frames, dont shy away from incorporating different pieces and styles to create a personalized, yet cohesive, look.

Plan It Out. The best way to avoid putting unnecessary holes in the wall is to plan out the entire design before you even think about taking a hammer to the wall. (If youre a visual person, this step is even more important, so try to resist the urge to skip it.) While itll require some additional time, youre going to want to trace each frame onto a piece of paper. Once the templates have been cut out, tape them to the wall in a pattern of your choosing. Then move them around as necessary until you find the perfect grouping.

Switch It Up. One of the best (or worst?) things about incorporating a gallery wall into your space is the fact that its never finished! Dont be afraid to keep adding things or even swapping out certain pieces.

If youre ready to finally cross that gallery wall off your to-do list, remember, the options are endless. And theres no right or wrong way to go about it.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Use these tips to bring the iconic Art Deco style into your home.

Be Bold

Art Deco is not for the faint of heart. Prepare for vibrant shades and contrasting colors throughout your home.

Symmetry will help maintain a sense of order and balance.

Let It Shine

Shiny and metallic finishes are prevalent. Consider glossy paint, lacquer furniture and polished metals to cultivate a feeling of grandeur.

Glamorous Lighting

Ornate chandeliers and sconces exude a warm glow and contribute to the moody atmosphere, while also providing an artistic focal point.

Lavish Accents

The key to Art Deco lies in the accents. Decorate with oversized mirrors, velvet throw pillows and metallic sculptures.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

If you want your money to work for you, there are two main ways to achieve this goal: saving and investing. Knowing which option to choose is critical if you want your money to work the hardest.

Here are some ways to prioritize the two:

Start With Savings
Putting money into a savings account of some sort is a good way to get your money slowly working for you in a safe place.

While it’s recommended to have funds saved up to cover you and your family for six to 12 months in the event of an emergency, if you’re just getting started, focus on setting up an emergency fund for at least one month of living expenses. Losing a job, a hospital visit or unexpected car repair qualify as emergency expenses, while buying a new wardrobe or taking a vacation don’t.

Once you have an emergency savings account set up and in good shape, consider a financial goal that you want to reach within five years. This can be anything from saving for a down payment on a house to paying your annual car insurance bill in one payment. Or it could be for a major vacation you want to take a year (or more) down the road.

If you’re putting money away for an event that isn’t right around the corner, you might not need immediate access to it as you would an emergency fund. In this scenario, you may find a better rate of return on a certificate of deposit or similar savings vehicle your bank offers.

When to Invest
If you’ve found a savings account with FDIC insurance for up to $250,000, which should be easy to find, your money is in a safe place"and returns are guaranteed.

After your savings plans are in place, it’s time to look at long-term investments in the stock market, which can net you bigger returns than savings accounts.

The best place to start is investing money for retirement. If your employer offers a 401(k) retirement plan match or other retirement savings plan, it’s like giving your future self a raise. A company that matches a percentage of your contributions is like getting free money. Even if you’re just starting an emergency fund, you can put money in a 401(k) as a way to increase your long-term savings.

If you have more money to invest after contributing to a retirement plan, don’t do it until you’ve paid off high-interest debt such as credit cards and student loans. If you’re planning to retire soon or want to save so your kids can afford college, you should save for those before investing.

Then it’s time to invest in stocks or wherever you want to invest your money. Ideally, this should be money you can afford to lose, which is possible in a stock market that can be volatile.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional or legal advice.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

People love coffee. Many adults start their day off by drinking it, and some swear they cant even function without first downing a cup (or three) of the beverage to get a caffeine-fueled boost.

If you brew your own coffee at home or the office, its important to keep the coffee maker clean. Without proper maintenance, the machine can accrue germs, mineral buildup, oily sludge and other gunk over time. That nasty stuff can prevent the coffee maker from operating at its best, create funky-tasting cups o joe and potentially affect your health.

Luckily, keeping your coffee maker clean and working properly is simple.

Deep Clean
Make sure you give your coffee machine an occasional deep cleaning. Theres a variety of cleaning solutions out there that you can purchase online or at the store. If you opt to buy one, simply follow the product instructions. However, you could save some money by instead using a tried-and-true household cleaning solution: vinegar. Its a natural disinfectant and descaling agent.

If you use a traditional drip coffee machine, do a deep cleaning once every month or two. Start by filling the reservoir with a mixture of half water and half white distilled vinegar. Put the coffee pot in place, and turn the machine on. About halfway through the brewing cycle, shut off the coffee maker. Let it sit for 30 minutes. Afterwards, turn the machine back on to finish the cycle. Dump out the full pot, and rinse it with water. To fully flush out the vinegar solution, brew a full pot of plain water through the machine two or three times until the vinegar smell disappears.

If you use a Keurig single-serve coffee machine, the process isnt much different. However, you can probably get away with doing a deep cleaning once every three months. Fill the reservoir with a 50/50 vinegar and water solution. Brew a cup without inserting a K-Cup, and let the mug collect the liquid. Dump the mug out, and repeat brew cycles until the reservoir is empty. Let the machine rest for 30 minutes. Rinse out the reservoir, and repeat the process using plain water until the residual vinegar is gone.

If your Keurig isnt brewing well, you may need to start with the extra step of unclogging the machines puncture needles. You can carefully use a paperclip to dislodge any coffee grounds that got stuck in the needles or buy a designated needle-cleaning tool.

Regular Cleaning
To really combat buildup and germs, you should wash your coffee machine regularly. For a drip coffee maker, that means washing the brew basket, coffee pot and other removable parts after every use. You can handwash them with soapy water or put them in the dishwasher. Finish by wiping down the machine with a wet cloth or sponge. Because a Keurig uses disposable K-Cups, you dont necessarily need to clean the machine daily. Once a week, wash the mug tray andK-Cup holder.

Regardless of which type of coffee maker you use, consider brewing with filtered water over tap water. Especially if its hard, tap water can quickly cause mineral buildup.

For more maintenance information, review the owners manual for your machine. Just make sure to read it while enjoying a fresh cup of java.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Studies show that plants can

Increase o2

Most plants release oxygen throughout the day, but some varieties, like orchids and Gerbera daisies, release oxygen at night, too.

They might help you sleep better.

Improve air quality

Plants help remove toxins that can cause headaches, nausea and certain respiratory issues.

Increase productivity

Children are more attentive in classrooms and people are more productive in computer tasks with plants in the room.

Decrease dryness

Place several plants together to add moisture and humidity to your home.

Reduce stress and fatigue

Plants can help us unwind and relax.

Remember, plants are not just for the home – put them to work in your office, too.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

A credit card’s mobile app can give you immediate access to your account, making it easier to track purchases, make payments, review monthly statements, report a lost card and view rewards, among other things.

But not all mobile apps are the same, and knowing what’s available can make it easier to choose a credit card and find the features you want in an app. Of course, that’s after you’ve found the card with the best interest rate and rewards you want.

A 2018 satisfaction study by J.D. Power ranked the best apps on five factors: ease of navigation, appearance, clarity of information, range of services and availability of key information. Here are the top five credit card apps based on the results:

American Express
This was the only app to receive a rating of five out of five. The American Express mobile app allows users to track transactions, check monthly statements, redeem rewards and explore card benefits. Fraud notifications can also be set.

Chase
This app rated three out of five in J.D. Power’s satisfaction survey. It can be used to review and pay Chase credit card bills, access rewards information and set up notifications. The app also allows you to view your VantageScore credit score, as well as secure messages from Chase’s customer service team.

Citi
Citi also scored three out of five, with an app that allows users to view a summary of their main account information before signing in. Your credit card can be locked if your card is lost or stolen, and you can request a replacement card through the app, as well. You can also view transactions and pay your bill, as most other credit card apps allow. Citi also allows users to dispute unauthorized transactions, view and redeem rewards, and check their FICO credit score.

Bank of America
Allowing common services such as paying your credit card bill, viewing transactions, accessing your FICO score, getting account alerts and redeeming rewards, the Bank of America app scored a three out of five.

Capital One
This app received a rating of four out of five. Along with allowing users to review transactions and statements, view and redeem rewards, pay their credit card bill, and set up purchase notifications, the Capital One app has two top features that users say they want: the ability to instantly lock a card if it’s lost or stolen, as well as the ability to unlock the card and continue using it if it’s found.

Capital One also allows users to sign in using a pattern traced with a finger instead of typing in a password. Additionally, the app provides access to the company’s credit monitoring service and VantageScore credit score.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

These easy techniques will keep your home current, while displaying vintage artifacts.

Be Bold

Layering modern patterns and colors is a great way to make a room feel more contemporary.

Mix and Match

Juxtaposing old and new makes for an original look not tied to any specific time period.

Create Collections

An assortment of items offers unique visual appeal that calls more attention than a single piece.

Take a Step Back

Keep an eye on the big picture. Antiques should complement the look, not define it.

Focus on Presentation

Vintage crafts on contemporary shelving or old posters in modern frames provide a glimpse into the past while still feeling fashionable.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Sure, just charge it to my credit card. Its a phrase we say at stores and restaurants from time to time, especially when were making unplanned or big purchases. Credit cards are convenient and common among most adults, but unless you use one carefully, you could find yourself in financial trouble. Here are some tips to help ensure you use credit cards wisely:

Charge Responsibly
Credit cards and frivolous spending can be a recipe for financial disaster; too many impulse buys could add up quickly and bury you in debt. Try to use a credit card only for items you need, rather than want, and for emergency situations. Consider a credit card as a loan to yourself for when you dont have cash on-hand, and stick to a budget that allows you to repay the debt fast.

Furthermore, charging too much to your credit cards each month or maxing them out impacts your credit utilization ratio, a measurement that could jeopardize your credit score and a lenders willingness to offer you loans.

Practicing credit card discipline, especially when out shopping, is easier said than done. To help keep yourself in check, see if you can sign up for balance alerts with your credit card provider that let you know when youve reached a self-imposed spending limit. You could also request to lower your credit limit to a more manageable amount.

Pay the Full Balance
One of the best ways to get the most out of your credit card is aiming to pay your full balance every month. Doing so will allow you to avoid paying any interest charges, which build up and cost you more the longer you keep a balance on your card.

Even with proper budgeting, unforeseen circumstances might prevent you from being able to afford paying the entire balance during some months. In those instances, make sure to pay at least the minimum amount, and try to refrain from charging more before paying off the remainder.

Always Pay on Time
Regardless of whether you can afford the full balance or the minimum payment, make sure to pay your credit card bills on time every month. Late or missed payments not only result in late fees and interest charges, but could also negatively affect your credit score for several years. Conversely, paying your bills on time can boost your credit score and signals to lenders that youre a reliable borrower.

To help avoid missing a payment, ask your credit card provider to change your bills due date to a more convenient time. By moving the date to right after your work payday, for example, youre more likely to have money to pay the bill than you would a few days before getting your paycheck. Also, if you have multiple credit card bills, synchronizing their due dates could help ensure you dont forget about one of them.

Take Advantage of Rewards
Many credit card companies offer rewards programs, so if youre going to use a credit card, you might as well consider one that has added benefits. Available bonuses include frequent-flyer miles, cash-back and hotel points, among other perks.

This doesnt mean you should increase your credit card spending just to earn rewards, though, and be mindful that unless you pay your balance in full every month, the interest youd have to pay could essentially cancel out the value of any benefits earned.

With these helpful tips for using credit cards wisely, youll be able to reap the benefits of your cards while avoiding financial missteps and living within your means.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional or legal advice.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Do you find it tough to roll out of bed every morning? Are you yawning, feeling groggy and chugging cups of coffee throughout the day? News flash: You probably arent getting enough sleep.

Sleep is essential for your mental and physical health. Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of shuteye each night, and the quality of sleep you get is just as important as the amount. If youre having trouble catching zs, making some changes to your routine might help. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, whose focus also includes sleep disorders, offers the following 10 tips for getting a good nights sleep:

1. Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day"even on the weekends.

2. Exercise, but not too late in the day. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes on most days but not later than 2 to 3 hours before your bedtime.

3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine. The stimulating effects of caffeine in coffee, soda, certain teas and chocolate can take as long as 8 hours to wear off fully. Nicotine is also a stimulant.

4.Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed. A nightcap might help you fall asleep, but alcohol keeps you in the lighter stages of sleep. You also tend to wake up in the middle of the night when the sedating effects have worn off.

5. Avoid large meals and beverages late at night. A large meal can cause indigestion that interferes with sleep. Drinking too many fluids at night can cause you to awaken frequently to urinate.

6. Avoid medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep, if possible. Some commonly prescribed heart, blood pressure or asthma medications"as well as some over-the-counter and herbal remedies for coughs, colds or allergies"can disrupt sleep patterns.

7. Dont take naps after 3 p.m. Naps can boost your brain power, but late afternoon naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night. Also, keep naps to under an hour.

8. Relax before bed. Take time to unwind. A relaxing activity, such as reading or listening to music, should be part of your bedtime ritual. If possible, take a hot bath before bed; the drop in body temperature after a soak may make you feel sleepy, and the bath can help you relax.

9. Create a good sleeping environment. Address anything in your bedroom that might distract you from sleep, such as noises and bright lights. Consider keeping electronic devices, such as TVs, computers and smartphones, out of the bedroom. Also, keeping the temperature in your bedroom on the cool side can help you sleep better.

10. Dont lie in bed awake. If you find yourself still awake after staying in bed for more than 20 minutes, get up and do some relaxing activity until you feel sleepy. The anxiety of not being able to sleep can make it harder to fall asleep.

If you continue to have trouble sleeping or consistently feel tired despite spending enough time in bed each night, talk to your doctor. A good nights sleep is vital for your well-being and ensuring youre recharged and ready to take on the day.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Rain, the bride falling into a pool, a wedding cake falling over, and deposit money thats lost because the venue went out of business a week ago.

What do all of these have in common? Theyre all things that can go wrong at a wedding that can be covered by wedding insurance.

Some problems cant be fixed with money, but this type of insurance " also called special event insurance " can provide financial protection if a wedding has to be put off due to bad weather, natural disasters, death, illness or serious injury to key participants.

Insurance riders can also be added to the policy, covering things such as crashing cakes, a guest slipping and falling, or gifts were stolen.

Medical coverage can also be added to pay the medical expenses of anyone injured at a wedding. Also, personal liability coverage can be added to cover bodily injury or property damage caused by an accident during the wedding.

Wedding insurance prices range from $125 to $550 or so, depending on coverage. Policies usually have a specified maximum amount for each area covered, and a deductible applies.

The company WedSafe, for example, offers minimal coverage of $7,500, providing up to $1,000 for problems with photos, and $500 for professional counseling.

There are some things, however, that wedding insurance is unlikely to cover. Wedding rings may be covered, but an engagement ring probably wont be covered by insurance.

Wedding insurance also doesnt cover a change of heart by the bride or groom. If either person gets cold feet, youre both out of luck " financially and otherwise.

The good news is that you may not need wedding insurance if you or the site youre having the wedding at has enough insurance. Rental halls and other sites often have their own liability insurance, though they may require couples to have additional insurance.

Your homeowners insurance may cover you for liability if the wedding is taking place at your home, and it may cover losses away from home if you buy a rider.

Credit cards used to buy food for the reception, for example, may reimburse you if the food doesnt arrive. Auto insurance should cover any wedding day accidents. Trip insurance can cover a honeymoon.

I hope you found this information helpful. Please contact me for all your real estate information needs today!

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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