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7 Best Paint Colors for a More Soothing Bedroom

May 22, 2015 3:33 am

According to a Sherwin-Williams survey, three out of four consumers say their bedroom needs painting – but they want to be sure they choose a wall color that soothes and promotes more restful sleep.

The paint company suggests that a black painted ceiling in a room with soft beige walls encourages a good night’s sleep. They also provide tips for seven other color choices most likely to accommodate rest:

Soft Gray
– It’s not as neutral as most people think, but it pairs beautifully with accents of driftwood or metal, and a gray shade with undertones of violet is quite soothing when accented with metallic colors.

Pale Pink or Coral
– Too much pink can give your bedroom a Barbie’s Dreamhouse look, but soft pastels in either of these soft, warm hues reflect light and pair beautifully – and restfully – with white or gray accents.

Deep Forest Green
– Works best in a room with lots of natural daylight or in north-facing rooms with filtered light. Pairs well with light wood furniture and brightly colored bedding.

Burnt Brick Red –
Keep it a deep, warm shade for a pop of color that is elegant, flattering to skin tones, and surprisingly restful at night.

Dusty Aqua
– This coastal shade favorite is both masculine and feminine, bringing the essence of nature indoors and creating a spa-like feel in the bedroom.

Light Cocoa Brown
– A down-to-earth brown with a gray tint can make for an intimate, enveloping space. Add cream accents for an especially calm, serene feeling.

Light Harvest Gold
– The wrong gold can be too energetic for a bedroom, but if you choose a gold color a couple of shades lighter than you think you want, you will find it both restful and sleep-inducing.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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'Retirement' Takes On New Meaning

May 21, 2015 3:33 am

Retirement is no longer synonymous with the end of working life, and expectations regarding retirement lifestyles are evolving, according to a recent Franklin Templeton survey. More than half of Americans are considering working during their retirement – and not simply out of necessity.

Nearly 20 percent of non-retired respondents say the most likely cause of a retirement delay would be because they enjoy working. The majority of respondents say if they were unable to retire as planned due to insufficient income, they would adjust their plans to delay their retirement. Given the same circumstances, the survey’s youngest respondents would likely keep working, as well.

While Americans are reasonably good at estimating their expenses at retirement, they tend to underestimate the impact of inflation, typically expecting retirement expenses to remain flat throughout retirement. Unfortunately, inflation can cause a sharp increase in expenses over even a 10- to 15-year period.

Looking at expectations in terms of their current income, over a third of non-retired respondents expect to live on an amount less than 70 percent of their current income. This may sound optimistic to some, but close to half of retired respondents report that they live on less than 70 percent of their pre-retirement income.

All things considered, the overwhelming majority of respondents who plan to retire are looking forward to it. When asked what they look forward to specifically, about a third of respondents say not working. Many look forward to pursuing hobbies or learning a new skill or subject, both of which could be explored through a new job or career.

Source: Franklin Templeton Investments

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Unhappy with Your Mover? 5 Ways to Get Some Satisfaction

May 21, 2015 3:33 am

Relocating is no easy task. Add in a moving company that offers a final price you don’t agree with or that delivers broken furniture, and the process can turn into a nightmare.

While moving troubles can vary, some issues tend to crop up more often than others. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration lists shipments being held hostage, lost or damaged goods, and delay of shipments among the most common moving complaints.

If you’re upset with the job done by the moving company you hired, you may want to take action—fast. Keep in mind, however, that quick decisions, such as running to file a lawsuit, might not bring the best results.

“Before suing movers, consumers should consider their options,” said Manuella Irwin, relocation expert at MyMovingReviews.com.

Follow these five steps to address the complaints you have about your mover and come to a resolution you’re satisfied with.

1. Check the Agreement. “The first thing you need to do is to look at the contract,” said Craig Miller, attorney and partner at Simeone & Miller, a law firm in Washington, DC.

Carefully review the terms laid out by the company in the agreement. Certain requirements may be included regarding how to handle issues you have with the company.

The contract may state you’ll need to notify the company of damage and file a claim in a certain period of time, such as within nine months of delivery. It also might note limitations about the amount of money that can be claimed.

2. Notify the Company. “The fastest and most efficient way to work things out is to talk directly to the movers,” Irwin said.

When getting in touch with the company, follow guidelines outlined in the contract. Also, keep a record of your communication with the mover. Note the date you initially contacted the company and describe your complaint. Then keep track of any responses you receive from the mover.

3. File a Complaint. If you’re unable to resolve the issue by dealing directly with the moving company, you’ve got other resources at your disposal.

In the case of a state-to-state move, you can lodge a complaint with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. For instance, if your mover disappears with your goods, you can notify the federal agency of the situation online or over the phone. Depending on the case, the agency may take enforcement action against the mover.

If your mover is a member of the American Moving & Storage Association, you can notify the group about your issue. “We always contact a member on behalf of a consumer,” said John Bisney, a spokesman for the association.

When you file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, it will be forwarded to the company within two business days. The mover will be asked to respond within 14 days, and if a response is not received, a second request will be sent. Complaints usually are resolved within 30 business days.

4. Understand Arbitration. If your mover has made a final settlement offer to you that you’re not satisfied with, arbitration may be an option.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires interstate movers to have a neutral arbitration program in place. Through this setup, a third party helps settle a dispute between you and your moving company.

A fee is charged for arbitration, and it’s usually split between the customer and the moving company. Some moving companies might offer to pick up the charge.

5. Consider Further Action. If you’re thinking about contacting a lawyer, “look at how much money is involved,” Miller said.

Say a $200 chair was damaged during your move. If you hire a lawyer to help, and have to pay $400 in legal fees before the dispute is settled, you’ll end up losing money.

For claims involving a small amount of money, you typically can file a lawsuit in small claims court, Irwin said. You won’t need a lawyer to do this, and the fees usually are low.

If, however, the amount of money involved is large enough to justify the expense of a lawyer, it may be in your best interest to seek legal help.

Source: SpareFoot.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Home Sellers Getting Stellar Benefits with Solar Systems

May 21, 2015 3:33 am

For years, I have kept readers up to date on developments in solar technology. But it was always hard to pin down how much more value homes with solar photovoltaic (PV) systems could deliver at the time of resale.

According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, more than half a million homes added PV systems in 2014 alone, in part due to plummeting costs and accessible financing. Remarkably, the DOE estimates if its SunShot PV price-reduction goal is reached, 108 gigawatts of residential rooftop PV will be installed by 2050 - that's 30 million homes.

Now, a breakthrough report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory assures homeowners that as more PV systems become common selling features, the ability to value these homes appropriately will become increasingly important, facilitating a robust residential PV market.

Appraisers, real estate agents, and other property valuers have made strides toward valuing PV homes, and several limited studies have suggested the presence of PV home premiums. But researchers from LBNL and their partners have produced the most comprehensive PV home premium analysis to date - doubling the number of PV home sales analyzed previously.

The results impart confidence that PV consistently adds value across the study's 8 states, housing, PV markets, and home types. These data span from 2002–2013 and cover California, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, and Pennsylvania.

The study used data on PV homes from LBNL’s "Tracking the Sun" report series with corresponding real estate information and information on similar non-PV homes. All PV systems in this dataset were homeowner owned rather than leased. The sample included only homes valued under $900,000.

The bottom line for homeowners is, home buyers consistently have been willing to pay more for a property with PV systems. And, the study finds only a small difference between PV premiums for new and existing homes.

Check out a fact sheet on the study here.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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6 Ways to Up Your Grilling Game

May 20, 2015 3:34 am

(Family Features) If warmer days have you yearning for a backyard barbecue, it's time to get your grilling game on before the season is in full swing. For the best results on the grill, keep these tips in mind.

For those not sure which foods grill better than others, try grilling chicken thighs, which have a deeper, richer flavor than breast meat, or pork tenderloin, which can withstand the dry heat of the grill and stay moist. Salmon, tuna and swordfish steaks also grill well because they are thick, crumbling less than other types of fish.

A grill is not an oven, so don't walk away from it when it's on. Organize what you'll need ahead of time to avoid running back and forth to the kitchen.

Before cooking, use tongs to dip paper towels lightly into oil and swipe over the grates. After cooking, always scrape hot grill grates clean with a wire brush so future grilled foods release easily.

If the meat or fish sticks the grill, it's not ready to be flipped. Let it sit for another minute or two.

Use a meat thermometer to ensure safe cooking. Safe internal temperatures for grilled foods are:
  • Ground Beef – 160 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Medium Steak – 140 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Medium Pork – 150 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Poultry – 165 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Seafood – 145 degrees degrees Fahrenheit
For maximum flavor and juiciness, let meat rest 5-10 minutes before cutting or serving.

Source: Lucky Leaf/Musselman’s

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Range or Stove - What's the Best Fit for Your Kitchen?

May 20, 2015 3:34 am

It's a competition that transcends the ages - not David and Goliath - we're talking range versus stove. Your RIS Consumer Confidant found himself pondering the pros and cons of this most basic but critical home appliance recently, and turned to Janet Hall at remodelista.com for some guidance.

Her enlightening Remodeling 101 series defines the difference between range or a cooktop-wall oven combination.

Hall says options in size, configurations, and cooking functions of ranges, cooktops, and ovens are vast, allowing for better adaptability to cooking needs and the kitchen's physical constraints. But it also makes the selection process complicated.

The consensus among experts, Hall says, is that a range is the best option for a small kitchen with limited wall and cabinet space.

Ranges come in standard widths (generally 24, 30, 36, and 48 inches) and fit into a cabinet opening, while she says cooktops take up counter space but leave base cabinet storage space available.

Hall says a single wall oven's space needs are similar to a standard range and offer great flexibility of placement. It's the double wall oven that's the space hog - double ovens effectively remove 30 to 33 inches of usable counter top real estate.

The two cost factors are the appliance and the installation, Hall says. Generally, ranges are the way to go to keep costs down - there more options at the lower end of the budget spectrum, and they're easy to install.

Hall says top-of the line ranges are not more affordable than cooktop-oven combos, and if replacing existing units, it's less costly from an installation standpoint to stick with what you have.

Another cost consideration is replacement. Hall says if one cooking component of a range breaks, you have to replace both - with a separate cooktop and oven setup, just replace them individually when/if they break.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Five One-Minute Tricks to Help You Get Organized

May 20, 2015 3:34 am

If you seem to be surrounded by clutter at home, there may be no need to set aside a weekend to get organized. A panel of professional organizers and interior designers shared one-minute tips with Good Housekeeping magazine for clearing the clutter:

Spin away bathroom disorder – Stuff tends to disappear in the dark depths of that deep bathroom cabinet under the sink. Invest in a couple of lazy Susan turntables. A quick spin will put all those shampoos, cotton balls, cosmetics and more directly in your line of sight.

Unclutter the kitchen – Gain extra storage space under the kitchen sink by putting a few hooks inside the cabinet underneath. It’s a good way to get wet dishcloths, towels and gloves out of the way. Try the same trick under other low-level kitchen cabinets, making space to hang long-handled cooking utensils and de-clutter kitchen drawers.

Minimize playtime clutter – When your kids play with Legos, figurines, or other multi-piece toys, stage a play area first by laying out a large blanket or bed sheet. It gives the kids a more defined play area, and when it’s time to clean up, bring the ends of the blanket together and dump the toys back into their storage buckets.

Make better use of your car’s trunk – Keep a couple of small bins in your trunk. The bins can corral bungee cords, paper towels and basic cleaning supplies as well as small toys and books to keep your kids happy while you drive.

Control the sports gear – Tired of hearing, “Mom, where’s my helmet?” Find a used playpen and tuck it away in one corner of the garage. Now the kids have one spot where they can drop all their sports gear when they come home. No more searching at the last minute, and no sports gear cluttering bedrooms or the family room!

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Building in Radon Resistant Features

May 19, 2015 3:33 am

Looking beyond what may seem like a "band-aid" tactic of testing for radon, I went looking for information about how the building industry is responding to radon risks.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, many builders are adopting Radon Resistant New Construction (RRNC) features in some of their homes. The EPA suggests that new home buyers ask their builder about these features, and if not provided, to ask to include them in the new home.

If a home is tested after buyers move in and an elevated level of radon is discovered, the owners’ cost of fixing the problem can be much more. On the other hand, constructing with RRNC in new homes can add value by protecting health and reducing costs for customers.

According to the EPA, while techniques may vary for different house foundations and building site requirements, the five basic features that builders should include to prevent radon from entering a home are:

Gravel: Use a 4-inch layer of clean, coarse gravel below the “slab,”or foundation to allow soil gases, which includes radon, to move freely underneath the house. Builders call this the “air flow layer” or “gas permeable layer." In some regions of the country, alternatives are allowed, such as a perforated pipe or a collection mat.

Plastic Sheeting or Vapor Retarder:
Place heavy duty plastic sheeting (6 mil. polyethylene) or a vapor retarder on top of gravel to prevent soil gases from entering the house.

A Vent Pipe:
Run a 3-inch or 4-inch solid PVC Schedule 40 pipe vertically from the gravel layer (stubbed up when the slab is poured) through the house’s conditioned space and roof to safely vent radon and other soil gases outside above the house.

Sealing and Caulking: Seal all openings, cracks, and crevices in the concrete foundation floor including the slab perimeter crack and walls with polyurethane caulk to prevent radon and other soil gases from entering the home.

Junction Box: Install an electrical junction box outlet in the attic for use with a vent fan, should, after testing for radon, a more robust system be needed.

Visit the National Radon Proficiency Program, the National Radon Safety Board, or your state radon coordinator for service providers in your area.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Get Smart about Credit Card Debt

May 19, 2015 3:33 am

Credit card debt is the third largest source of household debt, behind only mortgages and student loans. According to Equifax, the average credit card balance is about $1,224 per card.

“Credit cards are a significant source of debt for millions of Americans, and that’s why it’s so important to develop the knowledge and skills to manage them effectively,” says Steve Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC). “In today’s fast-paced world, consumers need to be more credit card smart than ever before.”

Get smart when it comes to using credit with these tips from the ACCC.

1. Understand your credit card and any fees associated with it. It’s important to do your research to find the best deals and interest rates. Understand your annual percentage rate (APR) and how it is calculated by your provider. It can make a difference in how much you pay each month. In addition, be aware of any fees associated with your card, as these hidden costs can add up.

2. Pay on time. Problems can escalate quickly for your wallet if you miss a payment. Missing payments can lead to late fees and higher interest rates and can even cause a drop in your credit score. It’s worth contacting your credit card company and requesting that the late fee be waived if you have a good reason for missing the payment.

3. Don’t get hooked on minimum payments. If you only pay the minimum on your bill, it can take a long time and a lot of extra money to pay off your debt. For example, if you owe $5,000 on an account with an 18 percent APR and pay a minimum of 2 percent of the balance, it will take more than 7.5 years to pay it off. Just as bad, you will have paid $4,311.25 in interest. Paying even a little more each month can substantially reduce the time it takes to pay off the debt and decrease interest.

4. Avoid special services, programs and goods that credit card lenders offer with their cards. Most of these are extras – items such as fraud protection plans, credit record protection, travel clubs and life insurance. More often than not, much better deals on these services can be found elsewhere.

5. Never max out your card. You will be hit with over-limit fees. Keep in mind that it’s best to use only 30 percent of your maximum credit allowed. Using more than that can cause a drop in your credit score. In addition, be aware of unsolicited increases to your credit limit.

Source: ACCC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Are the Characteristics of Your Home in Sync with You?

May 19, 2015 3:33 am

I would always encourage homeowners to step back and consider how other people might describe your home. Are the characteristics in sync?

For a house to truly become a home, our friend Linda Gottlieb, a Connecticut DecorDesigner with Decor&You says it must have a soul that mirrors the authenticity and individuality of the homeowner.

Typically Gottlieb sees people choosing their interior design based on current trends or affordability. But in order to truly create a fulfilling home, she says it's essential to make sure the space embodies its own, original self.

So here are some of her tips and ideas to help create a home that truly reflects your personality:

Choose Your Hues: Choose interior colors and hues that correspond with your personality. For instance, a very calm and tranquil person may consider using watery colors; an energetic person may want to play with bright tones; while a dramatic, yet sophisticated person can opt for rich, deep shades such as an Eggplant purple or maroon. After you decide on the color schemes, it's key to take a moment and envision yourself living within the realms of those colors.

Celebrate Your Prized Possessions:
From family heirlooms to trophies, everyone has belongings with priceless personal value. To help reflect your history and achievements, utilize these items as focal points in the home. These pieces can set the foundation for a room's color schemes, furniture, and overall style.

Echo Your Lifestyle:
Comfortable seating, ottomans, dim lighting, and matching blankets help to ensure a relaxed attitude. For an extravagant and inviting room, go bold with intricate details. Statement pieces, like an elegant chandelier, make the room lively and stimulating. Slipcovers with varying patterns are also a great way to keep guests 'wowed' and allow you to alter a room to fit all occasions.

Signature Scents: Scents have the potential to serve as a powerful memory trigger, so choose smells corresponding with enjoyable times. With so many different options available, the perfect scent could be the final step in embodying yourself within your home.

Source: Decor&You

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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