RE/MAX 440
Mary Mastroeni
mmastroeni@remax.net
Mary Mastroeni
731 W Skippack Pike
Blue Bell  PA 19422
PH: 610-277-2900
O: 215-643-3200
C: 610-213-4878
F: 267-354-6212 
Welcome Home from RE/MAX 440!

Mary's Blog

How to Finance That Business Expansion

May 9, 2017 12:30 am

If you’re a business owner hoping to expand in the near future, you likely have a lot on your mind. If you’re looking to take out a line of credit to grow, your list of to-dos may be tripled. According to the experts at Sun National Bank, these are the most important things you can do before you approach a lender.

Fine-Tune Your Plan. When it comes to financing expansion, careful research is essential. Study your past sales, research your market, and look at your competitors to make sure your business is growing in the right direction. Take time to understand the obstacles and costs. These may include new expenses, a bigger workload for you and your staff, the challenge of bringing your business to a new market, or new competitors. This can show you where your strategy requires adjustment and may help you find the best time to begin expansion.

Forecast Expansion Cost. An effective forecast will help you understand the price tag of your expansion. For example, if your retail business is opening a second location, determine your facility, staff, and inventory expenses based on your experience with your first location. Also, research the performance of similar-sized competitors in comparable markets. A new location, new service line, or other expansion may not become a revenue driver right away; set a realistic timeline for how long it will take this investment to break even and ultimately become profitable.

Watch Your Credit. Securing the financing you need at the best possible terms requires a good credit rating. For many small-business owners, especially Sub S and sole proprietors, your individual credit is just as important as your business's credit. Staying current on all your accounts is essential. As you prepare to finance your business expansion, request your credit reports, so you'll know your personal and business credit scores. If there are any errors in these reports, contact the credit rating agency immediately.

The best financing option for your organization will depend on the size of your business, scope of your expansion, and capital needs. Lending options include:

- Term Loan: Ideal for a one-time expense, such as renovating or expanding your facility.
- Equipment Financing: Designed for big-ticket equipment purchases, such as manufacturing needs or IT infrastructure.
- Business Line of Credit: A useful solution for other short-term cash flow and working capital needs.

Source: Sun National Bank

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Spring Clean Your Fridge

May 6, 2017 12:27 am

While you may be busy washing windows and woodwork, have you peeked inside your fridge lately? A clean fridge is essential for food safety, and to keep unsavory smells at bay.

The National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association shares the following tips for keeping your fridge clean, and your food fresh.

Prepare. Unplug the refrigerator to save energy (also for safety if cleaning coils). Empty ice from your freezer into a cooler where you can store food you plan to keep. Fill sink with warm soapy water for cleaning shelves and drawers. Set out dishtowels on counter tops for drying. Fill a spray bottle with a cleaning solution of 1 cup water, 1 tsp white vinegar and 1 tsp dish soap.

Purge. Empty refrigerator (then freezer) and place items on counter. Take time to sort and discard old, unwanted foods, drinks and condiments. Check expiration dates and beware of moldy and freezer-burned foods. When in doubt, toss it out!

Clean. Remove drawers and shelves and clean in sink with warm soapy water; set aside to dry. Spray interior with cleaner and wipe from the top down with warm, wet sponge or towel. Thoroughly dry all and replace drawers and shelves. Wash the exterior door and handles. Replace water and icemaker and filters if needed. Clean grill on bottom front of refrigerator. Consider cleaning the condenser coils for optimum cooling efficiency (refer to manufacturer directions).

Check Temps. Food kept too long or at improper temperatures can become contaminated with bacteria, which can cause foodborne illness. Your refrigerator temperature should be at or below 40 degrees and your freezer 0 degrees or less to ensure food safety. You can check the temperatures with an appliance thermometer.

Organize. When restocking your clean refrigerator and freezer, organize according to usage and group like items together. Label and date new foods so you know when to use or throw out. Do not store perishable foods in the door as temperatures fluctuate there. Place meat, poultry or seafood in containers or sealed plastic bags and keep fruits and vegetables in separate drawers away from the meats to avoid cross-contamination.

Source:  National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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11 Tips for Career Success

May 6, 2017 12:27 am

When looking at life-long goals, “success” tops the list for many. But how can you ensure career success? Regardless of your field, there are several common denominators for achieving success. Provided by Robert Half Legal, below are a handful of helpful tips gleaned from a survey of 350 lawyers at law firms and legal departments in the United States and Canada.

1. "Choose a career that allows you to learn as you grow."
2. "Take risks and open yourself up to possibilities."
3. "Find a firm that has the same qualities and priorities as you do."
4. "Look for challenging work."
5. "Be willing to change if necessary. That includes location and your job itself."
6. "Every experience you have is a building block to the next level."
7. "Be self-motivated and strive to succeed."
8. "Try to learn as much as you can. Don't be afraid to take on new assignments. Expand
   your knowledge."
9. "When you quit learning, move on."
10. "Do not be afraid to ask for what you want."
11. "Be collaborative."

Source: roberthalf.com/legal.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Protect Your Digital Self While Traveling

May 6, 2017 12:27 am

Whether you’re traveling for a weekend, a week, or making a big move, protecting your digital property while on-the-go is essential for feeling safe and secure.

To help, TravelInsurance.com has compiled a list of digital travel security recommendations:

Backup Your Documents. Scan or take pictures of your travel documents, including your passport, airline tickets, hotel reservations and insurance papers on your phone in case the originals are lost or stolen.

Sanitize your Devices. Before leaving home, remove all non-essential personal information from your computer, phone and other devices. Make sure to set a strong password on your computer and mobile devices and look into possibly having the devices automatically wiped after a large number of incorrect password entries.

Assume Your Data Is Not Secure. Anyone can gather your data without much difficulty. Some countries monitor data and emails, while airports and hotels are generally public or semi-public internet hubs. Use a virtual private network (VPN) to ensure your privacy and to access websites that might be blocked by local internet providers. A VPN is a private and secure internet network that you can reach via any internet connection. Never submit sensitive payment information on websites if the browser shows "http" instead of "https." Also, turn on two factor authentication on all of your email, banking and credit card accounts as an added measure of security (provided that you can receive text messages at your destination)

Download Apps. There are a variety of apps that can help keep you informed and secure while on the road. The State Department's Smart Traveler app is available free of charge from both iTunes and the Google Play store. It's a great source of information about specific countries, travel advisories and warnings.

Don't Fry Your Devices. Make sure that you have the right adapters. Check the tech specs of your devices and the electrical standards of your travel destinations.

Source: TravelInsurance.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How Safe is Your Deck?

May 5, 2017 12:27 am

Warmer months means hours of fun in the sunshine on your deck or patio. But when is the last time you gave your deck a safety check?

"Decks are exposed to sun, rain, snow and extreme temperature changes throughout the seasons and the years," says Julia Fitzgerald, chief marketing officer of AZEK Building Products. "

Before you invite your friends and family to dine deck-side, follow these tips courtesy of AZEK Building Products.

Identify Instability. There should be no sagging, swaying or movement of the deck boards, railings or stairs, and the board attaching the deck to the house should be securely in place.

Inspect Railings. The IRC requires railings to be at least 36'' in height, measured from the deck surface to the top of the rail. Also look for loose balusters or post caps which could present a hazard.

Get up to Code. Check that the deck, electrical outlets and appliances are up to code, and that no electrical cords present a tripping or fire hazard. Inspect grills, fire pits and heaters at the start of the season.

Examine Boards and Fasteners. Check for splitting, rotting or decay. Look for rust on nails, screws and fasteners; a corroded fastener can cause deterioration in surrounding materials.

Source:  www.azek.com, www.timbertech.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Ward Off Mosquitos From Your Property

May 5, 2017 12:27 am

Nothing kills spring and summer fun faster than a swarm of mosquitos. These bitey bugs are more than just an itchy annoyance - they can also carry disease. Orkin recommends the following tips to help residents protect against mosquitoes:

Eliminate Mosquito-Friendly Conditions in and Around Your Yard
- Remove standing water buckets, toys and other containers, as mosquitoes can breed in just an inch of standing water.
- Change water weekly in bird baths, fountains, potted plants and any containers that hold standing water.
- Keep pool water treated and circulating.
- Regularly clean gutters so water doesn't pool.
- Trim shrubbery, as adult mosquitoes like to rest in dark areas with high humidity, such as under the leaves of lush vegetation.

Prevent Mosquitoes from Biting
- Wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Mosquitoes can bite through tight clothing.
- Apply an EPA-registered mosquito repellent containing products such as DEET, picaridin or IR3535.

Eliminate Entry Points
- Repair and use window and door screens to help prevent entry.
- Close gaps around windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside.

Source: Orkin.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Add More Green to Your Diet

May 5, 2017 12:27 am

(Family Features)--Dedicating more of your plate to fresh-from-the-garden produce as well as rice and grains can lead to a healthier lifestyle, according to Cheryl Forberg, registered dietitian and award-winning chef and nutritionist for "The Biggest Loser."

"Most of my adult clients who are not veggie lovers usually had little exposure to them growing up, or they just weren't cooked properly," Forberg says. "It's important for parents to get their children involved in cooking, shopping and even gardening so kids can understand the journey from seed to plate."  

To start living healthier and greener lives, Forberg offers four simple tips:

Start in the garden. This hands-on approach is a fun way to learn about nutrition and where food comes from. Following produce from seed to plate can compel you to eat more healthfully. Plant a garden at home or become involved in a local project nearby.

Opt for veggies with big impact. Richly colored veggies contain the richest supplies of nutrients. Opt for spinach or romaine instead of iceberg lettuce in your salads. Skip the celery or carrots and go for red bell pepper slices to deliver a healthy serving of antioxidants and vitamin C.

Make smart swaps. Replace the dense calories of pasta noodles with a flavorful cup of cooked spaghetti squash. The squash is a satisfying and tasty alternative with a mere 40 calories, 2 grams of fiber and loads of vitamins.

Source: seedsofchangegrant.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How Clean Is Your Water?

May 4, 2017 12:27 am

How clean is your tap water? While many Americans drink their tap water daily, they may not know exactly what is in their drinking water. With this in mind, Culligan International conducted a 2016 survey to underscore and understand North Americans' growing concern over the quality of their water. The survey showed that 75 percent of participants said that they were worried about the quality of the water they drink, bathe and cook with, yet 73 percent have never had the water in their homes tested.

"For years, we've taken the safety of our water for granted," says Rick Cook, Manager of Industry and Regulatory Affairs for Culligan. "But our aging infrastructure has heightened the risks of harmful impurities such as lead, sulfide and iron contaminating our water supply. Thousands of water systems around the country show excess levels of contamination and with the average person using 50 gallons of water each day, access to clean, safe drinking water is critical."

According to Cook, there are a few important steps homeowners can take to ensure clean safe water, including:

Know where water contamination can occur. Water impurities are not just limited to the water source, but can also happen in the distribution system after treatment from the local municipality or private well has already occurred. While many naturally occurring chemicals and impurities from local land practices can be filtered at the source, unsafe amounts of lead can enter water from lead service pipes. These issues are commonly found in homes built prior to 1986 when lead pipes, fixtures and solder were regularly used.

Educate yourself on the filtration system currently in place at your home. Water treatment solutions such as water softeners, reverse osmosis systems and specialty filters eliminate specific impurities that may be found in your water, while charcoal pitchers and refrigerator cartridges do not.

Pay attention. Corroded plumbing fixtures, unpleasant odors, disagreeable taste, discolored water and even shortened appliance lifespan are signs of trouble.

Schedule a test to identify impurities in your water. Because water contamination can happen at any time and/or through a local municipality, an underground well or a homeowner's own pipes, it is important to have your water tested by a water expert who can determine the necessary steps to eliminate any harmful impurities that may be present. While testing can be done at any time, Culligan recommends scheduling a water test especially after moving into a new house, if appliances that use water are collecting residue or burning out, and as soon as you notice a change in your water's taste, odor or appearance. Well water should also be tested whenever any changes in your water such as color, taste, odor or cloudiness are noticed.

Source: www.culligan.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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It’s Electric! Staying Safe and Aware

May 4, 2017 12:27 am

Electricity is all around us. From the power lines overhead, to the cord connected to our computer and our appliances, consumers interact with various electric forces every day. Paying mind to electrical safety can help keep you and your family protected. The following tips, provided by Georgia Power, can keep you accident-free.

Consider the Cord – Don't place appliance cords where they will come into contact with stoves or other heated surfaces, over countertops or areas where they could be pulled. Look for frayed appliance cords, inspect them regularly and never substitute an extension cord for permanent wiring.

Look for the Ladder – Exercise caution when using ladders around the house, painting, pruning or cleaning near a service drop as all ladders can conduct electricity.

Watch for Wires – Keep balloons, kites, fishing lines, aluminum poles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) away from overhead lines every day and as line crews work in the field.

Proper Poolside Prep – Don't use electrical appliances near pools and never route extension cords around pools.

Focus on Fire Prevention – Avoid storing combustibles such as paint, cardboard, sawdust and flammable liquids near electrical equipment or fuse boxes.

Source: www.georgiapower.com/safety.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Three Finance Tips for the New College Grad

May 4, 2017 12:27 am

If you or a loved one are graduating college this year, you may be feeling overwhelmed when it comes to job prospects, and balancing your post-grad financial situation. You’re not alone. A recent Experian study on college graduates highlights a sobering dichotomy: While 69 percent of those surveyed said they have student loan debt, 70 percent said their alma maters don't do enough to prepare them for real-world personal finance. Research from KeyBank echoes similar sentiments: nearly 20 percent of those surveyed know their financial goals, but are not confident they know how to reach those goals.

To help bridge the personal finance confidence gap, KeyBank offers the following insight to college graduates (and their parents, guardians and others):

Build a budget. That first full-time job paycheck might look like a lot of money to recent graduates more accustomed to managing pay from part-time, campus and summer jobs.  Now's the time to build a budget that takes into account all new economic realities including student loan payments, rent, utilities, transportation costs, career clothing, insurance and food.

"At this stage in life, budgeting really begins with knowing your take-home income, your student loan debt and then making lifestyle choices that keep expenses within 90 percent of that income," says Stephen D. Fournier, KeyBank Central New York market president and regional network deposits sponsor.

Establish a savings strategy. Fournier recommends a three-pronged approach to savings that provides for short-term goals, long-term goals and saving for retirement.

"Start to build your emergency savings with a goal of saving enough money to cover three to six months in living expenses. That way, you won't have to rely on credit cards to cover a major unexpected expense such as a car repair," Fournier says.  Establish a second account for long-term goals such as home down payments, down payments on vehicles and travel.

Next up is a retirement savings plan. Take full advantage of employers' 401K plans by allocating at least enough to qualify for any available 401K employer match, and then making a commitment to increase that contribution by 1 percent every year until you're saving 10 to 15 percent of your salary.

"Investing sooner rather than later, whether it's in your retirement account, or in addition to retirement, is the single most effective way to be more confident about your personal finances," says Marc Vosen, president of Key Investment Services. "Time is the one thing you cannot get back, and time has a major impact on investment results. Young investors need to understand the effect of compounding and how a small investment, over time, can go a long, long way."

When it comes to credit, know the score. Like investing, there's no time better than right now to start managing credit, whether that means managing a credit score or managing credit card debt.

"People talk about good credit and bad credit, but it's really a question of managing credit rather than categorizing it," says Gary Chavoustie, KeyBank Connecticut market regional sales leader and regional network consumer loans sponsor.

Establishing and managing a credit score is important for college graduates, as credit scores can affect their ability to rent housing, access utilities or eventually obtain a low-interest loan for major purchases.

And good credit scores begin with managing credit payments, including student loan payments and credit card debt, by paying bills on time and keeping any credit card debt at a minimum.

"Credit cards are a useful personal finance tool. They are not, however, the entire tool kit. Think of credit cards as something you use on as-needed basis, with need defined as a large, one-time expense you will pay off promptly," Chavoustie says.

Source: www.key.com/.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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