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

5 Ways to Save Money on Health Insurance

January 26, 2012 6:32 pm

If you're like most consumers, you've probably seen your health insurance premiums go up in the last year. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, family health insurance costs for those with employer-sponsored coverage increased by nine percent in 2011.

Maybe it's time for a health insurance checkup. Take a look at what you're paying for coverage, think about which benefits you value most, and read the following five tips designed to help you save money on health insurance in 2012:

Review your options annually. Whether you get your health insurance coverage through an employer or purchase an individual policy, you should review your options at least once per year. Health insurance companies are bringing new, innovative options to the market all the time. Just remember that it's still possible to be declined for an individual policy due to a pre-existing medical condition. Don't cancel your current plan until you're officially approved for a new one.

Cultivate healthy habits. By taking care of yourself now, you may be taking care of your pocketbook in the future. A recent study conducted by eHealth Inc., found that of over 200,000 consumers with brand-name health plans purchased through www.eHealthInsurance.com, smokers paid 14 percent more on average for their monthly premiums compared to non-smokers. Policyholders with a body mass index in the "obese" range paid more than 22 percent more than those in the "normal" BMI range—an average annual savings of $444.

Try a plan with a higher deductible.
If you're relatively healthy and rarely see the doctor, consider switching to a plan with a higher annual deductible and a lower monthly premium. Thanks to the 2010 health care reform law, some preventive care services will still be available to you with no out-of-pocket cost. Just be sure that you can afford to pay the full deductible in case of a serious injury or illness.
Consider splitting up the family. There's no law that says you need to have the whole family on a single health insurance plan. For example, some employers pay a substantial amount of employees' monthly premiums but little—if anything -—for their dependents. You may be able to save on your monthly health insurance costs by putting your dependents on a plan of their own.

Mix and match additional benefits. Even if your employer provides dental and vision benefits, it may be worthwhile looking into these plans on your own—whether for your whole family, or just for dependents. You may be able to save money and get benefits better matched for your family's needs.

Source: www.eHealthInsurance.com.

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For Your Kids: Taking Care of Young Teeth

January 26, 2012 6:32 pm

Healthy teeth and a healthy mouth give children more than just a beautiful smile. A healthy mouth supports overall health, and it can help children perform better in school. But far too many children have preventable oral health problems far too young.

Tooth decay affects more than 25 percent of American children 2 to 5 years old, and half of children 12 to 15 years old—that's more than any other chronic infectious disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Left untreated, tooth decay causes pain and infection, which can lead to problems in eating, speaking, playing, and even learning.

There is plenty that parents and caregivers can do to help prevent tooth decay and other oral diseases.

First Things First: The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) says that children should have their first visit to a pediatric dentist no later than their first birthday. The first tooth usually comes in between 6 and 12 months of age -- schedule an appointment and get started on good oral health care from the beginning. The AAPD says that, in one study, children that saw a dentist before their first birthday had dental costs that were 40 percent lower in the first five years than costs for children who had not seen a dentist by their first birthday.

Establish Good Habits: Kids need help establishing good dental care habits. Make sure they brush twice a day, floss every day, follow a healthy diet and visit the dentist every six months for checkups and cleanings.

• Using a soft-bristled brush, kids should brush for at least two minutes. Some power toothbrushes have a built-in timer. Before teeth appear, clean baby's gums twice a day with a soft cloth or baby toothbrush and water.
• Parents should floss young children's teeth once a day, until they can do a good job themselves, at least until age 7 or 8.
• Make sure they eat foods with vitamin C, which helps gum tissue stay healthy, and calcium, for strong teeth.

Be Alert: Watch for signs of oral health problems. Talk to your dentist if you see warning signs such as:
• Changes in performance at school—listening, concentrating and learning.
• Sucking on cheeks or lips.
• Reluctance to smile.
• Problems chewing foods.
• Problems sleeping.
• Aching teeth or gums.

Source: http://ameritasinsight.com/tag/children/.

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Word of the Day

January 26, 2012 6:32 pm

Undivided interest. Ownership by two or more persons that gives each the right to use the entire property.

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Question of the Day

January 26, 2012 6:32 pm

Q: How do building codes work?

A: Building codes set minimum public-safety standards for such things as building design, construction, use and occupancy, and maintenance. The codes are established and enforced by local politicians and government officials, who also tend to modify them constantly. The codes are usually enforced by denying permits, occupancy certificates, and by imposing fines.

While codes vary from one state, county, city, and town to the next, specialized codes generally exist for plumbing, electricity, and fire. Each usually involves separate inspections and inspectors.

There are building codes for most remodeling jobs. So if you have done significant remodeling, make sure you save proof of the permits involved in the project. There is a good chance potential buyers may request them. Failure to obtain the appropriate permits before you undertake a project could later result in fines or other serious consequences, such as having a structure ordered to be torn down because it was constructed improperly.

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Keeping Kids Happy on Foul Weather Days

January 25, 2012 6:30 pm

The holidays are over, it’s raining or snowing, and the kids are bored and grumpy. What can you do to keep them engaged and happy during the winter doldrums season?

“Take it from a librarian,” said Cincinnati children’s librarian Jeanne Untermeyer, “It’s easy to come up with indoor fun activities with just a little preparation.”

Untermeyer shares seven tips for making your home a little brighter even on the darkest days:

• Have a read-a-thon by the fire – Story telling is not just for bedtime. Build a fire, make some hot chocolate, and have the kids bring their favorite blankets and books for an impromptu story time in the afternoon.
• Stage a talent show – Kids love to come up with costumes show off their budding talents. Turn the living room into a stage, and invite the kids to rehearse and perform. Tip: Keep a trunk full of discarded clothing and accessories just for such occasions.
• Bake bread or cookies – Nothing smells better on a cold, rainy day than a kitchen full of tempting aromas. Even the youngest kids can punch down dough, stir ingredients, or decorate sugar cookies.
• Get out the board games – From Chutes and Ladders to Risk or Scrabble, games are a family mood-lifter. Select age-appropriate games—or puzzles!—and let the fun begin.
• Movie day – Make a selection of favorite family snacks and gather the kids in front of the TV—with you!—for a showing or even a double-feature.
• Arts and crafts – Smart parents keep a few craft sets in reserve to haul out when the kids are bored. But crafts can be fun with such simple supplies ad macaroni, glue, paper and crayons.
• Go camping – Is thunder and lightning too scary for the kids to sleep through on their own? Haul out the sleeping bags or blankets and put the family in front of the fireplace. You can set up a tent if you are so inclined, or a makeshift tent created out of chairs and blankets.

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Body Talk: Top Tips from Body Language Expert

January 25, 2012 6:30 pm

Body language says a lot more than people realize. If looking for a job, be aware that your body language during an interview may be revealing things to a potential boss that you didn't know. The interviewer's body language also can reveal what he/she is thinking. Learning how to use and read non-verbal cues can give job seekers a clear advantage over other contenders.

"Job seekers invest a lot in preparation for an interview: new clothes; perfect hair and nails; company research, and role playing the interview so they have all the right answers. But knowing how to use non-verbal cues and communication to build trust and confidence is just as important," said Gil Shermeister, behavioral zoologist that 12 years ago co-invented the Body Language Cards, a method used in the training of executives, sales forces and professional security personnel.

Shermeister's top six interview tips include:

1. When entering, people tend to create an imaginary barrier to protect themselves by clutching a handbag or crossing their arms. To the interviewer this "says" insecurity. Keep an open body stance (no crossed arms or legs) and maintain eye contact.
2. Avoid making the upper hand handshake which indicates a need to dominate.
3. If interviewed by several people, always identify the decision-maker. This is the person others glance at when they are finished talking. Direct comments/replies to the decision-maker.
4. Under stress people instinctively tend to protect the main artery. In modern society it is manifested by touching the tie or playing with a necklace. Don't fidget with jewelry or garments in this way.
5. The interviewer may reveal a need for more information by putting an object in his/her mouth or motioning with a pen or the tip of the glasses. Take the cue and provide more details.
6. If the interviewer puts his fingers together, pyramid-like, this may indicate an attempt to "connect the dots.” Another good sign is when the interviewer rubs his hands together. Both gestures indicate satisfaction.

Source: http:www.bodylanguagecards.com.

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For Your Student: 5 Winning Study Tips

January 25, 2012 6:30 pm

Enforcing study-time is an important part of helping your child achieve great grades.

"Kids need a set of core learning strategies in order to help them achieve their goals and get more done in far less time," says Susan Kruger, founder of http://www.StudySkills.com and author of SOAR® Study Skills: A Simple and Effective System for Earning Better Grades in Less Time.

Here are Kruger's recommendations to improve study time and improve grades:

1. Visual networking:
Turn the print in textbooks and on paper into pictures and visual images when reading. This is a simple, yet specific pattern to improve reading speed, memory and comprehension.
2. Manage papers and notes all in one binder: "One binder is shown to be 60 percent more efficient for storing and managing papers than traditional systems that require students to maintain a separate folder and notebook for each class," states Kruger. "The system and supplies are much less cumbersome and require far fewer steps to transfer across multiple locations such as home, school and classes."
3. Take Ten: In just 10 minutes you can maximize your brain and get rid of clutter while reducing study time. This is a 10-minute daily routine, organizing papers for two minutes and reviewing notes for eight minutes.
4. Power Down: Texting, surfing the Internet, watching TV and electronics are great, but they sabotage student efforts. Have your child Power Down all electronics and see how much faster homework can go.
5. Question Quest:  Asking questions is a great way to maximize brain power. Create Jeopardy-type questions along with potential test questions using reading materials and notes.

Source: http://www.StudySkills.com.

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Top 10 Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebrations

January 25, 2012 6:30 pm

Whether you call it Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, the last day before Lent's 40 days of repentance (between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday) brings out a wild side in populations around the world.

Cheapflights joins in the revelry with its list of Top 5 Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebrations. While Mardi Gras this year falls on February 21st, many countries celebrate the festivities for over a month with locals taking to the streets to parade, masquerade and promenade in this festive season also known as Carnival. As the party nears its month-plus-long end, events heat up. Mardi Gras festivities rally locals and visitors alike to the streets of cities like New Orleans, Rio, Venice, where they rack up extra reasons to repent during the somber season of Lent.
Top 5 Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebrations

Mardi Gras - New Orleans, Louisiana, United States - Thousands of tourists flood The Big Easy annually for Mardi Gras in New Orleans, deemed "the biggest free party on earth." The entire city loosens its (already loose) reins, and douses itself with endless strings of beads, colorful floats and costumes to celebrate the naughtiest time of year. Floats of all sizes roll through the streets in spectacular parades for two weeks prior to Mardi Gras. Endymion (Saturday), Bacchus (Sunday), Orpheus (Monday), Zulu (Tuesday morning) and Rex (Tuesday night) are the most famous of the parades, drawing rowdy attendees to partake in song and dance free of inhibition.

Trinidad and Tobago Carnival - Trinidad and Tobago - Its vibrant history and French roots set the tone for Trinidad and Tobago's most significant celebration each year: Carnival. The Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday draw the Caribbean destination's population to the streets to show off elaborate costumes that groups take months to create. Bands compete against one another for the title of Band of the Year as individuals vie to become Calypso Monarch, one of the greatest honors in the country

Carnival of Brazil - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - There's really no comparison when it comes to Carnival celebrations when Rio is thrown in the mix. Brazilians take their weeks before Lent very seriously, putting on large-scale parades and festivities that in 2011 drew nearly 5 million people. The most famous holiday in Brazil features samba schools, or large groups of dancers and performers, who build spectacular floats and compete in one of seven divisions based on music, costumes and theme. Individual neighborhoods more and more are seeing smaller-scale parades, blocos, which feature drum parades, samba and other high-octane sights and sounds.

Quebec Winter Carnival - Quebec City, Quebec, Canada - Quebec City comes to life every February for the Quebec Winter Festival. Outdoor sports like snowboarding and dog sledding, snow sculpture contests and masquerade balls are all on the schedule each year as Canadians celebrate a winterized version of Carnival. Visitors bundle up during the coldest time of year for a reason: zip lines, concerts and ice skating make for tons of fun for kids and adults alike. Like with most pre-Lent celebrations, the parades—both during the day and at night—are the highlight of Quebec's ode to Carnival.

Mardi Gras - Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida, U.S. - Though Orlando may not be the first town that comes to mind when you think of Mardi Gras, Universal Studios puts on a celebration of beads and live music that the whole family can enjoy. For nearly two months on Saturdays and certain nights, the park entertains with headliners like Kelly Clarkson, and dishes up Cajun treats like jambalaya and shrimp gumbo—a wonderful homage to New Orleans' French Quarter..

Source: www.cheapflights.com

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Word of the Day

January 25, 2012 6:30 pm

Trustee. One who as agent for others handles money or holds title to their land.

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Question of the Day

January 25, 2012 6:30 pm

Q: What guidelines are useful for finding an architect?
A: Start by finding out who designed the projects that you like in your community. Get referrals from people you know, or the local American Institute of Architects (AIA). Interview three to five firms to get a range of possibilities for your project. But only select firms that specialize in residential designs, preferably remodeling, and review their portfolios and talk with past clients. Insist on meeting the key people who will work on your project and ask questions until you’re comfortable and confident about your decision. Ultimately, select a firm based on its design ability, technical competence, professional service, and cost. Then, enter into detailed negotiations about service and compensation. The AIA offers standard-form owner-architect agreements that can help you begin this process.

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