RE/MAX 440
Mary Mastroeni
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

Know Your Monthly Wireless Bill

November 4, 2011 3:38 pm

Americans love their wireless devices. For the first time, there are more devices (327.6 million) than Americans (315.5 million), according to CTIA-The Wireless Association's survey. People continue to use more voice minutes, text messages and data than ever before, too. As with any bill, but especially since wireless devices are used more than ever, consumers should always review their monthly wireless statement to ensure the charges are correct. 

To help wireless consumers better manage their usage and prevent unexpected overage charges, CTIA and many of its provider members, along with the Federal Communications Commission, announced free alerts. More than 300 million U.S. wireless customers will be protected against potential billing surprises due to the industry's efforts. As part of CTIA's "Consumer Code for Wireless Service," wireless providers will send postpaid customers alerts on voice, data, messaging and international roaming. Two out of the four alerts will be available by October 17, 2012 and all of the alerts will be available by April 17, 2013. 

Currently, many wireless providers already offer a number of free tools for customers to check on their usage. Here are some tips from CTIA and its members to help you stay in control of your monthly wireless bill. 

Monitor Your Usage
All of the major wireless providers offer tools so you can keep track of your usage and know exactly how many minutes, data or text messages you've used. In addition to contacting your carrier via phone or websites, many offer shortcuts on your wireless device. 

Check International Rates Before You Leave the Country
Many carriers will alert you to local rates or prompt you to call customer service when you arrive in a foreign country. The "Wireless Consumer Usage Notification Guidelines" require participating CTIA providers to inform consumers of international roaming charges when traveling abroad. 

Regardless, it's a good idea to understand your plan when it comes to calls, texts and data/Internet usage. Most providers offer:
• Information on where to get the best international voice and data rates and tips and tutorials for what you can expect when using your mobile devices while traveling.
• Temporarily shut-off of your data services to prevent international data roaming.
• Mobile apps to track international use in real-time.
To see rates and availability, contact your wireless provider via phone or website. 

Stay On Top of Your Family Plan

Keeping track of your family's wireless use can help prevent accidental overages. Many wireless carriers provide plan monitoring tools that let subscribers:
• Set limits on allotted minutes, messages and downloads each month.
• Set voice and messaging allowances.
• Receive free text alerts when a family member nears or reaches their limits.
• Create a list of blocked numbers to prevent unwanted calls and messages.
• Set specific times of day when a family member can't call, message or use data on their mobile devices (but calls to other account/family members and Emergency 911 are always allowed).
Spending a little time reviewing your service provider's website and using their tools, tips and plans can save you and your family money on your monthly wireless bill. 

For more information visit


Word of the Day

November 4, 2011 3:38 pm

Option. The exclusive right to purchase or lease a property at a predetermined price or rent at some future time.


Question of the Day

November 4, 2011 3:38 pm

Q: How do you decide whether to add on to an existing home or purchase a new one?

A: There are a few things to consider, including cost, individual needs, and what will add value down the road. Also important: your emotional attachment to the existing home.

As designer and builder Philip S. Wenz, the author of Adding to a House: Planning, Design & Construction, notes, an addition is much cheaper than building a new home and can offer a “new” home without the heartache of moving.

Other considerations:
• Can you finance the home improvement with your own cash or will you need a loan?
• How much equity is in the property? A fair amount will make it that much easier to get a loan for home improvements.
• Is it feasible to expand the current space for an addition?
• What is permissible under local zoning and building laws? Despite your deep yearning for a new sunroom or garage, you will need to know if your town or city will allow such improvements.
• Are there affordable properties for sale that would satisfy your changing housing needs?

Explore your options. Make sure your decision is one you can live with – either under the same roof or under a different one.


Product Alert: What You Should Know about Solar Panels

November 3, 2011 6:36 pm

With eco-friendly options becoming the norm, solar panels are a great way to decrease your carbon footprint while also saving on your utility bills. Solar panels, which generate electricity from the energy of the sun, can be used to power numerous household appliances, from lighting to your stove and refrigerator.

If you are thinking about installing solar panels, here is a list of things you should know:
• Solar energy is a renewable source of energy, meaning it is a “clean” energy.

• For best results, solar panels should be placed on roofs or walls that face, unobstructed, up to 90 degrees of south.

• The ideal roof for solar power installation is south facing, with a tilt of 30 degrees.

• If the panels are not in full sun for the length of the day, they will still generate electricity, but not at their full capacity.

• Solar panel systems are more expensive than normal water-heating systems, but accumulate more savings over time.

• If well maintained, your solar power system can last up to 30 years.

Shop around before you purchase your solar panels, compare prices—some companies offer free installation—and get referrals.


Nutrition Tools for Your Kids

November 3, 2011 6:36 pm

Healthy habits start young, and this is true for both adapting an active lifestyle and nutritious eating. Since you, the parent, are the largest influence on your child’s life when they’re young, exposing them early to healthy food will promote a lifetime of healthy lifestyles. The following guidelines have been adapted from Evergreen Children’s Clinic: 

1. Healthy Buying Behavior. Take your kids to the farm, market or grocery store and buy healthy, fresh goods. Show them where their food comes from, so they can create a deeper connection to the product.
2. Lead By Example. It is important to be a good role model, as children learn by observing behavior around them. If you enjoy and speak highly of healthy food, then your kids will understand this as the encouraged behavior.
3. Hydrate. Drink more water than juice or other beverages, as water helps promote healthier bodies, aid digestion, allow nutrients to dissolve, and cleanse toxins.


3 Lessons for a Better Holiday Buffet

November 3, 2011 6:36 pm

The countdown to the holidays is on, bringing with it the challenge of how to serve a large gathering fast and easy. Fear not! There's a simple solution. Forego the traditional, full-service, sit-down meal and opt instead for a buffet-style serving. Follow these three steps and yours will be a gathering remembered with fondness by both your guests and you.

1. Divide and Conquer: No more waiting in lines. "Set up multiple food stations. This idea will save your sanity," says Chef Jeff Gillis, "A few days before your gathering, clear most items off your kitchen countertops, table, island and dining room buffet and move contents to the laundry room or garage. Convert each area into a serving station where foods will be grouped by category. Label each area with a sticky note so that when the big day arrives, the stations can be quickly assembled."

At each serving station, stack plates so diners needn't traipse off to the table for one. Pre-fill glasses with ice and beverages for quick pick-up. Remember, it's hard to carry more than a plate and glass so preset the table with napkins and flatware.

2. Control the Crowd: "Don't think twice about placing tables in multiple rooms," adds Chef Gillis. "That's better than crowding everyone together or asking guests to balance plates on laps while sitting on your sofa." To seat people quickly (and without a fuss), use place cards.

3. Keep It Simple: Flowers in a vase are so last year. Instead, style up the buffet with an eye-catching "Gratitude Tree," a sculptural bronze metal tabletop tree festooned with ribboned tree tags. Guests write what they're thankful for on tags and after dinner's done, take turns reading. This is a unique way to remind guests about the true meaning of the day and, because the tree arrives ready for display, it's a real timesaver.

Remember—every minute saved adds up to extra time you can spending enjoying the day with your guests.

For more information, visit


Top 10 Travel Tips for the Elderly

November 3, 2011 6:36 pm

The holiday season is meant to be spent celebrating and relaxing with loved ones, yet often turns out to be one of the most stress-filled times of the year. 

Long lines, crowded airports, ever-changing TSA regulations, even unpredictable winter weather can all combine to make holiday travel an experience many would prefer to avoid. 

Just in time for the busiest travel season of the year, Preferred Travel Helpers present the Top 10 Holiday Travel Tips for the Elderly. 

10. Remember, walkers, crutches, canes and other devices that can fit through the X-ray machine must undergo X-ray screening (with the exception of white collapsible canes). Ask a security officer for assistance (arm, hand, shoulder to lean on) until you are reunited with your device. Security will perform a hand inspection of your equipment if it cannot fit through the X-ray machine.
9. The limit of one carry-on and one personal item (purse briefcase or computer case) does not apply to medical supplies, equipment, mobility aids, and/or assistive devices.
8. If you have medical documentation regarding your medical condition or disability, have it with you to present it to a security officer to help inform him of your situation. This documentation is not required and will not exempt you from the security screening process, but may make the process easier.
7. If you have personal supplemental oxygen, it will need to undergo screening. Check with your doctor prior to coming to the airport to ensure disconnection can be done safely. If you need an oxygen supplier to meet you at the arrival gate, check with your airline well in advance of your departure about their procedures for allowing suppliers to meet you, since these procedures vary from airline to airline.
6. If traveling internationally, apply for a passport at least three months prior to travel. Be sure to fill out the emergency contact page of your passport. Make a copy of your passport and store it separate from the original. Some foreign countries will also require that you have a Visa.
5. High altitude, air pollution, humidity and extreme temperatures may cause health issues. Ask your medical insurance company if your policy applies overseas, and if it covers emergency expenses such as medical evacuation. If it does not, consider supplemental insurance. Medicare does not cover medical expenses outside of the U.S.
4. If you have a medical device (on the interior or exterior of your body) check with your doctor prior to traveling to determine if it is safe for you to go through the metal detector. If your doctor indicates that you should not go through the metal detector, or if you are concerned, ask the security officer for a pat-down inspection instead.
3. Pack your medications in a separate pouch/bag to facilitate the inspection process. Ensure that containers holding medications are not too densely filled, and that all medication is clearly identified. If possible keep your medication in its original, marked container. The TSA recommends that passengers do not pack medications that they do not want exposed to X-rays in their checked baggage. Instead, send larger quantities of medications to your destination by mail ahead of time. Travel delays due to weather and unforeseen circumstances can happen. Bring at least three extra days worth of prescriptions with you, just to be safe.
2. Do not wrap gifts you're taking on the plane. Security officers may have to unwrap gifts if they need to take a closer look. Plan to ship wrapped gifts ahead of time or wait until your destination to wrap them. You can bring pies and cakes through the security checkpoint, but please be advised that they may require additional screening.
1. Consider hiring a travel assistant, who can focus on the traveler's comfort and safety as well as overseeing every detail of the trip. 

For more information, visit


Word of the Day

November 3, 2011 6:36 pm

Open listing. Listing that gives a broker a nonexclusive right to find a buyer; the owner can still find a buyer himself and avoid a commission.


Question of the Day

November 3, 2011 6:36 pm

Q: Is it best to save for the ultimate dream home or begin with a less expensive starter home?

A: It can take a long time to save for that perfect dream home. Meanwhile, the market has been flooded with some of the most favorable mortgage interest rates in years. Low rates make housing more affordable, which is why so many buyers have jumped on the home buying bandwagon.

Home-price appreciation has also been strong, making very solid gains in communities across the country. In fact, home prices are expected to increase 2.5 percent to 3 percent annually over the next five years.

If you purchase a starter home today, you can potentially begin to build value that can lead to the purchase of a larger, or more desirable, trade-up home in the future.


From Frightful to Fantastic: Cleaning Those Often-Overlooked Areas

November 2, 2011 6:34 pm

The goblins and ghouls have come and gone, but your home still may be a frightful place. Real cobwebs that hang in the corner no longer add to the ambiance of the living room. Dust balls lurk under the beds, and only a scientist can hazard a guess at what's growing in the dark recesses of your refrigerator.

Experts at The Maids (, a franchised residential cleaning service to clean for health using environmentally preferable products, a strategic cleaning approach and state-of-the-art equipment, offer these ideas to help you focus on often-overlooked areas so you can transform your haunted house into home-sweet-home.

It Came from Above. Cobwebs might have been the perfect decor for a Halloween party, but now they are simply creepy. Attach a microfiber cloth—a rubber band works nicely—to an extending pole or even a broom handle and run it along ceiling and wall creases. You can also use an extender attachment on your vacuum to eliminate webs from windowsills and other areas where spiders like to congregate. Don't forget to wipe down curtain rods or other window treatment fixtures that aren't part of a regular cleaning regime.

Next dust tops of picture frames, bookshelf tops, door moldings and other wall decor. Remove any vent covers and thoroughly clean with a mild soap and warm water. Dust smoke and CO2 detectors to make sure they're operating efficiently.
If you have silk or other artificial floral arrangements, remove dust or sticky cobwebs with a microfiber cloth. At the least, take them outside and give them a good shaking. If the dusty grime is too foreboding, consider throwing them away.

What Lies Beneath. Some of the truly scary places in your home are those you rarely see. Take this opportunity to dust or vacuum closet floors and corners, under beds, and any other places you might not have cleaned in several months. Use soapy, warm water to clean under kitchen or bathroom sinks; while you are there, check for leaks or other pipe issues.

Use a long-handled, soft brush to clean any accumulated lint and other fuzz from your dryer vent. Use a vacuum attachment to eliminate dust and debris from behind your washer and dryer and other appliances placed close to walls, including the refrigerator.

The Thing. Speaking of refrigerators, some of the unwanted things you find there can be, well, chilling. First, toss any foods that are expired, unwanted or look like they came from Frankenstein's laboratory. Place foods you want to keep on a counter or other clean surface.

Use a healthful and environmental-friendly solution of one quart warm water to one-quarter cup baking soda to wipe down the inside of the refrigerator. Place drawers and shelving into the sink or your bathtub and clean them with the same solution. To keep your refrigerator smelling fresh, keep a box of opened baking soda in the back of the fridge; change about every three months.

It Came from the Black Lagoon. Your bathtub and shower stall may not be that terrifying, but the truth is, thousands of germs and bacteria thrive in warm, moist places. And don't forget the mold and mildew that accumulates on tile grout.
Soapy water and a scrub brush are your best defense against any swamp creatures living in your bathroom. A simple paste of baking soda and vinegar and a tooth brush will scrub away grime that has accumulated on tile grout. If the grout is stained, reach for a lemon. The acidity in the fruit's juice will attack stains and discoloration. Leave the juice on for about ten minutes before wiping clean.

For more information, visit