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 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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Up Curb Appeal by Looking Up - At Your Roof!

May 3, 2017 12:27 am

When trying to up curb appeal, most homeowners focus on landscaping or repainting that front door. But did you know that by updating or repairing your roof you can increase your curb appeal by 40 percent?  

GAF, North America’s Largest Roofing manufacturer,offers help with these roof tips to up the ante on your curb appeal.

1. Start off by checking the roof framing structure to make sure it is not compromised. Visually scan the roof for any sagging or uneven areas.

2. Inspect and clean your gutter systems to make sure they are not clogged with branches, leaves, or other debris.

3. Make sure that gutters are fastened properly and are tight and secure so that they don’t cause overflow and build-up or fall off the fascia board.

4. Check the valleys of the roof to ensure that they are also free and clear of debris as this can add weight to the roof and also act as a barrier to rain.

5. Metal flashing should also be used around roof vents, pipes, skylights, and chimneys. One of the most common causes for roofing leaks is due to problems where these is lack of or damaged flashing.

6. Walk around your entire house and carefully inspect the shingles on the roof.  Look for curling edges, missing granules, missing shingles, etc.

Source: GAF

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Ways to Travel on the Cheap

May 3, 2017 12:27 am

Dreaming of a vacation but not sure if you can afford it? Read on for 5 suggestions for traveling without breaking the bank.

Stay in a house. Airbnb, HomeAway and comparable platforms can help you find more affordable options than pricey hotel rooms. These homes are often more comfortable than hotels, and offer added amenities like kitchens and laundry.

Eat like a local. Skip the pricey tourist-laden restaurants and opt for mom-and-pop style restaurants, open air markets and street food vendors.

Hit the web. Online resources like Groupon can help when you travel. Discounts on restaurants, experiences, tours and museums are often readily available if you do the leg work. Check out deals in the area in advance and plan your itinerary around them.

Cook! Remember that kitchen? Make use of it by shopping for local produce and cooking several meals. This is especially helpful if traveling with a large family. More mouths, more money.

Find a walk-friendly destination. Cab and Uber fares add up quickly. Save money (and stay fit) by choosing a city that allows you to walk from place to place.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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7 Tips to Avoid a Road Rage

May 3, 2017 12:27 am

Sometimes, it’s unavoidable to get angry in your car; the work commute is brutal, someone cuts you off, or the jerk in front of you is clearly texting while driving. However, the most dangerous thing you can encounter on the road is road rage - someone else’s, or your own.

Here are 7 tips from Zane’s Law to protect yourself and avoid a dangerous road rage situation:

Be a polite driver. Most dangerous road rage situations tend to involve two aggressive drivers. Someone cuts you off, you flip them off and they then respond. Don't tailgate, cut vehicles off, speed, weave through traffic, or engage in other aggressive driving behavior, especially in response to another drivers actions.

Slow down and let aggressive drivers go around you.

Use your horn sparingly. Horns are meant for emergency situations.

Be gracious. If you've accidentally done something wrong simply, smile, wave, and acknowledge your mistake.

Move over. If someone wants to pass you, let them.

Stay calm. Don't get angry and yell at other drivers. Even if they yelled at you.

Call 911 if you feel like you are in danger and drive to the nearest public place with witnesses. Do not get out of the car to confront another driver.

Source: http://zaneslaw.com/

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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7 Ways to Cut Costs Without Cramping Your Lifestyle

May 1, 2017 12:27 am

Yes, you can slash your monthly expenses by cutting out that Starbucks stop every morning – or by cooking in more and eating out less. But, says Sharon Lechter, a contributor to the American Institute of CPA’s book, “Save Wisely, Spend Happily,” there are plenty of other ways to cut costs without making painful sacrifices.

Put it on paper. Write down every dollar you spend in a month, whether it’s paying a bill, paying for lunch, or buying a new pair of shoes. When you can see exactly where your money is going, you can pinpoint areas that can be cut down or cut out.

Shop from a list. Impulse buying gets expensive, so work out your meal plan for the week according to what’s on sale and shop for groceries from a list. (You may also save on gas by making fewer trips to the store.)

Pack your lunch. You can make it more fun by lunch-pooling with a few colleagues at work, taking turns to provide the main course for all.

Cancel your email sales alerts. When opening an email alert tempts you to spend money on something you hadn’t planned to buy, it’s time to cancel the alert.

Shop second-hand. Get out of the mindset that everything you buy has to be new. Shop Craigslist, e-Bay and local thrift stores for great buys on used kitchen gear, furniture, and more – including near-new or gently used clothing.

Ask for rate reductions. If you have a decent payment record, asking for a lower rate is often all it takes to get a lower rate on credit card interest, service subscriptions and memberships.

Save before you spend. Skim five or 10 percent off the top of every paycheck and bank it before you pay any bills or make any purchases. It will be there if you absolutely need if before your next check – or make it the basis for your savings.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Ways to Sneak in Healthier Habits

May 1, 2017 12:27 am

At this point, many of us know the dangers of sedentary lifestyles. From obesity to heart disease and depression, those of us with a 9-to-5 desk job need to make a special effort to stand more and sit less. The great news is you don’t need to bust out a standing or walking desk (although you should if they interest you!).
Studies show that as little as seven minutes of moderate physical activity a day can help battle the desk doldrums.

Dr. Adrienne Youdim, MD FACP, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine Cedars Sinai Medical Center, offers simple tips to incorporate healthier habits into your day, courtesy of MerckManuals.com.

1. Use your job as a gym

You don't need an expensive gym membership to get moving – simply create small breaks in your day. Set a timer on your phone to get up and move around every hour. Walk up and down a few flights of stairs or take a loop around the parking lot.

Many employers have realized the benefits of a healthy workplace. Research shows active employees are more productive and have lower long-term health care costs. Some companies are now investing in standing desks and small cycles that fit under employee's desks. If your company offers this kind of equipment, taking advantage of it is a no-brainer.

2. Wake up 10 minutes earlier

If you can't find time for an hour-long workout in your daily routine, create the time by setting your alarm just ten minutes earlier. Give yourself a few minutes of physical activity before your day gets crazy.

But don't overlook the importance of sleep. Research points to a close connection between sleep deprivation and obesity and diabetes. Make sure you're getting at least six hours of sleep (many people need more than that). If you're getting up earlier to exercise, hit the pillow a few minutes earlier, too.

3. Pack a lunch

If you do one thing to improve your daily health, make it this: pack a lunch. The average restaurant meal contains two-thirds of your daily calorie requirements. Even a salad can be spoiled by high-calorie dressings. Packing a lunch is an easy way to control your calorie intake.

While you're at it, use the time you would have spent picking up takeout to go on a 15-minute walk at lunch. One short walk and five-minute breaks every hour add up to almost an hour of additional activity a day.

4. Find your best motivation

Most of us are exhausted by the end of the work day. Even if we have the best intentions to exercise when we get home, it's easy to lose motivation the second we walk through the door.

The key is to find things that motivate you. If there's a TV show you can't wait to watch, commit to only watching it while running on the treadmill or elliptical. Keep a log of how you feel after every workout, so you'll remember how rejuvenated you feel after some physical activity. If you feed off others' energy, join a group fitness class.

5. Explore an active hobby

Being active doesn't have to mean doing jumping jacks or logging hours on an exercise bike. Spending time doing something active you love, such as dancing, gardening, fishing, rock climbing or bowling, can provide tremendous health benefits – and you'll be more likely to stick with it. Once you get started, you'll start forming habits that make it easier and easier to find the time and willpower every day.

Source: The Merck Manuals

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Riding in Cars with Kids: Car Seat Safety

May 1, 2017 12:27 am

Driving has a myriad of distractions, from traffic to pedestrians, what’s playing on your radio, and the to-do list running through your mind. But when you have kids in the back, the distractions multiply, and safety becomes priority. Luckily, car seat safety need not be a worry, so long as you do a bit of legwork.

"Studies from AAA have shown that nearly three out of four car seats are installed incorrectly," says Chuck Shotmeyer, Chairman of AAA North Jersey's Board of Directors.  "Taking the time to properly install child safety seats can save a life and drastically reduce injury."

"The national AAA's Safety Seats 4 Kids initiative found that car seats reduce the risk of injury by 78 percent to 82 percent and reduce the risk of death by 28 percent," says David Hughes, President of AAA North Jersey. "These statistics underscore the need for parents to understand how car safety seats work and the best way to utilize these important safety devices in their vehicles."

Hughes and Shotmeyer offered these safety tips for using child safety seats effectively:

Do your homework. It is important for parents to purchase a car seat for the right age group. Make sure the child safety seat fits the size of the child and meets national transportation standards.

Install the seat correctly. Read and understand the car seat instruction manual carefully. Additionally, parents should check the integrity of the seat and clear loose objects that might hinder or harm the child.

Understand your vehicle's design. Parents should understand their vehicle's safety features. Knowing how to enable child locks and the location of airbags in the vehicle will helps drivers place the child seat in the safest spot.

Source: AAA  

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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