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 Reduce Your Carbon Footprint at Home

January 5, 2017 12:27 am

You drive a fuel efficient car, recycle and bring your own reusable shopping bags to the store. But how can you work on reducing your carbon footprint at home?

For more Americans, heating and cooling your home accounts for nearly 50 percent of personal carbon emissions.

Adequate insulation. Check your home's insulation to make sure you're not losing that warm air your home works so hard to provide you with.

Energy Star systems. From windows to appliances, using Energy Star-rated systems can help your home work more efficiently.

Programmable thermostats. Set your thermostat to lower the temperature of your home when you're out, or asleep.  

Smarter lights. Switch from old, incandescent light bulbs to new light emitting diodes (LED) options which last longer and use less energy.

Monitor water use. Many of use use over ten gallons of water a day. Take shorter, cooler showers, make sure your dishwasher or washing machine is full when you run it, and turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth or shaving.  

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Tips to Stop Waking Up Exhausted

January 5, 2017 12:27 am

(Family Features)--It's no secret that finding time for the recommended eight hours of sleep is easier said than done. More often than not, your time asleep is limited by your busy schedule. If you are lucky enough to squeeze in a full eight hours of shuteye, you are still not guaranteed to wake up feeling refreshed.

While some responsibilities are hard to shake, setting yourself up with the right routine can vastly improve your quality of sleep and combat the issues keeping you up at night:

1. Lighten up: If it's never light in your bedroom, you may be confusing your body's circadian clock. The circadian clock regulates how alert you are due to the light and darkness in an environment. If you keep your bedroom dark during the day or use black-out curtains, this can act as a signal to your body that it should be asleep. Swap out your curtains for a lighter color or keep your shades partially open -natural sunlight in your room can help you wake up in the morning.

2. Out with the old: Approximately half (49 percent) of Americans have had their mattress for five years or more and while people struggle with sleep for a variety of reasons, your mattress could be keeping you from getting a good night's sleep. A quality mattress can give you the support you need to wake up feeling refreshed. 

3. Tune out: Everyone's guilty of binge-watching their favorite TV shows from time to time. While you may satisfy your curiosity by catching the ending of your favorite series, you may not be so happy when you wake up groggy after staying up too late. Set an alarm for 30 minutes before you want to go to sleep and when the alarm goes off turn off your TV and get ready for bed. Limiting screen time before you fall asleep can also avoid disrupting your body's level of melatonin, which controls sleep cycles.

4. If you snooze, you lose: Hitting the snooze button even once in the morning can make you feel groggy throughout the day. By hitting snooze, you are prompting your body to start another stage in your sleep cycle without giving it enough time to fully recover. Try downloading an app with a smart alarm to make sure that you are waking up during a lighter stage of your sleep cycle.

5. Cut the caffeine: While there is nothing quite like coffee for an afternoon pick-me-up, having caffeine after 2 p.m. can impact both your sleep quality and quantity. Instead of having a cup after lunch, take your coffee break earlier in the day or consider switching to decaf.

Source: Simmons Beautyrest

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Choosing An Online University? What You Should Ask

January 4, 2017 12:27 am

With college tuitions rising, more and more people are choosing to study online. With lower tuitions and flexible schedules, it can be a great choice for many. However, not all online universities are created equal, and it's important to do your due diligence before choosing one.

To help, Western Governors University (WGU), has a list of five questions to ask to ensure that you choose the right university for your needs.

Is the university regionally accredited? Regional accreditation is the highest form of accreditation. The U.S. Department of Education publishes a list of regional accrediting agencies that are recognized as reliable authorities on the quality of education or training offered by institutions of higher learning. Accreditation ensures that employers and other academic institutions will respect and recognize your degree.

How much will it cost? Tuition at online universities varies widely, from approximately the same cost as a public university to more than twice as much. Be sure to understand all of the costs—tuition, books, and fees—before you make your decision, along with the possibility of receiving financial aid. If you are approved and decide to receive financial aid, make sure you only borrow what you need to graduate, this will help steer you away from incurring unnecessary additional student debt. Another factor in your cost consideration should be the length of time you expect to take to complete your degree—the longer it takes, the more it is likely to cost.

How will you learn? Some aspects of your student experience at an online university will be similar to what you would expect in a more traditional environment. You will study, write papers, complete projects, and take tests. Other aspects, such as when and where you study and how you interact with faculty and other students, are quite different. You may want to consider a competency-based program, which will allow you to study and learn on your own schedule and advance as soon as you demonstrate mastery of the subject matter.

What kind of help and support will you get? Online should not mean alone. Support from faculty and administration is key to your success as a student. Be sure that the university you choose provides a high level of faculty support and opportunities to interact with other students.

Will your degree prepare you for career advancement or graduate work? Make sure that the degree program you choose offers relevant and up-to-date curriculum to ensure that when you graduate, you will have the real-world skills employers need. Ask for information about alumni placements, employer surveys, and graduate rankings on national test scores.

Source: www.wgu.edu

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How to Avoid Getting Sick During Flu Season

January 4, 2017 12:27 am

When winter rolls around, it can seem like everyone around you is down with some sickness. In fact, a recent Harris Poll survey found that 42 percent of Americans believe getting sick during cold and flu season is inevitable. The same survey found 36 percent believe the workplace to be the most likely place to catch a cold or the flu, while nearly a quarter blame their sniffled on public transportation.

Below are a handful of tips from osteopathic family physician Rob Danoff, DO, on staying well all winter.

Make sure your family is vaccinated.

The flu shot may not save your life, but it very well could save someone else's, according to Dr. Danoff, who adds that children who receive the flu vaccine are far less likely to be hospitalized by the flu. The shot also helps protect those who cannot be vaccinated, as well as the elderly and those with preexisting conditions that make flu a greater threat.

Upgrade your hand washing technique.

Scrub like a doctor and you'll avoid myriad germs that the typical "wringing and rubbing" technique misses. Researchers who looked at people's freshly washed hands found that the insides of the fingers often aren't clean, Danoff noted, giving the hundreds of viruses that cause colds a safe hiding place. Also remember to scrub the backs of your hands and under the finger nails.

Eat your veggies and go to bed.

Get your vitamins from food, not a pill, and you'll reap countless protective health benefits. Better nutrition directly translates to better resilience and fewer illnesses, according to Dr. Danoff. Add 7-9 hours of daily sleep and your body is primed to battle the pathogens that proliferate when people spend more time indoors.

Get outside when the sun shines.

Decreased levels of vitamin D can weaken your immune system. Take a morning or afternoon walk to soak up the sparse rays during the winter months and you'll boost both your mood and your immunity.

Keep moving.

Adding exercise on top of a daily sunshine walk makes your immune system function more effectively. A bit of indoor cardio or strength training conditions your body to fight off illness—including the winter doldrums. Drink enough water to meet your hydration needs, which don't drop along with the temperature.

Stay social.

People have a tendency to "socially hibernate" during winter. Humans are social beings and positive interactions with friends improves mood and wards off depression, which can compromise the immune system.

Source: www.DoctorsThatDO.org.

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Dodge Winter Lawn Damage

January 4, 2017 12:27 am

(Family Features)--Winter conditions can present a wide range of challenges to your lawn and landscape, but there are precautions you can take to protect your lawn, as well as your trees and shrubs, from seasonal harm.

Preventive steps from the lawncare experts at TruGreen can help your lawn survive the winter season’s harsh elements.

Snow Plow Damage

Install brightly-colored boundary markers along the edges of paved areas to help protect lawn and shrubs from snow plow and snow thrower blades. Lightweight wooden stakes, at least four feet tall with bright reflective tape and brightly covered fiberglass rods, serve as good markers. Avoid heavy metal, fence posts and other large objects, as they can pose a hazard to snow plow operators.

Cold Temperature Stress

More so than any other season, trees and shrubs are vulnerable to changing weather conditions during the winter. Wide temperature fluctuation and extremely low temperatures are the biggest factors of tree stress, meaning your trees are more susceptible to things like frost cracks, sunscald and winter burn.

Keep twigs and limbs from breaking under the weight of ice by carefully brushing away, whenever possible, any snow load from plants, which will reduce the weight on the limbs and decrease the damage. Placing a burlap cover around shrubs such as boxwood and yews will help reduce winter desiccation.

Proper fertilization can help keep your trees and shrubs healthy well into spring, and allow them to better tolerate winter. A service can help with tree and shrub services customized to meet your landscape’s every need, including applications to control overwintering insects, pests and mites.

Freezing Temperatures

Damage to plants, shrubs and trees as a result of sustained low temperatures can typically go undetected until spring or early summer, when plants fail to produce new growth. To help prevent damage, maintain a two- to three-inch layer of mulch to help protect the crown and roots from weather extremes.

Winter Dehydration

During the colder months of winter, plants cannot replace moisture lost from leaves and needles. This leads to “dehydration” – technically known as desiccation. To help avoid this problem, maintain proper watering late into the fall, or water during periods of winter thaw.

Ice Melt

Ice-melting agents, such as rock salt and products containing calcium and magnesium chloride, may accumulate in the soil and cause damage to plants. Use extreme care when applying ice-melting agents to prevent damage to your plants or concrete surfaces.

Source: TruGreen.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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7 Things to Remove From Your Home When You List It

January 3, 2017 12:27 am

When listing your home, there are a lot of things to think about. How you stage your space should definitely be at the top of that list. While you may not have the means to bring in a pro stager, you can put your best foot forward by removing the following from your space.

Family photos. While these treasures may mean the world to you, personal items like this make it difficult for a potential buyer to imagine themselves in your space. Pack up these photos for the move—you'll need to do this eventually anyway, so consider it a head start.

Odors. From a musky basement to the closet where the kitty litter box is kept, odors in your home are a huge turn off. Rip up mildewed carpet, open windows, light candles--whatever you need to do to keep a buyers nose from wrinkling.

Clutter. While you may love your corners stacked high with books and your shelves piled with mementos and knick-knacks, clutter can be distracting for buyers. Pick a few key items to leave out on shelves and pack the rest away.

Non-neutral design elements. Black lights in the basement or lacy, frilly curtains in the sunroom may seem fun to you, but these bold design elements can throw a buyer. Create a neutral atmosphere wherever possible.

Junk. Clear any old, unused items from your closets, storage spaces, basement and attic. You're going to have to get rid of these items when you move anyway, so you may as well do this now so your buyer can envision their own items filling up these spaces. 

Pets. While it may not be possible to banish your furry friends while your home is for sale, you can make sure they're out of the way when a buyer is visiting. You never know what allergies or fears buyers may have, so put the animals outside or bring them over to grandmas for an hour, if possible.

Worn-out furniture. That sagging, stained couch in the basement may not be a big deal to you, but it can be an eyesore to an outsider. An empty space is better than a poorly furnished space, so adjust where needed.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Financial Resolutions for the New Year

January 3, 2017 12:27 am

When it comes to making resolutions, many Americans hope to stash away more cash. Below are several easy financial resolutions you can make to bolster your bank account.

Open a separate savings account to force yourself to build an emergency savings fund. Make it separate from your main financial institution, with no ATM card, so you will be forced to go into a branch to withdraw money.

Educate yourself. Check out some books on personal finance or subscribe to a magazine or personal finance blog.  

Pull your credit score and report. A good way to start the year is to find out exactly where you stand financially. Download your credit report (one free each year from each of the three main reporting bureaus) at www.annualcreditreport.com.

Plan ahead. Get in the habit each night of preparing for the next day: Packing lunches, prepping breakfast and dinner.  That way you will not be tempted to buy convenience food on the run, because you are rushed.

Unsubscribe. Remove the temptation of impulse buying online by unsubscribing from retail email.  This can take some time, but, ultimately, you will save time and money by not being bombarded with emails "deals", tempting you to buy.

Source: www.greenpath.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Home Office Upgrades to Make This Year

December 31, 2016 12:24 am

If you're like many people, you tend to do at least a little work from home. Whether you full on run a business out of your living space or simply need a nook to work on your finances or groom your Pinterest board, the following tips can help you upgrade that home office.

Splurge on something inspirational. Whether it's an original piece from a favorite artist or a high-tech piece of equipment that makes working more exciting, splurge on something for your work space that makes you excited to be there.

Light it right. The right lighting can make all the difference. While low lighting can set a romantic mood, it can also make you sleepy or unmotivated—not the right vibe for a workspace. At the same time, fluorescent lighting can lead to headaches. Set up your work station by a window for natural light in the daytime, and set up a few good lamps around the room to ensure you can light the space adequately.

Upgrade your storage. Sick of those piles of paper that end of stacking up on your desk? Make sure you have a proper storage or filing system in place so everything can be stowed away in a place that is out of sight, but also easy to access when needed.

Create a “Do Not Disturb” signal. Whether you have a curious spouse or a gaggle of kids, creating a signal that says you're in the zone is key. It doesn't need to be a literal “do not disturb” sign on a door. A ribbon tied to a doorknob or a certain type of music you listen to when you're working can do the trick.

Support your body. If you spend a lot of time at your desk, it's extra important you shell out for the things that ease the strain of sitting for long hours. A kneeling desk chair can support your back, while raising your monitor to eye level can ease neck pain. You can also have a small yoga space tucked into your office where you can take a short break to stretch out before you get back to it.

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5 Things to Do When Stuck in Traffic

December 31, 2016 12:24 am

Sitting in traffic can be a major mood drain. When it happens at the start of the day, it can leave you feeling grouchy for hours. Below are a handful of things to keep you happy while staring at the bumper in front of you.

Dig into an audio book. This is the most obvious choice for making commute times fly by. A good book can turn hours into minutes and can even leave you sitting in your office parking lot with the radio on.

Try a podcast. If you're not into audio books, don't write off podcasts. From home improvements to love advice and comedy hours, there are so many high quality podcasts available you're sure to find something to lift your mood. Bonus: most of these podcasts are absolutely free.

Voice memos. Are you a creative? Make use of your traffic time by leaving yourself voice memos. Tackle your to-do lists, make notes on a current project, or even write a novel while sitting in your car. There are many apps these days that turn voice memos into written documents, so even if you're not working on a creative project, write an email to a friend or family member and boost your relationships from the comfort of your car. 

Meditative breathing. While it's not safe to meditate while operating a motor vehicle, you can breath your way to a more blissful state by focusing on your inhalations and exhalations. Look into meditative breathing practices and try them out in the car. At best, you will arrive at your destination with a clear, calm mind. At worst, your bod will be full of fresh oxygen.

Practice positive thinking. Positive thinking can offer endless benefits, from a boosted mood to manifesting great things, like that new job you've been after. Instead of grumbling your way through bumper-to-bumper, spend your commute imagining positive changes. Focus on that dream vacation you're saving up for, the new home you hope to have one day, finding a new romantic partner or adopting a puppy or kitten.

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How to Create a Paperless Home

December 31, 2016 12:24 am

Take a look around your office and you’ll probably notice there’s something missing: those teetering towers of papers that used to pile up on the edge of your desk. As we move further and further into a digital environment, paper is being tossed in favor of email, the cloud and text messages.

While a paperless environment is becoming the norm in the work world, it may be a different story at home, where mail collects on your kitchen counter and outdated magazines have sprouted roots in your living room. Want to replicate the paperless environment of your work world at home? Here’s how to get started:

Cancel subscriptions. Any publication worth its salt—from newspapers to magazines—now has a digital version online, so cut back on your print subscriptions, narrowing it down to those few publications you really enjoy sitting with over coffee.

Ditto for catalogs. Anything you might shop for in a catalog can be shopped for online.  What’s more, viewing an item online usually means the ability to zoom, see different angles, and read reviews.

Put your scanner to work. Of course there is a wide variety of paperwork and records that we must hold onto for future reference. Instead of stacking away yet another cardboard box in the attic, start scanning your important paperwork and create a digital file. Be sure to keep several back-up copies of such online records.

Switch to online banking. Do you really need paper bank statements when you can access your account anytime online? If you’re uncomfortable about some of the new online and mobile banking options go sit down with someone at your local branch and get a quick tutorial. Once you go online banking, you’ll never go back.

Enroll in autopay. There is also no need to get buried under the endless flow of credit card bills and records coming into your house. Set up all your credit card accounts online and enroll in autopay. Not only will this ensure that you never miss a payment, it will pull you out from under the mountain of credit-related paperwork.

Nix the notes. Part of the paper pile-up at home can be attributed to the random post-it notes, to-do lists and reminder scraps gracing our counters, bureaus and fridge-doors. This can all be consolidated and nicely organized in your smartphone’s memo feature, the sticky notes function on your desktop, or one of several apps, such as Evernote or OneNote.

Not only is a paperless home a more organized home, it’s one that runs more efficiently as well. So get out from under the piles and start enjoying your newly liberated environment.

For more helpful financial and real estate information, feel free to contact me directly.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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