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 
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Mary's Blog

5 Smart Strategies to Settle an Estate

December 1, 2016 12:54 am

(Family Features)--When a parent passes away, it’s usually left to their offspring to manage and disperse the remaining estate. In the wake of such a loss, emotions can run high, and the sheer amount of paperwork can quickly become overwhelming.

If you’re in the throes of settling an estate, whether by yourself or with the assistance of your siblings, consider these tips to help chart a smoother course.

Get organized. Keep a seemingly endless to-do list manageable by writing everything down. Create a system for prioritizing each task and if there are others who are willing to help, delegate what you can. Establish categories such as bills to pay and other outstanding debts, accounts to close, agencies and organizations that need to be notified of the death and so on.

Know your limits. Some estates are simple and straightforward: There’s a basic will, few assets, known heirs, and it’s easy to grasp what happens next. Others are far more complicated. If you find yourself in over your head, seek help from an expert such as an estate attorney who can guide you through the legalities and paperwork.

Expect the unexpected. It may come in the form of a change in the will or old letters stashed in a closet, but it’s a safe bet that in settling the estate, you’ll come across something you weren’t expecting. Add this to the emotional simmer you’ve been holding steady and this may be the tipping point to boil you over. Simply put the new information on the back burner for now and return to it later, when you can deal with it more rationally and avoid letting a surprise stain your memories.

Take a break. In the aftermath of a loss, many survivors switch to autopilot, not only to distract their minds from the loss but to regain some sense of control in a situation that can feel helpless. While this coping mechanism may answer a short-term need, be sure to allow yourself time to properly grieve and avoid taking on so much that you neglect your own physical needs, such as food and sleep.

Settling a loved one’s estate isn’t likely to be easy, but taking it all one step at a time will help you take care of business while you make sure you’re still taking care of yourself.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Are You Purchasing Safe Gifts For Your Kids?

December 1, 2016 12:54 am

When choosing gifts for your child or the children of a loved one, it's important you keep safety front and center. Below are a few helpful tips.

- When buying toys like skateboards, bikes and scooters, make sure you also purchase all necessary safety equipment.

- Choose toys suitable to the child's age. Pay mind to age labels, which have more to do with the safety of the toy's contents (sharp or tiny pieces) than with your child's ability to figure the toy out.

- Skip toys with small magnetic pieces for any child under age 6 or under age 10 if they have younger siblings who could easily access the pieces.

- Look for well-made toys.

- Avoid toys that produce loud noises. High-volume games can permanently impair a child's hearing, and loud sounds can frighten a younger child. Also, you're going to need to listen to those noises until your child tires of the toy, so do yourself a favor and opt for silent play things.

- Avoid toys painted with lead paint. Exposure to lead can result in lead poisoning, causing serious damage to a child's brain, kidneys and nervous system.

- Avoid electrical toys with heating elements (batteries, electrical plugs) for children under the age of 8. These toys are a potential burn hazard.

- Avoid toys with strings, straps or cords longer than 7 inches, which can wrap around a child's neck and accidentally strangle him or her.

- Immediately discard plastic wrappings on toys before they become dangerous play things for young children.

Source: www.baycare.org.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Finance Tips for Young Parents

December 1, 2016 12:54 am

As a young parent, you may just be learning about all the responsibilities parenthood requires. When it comes to financial planning, setting your sight on the future can help immensely.

Demolish debt. Slaying your own debt will positively impact your family's financial future. While it may take years to pay off those student loans or credit card debt, creating a plan can help. Tackle your lowest balance first to gain momentum then take on the next smallest. Additionally, pay attention to higher interest rates that are costing you a lot of money.

Build a budget. Creating a budget doesn't have to be hard. There are many budgeting apps available on the market to help you track your expenses, or you can try the trusty envelope system with monthly allowances for groceries, entertainment, utilities, etc.

Build an emergency fund. Setting a fund for potential emergencies will never backfire. Aim for a small, achievable goal as low as $500 then set the bar higher. Participate in your employer-sponsored savings program to boost retirement savings, especially if there is a match. Make it an automatic payroll deduction and increase it when your paycheck goes up. As far as your child's college savings, save what you can, when you can. Every little bit will help when education bills come due.

Child care. Consider establishing a flexible spending account if one is offered by your employer. Parents can use pretax dollars to pay up to $5,000 in child care expenses in most states.

Review insurance and important paperwork. Create a will either by using an online program or hiring a professional to name your child's guardian, and designate at what age any payouts, savings or investments will be distributed. With health insurance, notify your employer within 30 days of the birth to ensure that the child is eligible for any dependent benefits. Purchase appropriate health care coverage to protect your family. Review your employer's life insurance plan and determine if it is adequate for your needs. If not, consider purchasing additional life insurance.

Source: SmartAboutMoney.org.

 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Know the Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

December 1, 2016 12:54 am

Carbon monoxide poison is a silent danger that claims over 400 lives in the U.S. Annually, as well as over 20,000 visits to the emergency room, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To keep your family safe, know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning:

- Headaches
- Nausea
- Vomiting
- Dizziness
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue

"Safety is our top priority at DTE Energy, and we urge residents to be particularly alert to carbon monoxide danger during the fall and winter heating season. It's when CO exposure most frequently occurs," says Brad Burcz, senior safety and health engineer, DTE Energy.  "One of the best defenses against CO poisoning is to install a carbon monoxide alarm near all sleeping areas in your home. If dangerous levels of CO are detected, an audible alarm will alert you."

DTE offers the following tips to prevent CO poisoning in homes and businesses:

- For businesses, install carbon monoxide alarms in main areas away from vents and appliances or equipment that produce smoke or steam.

- Replace batteries in CO alarms annually.

- If a CO alarm is activated, or the presence of carbon monoxide is suspected, immediately get out of the house or building into fresh air, and if necessary, seek medical attention.

- Ensure all fuel-burning appliances are operating and venting properly. 

- Get an annual furnace inspection by a licensed professional.

- Check yearly to verify flues, vents and chimneys are connected, in good condition and clear of debris.

Source: dteenergy.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Easy Steps for a Cleaner Home

December 1, 2016 12:54 am

(Family Features)--Whether it is a family dinner after a long day at work, sitting down with a book on a rainy day or entertaining friends during the weekend, there is nothing like spending quality time in the comfort of your own home. With a few simple steps, you can have a fresher, cleaner and healthier home, taking comfort to a whole new level.

Leave your shoes at the door. The bottoms of shoes can track bacteria and chemicals into the home from the outdoors that you may not notice. Create a designated station near the front door to drop shoes off – this can serve as a reminder for your family as they walk in, and guests will hopefully follow suit when they arrive.

Disinfect the handles on doors and appliances. Viruses and bacteria can live on indoor surfaces for several hours, and sometimes even days. Get into the habit of wiping down doorknobs and handles, especially in the bathroom, with disinfectant each night or after use to limit the spread of germs around the house.

Use natural cleaning products. Common household cleaning products leave chemicals lingering in the air long after the cleaning is over. Opt for greener methods that get the job done without compromising the air you breathe. There are dozens of DIY recipes to create natural cleaners on your own, such as an all-purpose cleaner made of one part baking soda, two parts vinegar and two parts water, not only making for a healthier home, but also saving you money.

Check your air filter every 30 days. Every breath is a reason to care about your air, and more time spent at home can stir up indoor allergens like pet dander and dust.

Expose textiles to heat. Just because your sheets are odor-free and the curtains are stain-free doesn’t mean that the fabrics are free of dust mites or other bacteria. Tackle hidden germs by washing your bedding in hot water each week and throwing your pillows and curtains in the dryer for at least 30 minutes.

For more ways to make your home happy and healthy, visit Filtrete.com.  

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Cold, Bronchitis or Pneumonia? How to Tell the Difference

December 1, 2016 12:54 am

When illness hits hard, it can be hard to differentiate symptoms—especially when you're curled up in bed. However, it is important people are aware of the differences between a cold, bronchitis and pneumonia so that you know when to seek professional help.

- Colds may be characterized by a clear runny nose, cough, and a low-grade or lack of fever. While it is one of the most common infectious diseases, it is usually mild and resolves without treatment.

- Bronchitis happens when air passages are inflamed. Possible symptoms may include: a frequent cough with mucus, wheezing, fever, and a lack of energy. Brought on by a viral infection, acute bronchitis is more prevalent of the two basic types. Chronic bronchitis is a cough that lasts 2 to 3 months annually, for at least two years—typically caused by smoking.

- Pneumonia produces fluid in the lungs due to an infection. Symptoms may include a cough, fever and difficulty breathing. Older adults, babies and people with other illnesses may need to be hospitalized for treatment.

Source: USA Medical, ABC 4 Utah

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Lesser-Known Jobs That Pay $100,000 or More

November 28, 2016 12:54 am

You don’t need to work on Wall Street, or be a doctor or lawyer, to earn a hundred grand a year or more, says the research team at Glassdoor.com, a site focused on careers.

Lesser-known jobs that pay over $100,000 annually include:

Special agent – Whether you work for law enforcement or a private corporation, people who examine criminal trends and propose crime deterrent strategies can earn a median of $125,000. Qualified candidates should have law enforcement or military backgrounds plus a degree in criminal justice.   

Airline pilot – In addition to ably handling a plane, pilots need to oversee crews and be savvy communicators. Candidates must be certified with an Airline Transport Pilot License and hold a bachelor’s degree in aviation or have served in the military. Median salary is $134,000.

Regional sales executive - Successful sales executives need to be well-versed in their company’s products and acutely aware of customer needs. Stellar communicators – with or without a college degree – earn a median income of $103,500.

Nurse practitioners – Those with a master’s degree in nursing can earn a median of $106,300. They will perform physical exams, treat common injuries and illnesses, and prescribe some medications.

Reservoir engineer – These professionals identify and pursue oil and gas reserves underground.  The goal is to extract the maximum amount of energy without over-tapping the reservoir. Those with a degree in chemical engineering – and some experience in the field – can earn a median of $143,000.

Equity research associate – Qualified candidates with a bachelor’s degree in finance, economics or similar use financial models to analyze and report on financial trends. The job incorporates the excitement of investment banking but is less demanding, and commands a median salary of $100,000.

Geophysicist – Geophysicists study the earth using gravity, seismic, electrical and magnetic methods. Some study how the earth is changing while others locate valuable minerals beneath its surface. Requires a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in geology and pays a median $119,380.

Software architect – They take the lead in communicating about system developments with the company’s leadership. Most candidates have at least a bachelor’s degree in math, software engineering, or similar, although some acquire the right skills through an online coding boot camp or another accelerated online program. Long hours pay off with a median salary of $116,500.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Creating Healthy Food Habits for Your Kids

November 28, 2016 12:54 am

(Family Features)--More than nine in 10 millennial moms think it's important for their kids to learn about where their food comes from, and more than three-quarters of those moms actively do things with their kids to help learn just that, according to recent findings.

Building healthy habits is the top reason moms cite for encouraging more learning when it comes to food, according to research conducted by IPSOS on behalf of Cuties – the sweet little clementines. Even when the weather is colder outside, these tips make it fun for families to learn about where their food comes from and help encourage kids to eat healthy for a lifetime.

Grocery shop together or go to a farmers market. Many cities now have year-round indoor markets, where together you can select fruits and veggies to try. Often the farmers are there, so you can learn about produce and get ideas for how to prepare unfamiliar items at home.

Cook with your kids. Find fun recipes that let them explore fresh foods where they can be creative. Find age-appropriate ways to involve them, like stirring or measuring, and encourage them to get hands-on with recipes, such as this fun Flower Salad recipe from registered dietitian Ellie Krieger.

Explore the story of where some of their favorite foods come from. Kids learn and remember information when it comes in the form of a story. Cuties is giving families the chance to uncover those stories by encouraging them to submit questions using #AskAGrower on Facebook. Actual growers will answer with stories about how this sweet, seedless and easy-to-peel fruit is grown with care by their family of growers. A video series at cutiescitrus.com/our-story also helps bring the stories to life.

Source: cutiescitrus.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Protect Your Feet and Ankles This Winter

November 28, 2016 12:54 am

It is never a good time for a foot or ankle injury, but some might consider the colder months to be the most inconvenient time to have their feet or ankles out of commission. Ironically, it is during the winter when many injuries in the lower extremities occur due to weather-related incidents.

To help, ACFAS provides three critical and easy-to-follow tips that can mean all the difference between comfort and pain in your feet during the winter.

Wear the Right Shoes 
"Whether caused by wearing high-heels on icy surfaces or just sheer accident, falls are one of the most common causes of weather-related injuries. Often time, wintertime falls result in an ankle sprain, or worse, a broken bone in the foot, ankle, heel or toe. I encourage patients to wear low-heeled shoes or boots with a traction sole to help prevent slipping," says Massachusetts—based foot and ankle surgeon and ACFAS Fellow Member Greg Catalano, DPM, FACFAS.

Equally important, wearing warm shoes or boots can protect a person's feet in frigid temps. "Wearing water-resistant, insulated footwear serves as a barrier between the feet and outside elements; this is particularly important for patients with neuropathy or Raynaud's phenomenon. While different, both conditions block normal blood flow in the feet and places a person at a greater risk of developing additional problems. In some cases, people can incur chilblains, which are itchy, tender, red patches that emerge in response to cold air, or in extreme cases, frostbite," adds Dr. Catalano.  

Remember, the thicker the insulation, the greater the protection is between a person's feet and the adverse effects caused by cold weather.

Keep Your Feet Dry
Damp feet can cause cold feet and can be just as harmful. Wearing moisture-wicking socks will help keep feet dry from internal wetness caused by sweat, while water-resistant footwear will ward off external weather elements that can cause dampness.   

"I encourage my patients to wear appropriate socks as a standard practice during the winter months to guard their feet in both foreseen and unexpected inclement weather conditions," says Dr. Catalano. 

For some, inserting foot warmers in their shoes serves as an extra layer of protection. Before doing so, it is best to consult with a foot and ankle surgeon. If worn incorrectly, foot warmers can burn the skin and cause severe harm for those with nerve damage.

Get the Right Help
With all that can happen to the feet and ankles during the winter months, it is best to know what to do when faced with a condition or injury brought on by cold weather. 

"In the case of a suspected fracture or sprain caused by a fall, see a foot and ankle surgeon or visit the emergency room as soon as possible for prompt diagnosis and treatment. If medical care is unavailable, for temporary relief of symptoms, try the RICE principle—Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. But, remember, delaying treatment can result in long-term complications," adds Dr. Catalano.  

For feet that are exposed to cold and dampness for a prolonged period, soak them in warm water – avoiding hot water or direct heat. Soaking them in warm water will allow the feet to regain their normal temperature gradually.  

Source: foothealthfacts.org.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Snorkeling Hot Spots to Add to Your Bucket List

November 25, 2016 12:54 am

If you love snorkeling, you’ve probably discovered some favorite spots in the Caribbean islands. But contributors to Travel and Leisure Magazine recommend five dream spots for ocean aficionados that can’t be beat for snorkeling and other ocean sports:

Komodo Islands, Indonesia – While the giant lizards here get most of the attention, Komodo’s Pink Beach will put you in a colorful undersea garden with rays, schools of groupers, and hawksbill turtles. Alternatively, visit the sea surrounding Komodo National Park, which offers unmatched underwater exploration with over 1,000 species of fish, 260 types of coral, and 14 types of endangered whales, dolphins, and giant turtles – not to mention rays, sharks, and a flourishing coral reef.

Buck Island, St. Croix, Virgin Islands – In this paradise for beginning snorkelers, you can make your way through the Elkhorn coral barrier reefs in brilliant blue waters and see colorful parrot fish, three species of sea turtles, terns, and endangered brown pelicans.

Palau – Only one of the marine lakes that dot Palau is open to snorkeling, but it’s worth the trip. Jellyfish Lake on the uninhabited island of Eil Malk lives up to its name, filled with millions of golden jellyfish that have thrived in the isolated lake for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. For a truly other-worldly experience, you can snorkel among these amorphous floating creatures, which have a non-poisonous sting that can hardly be felt by humans.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia – It’s impossible to talk about the world’s best snorkeling spots without mentioning the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem. Made up of 2,900 individual reefs that stretch over 1,400 miles off the Australian shoreline, the area boasts eye-popping coral, brilliant marine life, barracuda, manta rays, and the bones of ships that have crashed on the reef over the years. For an easy place to start, head to the Whitsunday Islands right off the shore of Queensland.

Hawaii’s Big Island – The underwater state park at Kealakekua Bay offers spectacular coral and colorful fish. Hit the water near the Captain Cook Monument to see dolphins, turtles and a variety of undersea creatures. For more underwater adventure, head to the crystal waters of Honaunau Bay to explore coral gardens, dolphins and tropical fish.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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