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Tim Lugara

Tim Lugara
423 North Main Street  Doylestown  PA 18901
Phone:  215-348-7100 1632
Office:  215-348-7100
Toll Free:  800-360-7100
Cell:  215-917-8673
Fax:  267-354-6961

Tim's Blog

Tips to Save Money during a Road Trip

August 1, 2013 1:48 pm

(BPT)—Whether you're driving across the country on your annual family road trip or taking a weekend to enjoy the open road, there are plenty of ways to save on the cost of fuel. Here are some easy tips that will help you save money at the pump and stretch the fuel in your gas tank.

Prepare your vehicle. Regular service can spot problems that reduce gas mileage, such as a broken thermostat, low transmission fluid or even something as simple as a dirty air filter.

Prepare yourself. Select a route ahead of time and study it to know exactly where you're going, and where you'll make stops. ExxonMobil's Fuel Finder app includes real-time maps, driving directions and station information for nearly 10,000 Exxon and Mobil retail locations across the continental U.S.

Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving - speeding, rapid acceleration and quick braking - wastes gas and can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Use cruise control to stick to the speed limit on long, straight highways. Wind resistance increases exponentially with speed and your car will work a lot harder the faster you go.

Avoid the heat. When possible, try to get on the road early in the morning or later in the evening as cooler temperatures set in. Not only will it help you save on air-conditioning expenses, but air that is cooler is denser and can actually increase power and mileage.

Follow these simple driving tips and you'll see more savings that you can enjoy on your summer vacation. Time to hit the road.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Mortgage Rates Calm Further

August 1, 2013 1:48 pm

Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates easing for the second consecutive week helping to alleviate concerns over a slowdown in the housing market and amid recent strong homes sales data for June.

Highlights include:

• 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.31 percent with an average 0.8 point for the week ending July 25, 2013, down from last week when it averaged 4.37 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.49 percent.

• 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.39 percent with an average 0.8 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.41 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.80 percent.

• 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.16 percent this week with an average 0.7 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.17 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.74 percent.

• 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.65 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.66 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.71 percent.

"Mortgage rates eased for the second consecutive week, which should help to alleviate market concerns of a slowdown in the housing market,” says Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac. “Thus far, existing home sales for June were the second highest since November 2009 and new home sales were the strongest since May 2008.”

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Renters Thinking More about Owning a Home

August 1, 2013 1:48 pm

Americans overwhelmingly believe owning a home is a good financial decision and a majority of renters say homeownership is one of their highest priorities for the future, according to a survey by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). The 2013 National Housing Pulse Survey also found that renters are thinking more about purchasing a home now than in past years, while the number of people who say they prefer to rent has declined.

“Homeownership matters to Americans who consistently realize the many benefits it provides to communities, families and the nation’s economy,” said NAR President Gary Thomas. “Due to high housing affordability and today’s interest rates it makes sense for people to consider homeownership over renting. In fact, in many parts of the country it’s cheaper to own a home than to rent one. Therefore, it’s no surprise that renters recognize that owning a home offers tremendous long-term benefits and is an investment in their future.”

The survey, which measures consumers’ attitudes and concerns about housing opportunities, found eight in 10 Americans believe buying a home is a good financial decision and more than two-thirds (68 percent) said now is a good time to buy a home. Since the last survey in 2011, more renters are now thinking about purchasing a home, up from 25 percent to 36 percent, while those who say they prefer to rent dropped from 31 percent to 25 percent. Half of renters say that eventually owning a home is one of their highest personal priorities, up from 42 percent to 51 percent.

Attitudes toward the housing market have also improved over the years. Nearly four in 10 Americans (38 percent) identified an increase in activity within their local housing market in the past year, compared to just 22 percent who reported a slowdown in activity. By contrast, in 2011, some 51 percent reported a slowdown in activity. There was also less concern than in the past about the drop in home values; a majority said housing prices in their area are more expensive than a year ago.

In addition to these improved attitudes about the housing market, respondents also showed an improved outlook about the national economy. Just under half (48 percent) said job layoffs and unemployment are a big problem, down from 61 percent in 2011. The concern over foreclosures showed a steep decline from 2011 when 47 percent characterized distressed properties as “very” or a “fairly big problem”; today only 29 percent say it’s a problem.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Three R's for Back to School: Research, Reuse, Revisit

August 1, 2013 1:48 pm

With families preparing for the back-to-school season and the frenzied shopping sessions that come along with it, Goodwill Industries International is asking parents and students to shop responsibly. In 2010, Goodwill launched the Donate Movement, which asks consumers to think about how donations and shopping for used goods can make a difference to communities and the planet. At Goodwill, donated goods and their resale are transformed into job training and placement programs that help millions of people annually. With that in mind, Goodwill asks families to consider the Three R’s of the back-to-school season.

1. Research: Instead of approaching the back-to-school season with a last-minute dash for the mall, kids and parents can use it as an opportunity to learn about conscientious shopping. At the Donate Movement website (donate.goodwill.org), anyone can easily find out the impact their used goods can have by entering donations into the patent-pending Donation Impact Calculator. For example, three pairs of gently used jeans provide 31 minutes of career counseling. Students can also read exactly how these career counseling classes have helped job seekers in their communities. Parents can enter their zip codes on the site to find out how and where to donate.

2. Reuse:
Young people can make an impact during the back-to-school season in three ways. First, they can make room in their closets, bedrooms and backpacks by donating gently used clothing and household items to Goodwill. Second, they can purchase donated items for school so that the value of what they buy will go directly into helping their communities. Third, they can hold donation drives at their local school once the school season starts. Young shoppers can find everything from clothes and school supplies to books, electronics and sports equipment at their local Goodwill stores.

3. Revisit: With families now spending more than ever before on back-to-school shopping, it can certainly help to put off some purchases until later in the year. By returning to Goodwill throughout the school year, parents can make sure they're only buying items they really need. Returning later also means they can likely find some must-have back-to-school items at deeply discounted prices in just a few months. Throughout the year, families can revisit the Donate Movement site to learn how their donated goods are having an impact, and return to Goodwill to drop off used items and find new ones.

"The back-to-school season can be a stressful time for families," said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. "By approaching it as a fun opportunity to learn about the power of donating and to find ways to strengthen our community, children and parents alike can get everything they need for school while knowing they're doing good by helping others."

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Natural Fun Takes a Backseat to Tech Time for Kids & Families

August 1, 2013 1:48 pm

From weekday afternoons huddled in front of gaming consoles to weekends spent downloading the latest smartphone app, kids today spend a significant amount of time indoors tethered to technology. A survey commissioned by Busch Gardens® found that 85 percent of moms worry that their children don't experience enough natural, unstructured outdoor playtime – the kind of activity so common in previous generations.

According to the survey of nearly 900 moms conducted by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Busch Gardens®, kids spend only two hours during the week participating in natural, unstructured activities such as playing tag, riding bikes, and exploring nature, and these activity levels increase only slightly on the weekends to a little more than two hours.

"As parents, we remember our own moms opening up the screen door on a summer day and telling us 'go outside and play,' and we did, playing with friends from the neighborhood, roller skating and concocting elaborate games," said Stacy DeBroff , founder and CEO of Mom Central Consulting. "We fear we're raising a generation of kids with 'Natural Fun Deficiency' who rarely play outside unless as part of planned activities with a coach nearby carrying a whistle and a clipboard."

Based on the survey results, both moms and kids see technology as a deterrent to kids playing outside – 68 percent of moms think their kids spend too much time plugged in, and 44 percent of kids prefer texting to kickball.

However, the obstacles to outdoor-based family time include more than just technology. More than two-thirds of moms feel that family fun often takes a backseat to day-to-day obligations.

Here are some tips to combat 'Natural Fun Deficiency':

For Kids
• Keep it Low-Key: Don't worry about creating a master outdoor curriculum for kids. Instead, encourage them to build a fort, suggest they invite the new neighbor kids over for a backyard soccer game, or challenge them to make the ultimate mud pie.

• Team Up with Fellow Moms: When it comes to planning play dates, the survey showed that almost 60 percent of moms never or rarely think about organizing an outdoor-focused get-together, despite the fact that 75 percent of moms want their kids to be more open to outdoor adventure. Work with other moms to banish time in front of the TV or gaming console and instead suggest that kids go outside for a backyard scavenger hunt or game of kickball.

• Group Learning Activities: Surprise the kids with learning experiences disguised as pure fun.

For Families

• Plan a Family Getaway: According to the survey results, 70 percent of moms rely on vacations as a time for kids to unplug and get away from technology. Planning a family getaway can be a great way for everyone to set aside pressures and obligations and re-connect as a family.

• Explore the Great Outdoors: To jumpstart natural, outdoor fun, identify vacation spots with enough outdoor activities to entice everyone in the family. For example, a beach vacation offers opportunities for swimming, water sports, and beach exploration, while a visit to a theme park provides everything from thrill rides to water fun to animal encounters in natural settings.

• The Family Who Plays Together, Stays Together: Support kids' newfound outdoor experiences by creating fun, easy-to-arrange family activities. Take advantage of extended daylight hours to eat dinner on the patio or schedule an impromptu picnic dinner in the backyard. Or walk the dog as a family each weekend morning.

Source: Busch Gardens

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Make Working at Home Work

August 1, 2013 1:48 pm

(BPT) - Working at home is a growing popular trend. The 2010 U.S. Census reports 9.5 percent of the population spends at least one day a week working at home - an increase of more than 2 percent since 1997. Technology is making it easier for employees and self-employed workers to set up a home office and conduct business.

When deciding to set up an office at home, one challenge many workers face is determining what computer to use - or purchase. Apple and Windows-based PCs are the two staples, and everyone has a preference on which system they prefer. Sometimes it's the user interface of one over the other that's preferred, and in other cases, how chosen programs perform on each platform determines what type of computer workers purchase. And often, workers just want to seamlessly blend in with the office environment, and purchase the same system for home.

With Parallels Desktop for Mac, the difficulty of choosing between the two platforms is obsolete. This software enables users to run all operating systems like Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows XP, Mac OS X, Google Chrome OS and more on a Mac without rebooting. This allows an at-home employee to easily switch between the system provided on work computers and the home computer, even if they're running different operating systems.

This allows at-home workers several benefits:

• If you have a Mac and a PC, then Parallels Desktop software can simply move your entire PC onto you Mac so you have everything on one computer. If you don't have a PC, its wizard lets you simply add Windows and other operating systems to your Mac so you can do everything on one computer.

• Save money because there is no need to repurchase software you already own. All of the PC applications you invested in can simply be moved to your Mac and run in Windows via Parallels Desktop.

• Run both Windows and Mac systems at the same time, allowing you to work in a Mac program while using a Windows platform.
Copy and paste between documents running in both operating systems easily - which is not possible if you must reboot your Mac to change between OS X and Windows applications.

Another challenge working-from-home employees face is taking the business on the road. Those who are self-employed often don't have the luxury of bringing business into the home office, and have to make the office mobile. This requires updating technology so email, documents and files can all be accessed from either a smartphone or tablet.

Another option is to access your computer remotely, allowing you to do everything you'd be doing at home while away. Parallels Mobile for iPad and iPhone lets you remotely access and run all of your Mac and Windows files and applications when you're on the go.

One final challenge is being able to handle the business errands without having to leave the office - or home. Banking, setting up conference calls or ordering supplies can all be done electronically using websites and downloadable apps. This technology allows a home-worker to make business deposits, connect with clients and have supplies delivered to the door - without having to leave.

Seamless connection is key to working at home, because any interruption in getting technology to work is lost time, and potentially lost business. Apps, using the same computer programs you've always used through Parallels Desktop for Mac and mobile devices will help any at home worker to keep all connections with the office and clients going strong.

Source: http://www.parallels.com/desktop

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Seven Small Changes with Big Impact

August 1, 2013 1:48 pm

(Family Features) Ever envy those beautiful homes that seem to get redecorated with every new season? The latest and greatest looks are easy to incorporate if you keep your furnishings neutral and the décor uncluttered. From there, it’s just a matter of bringing in a few simple touches that create a big impact.

Start with one or two easy projects and you will quickly transform your house into a place you’re proud to call home.

1. Transform With Paint
– Every interior designer will tell you the quickest way to transform a home is with a fresh coat of paint. Greet guests with a beautiful new door color. It will give your entire home a facelift with very little time and effort.

2. Warm Things Up – The look of hardwood brings warmth to every room in the house. Even kitchen and bathroom spaces can benefit from the addition of wood-look tiles, which are easy to clean, water resistant, and durable, but with the beauty and ambiance of traditional hardwood. Throw rugs are a great way to accent a wood-look floor and are easy to swap out with the change of season or style.

3. Keep it Clean – Kitchens are prime gathering places and just keeping them clean and uncluttered will transform the look and feel of an entire house. Leave just one or two appliances on the countertops, add fresh flowers and hang a pair of colorful kitchen towels to brighten the space.

4. Make a Space Pop – Add a pop of color and texture with new tile, such as American Olean’s Garden Oasis featuring Oceanside Glass Tile. The tiles, which can be seen at www.americanolean.com, come in various shapes, sizes, colors and patterns, so you can easily show off your own creative style anywhere.

5. Throw on Some Pillows – Filling a room with furnishings in neutral shades is actually the simplest way to embrace new decorating trends. Give a monochromatic room an instant makeover with pillows, artwork and tchotchkes. It’s an inexpensive way to change things up whenever the mood strikes.

6. Be Neighborly – Even if you only have room for a small pot of flowers, make your front porch welcoming. If possible, set out some chairs for neighborly chats, place a small table between for refreshments and add plenty of cushions for comfort.

7. Let There Be Light – Instantly change the look and feel of a room just by changing the lighting. Simply change your bulbs to one offering more natural light or swap out the entire light fixture for instant beauty.

Whether you update one room or transform your entire house, these simple changes will turn your home into a sanctuary that truly reflects your own personal style.

Source: Daltile

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Create Budding Home Updates

May 10, 2013 7:38 am

(Family Features) Bring the garden inside to add a romantic and softer touch to your home décor. Though real flowers are always a gorgeous addition, they can be costly and, unfortunately, they will expire. Due to their permanent and authentic nature, more decorators are turning to their faux counterparts when glamming up interiors.

Boasting an incredibly realistic look and feel, faux flowers are available in many varieties and colors. So, no matter what type of décor appeals to you – from contemporary to colonial – you can find the perfect petals to match your look and style.

Here are tips for using artificial flowers in your home:

• When shopping, choose the best you can afford within your budget. You’ll be happy you spent the money on quality blooms that you’ll treasure for years to come.
• In doubt of your decorating skills? Simply tuck one stem of your favorite variety in a glass vase for a classic, chic look.
• Faux petals are easy to care for and clean with the use of a handheld vacuum, a steamy shower or a soft, dampened cloth.
• Add one or two accent pieces that feature artificial flowers. From pillow cases to lamp shades, this look is everywhere and will add a cheerful glow to any room.
• Stay away from colors that don’t naturally occur. For example, a rose in a bright blue shade will not convey the same amount of charm as a dusty pink.

Floral Lampshade

Some experience necessary
Approximate Crafting Time: 3-5 hours

Supplies and Tools:

Scissors
26” Hydrangea Sprays
Jolee’s Jewels Bicone/Pearl Combo: White
Offray 1/8” Black Ribbon
Offray 7/8” Oatmeal Ribbon
Black Tassel
Fabric Lampshade: Cream
Sewing needle
Thread

1. Remove individual blooms from hydrangea sprays.
2. Sew crystals and pearls to centers of blooms.
3. Hot glue blooms onto lampshade, slightly overlapping to cover the entire surface of shade.
4. Add a ribbon bow and tassels, if desired.

Source: www.joann.com/projects

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Is That Driver On The Road Next To You Asleep?

May 10, 2013 7:38 am

Driving with untreated sleep apnea is equivalent to driving with a .06-.08 blood alcohol level. Recent studies have shown that truck drivers are at high-risk for sleep apnea and other sleep disorders—affecting 28 percent of Commercial Truck Drivers. In the aviation industry, alternating shifts and rapidly changing time zones present unique obstacles when it comes to sleep apnea and safety in the air. Eighteen percent of train operators attribute "near miss accidents" at work due to their sleep apnea. Over 100,000 vehicular accidents and 1,500 deaths annually are caused by sleep deprivation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. According to the CDC, sleep quality, duration, behaviors, and disorders need to be monitored in order to show its health impact on Americans. One of the many concerns with sleep deprivation is driving and flying sleepy especially for those in the transportation industry. Disturbance of sleep compromises mood, performance, and alertness which can result in the inability to pay attention and react to signals, which then can lead to injury or death.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 100 million people worldwide have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) or sleep apnea. In the U.S. alone over 23 million Americans (approximately 25 percent of OSA sufferers) have been diagnosed with OSA and an estimate of millions more whom have not yet been diagnosed; so many of these people are pilots in the air, engineers on the railroads, or commercial truck drivers on the interstates. With these staggering numbers, the use of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy is growing exponentially.

Most with sleep apnea use CPAP therapy to manage their sleeping disorder. The transportation industry is now recognizing the importance and need for their workers to comply with their prescribed CPAP usage, but for those transportation specialists, CPAP therapy is much more difficult to manage while on the road. Maintenance and keeping the equipment clean and sanitized comes with its challenges, especially for those who are traveling.

It is critical to ensure those Americans who are in the transportation industry are experiencing proper sleep apnea treatment and therapy coupled with an effective, effortless, and transportable way to clean their equipment on the road. This will help to better protect the traveling public from the dangers associated with those in the public transportation industry who suffer with sleep apnea.

Source: www.betterrestsolutions.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Consumers Tip Scales of Home Price Change Expectations

May 10, 2013 7:38 am

More than half of Americans now expect the country’s home prices to climb within the next year, illustrating a growing optimism toward the health of the housing industry. The share of respondents to Fannie Mae’s April 2013 National Housing Survey results who expect home prices to go up rose another 3 percentage points in April to 51 percent. By comparison, at the same time last year, only 32 percent expected an increase in home prices.

“For the first time in the survey’s three-year history, the majority of Americans surveyed now expect home prices to increase,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “Crossing the 50 percent threshold marks a significant milestone as most Americans believe a housing recovery is truly occurring throughout the country. Reflecting that increased optimism toward housing, the share of Americans who think it is a good time to sell has doubled during the last year. Many homeowners who have been underwater are gradually returning to positive equity, and selling is now becoming an available and attractive option again.”

The share of respondents who say now is a good time to sell climbed 4 percentage points in April to 30 percent, compared to 15 percent at the same time last year. Americans’ increasing optimism toward the selling market may bode well for continued improvement in housing activity, as recent market data suggest that five out of eight people who buy a home first have to sell.

Findings:

Homeownership and Renting


• The average 12-month home price change expectation held steady at 2.7 percent.
• The share of people who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months hit a survey high of 51 percent, while those who believe home prices will go down remained at the survey low of 10 percent for the fourth month in a row.
• The share of respondents who say mortgage rates will go up fell 3 percentage points to 43 percent, while those who say they will go down increased slightly to 7 percent.
• At a survey-high 30 percent, the share of respondents who say it is a good time to sell a house increased 4 percentage points over March.
• The average 12-month rental price change expectation held steady at 4.1 percent.
• Forty-eight percent of those surveyed say home rental prices will go up in the next year, a 2 percentage point decrease from last month’s survey high.
• The share of respondents who said they would buy if they were going to move increased slightly to 65 percent.

The Economy and Household Finances

• At 39 percent, the share of respondents who say the economy is on the right track increased 4 percentage points over March.
• The percentage of people who expect their personal financial situation to get worse over the next 12 months fell 5 percentage points to 16 percent.
• Twenty percent of respondents say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago, holding steady from last month.
• Eleven percent reported significantly lower household expenses compared to 12 months ago, a 3 percentage point increase over March.

Source: Fannie Mae

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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