RE/MAX 440  
Colleen Gular


Colleen Gular
4092 Skippack Pike, P.O. Box 880 | Skippack, PA 19474
Phone: 610-584-1160 | Office Phone: 610-584-1160 | Fax: 267-354-6836
Cell: 267-266-2084 | email: cgular@remax.net

My Blog

3 Smart Ways to Pass Wealth to Your Kids

March 3, 2017 1:09 am

Leaving money to your kids can cause unwelcome tax burdens unless you plan ahead and do so wisely. Financial experts at The Motley Fool, recommend three smart ways to pass your hard-earned wealth to your children:

Pass the cash – The IRS lets you give up to $14,000 tax-free per year to each child. You may be able to give them additional sums if they have tuition or medical bills. If you pay those bills -- by sending the money directly to the school or healthcare provider(s), not to your child -- then those sums can be tax-free gifts as well.

Spend it on education - You can help your child avoid student loan debt. One way to do this is with a Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA.) As opposed to a 529 plan, a Coverdell allows you to make investment decisions. While that may not matter to a novice investor, it means that a seasoned market participant can maximize stock opportunities as they arise. Distributions from a Coverdell ESA are not taxed if they are spent on qualified education expenses. Caution: you are only allowed to contribute $2,000 per year per child. Furthermore, if the money isn't used for qualifying education expenses, it can be taxed -- which defeats the purpose of the Coverdell. But given that the contribution limits are low, while college costs are historically high, it’s unlikely to be an issue.

Use a Roth IRA - From an estate-planning standpoint, a Roth IRA has useful features. You can contribute to it as long as you have earned income, and you're not obligated to withdraw any money for as long as you live, so you can leave your investments to grow for the rest of your life. Your heirs won't have to pay tax on withdrawals so long as the account has been open for at least five years. After your death, your kids can take the proceeds as a tax-free lump sum, or allow the money to grow and compound for years. (They will, however, have to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) from the account beginning in the year you die.)

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Protect Your Eyes from Your Mobile Device

March 3, 2017 1:09 am

We’re all guilty of spending too much time staring at our screens. But a recent survey from the American Optometric Association's (AOA) revealed that 88 percent of Americans know that digital devices can negatively affect their vision, but the average American still spends seven or more hours per day looking at their screens. According to the AOA, this overexposure to blue light – high-energy visible light emitted from digital devices – can lead to digital eye strain, sleep problems, blurred vision, headaches and neck and shoulder pain, among other things. The AOA survey also indicates that the average millennial spends nine hours per day on devices such as smartphones, tablets, LED monitors and flat-screen TVs which also emit blue light.

Read on for tips from the AOA on protecting your eyes.

Power down before you turn in: Turn your digital devices off at least one hour before bed.
Unplug with the AOA 20-20-20 rule: When you are using any device or computer, make a conscious effort every day to take a 20-second break and look away from the screen, every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.

Step back: Maintain a comfortable working distance from your digital device by using the zoom feature to see small print and details, rather than bringing the device closer to your eyes.

Adjust your device to fit your needs: The AOA recommends reducing the glare by adjusting device settings or using a glare filter to decrease the amount of blue light reflected from the screen.

Schedule an appointment: Visit a doctor of optometry by visiting AOA.org to schedule an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam to detect and address vision problems.

Source: American Optometric Association

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Five Tips for Easy Spring Cleaning

March 3, 2017 1:09 am

Is spring cleaning on your mind? It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. Below are five tips for easy cleaning, from MaxSold.com.

Decide what you are keeping
Heard of the KonMari decluttering method?  Keep an item if it brings you joy and if you have room for it - if not, set it aside.  Start with a post-its to speed up the process as you go along - bite the bullet and blaze through it in a day, or tackle one room at a time.

Don't take it to the dump
One person's trash is another person's treasure - it's amazing how much money you can recover for your unwanted things. Instead of filling up landfill, fill up your wallet.  Barry Gordon, the founder of MaxSold, an online selling platform, says "A chair that the owner was going to leave out in the side of the curb sold for over $2000, and a box of extension cords that would have gone to the dump sold for $40."

Don't prematurely sell off high value items
Ever post an ad online and get a response in an instant? This will leave you wondering if you grossly underpriced the item.  The opposite is also true - if no one responds to your ad for weeks, maybe you overpriced it, and lowering the price over days for 100s of items is inefficient.  Use an auction platform like MaxSold to sell everything where multiple people compete for the goods. Things that are better will engage more people and foster competition for not only items in demand, but for everything you are clearing out.

Don't put stuff in storage
So many people are focused on "What's my dining room going to bring?"  The hard truth is that no one is going to give you a lot of money for your dining room.  It's going to be heartbreaking.  It's going to be awful.  If you've got someone to give it to in the family, then that's a good idea. But most people do not.  And since they have nowhere else to go with it, they decide to put it into storage.  Unfortunately, they end up paying thousands of dollars in storage cost each year, only to have the items further depreciate in value.Source: MaxSold.com

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Travel Time: How to Organize a Group Cruise

March 3, 2017 1:09 am

Are you dreaming of travel time? Are you trying to corral one large group into the same destination? Whether you’re planning a spring break, a wedding party, or a trip with your extended family, a cruise is a great way to travel together. But organizing a large group of people can be a huge hassle.

Here are six tips courtesy of Carnival Corporation for putting together the perfect group cruise:

Appoint a group leader. This point person can help get everyone on the same page, coordinating when and where and on what ship your group wants to cruise and serving as the liaison with the experts in the cruise line's group department.

Make reservations well in advance. You will want to lay claim to a block of cabins as soon as possible. Booking a year in advance is preferable, which means now is the time for your group to look at winter 2018.

Work with a travel agent. Experienced travel agents can help take pressure off the group leader, handling logistics and working with the cruise line to make your experience special.

Book a shore experience. As you seek to create memories consider splurging on a group outing, designed by cruise line experts and led by local guides at a port of call.

Plan a special meal. For a memorable celebration, book the steakhouse or one of the ship's other specialty restaurants. The ship's experienced food and beverage team can assist with menus and wine selections.

Source: Carnival Corporation

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Become The Winter King Of Your Block With A Backyard Ice Rink

March 2, 2017 1:09 am

While warmer months beckon families, friends and neighbors to come sit around your pool or firepit, freezing temperatures and blankets of snow can put an immediate chill on any prospect of entertaining outside until springtime.

Unless you are one of the growing number of homeowners using the arctic weather patterns to create a temporary outdoor activity destination in your own backyard like a modest outdoor skating rink.

Jim Stoller, President of NiceRink (nicerink.com) in Southeastern Wisconsin advises using a white liner stretched over a light wooden frame to prevent heat absorption from the sun, and ensuring the liner is not more than 10" deep.

After filling with water, as long as nights remain colder than 23F/-5C to 18F/-8C and days aren't too much warmer, Stoller says you should be able to skate in 3-5 days. Usually, he says, 3"to 4" of ice depth will hold most kids and average size adults.

Joe Proulx at backyard-hockey.com says there is nothing in this world that compares to having your own backyard rink. Proulx says you really need four things: a liner, a frame to drop the liner into, supports to keep the frame up, and water.

All-in-all, your DIY ice rink can cost as little as $250, Proulx says.

Kelly Burke, a Lawn Care & Lawn Alternatives Expert at About Home (lawncare.about.com) says a no frills rink can start with a 1" base of lightly packed snow. Then, use packed snow, wood boards, or PVC pipe to create a minimum 3" lip to contain the water.

Burke says apply several light sprinklings of water to freeze a base before flooding the rink. This ice layer prevents water from soaking through the snow and reaching the grass.

So can a backyard rink wreck your grass?

Stoller says depending on how you build your rink and what type of liner you use will determine the health of your grass come spring. With a white liner and the flood method, he has seen a 99.9 percent effective rate in turf health.

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Protecting Those Pearly Whites

March 2, 2017 1:09 am

A nice smile has more importance than mere aesthetics; in addition to general mouth health, an ailing mouth can also be a sign of how healthy your heart is. Recent research has linked periodontal disease (the most severe form of gum disease) with a heightened risk of coronary artery disease and stroke.

Much of the population of the U.S. will experience gingivitis (the mildest form of gum disease) during their lives; while 30 percent -40 percent will experience periodontitis. Signs may be:

- Loose teeth
- Red, inflamed or tender gums
- Gums pulling away from teeth
- Gums that bleed when brushed
- Persistent bad breath

DentalPlans.com has the following tips for taking care of your mouth.

Limit sugar: Aside from their obvious detrimental health effects, sugary foods activate the oral bacteria that leads to tooth decay and gum disease.

Quit tobacco: Tobacco products can cause gum disease, tooth decay, oral cancer, and cardiovascular problems. For help quitting smoking, visit the American Lung Organization's web site. For those who chew tobacco, consider participating in the Great American Spit Out on Feb 23.

Stay hydrated: One's heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles when hydrated. Hydrating also helps avoid dry mouth, which can cause tooth decay.

Maintain good oral hygiene: Brush teeth properly at least twice a day, floss and get regular checkups and professional cleanings.

Source: DentalPlans.com.

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How to Save Big on Energy Costs

March 2, 2017 1:09 am

Those of us juggling mortgage payments, monthly phone and cable bills, and electric bills know the financial strain of homeownership. And while you may not be able to reduce that mortgage payment right now, you can certainly curtail your energy costs with a few tweaks.

"Swapping out light bulbs, turning on ceiling fans, and replacing air filters are a few easy ways to save energy," says Eric Corbett, president and owner of Larry & Sons. "Even the smallest problems with your furnace or inconsistencies in heating effectiveness throughout your home can cause your energy bill to skyrocket during winter."

Corbett offers the following tips on how to save energy and lower utility bills during winter:

- Seal the doors and windows. Homes are built to protect you from the elements. However, over time the seals around doors and windows can become weak. You may find that the seals between your doors and window frames are not as tight as they once were when the home was brand new. Weakened seals allow cold air to enter and warm air to exit. Therefore, heating your home isn't working if your seals are weak.

- Run your fans. Turning on the indoor fans will help to move air around the room. This evens out the temperature in a room instead of the hot air accumulating near the ceiling. It also helps to eliminate any cold spots in corners of the home.

- Swap old bulbs for LED lights. Swapping out old incandescent lights for LED lighting can save you extra money over time. In addition to being more energy efficient, LED lights last up to 50 times longer than incandescent lights and up to five times longer than fluorescent ones. This saves you time and money replacing burnt out bulbs.

- Turn down your thermostat and water heater if you're leaving home. If you are traveling, turn down the thermostat and water heater before leaving your home. Don't completely shut them off, just turn them down to save energy. If you shut your thermostat and water heater off, pipes can freeze without sufficient warmth.

- Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat allows you to set the temperature for various times of the day so that your furnace turns on to warm your house before you wake up, or it shuts off to save energy when everyone is asleep.

- Call a professional. Your HVAC is a complex system. If it's malfunctioning and runs without repair, it could potentially lead to greater damage and a more expensive repair. Invest in routine low-cost maintenance and tune-ups to save money in the long run.

- Clean your furnace filter. The simplest thing to do is to replace your air filter often. An HVAC unit drives air through a filter into the ductwork to the rest of the house. This keeps your air clean and filtered for impurities. As the filter removes impurities and dust from the air, it blocks airflow causing the furnace to work harder, which draws more energy.

Source: www.larryandsons.com.

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Contact Lens Safety Tips

March 1, 2017 1:09 am

(Family Feature)--With nearly 41 million adults in the U.S. wearing contact lenses as a safe and popular form of vision correction, there is a growing trend among Americans to alter the appearance or color of the eyes by using decorative contact lenses. However, if these lenses are bought illegally and without a prescription from your eye doctor, they could lead to serious health issues and potentially damage your eyesight permanently.

“Many consumers consider these lenses a fashion or costume accessory when, in reality, decorative lenses are also classified as medical devices and still pose the same potential safety and health issues as corrective contact lenses and require a prescription,” says Andrea P. Thau, O.D., president of the American Optometric Association (AOA).

The AOA recommends contact lens wearers take proper steps to protect their eyes and maintain a consistent hygiene routine, including:

- See a doctor of optometry for a comprehensive eye examination and proper fitting and prescription for decorative contacts lenses, even if you don’t require lenses to correct your vision.

- Never buy lenses from retail outlets or online sites that don’t require a prescription.

- Always follow the recommended contact lens replacement schedule prescribed by your eye doctor.

- Wash and dry hands before handling contact lenses.

- Carefully and regularly use cleaning solution to rub the lenses with fingers and rinse thoroughly before soaking overnight in multi-purpose disinfectant solution.

- Use fresh solution to clean and store contact lenses – never reuse old solution.

- Only use products recommended by your eye doctor to clean and disinfect lenses. Saline solution and rewetting drops do not disinfect lenses.

- Store lenses in the proper storage case and replace your case every three months. In addition, cases should be rubbed with clean fingers, rinsed with solution, dried with a tissue and stored upside-down when not in use.

- Remove contact lenses before exposing them to water.

- See your optometrist immediately if you experience redness, pain, irritation or blurred vision while wearing your lenses.

Source: aoa.org.

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Money Matters: Finances and Your Relationship

March 1, 2017 1:09 am

Communication is important in every aspect of your romantic relationship, but when it comes to finances, being open and honest—even when uncomfortable—is a necessity.

"Money discussions are tough to have, often bringing up core issues about our own relationship to money, as well as anxieties about the future," says Senior CFP Board Ambassador Jill Schlesinger, CFP®. "While it can be a hot button issue for many, not being open with your partner about money can often lead to more issues down the line."

In her latest contribution to LetsMakeAPlan.org, Schlesinger offers tips for how to start a conversation with your partner about your finances.

Set up time to talk: Trying to have a meaningful conversation about money amid a heated argument is fruitless. Instead, set aside a specific time and place to talk about the dreaded topic. You can reduce emotions by setting specific objectives and basic ground rules: No judgments – just open dialogue. 

Share information: During your conversation, you should share information including any outstanding debt, investments, bank and retirement accounts, and any bonds you may have. If you've never created a balance sheet or estate plan, now is the perfect time to do so!  Create a master list of assets and note who owns each, or whether it's jointly owned. Also include any account usernames and passwords, broker names and contact information, and other account info to share with your partner.

Get on the same page: Make sure you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to financial priorities – retirement, college planning and cash flow management. Do you want to keep separate bank accounts and both contribute to a joint account? There is no "right" answer, but agreeing on a path forward will help avoid confusion in the future.

Divide and conquer: After you have the conversation, divide financial responsibilities that work for each partner's strength. If one likes to use apps to track spending, they should monitor the day-to-day bills. If the other is more inclined to manage the long-term investments, they should manage those accounts. Make sure you understand the game plan together and allocate tasks appropriately.

Source: Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.

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How to Check Your Roof for Damage

March 1, 2017 1:09 am

Whether your roof is aged or just weathered a severe storm, staying on top of possible damage is key to extending the life of your home’s top half.

Highland Commercial Roofing offers these tips to help detect and prevent water damage:

Inspect your roof for damage after a severe storm.

Remove any loose objects and debris. A clean roof eliminates leaves and other items. from accumulations on the roof and clogging drains and gutters.

Check gutters and downspouts for debris that will inhibit proper drainage.

Bubbles on the roof may be a sign of trapped moisture under the cover.

Worn, cracking seams can allow water to enter below the cover.

Standing water or prolonged ponding of water can lead to premature aging and deterioration.

Check skylights for securement and cracking around the edges.

Source: www.highlandroof.com

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