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Michael Gillis

Michael Gillis
701 W. Market Street  Perkasie  PA 18944
Phone:  215-469-0213
Office:  215-453-7653
Fax:  267-354-6911

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Young Adults May be Overlooking Obvious Resources for Sound Financial Advice

June 18, 2014 5:42 am

A National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) recent online poll revealed that if financial advice were needed, more people would reach out to dad than mom for help.

Moreover, the majority of poll respondents, sixty-four percent, felt as though they could obtain better advice than what either mom or dad can offer. Considering the abundance of financial guidance available, consumers indeed have many options, but leaving parents out of the equation might mean missing an opportunity for solid, tried and true financial advice.

“Taken together, only slightly more than one-third of respondents would turn to either parent,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC.

“Younger generations may want to reconsider where they seek financial advice, as the data associated with baby boomers from the NFCC’s 2014 Financial Literacy Survey indicates that the 55-64 age range has their financial act together in many areas associated with successful money management.”

Consider the following:

-Sixty-four percent give themselves a grade of A or B on their knowledge of personal finance.
-Eighty-two percent pay all of their bills on time and have no debts in collections. The only age group with a better record (91 percent) are those age 65 and above.
-More than half (52 percent) carry no credit card debt over from month-to-month.
-Only three percent are worried about not being able to pay their credit card debt, and a meager one percent has made a payment that was less than the required minimum in the past 12 months.
-Seventy-two percent report having savings beyond that earmarked for retirement.
-People in the two oldest age groups, 55-64 and those over 65, contribute at least 20 percent annually toward their retirement savings.

Cunningham also noted that many in the baby boomer generation apparently feel confident about the lifetime of financial decisions they’ve made. When asked if their money could talk, 45 percent indicated it would say “we’ve been a successful team.”

Sources: www.SharpenToday.org, www.agudicehoy.org, www.DebtAdvice.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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When Disaster Strikes, Will your Pets be Safe? Preparedness Tips for Pet Parents

June 18, 2014 5:42 am

(BPT) - Americans living in areas prone to severe storms, floods, earthquakes or other natural disasters may be well aware of the philosophy, "Hope for the best, but plan for the worst." Families with a disaster plan in place will be better equipped to stay safe and recover from an emergency. Too often, however, even the best planners forget to include provisions for the four-legged members of the family.

"When disaster strikes, families may not have much time to act," says Dr. Ellen I. Lowery, associate director of U.S. professional and veterinary affairs at Hill's Pet Nutrition. "While organizations like Hill's, through our Disaster Relief Network, strive to help families and pets in the wake of natural disasters, it's important to have a disaster plan ready, including a well-stocked Pet Emergency Go-Kit with food, water and other essentials for your pet."

Dr. Lowery offers some guidance for putting your "Pet Emergency Go-Kit" together:

* Include first aid supplies and a first aid guide book for pets.

* Keep three-day supplies of both your pet's favorite food - in a waterproof container - and bottled water.

* Store an extra safety harness and leash because even the best-behaved pet may be frightened in an emergency, causing him to run and hide.

* Include waste cleanup supplies. It's important to properly dispose of pet waste to avoid adding health concerns to an already difficult situation.

* If your pet is on any medications, keep a few days' worth in your kit. Also include an up-to-date copy of medical records, as well as contact information for your veterinarian and additional veterinary and pet care organizations in your area.

* You should have a brief, written explanation of your pet's feeding routine, personality and any behavioral issues. In a disaster, your pet may receive care from someone who doesn't know him as well as you do.

* Don't forget comfort - include a few toys and a favorite blanket to keep your pet comfortable.

Keep your Pet Go-Kit somewhere readily accessible in an emergency. Be sure your pet always wears his/her identification - a microchip or collar ID tag with up-to-date information may help reunite you with your pet if you become separated in the confusion of a disaster scene.

If an impending disaster requires you to evacuate, take your pet with you. Be aware of your pet's favorite hiding places so you'll know where to look when you're in a hurry to leave.

Before disaster strikes, identify locations where you could take your pet during an evacuation; not all disaster shelters for people will be open to pets. Look for pet-friendly hotels or motels, or ask relatives and friends if they could accommodate you and your pets.

Despite your best efforts, it may not be possible to take your pet with you. To alert first responders to the possible presence of a pet in the house, place a pet rescue decal on your front door or window. It should include your veterinarian's contact information and any special notes about your pet's personality or medical needs. Carry a picture of your pet in case you become separated.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Top Cities to Book Inexpensive Hotels and Most Popular Vacation Destinations for July 4th 2014

June 18, 2014 5:42 am

Travelocity's Independence Day holiday booking data reveals optimistic news for travelers looking to save during the July 4 weekend. While airfare and domestic hotel rates are both on the rise, international travelers will pay less to book a hotel as average rates have decreased nearly 3 percent. Travelocity's data also shows that airfare to eight out of the top 10 most popular destinations for the holiday is less expensive than the national average ($402) and hotel rates under $150 are easy to lock in if you know where to look.

"Travelers looking for a good travel deal should consider checking out Orlando where airfare prices are under the national average and hotel rates have dropped more than 15 percent year-over-year," said Travelocity Senior Editor, Courtney Scott. "Las Vegas is another great value this July 4, with average nightly hotel rates of only $105."

Hotels in the U.S. Under $150

Consider taking a July 4 vacation to one of these 10 cities, where average hotel rates are below $150!

1. Las Vegas ($105)
2. Albuquerque ($112)
3. Colorado Springs ($116)
4. Memphis ($126)
5. Dallas / Ft. Worth ($126)
6. Orlando ($131)
7. Atlanta ($139)
8. Palm Springs ($140)
9. Minneapolis ($141)
10. Phoenix ($142)

Most Popular July 4th Destinations of 2014

According to the data report, the cost of airfare is up 3.6 percent from last year, with an average round-trip domestic ticket costing $402. Similarly, hotel rates for the upcoming holiday weekend also showed an 8 percent increase bringing the average nightly hotel rate to about $171. Notwithstanding these increases, airfare to eight out of the top 10 most popular destinations for the holiday is less expensive than the national average ($402) and half of the top 10 most popular destinations boast an average hotel rate lower than the national average.

1. New York City ($340 average round-trip airfare / $236 average hotel rate)
2. Los Angeles ($369 average round-trip airfare / $165 average hotel rate)
3. Orlando ($340 average round-trip airfare / $131 average hotel rate)
4. Seattle ($422 average round-trip airfare / $191 average hotel rate)
5. South Florida ($341 average round-trip airfare / $170 average hotel rate)
6. Boston ($359 average round-trip airfare / $232 average hotel rate)
7. Denver ($347 average round-trip airfare / $155 average hotel rate)
8. San Francisco Bay Area ($402 average round-trip airfare / $211 average hotel rate)
9. Washington, D.C. ($344 average round-trip airfare / $172 average hotel rate)
10. Chicago ($336 average round-trip airfare / $169 average hotel rate)

U.S. travelers looking to venture abroad over the July 4th holiday will enjoy a nearly 3 percent drop in average hotel rates with an average of $211 per night while airfare has increased slightly, about 3 percent. Europe, the Caribbean and Canada top the most popular list.

1. London, England ($1,610 average round-trip airfare / $295 average hotel rate)
2. Dominican Republic ($597 average airfare / $230 average hotel rate)
3. Paris, France ($1,686 average round-trip airfare / $252 average hotel rate)
4. Vancouver, BC ($498 average round-trip airfare / $195 average hotel rate)
5. U.S. Virgin Islands ($592 average round-trip airfare / $275 average hotel rate)

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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5 Easy Tips for Throwing the Ultimate Summer Party

June 16, 2014 5:18 am

(BPT) - There's nothing quite like a summer party where beautiful weather, great food and good friends come together to create memories that last. If you're looking forward to throwing a summer party but you're not sure how to get started, the following tips will have you outside enjoying a warm breeze with your friends in no time.

* Formulate the guest list. What's a party without guests, right? Start by determining how many people you can comfortably host and create your guest list with this realistic number in mind. Friends, family and co-workers can all attend, but make sure to invite people you know will be respectful of your home and your neighborhood as their actions reflect on you. You might consider adding your neighbors as well as they may feel slighted if they aren't invited to the big party taking place next door.

* Pick a theme. Theme parties make planning and decorating so much easier, and they provide guests an immediate sense of what kind of party it is, how to dress, etc. If you own a pool, invite everyone to a day at the beach. Or, pick a theme around your favorite television show. Whatever you decide, carry your theme through to the decorations, the attire and the invitations themselves.

* Dress your party to impress. The right decorations are a matter of taste and your skill level. If you're the creative type, you may enjoy building your own decorations from scratch. Or, you might prefer to simply purchase your decorations from a local party supply store. No matter what you choose, select decorations that complement the theme of your party. Remember to make sure areas like the food table and sitting areas are appropriately decorated.

* A flavor for every taste. Warm weather gatherings shouldn't involve a lot of time in the kitchen working over a hot stove. Instead, consider offering a selection of easy, ready-to-eat snacks in a variety of flavors.

* Keep them entertained. The right entertainment options can keep your party going longer. If you have a pool, make it the main attraction and don't forget the floats! Outdoor yard games like darts, lawn bowling or bean bag toss are popular and you can encourage participation by turning them into a competition. Smaller groups may appreciate a deck of cards and no one can say no to bingo if there's a prize on the line. Good music is a must so be sure to load your iPod with a fun, upbeat playlist your guest will enjoy.

Planning the perfect party is easier than you may think. With a little preparation and the right food, decorations and entertainment, you can give your guests a memorable event they'll be talking about all summer long.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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More Americans Plan to Hit the Road This Summer

June 16, 2014 5:18 am

Travelzoo Inc. revealed 40 percent of Americans plan to take more summer vacations this year compared with last year. More than one third (36 percent) of Americans plan to take two or more vacations this summer; this is an increase from 27 percent last year. A Travelzoo survey revealed short weekend road trips are the most popular summer vacation type (57 percent), followed by longer driving vacations (38 percent), long-haul air-travel vacations (29 percent) and short air-travel vacations (18 percent).

"Now is the perfect time to plan a weekend road trip as AAA recently announced that gas prices are dropping," said Gabe Saglie, senior editor for Travelzoo.

Additional statistics include:

Flying versus Driving
• 75 percent of Americans are willing to drive 4 or more hours for their summer vacations.
• 44 percent of Americans are willing to fly 4 or more hours for their summer vacations.
• 97 percent of Americans are planning a driving vacation compared with only 63 percent of Americans who are planning a flying vacation.
• 55 percent of Americans will up to spend up to $300 on roundtrip airfare (per person).

Traveling With Kids versus Traveling Without Kids
• 56 percent of Americans with kids will not delay their summer vacation until fall to save money.
• 78 percent of respondents without kids are more willing to travel in fall versus summer if they could save money.
• 55 percent of Americans without kids will take a flying vacation compared with 31 percent of Americans with kids.
• 76 percent of Americans with kids are willing to drive more than 4 hours for vacation.
• 74 percent of Americans without kids are willing to drive more than 4 hours for vacation.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Outdoor Home Renovations on the Rise this Year; Homeowners Willing to Spend More

June 16, 2014 5:18 am

More than two-thirds (68 percent) of remodelers are planning outdoor home improvement projects this season, a 70 percent increase compared to last summer (40 percent), according to the summer Zillow® Digs® Home Design Trend Report. Open-air living rooms, featuring wood arbors, fully upholstered seating and muted colors, will be popular with homeowners this season.

This one-of-a-kind trend report depends on a survey of members of the Zillow Digs Board of Designers, a group of design experts from across the country, and the most popular outdoor photos on Zillow Digs, a hub for home improvement and design inspiration.

Summer remodel budgets increased since the beginning of the year, up 100 percent to $1,000 on median. With a larger budget, many homeowners are considering more extensive outdoor remodels such as open-air living rooms to expand useable square footage for year-round use, adding value to their home.

Top three trends for open-air living rooms:

Wood arbors: Wood arbors will be all the rage this summer with homeowners wanting a clearly defined outdoor space that functions as a second living room. Expect to see "arbors featuring lots of greenery" to create the illusion of an "open-air ceiling," says Melissa Klebanoff of Melissa Klebanoff Interior Design in Seattle. Wood arbors with white curtains and outdoor twinkle lights also will be popular this season.

Fully upholstered couches: Zillow design experts identified fully upholstered couches as a growing open-air living room trend as homeowners want to invest in "comfortable seating and lounging pieces for a real indoor/outdoor feel," says Mara Miller of Carrier and Company in New York City. In addition to indoor-style seating, other typically interior accessories such as rugs, lamps and wood coffee tables also will gain popularity among remodelers.

Muted colors: Homeowners and designers identify soft, muted hues as the most popular colors for open-air living rooms. Outdoor colors this season are about "subtly not saturation," says Marc Thee of Marc-Michaels Interior Design in Winter Park, Florida. Expect to see homeowners "dialing back" those louder accent colors from last summer such as "turquoise to sea glass, watermelon to a greyed shrimp and bright orange to a beautiful sherbet," Thee says.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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6 Tips for the Summer Seller

June 12, 2014 4:30 am

It is often said that there is never a perfect time to sell your house. Each season can be marked with different challenges and difficulties that sellers should keep in mind. Families with children tend to look for a home during the summer months, when there is no conflict of missing school or other obligations during a move. On the other hand, singles and couples may not be looking to buy during their time of vacation and relaxation.

With the official beginning of summer on June 21, many homeowners are gearing up to place their homes on the market, hoping to attract eager buyers. To save time and money in the long run, here are six tips to get your home ready for display – and ultimately help sell your house:

1. Use the summer atmosphere to your advantage. The lively and carefree vibes of summer leave many buyers looking for a refreshing home with areas to enjoy the season. Keep your backyards and patios clean and festive. Add in pops of color with fresh flowers, unique décor or hanging lights. No matter the style of your current patio, there is always something that can be added to give a punch of personality.

2. Fight the weather. If you live in a humid city or area, you may find your home sticky and warm – just what buyers don’t want. Solve this issue with a dehumidifier. Place in a lower set room or any room you think may need the extra water absorption. Check with a local flood servicer or plumbing company for rental options to avoid spending extra cash on a short-use purchase.

3. Lighten your home. Take down heavy drapes and curtains to let in the natural sunlight. This will prevent that drab and dreary feeling from sneaking in. Adding in plant life or flowers in your home will also brighten the space while producing a sweet aroma! If you are in a bind with time and money, visit your local Trader Joe’s. The store is always packed with in-season flowers and plants, already bloomed, at a low price.

4. Keep grass green and flowers seen. An unkempt lawn is most obvious to buyers during the summer months. Make time to water your grass and mow your lawn at least once a week (maybe more depending on where you live and type of grass). The sharp and colorful contrast of your green lawn with bright colored flowers will automatically draw in buyers.

5. Check screens and doors for cracks/holes. Summer months are prone to bugs and mosquitoes. Keep these dreaded bugs out and potential buyers happy by fixing any window screens with holes. Also take a look at the rubber stops in your doorway and replace any ill-fitting stops that may have been caused from weather or warping.

6. Get the word out. Summer is a much more social time of year. Take some time to walk around your neighborhood to let people know about your home, and ask them to share with anyone they know who might be interested. It is much more likely to come up in conversation during a late night BBQ! Take an informational flier with you that showcases a picture of your home in tip-top shape.

Remember: Each house is different but there is no need to go overboard to completely alter your home for summer. Play off your home’s strengths, while following these six steps, and you will surely attract buyers.

Source: Renovation Realty

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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2015 Design and Color Trends

June 11, 2014 4:18 am

Dunn-Edwards Paints released it 2015 trend report, A Journey of Discovery, which reveals key colors and design trends we'll see next year, and how social, culture and demographic changes influence these trends. Sara McLean, color expert and blogger at specs+spaces, explains that the color palette is rich in deep and vivid colors, inspired by adventure and discovery around the world. These five key trends will be significant influencers of colors and textures.

Romance and Remembrance is inspired by journeys into the past, filled with romance and intrigue. Envision traveling the Trans-Siberian railway or the Silk Road, or studying the rich tapestry of historical details through Renaissance to Medieval times - this trend returns to color and design that is familiar, yet with a modern day twist. The color palette creates a sense of history and solemnity with somber and serene neutrals such as chocolate, gray, soft green, mauve, pale pink and garnet, highlighted by whitened tones, sky blue and pale yellow.

Spirit of the West captures the freedom and romance of forging a new life in the American West. The artisan life is transformed by journeys to Latin and South America, Cuba and the Caribbean, bringing back design ideas from afar. The spirit of the West breathes life into emotional connections and ancient spiritual ways. Colors combine artisan style colors of red and rust with pigmented darks, dusky and very dark tones. Warm neutrals such as terracotta, green, ecru, tobacco and bronze round out the color palette.

Kaleidoscope provides journeys of travel to far-flung destinations with a focus on Brazil and South America, and to summer sun and surf. With glimpses at a variety of high-volume, frenetic lifestyles from street culture fans to night owls, club crawlers to sports fanatics and tech geeks, Kaleidoscope highlights pure joy. This color palette is on full display, filled with vivid brights and plant life coloring – vibrant, intense, with a touch of metallic.

L.A. Eccentricities takes us on a journey to the unique and quirky people and personalities of the City of Angels and the Southwest region -- cheerful and festive, sentimental, hooked on fashion and trends, often with quirky and retro kitsch touches. Color is sugary-sweet with artificial goodness and pastel infusions. Highlights of citrus and berry add a layer of complexity.

Into the Abyss emerges as a story of sea, water and life in the Far East. From Japanese fishing villages to the fields of Vietnam, we journey on a learning curve into this world. With the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan, influences of life lived beyond the Western world blossom. Layers of blue, from inky and deep ocean blues of the abyss to lighter sunlit blues are highlighted with accents of seaweed and sea life coloring.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Get Ready For a Safer Clean-Up before a Hurricane or Severe Weather Strikes

June 11, 2014 4:18 am

Far too often, people face grave safety threats after a hurricane or severe weather ends when they begin to clean-up their homes and businesses. It's important for homeowners and businesses to have proper equipment on hand and to be familiar with safe operating procedures when an emergency hits.

During National Safety Month in June, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) encourages homeowners and businesses to take stock of their power tools and equipment for storm clean-up, such as chainsaws, pruners, generators, and utility type vehicles.

OPEI's President and CEO Kris Kiser says it's important to think ahead about equipment you may need. "Often after a disaster there is a rush on power equipment like generators and chainsaws – just like there's a rush on supplies at the grocery store. Having the proper equipment on hand before the post-storm rush means you avoid being left empty-handed."

The trade association also cautions consumers to know how to handle that equipment safely. Kiser says before a storm strikes is the best time to familiarize yourself with your power equipment operation and safety manuals. "When you're in the throes of an emergency, you might not be thinking clearly or you may have trouble locating your safety manuals," said Kiser. "So it's important to brush up on the user and safety guidelines before disaster strikes."

Here are a few tips to help:

Use common sense with chainsaws. Remaining calm and using common sense are important when using chainsaws to clear storm debris. Be aware of fundamental dangers that can occur with chainsaws, including kickback, which may happen when the moving chain at the tip of the guide bar touches an object, or when the wood closes in and pinches the saw chain in the cut. This can cause the saw to suddenly jerk back toward the operator.

Always stand with your weight on both feet, and adjust your stance so you are angled away from the saw chain blade. Also, hold the chainsaw with both hands, and never overreach or cut above shoulder height.

Keep firm footing when using pole saws and pole pruners. Pole saws or pruners are effective in selectively removing dead or damaged limbs. When operating these tools, make sure you always keep a firm footing on the ground. Observe the safety zone, which means keeping bystanders and power lines (those above you and any that might have fallen down) at least 50 feet away from your work area.

Give portable electric generators plenty of ventilation. Generators produce carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless and poisonous gas. Generators should never be used in an enclosed area, even if the windows or doors are open. The muffler on a generator can get extremely hot, so any combustible materials (leaves, grass, brush) must be cleared away before operating. Remember to clean out any stale fuel by draining old fuel out of the tank and the carburetor bowl to avoid engine problems, such as starting issues and rough running.

Drive Utility Type Vehicles (UTVs) with care. UTVs can be useful for hauling debris, particularly when clearing damage in rural settings or on large properties. When the vehicle is loaded, the center of gravity is higher, and so is the risk of overturning. To keep the vehicle stable, drive slowly and do not turn the vehicle in mid-slope or hill as this could increase the likelihood of overturning.

Have the proper fuel on hand for your outdoor power equipment. It's also important to have the proper fuel on hand for your equipment, as filling stations may be closed after a storm. Make sure you store fuel properly and buy the type of fuel recommended by your equipment's manufacturer. It is illegal to use any fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol content in outdoor power equipment (for more information on fueling properly see www.LookBeforeYouPump.com).

Find your safety gear now. Before the storm is also a good time to locate any safety gear you may need for storm cleanup. Sturdy shoes, safety goggles, hard hats, reflective clothing and work gloves may be helpful and in short supply after a storm.

Source: OPEI

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Is your Relationship Ready for DIY?

June 9, 2014 3:54 am

Each year, thousands of couples across the country will embark on a journey that may be one of the most rewarding and challenging events in their lives: the shared home improvement project.

Whether it's newlyweds walking down the aisle and purchasing their first home, or couples preparing to freshen up their home and landscape, warmer weather is known to awaken the home improvement bug – for better or for worse.

In a recent survey, 2,000 people were asked how partnering on do-it-yourself (DIY) projects impacts their relationship:

• Sometimes couples working on projects hit a bump in the road – more than 60 percent of people admitted to having a disagreement with their significant other during the course of a DIY project.
• Don't feel like a failure if your project stalls halfway through – one-third of couples surveyed had left a project partially complete at some point, and didn't expect to finish them for more than three months.
• But there is a happy ending - people still want to work on projects with the one they love. Nearly 80 percent of respondents turn to their significant other as the first choice for help when it's time to DIY.

Source: Lowe’s

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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