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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

My Blog

3 Ways to Make Hard Conversations Easier

February 20, 2018 5:21 am

Whether it's a big talk with the boss, a deep process with your partner, or breaking some hard news to your folks, communication is hard when the stakes are raised. Below are three tips to help.

Work on body language. You know what your mouth is saying, but what about your body? It can be hard to move outside your mind and examine your body language. Are you closed or folded with arms and legs crossed? Is your body pointing away from your conversation partner? Pay mind to your body language before you begin speaking and monitor it as you go, too. This will help stop you from sending nonverbal messages that may not align with your words.

Know what you want. It may seem ridiculous, but so many of us enter important conversations without a clear outcome in mind. Whether you want something vague like to simply be heard, or a more pointed goal, such as securing a raise or dividing chores with your spouse, enter the conversation with a clear goal in mind. This will help mitigate unnecessary back and forth and keep you focused.

Create a calming ritual. If you're the type to get worked up before a big talk, create a calming ritual to have beforehand. Whether it's five minutes of meditation, a walk around the block with your pup, or a journaling session about what you hope to achieve from your talk, taking a moment to ground yourself can be helpful.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


5 Ways to Springify Your Home

February 19, 2018 5:18 am

Winter got you down? Bring a little spring into your home long before the season arrives with these few simple tricks:

Set a flower budget. While it’s certainly not a necessary expense, adding an arrangement of fresh flowers to your home weekly might be well worth the mood-boosting value they bring. Opt for your local supermarket instead of the florist and stick with brightly colored mums, carnations and daisy to keep the investment low. Or up the springtime vide with a bouquet of pastel colored tulips

Force bulbs. If you can’t wait to see those first harbingers of spring pop up through the ground outdoors, plant some bulbs in a few pots around the house and watch them sprout and bloom long before the calendar turns to spring.

Trick your senses. There’s no law that says scented seasonal candles must be used in said season! Use the powerful sense of smell to make you feel like spring, even if the weather outside says otherwise. Try a lilac, hyacinth or rose scented candle, or take it a step further and light candles that smell like the beach or warm-weather fruits like peaches or watermelon.

Lighten your surroundings. There is also no decorating rule that says you must wait until spring to replace your heavy drapery with your airy sheers. Doing so will instantly brighten your mood by letting more natural light and sunshine in.

Start your veggies from scratch. Make a small investment in a few indoor potting supplies and start your tomato and other vegetables from seed this year. Choose a sunny window and watch them sprout. By the time the weather is ready for them outdoors, they’ll be strong enough to plant.By taking these few simple steps, you’ll be feeling like spring in no time!

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Find Out the Truth About Tap Water

February 19, 2018 5:18 am

(Family Features)--While the tap water you drink may look clean, it may contain harmful contaminants like lead, pesticides and industrial pollutants. These and others may be picked up on the journey from your water treatment plant through miles of pipes to your home.

To help clear up any misconceptions about what's really in your water, the experts at PUR offer this myth-busting advice:

Myth: Living close to a fresh water source makes tap water safer to drink.

Truth: Even if you live close to a fresh water source, your water goes on a long journey through an often aging infrastructure before it reaches your tap. According to Environmental Health & Engineering, Inc., up to 10 million lead service lines are still in use in the country today, potentially allowing lead particles to enter into your water.

Myth: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates all contaminants.

Truth: There are about 100,000 potential contaminants in drinking water. According to the EPA, its Safe Drinking Water Act only regulates 103. That means water that meets the government's safe drinking standards may not meet yours.

Myth: All water filters are created equal.

Truth: While both pitcher and faucet filters remove unwanted contaminants, a faucet filter is usually a step up from a pitcher because it has a longer life and can remove even more contaminants, including lead.  As every brand is different, it's important to check the types of contaminants each filter removes and confirm it is certified by NSF and the Water Quality Association for contamination reduction. Doing so can help you get the healthiest, cleanest tasting water possible.

Myth: You can determine if tap water is safe to drink by how it looks, smells and tastes.

Truth: While your water might look, smell and taste clean, it could contain contaminants that are potentially harmful to your health, like lead, which is colorless, odorless and has no taste.

"Knowing what's in the water you drink and cook with is important, but determining the quality of your local water supply can seem daunting," says Keri Glassman, registered dietitian, nutritionist and PUR spokesperson. "Fortunately, there's a free online resource called that allows users to type in any address to easily learn about lead and other possible contaminants in their water."

Myth: Boiling water removes lead.

Truth: Boiling water may reduce bacteria found in the water, but will not remove lead. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the lead concentration of water can actually increase slightly when water is boiled because some of the water evaporates during the boiling process.

Myth: Drinking filtered water is expensive.

Truth: Using a faucet filtration system for one year is comparable in cost to purchasing enough bottled water to last only two months. Some solutions,like the PUR Advanced Faucet Filtration System, work on-demand to filter water right from the tap and are certified to reduce over 70 contaminants, including 99 percent of lead, 96 percent of mercury and 92 percent of certain pesticides.

Get your individual water quality report and learn more at

Source: PUR

Published with permission from RISMedia.


5 Tips to Deal with Stock Market Volatility

February 19, 2018 5:18 am

A volatile stock market can be stressful for anyone who has invested a chunk of change.  Here, Aadil Zaman and Syed Nishat of the Wall Street Alliance Group, offer their top 5 tips for successfully navigating through market volatility:

Be mentally prepared for market declines. Market corrections are an essential part of a healthy market. At any point in time, an investor should be prepared for a 10 percent to 20 percent pullback. If the recent two-days fall made some investors feel restless and stressed, then it may be time to reassess their risk exposure to make it more conservative. On the other hand, corrections present an opportunity for those investors who are sitting on a large amount of cash to identify entry points in the market to put their money to work.

Factor in rising interest rates. Recent data has shown that the economy is improving with unemployment falling and GDP growth increasing, which will eventually lead to inflation pressures. One of the responsibilities of the Federal Reserve is to control inflation, and this is accomplished by raising interest rates. As the market adjusts to the realization of higher interest rates, it may fluctuate. Therefore, while designing an investment strategy, it is essential to take higher future interest rates into consideration.

Watch the municipal bond market. Volatility could cause a short-term fall in the municipal bond market, which may create an opportunity for investors who are in a higher tax bracket. Consider that a yield to maturity of 3.5 percent per year on a high grade insured municipal bond that is trading at par is equivalent to making a 5.83 percent per year after tax return for someone who is in the 40 percent tax bracket - and that too, with very low risk.

Stay away from leveraged ETFs. Leveraged ETFs are bad news for the individual investor. These are complexed products that are often misunderstood and could cause market volatility as well as distortions.

Identify your worst-case scenario. This is an important exercise for investors, so they can understand their pain threshold. At present, the likelihood of a market decline to the extent of what happened in 2008 is low, however, one should always ask, "What if 2008 happens again?" Understanding this worst-case scenario will help investors stay calmer and have an investment approach that is closely aligned with their individual level of risk tolerance.

With greater participation in the stock market through machine trading, ETFs and robo advisors, volatility is here to stay. For this reason, it is important for investors to take into account a high degree of market fluctuation in their portfolio design. As everyone’s situation is unique, be sure to discuss any decisions with your financial advisor.

Source: Wall Street Alliance Group

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Easy Ideas for Celebrating Presidents’ Day With Your Kids

February 15, 2018 5:06 am

Looking for a neat way to celebrate Presidents’ Day with your tot? Below are a few fun ideas perfect for an easy afternoon.

Have a history lesson. Depending on how old your kids are, take them on a little history tour. Focus on your favorite president, or a specific time period. Look online for easy lessons or videos to share.

Do a presidential craft project. Red, white and blue collages? Presidential mobile? A White House inspired gingerbread house? The options are endless when it comes to president-inspired crafts.

Decorate the house. Now that you have that presidential art project finished, use it to help your child decorate the house. Add a red tablecloth and some blue balloons, or deck out your kid's bedroom together.

Cook a meal fit for a president. Cooking together is a great way to bond, and at the end of it, you have a delicious meal. Sit down with your child and plan a fancy lunch or dinner menu fit for the White House, take them shopping for ingredients, and hit the kitchen.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


4 Times to Put Your Phone Away

February 15, 2018 5:06 am

Just about all of us could benefit from a device diet. While a boon on so many levels, sometimes smartphones have gone too far in permeating our lives. A great way to detach even just a little bit, is to create boundaries around certain times and events, making them non-negotiable device-free zones for you and your loved ones.

Here are four places to consider making your phone off-limits:

Dinner. Hopefully, this is already a rule for many of you. But take a look around the next restaurant you’re at and you’ll see that’s not the case for a lot of people. Mealtime, especially dinner, is meant for relaxing and meaningfully connecting with friends and family. Everyone is so busy all day long, we need this hour for ourselves, don’t you think? Plus, not only is the social component important, but slow, mindful eating is important for your body, as well. If there are reasons you must have your device handy, such as a baby at home with a sitter, keep it on vibrate in your pocket, then check it when you use the restroom. Also, remember the old-fashioned way: give the sitter the name of the restaurant you’re going to so he or she can call there in case of an emergency.

The Movies. This is a rule in most movie theaters, yet we continue to see the haunting glow of mobile devices popping up throughout the audience. Enjoy the art of seeing a movie on the big screen and leave your small screen in your pocket - if not for yourself, out of respect for the rest of the people who paid $17 to get lost in an old-school cinematic experience.

Waiting in Line. This one’s a challenge, but well worth it. Research has shown that our creative thinking abilities are being diminished by our constant occupation with our mobile device every time we have a spare moment to kill. So, next time you’re in line at Starbucks or at the airport, resist the urge to pull out your phone and instead...let your mind wander. Maybe even strike up a conversation with the person in front of you. You never know where this exercise could lead.

A Concert. While mobile devices allow us to blast out on social that we’re at the concert of the year, as well as film the entire set, the downside is that we’re starting to miss the point - we’re at a live concert! So, take a couple of pictures, capture your favorite song, then put the phone away and immerse yourself in the concert experience - the crowd, the singing along, the lights, the performance. If you’re posting, snapchatting, tweeting, etc., sure, you’re telling the world you were there…but were you really there?

Published with permission from RISMedia.


How to Claim Tax Credit for Retirement Savings

February 15, 2018 5:06 am

It's tax time, and you're claiming those office expenses and miles logged getting to and from work, but are you taking the "Saver's Credit"? The Saver's Credit, also referred to as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit by the Internal Revenue Service, is available to eligible taxpayers who are saving for retirement, yet 64 percent of workers are unaware of the credit, according to the 18th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey.

"As a tax credit, the Saver's Credit is an important incentive to save for retirement in a 401(k), 403(b) or IRA. By saving for retirement and claiming the credit, eligible taxpayers may be able to lower their federal income taxes," says Catherine Collinson, president of nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. "Millions of Americans who are already saving for retirement could be missing out on the Saver's Credit simply because they don't know it exists. Among those who are not yet saving for retirement, the Saver's Credit could be the incentive they need to get started."

What Is the Saver's Credit?

The Saver's Credit is a non-refundable tax credit that may be applied up to the first $2,000 of voluntary contributions an eligible worker makes to a 401(k), 403(b) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan, or a traditional or Roth IRA. The maximum credit is $1,000 for single filers or individuals and $2,000 for married couples.

"The Saver's Credit is a tax credit in addition to the benefit of tax-advantaged savings when contributing to a 401(k), 403(b) or IRA. Many eligible retirement savers may be confusing these two incentives because the notion of a double tax benefit seems too good to be true," says Collinson.

Who Can Claim the Saver's Credit?

The credit is available to workers ages 18 years or older who have contributed to a company-sponsored retirement plan or IRA in the past year and meet the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) requirements:

- Single filers with an AGI of up to $31,000 in 2017 or $31,500 in 2018 are eligible;

- For the head of a household, the AGI limit is $46,500 in 2017 or $47,250 in 2018; and,

- For those who are married and file a joint return, the AGI limit is $62,000 in 2017 or $63,000 in 2018.

Additionally, the filer cannot be a full-time student and cannot be claimed as a dependent on another person's tax return.

How Can Workers Claim the Saver's Credit?

"Workers who are eligible to receive the Saver's Credit are at risk of missing it if they use the wrong tax form. If you are eligible to claim the Saver's Credit, you should use Form 1040, Form 1040A or Form 1040NR. The Saver's Credit is not available on Form 1040EZ," says Collinson.

Another important and potentially overlooked opportunity is the IRS Free File program. Workers who are eligible to claim the Saver's Credit are also eligible to take advantage of this program that offers federal income tax preparation software for free to tax filers with an AGI of $66,000 or less. Unfortunately, a concerning 55 percent of workers are unaware of this program, according to the 18th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey. Twelve companies make their tax preparation software available through this program at Certain restrictions may apply.

Tips for claiming the Saver's Credit:

- If you’re using tax preparation software to prepare your tax return, including those programs offered through the IRS Free File program, use Form 1040, Form 1040A or Form 1040NR. The credit is not available with Form 1040EZ. If your software has an interview process, be sure to answer questions about the Saver's Credit, also referred to as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit and/or Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions.

- If you’re preparing your tax return manually, complete Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, to determine your exact credit rate and amount. Then, transfer the amount to the designated line on Form 1040, Form 1040A or Form 1040NR.

- If you’re using a professional tax preparer, be sure to ask about the Saver's Credit.

- If you receive a refund, consider directly depositing it into an IRA to further boost your retirement savings.

"Please spread the word about the Saver's Credit by telling your family, friends and colleagues – and be sure to check whether you're eligible. Many people who contributed to a 401(k) plan or IRA in 2017 are eligible to receive it, but may be missing out because they don't know about it," says Collinson. "Those who are eligible but did not save last year can still contribute to an IRA until April 17, 2018 and may be able to claim the Saver's Credit for 2017."

Source: Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Should You Spend the Rest of Winter Prepping to Sell This Spring?

February 12, 2018 5:03 am

Many of us like nothing more than binging on Netflix or a series of good books during the waning weeks of winter.

But if there is even a chance that you might put your home on the market in 2018, a number of sources say the time to start preparing is at hand.

Brent Ash at says now is the time to make your home sale-ready. Small home improvement projects will add curb appeal to your property and make the selling process as smooth as possible.

Ash suggests conducting a pre-listing conversation with a trusted contractor to catch any red flags that can prevent the sale from taking place. He says by identifying and correcting major issues now, you will gain peace of mind throughout the selling process.

For anyone who can move their home to the launch pad sooner than later, that agent says the remaining days of winter are a great time to list, as prospective buyers looking through late 2017 have exhausted limited inventory, and new buyers are 'moving in' to their home search as well.

Real estate professional Kelly Maguire says sellers should be sure to request and review a comparative market analysis (CMA), which will provide an initial snapshot of your home’s value.

Keep in mind that pricing and market conditions can change between now and the time you list, Maguire says, but knowing where you stand today will be helpful in planning both your sale and your next purchase.
One New York metro REALTOR agreed strongly, saying that pricing your house correctly is most critical when you first enter the market.

But the first thing to do is take a good walk through your property or ask someone like a trusted family member or friend to look at your home with the eyes of a prospective buyer and honestly evaluate your home objectively – with all its positives and negatives.

Next, get to work putting the property in tip top shape ahead of your 2018 listing!

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tips to Help Prevent or Identify Vision Loss

February 12, 2018 5:03 am

Many of us will need glasses in our lifetime, even if we have 20/20 vision in our youth. However, there are some things you can do to prevent vision loss, or at least identify it and treat is quickly.

Lighthouse Guild offers the following tips:

Get regular eye exams. Vision screenings and eye exams are critical to maintaining eye health. Comprehensive dilated eye exams for adults can help detect glaucoma, macular degeneration and other serious eye diseases that can lead to blindness. Vision screenings can help detect problems, such amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, in children.

Speak up if your vision changes. If you notice blurry spots, blurred vision, halos surrounding lights, eyes that itch or burn, black spots or "floaters," double vision, tearing or watering eyes, or if you find yourself squinting or having trouble reading or watching television, it's time to make an appointment. An eye doctor should be made aware of any gradual changes in your vision so the necessary action can be taken to maintain eye health.

Seek urgent care. Seek urgent care if you experience sudden and/or severe eye pain, sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes, light flashes, or if your eyes turn bright red. Any of these could indicate a severe problem and should be addressed immediately.

Get UV-protected sunglasses. Tinted glasses will not necessarily protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. It is important to get good quality eyewear that provides both UVA and UVB coverage to protect your eyes properly.

Give your eyes a rest from the effects of digital eye strain. This type of eye strain—also known as computer vision syndrome—doesn't permanently damage eyesight, but symptoms could include burning or tired eyes, headaches, neck pain, fatigue, blurred or double vision. To rest your eyes, it's good to look up from your work every 20 minutes, focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds (the 20-20-20 rule).

Dr. Laura Sperazza, Director of Low Vision Services at Lighthouse Guild, says, "The most important thing you can do to protect your vision is to get an eye exam.  If you find out you're in the early stages of an eye disease, your eye care professional will help you maintain the highest possible level of eye health and visual function."

Source: Lighthouse Guild

Published with permission from RISMedia.


How-to Ward off Winter Sport Injuries

February 12, 2018 5:03 am

For those of us who love to hit the slopes, winter is the most exciting time of year. But with winter sports often involving high speeds and cold temperatures, it's no wonder they're some of the most dangerous activities around. Below are some tips for staying safe, from the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society.

Ski and snowboard boots must fit properly. When tightly fastened, your boots should be free of pressure points that might cause blisters. Ankles and heels should remain securely in place.

All boots should be snug but not overly tight. Boots that are too tight can decrease blood flow and make cold-weather injuries such as frostbite more likely. But a common mistake is to buy a boot that's too large and allows the foot to shimmy. A snug boot will allow you to wiggle your toes, but too much wiggle means the boot is too large.

Make sure footwear provides warmth, and wear socks that are breathable and moisture-wicking so your feet will stay dry. Keeping feet and toes warm and dry is critical when you're on the slopes for long periods.

If you're buying your first pair of ski or snowboard boots, consult a boot fitter at your local sporting goods store.These professionals will help you find the proper fit for your sport.

Source: American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society

Published with permission from RISMedia.