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John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

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Spring Clean Your Finances in 5 Steps

March 28, 2016 1:48 am

Spring may be the “season of clean” at home, but it’s also an ideal time to organize your finances and commit to long-term financial stability, says Corey Carlisle, executive director of the American Bankers Association (ABA) Foundation.

“The arrival of spring motivates people to renew their surroundings, and what better way to focus that momentum than to check off everything on your financial to-do list?” asks Carlisle.

To go out with the old, in with the savings, Carlisle and the ABA recommend to:

1. Evaluate and pay down debt. Take a look at how much you owe and what you are paying in interest. If there are better rates available now, consider requesting a lower credit card interest rate or refinancing your mortgage. Begin paying off existing debt, whether that’s by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first. 

2. Review your budget. A lot can change in a year. If you’ve been promoted, had a child or became a new homeowner or renter, be sure to update your budget. Determine what expenses demand the most money and identify areas where you can realistically cut back. Develop a strategy for spending and saving and stick to it.   

3. Check your credit report. Every year, you are guaranteed one free credit report from each of the three bureaus. Take advantage of these free reports and check them for any possible errors. Mistakes can drag down your score and prevent you from getting a loan, or cause you to pay a higher than necessary interest rate.  

4. Sign up for e-statements, paperless billing and text alerts. Converting to paperless billing will help keep your house—physical and financial—more clean and organized, and will help protect you from fraud.

5. Set up automatic bill pay. By signing up for automatic bill pay, you’ll never have to worry about a missed payment impacting your credit score. You can set it so that money is withdrawn from your checking account on the same day each month.

“Taking stock of your finances and planting the seeds of new saving habits today will go a long way toward alleviating pressures on your pocket throughout the year,” concludes Carlisle.

Source: ABA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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A Step-by-Step Guide to Green-Building a Deck

March 28, 2016 1:48 am

(BPT)—There are plenty of ways to go green at home—but one of the most impactful methods is outside: green-building a deck.

Whether you plan to install new or refurbish an existing structure, utilizing sustainable materials (and conducting eco-friendly maintenance after the fact) can green your deck, ensuring long-term enjoyment for the members of your household.

To begin green-building your deck, consider your board options. Generally, there are two types of boarding: wood and composite. Wood is a renewable resource; more trees can grow to replace the ones harvested for boards, and when your deck's usable life ends, you can recycle the wood it was made of.

However, pressure-treated lumber is not recyclable. While the preservatives it's treated with make it last longer than many types of untreated wood, it's less eco-friendly in the long run because it must be disposed of, instead of reused. If you prefer a wood deck, look for naturally weather- and pest-resistant wood varieties, like California red wood, western red cedar or ipe.

Composite boards are green, as well, in that many are made from recycled materials, such as reused plastic and reclaimed or recycled wood. Composites tend to last longer than wood, and require no special treatment like staining or sealing. Their longevity can make them a greener choice—but they can't be recycled.

Wood and composites are also commonly used for railings, but they may not be the most environmentally-friendly option, given the railings’ greater exposure to the elements. Stainless steel cable railing is 100 percent recyclable, and can offer un-obscured views.

If you choose to construct your deck of composites—and add a stainless steel railing—it will require little maintenance. Stainless steel is inherently weather-resistant.

If you opt to build your deck with wood, some types will require regular sealing and staining. Rot- and pest-resistant woods may not need to be sealed, but will weather to a silver-gray color unless you stain them every year.

Bear in mind many stains contain a blend of agents meant to inhibit the growth of fungus or deter pest infestations, and may also contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Look for stains and sealers that rely on natural ingredients, such as hemp oil, beeswax, carnauba wax and water.

Source: The Cable Connection

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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