William Neilson
Phone:  267-872-1326Office:  215-679-9797
Email:  wneilson@remax440.comCell:  267-872-1326Fax:  267-354-6937
William Neilson
William Neilson

Bill's Blog

Ride Well: Better Bus Safety

February 16, 2017 12:33 am

(Family Features)--For millions of school-age children, each day begins and ends with a bus ride. While parents entrust their children's safety to the capable hands of bus drivers, these tips from the National Association for Pupil Transportation provide some measures parents can take and lessons they can teach to increase safety going to and from the bus, and even during the ride.

Before the Bus Arrives

- Ensure backpacks are packed securely so papers and other items don't scatter as the bus approaches.

- Create a morning routine that puts kids at the bus stop five minutes before the scheduled pickup time. This helps avoid a last-minute rush, when safety lessons are easily forgotten, and ensures kids are safely in place for boarding.

- Encourage children to wear bright, contrasting colors so they can be seen easier by drivers.

- Instruct children to walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, advise them to stay out of the street, walk single-file, face traffic and stay as close to the edge of the road as possible.

- If kids must cross a street, driveway or alley, remind them to stop and look both ways before crossing.

- Verify that the bus stop location offers good visibility for the bus driver; if changes are needed, talk with nearby homeowners or school district officials to implement changes. Never let kids wait in a house or car, where the driver may miss seeing them approach the bus.

- Remind children that the bus stop is not a playground. Balls or other toys could roll into the street and horseplay can result in someone falling into the path of oncoming traffic.

On the Bus Ride

- Instruct children to allow the bus to come to a complete stop before approaching it.

- When boarding the bus, items can get bumped and dropped. Caution children that before picking anything up, they should talk to the driver and follow instructions to safely retrieve their possessions.

- Teach safe riding habits: stay seated with head, hands and feet inside at all times; use a seatbelt (if available); keep bags and books out of the aisle and remain seated until the bus stops moving.

- Remind kids that just like when riding in your car, loud noises are off limits so they don't distract the driver.

Leaving the Bus

- Remind children to look before stepping off the bus. If they must cross the street, teach them to do so in front of the bus by taking five big steps away from the front of the bus, looking up and waiting for the driver to signal that it is safe to start into the street.

- For parents who meet their kids at the bus, remember that in their excitement kids may dart across the street. Eliminate the risk by waiting on the side of the street where kids exit the bus.

- Make the bus ride part of your daily "how was school?" discussion. Encourage kids to talk about the things they see and hear on the bus, so you can discuss appropriate behaviors and, if necessary, report any concerns to school administrators.

- Bullying is more prevalent than ever and buses are no exception. Ask your child to tell you about any bullying they observe, whether against another child or themselves, and talk about how to shut down bully behavior.

Source: Propane Education & Research Council

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Moving? Make Sure the Kids are Alright

February 15, 2017 12:33 pm

Moving to a new city or state is filled with many different exciting possibilities - new home, new job, new restaurants to try. But for kids, relocating is fraught with fear - new school, new faces, new neighborhood.

Former Los Angeles Rams All-Pro defensive back Johnnie Johnson has started an organization to help children in this exact situation. As the CEO of World Class Coaches, an organization that facilitates the Moving Families Initiative, Johnson helps connect relocating families with the right resources - teachers, counselors, service providers, real estate professionals, etc. - to ensure a smooth transition.

If there’s a relocation in your future, here are a few ways to help your kids adjust and embrace their new home:

Do your research. If you can’t visit your new community together in advance, do some research and find out what attractions may be particularly interesting to your child. Perhaps a great zoo or aquarium if he or she is an animal lover, a beach for swimmers, or an amusement park for fun seekers. Get your child excited about all the new places to explore.

Get to know families with same-age children. Invite them over or arrange for a play date at the park. This will help your child bridge the often difficult gap of making new friends.
    
Get them involved. The sooner your child gets involved in the local activity of their choosing the better. Scouts, dance, sports, music - joining in with children who share the same interests is the quickest way for your child to get acclimated and feel like they belong.
    
Enlist a support group. New teachers, coaches, guidance counselors and clergy can all play a critical role in helping your child adjust, so get them on board right away.
    
Acknowledge their feelings. Most important of all, allow your child to mourn the loss of their former home, community and friends. Let him or her know these feelings are normal and that you, too, miss your old home sometimes. This will help your child process these feelings more quickly and move on to the new possibilities at hand.

Remember to keep the sense of adventure going and continue to highlight the positives about your new home and location. Spend extra time with your child too, as you explore your new surroundings together. In no time, they’ll settle in nicely… and so will you!

I hope you found these tips useful. Contact me for more helpful home advice and real estate information.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Financial Stability Top Wanted Trait in a Partner

February 15, 2017 12:33 pm

When looking for a romantic connection, there are many things to consider. However, according to a new survey by SunTrust Banks, nothing is more important when choosing a new partner than their level of financial sustainability.

The SunTrust Banks survey found that 41 percent of Americans consider financial stability to be among the traits they find most important in a partner, ranking only behind personal values (78 percent) and personality (73 percent). Further, more people value financial stability than looks (21 percent) or physical fitness (21 percent), according to an online survey conducted in January 2017 by Harris Poll on behalf of SunTrust among over 2,000 U.S. Adults. The SunTrust survey also found that a third of Americans in a relationship believe they are the saver and their spouse/partner is the spender. In contrast, only 21 percent claimed they are the spender and their spouse/partner is the saver.

SunTrust suggests asking your partner the following questions to better understand his or her views when it comes to managing money.

What are your most important goals? Talk to your significant other about aspirations and make a list of what you have in common. If aligning your goals is difficult, create a blend that represents your collective core values.

How does your past influence your spending and savings habits? Make an effort to understand your partner's personal history. Financial habits are often handed down by parents, so it's important to empathize with your partner and understand how he or she was raised.

Would you share your plans before making a big-ticket purchase? It's important to know whether your partner wants to maintain a level of financial independence. Decide whether you need to talk with each other before making purchases above a certain price point, or whether you agree to keep finances separate.

What is your debt philosophy? Financial disagreements often arise from different views of debt, from how much to use a credit card to the term and amount of a new car loan. Ask your partner what he or she considers an acceptable level of debt and see how much it diverges from your answer.

Source: SunTrust Banks, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Protect Your Landscape: 5 Tips for Transplanting

February 14, 2017 12:33 pm

Whether it’s due to overcrowding, a need to make room for more sun, or the addition of a new deck, patio or swimming pool, transplanting a beloved tree, bush or perennial eventually becomes a must in every yard. Yet many garden lovers approach transplanting with trepidation, and for good reason - no one wants to accidentally kill off a prized planting. Here are some tips to make sure your transplanting is a success.

Pick the right time. According to Northscaping.com, the best time to transplant a plant is when it’s dormant - either before it’s budded or after it’s done blooming for the season.

Dig the right hole. Proper planting is critical for roots to take hold and develop. According to the Soils Matter blog, for large garden plants, dig a hole about twice the diameter of the plant's existing size and 1.5 to 2 times as deep. Make sure there is plenty of loose soil at the bottom of the hole for roots to thrive.   

Nourish the roots. While you may be anxious to see your transplanted tree or plant bloom again, for the first year, it’s more important to focus on the roots, so choose only root-boosting fertilizers to help the plant’s development underground.

Practice “even watering.” Too much or too little water are both detrimental to your new transplant. Test to see if the water level is even by putting your finger about 1 inch underground. If the soil isn’t moist, it’s time to water.

Keep a close eye on your transplant. Every tree or plant will undergo some degree of shock from the transplant, so inspect frequently. If there seems to be pests or fungus, watch to see if it goes away on its own. If not, snip off an infected leaf and bring it to your local garden center to find out what you're dealing with.

Above all, be patient. It will take your plant a year or more to really start thriving in its new location but the rewards will be worth the wait!

I hope you found these tips useful. Contact me for more helpful home advice and real estate information.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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6 Things to Know About Your Tots’ Teeth

February 14, 2017 12:33 pm

Having a kid is full of surprises, whether it’s your first child or your fifth. For those new parents, every twist and turn is an adventure, including your kids first set of teeth. The American Dental Association (ADA) has created an essential list of “tooth-truths” to help parents and caregivers stay in the know about the health of their children’s teeth.

When Teeth First Appear. Your baby is born with 20 teeth below the gums, and they usually start coming through between six months and a year. Most children have their full set of teeth by three years old.

When to Start Brushing with Toothpaste. Decay can happen as soon as teeth first appear. If you see some pearly whites peeking out when your little one smiles, it's time to pick up a tube of fluoride toothpaste. Find one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

How Much Toothpaste to Use. It doesn't take much to clean your child's teeth. Until you’re comfortable that your child can brush on his or her own, continue to brush your child’s teeth twice a day with a child-size toothbrush. If your child is three or younger, use a smear of toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice). For children three or older, a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste will do.

When to Schedule Your Baby's First Dental Visit. It's another milestone in a year of exciting firsts. Your child’s first dental visit should take place after their first tooth appears, but no later than the first birthday. Why so early? As soon as your baby has teeth, they can get cavities.

When to Start Flossing. It doesn't matter if you floss your child's teeth before or after they brush as long as you clean between any teeth that touch. You can use child-friendly plastic flossing tools to more easily floss your child’s teeth until your child learns to do it.

Water Works. When your child has worked up a thirst, water is the best beverage to offer – especially if it has fluoride! Drinking water with fluoride (also known as “nature’s cavity fighter”) has been shown to reduce cavities by 25 percent.

Source: The American Dental Association

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Convertible Furniture: A Boon for Growing Kids

February 13, 2017 12:33 am

Active kids require bedroom and playroom furniture that is tough enough, and adaptable enough, to offer years of fun and flexibility throughout a child’s toddler and early school years – and manufacturers are meeting those needs with a growing number of choices.

Children’s room furniture designs previewed at a recent show included pieces new or improved for 2017:

DaVinci-Kalani 4-way bed – This flexible bed with a $199 price tag converts from full-sized crib to toddler bed and then to a daybed or, with the aid of an optional conversion kit, to a full-sized bed your child can sleep in till he goes off to college. It’s made of solid wood that wipes clean with soap and water.

Million Dollar Baby 4-way bed – With its carved posts and classic arches, this $399 model made of New Zealand pine adds plenty of style and flair as it converts from crib to toddler and/or full-sized bed. It’s available in Espresso or Grey and is carried at Target stores. Conversion kits are sold separately.

Chicco Urban 6-in-1 modular stroller – While the $399 price tag may seem daunting, this versatile product is a stylish and complete solution for baby’s changing needs.  Comes with a click-in car seat adapter for Chicco’s top rated Keyfit infant carseat, and converts to an infant carriage, toddler stroller, and more.

Crayola wooden table and chair set – Budding young artists deserve a workspace as bright and colorful as their artwork. At a cost of about $90, the set feature chair backs shaped like Crayola crayons, and each table corner has a fabric pocket to hold art supplies. Flip over the erasable whiteboard top and a black chalkboard surface awaits.

Little Tykes picnic style set with umbrella – This indoor-outdoor, polystyrene set features bench seating and is equipped with an umbrella to shield your kiddos from the sun. Bonus: It’s inexpensive at under $50, is lightweight enough to move easily, and folds flat for storage when not in use.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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How to Make Pets More Affordable

February 13, 2017 12:33 am

While nothing completes the feeling of home more than a furry, four-legged family member, becoming a pet parent can come with a steep price tag. According to the ASPCA, in fact, the first year of pet ownership often exceeds $1,000, which is a lot to fit into your household budget, especially if you just moved into a new home.

If your family just isn’t complete without a pooch or a feline, however, there are some ways to curb the costs of pet ownership:

Consider adoption - While you may have your eye on a purebred, take a trip to a local animal shelter or rescue organization instead. Many cats and dogs are in desperate need of adoption. Not only will you be doing a good deed, you’ll be saving hundreds of dollars.

Look into pet insurance. Whether or not pet insurances pays off is dependent upon a lot of factors, such as the age and breed of your pet, and what the particular coverage covers, i.e, accidents, cancer, preventative care or all three. While less than 1 percent of pets in the U.S. and Canada are covered by a plan, the numbers are quickly growing, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance organization. Consumer Reports recommends talking to your vet about your pet’s breed and associated medical conditions, and his or her experience with pet insurance providers. This will give you a better idea of whether pet insurance is worth it and which providers to look at.

Cut costs on pet food. According to The Balance, there are several ways to save on pet food, which can otherwise be very pricey: look for coupons online; join rewards programs; buy in bulk; look for discounts offered by your vet; or even try making your own!

Swap pet care. If you’re heading out of town and can’t take your best friend with you, start a cooperative arrangement with a neighbor, friend or family member. Boarding and paying for care can be very expensive, so trade-off coverage with other pet owners you know and trust. Your pet will come to view these folks and their pets as extended family, which helps reduce separation anxiety.

By taking a little extra time and doing your research, you can trim the costs of pet care and make room in your budget for a cuddly new family member.

I hope you found these ideas useful. Contact me for more helpful home advice and real estate information.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Tis the Season: Stop the Stomach Bug in its Tracks

February 13, 2017 12:33 am

While you may have gotten your flu shot and stepped up your vitamin C intake to beat the common cold, another culprit to defend against is the norovirus - otherwise known as the stomach flu.

According to GOJO Industries, the makers of Purell, norovirus typically peaks between December and April, and is extremely contagious, even up to two weeks after an infected person feels better.

Symptoms usually appear 12 - 48 hours after first exposure to the virus, and last approximately one to three days. Here are some common ways norovirus is spread:
  • Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus, most likely prepared by an individual who is infected
  • Touching surfaces or objects with the virus on them and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth
  • Having direct contact with a person who is infected with norovirus, for example, by sharing food, utensils, etc.
The good news is there are ways you can reduce the spread of the stomach flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends following these steps:

Keep your hands clean. It may sound basic, but frequent hand washing with soap and water is one of the best ways to avoid catching the virus. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol can be used in addition to handwashing.

Disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Immediately disinfect and clean contaminated surfaces with a disinfectant and cleaner formulated to kill norovirus.

Wash laundry thoroughly. Don’t forget sheets, pillowcases and throw blankets.

Wash fruits and vegetables when preparing food.

Stay out of the kitchen when you’re sick. Leave the meal-prep to another family member or order take-out.

Of course, don’t forget to call your doctor for additional advice and to make sure you’re not dealing with something more serious. In the meantime, make the above steps part of your everyday routine.

I hope you found these insights useful. Contact me for more helpful home advice and real estate information.

Source: GOJO Industries

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Chart-Topper: Fiberglass?

February 11, 2017 12:18 pm

Want to know what home upgrade delivers the largest return on investment for homeowners? Believe it or not, it’s fiberglass insulation.

For the second year in a row, Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report reveals that a fiberglass insulation upgrade adds the greatest value to a home at 108 percent of the cost of the project, according to Hanley Wood, publisher of Remodeling Magazine.  

The Cost vs. Value Report compares the average costs for 29 popular home remodeling projects with the value those projects retain in 99 U.S. markets on a national and regional level. The report estimates that the average cost for a fiberglass insulation upgrade is $1,343 nationwide. The assessment on the potential return gained by the homeowner at resale was provided by real estate professionals responding to the annual survey. Real estate professionals estimated that one year after a fiberglass attic insulation upgrade, the project would increase the value of the home by $1,446. The research specifically estimated the cost of adding blown-in loose fill fiberglass insulation into a 35x30 attic to reach an R-30 insulation value. The R-value refers to an insulation’s resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation, according to Oliver Heating & Cooling. 

According to HomeAdvisor, fiberglass batts (those large fluffy pink sheets of fiberglass) are one of the least expensive ways to insulate your home, especially when walls are already open, such as in your attic. They must be installed properly, however, as one loose corner or tear can reduce the R-value. 

Fiberglass batts are ideal for those who need to insulate quickly and save money in the process. It is simply installed by anyone with a putty knife, a utility knife and a tape measure. When installed tightly and securely, fiberglass batts improve energy efficiency by 25 to 30 percent.

Again this year, as it did when it first appeared in the Cost vs. Value report in 2016, adding fiberglass insulation was the only project that had an average national return of more than 100 percent. By comparison, the average cost and average return at resale for the 29 projects in this year's report amounted to a 64.3 percent return if the home was sold within one year of completing the renovation.

Source: North American Insulation Manufacturers Association

Contact me today to learn more about which projects deliver the largest return on investment.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Childhood Identity Theft: Warning Signs and Prevention Tips

February 11, 2017 12:18 pm

You may just chuckle and toss those credit card offers that come in the mail for your fourth grader, but there may be something more nefarious at play: identity theft.

According to the Identity Theft Assistance Center and the Javelin Strategy & Research group, one in 40 families with children under 18 had at least one child whose personal information was compromised. It all starts with the child’s Social Security number, which is then paired with a different name, birthdate and address to apply for credit. This is called a synthetic identity, and is very hard to detect.

"Using the stolen Social Security number, identity thieves can open credit cards, rent apartments, buy cars, secure jobs and apply for welfare or other government programs," says Trevor Buxton, fraud awareness and communications manager at PNC Bank.

PNC offers these warning signs that your child may be a victim of identity theft:
  • Notification by the IRS of unpaid taxes in your child's name.
  • Notification that a child's Social Security number was used on another tax return.
  • Receiving collection calls for a minor child.
  • Receiving bills in a child's name for products or services not ordered or delivered.
  • Declined for government benefits because benefits are already being paid to another account using the child's Social Security number.
Fortunately, there are proactive steps a parent can take to protect their children from identity theft, such as:
  • Keep your child’s Social Security card in a safe, locked place at home; never carry it on your person.
  • Find out if you can opt out of providing your child’s Social Security number on school and medical forms. Many will allow the use of just the last four digits.
  • Shred all documents that show your child's personally identifiable information before throwing them away.
  • Most importantly, request an annual credit report for your child at annualcreditreport.com. Everyone is entitled to one free copy per year. Your child’s report should show no credit history at all. If there is a credit history, he or she has most likely become a victim of identity theft. Contact the credit agency and notify the authorities immediately. 
Source: PNC Bank

For more information about childhood identity theft, contact me today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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