RE/MAX 440
Margot Aronson Sells Homes, Realtor®, ABR, ASR, CDPE
margotaronson@live.com
Margot Aronson Sells Homes, Realtor®, ABR, ASR, CDPE
4092 Skippack Pike, P.O. Box 880
Skippack  PA 19474
PH: 610-306-7939
O: 610-584-1160
C: 610-306-7939
F: 267-354-6943 
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Advice for Grads: Act Like a Leader

May 26, 2017 1:33 am

Newly minted college grads usually have one overarching goal: find a job. While most are understandably consumed with where to work and what kind of salary they may be able to score, some say that those first entering the workforce should also be thinking about how to become an exemplary leader.

"When you're looking for that first job, keep in mind that 97 percent of employers believe that leadership development should begin by age 21," says Jim Kouzes, coauthor along with Barry Posner of the sixth edition of The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations (www.leadershipchallenge.com). "If you haven't started your leadership development by now, you should. You probably won't be in an 'official' leadership position immediately, but from your very first day, you can set the example for others, inspire others, challenge yourself to improve, collaborate with others, and encourage others to do their best."

Kouzes and Posner emphasize that leadership is not about a title and delegating to others - it’s about relationships, credibility, passion and conviction, and ultimately about what you do.

"Everyone has the capacity to be a leader," says Posner. "It's not some mystical inborn quality. It's an observable pattern of practices and behaviors, and a definable set of skills and abilities. As one young leader told us, 'You never know where one step will take you. And you never know where the next one will lead. The difference in being a leader is that you take that step.'"

Kouzes and Posner’s research led them to develop the following Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®:

Model the Way. Exemplary leaders know that if they want to gain commitment and achieve the highest standards, they must be models of the behavior they expect of others. Eloquent speeches about common values, however, aren't nearly enough. Leaders' deeds are far more important than their words, so words and deeds must be consistent.

Inspire a Shared Vision. People talk about their personal-best leadership experiences as times when they imagined an exciting, highly attractive future for their organization. To enlist in a shared vision, people must believe that leaders understand their needs and have their interests at heart. Leaders forge a unity of purpose by showing constituents how the dream is for the common good.

Challenge the Process. Every single personal-best leadership case involved a change from the status quo. Not one person claimed to have achieved a personal best by keeping things the same. Leaders venture out. They also know that innovation and change involve experimenting and taking risks. One way of dealing with the potential risks and failures of experimentation is to approach change through incremental steps and small wins. Try, fail, learn. That's the leader's mantra.

Enable Others to Act. Achieving greatness requires a team effort. Leaders foster collaboration and build trust. The more people trust their leaders, and each other, the more they take risks, make changes, and keep moving ahead. When leaders enable people to feel strong and capable, they'll give it their all and exceed their own expectations.

Encourage the Heart. The climb to the top is arduous and steep. People become exhausted, frustrated, and disenchanted. They're often tempted to give up. Genuine acts of caring uplift the spirits and draw people forward. Recognizing contributions can be one-to-one or with many people. It can come from dramatic gestures or simple actions. It's part of the leader's job to show appreciation for people's contributions and to create a culture of celebrating values and victories.

"There are many opportunities to make these five practices part of your life, while you're working at a temporary job, before you get a position in your desired field or even before you have a paying job at all," says Kouzes. "You can inspire others right now. You can encourage others. You can shake up the status quo and take some risks. These are the hallmarks of exemplary leaders."

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Cheapest (and Priciest) Places to Live

May 26, 2017 1:33 am

Strapped for cash and struggling to live in your current locale? You may want to consider making a move. A new study from GoBankingRates.com shook down the most and least expensive cities across the country. Below are the results.

Top 5 Cheapest Places to Live

- Virginia Beach, Va.
- San Antonio, Texas
- Oklahoma City, Okla.
- Omaha, Neb.
- Arlington, Texas

Top 5 Most Expensive Places to Live

- San Francisco
- Los Angeles
- Oakland, Calif.
- New York City
- Anaheim, Calif.

Looking for a bit more info? The study shows that Virginia Beach, Va., has the highest median income ($66,634) of the 15 best cities for saving money. Of the cheapest cities to live, Wichita, Kan., has the lowest median list price ($137,250).  

At $4,500, San Francisco, the worst city for saving money, has the highest median monthly rent of any city included in the study. San Francisco also has the highest average gas price ($3.16) and highest median home listing price ($1,195,000). Bakersfield, Calif., has a 10.9 percent unemployment rate, the highest of any city in the study.

Of all the cities examined, Honolulu, Hawaii, has the highest average monthly cost of groceries ($490.53).

Source: http://www.gobankingrates.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Avoid a Home Robbery This Summer

May 26, 2017 1:33 am

Nothing will stunt the joy of summer faster than a home robbery. But as homeowners head out on daytrips or long vacations, their homes are ripe for robbers casing neighborhoods for empty houses.

"According to the FBI, summer is the peak season for burglaries as people head outdoors and on vacation," said Melina Engel, vice president of marketing with SimpliSafe.

SimpliSafe offers the following tips to help keep your home secure all season long.

Have someone mow your lawn. There's nothing like bushy grass to flag that you're out of town.

Put a "stop" on your mail. Skip the online shopping before you go away. If something slips through the cracks, have a friend or neighbor keep an eye out for packages and mail piling up. Packages on doorsteps are ripe for the picking and can clue that you may be away.

Put your lights on an automatic timer, and not just one light. Rotate them so it gives the impression that someone is home.

Install a motion-sensitive floodlight to scare off critters and potential burglars alike.

Be careful about open windows. As warm weather arrives and windows fly open, don't forget to close and lock each one, especially on the ground floor, before you hit the road.

Get to know your neighbors. If you're not already on a friendly basis with your neighbors, now is the perfect time to dust off your tollhouse cookie recipe and swing by with a sweet treat and your contact info, in case they spot something suspicious.

Source: SimpliSafe

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The 10 Worst Money Mistakes You Can Make

May 25, 2017 1:30 am

Successful money managers share a simple strategy: spend less than you make over a long period of time and invest the difference.

But the author of ESI Money, an online blog written by a reclusive “50-something retiree who has amassed a sizable net worth,” suggests a list of the 10 worst things you can do to sabotage your financial independence:

Not having an emergency fund – Emergencies arise in every life, and not being prepared to cover them can throw you into debt. A rule of thumb is to sock away six months of living expenses.

Not having a will – Money Magazine reports 57 percent of Americans don’t have a will, including 69 percent of parents with kids under 18. But without a will, the state  decides what happens with your finances. Make a will and update it regularly as your life situation changes.

Not having enough insurance – Like an emergency fund, insurance can protect or replace your assets in the event of almost any misfortune. In addition to life insurance, you should have health, auto, homeowner or renter’s, long-term disability, and, arguably, long-term care insurance.

Marrying the wrong person – Spouses should have similar financial goals and habits. If one is a spendthrift, you’re in trouble. It’s a good idea to discuss your financial objectives before you tie the knot.

Not saving – Putting money aside is essential if you are going to be able to invest. Experts suggest saving 10 percent of your salary.

Buying too much house – It’s well-known that Warren Buffet lives in the same modest home he purchased many years ago. Don’t buy a home that requires a mortgage that is more than twice your household’s annual realized income.

Waiting to invest – the factors that determine how well your investments turn out are the amount you invest, the return rate, and how long you are invested. The longer you wait to invest, the more you are costing yourself.

Being in debt – paying interest on debt can cost you big-time over the years. Avoid it like the plague.

Not maximizing your career – Develop and execute a plan to make the most of your working life. Your earning potential is dependent on your good health and initiative.

Overspending – It’s tempting to splurge, but develop a budget and stick with it.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Help Your Team Enjoy Their Summer

May 25, 2017 1:30 am

As a business owner, you’ve likely witnessed your employees “checking out” for the summer. Rather than fight against this, encourage your workers to enjoy the summer sun as much as possible so when they are in the office, they are focused and productive. How can you help your employees? According to an OfficeTeam survey, workers surveyed said they're most interested in flexible schedules (39 percent) and the ability to leave early on Fridays (30 percent).

OfficeTeam offers managers five tips to help staff make the most of summer at work:

Perk up. Give employees more control over how they spend their time by offering flexible schedules and occasionally letting them leave early on Fridays. Just make sure policies are clear so business can continue as usual.

Rally for rest. Remind workers to take time off, and set an example by doing so yourself.  

Venture out. Holding meetings outdoors or while taking a walk is a great way to get fresh air while accomplishing business objectives.  

Have some fun. Plan an ice cream break, picnic or group outing. Employees will appreciate being able to relax and bond with colleagues in a non-work setting.  

Dress down. Allow staff who aren't customer- or client-facing to wear more casual attire, as long as it doesn't detract from work. You might even consider instituting themed Fridays where Hawaiian shirts or sports apparel are encouraged.

Source: http://www.officeteam.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Making Sure Your HVAC is Ready for Action

May 23, 2017 1:27 am

As temperatures rise, our thermostats get lowered. Make sure your HVAC system is up for the challenge with some simple maintenance checks from Baltimore-based Winstar Home Services.

Replace your air filters: Air filters work overtime in the winter, so be sure to replace your filters. Dirty air filters make your HVAC system work harder than it needs to. This puts strain on the system, which can cause bigger issues and lead to higher utility bills.

Check and clear your unit's drainage line: Most HVAC units have a drainage line at the base of the cabinet. In order for the unit to run properly, the hole needs to be clear. To make sure the drainage line works properly, use a paper clip or a wire to ensure the hole is clear of any obstructions.

Check your ductwork for issues: Your home's ductwork, or ventilation system, can often be the cause of poorly distributed air, which means you're spending more money on cool air that isn't making its way into your house. Check for leaky connections and return vents, damaged or fallen insulation, and ensure your vents (both incoming and outgoing) are not blocked or obstructed by rugs or furnishings.

Test your unit: Turn on your AC and let in run briefly to see how it performs. If there are any problems, address them right away.

Make sure you conduct these tests before temperatures hit their peak.

SOURCE: Winstar Home Services

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Stretch Those Travel Dollars

May 23, 2017 1:27 am

Planning a vacation? With a few smart tweaks to your travel planning, you can save big money, according to travel resource Hotwire. Below are several Hotwire suggestions for getting more value out of your vacation.

When planning your trip, keep an open mind and focus on the type of vacation you want (beach, city, etc.), then search a variety of related locales to find the best deals.

- Check alternative airports if you're flying into a busy metropolitan area (e.g. LaGuardia and Newark if you're flying into New York City; Burbank and Long Beach if you're flying to Los Angeles).

- Consider finding a cheaper airfare and then driving to your destination to save money.

- If you can handle waiting, you'll often get the lowest rates if you delay and book a rental car or hotel room once you've landed in your destination. Use your Hotwire app for great Hot Rate deals.

- Once you have that car, fill it up yourself. Do not prepay for gas - it is almost never worth it.

- Most flights get delayed (or cancelled!) due to weather, and incoming planes being unable to land. Book your travel for early in the morning, and you'll be less likely to have to deal with the headache of cancellations.

- Try to eat before boarding your flight to be less tempted by dehydrating salty snacks and sodas during the flight. Staying hydrated is a must for combatting fatigue and headaches - especially on long flights across multiple time zones.

- If you exercise regularly, try and stick with your routine. If not, just some easy walks can help you acclimate to new surroundings and time zones.

- Be polite. Flight crews work especially hard during busy travel times; being nice to your crew (and your fellow passengers) will always enhance your travel experience.

- Do your homework – Try to spend a little time before you travel familiarizing yourself with your travel plans and airports you'll be traveling to. If you know you need to make a connection in Dallas, take some time to review the terminal maps to try and ease anxiety and frustration that can sometimes come with travel.

- And while we're on the topic of easing travel woes…just remember that with travel (and in life!), it's important to be flexible and embrace the unexpected – you can get a great experience in so many different ways.

Source: Hotwire

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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You Really CAN Prevent Forest Fires

May 23, 2017 1:27 am

The majority of wildfires are actually started by people. One stupid mistake can take out acres and acres, threatening lives, homes, and nature. Whether you are camping, hiking, or just having a barbecue in your backyard, implementing proper fire safety tactics is crucial. Whenever you’re out enjoying nature, take the following suggestions into account to ensure you don’t start a wildfire.

- For campers, make sure campfires are lit a safe distance from tents or other flammable supplies.

- Contain campfires by using designated fire pits or use rocks to create a ring around your campfire.

- To extinguish a campfire, pour water on the fire, and fully drown all the embers.

- Never use volatile gasses, like gasoline, to start a fire.

- Avoid burning garbage, treated wood, or yard waste.

- For smokers, don't discard smoldering cigarette butts – snuff them out and put them in a designated garbage container.

Source: www.pemco.com/DontGetBurned.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Prep Your Home for Summer

May 22, 2017 1:24 am

Summer is the sweetest season. But for homeowners, it can also be a busy time, full of improvements and repairs. Below is a list of preparations from Gold Medal Service that homeowners can do to prepare their homes for the summer.

Change air filters – Check your air filters every 30 days. During summer, air filters should be replaced every 30 to 90 days, depending on the type of filter you use. Dirty air filters reduce airflow through the system causing it to work harder than it should, while using more energy, resulting in higher energy bills.

Inspect window and door seals – Prevent hot air from leaking into your home through damaged window and door seals, or small cracks in the walls. Cheap materials like caulk and masking tape will go a long way to prevent hot air from entering your home and cool air from escaping your home. Good insulation will also help to keep your energy bills low.

Consider shades or overhangs for your windows – This will help to naturally cool your indoor space by reducing the amount of solar heat you let into your home.

Use your ceiling and/or attic fans – Moving air helps to remove heat from your home. Ceiling fans will help to reduce the thermostat temperature inside your home by about four degrees. Properly installed attic fans will also push the hot, trapped air out of your attic, reducing the workload on your HVAC unit.

Clear away debris from the air conditioning system's condenser – You have a condenser installed somewhere outside your home. Leaves, branches or any garden debris can easily build up against the system, which could cause problems in the long run. Remove any foreign material heaped up against the unit.

Clean the registers and ductwork inside the home – Make sure the registers inside your home aren't covered with carpets, furniture or anything else that will obstruct the air flow. Open each register and check for foreign objects like toys and pet hair that could be lodged in the HVAC ductwork. Use a flashlight to carefully check the surface of the ductwork for any signs of mold. Call a professional if you find signs of mold as it can cause respiratory distress and other health problems.

Schedule an annual tune-up – This is critical so technicians can catch minor problems before it becomes a serious, costly affair. A faulty system can emit harmful gasses, most notably carbon monoxide. Regular maintenance will not only prevent system failures, but also keep your family safe.

Mind your HVAC system's refrigerant – Homeowners with a cooling system that was manufactured before 2010, should be aware of the phasing out of R-22 refrigerant, an ozone-depleting gas used in older HVAC units. The Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of R-22 refrigerant, effective from 2020, due to the negative effect it has on the atmosphere. It will become increasingly difficult to find R-22 refrigerant needed for general maintenance of older HVAC systems, and prices will increase due to scarcity. Discuss your options with a professional if you have an older HVAC system.

Source: www.goldmedalservice.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Travelers Today Are More Stressed Than Ever Before

May 22, 2017 1:24 am

While traveling can be exciting and fun, it can also be stressful. You’re in an unfamiliar place, you don’t know your way around, and you may not even speak the language! And despite the increase in easy technology -- there’s an app for everything these days! -- many travelers are reporting more stress today than a year ago.                                        
A new survey put on by Wyndham Vacation Rentals® has identified the main factors that are freaking today’ s travellers out.i

Too many choices: Two in three (67 percent) vacationers have become stressed due to 'information overload' and are paralyzed with too many choices when researching and planning. Two in five (41 percent) get stressed about scheduling things to do during their trip.

Trouble leaving the daily grind behind: Once on vacation, it takes time to unwind and forget about the stress of work and personal responsibilities. Three in 10 (30 percent) U.S. travelers don't feel truly relaxed until the second day of vacation or later.

Relationship-testing moments: Two in three (67 percent) have argued with a travel companion as a result of stress caused by planning or taking a vacation. One in four (25 percent) have even broken up with a significant other while traveling. The good news? One in four (26 percent) have also met the love of their life on vacation.

Source: About Wyndham Vacation Rentals

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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