The Melanie Henderson Team
 
The Melanie Henderson Team

My Blog

9 Ways to Color Your Summer at Home

June 22, 2015 12:21 am

Featuring hues reminiscent of languid summer days and breezy seaside vacations, this summer’s hottest color trends run the gamut of eye-catching bolds to grounding neutrals, say Ace Design Experts Katie Reynolds, Julie Richard and Nathan Fisch.

All three Design Experts recommend implementing this season’s color palette in small ways to avoid an overly-trendy look. For example:

• Paint your kitchen island for an updated look that’s easier than repainting your cabinets. A classic neutral, like a subtle gray, will pair nicely with most woods and finishes.

• Classic stripes continue to be a staple in many homes. Try painting them on a pair of oversized outdoor planters in a sunset-inspired combination of apricot orange and shrimp pink.

• If you’d like to incorporate one of this season’s pastel trends, such as peach, but are afraid of pulling it off, try balancing it with a complementary hue like classic navy.

• Graphic patterns and details are an easy way to make a big change. Add a pop of color stenciled in a chevron stripe on drawers of a basic white dresser with a Camellia blossom pink.

• Layered warm neutrals never go out of style and work equally as well in open floor plans or cozy nooks. Try using a darker neutral on the walls and ceiling, such as vanilla, and furnishing with a paler hue, like linen, for a fresh feel.

• Try a fun color pairing for a guest or kids room by painting a focal window wall in a brighter green (think green tomatoes) and then adding a muted green (think moss) on the window base.

• Deep blues and indigos like navy and blueberry are great go-to colors for a monochromatic color scheme inspired by the ocean. Simple and natural accents like stone top tables, linen or woven window coverings polish the look for a clean aesthetic that won’t fade over time.

• Combine a warm neutral, like honey, with a blush pink in a nursery or girl’s room for a soft look reminiscent of the flowers blooming outdoors.

• Shiplap wall paneling, featuring horizontal, overlapping wooden boards covering the walls is the perfect way to bring a nautical feel to any space. Try painting the wood in a crisp, snow white to make this architectural detail the feature focus.

Source: Ace Hardware

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Ways to Stay Active in Summer

June 19, 2015 1:04 am

(Family Features) Staying active in warmer months is always a challenge. Despite the best laid plans, life can get in the way – you may skip a gym visit to go to the beach, or miss that workout class to lounge by the pool. To avoid veering off track this summer, get moving with these tips.

1. Find ways to beat the heat. Don't let the summer sun be your excuse to stay indoors on those extra hot days. Set your alarm early to get your morning run or hike in before afternoon temperatures rise. Seek a refreshing, cool workout, such as water aerobics at the gym or paddle boarding at the lake when the temps are soaring.

2. Find motivation in all forms. Seek the help of like-minded individuals who also want to establish healthy routines. Look online for health and fitness blogs from others who can share their own journeys toward better health. Or, invest in a wearable fitness device for a personalized experience.

3. Establish a summer schedule. With kids out of school, it can be easy to fall into a more laid-back routine. Fight the urge to turn on the television and create an active schedule with your children. After dinner, have a family walk around the neighborhood or plan for weekend outings to your favorite local nature preserve.

4. Schedule a walking meeting at work. If sitting in an office is part of your daily routine, make a point to be active. Need to go over some items with a co-worker? Avoid booking the conference room and plan a walking meeting outside or around the building. Getting your heart ate up and taking in some fresh summer air may be just what you need for successful brainstorming on the job.

5. Plan for an active vacation. Don't let travel plans justify inactivity. Use your vacation as an opportunity to get moving and create new, healthy experiences. Visiting a historic town or city? Check out walking group tours to sightsee. Hitting the beach? Try beach volleyball, surfing or strolling beside the water every night. No matter where your travels take you, you can always find a way to be active.

Source:
MyMiraFit.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Mortgage Rates Reel In

June 19, 2015 1:04 am

After a notable run-up, both fixed and adjustable mortgage rates are taking a breather, reports Bankrate.com. Mortgage rates moved down slightly with the benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate slipping to 4.13 percent and the average 15-year fixed mortgage sliding to 3.35 percent.

Adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) have lowered as well, with the 5-year ARM down to 3.22 percent, and the 7-year ARM settling at 3.45 percent. The jumbo 30-year fixed mortgage retreated to 4.14 percent.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), while acknowledging the likelihood of an initial interest rate hike later this year, did emphasize that further economic improvement still needs to be seen and that the trajectory of interest rates will be gradual. This has calmed the nerves of bond investors, causing both bond yields and mortgage rates to settle after a period of volatility.
Mortgage rates are closely related to yields on long-term government bonds, which fluctuate based on the outlook for the economy, interest rates and inflation.

Source: Bankrate.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Added Expenses Homeowners May Overlook

June 19, 2015 1:04 am

Many homeowners agree the most stressful part about owning a home is the added costs. According to a recent analysis by Zillow and Thumbtack.com, homeowners can pay more than $9,000 in additional expenses each year, with most averaging $6,042 in unavoidable costs like homeowners insurance, property taxes and utilities.

Though DIY is often the preference of many homeowners when it comes to cleaning their home or doing yard work, those who choose to outsource find equally variable costs across the country. Professional help for tasks like house cleaning, yard care, gutter cleaning, carpet cleaning and pressure washing averages $3,435 a year, the analysis found.

"Homebuyers too often fixate on the sticker price or monthly mortgage payment on a house, and don't budget for the other expenses associated with ownership – which can add up quickly," says Zillow Chief Marketing Officer Amy Bohutinsky. "For example, new buyers can get really excited about having a backyard of their own for the first time, without budgeting for how they plan to maintain that space."

For buyers who may be relocating to a different area of the country, the difference in costs regionally is crucial to consider when budgeting.

Source: Zillow

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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6 Summer Maintenance Tips for Your Vehicle

June 18, 2015 12:48 am

Sitting in traffic when temperatures soar without a properly functioning air conditioning (A/C) system is the last place most drivers want to be. To avoid this uncomfortable situation, motorists should have their A/C system checked annually, say the experts at the Car Care Council.

A vehicle’s heating, ventilating and air conditioning system (HVAC) keeps the interior cabin comfortable in any season by providing the right temperature and humidity level. Typical A/C service consists of the following steps:

• Service technician visually inspects hoses, lines, seals and other components for leaks as well as inspect the drive belt for cracks or damage.

• Technician checks pressures to test operation, refrigerant charge and outlet temperatures.

• If the system is found to be low on refrigerant, a leak test is performed to find the source of the leak. Keep in mind that if your vehicle is leaking refrigerant, it is damaging the ozone layer.

• Refrigerant may be added if necessary to “top off” the system, although some states do not allow “topping off.”

• A technician may also check for evidence of refrigerant cross-contamination, which is the mixing of refrigerants.

• A/C service should also include a check of the compressor’s drive belt and tension.

Additionally, when having a vehicle’s HVAC system inspected, the cabin air filter should be checked to make sure air is flowing properly into the car.

Source: CarCare.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How Long Will Your Household Fixtures Last?

June 18, 2015 12:48 am

Many maintenance projects for homeowners involve replacing an outdated appliance or fixture, but it can be difficult to discern when a household feature needs replacement, save for a major malfunction. One way to determine how often you should replace items is by its typical lifespan.

Fortunately, a lot of household fixtures won’t need expensive replacements for some time. Garage doors, gas fireplaces and linoleum floors are expected to last 25 years. Whirlpool bathtubs and sink faucets can last up to 20 years. Gas ovens and garage door openers may last 18 years, given proper care.

Other common appliances and fixtures, however, wear out more quickly. Though washing machines are expected to last 15 years, dryers are expected to last 13. Refrigerators can last up to 13 years, as well.

The numbers go down from there:

• Food Disposals, Water Heaters (12 years)

• Plasma Televisions (11 years)

• Lawnmowers, Carpets (10 years)

• Microwaves, Dishwashers (9 years)

• Air Conditioners (Window Unit), Mattresses (7 years)

• Rugs (5 years)

• Laptops (4 years)

• Roomba, Keurig Coffee Maker (2 years)

And the fixture that lasts longest? Coming in at 45 years, your doorbell will likely continue to operate after you’ve moved on from your current home.

Source: RISMedia’s Housecall

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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A Guide to Mortgages, HELOCs and More

June 18, 2015 12:48 am

(BPT) - Whether you're looking to make a first-time purchase, refresh an existing home or simply leverage built-up equity for other reasons, it's important to figure out which path is right for you and understand the lending options available.

First-time buyers must start with determining what is affordable. In addition to the mortgage payment, housing costs will include property taxes, homeowners insurance and fees, such as homeowner association dues. Altogether, costs should be no more than 28 percent of monthly gross income and should leave room to continue servicing other debt, such as student loans, credit cards or auto loans.

When preparing to buy a home, work through credit pre-approval to be ready with a strong offer when the opportunity arises. In addition to reviewing credit history, a loan originator will consider the amount of the down payment. A down payment typically ranges from 3-20 percent, and one that is less than 20 percent may require you to purchase mortgage insurance. A mortgage originator, however, can provide a variety of lending options to optimize your investment, from 15- and 30-year mortgages to fixed and variable terms.

If planning to make some improvements to a much-loved residence, consider financing the updates through a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Eligibility depends on how much equity has been built up in the home and the lender's loan-to-value ratio. A HELOC works much like a credit card and offers flexibility. A minimum amount is paid monthly, and interest applies to the amount borrowed.

Before embarking on a remodeling project, do some homework. Start with the lender to determine the value of the home and the loan amount available. Then, establish a budget, leaving room for unexpected expenses. Work with a reputable professional to define the project and its requirements, and shop around for bids and recommendations to confidently select a contractor. Some lenders offer checklists to help get the most from the investment.

Another option for financing a project through a home's equity is a home equity loan (HELOAN). As with a mortgage, the loan is granted as a lump sum and is paid back in installments over time, typically 10-15 years and at a fixed rate locked in at the time of securing the loan. A HELOAN works well for a one-time goal to improve the value of a home. Be mindful that either a HELOAN or a HELOC introduce some uncertainty, as monthly expenses will increase and must be maintained to avoid foreclosure risk.

Remember to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation. Start with a lender who can help you identify financial options available to home buyers and owners today. With careful planning and budgeting, the financing you need may be well within reach.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Going Abroad This Summer? Don't Forget These Necessities

June 17, 2015 12:39 am

With the economy on the upswing, a majority of Americans are planning a vacation abroad this summer. Those heading overseas have additional details to plan than domestic travelers. If you’re traveling abroad in the future, don’t forget these necessary steps, recommended by TravelGuideWorldwide.com.

Research your intended destination.
Be aware of seasonal, political and environmental conditions that may result in trip delays. For example, high-speed trains in Europe can be an enjoyable and efficient way to explore, but strikes by rail workers are not uncommon and are usually announced in advance, so have a backup plan. Know routes and timetables of regional trains and your options for spending additional sightseeing time or even another night at your destination.

Check your passport's expiration date.
If your passport is scheduled to expire within six months, some airlines may not let you board and some countries will not let you enter. In the U.S., routine renewal applications typically are processed within four to six weeks, but expedited options are available at an additional cost.

Prepare a water safety plan.
Water sports are a favorite summer vacation pastime, so if you or your family can benefit from age-appropriate swimming lessons, a boater safety session, or a refresher scuba diving course, look into options and consider the price to be part of your vacation budget. Consider enrolling in a CPR course, too; your training may not be called upon this summer, but it may benefit you and your loved ones long after the memories of your summer vacation have faded.

Learn about recommended immunizations. Get information from reputable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.CDC.gov/Travel) on immunizations. Schedule vaccination appointments well in advance to ensure you're protected before your journey begins. Consider visiting a travel immunization clinic, whose team may be more up to date than your primary care doctor on vaccinations for foreign destinations. Remember to check with your health insurance plan to determine your coverage and costs.

Source: TravelGuardWorldwide.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What Savers Can Expect from Auto-IRAs

June 17, 2015 12:39 am

If automatic IRAs, or auto-IRAs, were made universal, how significant could their impact be for increasing retirement readiness and reducing the national retirement savings deficit?

According to an evaluation by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), the success of auto-IRAs boils down to age, opt-out rates and default contribution rates.

IRAs, authorized by Congress in 1974, were designed to provide a tax-deferred way to save for retirement by people who do not have access to a workplace retirement plan (especially for those at small employers, which tend not to sponsor retirement plans). While IRAs have been shown to produce significant retirement accumulations by those who contribute to them, the vast majority of people who do not have a tax-qualified retirement plan at work also do not take advantage of an IRA.

In response, proponents of auto-IRAs have been pushing for legislation which would require certain employers without retirement plans to automatically invest a designated amount of each employee’s compensation to an IRA, unless the employee changes the amount of the contribution or opts out of the arrangement. Employer contributions are not generally required in these arrangements; rather, an employer’s payroll system would be used to regularly deduct the savings from each paycheck.

In a best-case scenario, EBRI projections estimate the introduction of an auto-IRA for households currently ages 35-39 working for small employers would increase the probability of a successful retirement by 8.4 percent.

Looking at the potential impact on the estimated $4.13 trillion national retirement savings deficit, among households where the family head is ages 35–64, adding auto-IRAs with no opt outs would reduce the savings deficit to $3.86 trillion, a 6.5 percent decrease.

Source: EBRI

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How Much Should New Homeowners Set Aside for Repairs?

June 17, 2015 12:39 am

Owning a home comes with its fair share of expenses, including mortgage and insurance payments and maintenance costs, but how much can a new homeowner reasonably expect to spend on unexpected repairs?

"My recommendation for homeowners is to take a few simple precautions before moving into their home," says Marianne Cusato, HomeAdvisor.com. "Complete a sewer inspection, check that the insurance policy covers water damage, and set money aside for home emergency projects. Homeowners should plan on spending 1 percent of their home's purchase price on repairs and emergencies each year."

According to HomeAdvisor.com data, more than half of homeowners encountered unexpected home projects within the first year of owning a home. More than half also spent more time on projects than originally anticipated, and less than half spent more money than anticipated.

The most frequently cited emergency projects include blocked toilets and pipes, a clogged drain, a broken heating or cooling system and water leaks. These unexpected repairs can cost homeowners anywhere from $199 to $2,068, according to HomeAdvisor.com.

In the first year of homeownership, most new homeowners tend to focus on improvements that increase curb appeal, such as installing landscaping, a sprinkler system, wood fence or deck. According to HomeAdvisor.com, the average cost of these outdoor projects is $12,850.

Source: HomeAdvisor.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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