RE/MAX 440
Peter Patkos
1110 North Broad Street
Lansdale  PA 19446
 Phone: 215-327-7491
Office Phone: 215-362-2260
Fax: 267-354-6879 
peterpatkos@remax440.com
Peter Patkos

My Blog

Move to Improve Arthritis

October 15, 2012 2:32 am

More Americans are walking, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the news is a step in the right direction, the report also highlights a need for many more Americans to join the movement.

Importance of Movement
According to the CDC report, the number of Americans who walk at least 10 minutes at a time one or more days a week increased from 55.7 percent in 2005 to 62 percent in 2010 – a jump of about 6 percent. Among people with arthritis, the increase was about 4 percent.

While Americans are moving more than in years past, the CDC report also revealed fewer than half of all Americans are getting the government-recommended 2.5 hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity like brisk walking to improve their health. Movement is especially important for people with arthritis and is one of the many ways to fight off arthritis. Walking, biking, swimming or even tennis can help reduce risk and improve pain.

Move to Improve
The Arthritis Foundation is taking steps to increase walking and physical activity to limit the effects of arthritis. As the nation’s leading cause of disability, arthritis affects one in five adults in the United States – more than 20 percent of the adult population. High rates of arthritis among people with other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, make physical activity an even more important way to manage disease.

The Arthritis Foundation is calling on the nation to:
• Get Moving —The Arthritis Foundation’s Walk With Ease exercise program is a great resource to start moving. It’s safe, easy and motivating. And researchers have found that Walk With Ease can reduce pain, increase balance and strength, and improve overall health.
• Jingle With Us — Register for Jingle Bell Run/Walk Participation helps raise awareness and funds to fight arthritis.
• Wave With the World — If you’ve been touched by arthritis, join 50,000 people from 70 countries around the world waving in support of people with arthritis. Upload a photo at www.worldarthritisday.org/waving and post the photo on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using #WorldArthritisDay. Be sure to include a personal message about how arthritis affects you or someone important to you.

Source: Arthritis Foundation

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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5 Financial Strategies to Help Victims of Domestic Abuse

October 15, 2012 2:32 am

Financial security and access to resources is the number one predictor of whether domestic violence victims will stay in or leave an abusive relationship. And insurance is an important component of financial planning that helps survivors prepare for a better life. To mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month, here are a few financial strategies for anyone who is leaving or has left an abusive situation.

1. Secure Your Financial Records
These documents include your birth certificate, driver's license, passport, bank account and credit card information, insurance policies, etc. Keep these documents with a trusted family member or friend, or obtain a bank safety deposit box. Also, set up a P.O. Box to conceal all of your important mail from your abuser. This is essential to prevent identity theft or damage to your credit. Change your ATM and debit card PIN codes, as well as your online banking and email passwords. It is particularly important to close any joint banking or credit card accounts before you leave, in case your partner racks up charges. Remember that as long as there is an outstanding balance on a joint account, both parties are responsible for payment. You can also contact the Social Security Administration if you need to obtain a new Social Security number (SSN).

2. Know Where You Stand Financially
Knowledge is power, and it is critical that you understand where you stand financially. That means knowing your main sources of income, bank account balances, property owned and debts owed. If your spouse or partner has had control of the family finances, do you know if your bills—including the premiums on your insurance policies—have been paid? A lapsed policy or unpaid credit-card bill could create financial problems down the road, so try to learn as much as possible about your financial position when you are leaving an abusive situation.

3. Build a Financial Safety Net
Once you have a good idea of your financial picture, you are in a better position to plan your exit. You know what assets and liabilities you are dealing with and can begin envisioning how your life will be on your own. Begin with estimating your income and expenses to see if the money you earn right now will allow you to meet your basic needs. Also, start a savings plan and create an emergency fund so you have a safety net if things get difficult financially once you leave.

4. Make Necessary Changes to Your Insurance Plans
Auto Insurance: If you plan to take a car with you when you leave your abuser, you will need to get separate auto insurance coverage immediately. And if you buy a new car, you should purchase a new auto policy before the car is registered .Make sure you are removed from any joint auto policies as that may protect you from possible liability if your former partner is involved in an accident and gets sued. Keep in mind that moving to a different area or to a different state, or changing from a secondary to a primary driver on a vehicle can affect your auto policy rates.

Life Insurance: Unfortunately, if a life insurance policy on your own life is payable to the abuser, and you do not own the policy, you cannot change the beneficiary. However, if you do own the policy, you have the right to change the beneficiary, and probably should. With group insurance through your employer or an association, you can also change the beneficiary. When your beneficiary is a child or an elderly parent who has or could develop cognitive difficulties, they most likely will be unable to file a death claim on their own. So you should be careful to designate a guardian whom you trust to file the claim and use the money to care for your beneficiary.

If you have children or other dependents who would be affected financially by your death, it is important to get your own life insurance as soon as possible. Opting for term life insurance, which provides protection for a specific period of time, typically offers the greatest amount of coverage for the lowest initial premium cost and can make buying enough coverage affordable.

5. Maintain Good Credit
Having a good credit report is going to be essential when it comes to starting your new life, as it can help you more easily rent an apartment, get a new credit card and get better rates on your insurance—it can even affect your ability to get a job. The best way to keep your credit intact is to start making changes as soon as you have reached the decision to leave your abuser. Take care of your current debts and avoid missing any payments. Alert creditors if there is a change of address so that bills will continue to be received from all joint accounts and no late fees are incurred. Remember, women who drop their husband's name and use their maiden name will not erase the credit history established under their married name, as it is tied to social security numbers, not names. Establish a new credit record under your own name, especially if all previous credit was held jointly with your spouse. In order to expedite this process, consider turning existing joint credit cards, gas cards and retail accounts into individual accounts. Doing this will mean not having to re-establish your credit should you file for a divorce.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Survey Finds Bullying to Be the Most Important Issue Facing Teens Today

October 12, 2012 2:28 am

A new survey by Harlequin TEEN and the Jed Foundation's Love is Louder movement, finds that 70 percent of young women between 16 and 21 have been bullied, with many young women admitting the issue is more serious than adults think. The release of the survey coincides with National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month.

Key survey findings from the survey include:

• Bullying based on physical appearance is dominant; 75 percent of respondents say they are bullied about their overall looks, weight, clothing or hair.
• In general, 58 percent of respondents say emotional bullying – such as spreading rumors or being ignored – is the most hurtful form of bullying. Only 15 percent of respondents say physical bullying – hitting, pushing – is the worst form of bullying.
• Bullying appears to be a vicious cycle, as 38 percent of respondents who have been bullied have also bullied someone else; 86 percent of respondents who consider themselves to be bullies have also been victims of bullying.
• More than half (51 percent) of self-proclaimed bullies have witnessed at least one of their parents involved in bullying, compared to only 30 percent of those who say they have not bullied anyone.
• There appears to be a disconnect in teen bullying, as 69 percent of teens say they do not bully others, yet more than 30 percent engage in behaviors deemed as bullying, such as gossiping, name-calling and teasing.
• Nearly three quarters (69 percent) of respondents say the impact of bullying lasts a lifetime, while 27 percent believe the effects of bullying eventually wear off.
• While 62 percent of respondents talk to their parents regularly about important issues, only 50 percent have talked to their parents about bullying.
• After hearing about others' experiences overcoming bullying, 73 percent of teens believe bullying has the potential to be stopped.

These findings show that young women clearly understand that actions such as name-calling and spreading rumors can cause significant pain, but many do not believe their personal involvement in these behaviors can hurt others. For more information, visit http://www.jedfoundation.org/programs/love-is-louder.

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Add Green to Your Halloween

October 12, 2012 2:28 am

Add a little "green" to your holiday by helping promote healthy, animal-friendly, and EEK-O-friendly Halloween events in your community. Having "Green Halloween" events and booths will show kids and adults how to apply the three Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – to Halloween activities. From swapping conventional candy for healthier treats, to participating in green costume contests and making animal crafts out of recycled products, Green Halloween demonstrates how there are a number of ways to make Halloween fun and eco-friendly.

Five tips to make your Halloween healthier and greener include:

• Always purchase new costumes? This year, swap! National Costume Swap Day™ is Saturday, October 13, so before heading to the big box store, look for a local costume swap.
• Prefer to hand out treasures? Empty your kids' pockets! Get inspired by the treasures they store—shiny rocks, feathers, sea shells. Stock up on these types of items and offer a choice.
• Looking for alternatives to conventional candy? Choose healthier treats that everyone from toddlers to teens will love, including snack bars, organic lollipops, fruit snacks or all natural gum.
• In the habit of buying new Halloween decor every year? Try exchanging old for new-to-you decor with friends and neighbors, or find decorations at your local Goodwill. Consider using edible items like pumpkins and other types of squash that can be turned into yummy soups and dishes after Halloween. Host a make-it-take-it decor party before the big day. Pull out every black, purple or orange item in your home and decorate with those. Search online for how to make decor out of items you'd normally toss.
• Used to giving out handfuls? Cut back by 25 percent. Kids won't notice the difference, but you'll save money.

For hundreds of other suggestions, visit www.GreenHalloween.org.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Myths about Consumer Debt Collection

October 12, 2012 2:28 am

Today, more than 30 million consumers have delinquent or defaulted accounts under collection, averaging $1,400 each. Here are a few dispelled myths concerning the reality of consumer debt collection:

Myth 1: Avoiding a debt collector makes the debt go away. Consumers who ask debt collectors to stop contact or choose not to respond to calls or letters often mistakenly believe it means their debt has been eliminated. Avoiding contact will not erase a debt. Instead, consumers should communicate with collectors to discuss the account, verify its accuracy and work on a plan for resolution. If consumers don't owe the debt, communicating with collectors can help put a stop to calls or letters.

Myth 2: Consumers don't have rights in the recovery of past due accounts. The collection of consumer debt is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the United States. Consumers have important rights under a number of federal and state laws. For more information about what to do if contacted by a debt collector please visit www.askdoctordebt.org.

Myth 3: All debt collectors are bad. Just as "all consumers" aren't the same, neither are all debt collectors. Most are committed to professionalism, training and customer service. By working with the right professional, you can start making payments or create a plan of action going forward.

Myth 4: It is boom time for debt collectors. It's no secret that consumers have struggled financially in the current economy. Despite an increase in defaults and delinquency, the inability of consumers to repay rightfully owed debts trickles down to those charged with their recovery.

Source: ACA International

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Protect Your Home This Fall

October 11, 2012 2:28 am

The change in seasons from summer to fall means several species of common household pests are crawling their way into homes across the country as the weather cools. The annual end-of-summer invasion poses many potential risks to homes that are not properly protected from the seasonal onslaught. Here are a few tips for homeowners looking to protect themselves from household pests that can do major damage to a home if left untreated.

• Eliminate yard clutter. Remove piles of wood and rotted stumps or logs from around your home to keep termites and carpenter ants at bay. When storing firewood, keep it at least 20 feet away from the home and five inches off the ground as a precautionary measure. Also, keep soil at least six inches away from structural wood to prevent decay.

• Get rid of standing water. Termites, carpenter ants and Powerpost beetles all thrive in moist conditions. Many pests use vegetation as a bridge from the ground into your home; so keep bushes, shrubs, vines and trees from touching the house. Wood mulch and plants should also be kept at least 18 inches away from the foundation to prevent rot.

• Seal gaps and cracks. Stink bugs, which are very prevalent this time of year, can easily pass through gaps and cracks in search of a warm place to rest. These pests are a smelly mess when they make it into the home. Inspect walls, windows, doors and the roof for places where pests could possibly enter the home. Seal any cracks or gaps with caulk or epoxy, and use steel wool or hardware cloth to block openings where wires, pipes and cables come into or out of exterior walls. Also be sure to ventilate attics and crawl spaces to ensure the venting system has a good airflow to prevent the buildup of moisture.

• Install and maintain screens on doors and windows. With the summer heat and humidity subsided, fall is the perfect time to open the windows and enjoy the fresh air. Torn or damaged holes in screens can allow a slew of pests easy access to your home. Replace old screens on doors and windows with fine mesh screening to prevent an invasion.

• Cover attic and crawlspace vents with mesh. Larger pests like raccoons, squirrels and mice can easily make themselves home in unprotected spaces. A warm dryer vent is a pest's ideal home as the weather gets chilly this fall, causing homeowners a huge headache. Placing a mesh barrier over points of entry, like vents, holes or large cracks, will keep both the animals, and the mites and fleas they carry, outside where they belong.

Homeowners are sure to save themselves time, money and frustration by taking the above steps to help protect their home from pests this fall. Prevention will make a home inhospitable to pests and will keep a seasonal intrusion from becoming an all-out pest invasion.

Source: Power Home Remodeling Group

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Little-Known Credit Card Perks

October 11, 2012 2:28 am

Many credit card users can be saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars by using their plastic and they may not even know it. Visiting your credit card's website is a good first step to finding out what benefits you may be missing out on, along with any rules and limitations you many need to know. Knowing these perks ahead of time can help you shop smarter and save big, especially during the holidays when you've got a full list of friends and family to buy for.

Here are three examples of credit-card benefits to look out for:

1. Extra product warranties. Some issuers automatically extend manufacturer warranties, usually up to a year - a great perk for expensive items that otherwise would be costly to replace. But it usually also applies to cheaper items that consumers may not know come with a warranty, such as eyeglasses or coffeemakers.

2. Coverage for damaged goods. A credit card with theft, damage, and loss coverage reimburses users for items purchased with it that are lost, stolen, or accidentally damaged within a stated time period, often 90 days. But some cards limit the number of times users can make a claim within a certain time period.

3. Rental-car coverage and travel insurance. Some credit-card issuers will cover any loss to a rental vehicle, up to certain limits. Some cards also offer trip cancellation, which covers losses if the user has to cancel plans, perhaps due to illness or injury. But check card issuers' rules about what doesn't qualify and how much can be recouped.

Source: ShopSmart

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Dream Makers Program on Track to Help Record Number of Military Families

October 11, 2012 2:28 am

The Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation (PenFed Foundation), a nationally recognized nonprofit organization working to meet the unmet needs of military personnel and their families, has announced it is on track to give away a record number of grants through its Dream Makers program this year.

“Members of our nation’s military frequently move, living on bases around the country and overseas,” explained Kate Kohler, chief operating officer of the PenFed Foundation and a former Army captain. “When they are finally able to settle down, they often need a little help with purchasing their first home.”

Under the Dream Makers program, qualifying military personnel and veterans who are buying their first homes may receive a grant to cover a portion of their down payment and closing costs.

With interest rates at historic lows and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, the program has become more popular, going from 47 grants in 2009 to 51 in 2010 to a record high of 93 in 2011. Already this year, the PenFed Foundation has given away 84 grants, putting it on track to beat last year’s record.

Applying for a Dream Makers grant is easy and can even be done online. Grantees don’t need to be a Pentagon Federal Credit Union member to benefit from Dream Makers and the grant can be applied to a mortgage from any financial institution.

According to the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment, approximately 65 to 70 percent of service members live in private sector housing. This means that buying a home is one way that military members can make a significant investment during their service, which could help greatly benefit their financial security now and later on in life.

“With fewer service members heading overseas and longer station assignments, more of them are looking to buy a home,” said Kohler. “Through our Dream Makers program, the PenFed Foundation is planning on helping them make that part of the American dream come true.”

To learn more about the Dream Makers program and apply online, visit: http://www.penfedfoundation.org/dreammakers.

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Attitudes on Housing Continue Summer Season's Gradual Upward Trend

October 10, 2012 2:28 am

Results from Fannie Mae's September 2012 National Housing Survey show Americans' optimism about the recovery of the housing market and with regard to homeownership continued its gradual climb, bolstered by a series of mortgage rate decreases experienced throughout the summer. Consumer attitudes about the economy also improved substantially last month, breaking the progression of waning confidence seen during much of this year.

Keeping a relatively steady pace with recent periods, survey respondents expect home prices to increase an average of 1.5 percent in the next year. The share who says mortgage rates will increase in the next 12 months dropped 7 percentage points to 33 percent. Nineteen percent of those surveyed say now is a good time to sell, marking the highest level since the survey began in June 2010. Tying the June 2012 level (and the all-time high since the survey's inception), 69 percent of respondents said they would buy if they were going to move.

With regard to the economy overall, 41 percent of consumers now believe the economy is on the right track, up from 33 percent last month, while 53 percent believe the economy is on the wrong track, compared with 60 percent the prior month. Both the right track and wrong track figures mark the highest and the lowest readings, respectively, since the survey began in June 2010.

Other Survey Highlights

Homeownership and Renting
• Consumers' average home price change expectation is 1.5 percent, consistent with recent periods and marking nearly a full year in which home price expectations have been positive.
• Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed expect home prices to go up in the next year, the highest level since the survey's inception in June 2010.
• Thirty-three percent of respondents say mortgage rates will go up in the next year, a decrease of 7 percentage points since last month.
• Nineteen percent of respondents say it is a good time to sell, the highest level since the survey's inception.
• Those who say now is a good time to buy dipped slightly to 72 percent.
• The percentage of respondents who say they would buy if they were going to move increased to 69 percent, tying June 2012 at the highest level since the survey's inception.

The Economy and Household Finances
• Consumer optimism climbed in September, with 41 percent saying the economy is on the right track – the highest level recorded since the survey's inception and an 8 percentage point increase over last month.
• Forty-four percent of respondents expect their personal financial situation to improve over the next year, up from 42 percent in August.
• The share of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago decreased by 3 percentage points to 17 percent.
• Thirty-four percent of those surveyed say their household expenses are significantly higher than they were 12 months ago, a 2 percentage point increase over August.

Source: Fannie Mae

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Bumps to the Head Minor Cause for Concern to Parents

October 10, 2012 2:28 am

Evidence of the long-term effects of head injuries to athletes has prompted the NFL to partner with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to educate the public of the dangers of concussions through the Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports campaign. However, the seriousness of a potential concussion does not seem to resonate with the public. In fact, only half of all respondents to a recent online survey by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) sought treatment and were diagnosed by a medical professional when they received a head injury and thought they might have a concussion.

The main reason people did not seek treatment for their own possible concussion was they did not think the symptoms were serious enough or thought that it was just a headache. Surprisingly, three in five parents gave these same reasons for not taking their children with head injuries to a medical professional for treatment.

Better medical attention on the field?
The survey reported that only about one in four children obtained a possible concussion while playing either a school sponsored or non-school sponsored sport. In addition, children injured while playing sports may have a greater chance of being evaluated by a medical professional than if the injury occurred at home. According to the survey, more than eight in 10 parents said their children were evaluated by a medical professional, coach or event personnel when they obtained a head injury during a sporting event.

As of September 2012, 39 states across the country have adopted youth concussion laws. Many of these laws call for the removal of a youth athlete who appears to have suffered a concussion from the game or practice at the time the injury occurs and requires the child be evaluated and cleared by a licensed health care professional before returning to play.

There are six states that have no pending legislation or youth concussion laws: Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee and South Carolina.

Recognizing the signs
Even though the survey found that seven in 10 respondents were incorrectly identifying symptoms like "shortness of breath" and "hearing damage" as symptoms of concussion, they still reported feeling confident in their ability to recognize concussion symptoms. Actual symptoms could include any of the following:

• Pain in area of head injury
• Dizziness
• Nausea or vomiting
• Confusion or inability to focus
• Slurred or incoherent speech

It is easy to rationalize and say "this is just a headache and I am not nauseous or vomiting so it can't be a concussion," however, one might be missing something that a physician will notice.

Other survey results of note:

• Men were more likely than women to report they ever had a concussion. However, along with respondents between the ages of 18 and 29, men were the most likely to say they did not seek treatment because they didn't think symptoms were serious enough.
• Four in 10 adult respondents said they received their concussions playing sports, making it the most commonly reported setting for this type of injury in grown-ups. This setting followed both in-home injuries and accidents outside the home where three in 10 respondents said they suffered concussions.

Source: American Osteopathic Association

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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