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RE/MAX 440
Susan Langenstein
423 North Main Street
Doylestown  PA 18901
 Phone: 267-446-6201
Office Phone: 215-348-7100
Toll Free: 800-360-7100
Cell: 267-446-6201
Fax: 267-354-6816 
susanlangenstein@comcast.net
Susan Langenstein

My Blog

7 Freelance Jobs That Pay Well

June 2, 2016 1:45 am

Freelancing has become a viable option in today’s high-cost business world, as more working people and stay-at-home parents supplement income with contract jobs. While many freelancers don’t make large sums of money – the average for professionals is between $25,000 and $75,000 – it can be enough to support a family on the high end, and allow for extras even on the low end. 
 
However, there are freelance positions that pay well - especially if you capitalize on your previous experience and training, say the editors at Kiplinger Magazine. It will take some salesmanship, and it may not be easy to find your first few gigs. The best paying freelance jobs are available in these fields, according to Kiplinger: 
 
Legal Work – If you are trained as a lawyer or paralegal, look into freelancing. Patent lawyers can demand $112 per hour, intellectual property lawyers up to $120 an hour, and even run-of-the-mill legal consulting pays about $70 an hour.
 
Marketing – If you have a marketing background, you can earn an average of $50 an hour creating brand strategies, utilizing social media and bolstering customer relationships. Find a company or career professional who likes what you do, and you could have a long-term, flexible job.
 
Photography – The competition is stiff, but if you have talent and build a portfolio that showcases your work, you can earn $2,000 or more to photograph a wedding or special event, and $100 an hour (or more) for portrait photography.
 
Programming – Computer programming can be done from anywhere. If you know how to program, and have experience and a portfolio, you can make about $60 an hour freelancing.
 
Recruiting – Use your human resources know-how to find strategic employees for big companies, many of which prefer to outsource the search. A good recruiter working part-time can earn as much as $46 an hour.
 
Translation – If you know two or more languages, there are translation gigs for you! Translating to and from Korean pays well, as does Spanish-English translation, but there are opportunities for almost every language combination. You can make between $25 to $40 an hour, depending on the task.
 
Writing – Good professional writers are in demand by many companies and publications. Find a specialty in a field you know and you can earn an average of $55 an hour.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Paint and Progress: House Painting Projects Up with Economy

June 2, 2016 1:45 am

Painting is one of the few projects homeowners with any budget can do.

An uptick in paint projects, in fact, is a sign of economic progress overall. Homeowners of varied income levels tend to spend more money when the “good times are rollin’,” and with paint projects, they’re putting that expense back into their largest asset - for a low upfront cost.

“I’ve worked on many projects and above all, I’ve learned that there are endless ways to make a sophisticated, bold impression in your home and that small changes can make a big impact,” says John Gidding, architect and interior designer.

More than half (56 percent) of homeowners surveyed in a recent Sherwin-Williams poll plan to repaint part or all of their home in the year to come, with 59 percent willing to spend more than $100 on the project. An identical percentage reported feeling confident in their ability (or a professional’s ability) to carry out the project.

Who wouldn’t? Painting is a simple project for even inexperienced DIY-er's, and it generally doesn’t take longer than a weekend or two to complete.

Close to half of the homeowners surveyed in the poll believe painting an accent wall is one of the best ways to make a room “stand out.”

Accent walls have gradually become a fixture in homes today, with many homeowners adopting the trend as standard.

Whether it’s an accent wall or an entire room, paint can change the look and feel of a home for the better.

“With only 1 gallon of paint and a little time, people can achieve a positive, lasting outcome they’ll appreciate and enjoy for some time,” adds Gidding.

Source: Sherwin-Williams

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Relocating? Slow and Steady Wins the Move

June 2, 2016 1:45 am

Forty million Americans are set to pack up and move this summer. That’s a lot of stress in one season!

One of the most concerning steps in the moving process is packing—determining what stays, what goes, and what gets stored. More than half of Americans describe their home as “cluttered,” according to a recent SpareFoot survey, making relocating that much more challenging, especially when “letting go” is difficult.

Guilt, the SpareFoot survey found, is associated with keeping items past their prime—91 percent of Americans surveyed hung onto an item because they felt guilty tossing it. Common guilt-inducing items include gifts, family heirlooms, rarely-worn clothing, greeting cards, and drawings and crafts made by children.

“We often don't think about why we keep certain things, but rather just ‘go through the motions,’” explains clinical psychologist Dr. Susan Bartell. “In reality, most people keep things to hold onto the past, and in hope for a better future. We hold onto items that remind us of happier times, past relationships and our childhood, but also things that we think we will need, such as clothing in a smaller size, our kids' toys, and legacy items.”

This keep-everything mindset may cater to our sentimental natures, but it can be a disadvantage in the day-to-day comings and goings of the average household: close to one-third of Americans surveyed by SpareFoot spend two or more hours each week looking for a misplaced item in their cluttered home.

Dr. Bartell’s best advice for relocators?

“If you're looking to declutter or downsize, it's best to take it slow. Getting rid of personal things can be a very emotional process, and something that shouldn't be rushed. If you're in a time crunch, consider a storage unit or temporary storage at a friend's home.”

Source: SpareFoot

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The New Nutrition Facts Label, Explained

June 1, 2016 1:42 am

The nutritional value chart labeled on most food and drink items will change to reflect shifting health ideals—the first alteration to the label in over 20 years.

Recently announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the new Nutrition Facts Panel will offer more up-to-date information for consumers.

“Our understanding of a ‘serving size’ has changed over the years,” explains Lori Zanini, registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “The new Panel now lists serving size as what is typically eaten in one sitting. This new format will help by easing or even eliminating the need to multiply several servings and daily value percentages to know how much has been consumed.”

The serving size on a 12-ounce beverage, for instance, will now be listed as one serving, since a person typically drinks the whole amount at one time.

“People should also know that the serving size does not necessarily reflect the recommended portion size,” Zanini cautions. “The MyPlate guidelines are a great resource for understanding proper portion sizes.”

The change will also do away with the Vitamin A and Vitamin C quantities currently listed on the label, and instead include the amounts of Vitamin D and potassium.

“Many people do not consume these nutrients in sufficient amounts,” says Zanini.

The new label will identify added sugars, as well.

“To provide a better understanding of naturally-occurring versus sugars that are added to a product, added sugars will now be listed as an indented sub-item under total sugars,” Zanini explains.

Daily Values (DV) will also become easier to calculate under the new label. DVs are the average levels of nutrients for a person eating 2,000 calories a day—a food item with a 5 percent DV of sodium provides 5 percent of the total sodium that the person should eat each day. Consumers should aim for high DVs in vitamins and minerals, Zanini advises.

“While fully understanding the Nutrition Fact Panel can be confusing, many grocery stores now have registered dietitian nutritionists on staff to help their customers understand how to read labels and select the right foods for their customers' healthy eating plans,” adds Zanini.

Visit EatRight.org to learn more about the new label, or to locate a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area.

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How Small Is Too Small When Considering Collectors Insurance?

June 1, 2016 1:42 am

Did you know over 90 million Americans collect?

Collectibles, or collectors, insurance, can be a worthwhile expense for homeowners possessing extensive, years-in-the-making collections.

Collections valued below $1 million may be covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy, says collectors insurance expert Keith McConnell, according to PropertyCasualty360.com, but these policies lack sufficient coverage in the event of financial loss. This is because claims are paid at actual cash value, rather than the value of the collectible. What’s more, homeowners may have to pay a higher premium for replacement cost coverage.

With collectors insurance, the policyholder sets the value of the collection—no appraisal is required, unless the collection is specialized or worth more than a few thousand dollars.

Some of the most commonly collected—and uninsured—items are fine art, sports memorabilia, wine, rare books, stamps and coins, antique rugs and tapestries, musical instruments, action figures, dolls, toys, auto and movie memorabilia, and guns. If you’re a collector in one of these categories, collectors insurance may be a wise investment.

Before committing to an insurance provider, draw up a list of items in the collection, including date purchased and amount paid, advises McConnell. Take a photograph of every piece, and store them—and all documentation and receipts—in a secure location.

If you’re having an appraiser assess your collection to determine insurance coverage, be wary of professionals who make offers on the spot— legitimate appraisers are independent and will not engage in this type of conflict of interest. Consult with an antique or vintage item dealer for a referral, McConnell adds.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Minor Aging-in-Place Improvements with Major Impact

June 1, 2016 1:42 am

Remaining in the home you currently own when retiring has its advantages, but only if it’s outfitted to accommodate your needs as you age. One aging-in-place feature crucial to longevity in the home is adequate lighting.

Vision issues brought on by age, like cataracts or macular degeneration, can make living in a poorly-lit home challenging. Because artificial light may exacerbate these conditions, increasing the home’s level of natural light is the best course of action. In fact, according to the Center for Health Design, natural light can help regulate your sleep cycle, boost your mood and facilitate bodily processes.

To increase the natural light your home receives, consider:

Ditching Drapes – Replace thick, heavy drapes with cordless or remote-operated blinds—ideal for those with limited dexterity. Use them to maximize the amount of natural light entering the home during the day.

Installing Skylights – ENERGY STAR-qualified skylights not only provide natural light, but also increase passive ventilation. A skylight can be especially beneficial in the kitchen, where visual acuity is critical. Most skylights are eligible for the 30 percent federal tax credit.

Repainting – Repaint the rooms you use most often with lighter, vision-friendly colors. Look for paint products that minimize glare, with a Light Reflectance Value (LVR) in the 40-60 range.

These minor improvements can have major impact on your enjoyment of the home in the years to come.

If aging-in-place isn’t part of your plans, reach out to your local real estate professional. He or she can help you downsize (or move-up!) come retirement.

Source: Brandpoint

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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What Every College Grad Should Know About That First Job

May 31, 2016 1:42 am

Each year, scores of college grads hit the streets in search of their first job. Before you (or a recently graduated loved one) start pounding the pavement, get ahead of these hard facts, according to Yahoo! Finance.

Credit card debt is a killer.
You may find yourself bombarded with (and tempted by!) credit card offers after receiving your first few paychecks. Carrying credit card debt comes with high interest, and, often, stress. Don’t risk ruining your credit before you’ve established your independence. Charge no more in any month than you can reasonably pay off when the bill arrives.

Your boss is not your friend.
It’s great to have a boss you like, and even better when the feeling is mutual, but remember: your boss’s top priority isn’t you. It’s bottom-line company performance, so mind your p’s and q’s and remember that your job evaluation is worth more than a pat on the head.

Save more than you think you can afford.
Putting off saving “until later” can cost you thousands of dollars long-term. Don’t put off investing in your future. Make saving a priority. Take advantage of company savings options, if possible.

It’s okay to quit.
Few first jobs turn out to be the opportunity you expected.  Statistics show the average young adult has had seven jobs by the time they reach 30. Don’t be hasty. The idea is not to burn bridges, but to build them. Learn whatever you can from every job, and take those new skills with you to the next.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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3 Tips to Save on Rising Rents

May 31, 2016 1:42 am

Exploring the rental market in your community?

We recently turned to ApartmentList.com for rent-saving tips.

Tip #1: Get roommates.
You’re much more likely to find an affordable apartment on a larger, combined budget than on a single income, says Yuki Graviet Knapp of ApartmentList.com. You’ll also likely save on utilities, furniture, and other charges (television, Internet, etc.).

Tip #2: Avoid popular moving times.
During “off” seasons, Graviet Knapp says, landlords are much more likely to give you a deal on rent in order to keep up their occupancy. She says if you time it right, you’ll find yourself in a much better position for negotiating (or simply being offered) a cheaper rent.

Tip #3: Negotiate on a fixer.
Consider an apartment that’s under budget and in need of minor improvements you can do yourself. Graviet Knapp says one-time fixes are much cheaper in the long run than renting a more expensive apartment with all the perks.

Remember, in addition to these tips, to factor in other expenses, Graviet Knapp adds. Does the property charge extra for pets or parking?  Will you pay for your own utility use only, or does the property utilize a ratio utility billing system (RUBS)? Does the property offer military discounts or preferred employer discounts?

Weigh your options, preferably with the help of a real estate professional, before committing to a lease.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Ways to Curb Energy Costs This Summer

May 31, 2016 1:42 am

Our utility bills seem to rise along with the thermometer come summer. Certain steps and upgrades can help cut down on cooling costs and other seasonal home expenses.

One minor task that has major impact is cleaning the HVAC filter, says Ameeta Jain, co-founder of Homeselfe. Regardless of the unit you own, cleaning the filter on a regular basis is important. When the filter is dirty, the system consumes more energy. With a clean filter, the system can cool your home more efficiently.

Another task to consider is mulching your garden, Jain says. Mulch lessens the amount of watering needed for plants, reducing expense and consumption. Mulch works to prevent evaporation so plants have more time to absorb water.

Jain recommends using a rain barrel to collect water, as well. Harvested rainwater can be recycled in the garden, saving even more money on water bills.

Energy-smart upgrades are also a consideration, Jain says. Apply window film to your windows to block heat from entering the home (while preserving the view!), resulting in less use of the A/C. The best part? Window films on the market these days are easy to DIY-apply.

Consider installing a programmable thermostat, too, says Jain. Newer models allow you to set different temperatures for various times throughout the day. You may, for example, want to set your thermostat to turn off while you’re at work and then cool down right around the time you’re on your way home.

Though these tips are seasonally-related, they can be applied year-round, Jain adds: “It’s always a good time to reduce your energy consumption and save on utility bills!”

Source: Homeselfe

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Rebuilding Your Rocky Credit Score One Piece at a Time

May 30, 2016 1:39 am

A credit score is mainly based on your history of managing debts, such as whether you tend to make payments on time. It plays a significant role in your everyday life because the next time you apply for a loan or a credit card—or perhaps a new apartment or insurance—your score could affect the final decision, including your costs.

For the many consumers with damaged credit scores and those with no credit record, here are some ways to improve your credit scores from the FDIC:

Consult with a reputable credit counseling service to help develop a customized plan to improve your credit score, which can help you prioritize your spending choices. Counseling services are available to help consumers budget money, pay bills and develop a plan to improve their credit histories.

Bear in mind, however, that not all counselors are looking out for the consumer's best interests. Be cautious of counseling services that advise you to stop making payments to your creditors or to make your payments to the counselors instead. These programs can be costly, may result in your credit score becoming even worse, and they could be scams. For suggestions on finding a reputable counseling service, visit the Federal Trade Commission's website at FTC.gov.

Understand what information is most likely to influence your credit score. In general, the most significant factor affecting your score is whether you repay debts on time, and how much you currently owe on each account compared to its original loan amount or credit limit.

Additional factors include how long you have had your current loans and credit cards, and the types of credit accounts you have.

To obtain and review a free copy of your credit report, visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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