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Ready Your Car for Vacation!

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The Front Porch

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

The family car is the most popular method of transportation, so finding ways to make your excursion more cost efficient should be a number one priority. We routinely keep up maintenance on our cars, but learned more tips watching a morning news program that featured a representative from the American Automobile Association (AAA).
Maintenance
Make sure your car is in tip-top shape before you contemplate a lengthy journey by having your mechanic check and tune it. The cost of this check-up will probably save you money on fuel consumption when your car is running at its peak. When is the last time you changed the oil, air filter, and any of the hoses? Make sure you have your cooling system checked to make sure your car does not overheat while driving. Tires in excellent condition are important for your personal safety and for a comfortable ride. Read the manual that comes with your automobile to find out the proper inflation pressure for your vehicle. Check this pressure every couple of weeks during normal driving and several times during long vacation driving. Generally, the best time to check your tires is when they are cold. Tires that are under-inflated may overheat and cause a blowout or loss of control. Recent government recommendations suggest replacing your tires more frequently than once was estimated. Whether or not you put high mileage on your car, experts say that tires eventually “dry out” and should be replaced more frequently than previous standards.
Fuel Costs
One of the best rules for saving on fuel is the easiest and that is to stay within the posted speed limit. Driving faster simply eats up more fuel and that is a fact. Enjoy the scenery, take in the sights, and arrive safely, which is the most important part of your trip. Avoid quick starts and stops while driving. Sudden surges and quick stops continue to gobble up fuel unnecessarily. Lighten up your load, taking only what is necessary so the weight of your car will be lighter. Watch your gauges during your trip, making sure you never get down to a quarter of a tank before refueling. This way you have plenty of time to watch for good prices along the road and will not have to settle for a higher price just because you are near “empty.” This is important, too, when you are driving in unfamiliar areas and are not certain when the next service station will appear. Being aware and finding ways to conserve fuel and keeping your car in perfect condition can help that vacation get off the ground without breaking the family budget. Wishing all you summer travelers a happy, safe and economic journey that lets you discover wonderful memories down the road!

 

 

 

 

 

June 10, 2015 |

Gifts for the Graduate

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The Front Porch

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

Graduations are exciting and sentimental times in a family’s life. Whether the student is graduating from high school or college, the emotions are the same. As parents, we think about the years that have flown by and how our “child” is now entering a more adult environment. For the student, graduating from high school and leaving for college opens the doors of new challenges where he or she will be responsible for many decisions. College graduates will make presentations during interviews to sell themselves as a product this company cannot do without.  This is the time for celebrating the accomplishments of the student.
Gifts
What kind of present do you give the graduating student that fits the occasion? Perhaps you have a grandchild, neighbor, niece or nephew that will be graduating soon. You could give a check, but this time around you might want to be more creative in your gift selection. If going off to college, there is a list of needed items. Basic items would be a small microwave, radio-alarm clock, popcorn popper and other household appliances.
It is easier to shop for the college graduate entering the business world. Maybe their first plan after graduation is to make a trip abroad with friends, because they know this will be the last vacation for a while. From the end of May to the end of June, Europe is filled with college students visiting the fascinating sights of the various countries. A gift could be luggage, a calculator to convert to international currencies, a small camera, portable hair dryer or an electrical adaptor. You could also purchase currency for the country they plan on visiting.
Time is Money
A cousin’s son related this interesting point during his first job interview after college and earning a degree in business. During one of the interviews, the potential employer asked him what time it was. He glanced down at his watch and gave the time. The interviewer smiled and said he was pleased to see the young man was wearing a watch.  He continued with his explanation of why he asked what time it was.  This was a mini-test. He wanted to make sure any future employee was wearing a watch because it meant he or she knew what time it was at the moment. In this busy office there were constant meetings, appointments and clients to meet. If an interviewee came in without a watch on, it showed this employer that the person was not concerned with time. This could translate into possibly coming into work late each day and maybe arriving late for a critical presentation. While you may not agree with this employer’s opinion or observation, it is an insider’s peek into what a future employer may be thinking. So, a new watch, with a more adult design, would be a nice present for a new graduate entering the job market. Another idea is a sturdy, leather briefcase or attaché case for carrying papers, or lunch, back and forth.
Whatever present you eventually decide upon, I know the graduate will be appreciative. It is not so much the cost of the gift, but the love and support you are showing that is behind it.  Taking these giants steps into the adult world is often a delicate balance for the student. Knowing there is the love, support and encouragement from loved ones behind them will make this transition a little easier.

 

 

 

 

June 3, 2015 |

Teaching Teens About Checking Accounts

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The Front Porch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

High-school graduations are approaching and soon teens that are off to college will have to learn new things on their own, including handling money. While the student is still at home you can go over various points about finances, checking accounts, credit cards, and how to save money on unnecessary fees.
Perhaps the student worked a summer job and saved some money. Opening a checking account while the student is at home will allow parents time to review and coach their students on its use and how to handle it. Start shopping around for the best banking rates and charges for a new account. Many banks offer special discounts to students that may include no monthly or per check fees. Some banks will give clients with a savings account at their bank a better price for an attached checking feature. Other banks may waive fees, if the student writes a limited number of checks each month.
Compare bank prices to see what service works best for your student’s needs and potential check-writing expenses. Some banks will link a student’s checking account to a parent’s account to discount fees, yet maintain the privacy of the parents’ funds. For our family, we found it better to have one parent also on the student’s account, so we could make transactions if the student was not available to do so. Full access is allowed if both names are on the account. We linked our daughter to our savings account, because we did not need checking and had one in another bank. This bank offered free checks to her because of our other accounts at the same bank.
We take it for granted that our children are taking advanced math and calculus, so that handling a bank account with several hundred dollars should be easy. When the monthly statement comes in, be sure to impress upon your student the importance of inspecting each statement for accuracy. Show them how to balance the checkbook, read the statement and deduct fees for check printing or check writing, if there are any posted on the statement. Stress the importance of keeping all deposit slips, especially if a cash deposit was made.
ATM Machines
Students are fond of ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) for quick and easy cash withdrawals. Before making withdrawals they should find out what the fee is for this service. Some banks have higher rates and should be avoided or visited less frequently.
There is a whole new world of financial education that your student will have to embark on along with his or her studies at college. These are learning tools that will follow students for the rest of their lives. Give them a head start on these important skills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 27, 2015 |

Teen Job Hunting

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The Front Porch

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

If you are a teen that will be looking for a job this summer, or have a teen in the family, this column is for you. Perhaps you see a help-wanted advertisement in the PennySaver and the job description, hours, and location are perfect for you. Make the call to ask if you can come in for an interview. Phone skills are important and this is the first contact you will have as a possible candidate. When making the telephone call, be sure there is no loud music in the background. Avoid eating or chewing gum while making the call. In a clear and polite tone, explain the reason for your call and ask to speak to the manager or person mentioned in the advertisement. If you are asked to come in for an interview, be ready to go on the day offered. Some employers might ask for working papers, or the names of places for which you have worked before. Make sure you arrive on time or at least 10 minutes earlier than the appointment. If for some reason you have to cancel the appointment, make sure you call the employer as soon as you find out that you cannot make the interview. This is common courtesy.
Most high-school students do not have a typical resume. This may be the first “real job” he or she is applying to work. Coming prepared with a typed list of places you have worked as a babysitter or doing yard work, with the names and telephone numbers of the persons, is helpful. Community service or volunteer work is impressive to employers, so be sure you include any organizations you are part of, including scouts, church groups or school sports teams. This shows that you are involved, get along with people and are motivated. If you have listed the names of any persons you worked for in the past, be sure to notify these people that you have used them as a reference.
Appearance
Remember you want to show you are the right person for the position, so dress as if you care about what your future employer may think about you. Leave home the torn or oversized jeans, sloppy tee shirt, or one with questionable sayings or provocative symbols on them. You are not going to gym class, so avoid sneakers and sweats. For males, a casual pair of slacks, button-down shirt and loafers are fine. Girls can wear nice slacks, a blouse and flats or sandals, but not flip-flops. You may want to remove excessive body piercings on your face, in case your employer may be someone not fond of this decorative statement. Hair should be washed, combed and out of your face. These may sound like simple instructions, but according to a friend that runs a summer camp, they are necessary reminders. Even though the potential employees would be in a camp setting, playing with small children, they should not come to the interview dressed as if they are working at the job already. On the day of the interview make sure you are on time, your cell phone is off and you have a note pad to write down information. If you need any time off during the summer, this interview is the time to tell the employer. This does not have to be a stressful process if you come prepared.
Good luck with the search!

 

 

 

 

May 20, 2015 |

May is Stroke Awareness Month

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

Would you be able to recognize a stroke if it was happening to you or someone around you? Unfortunately, too many people miss the signs, and go without medical attention for hours, sometimes days, after suffering a stroke. That’s why the American Heart Association (AMA) is urging everyone to learn the warning signs of stroke during May, American Stroke Awareness Month.
On average, every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke, and every four minutes, someone dies of a stroke. Together To End Stroke, nationally sponsored by Covidien, is the American Stroke Association’s national initiative for creating awareness that stroke can be largely preventable, treatable and beatable. Stressing the importance of reducing risk while knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke, the Association is determined to reach their goal of building healthier lives by reducing disability and death from stroke by 20 percent by 2020.
When it comes to knowing the stroke warning signs, only about two out of three Americans can correctly identify at least one sign. Together to End Stroke is helping Americans more easily recognize the stroke warning signs that come on suddenly through a quick and easy acronym called, F.A.S.T. It is a simple way to remember some of the warning signs of a stroke and the importance of getting medical help immediately. Here is the meaning of the acronym: F-Face Drooping, A-Arm Weakness, S-Speech Difficulty, and T-Time to call 9-1-1. “With a stroke, time matters,” notes Dr. Henry Woo, AMA Long Island Board Member and Director, Cerebrovascular Center, Department of Neurological Surgery, Stony Brook University Medical Center. “The quicker a stroke victim receives medical attention, the less likely there is the chance for long-term damage. It is important to call 911 as soon as humanly possible.”
Although stroke is our nation’s No. 4 leading cause of death and leading cause of long-term disability, research suggests that nearly 80% of strokes may be prevented if certain risk factors are controlled, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and physical inactivity. “The best thing you can do for yourself is to live a healthy lifestyle,” continues Dr. Woo. “Eating healthy, exercising, and getting regular check-ups with your doctors won’t only make you feel better in the here and now, but it could save your life in the future.”
The American Stroke Association offers free resources to help educate the public about stroke. Download information by visiting www.strokeassociation.org/resources or call 1-888-4STROKE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 13, 2015 |

Lyme Disease Season

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

For years we have feared the notorious “tick season,” but now it is even more dangerous with a host of diseases that are carried by different ticks. I know firsthand about this because last year I was very sick from being bitten by various ticks. It happened over the July 4th weekend when I found several ticks on my legs and arm. What is strange about this is that I am not a gardener, nor do I go hiking in the woods. It was from merely walking to the clothesline to hang up towels from the beach or walking across the lawn to our shed to take out an item.
About five days after the ticks were found I began to feel ill. (People can get sick from 1-2 weeks after being bitten by a tick.) It started with a low-grade fever and feeling so tired that I had to nap. Since I had Lyme disease about four years ago, I remembered the symptoms and went to the doctor. I was immediately put on an antibiotic, and the doctor took a blood test to confirm that I did, in fact, have Lyme disease. The first line of treatment for adults and children of all ages is doxycycline.
My blood test came back and the doctor said, “Something else is going on besides regular Lyme disease, which you do have, too.” My doctor told me my liver enzyme levels were not right, nor was my red blood cell count. She requested another blood test and named Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis or Anaplasmosis as the three possibilities I might have besides the “traditional” more common Lyme disease. I had never heard of any of these and the news was a bit frightening, hearing what they could cause if left untreated.
Both Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis are bacterial diseases. Sure enough, when the second blood test came back another tick-borne disease, Babesiosis, was discovered, and this is much worse than normal Lyme disease. Babesiosis is an infection caused by a malaria-like parasite, also called a “piroplasm” that infects red blood cells. To rid myself of the Babesiosis, I was put on two other medications and had to eat fatty foods, along with the medication, to return my liver function to normal. This was extremely hard to do since I had little appetite to eat even plain toast.
Fever, headache, chills, muscle aches and a rash are common symptoms of any of these diseases. Fortunately, this time around I did not have a rash or joint or muscle aches. Bed rest was needed for almost two weeks as I was too tired, lacked an appetite, and ran a fever on and off. It was an experience I never want to have happen again!
Precautions
The Center for Disease Control has websites with valuable information. Most doctors’ offices also have literature about ticks that offer full descriptions about tick removal and other aspects of the disease. Visit: the CDC sites http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/babesiosis/  http://www.cdc.gov/ehrlichiosis/ and http://www.cdc.gov/anaplasmosis/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 6, 2015 |

Mother’s Day Idea

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The Front Porch

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

Many families like to take mom or grandma out to dinner on Mother’s Day, which is nice, but there is a way to go someplace entertaining and have dinner out! There is a wonderful dinner theatre close by that offers quality productions with both matinee and evening performances.  Right now the Westchester Broadway Theatre (WBT) in Elmsford is featuring West Side Story that will run through July 5th. There have been a handful of musicals that have impacted our American culture, and none is more famous than West Side Story. Back in the ’60s the movie version hit the screen in a phenomenal fashion and the musical score became, and to this day remains, one of the most beloved soundtracks of our time. The story is based on a concept by Jerome Robbins and book by Arthur Laurents, with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. With these musical geniuses collaborating, it was bound to be an overwhelming hit and award winner!
West Side Story, possibly the greatest musical ever created, was inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The musical is set on the mean streets of Manhattan, in the Upper West Side neighborhood of San Juan Hill, during the turbulent ’50s. West Side Story tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers from different worlds. When Tony, a Jet, falls for Maria, a Shark, all hell breaks loose. Caught between two warring street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, Tony and Maria, attempt to create a life together. Bernstein’s score for the musical includes Something’s Coming; Maria; America; Somewhere; Tonight; Jet Song; I Feel Pretty; A Boy Like That; One Hand, One Heart; Gee, Officer Krupke; and Cool. The 1961 film version picked up 10 Oscars, plus a special choreography award for Robbins. The soundtrack, by Bernstein and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, spent 54 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard chart. I remember seeing this movie as a teen, and at first sight of street gangs dancing to the music, thought this was an unusual concept for such a serious topic. The storyline was so absorbing, I was quickly transported to the mood of the conflict and the intensity of the dancing, which brought the audience to the passion of each scene. The same happens in this WBT fabulous production where the dance numbers are invigorating, the casting outstanding, and every member of the production gives a flawless performance.
With so many special events coming up in the next few months, Mother’s and Father’s Day, graduations and anniversaries, this production at the WBT is the perfect place to celebrate or give a gift certificate for any of the fine upcoming productions! Tickets range between $56.00 and $84.00 plus tax. Group discounts and Luxury Boxes are available for private parties. Discounts are available for children, students, and senior citizens at selected performances. There is no charge for parking. Reservations: Call (914)-592-2222. Also at: www.BroadwayTheatre.com

 

 

 

 

 

April 29, 2015 |
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