Consumer Real Estate News

    • Cyber Security 101: Staying Safe

      23 October 2019

      Having your identity stolen or your bank account hacked is a nightmare for many. But how much do you know about cybersecurity, and what you can be doing to protect yourself? To help, First Bank & Trust Company offers the following rundown of the most common cyber hacks, and how to stay safe.

      Email fraud. If it seems too good to be true, it is probably fraud. Don't believe that lottery awards staff or princes from a foreign country will contact you by email!

      Fraudulent payments. Be on guard against fraudulent checks, cashier's checks, money orders or electronic fund transfers sent with a request for you to wire back part of the money.

      Unsolicited offers. Be wary of unsolicited offers that require you to "ACT FAST."

      Stay up-to-date. Make sure your device is up-to-date with the latest security updates for your operating system – Windows, Apple IOS, mobile phone IOS (Apple, Android, etc.).

      Warnings and errors. Do not trust websites with certificate warnings or errors.

      Beware of email attachments. It's never a good idea to click on an email attachment or free software from unknown sources. You could end up exposing your system to online fraud and theft.

      Sharing online. Watch how much you share online. The more you post about yourself on social networking sites, the easier it may be for someone to use that information to access your accounts, steal your identity and more. Protect your personal information by maximizing your privacy settings.

      Financial scams. Be aware of disaster-related financial scams. Con artists take advantage of people after catastrophic events by claiming to be from legitimate charitable organizations when, in fact, they are attempting to steal money or valuable personal information.

      Consumers are encouraged to report any suspected fraud to their banks immediately.

      Source: First Bank & Trust Company

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 4 Ways to Be Happier (It’s Not What You Think!)

      23 October 2019

      If you think more money and grander achievements are among the things that will make you happier in life, guess again.

      According to Professor Laurie Santos - who developed and teaches the most popular class in the history of Yale University, “Psychology and the Good Life” - the habits that lead to true well-being run counter to what most people believe would make one happy, such as the accumulation of luxurious material possessions.

      So what does make us happy? Here are just a few of the simple practices that when done regularly, exponentially increase our health and well-being:

      Sleep. Often overlooked and passed by in our productivity-focused society, sleep deprivation is a serious trigger for anxiety and depression. When Santos’ students traded all-night study sessions for eight hours of sleep, not only did their well-being increase, so did their grades.

      Exercise. Instead of quizzes, Santos requires students to participate in the habits that increase happiness weekly, such as cardiovascular exercise. Not only does exercise have obvious physical benefits for our health, cardio releases important mood-boosting endorphins that up our overall happiness. And added benefit: exercise with friends - try a long walk or a zumba class - and enjoy mood-lifting social connection as well.

      Gratitude. Santos recommends taking 15 minutes to write someone a thank-you note. While the practice of expressing gratitude certainly increases the well-being of the person being thanked, it does even more for the person doing the thanking. To maximize this experience, don’t just send the note...read it to the recipient in person.

      Real social connection. In a world where many - especially today’s youth - are perpetually connected to their devices, loneliness has become an epidemic. Social connection, says Santos, is the No. 1 trigger of happiness. To get it, she says, we must go deep. Take conversations beyond surface topics, like sports and movies, to real issues about emotions and family. While it may feel awkward at first, the boost to our overall well-being will be monumental.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • A Holiday Roast to Remember

      23 October 2019

      (Family Features)--The holiday season is a perfect opportunity to gather with friends and family, and few things bring people together like an elegant, seasonal meal. Serving up a mouthwatering main dish worth celebrating can elicit rave reviews from your guests and keep them gathered around the table longer, creating lasting memories.

      Creating a crowd-pleasing holiday centerpiece starts with choosing a flavorful, tender cut of meat. For example, elegant cuts like Chateaubriand (roast-size filet mignon) or Bone-In Frenched Rib Roast from Omaha Steaks can serve as the focal point of a memorable meal. Flash-frozen to capture freshness and flavor at their peak, you can select a roast hand-cut and carved by an expert butcher and have it delivered directly to your door.

      Whiskey Marinated Holiday Roast
      Prep time: 45 minutes-1 hour, plus 48-72 hours thawing time if using frozen
      Cook time: 2-3 1/2 hours
      Total time: 4 days
      Yield: 4-6 servings

      Marinade:
      4     ounces water
      2     ounces whiskey
      1/4     teaspoon baking soda

      Roast:
      2     pound chateaubriand or 4 pound bone-in frenched prime rib roast, thawed completely (allow 48-72 hours)
      1 package Omaha Steaks Private Reserve Rub

      To make marinade: In large, re-sealable bag, mix water, whiskey and baking soda. 

      To make chateaubriand: Place roast in bag and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes.

      Remove roast from marinade. Discard marinade.

      Season roast with rub 12-18 hours before cooking and leave uncovered in refrigerator overnight. When ready to cook, heat oven to 225 F. Place roast on elevated rack in roasting pan.

      Roast 2 hours, or until roast reaches internal temperature between 120-125 F.

      Let roast rest 30-45 minutes.

      Broil on high 2 inches from broiler, 4 minutes on one side then flip and broil 2 minutes on other side, or until brown crust uniformly covers roast.

      To make bone-in frenched prime rib roast: Place roast in bag and marinate in refrigerator 45 minutes.
      Remove roast from marinade. Discard marinade.

      Season roast with rub 12-18 hours before cooking and leave uncovered in refrigerator overnight. When ready to cook, heat oven to 225 F. Place roast on elevated rack in roasting pan.

      Roast 3 hours and 15 minutes, or until roast reaches internal temperature between 120-125 F.
      Let roast rest 30-45 minutes.

      Broil on high 2 inches from broiler, 4 minutes on one side then flip and broil 2 minutes on the other side, or until brown crust uniformly covers roast.

      Source: Omaha Steaks

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Don’t Neglect Your Fall Landscape

      22 October 2019

      Even though peak gardening season has passed in many areas of the country, the fall months are an opportune time to get creative in your yard and set the stage for next season’s blooms. Try these suggestions from the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP).

      Choose Texture Over Flowers
      While bountiful summer blooms may have long gone, add interest to your garden, planters and window boxes with a variety of interesting textures. Traditional fall mums and asters are always a good, colorful choice, and try mixing them with ornamental kales, cabbage and peppers. A variety of grasses will add shape and drama to your landscape, and many will last long into the winter months. NALP also recommends succulents, which are a great outdoor option in many climates where they’ll happily grow all year long. 

      Add Depth With Jewel Tones
      Spring may be the time for soft pastels, and summer for bright bolds, but fall is the time for regal jewel tones. Add purple with fall pansies, blue with delicate asters, deep emeralds with evergreens and rich golds and oranges with decorative gourds and pumpkins. Update your outdoor furnishings with jewel-tone cushions and pillows to tie the look together.

      Up the Cozy Factor
      Continue to enjoy your outdoor spaces by warming them up with fire pits or outdoor heating units, such as propane or electric heaters. Stock your patio or porch with easily accessible, outdoor friendly blankets, and make the most of the cooler weather.

      Focus on Maintenance
      In order to unveil a beautiful lawn come spring, put in the necessary maintenance work now. At a bare minimum, the NALP recommends raking leaves to prevent them from decomposing on the grass. Also consider aerating and fertilizing to nurture grass underground during the winter months. 

      Source: Real Simple

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Encouraging Youth Sports and Their Benefits

      22 October 2019

      (Family Features)--Sports help shape kids' lives, but due to funding shortages, some school sports programs are at risk. 

      Most experts agree that physical activity is an essential aspect of youth development that teaches teamwork, builds confidence and fuels academic potential. However, according to a survey of middle school educators engaged with DonorsChoose.org, 6 in 10 feel their middle school athletic programs are barely funded or underfunded. In fact, a lack of funding accounts for 47 percent of cuts to middle school sports programs, the survey revealed.

      Consider these benefits of youth sports: 

      Teamwork. Sports teach kids the advantages of working together toward a common goal. The ability to collaborate with peers, including those outside a child's immediate circle of friends, is a skill that provides benefits through adulthood. 

      Character. Learning how to accept wins and losses gracefully isn't just good sportsmanship, it's a life lesson. A playing field puts these lessons to use so kids can practice empathy and other social interactions in a comfortable setting.

      Fitness. Sports are a fun way to get kids moving, and this increased physical activity helps build healthy bodies and reduces the risk of diseases. From cultivating a healthy heart and lungs to helping prevent high blood pressure and, ultimately, heart disease, regular physical activity provides numerous health benefits.

      Discipline. While free play has its place, kids also need structure and boundaries. Sports come with rules, and kids naturally learn through positive reinforcement (scoring points or winning a game) and consequences (getting a penalty or losing).

      Academics. Studies reveal that physically active children score higher on tests and are more likely to go to college, according to research published by The Aspen Institute. Sports help reinforce learning concepts and habits like repetition and problem-solving. Those skills, along with the sense of accomplishment that comes with learning, are transferable to the classroom setting.

      Source: Kellogg's

      Published with permission from RISMedia.