Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Give the gift that's always the right style, the right color, the right choice! A GCF Visa Gift Card is always the perfect gift for any occasion. Stop into any GCF branch to purchase a GCF Visa Gift Card for someone special on your holiday shopping list!
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There's a good chance you'll be brushing snow off your car after you finish reading this article. The calendar reads autumn, but it feels like winter outside.
Did you think you still had time to winterize your home? Nature can bring a reality check. But you're in luck. This front will quickly pass, with warming temperatures this weekend and opportunity to seal things up before the next storm hits.
We all check for the obvious... drafty window frames, leaky waterspouts and annual furnace maintenance.
But what about the things that you can't see? They can cause you trouble when you're least able to address it.
Like your gutters. Falling leaves don't automatically land in pretty piles on your lawn. They clog up your gutters, too. Rain or melting snow can back up when it can't pass through a dam of leaves, or turn to ice when the temperatures drop. You don't want to have to climb a ladder with the sleet pelting.
Water will find its own path. If it can't make it through the downspout, it may seep into your house.
Remove the leaf debris by hand or use a scraper, and rinse down good with a hose. This also gives you opportunity to spot leaks and misaligned pipes.
Trim nearby trees hanging near your roof, windows or driveway. Accumulated snow and ice can break even a large branch, damaging everything in its path.
Experts suggest changing the furnace filters monthly. That may not be often enough, particularly if you have a pet. Check your filter after running two weeks. If there's dirt built up already, it's time to change it. Reusable filters can be washed. Check it again ten days later. You'll know if more frequent filter changes are necessary by the amount of dirt collected.
Your furnace needs air to operate. A clogged filter blocks air flow, straining the unit to merely pump air through the system. It won't be able to struggle for long before resulting in a costly repair bill.
Ducts can be hidden behind walls or beams. But you should find some exposed in your attic, basement or crawlspace. Check them to repair places where they're pinched. Tape gaps with a metal-backed tape to prevent air escaping before it reaches your vents. Duct tape will work short-term, but doesn't last as long.
Ducts should be vacuumed out every few years to clean out dust, animal hair and other debris that can gather. If you haven't cleaned them lately, this could be the source of your respiratory problems.
Don't use your fireplace before having the chimney inspected. It doesn't have to be cleaned every year, but you do want a professional to confirm that Santa's pack wasn't missing a toy after last year's visit. A good protective cap with a screen should keep critters and other foreign objects out. If you have children in the house, make sure Santa has an alternate method of entry.
Here's a small tip that can save you big: Reverse your ceiling fan. Blades turning clockwise will push warm air downward rather than pull it up out of the room as you want during the hot summer months. Look up. If your fan is already turning clockwise, make a mental note to change it in the spring.
Unless you live in my neighborhood, you're not likely to use your air conditioner over the winter. Drain any pipes or hoses to prevent freezing. Clear any water in the drain pan. Use a plastic cover to keep water and snow out of the unit.
Now that everything is up to snuff, you can snuggle up in front of the fireplace with the family with the peace of mind that comes from knowing all is safe. Keep warm!
Better plan on carving the turkey early on Thanksgiving Day. You'll barely have time to load the dishwasher before the rush begins.
No, not the rush to catch kickoff of the next game. With three games spanning into the night, there's no chance you'll miss seeing any football.
But for those of you who venture out in the wee hours of the morning to catch Black Friday sales, there's good news. You won't have to set your alarm this year.
Retailers have all sought to outdo one another in past years to lure in more customers. Each one advertising prices just below those of their competitors, each opening their doors one hour earlier than the other.
Macy's got the ball rolling this year by announcing they would open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. No need to wait until midnight, folks. Get your special deals while the turkey is still warm!
Not a Macy's shopper? No worries! Target and J.C. Penney will open at the same time.
Before their doors open, you'll have time to visit Walmart and Best Buy. They'll both open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving night.
Kmart will have been open a full 12 hours by that time. They'll be the first to welcome holiday shoppers beginning at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving morning. Sears is waiting until 8 a.m.
Is it really worth it? Do the stores really see such strong sales that it's come to this?
Last year, Walmart's special deals began at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Most of their stores are open 24-hours so their staffing is already in place. They reported processing almost 10 million transactions from 8 p.m. to midnight last year, 5,000 items per second. They sold more than 1.3 million televisions and will increase inventory by 65% this year.
Total spending Black Friday weekend was $59.1 billion according to the National Retail Federation. But it wasn't the busiest shopping day for all stores.
Saturday, December 22 was the single busiest shopping day in Best Buy. Target stores saw their busiest day Christmas Eve.
Black Friday shopping is a project in itself. No need to wait for store ads, most retailers already have their ads posted online at various Black Friday websites as well as their own website. You can search by store, category or item to learn where to find the best deals.
Make your list, plan your route and devise a strategy for making sure you get one of the limited-supply special price deals. Walmart guarantees 21 of their hottest items will be in stock the first hour of their Black Friday sale. If you're in their store and find the item sold out, purchase a Guarantee Card and the item will be shipped to your store before Christmas. Their website has details and the list of items eligible for this guarantee.
Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday. Family gathered for no other purpose than to show appreciation for all they had. No gifts were exchanged, no fancy outfit to buy. It wasn't a religious holiday or federal observance. Just a chance to enjoy the company of loved ones, give thanks, eat, and watch parades. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season would begin soon enough.
Apparently it didn't begin soon enough for everyone. As for me, I'll be waiting for kickoff. Pass the pumpkin pie.
Tip of the Week
Winter weather brings a myriad of concerns; from storms to driving to winterizing your home. Ready.gov helps prepare you for whatever the season may bring.
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