Friday, June 8, 2018

How to Ask for a Raise and Get It

(Best of success on getting that raise!)

How to Ask for a Raise and Get It
Asking for a pay raise may seem intimidating, but if you prepare ahead of time your chances of succeeding are far better. Plan for a raise request like a pro with these tips:

Prepare for your raise conversation by gathering specific performance data. Examples include your contribution to projects or deals that brought revenue to the business, efficiencies you suggested that saved your team time, clients you helped save, and awards or accolades that you received. Bonus tip: Make a habit of proactively sharing your achievements with your boss on a regular basis. This will help your manager see you as a high achiever worthy of a promotion long before a raise discussion occurs.

Compare your current salary from an objective source to see if you have room to negotiate. Online salary research tools such as GlassdoorMonster or PayScale can help you check salaries of similar roles in your area.

Consider your timing to ensure the request is appropriate. Good times to ask include at your annual performance review or on the heels of a project where your work was remarkable. Avoid asking during exceptionally hectic times or during the busy season.

Make an appointment with your manager to present your case once your preparation is complete. Say something simple and direct like: "I'm excited about growing with this company and I'd like to discuss my future and salary, when would be a good time for you?"

Ask calmly and confidently in your meeting. Begin by expressing gratitude over your current pay and enthusiasm for your future. Specify the salary you desire and use the data you've gathered to explain your reasoning. Point out that while your current role is the priority, you want to ensure you set yourself up properly for future achievement. Whether your raise is approved or not, it's key to enlist your manager in helping you achieve career goals over the long term.

Following a successful raise conversation make sure you're clear on any additional responsibilities and deliverables, so you can sustain or surpass the performance level you present as the justification of your increase.

If raises aren't in the budget this time around, suggest an interim performance appraisal or check-in to review the situation. Ask for recommendations on how to improve in your current role and next steps that would bring higher income and implement this feedback. This could also be a moment to ask for perks instead of a raise: more vacation time, a title change, half-day Fridays, flex-time or working from home, which can all help bridge the gap.

Taking these steps when asking for a pay increase can simplify the legwork, boost your confidence and increase your odds of a favorable answer!

Sources: Glassdoor, Forbes 
What to Do if Your Flight Is Canceled or Delayed
By Miriam Cross,

What to Do if Your Flight Is Canceled or Delayed - By Miriam Cross,
The odds of encountering turbulence in your travel plans when you're flying are probably lower than you think: In the first 10 months of 2017, 18.4% of domestic airline flights were delayed on departure, and 1.6% were canceled, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. But when you're the unlucky passenger stranded at the gate with no plane in sight, knowing what your rights are and what airlines typically offer to keep customers happy can help get you on your way sooner.

How airlines (might) help. The Department of Transportation requires airlines to compensate passengers only when they're bumped from an oversold flight (see Know Your Rights on Flights). Federal rules also govern how long planes can linger on the tarmac before an airline has to feed the passengers or let them off. Rules for all other kinds of delays and cancellations are spelled out in the carrier's contract of carriage.

For disruptions that airlines consider beyond their control -- which can include bad weather, fuel shortages and labor disputes -- the airlines typically offer you a seat on the next available flight or, depending on how long the delay is, a refund. For problems considered within their control -- including crew shortages and maintenance issues -- you'll fare better. For example, Alaska Airlines and JetBlue both provide credit for future flights in case of a long delay. (JetBlue passengers who experience a delay of six hours or more get a $250 credit.) Some airlines might arrange ground transportation as an alternative to flying. Alaska, American, Delta, Spirit and United, among others, may comp one night at a hotel -- typically when an overnight holdup lasts at least four hours. Food and beverage vouchers may also be part of the deal. In general, low-cost carriers offer fewer amenities.

Being assertive and resourceful will help speed up the process as well. "Rather than asking the gate agent, 'What will you do for me?' it's better to have a solution in mind," says Ed Perkins, contributing editor at For example, airlines generally rebook you on the next available flight, but some airlines may agree to transfer your ticket to another carrier, so pull out your smartphone and look up alternate routes.

While waiting in line to speak with an agent, call the customer service number (or a phone line reserved for loyalty program members, if you are one) and simultaneously reach out to the airline's social media team to get first crack at an empty seat. It's always best to resolve the problem while it's happening rather than requesting a voucher or other compensation by complaining after the fact. Even if an airline is stingy with perks, you may still be able to negotiate, say, loyalty-program miles by asking for them, says Paul Hudson, president of consumer organization Flyers Rights.

If you're rerouted on a new flight, be aware that many airlines count certain nearby airports as the same destination. And if a significant delay (as defined by the airline) or cancellation would upend your trip completely and you decide to forgo rebooking, you can ask for an "involuntary refund" of the unused portion of your ticket, even for nonrefundable tickets. Don't expect the airline to tell you about this option, says Hudson. You may have to ask to speak with a supervisor to discuss an involuntary refund.

Airlines have become more flexible about waiving change fees for customers when bad weather is forecast, says Anne McDermott, editor of You may not pay a difference in fare, either. But your window to reschedule is usually short.

If you have faced unfriendly skies in the past 12 months, an app called Service ( may help. It scans your in-box for past flight delays or cancellations and submits claims for "good will" compensation on your behalf, typically in the form of vouchers or miles. The app is free, but you'll fork over a 30% cut of any compensation.

Reprinted with permission. All Contents ©2018 The Kiplinger Washington Editors.
Before Bed Snacks: Do's and Dont's

Before Bed Snacks: Do's and Dont's
The foods you eat before bedtime can make a big difference in how fast you fall asleep, how long you sleep and your overall quality of rest. Here is our list of do's and don'ts for snooze-worthy snacking.

DO: Sweet potato toast is a fun snack that's simple to prepare. Sweet potatoes are high in potassium, magnesium and calcium, all of which help with relaxation.

DON'T: Highly refined flours found in cookies and sweets, along with high fat content, take a long time to digest and may keep you awake. Instead, opt for whole grains or a bowl of oatmeal, which naturally raise blood sugar and make you feel sleepy.

DO: Fruits like cherries and prunes eaten about 30 minutes before bed can help produce melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. Bananas contain magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B6 that converts tryptophan into serotonin, increasing relaxation. Apples, oranges, pears, canteloupe and other watery melons can prevent dehydration, which can affect falling (and staying) asleep.

DON'T: Fruit juices like orange, grapefruit and squeezed juices can trigger reflux in some people, so steer clear if you want to rest easy. Since most of the fiber is missing in juice, it may also spike blood sugar levels making it harder to fall asleep. Tomato-based salsas and sauces can also cause acid reflux.

DO: Herbal teas are caffeine free and a healthier alternative to sleep aids. Teas containing chamomile or ginger are good for calming you down before bed as well as hydrating and soothing the stomach so you aren't digesting as you try to sleep.

DON'T: Alcoholic beverages are a depressant that can put you to sleep, but the downside is they prevent the body from entering deep stages of sleep. Wines also contain lots of sugar and may wake you up later in the night.

DO: Nuts and nut butters like almond, cashew and peanut contain protein to help you feel content. Almonds and pistachios contain magnesium, which helps improve sleep. Keep portions to less than a tablespoon of nut butter or ounce of nuts as too many calories, and high fat content, can keep you awake.

DON'T: Processed and smoked meats definitely contain protein but include high levels of sodium, which is dehydrating and may wake you up for a drink of water. Same goes for high-calorie fast food choices like burgers, pizza and spicy foods that take a long time to digest.

Bon appe-sleep!

Source: Good Housekeeping 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Traveling With Tikes

No matter where you're headed or how you get there, stress is often a part of travel. But vacation plans take on a new level of complexity with kids in tow. Fortunately, there are
plenty of ways to eliminate some of the hassle and make the trip more enjoyable for the
whole family.

Leave as early in the day as possible. Aside from sidestepping traffic, you can cover a
lot of miles on the ground or in the air first thing in the morning when kids will be more into
sleeping than stressing.

Traveling With TikesDress in layers and avoid laces. Temperatures can
change quickly as you travel, so being able to remove
layers quickly or slip shoes on and off simplifies everything
from security screenings to bathroom visits.

Pull-ups can save your seat. Even if your child is past the
potty-training stage, you may encounter a long bathroom line
or be too far from a rest stop for a child to wait. One diaper
per hour of travel is usually recommended.

Pack some fun. Digital devices are a perfect alternative to
bringing multiple books or games, and will save space in the suitcase. Download e-books and
awesome apps in advance. Bring a headphone splitter to share audio and don't forget the charger!
Road warriors should be prepared with plenty of entertaining car games. Consider wrapping a new
interactive gift like a coloring book, with promises of a prize for good behavior en route.

Prevent travel sickness by feeding kids bland, non-greasy meals and snacks, like pretzels,
crackers, nuts, string cheese and granola bars. Limit screen and reading time, and seat them
next to a window. For driving: open a window or two to circulate fresh air. For flying: place them
in a window seat, turn on overhead air vents and encourage deep breathing.

Whether you're flying or driving to your next vacation destination, these tips can make it a
smoother trip the whole family will enjoy.

If you or anyone you know are thinking about buying or selling a home and would appreciate
the level of service I provide, please let me know. I will be sure to follow up and take great care
of them!

Sources: Parents, TripSavvy, Mayo Clinic 
All Natural Air Fresheners

All Natural Air FreshenersWhether it's the insistent smell of last night's dinner or the dog's wet coat after a rainstorm, there are times when the air in our home needs to be freshened. Store-bought 
air fresheners and candles are an option, but the perfumes
and chemicals can sometimes cause headaches, nose 
and throat irritation, and other health issues. If you're looking 
for all-natural alternatives to try, these seven options can help.

Simmering pot fragrances are easy to make and offer 

endless recipes to try. For thoughtful gifts, just assemble in 
batches and package into mason jars with ribbon!

Scented pillow sachets filled with any combination of dried ingredients, like chamomile, vanilla, 

lavender and jasmine are all said to help with better sleep. Whether that's true or not, your sleeping 
area will smell like a dream.

DIY room sprays can be used to make your home smell like a spring breeze. Fill a misting bottle 

with a 1-to-1 ratio of water to vodka, add 12 drops of lilac essential oil, and shake. If the scent isn't 
strong enough, add one additional drop at a time of lilac oil until you achieve the desired strength.

Freshen carpets naturally with a homemade mixture of 1/2 cup baking soda, 2 teaspoons dried 

rosemary and a few drops of lavender essential oil. To do so, finely chop the rosemary in a food 
processor, then add it to a plastic bag with the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Sprinkle over 
carpets, let sit for 15 to 20 minutes and then vacuum.

Empty commercial plug-in fresheners with glass containers can be refilled with your choice of 

natural ingredients. Simply remove the wick, fill the container with a 1-to-1 ratio of your favorite 
essential oil and water, replace and you'll be ready to go.

Wreaths of eucalyptus, rosemary or bay laurel secured with wire and hung up in a bathroom 

are not just decorative; shower steam will trigger the release of their refreshing scents each time 
you bathe.

Pomander balls can remove and replace musty odors from drawers, closets and rooms. Make 

them by studding oranges with whole cloves. Spacing the cloves evenly and as close together 
as possible will give best results.

If you or anyone you know are buying or selling a home and would appreciate the level of service 
I provide, please let me know. I will be sure to follow up and take great care of them! 

Sources: Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart
How to Stop Getting Robo Calls
By Miriam Cross,

Your phone rings and a perky voice announces that she is "Heather from card services," and she has important news for you. You know Heather is a recording and that the low interest
rate she's promoting is a scam. You hang up.

Robo calls that use sales pitches or scare tactics to siphon your money are on the rise. Unwanted
 calls have topped the Federal Communications Commission's list of consumer complaints over t
he past several years. Many are against the law: Most robo calls to your smartphone are illegal,
and robo sales calls to your home phone are illegal except in specific circumstances. And they
are becoming trickier to spot. Robo callers are covering their tracks by "spoofing," or falsifying t
heir caller ID so it displays a fake number that appears to be local.

How to Stop Getting Robo Calls - By Miriam Cross, Kiplinger.comThe FCC recently announced that phone companies may
proactively block calls that appear to be spoofed -- a good
step forward, says Margot Saunders, senior counsel to the
National Consumer Law Center.

What You Can Do
Start by checking to see if you inadvertently gave permission
to some callers to disturb your dinner. For example, you may
have checked a box on a loan application consenting to
reminders by any means. You'll need to contact the company t
o revoke your consent.

Adding your number to the Do Not Call registry ( will deflect live sales calls f
rom legitimate telemarketers. However, it won't stop scammers or calls for debt collection, surveys
and more. Check your home-phone provider about blocking individual numbers or enabling
Anonymous Call Rejection. If you get your home-phone service from an internet provider, such
as Comcast Xfinity or Verizon Fios, try Nomorobo ( (For other suggestions,
go to click on "Sampling of Tools.")

To prevent individual callers from reaching your cell phone, look up instructions at To further cover your bases, enable a blocking app on
your smartphone. Some carriers are rolling out services that warn customers or intercept
suspicious calls outright, including AT&T's free Call Protect, T-Mobile's free Scam ID and
Scam Block, and Verizon's Caller Name ID ($3 per month).

Alternatively, a number of third-party apps will reveal caller ID; fend off known scammers
automatically while allowing legal robo calls (such as appointment reminders) to get through;
and let you customize your own blacklist. Some apps guard against spam texts, too, such as
PrivacyStar and Truecaller for mobile phones. The YouMail app delivers an "out of service"
message to discourage nefarious callers from contacting you in the future; RoboKiller
($3 per month or $25 per year, iOS only) plays a snarky prerecorded message of your
choosing to flummox spam callers. Review an app's privacy policy before downloading.
For example, the Hiya app may access your phone number as well as your phone's call
and text logs and contacts.

Back to Basics
Whether or not you download an app, avoid answering calls from an unknown number --
even if you recognize the area code or prefix. Check your voice mail afterward, or see if
you can set up voice-mail transcription instead.

Reprinted with permission. All Contents ©2018 The Kiplinger Washington 
(prices are accurate at time of publishing)

Friday, June 1, 2018

Housing Starts Stall

Construction on new homes declined from March to April. New and Existing Home Sales followed the trend.

April Housing Starts declined 3.7 percent from March to an annual rate of 1.287 million units,
 below expectations, the Commerce Department reported. However, Housing Starts were up
10.5 percent from April 2017. Single-family home starts, which make up a big chunk of residential
 construction, inched 0.1 percent higher from March to April, while multi-dwelling starts of five or
more units fell 12.6 percent.

Building Permits, a sign of future construction, fell 1.8 percent from March to an annual
rate of 1.352 million units, just above expectations.
Housing Starts Stall

Randy Noel, chairman for the National Association of
Home Builders, noted that, "The record
-high cost of lumber is hurting builders' bottom lines and
 making it more difficult to produce
competitively priced houses for newcomers to the market."

Inventory of available new homes for sale saw a slight
uptick in April, with a 5.4-month supply, just below the
6-month supply considered normal. New Home Sales,
however, declined 1.5 percent from March to April to an
annual rate of 662,000 units, according to the Commerce Department. Though this was
below expectations, sales are still up 11.6 percent from April of last year.

Existing Home Sales also saw a decline in April, after two straight months of gains. The
National Association of REALTORS® reported that Existing Home Sales fell 2.5 percent
month over month to an annual rate of 5.46 million units. On an annual basis, Existing
Home Sales are down 1.4 percent and have declined year over year for two straight months.

Lawrence Yun, the NAR chief economist, says this spring's staggeringly low inventory
levels caused existing sales to slump in April. He explains, "The root cause of the underperforming
sales activity in much of the country so far this year continues to be the utter lack of available
listings on the market to meet the strong demand for buying a home." April saw just a 4-month
supply of existing homes available on the market, below the 6 months seen as normal.

Despite the recent declines, the housing sector remains solid due to the continued growth in
the economy coupled with a strong labor market.

While home loan rates have moved higher this year, they remain historically attractive.

If you or anyone you know are thinking about buying or selling a home and would appreciate
the level of service I provide, please let me know. I will be sure to follow up and take great care of them!
Enjoy this month's issue of YOU Magazine.