Understanding Your Credit Score

Most people probably have a sense of what their credit score is and if their score is considered a “poor” score all the way to “exceptional.” Banks and credit cards will show you your credit score often updated on a monthly basis.

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Aptos History Corner | Everyone Loves a Parade

The 4th of July is America’s birthday and many communities have parades to celebrate that fact. The freedom to determine our own future was at the center of the founding of our country.

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Ask Nicole: We are all Michelle Obama

I recently listened to Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming. I was fascinated by her life and the depth of skills and experience she had before becoming the First Lady.

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Pay close attention to required minimum distribution rules

The oldest baby boomers (those born in the year 1946) began turning age 70.5 in summer of 2016 and have begun taking required minimum distributions (“RMDs”) under IRS guidelines for at least one if not two tax years now (2016 and 2017). The rules surrounding RMDs can be confusing and mistakes can be costly. Below are a few tips to keep in mind when managing your RMDs.

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Serving you on County and Regional Commissions

Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend holds his son Elliott while speaking at the Aptos Chamber of Commerce's monthly breakfast meeting on Jan. 11. Friend touched on topics such as transportation, traffic and housing, mentioning that residents have to earn $70,000 a year to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Santa Cruz County. He encouraged residents to get involved and "choose the type of community you want," rather than pass on responsibility to future generations. "You may feel like, individually, you cannot make a significant difference on the way the community's trajectory will go," Friend said. "But I also know that if each one of us even did something small, the sum of all of those things will be more change than any of us would ever have been able to envision." Friend was also recently appointed chair of the Board of Supervisors. Photo by Jeanie Johnson

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Breaking the 'cycle'

The holiday season has come and gone and many are left with the familiar feeling of regret after months of lack of exercise and overeating. They feel tired, sluggish, and yes, out of shape and over-weight ... again. This is what we call the "Holiday Weight Cycle." The problem is that fad diets and extreme exercise routines are often a “go-to” for most people; sometimes they work, but usually they don’t. For most these extreme measures are not sustainable and lead only to frustration or failure. For example, when one "starves" themselves or abruptly starts a daily, high-intensity exercise regimen it often leaves them feeling defeated and they quit; hence the "cycle" continues. The problem isn’t that people don’t have enough will-power, it's the "System" itself. As a society we tend to set unrealistic expectations which pressures individuals to give into unhealthy behaviors such as this "Holiday Weight-Cycle." Will 2018 be your year for change? Or will this cycle leave you one year farther from your goal to be healthy and fit again?

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Mortgage professionals, gatekeepers of the real estate market

What came first, the chicken or the egg? How about “when I want to buy a home, who do I see first, the realtor or the loan officer? These are deep philosophical questions that require an astute examination of perception versus reality. The perception for years has been to walk into a real estate office and start the process of buying a home. The reality is doing it this way is like walking onto a car lot and walking right up to a salesman and asking if he would sell you a car.

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Fine-tuning moves for 2018

Last month we wrote about a couple of year-end money moves to make. Now that we’ve rung in the New Year, below are a couple of areas to look to fine-tune your financial life for 2018.

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Aptos real estate update — 2017

In 2016, total volume for Santa Cruz County (SCC) was $15.6B on 1,754 home sales, 200 townhome sales and 285 condo sales. The Median Home sales price was $785K. In 2017 (through Dec. 15), total SCC volume is $16.5B on 1,756 homes sales, 193 townhome sales and 277 condo sales. The Median Home sales price is now at $840K, a 7 percent increase year over year. So, number of sales is flat but sales revenues are up $1 billion in our county.

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Reflections on my fifth year as your County Supervisor

As I begin each new year as your County Supervisor, I like to report back in this column on some of the things we’ve accomplished because of your partnership and communication of priorities. Here is a very small overview of what we accomplished in 2017: Community Meetings: In 2017, we’ve held 71 open office hours in Aptos, Corralitos, La Selva Beach and Watsonville and held or attended nearly 50 community and neighborhood meetings in Seacliff, La Selva Beach, Aptos, Watsonville, Capitola and Corralitos. In addition, I’ve written over 50 columns in local papers and neighborhood newsletters and sent a number of e-newsletters to communicate with our district about county happenings.

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Ask Nicole: The many faces of positive parenting

There’s a Chinese proverb, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” It makes me think of the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program motto, “Small changes, big differences.” Together, both quotes provide a helpful reminder that in this lifelong journey called “parenting,” the greatest growth and change often comes from taking one small step at a time.

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Black Panthers in Aptos

The late 1960s and 1970s were a tumultuous time in America. The Vietnam War, serial killers, Civil Rights marches and the Black Power Movement were plastered across the nightly television news. Aptos was to get our own, very up-close-and-personal incident with the Black Power movement.

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Teaching children financial lessons during the holidays

The holiday season is upon us! 2017 has flown by and we are only weeks away from Thanksgiving. Friday, Nov. 24 means a mad dash to be the first in line at your favorite store for Black Friday shopping, or maybe you shop from the convenience of your living room on Cyber Monday. Either way, the holiday season can turn into a stressful time of juggling family obligations, parties, and last minute to do’s before you ring in the New Year. However, the holiday season can also be an opportune time to teach your kids lessons about giving and basic financial literacy. Below are a couple of ideas to consider.

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Ask Nicole: Preparing for the holidays in a blended family

Holidays can be a mixed bag full of love, laughter, joy, stress, anxiety, and full-blown tantrums. And I’m just talking about the adults. Expectations about gifts, traditions and spending time together can make the holidays challenging and overwhelming for many families, even when relationships are harmonious. When relationships between immediate, extended, separated, or blended family members are strained, it requires extra effort to communicate effectively so that children remember the holidays as a special time with family and loved ones. This monthly column provides tips for anyone who is helping raise children, based on the world-renowned Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, available to families in Santa Cruz County. If you have a question or idea for a future column, please email me at [email protected]

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APTOS History Corner

Before Rancho Del Mar and Safeway came to Aptos, that property was used for growing sugar beets and cauliflower. State Park Drive was lined on both sides with huge cypress trees. Highway 1 was a four-lane highway with no overpass or on-and-off ramps. Aptos was a small town but was getting ready for a growth spurt and the Cabrillo College Aptos campus was just being planned.

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County changing Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) rules

There is no question it is very difficult to afford housing in our county. One has to earn more than $70,000 to afford the rent of a two-bedroom apartment locally and our median home prices are hovering around $850,000.

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Don’t need your annual ‘RMD’ for living expenses?

Age 70.5 is a milestone birthday in the United States. It’s also a birthday most people dread because Uncle Sam comes knocking, looking for you to pay taxes on retirement money that you’ve been diligently saving and deferring. If you are like most who reach this magical age, you probably factor in your anticipated required minimum distribution (“RMD”) that you must take from your various retirement accounts each year into your overall living expense needs. However, if you are one who truly doesn’t need the money to pay for everyday expenses, here are a couple of options for you to consider.

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90 years of serving the community

The Aptos Chamber was more like a small-town improvement association. The initial name was the Aptos Community Club. The first item of business was to get a fire engine for the town and to obtain all night telephone service. The next item of work was to celebrate the opening of the new bridge into town which replaced an old wooden bridge with a suicide curve in the middle. The chamber planned the ceremony and a big parade.

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Claus Spreckels in Aptos

The industrialization of Aptos as a lumber town and competition from new hotels in Santa Cruz, Capitola and Monterey, caused Spreckels to close his Aptos Hotel. In 1896, Spreckels tore down the Aptos Hotel and used the materials to build the factory and town of Spreckels near Salinas. He moved several whole buildings from Aptos to Spreckels.

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Caution, slow down for home loans

I’m not sure who to blame for just how fast consumer services are rendered. I think with the advent and revelation of the seven-minute abs work out video companies have pushed for faster is better. I think faster is sometimes better … I mean, I go fast in my car and that’s kind of cool and getting information off my blazing fast internet is useful, but closing a mortgage loan in 10 days sounds … not right! If you’re a seasoned home buyer or a seasoned refinancer then this article might not be for you.

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Reviewing your investments

As we are writing this month’s article, the Dow Jones Industrial Average just crossed over 22,000 for the first time in history (Aug. 2, 2017). Year to date the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up approximately 11.4 percent while the S & P 500 is up approximately 10.61 percent (as of Aug. 1, Source: Morningstar).

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Around Aptos

A wonderful new event has surfaced in our Aptos community thanks to Friends of the Library and Denise Ward, a local resident who also loves to read and to bring community together.

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State transportation funding update

Over the last year, in response to significant declines in transportation funding, the state legislature proposed a number of bills to stabilize funding. Ultimately, in April, the state passed Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act. The bill focused on providing a steady stream of transportation funding to address the backlog of state and local transportation projects. The legislation combined new diesel and gasoline taxes with vehicle fees and Caltrans efficiencies to fund local and state roadway repairs (including storm damage local matches), public transportation, congested corridors, bike and pedestrian improvements and more. The bill also allows for cities and counties with their own local tax measure (such as our recently passed Measure D) to apply for additional funds.

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A most amazing man, and rich, too: Claus Spreckels | by John Hibble

The first owners of Aptos were the King and Queen of Spain. The Catholic Church and the Army administered their holdings.

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Financial planning for single parents | By GARY E. CROXALL, CFP® and SOREN E. CROXALL, CFP®

Raising children can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life. It is also very costly.

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Making housing more affordable in our county | By ZACH FRIEND SANTA CRUZ COUNTY SUPERVISOR

At the local level the county has taken significant steps toward modernizing and improving affordable housing regulations to help encourage the creation of affordable housing.

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Finding out your home's value | SERGIO ANGELES Prime Home Loans

Want to know what your house is worth? Log on

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Aptos Real Estate Update — August 2017

A year ago my update showed the median sales price in Aptos at $935,000.

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Aptos Chamber News

Karen Hibble is co-executive director of the Aptos Chamber of Commerce.

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County facts and budget highlights

The Board of Supervisors recently completed our budget hearings and as part of the hearings we received reports from departments about their goals for the coming year based on Board priorities.

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Qualifying for a housing loan

The second you realize this article is housing-related, like most people your first comment has to be "housing prices are crazy" followed by "I hear people in San Jose are paying over a million for a small two-bedroom home" followed again by "Housing pric

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Did you receive a tax refund?

The average refund received was just shy of $3,000 for the 2015 tax year. While it may be tempting to go out and splurge with that money, think about some alternative ways to put your refund dollars to work.

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Preview of the 2017-2018 County Budget

In a recent budget message to the Board, the County Administrative Officer noted that as the county emerged from the Great Recession, the Board has worked to limit the growth of the overall budget while focusing on restoring reserves and investing in key

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The Rio Del Mar Beach Club

Both Seacliff and the Rio Del Mar developments were severely impacted by the depression which started in 1929, the same year the Rio Del Mar Hotel opened.

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Aptos Real Estate Recap

Aptos is a very special place to live and work and I look forward to the second half of 2017!

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Something in the water

Gena Rea Timmons is shown on the right. Aptos History Museum archives

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County Climate Action Strategy | ZACH FRIEND

While the county works to reduce emissions and keep climate change from getting worse, the Climate Action Strategy presents a set of strategies to address the county’s vulnerabilities to climate change that will occur. The strategies include a broad range

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Non-spouse beneficiaries of IRAs

Gary E. Croxall, CFP® Soren E. Croxall, CFP® Croxall Capital Planning Securities and Advisory Services offered through National Planning Corporation (NPC), member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor. Consulting and Investment Management offe

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