Editor’s note: Money Money is a new weekly column on personal finance, edited by Arlington Community Federal Credit Union investment advisor Momodou Bojang.
According to the 2011 Retirement Re-Set study by SunAmerica Financial Group, nearly half of Americans 55 and older say they expect to provide support for their adult children while simultaneously saving for their own retirement. While helping your children may seem like the right thing to do, you should avoid letting yourself become the Bank of Mom and Dad.
As more baby boomers reach retirement, they are finding their savings diminished due to unrecognized overspending. For some retirees, they found much of their savings went to helping their adult children in financial difficulty. According to CNN, parents in the U.S. extend about $45 billion in loans to their children each year, for everything from student loans to credit-card debt to buying a home or starting a business. A study by Ameriprise found that 90 percent of boomer-age parents have provided financial assistance to their adult children – including 40 percent who had to use their own savings and 17 percent who had to take a loan to do so.
Even parents who have taken a hard line against bailing their adult kids out of financial trouble have softened their stance in the face of the economy and its fallout. If you decide to provide financial help to your child or grandchild, follow these guidelines to avoid tapping into your own savings.
Loan or a gift? Parents often start out resolved to make their child repay the money but fail to follow through. Keep in mind that you can gift up to $13,000 a year (for 2012) without filing a gift-tax return. Remember though, if you call it a gift, don’t harbor expectations your child will repay it. In general you should aim for a one-time gift. “If you can spare the cash, give your adult children a lump sum for them to budget rather than just paying their expenses or paying off their debt, and make it clear that’s all you are willing to give,” advises Kiplinger’s Kimberly Lankford. This will generally incite them to stretch the funding and cut out nonessential expenses.
Only offer essential assistance. If handing over a chunk of cash is not appealing, offer to help pay for only a few critical bills, such as health insurance or car insurance so coverage is never lost. If you decide you will or can help your children only in an emergency situation, make sure you stick by this. Explain to them in detail what you consider an emergency and avoid granting any assistance unless it constitutes what you both agreed upon originally.
Arlington County has stepped up it pothole repair effort this year due to the harsh winter.
County crews were out filling potholes in response to resident requests this weekend, after spending the week plowing snow and cleaning equipment, according to Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Robyn Mincher. One of the stretches of road where crews worked “extensively” was the 2200 block of N. Harrison Street, where numerous potholes were reported.
The county has up to five times as many employees working potholes repairs this winter, Mincher said.
“We have five teams, about 35 employees, in our streets maintenance section concentrating on either potholes or snow,” she told ARLnow.com. “In lighter winters, we would typically have one team assigned to potholes.”
“We anticipate continuing to concentrate on potholes [this] week, and assessing over the next few weeks our needs for later in the spring,” she added.
In addition to responding to problem reports from residents — there have been more than a dozen pothole reports in the past 24 hours — crews are also “fixing other potholes we find along our travels,” Mincher said.
Video via Arlington TV
The parade has been rescheduled for 8:00 p.m. on Monday, March 17. It will still run along Wilson Blvd from N. Barton Street to N. Irving Street in Clarendon.
“Approximately 90% of the original Mardi Gras entries are able to participate on the rescheduled date,” according to the Clarendon Alliance, the parade’s organizer. “The Mardi Gras Parade registration period is being extended, to allow additional entrants to participate in the parade. New registrations will be accepted by the CA through 5pm on Wednesday March 12.”
In 2010, when snow forced the cancellation of the Mardi Gras parade, it was transformed into a St. Patrick’s Day parade, complete with Irish dancers, a leprechaun and green beads. For now, the 2014 version is still being called a “Mardi Gras parade.”
Wakefield Falls in Semifinals — The Wakefield High School boys basketball team lost in the 5A state tournament semifinals Saturday. Wakefield lost to Henrico 63-55, ending their season. [Sun Gazette]
Contract Loss Could Cost 165 Jobs in Arlington — Some 165 Lockheed Martin employees in Arlington are set to lose their jobs after the company lost a contract with the U.S. Army for information technology work. The contract was instead awarded to General Dynamics. [Washington Business Journal]
Construction Contract Awarded for New School – The Arlington School Board voted last week to award a $32.3 million contract for the construction of a new elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus. The school “is anticipated to be the first Net Zero Energy School on the East Coast,” thanks to a large solar array on the roof. With design, contingencies and “soft costs” factored in, the total cost of the school is projected at $43.8 million, down from the original $46.5 million cost estimate. [Arlington Public Schools]
W-L Falls to Yorktown in Shootout — Yorktown high school hockey club defeated Washington-Lee 3-2 in a four-round shootout Saturday night at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston. It was the last game of the season for both teams.
Big Lines for Car Washes — With spring-like temperatures on Saturday came spring-like lines at local car washes. Motorists lined up to get the salt residue and winter grime washed off their cars. The line for Mr. Wash on N. Glebe Road extended all the way to Route 50 at one point. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
A Nintendo gaming system was stolen from a home in the Douglas Park neighborhood on Saturday.
According to this week’s Arlington County crime report, the suspect seemingly made a clean getaway.
BURGLARY, 140301049, 3500 block of S. 15th Street. Between 11 am and 7 pm on March 1, an unknown suspect(s) entered a victim’s residence and stole a Nintendo gaming system. There is no suspect(s) description.
The rest of the crime report, after the jump.
The change will result in an extra hour of daylight in the evening, but will come at the cost of darker mornings and an hour of lost sleep.
AAA Mid-Atlantic warns that the change can leave drivers drowsy on Monday morning. The automobile association issued the following press release, urging drivers to make sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
Come Monday morning, many drivers may have lost a spring in their step and may not be fully alert as they travel to work and school.
What’s more, many motorists may now be faced with a darker morning drive or sun glare from a rising, as well as setting sun depending on their commuting times, advises AAA Mid-Atlantic. Losing an hour of sleep and the change in daylight hours means motorists may potentially experience drowsy driving and added distractions of the road. In addition to the change of daylight, children, pedestrians, joggers, walker, bicyclists and motorcyclists will likely be more active outdoors. For safety’s sake, it behooves motorists to keep a watchful eye for all highway users as the days become longer.
“Each spring we go through the ritual of setting our clocks forward one hour. While some believe ‘just an hour’ of lost sleep is not significant, many people, who are already sleep deprived going into the weekend, are more likely to be impaired from an attention and safety standpoint,” said Mahlon G. (Lon) Anderson, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Managing Director of Public and Government Affairs. “A change in time can affect people physically and drivers can be more tired than they realize.”
To prevent this, AAA Mid-Atlantic recommends people, especially motorists, prepare in advance for the time change by increasing their sleep time in the days ahead and getting a good night’s sleep on Sunday.” An estimated 17 percent of fatal crashes, 13 percent of crashes resulting in hospitalization, and seven percent of all crashes requiring a tow involve a drowsy driver, according to a 2010 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year. The actual figure may be higher because police can’t always determine with certainty when driver fatigue results or is a contributory factor in a crash.
“You are getting sleepy, very sleepy.” AAA Mid-Atlantic advises motorists to make sure they get adequate sleep before getting behind the wheel of their vehicle. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that most adults get 7-9 hours of sleep to maintain proper alertness during the day. Studies show that sleep needs vary by age group.
APS Announces New Make-Up Plan — After losing two additional school days this week due to snow, Arlington Public Schools plans to make March 31 — previously a teacher grade preparation day — a full make-up day. If there are no additional school closures due to weather, APS will maintain its Memorial Day holiday and spring break plans. [Arlington Public Schools]
Delays on Blue, Orange Lines This Weekend — Orange and Blue Line trains will run every 20 minutes this weekend, starting at 10:00 tonight, due to track work between Foggy Bottom and Clarendon on the Orange Line and Arlington Cemetery on the Blue Line. Also, the Metro Center stop will be closed to allow for Silver Line sign installations. [WMATA]
Reminder: Home Show This Weekend — The annual Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday at Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 2nd Street S.).
Flickr pool photo by @ddimick
Just Listed highlights Arlington properties that just came on the market within the past week. This feature is written and sponsored by Team Cathell, ”Your Orange Line Specialists.”
This never-ending winter seems to have chilled sellers from listing their homes this last week.
Only 46 new listings came on the market, while 61 properties went under contract. This demonstrates that buyers are more brave in facing the elements than sellers. Current inventory of active listings in all of Arlington County stands at only 352 properties. At the rate of 60 sales a week, that represents only 6 weeks of inventory. A real estate market in equilibrium will have 5.5 MONTHS of inventory.
For buyers, such a strong sellers market means the days of getting a great deal are gone. Now, you are lucky just to win in the bidding wars.
Here are just a few of the new home listings this week:
- 2809 ARLINGTON BLVD #102, ARLINGTON, VA 22201 – $255,000
- 2637 WALTER REED DR #D, ARLINGTON, VA 22206 – $300,000
- 2321 25TH ST S #2-215, ARLINGTON, VA 22206 – $385,000
- 3262 UTAH ST S, ARLINGTON, VA 22206 – $445,000
- 4183 FOUR MILE RUN DR #B, ARLINGTON, VA 22204 – $494,950
- 5138 9TH ST N, ARLINGTON, VA 22205 – $750,000
- 5587 16TH ST N, ARLINGTON, VA 22205 – $865,000
- 3333 23RD RD N, ARLINGTON, VA 22201 – $1,385,000
Postmates, a San Francisco-based startup that uses couriers to deliver items from stores and restaurants directly to offices and homes in under an hour, has expanded to Arlington.
The company announced the expansion earlier this week, adding Arlington and Bethesda and additional neighborhoods in the District of Columbia. Arlington neighborhoods now served by Postmates include Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Lyon Village and North Highlands.
Postmates bills itself as a service that’s “transforming the way local goods move around a city by enabling anyone to get any product delivered in under one hour.”
“Postmates’ revolutionary urban logistics & on-demand delivery platform connects customers with local couriers, who purchase and deliver goods from any restaurant or store in a city,” the company says on its About page. The deliveries are typically done by couriers on bicycle and can be tracked in real time. The average delivery fee in D.C. is $8, according to InTheCapital.
(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) Comedian Bill Cosby joined Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette and other local notables in helping to open the new Ben’s Chili Bowl in Rosslyn this morning.
Cosby’s jokes and antics drew laughs from the large crowd of media and spectators that gathered to see the ribbon cutting for the iconic U Street eatery’s first stand-alone, brick-and-mortar expansion. Other attendees and speakers included the Ali family, which owns the restaurant; the ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago, late founder Ben Ali’s home country; WPGC DJ Shack Nd Pack; and Rosslyn BID President Mary-Claire Burick.
Cosby joked that as an aging Navy veteran, he was glad to have a Ben’s Chili Bowl near Arlington National Cemetery.
“The reason why this establishment has decided to open here is for me,” he said. “I’m 76-and-a-half years old. I’m going to have my 77th birthday in July… I spent four years in the Navy, which means I am eligible for a military funeral. Now, my can ghost make the trip here instead of flying over to U Street.”
“Over in that cemetery there is no cholesterol,” he continued. “There are no triglycerides. Eat as many as you like. Double down on the cheese and fries. A lot of people may not go to heaven, because this is heaven.”
Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette presented Cosby and Virginia Ali, Ben’s widow, with keys to Arlington. Cosby quipped that he would use it to get out of parking tickets.
“Whoa, who put me on stage after Bill Cosby?” Fisette said, to which Cosby shot back: “your mother did.”
“Thanks for choosing Arlington… for your second spot,” Fisette said. “As I’ve always said, chili for breakfast, chili for lunch, chili for dinner and a half smoke for dessert.”
Customers flooded into the the restaurant following the ribbon cutting, leaving a large crowd outside the doors, waiting to get in. Hundreds showed up to the Colonial Village Shopping Center parking lot to see Cosby speak and get some of the first tastes of chili, half smokes, hamburgers and milkshakes after standing outside in near-freezing temperatures.
The restaurant is located at 1725 Wilson Blvd, in the former Ray’s Hell Burger space. It’s owned and operated by three sons, Nizam, Kamal and Sage, and one daughter, Vida. The family said during the ribbon cutting that the restaurant plans to stay open until 4:30 a.m.
“The chili will sober you up,” Cosby said of Ben’s likely late night customers.
Editor’s Note: This biweekly sponsored column is written by Rick Gersten, founder and CEO of Urban Igloo, a rental real estate firm that matches up renters with their ideal apartments, condos or houses. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.
Moving in to an apartment doesn’t have to doom you to neutral colors and bare walls. There are plenty of options renters have when decorating their new digs. But what can renters do to spruce up their place while still following the rules?
First: Review your lease. The decorating rules may already be spelled out. Discuss with your landlord anything that isn’t specifically mentioned and get written permission if it is something other than rugs and curtains.
Paint: Some apartments or individual condo rentals will allow renters to paint at their own expense. Sometimes it is as simple as getting the colors approved by the landlord prior to painting, but sometimes you may have to return the unit to the original color when you move out. Some private landlords will even let you pick colors prior to move in if they are planning to repaint. It can’t hurt to ask, and be sure to put it in your offer and lease if they do agree.
Top Tip: If you are painting in a small space, and you are likely to have neighbors, look in to low VOC paint to keep the fumes to a minimum for your benefit and those around you.
Tip No. 2: Don’t want to paint but want to add some character? Consider some removable wall stickers. With so many options out there, you can inexpensively add a border or backdrop to your wall with minimal effort. Just be sure the stickers are removable, or you will end up painting those walls anyway.
Rugs: Add some color and style to your unit with some nice area rugs. Rugs come in all shapes, sizes and styles as well as price ranges. They don’t have to break the bank. Also consider different materials and textures to add character to different rooms. Keep in mind if you are in a unit with wood floors your lease will likely require you to cover up to 80 percent of your floor with rugs. This is a pretty common requirement to help with sound issues in close quarters.
Top Tip: Because carpet can harbor allergens, bacteria and other interesting critters it is probably best to go new with rugs, and save the Craigslist finds for end tables and desks.
Wall Hangings: Hanging pictures and art is a great way to add life in to bland walls, especially if painting isn’t allowed, or just not in your budget. Checking out Pinterest these days leaves you with no shortage of budget friendly wall art.
Top Tip: Use Command Strips for hanging your new Pinterest-worthy art so you won’t have to fill holes in the walls at the end of your lease.
Other Accessories: Throw pillows, blankets, tablecloths, lamps and plants are all great ways to add splashes of color and character to your space. For studio apartments you may want to look at ways to split up your space with a screen or temporary wall.
Shelves and Closet Units: Depending on the type and how they are installed, some landlords may not have a problem with adding shelves if they are easily removed and the walls can be repaired. If you are looking in to something a little more permanent like built-in closet units — talk it over with them — if done well and installed properly the landlord may welcome the change, not ask that you remove them later, and possibly even help with the cost. If not, take a look at a unit that can be removed when you leave.
Just because your new space may start out on the boring side doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.
Top Tip: Always get written permission, and expect to foot the bill. Landlords can be pretty flexible as long as you are open and discuss it with them up front.
Have a rental-related question you’d like Rental Report to answer? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More Homes Awaiting the Wrecking Ball — Another 11 homes are set to be torn down in Arlington, after applying for demolition permits in February. The group Preservation Arlington says three are located in historic districts. “The looming demolition of these houses and buildings represents an incredible loss of history, architecture, time, energy, and materials,” the group writes. “Many had the potential for renovation and additions, or, at a bare minimum, reclamation/reuse of building materials.” The group is currently seeking nominations for its annual “Most Endangered Historic Places” list. [Preservation Arlington]
Arlington Woman Turns 100 — Arlington resident Virginia Blake turned 100 last month. Blake, whose paternal grandmother lived to 111 years old, only moved out of her Military Road home and into a senior living facility last fall. [Sun Gazette]
Potomac Yard, Prior to Development — A photo from the 1990s shows the Arlington portion of Potomac Yard before apartment and office developments were built. [Twitter]
Teen Book Fest Comes to Arlington — Updated at 11:35 a.m. — The NoVaTeen Book Festival will take place at Washington-Lee High School on Saturday. NoVaTeen bills itself as “the first-ever festival celebrating Young Adult literature in the Northern Virginia/DC metro area.” [NoVaTeen Book Festival]
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
The debate, at the Arlington Civic Federation’s monthly meeting, was relatively short and did not give the candidates much time to delve deeply into issues. But by and large, Republican- and Green-endorsed independent candidate John Vihstadt tried to position himself as a choice that would be palatable for local Democrats who oppose the county’s big-ticket streetcar and aquatics center projects.
“I don’t want to upset the applecart, I just want to rearrange some of those apples,” said Vihstadt, who arguably has the best shot at being elected to the Board of any non-Democrat in years. “[My wife and I] love Arlington, we want to give back to Arlington.”
Vihstadt said he uses mass transit to commute on a daily basis, but “this $310 million streetcar is not the way to go on Columbia Pike.” He instead said he favors “a modified form of bus rapid transit.”
Vihstadt also differed from the current County Board in calling for an independent county auditor, by wanting to “break down the silos” between county government and Arlington Public Schools, and by suggesting that he opposes some of the development currently taking place in Arlington.
“I have serious differences with this Board about density and where that is taking our county right now,” he said to applause from the Civic Federation delegates.
Vihstadt, however, was also careful to point out areas where he agrees with the County Board. He supports gay marriage, increased spending on schools, and the new homeless services center in Courthouse.
“I support the new homeless shelter,” he said. “On balance I think it’s the right place and the right thing to do.”
“I’m not going to hide my Republican background, but i’m running as an independent,” Vihstadt said. “I’m running to add balance… because we need to recalibrate our spending priorities. We have to concentrate on core services like public education… roads and infrastructure maintenance… and neighborhood quality of life.”
“I’m giving voice to so many people across the political spectrum who are frustrated, who are concerned about where we are going as a county and where we are spending of our dollars at a time of skyrocketing school enrollment,” he said, pledging to be “fair, even-handed, bridge-building and nonpartisan.”
Democrat Alan Howze enters the race as the odds-on favorite thanks to the party’s well-honed get-out-the-vote effort, which will be needed as the race will be decided by a special election. Howze largely toed the party line — supporting a social safety, affordable housing, a “progressive community,” etc. — but suggested that he would be a bit more cautious when it comes to spending and a bit more aggressive when it comes to economic development.
Asked about something about which he disagreed with the County Board, Howze said the design and cost of the $1.6 million James Hunter dog park in Clarendon “well exceeded what was needed for the space and the community.”
Howze touted his private sector experience working at IBM and said he would work to “help strengthen the commercial base in Arlington,” thus combating rising office vacancy rates.
Like Vihstadt, Howze said he supports gay marriage, the county’s new homeless shelter, and increased spending on schools. (“Rising school enrollment is the biggest challenge facing our community,” he said.) Howze, however, supports the Columbia Pike streetcar project and has said he would like to see the Long Bridge Park aquatics center built provided it doesn’t exceed its original $79 million budget.
“We need to improve our community,” he said. “We can’t give any project a blank check, but neither can we stand still. I’m not chicken little… the sky is not falling. We can’t just say no — no is not a solution. Short term solutions that are politically expedient today but don’t lead to long-term prosperity.”
The D.C. council yesterday passed a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, but so far there are no plans to change marijuana laws or enforcement in Arlington.
The D.C. bill, which is expected to be signed by Mayor Vincent Gray, would make the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a $25 fine. Under the District’s current laws marijuana possession is a crime, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
In Virginia, state law makes marijuana possession a crime punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for a first offense, and up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine for subsequent offenses. There are no proposals in the Virginia General Assembly this year to change that, and police in Arlington County say they have no plans to change the way they enforce the law.
The decriminalization of pot in the District ”will have no effect on our policies or procedures,” Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck tells ARLnow.com. ”We will continue to enforce all laws in the same manner we currently do.”
In other words, District residents who bring marijuana into Virginia shouldn’t expect any leniency from police, despite the fact that an infraction that could cost less than a parking ticket in D.C. is punishable by jail time in the Commonwealth.
In 2012, Del. David Englin (D), who represented part of Arlington, proposed studying whether Virginia ABC stores should sell marijuana. Englin’s measure failed in committee.
The southbound lanes of S. Walter Reed Drive are expected to remain closed throughout Wednesday’s evening rush hour as crews work to repair a large water main break.
The 16-inch water main burst this morning on Walter Reed Drive near Pollard Street, causing a messy and slippery commute for some drivers as the water runoff turned to ice. Crews thought they had isolated the leak around 11:00 a.m., but we’re told that the leak reopened this afternoon, meaning the repairs will take longer than first hoped.
Police are on scene helping to control traffic. A detour has been set up for those heading southbound on Walter Reed Drive between S. Glebe Road and Four Mile Run Drive. One northbound lane of Walter Reed Drive remains open.
“At this point, lane closures and detours are expected to stay through rush hour,” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Robyn Mincher.