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Tips for home improvement on a limited budget

Luis Dominguez, Vice President and Branch Manager, MUFG Union Bank, N.A.  

Luis Dominguez, Vice President and Branch Manager, MUFG Union Bank, N.A.

Your home may be the biggest investment you’ll make in your lifetime.  Regular home improvement projects can help add value and make your home a more comfortable place to live. Your home is likely one of the largest investments you’ll make in your lifetime, and home improvement projects can add value to your investment.

If major home improvement isn’t in your budget this year, here are a few inexpensive tips that may help:

Paint

On average, a gallon of paint costs around $25, making painting one of the simplest and most cost-effective improvements to add appeal to your home.  Review design magazines and Web sites or visit model homes in your area for ideas about how you might add a splash of color or freshen up a room with paint.  Identify areas inside and outside of your home that need attention. Then use sand paper to smooth out rough or peeling areas and use spackle to fill holes.  You might also reference DIY Web sites for tips to help you prep, paint and clean up.

Curb appeal

Simple and inexpensive landscaping projects can create a great first impression.  Planting flowers in pots by the front door, along a walkway, or in window boxes is a simple and inexpensive way to add charm to your home.  Shade trees planted strategically not only add appeal, but could help lower cooling costs.  Contact your utility company for tips on varieties that grow well in your area, as well as where they should be planted to maximize shade and avoid coming into contact with power lines.

Welcoming entrance

Invest in a new front door, or repaint,stain or refinish your existing door.  Install a brass kick plate and polish the hardware, or purchase a new door knob and deadbolt.  Make sure your visitors can find you by installing inexpensive, yet stylish address numbers available at home improvement stores.  Complete the look with a tasteful welcome mat.

Kitchen or bathroom facelift

Even if you can’t afford a full remodel, small changes that freshen up an outdated kitchen or bathroom can have a big impact.  For a few hundred dollars, you can replace the faucet, hang new racks or shelves, and add new cabinet pulls and handles.  Consider new paint, stain the cabinets, or visit manufactures’ Web sites to purchase new doors at a fraction of the cost of replacing the cabinets. If the countertop looks dingy, consider re-grouting and replacing chipped tiles, or shop for a remnant piece of granite or marble for a new countertop or backsplash.

Lighting

Interior and exterior lighting not only provide your home with functionality and security, but  updating old lighting fixtures with brighter, more energy-efficient ones can create an appealing ambiance while lowering energy costs.  A simple track lighting kit can be purchased at home improvement stores and allows you to brighten just about any area.  Bring architectural details, plants and other objects to life with inexpensive freestanding or clip-on lights.  Or simply purchase a new lamp shade or use a little spray paint to give new life to an old chandelier.

Architectural interest

If you’re handy with a saw and other tools, adding a chair rail, picture molding, crown molding, or baseboards are inexpensive ways to bring value and beauty to your home.  Consider purchasing a few extra yards of molding or trim to make some practice cuts, and be sure to always wear appropriate hearing, eye and respiratory protection when operating power tools.

On a final note, look for construction surplus businesses like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores— nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to the public at a fraction of the retail price. To find one in your community, visit www.habitat.org/restores.

The foregoing article is intended to provide general information about home improvement on a limited budget and is not considered financial or tax advice. Please consult your financial or tax advisor.

About MUFG Union Bank, N.A.

Luis Dominguez is a vice president and branch manager of the MUFG Union Bank, N.A., Miracle Mile branch.  MUFG Union Bank, N.A., is a full-service bank with offices across the United States.  We provide a wide spectrum of corporate, commercial, retail banking and wealth management solutions to meet the needs of customers.  The bank also offers an extensive portfolio of value-added solutions for customers, including investment banking, personal trust, capital markets, global treasury management, transaction banking and other services.  With assets of $108.8 billion (USD), as of June 30, 2014, the bank has strong capital reserves, credit ratings and capital ratios relative to peer banks.  MUFG Union Bank is a proud member of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (NYSE: MTU), one of the world’s largest financial organizations with total assets of approximately ¥259 trillion (JPY) or $2.5 trillion (USD)1, as of June 30, 2014.  MUFG Americas Holdings Corporation, the financial holding company and MUFG Union Bank, N.A. have corporate headquarters in New York City.

1 Exchange rate of USD=¥101.36 (J-GAAP) as of June 30, 2014

 

Editor’s Letter: Young People Protest Change across the Globe

Atlanta protests held Monday, August 18 in front of the CNN Center

Atlanta protests held Monday, August 18 in front of the CNN Center

By Naomi K. Bonman

L.A. Protest Photo Credit:  Joe Satran (The Huffington Post)

L.A. Protest Photo Credit: Joe Satran (The Huffington Post)

Throughout the previous years we have heard about history repeating itself, and 50 years later after the Civil Rights Movement to this present day, we see are seeing what we dreaded would happen. History has been repeating itself for the past few years now, but on Saturday, August 10, after 18-year-old Michael Brown was gunned down in Ferguson, MO, outside of St. Louis, the issue of police brutality among African-Americans have sparked up the Nation causing multiple protests across the Country among both the young, seasoned and celebrity crowd.

In the immediate days after Brown was murdered the world seen yet another brutal shooting by the Los Angeles Police Department on Sunday, August 11, when 25-year-old Ezell Ford was shot and skilled by two officers while walking down the street near his home. According to the Huffington Post, by 2:30 p.m. several protesters had gathered in front of the LAPD headquarters. Protesters varied in age, race, ethnicity and creed. Some even came as far as San Bernardino, such as Sandra Nunez, who was there with her young daughter.

“I not only fear gang members killing my son, I fear the police killing my son. I feel helpless because I don’t know who will protect him from them”, she stated.

Another local L.A. resident, David Bryant, who is a former member of the Nation of Islam, stated that he has been arrested while protesting in exactly the same place in 1992, after the trial for officers who has beaten Rodney King.

“That was over 20 years ago, and here we go again. It’s déjà vu, but what else can you except when you have prostitutes and cowards as politicians”, he said.

Let us rewind back to July 17 in New York, before Brown was killed. Eric Garner, 43, who was an asthmatic father of six, was confronted by NYPD officers for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. When he resisted being cuffed, an officer appeared to put him in a chokehold, a tactic banned by the department since 1993.Garner was unable to breathe and unfortunately succumbed. The

Actress, singer, and business owner Tiffany Evans, joined protests for change in Atlanta

Actress, singer, and business owner Tiffany Evans, joined protests for change in Atlanta

city medical examiner later ruled Garner’s death a homicide, stating that neck compression from the chokehold killed him; however, officers involved in the arrest may not face charges if the homicide is found to be justifiable. Staten Island district attorney Daniel Donovan is investing the case.

Then on August 5 in Beavercreek, Ohio, two police officers responded to a 911 call about a man waving a gun at customers inside a Walmart store. According to the Beavercreek police department, John Crawford, 22, disregarded officers’ orders to disarm before being fatally shot in the chest. It later was reported that Crawford’s gun was a .177 calibre BB rifle that he had picked up from the store shelf.

On August 12, Dante Parker. 36, of Victorville, California who was a pressman at the Daily Press was tased by police after a Victorville resident told police a robbery suspect had fled on a bicycle. The police detained Parker, who by the way had no criminal background (other than a DUI), after a scuffle ensued which led to him being tased. He later died at a local hospital. The police assumed he was the suspect because he was found on a bicycle.

Who knows how long these protests will go on before justice is served and change is done. In the midst of these occurrences I read a statement from a young lady on Facebook, I do not remember her name, but she stated that “People react certain ways to prior fears”. She used an analogy of her being beat by a blue belt and as she gets older she still fears that blue belt every time she sees it because she

Atlanta protest. August 18, 2014

Atlanta protest. August 18, 2014

connects it to that incident of when she was beaten by it. So, the same goes for the police. Some may have a fear that could have been passed by to them by their ancestors, so instead of talking things out to come to a solution they automatically assume and react. Other law enforcement who do not have this fear, could just be a “dirty cop” instilled with evil and hate.

Hopefully at the end when all is said and done, we not only get the change that we need, but that Blacks start coming together as a people, as a force, because that is the only way we will get the deserved change that Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm XRosa Parks, and a countless number of others fought for 50 years ago. Right now they would all be turning in their graves to see how we have separated as a people and how our race has fallen. We don’t support each other in our business efforts as we should, we do not own hardly any big corporations, and the list goes on.

While you are out there protesting, keep in mind that as African-Americans/Blacks we need to continue to come together in unity. I would love to see a multitude of Black owned businesses emerging within the next years to come, and I would like to see us keep those businesses in our communities and for them not to be sold off to “white companies and investors”.

The Black community has the highest buying power, so if we take that power and put it back into our own communities, just imagine how much we would thrive as a community and what the future would like for our youth that will soon be taking over. Let’s be an example and stand up for what’s ours. Let’s take back our communities in a positive way.

I would love to hear your feedback, please tweet me at @NaomiKBonman on Twitter, or email me atnaomibonman@gmail.com.

Africans Living in the U.S. Connect with Culture through New Network

Spokesperson for Africa Magic GO, Juliet Ibrahim

Spokesperson for Africa Magic GO, Juliet Ibrahim

Interview by Naomi K. Bonman

Africa Magic GO has recently launched in the United States. The network is similar to “Hulu”, in offering the latest film and television series from the Continent of Africa. Now Africans living in the U.S., and other African culture lovers can connect with the African culture by tuning in via their computer and mobile devices.

This new service is available at just $8 a month where customers can stream hundreds of movies and TV shows. African Magic GO also helps people tap into the prolific offerings of the world’s largest film industry, Nollywood, as well as productions from other parts of Africa. To assist in getting the word out, popular Ghanaian actress, Juliet Ibrahim, is one of the new spokespeople for the network.

In addition to acting, Miss Ibrahim is a business-oriented person who proudly owns Envoque Beauty Parlor, House of Glamour boutique, Dolfins Modeling Agency, and Jewels Productions. She also recently delved into music and is soon to debut her album. In December 2011, the actress launched her Juliet Ibrahim Foundation (JIF) to start an awareness campaign about kidney cancer. The JIF is aimed at helping Ghanaians and other West African citizens to know their status and prevent kidney cancer from getting to the incurable stage. JIF is poised to help save lives and put smiles on the faces of the less fortunate living with kidney cancer but can’t afford to handle their bills.

Question and Answer with Miss Juliet:

Naomi K. Bonman: What inspired you to become involved with Africa Magic GO?

Juliet Ibrahim: Africa Magic is a major brand in Africa. It is a privilege to be a part of their new product Africa Magic GO, which enables Africans in the Diaspora to stay in touch with their roots while living abroad. Finally, my fans living abroad can get to watch my exclusive movies, TV shows and TV series way before the movie comes out on DVD. It’s a good brand to be associated with as a celebrity from Africa. For my fans reading this article, they can log on to www.africamagicgo.com and register and watch one of my latest movies on there is called “Blurred Lines.”

Naomi K. Bonman: What projects are you currently working on?

Juliet Ibrahim: I just wrapped filming my second personal movie production called “Shattered Romance,” and it’s a project I am so proud of. It features both Nigerian and Ghanaian actors. I am also promoting my new music video “It’s Over Now,” which is enjoying a lot of airplay currently. Lastly, I’ve been on a campaign to educate the public and create awareness for my kidney cancer awareness foundation; it’s been successful so far.

Naomi K. Bonman: Do you have any upcoming plans on doing more work here in the States?

Juliet Ibrahim: Certainly! I intend to work here in the States and am very open to offers and various opportunities here. I am not limited to working only in Africa. I am currently looking for an amazing PR person and manager out here in the U.S. so we get a lot of work done. Juliet Ibrahim is a brand that I believe needs to expand and be known worldwide. I have plans of launching my NGO in the United States as well; it’s already been registered out here.

For more information on the network, visit www.africamagicgo.com. To read more on Juliet Ibrahim visit www.julietibrahim.net.