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Last updateThu, 21 Jul 2016 12pm

Food & Wine

Citrus-y beers celebrate summer

Citrus-y beers celebrate summer


Derek Wolfgram/Special to the Town Crier
Session beers offer an alcohol content low enough to sustain sipping through a long, lazy picnic. Local breweries are celebrating the citrus hop style now in vogue with other fruit-forward influences.

With the h...

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Your Health

Reading in sign,  ink and song

Reading in sign, ink and song


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A baby girl learns sign language during a program offered Wednesdays at the Los Altos Library.

Visit Los Altos Library’s community room on a Wednesday afternoon and you’ll see its plain gray expanse descend into ...

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Your Home

From derelict to desirable: House flipper transforms old properties into showstoppers

From derelict to desirable: House flipper transforms old properties into showstoppers


Megan V. WInslow/Town Crier
Amy Randazzo purchases older homes in Mountain View to “flip” after they undergo a makeover. Her transformed houses feature open floor plans and she searches for properties with “good bones.”

Amy Randazzo is improving neighb...

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On The Road

A different kind  of driving school

A different kind of driving school


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The Andersons observe Bixby Bridge – located on Highway 1 near Big Sur – from a dirt road during their recent Land Rover Experience Driving School lesson.

It is always exciting to do something youR...

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Senior Lifestyles

Monkey business: Senior Program volunteers lift spirits of sick kids

Monkey business: Senior Program volunteers lift spirits of sick kids


Photo Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos Senior Program volunteers – affectionately known as The Monkey Toy Ladies – make sock monkeys to comfort sick children.

Last year, nearly 400 children at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital received a special ...

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Wedding To Remember

The Veils of Time

The Veils of Time


Courtesy of Los Altos History Museum

For a new spin on the Town Crier’s “Peek into the Past,” the Los Altos History Museum has been gathering historical local wedding photos and the stories behind them.

Frances Elizabeth Shoup, second...

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Your Kids

Back to School

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?


Courtesy of Hollis Bischoff
This chart compares the rate of Early Decision acceptances with the overall acceptance rate at various colleges.

As students apply to an ever-increasing list of schools, colleges are challenged to predict accurately whether ...

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Don't let finances tie your marriage up in knots

June - the most popular month for weddings - is around the corner. That means many couples about to take the plunge are spending much of their time shopping for the perfect gown, flowers and reception location.

Unfortunately, most couples are so busy planning their wedding that they don't take time to discuss how they will manage their finances after they walk down the aisle. Getting adjusted to married life can be a challenge in itself. Mounting bills from wedding expenses and the cost of setting up a household can add to the stress. Here's a checklist to help you think about financial matters before and after marriage:

Joint checking accounts, individual accounts or a combination. If you are a newly married couple, you may want to establish a joint checking account. A joint account forces you to be accountable to each other about where your money is going. Keeping separate accounts can encourage unnecessary spending under the radar of your partner.

Savings goals. How much of your income do you plan to save and how will you do it? A rule of thumb is to save 10 percent of your gross income through automatic monthly withdrawals deposited into an investment account. In addition, you should have a minimum of three months of savings within reach for emergency expenses.

Retirement plans. If both of you have a 401(k) plan offered by your employer, at a minimum, invest in each plan up to the level where you get each employer's full matching contribution. You should also have a savings plan outside of your 401(k) so that you have access to funds without penalty. If you aren't eligible to contribute to a 401(k), invest in a Roth Individual Retirement Account, which allows tax-free withdrawals at retirement if you follow the rules.

Employer benefits. Examine the health, dental and other benefits each of your employers provides. Compare deductibles, co-payments, benefits provided and monthly costs. If you don't have children, you still should purchase life insurance to replace your salary if you die. If you do have children, a general rule is to purchase enough life insurance to cover eight times your combined annual salaries.

Investment accounts. This can be a sensitive subject for many people who've accumulated wealth on their own and now are faced with sharing it with their spouse. Depending on the significance of your wealth, you would be wise to explore financial- and estate-planning matters both before and after marriage.

Investment personality. Your investment portfolio should reflect how much risk each of you is willing to take in achieving your joint goals. Do you feel comfortable investing in stocks or would you prefer more conservative investments such as bonds or CDs? These are questions you should ask each other and then talk to a financial consultant who can recommend securities that match your objectives, time frame and risk tolerance.

Budget expectations. Do you both agree on how much should be spent on discretionary expenses such as clothes, dining out and home-improvement projects? The best way is to agree on a monthly amount for every expense that is not fixed (i.e. mortgage payment) and stick to that amount. This can prevent a lot of disagreements down the road when you discover your spouse has spent money on something you think is unnecessary.

Steve Zeller is a financial consultant with A.G. Edwards & Sons., Inc .

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