Seen on Sunday Morning: February 24th

February 23, 2008 9:00:00 PM PST
Online banking, Housewares show, Real estate advice, Quitting smoking, Little MermaidOnline Banking

While online banking is quickly becoming a trend across the nation, there are still some folks who are resistant to the idea.

The reason is the feared safety issues and costs.

On Eyewitness News Sunday morning to share some money saving tips was Donna Banks, the Features Editor of Readers Digest.

  • Why do it

    Because it can save and even make you more money.

  • How to do it?

    Sign up with current bank or check out one of the larger institutions. Most have easy to follow directions. Avoid banks which charge for online banking or that limit the number of bills you can pay for free.

  • What can you do with online banking?

    Automatic Payments is a big benefit. It gives you flexibility. A bonus to setting up automatic mortgage payment is that you may be able to save money. RD found one instance of a customer shaving mortgage interest rate by a quarter point.

  • Can customers earn higher interest rates using online banking?

    YES. With no brick-and mortar infrastructure to pay for, online-only banks can offer about 5% interest on savings accounts - compared to less than 1% at conventional banks. has been known to pay 4% on checking accounts.

  • What's another advantage to online banking?

    You can monitor your account any time you want. Its easy to keep track of spending and you can move money between accounts. We've found that once people start regularly monitoring their funds they keep better track of spending.

  • Do banks offer online money management tools?

    Some do but customers can use a service like which monitors your transactions and balances nightly. And its free. The site can set you up with a budget, notify you when your account balance is low and send you savings tips based on your spending habits.

  • How safe is it?

    Online banking is safer than using your mailbox, a major source of identity theft. Most important: make sure your bank has "zero liability" protection. It means the bank will cover you for any Internet fraud on your account.

    For more information, Click Here.

    Houseware Show Preview

    The International Home and Housewares show in Chicago is less than a month away. Sara Leibowitz of Kitchen Couture showed some new trends on Eyewitness News Sunday morning.

    Healthier Cooking

    Cuisine Wok by Swiss Diamond


  • Revolutionary: first wok with a one inch base to ensure heat conduction and stability
  • Unique design combines pressure cast aluminum with rounded wok shaped bottom
  • The only wok made with 200,000 infused diamonds: optimum durability and requires less oil than conventional woks to fully sauté.
  • Includes heat tempered glass lid: eliminates splatter, full cooking visibility, easier range to fridge storage.

    Dr. Weil Spring Steamer


  • Innovative bi-level design for complete meal preparation (proteins on top/veggies on bottom, etc.)
  • Pre-programmed one-button cooking
  • Space saving design
  • Stay warm feature with automatic timer

    Style & Function: The New Oven-to-Table

    Dutch Oven by Le Creuset in Dijon


  • New color
  • Perfect for cooking meats and vegetables in a simmering broth
  • 6.75-qt., includes a tight-fitting lid that helps seal in moisture and flavor.
  • Constructed of cast iron to absorb heat quickly, distribute it evenly and retain it for maximum efficiency, even at low temperatures.
  • Porcelain enamel surface won't react with food, and doesn't absorb odors or flavors.
  • Elegant enough to take right to the table

    Appetizer Dishes by Calphalon


  • New item by Calphalon, comes in set of three
  • Ideal for all kinds of hors d'oeuvre recipes (hot dips, stuffed mushrooms, sauté shrimp, baked brie)
  • Dishwasher safe, lifetime warranty


    Professional Electric Martini Maker by Waring Pro


  • Shake and stir your favorite cocktails with the push of a button.
  • 20-oz. stainless-steel cocktail shaker has a 1-oz. shaker cap for measuring
  • Easy to use, sure to be a party staple

    Chef'n Deco Dual Grinder


  • New item, innovative 2 in 1 grinder
  • Easy twist feature for salt and pepper
  • Durable grinder filled with a medley of colorful peppercorns and sea salt
  • Adjustable grind mechanism

    7 Qt Stand Mixer in Berry Red by Viking


  • New, high-end model
  • 1,000 watts of power provides enough brawn to knead any dough regardless of how dense it is
  • Range of settings delicate enough for even the most sensitive meringues.
  • Locking pop-up head offers convenience when removing the bowl and makes cleanup a breeze.
  • Exclusive heavy-duty design features back-mounted wheels for easy movement across countertops so you do not have to lift and carry from place to place.

    For more information on Kitchen Couture, Click Here., or call 718-686-8200.

    Today's Housing Market

    At the end of last week, the Federal Reserve slashed its 2008 U.S. economic growth forecast by a half percentage point.

    The reason: A housing slump, tight credit and higher oil prices. But all of this could work out to your advantage.

    Randy Lee, the founder and CEO of the Leewood Real Estate Group had some tips on Eyewitness News Sunday morning.

    What are the advantages to buying in today's market?

    Price flexibility by builders/sellers

  • For each day homes sit unsold, it costs the developer money
  • Better to price a home according to current market conditions now, rather than be forced to reduce the price later

    Low interest rates
  • Despite the credit crunch, financing is available for buyers with good credit
  • With the recent series of cuts in the prime rate by the Fed, favorable mortgage rates are there for the taking

  • Interesting incentives that owners and developers have started offering to help with sales & Amenities
  • Home theatres
  • State-of-the-art kitchen amenities & Discounts and Promotions
  • Discounts on closing costs
  • Small gift promotions
  • Selection of one-and two-family homes that still qualify under the City's now defunct tax abatement program
  • Significantly reduced property taxes for eight years, with no payments in the first two, saving homeowners up to $25,000
  • Helps homeowners qualify for mortgages that would normally be unattainable
  • Developers who were able to get foundations for homes in the ground prior to the expiration of the 421b abatement program in July 2007 are still offering eligible units
  • Unfortunately, these tax abatements wont be around forever

    What are the most popular types of homes that people are looking for in today's market - apartments, condos, coops, single-family houses - and what are the price ranges?

  • The most commonly searched properties are condominiums and cooperatives
  • In 2007, the average sales prices of a condo in NYC rose 16% to $1,029,000
  • In Manhattan, average costs were the highest at $1,434,000
  • Followed by Brooklyn, at $599,000
  • In comparison, the average price of a coop rose only 4% in 2007, to $617,000
  • Coop prices held steady in both Manhattan and Brooklyn throughout 2007 at $961,000 and $344,000 respectively

    Quitting Smoking

    On Eyewitness News Sunday morning we provided some tips to help you quit smoking as Dr. Mike Steinberg of the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey. Also joining him were former smokers Betsy Fallon and her husband George who were able to quit together. They were able to use the New Jersey quitline to kick the habit.

    Why Is It So Hard to Quit Smoking?

    First nicotine is a highly addictive substance found naturally in tobacco. It is as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Breaking the physical addiction to nicotine is difficult, but that is only one aspect of the smoker's addiction. Smoking creates a powerful psychological and behavioral dependence as well. We call this "the three faces of tobacco dependence". Without addressing all three aspects of this addiction, most smokers fail to quit for good.

    Why Quit?

    Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body. Tobacco is the single most preventable cause of death, disease, impairment and disability in the nation. Although the health risks of smoking are dire, smokers can reap health benefits almost immediately upon quitting. No matter how long they have been smoking, much of the risk from smoking may be reversed. Clinical studies show that the health benefits that smokers gain by quitting are both immediate and long term, and there are effective tools to help smokers succeed in quitting.

    Are there steps to follow when quitting smoking?

    If smokers try to quit without help, only about three percent will succeed. There is no one right way to quit, but there are some key strategies to quitting:

  • Make the decision to quit, and get help from a structured smoking cessation program such as New Jersey's free or low-cost Quit Services: NJ QuitNet, NJ Quitline and NJ Quitcenters. They provide resources and counseling to help smokers set a quit date and choose a quit plan, deal with withdrawal, and quit for good.

    What should you look for in a Stop Smoking Program?

    Stop smoking programs (also called tobacco dependence treatment or cessation programs) are designed to help smokers recognize and cope with problems that come up during quitting and to provide support and encouragement in staying quit.

    What Does New Jersey Offer?

    New Jersey Quitnet

    New Jersey Quitnet is a free online service developed at Boston University and customized for New Jersey smokers. It provides a comprehensive individualized plan and resources to help you quit. Once registered, you have access to peer support groups and trained counselors 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You will receive a Quitting Guide to help plan a strategy, get referrals to local programs and learn about medications.

    What are some tips for stopping smoking?

  • New Jersey Quitline, 1-866-NJ-STOPS New Jersey Quitline, operated by the American Cancer Society, is a toll-free service that provides free access to trained counselors in 26 languages. A designated counselor helps you develop a treatment plan and works with you through the duration of the program to meet your individual needs.
  • New Jersey Quitcenters: New Jersey Quitcenters are face-to-face counseling clinics that meet the needs of smokers who are highly addicted to nicotine but also highly motivated to quit. You can visit any one of eight Quitcenters located in Camden, New Brunswick, Newark/Union City, Somerville, Trenton, Long Branch/Toms River, Jersey City and Somers Point. Counseling services are available on a sliding fee scale according to income. To locate the nearest NJ Quitcenter, log on to,, or call 1-866-NJ-STOPS.
  • Get Help Most smokers don't think of stopping smoking as something that they need/can get help with. However, few of those who try to quit on their own are successful. By getting help in the form of medications, counseling, and support can increase the chances of success dramatically. New Jersey offers a unique menu of three free or low-cost smoking cessation services from which smokers can chose or use in combination.
  • Not just a "Bad Habit" Legal or not, this is a serious addiction. That is why stopping is so difficult. Treatments such as medications in addition to New Jersey's Quit Services can help treat this difficult addiction.
  • Don't Give Up As with treating any chronic condition, stopping smoking is a long-term process. If you have smoked for 40 years, why would you expect to successfully stop after only a few days, weeks, or even months. Keep working with any one of New Jersey's Quit Services even if you are finding it difficult. More help is always available.
  • There is no "Magic Pill" Medicines help lower cravings and withdrawal symptoms when you stop smoking, making you feel more comfortable and improving your chances to stay away from tobacco. However, there is no pill that will do it all and make you never want to smoke again. Combining medicines with counseling and support (NJ Quit Services) will give you the best chance for success.

    How do you stay quit?

    Staying quit is the final, and most important, stage of the process. Smokers can use the same methods to stay quit as they did to help them through withdrawal. Smokers should think ahead to those times when they may be tempted to smoke, and plan on how they will use alternatives and activities to cope with these situations.

    What if you do smoke after quitting?

    A slip is a one-time mistake that is quickly corrected, whereas a relapse is going back to smoking. Smokers can use the slip as an excuse to go back to smoking, or they can look at what went wrong and renew their commitment to staying away from smoking for good. Professional smoking cessation counselors and the resources available through programs such as the New Jersey's Quit Services can help them stay on track.

    For Betsy and George

    How long have you been a non-smoker? How long had you smoked before that?

    Betsy (who is now in her 50s) has been a non-smoker for nearly three years now. Prior to that, she estimates that she had smoked for about 40 years, she started smoking when she was 15. Her husband George, who also quit with her, had smoked for about 30 years.

    How did you get involved with QuitNet?

    At first, Betsy took things slowly, just visiting the Web site ( As time went on, she was detached, just "checking out what was on there." As time went on, she began posting messages and looking forward to reading the responses.

    Can you tell us about some of the tricks you use to make sure that you don't begin smoking again?

    Betsy uses lollipops as a substitute, joking that she should "buy stock in the Charms company". She has also picked up a few handy sayings on the QuitNet service, such as "I'm a non-practicing nicotine addict" and NOPE - an acronym for "not one puff ever".

    What is the dynamic like on the QuitNet?

    "It can be very supportive," Betsy said. "For example, one time I wanted a cigarette so badly I posted a message that said 'HELP!' Within a few minutes, I received several responses. But, the members could practice tough love and be real critical on other members who slipped. All in all, it is a good place because every one wants the same thing - to quit smoking. And, we have similar thoughts - that quitting is difficult."

    How hard was it to quit?

    "It was the hardest thing I ever had to do," Betsy said. "I learned that every one has their own way to quit. I just had to use the way that worked the best for me."

    Do you really always keep a pack of cigarettes with you?

    "Yes, I do," Betsy said. "I keep them in my pocket book as a reminder that I have the power over the cigarette; the cigarette does not have the power over me."

    The Little Mermaid

    It's a Disney classic cartoon turned into broadway musical excellence.

    Disney's The Little Mermaid has been on stage since last fall at the Lunt-Fontanne theatre in Times Square.

    Sierra Boggess and Tituss Burgess the actors playing Ariel and Sebastian joined us on Eyewitness News Sunday Morning.

    Click Here, to find out more information on Sierra Boggess.

    To find out more information on Tituss Burgess, Click Here.