16 April 2017

Money-Saving Tricks That Reduce Home Costs in the Long-Term

When it comes to costs, nothing eats up your hard-earned money quite like your home. Over the course of its life, you’ll plow thousands of dollars into your home, making sure that it remains in good condition.

However, there’s a significant difference between the amount of money spent by people who take preventive action to maintain their homes and those who react to problems as they happen. It’s cliched, but it’s true: when it comes to our homes, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

Putting aside time to do necessary work on your home is essential. Doing the work now rather than leaving it until later can make a massive difference to how much you end up spending in the long term. Here's what to do--

Cut Back on the Grass--

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Having a lush, verdant lawn seems to be obligatory in some neighborhoods. But keeping grass in tip top condition is expensive as well as time-consuming. Not only do you have to give up your Saturday mornings, but you also have to buy lots of expensive equipment to keep it in good shape. The good news is that there are cheaper alternatives that will save you a significant amount of money in the long term. Instead of having a grassy lawn in your front yard, you could replace it will so-called “xeriscaping” and focus on including plants native to your area. Not only will you spend less time on the mower, but you’ll also save on water costs, too.

Create a Maintenance Schedule--

Just telling yourself that you’ll eventually get around to checking the gutters means that they’ll probably go for months without being seen to. That’s why it’s so important to create a maintenance schedule. A maintenance plan will motivate you to check parts of your home that you wouldn’t typically inspect up close. If there’s a problem, you’ll be able to find it before it becomes more severe.

If you live in a wooden house, or one that has wooden elements, keep a keen eye out for termites. Termites, says Terminix, can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to the woodwork if not caught early. So making sure they are eliminated before they can do serious damage is essential.

Share Tools with Neighbors--

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One of the reasons why so many people don’t bother doing their own home maintenance is that buying tools is expensive. That’s why so many people now share tools with their neighbors, pooling their resources and saving on costs. If you’ve got a power drill, you can lend this out and get a step ladder or a mower in return.

Grab a Handyman--

You can probably do most projects around your home. But for some jobs, when you weigh up the amount of time it would take to do certain jobs, it’s better to hire a handyman. Although it costs money to hire a handyman in the short term, they can wind up saving you money in the long run. Handymen are often willing to show you the ropes, giving you tips and instructions on how to perform certain maintenance tasks more quickly.

When Things Go Wrong - Coping with Horrors in the Home

Life as a homeowner is meant to offer you freedom, security, and stability. If you invest well in your property, it may even offer you financial benefits, too. But sometimes things go wrong, and the house you call home no longer protects you in the way you need it to. It becomes a drain on your financial resources and can become a money pit. Is there a way to prevent things going wrong in your home?

Maintenance is essential for any property. Sure, the old decor may now be categorized as retro or shabby chic. It may be endearing and even attractive to some buyers. The trouble is, if the decor hasn’t been updated in decades, chances are nothing else is quite up to current standards, either. This could be cause for concern, and at the very least should be checked out. Start with a top-to-bottom assessment of your home to see what might need some attention.

If a storm has come in recently, then you need to go outside of your property and check that the roof hasn’t been damaged. Guttering can come loose when it is overwhelmed by water, so make sure that is still intact. Signs that it is broken include damp patches on your render or brickwork. If you have antennae or satellite dishes on or around your home, these can easily be damaged in severe weather. Are your boundaries fully secure? Strong winds can blow down fence panels. No problems outside? Time to head up to the attic.

Large patches of daylight indicate a slate or roof tile is looser than it should be. A roofer should be able to help. If anything smells particularly unpleasant up there, it could be a good idea to check for droppings from rodents or other animals. Insects can also get in and nest. While none of these may bother your living accommodation, they can cause structural damage over time, allowing water to get in. If they die in your home, they will decompose! Getting pests under control is essential. Call out the professionals as soon as you suspect that they are there.

As well as damage caused by storms and unwanted pests, your roof is prone to wear and tear as much as any other part of your house. Depending on the type of roof you have a limited lifespan of approximately thirty years is all you can rely on. After this time, you should invest in regular checks and maintenance or consider a fresh roof.

The next thing to check is the ceiling and corners of the walls. Mold and mildew are more harmful to your family than you may think. After all, nobody wants to be breathing in those spores! If you spot some damp or rot in these areas, start by checking where it might be coming from. Are water pipes running nearby? Is the roof leaking? Dampness can penetrate brickwork if the guttering is not doing its job. This will lead to mold stains on the interior as well as wet bricks outside. There are special bleaches and other pesticides that can be used to clean this up, but you must stop the source of the water.

Of course, some rooms are naturally more humid than others. The kitchen is the source of a lot of temperature fluctuations and steam from cooking. So is the bathroom. Both these rooms need to be painted or decorated every few years with special paint designed for the extra moisture. You can measure the humidity of the room with a hygrometer that can be purchased cheaply online. Untreated natural wood can easily be damaged in high humidity settings. Signs of a problem can appear in wooden flooring, kick boards, and wall paneling.

Flooding has occurred in many places over the last decade. It can be truly devastating to whole communities. If your house is flooded by a storm surge, chances are there are some nasty things lurking in the water. It is important you use a specialist cleaning company to deal with the bacteria and other harmful things that could have entered your home. Your insurance company is likely to be able to provide the details for one. It can take time to fully dry out before the living areas are safe for your family and hygienic for cooking in.

Floods from burst water pipes are rarely as problematic. Once you have dried everything, you should be able to check it out yourself. Be wary of electrical circuits, though. Many electrical items will be permanently damaged. Your house wiring could also need to be replaced. Check with a qualified electrician.

Burglary and vandalism in your home are emotionally devastating. Aside from the damage to your property, the impact on your family can be far reaching. It’s difficult to step back and see that it was probably just high school kids that were bored. It feels personal. It feels like a physical violation. Without counseling, it can be very hard to overcome something like this. Actions to prevent the loss of personal items include:

+ Updating your locks
+ Installing alarms and security systems
+ Using a home safe for your most treasured possessions

If your door has been forced or your window is smashed then the first thing you should do is to ensure your property is secured again. When you’re upset, it can feel like a daunting task, so ask a professional locksmith to take over. Clear up anything that could be hazardous to your family or pets like broken glass or spilled paints.

Fortunately, home disasters are quite rare. Many people go through life with no problems. If you check your home regularly and keep on top of maintenance, chances are you’ll catch any issues in time. Even if an unforeseen incident occurs, you can have a plan of action to make sure you and your family are kept safe and well. Make sure your insurance policy is up to date and replace old services and systems like furnaces that are no longer up to today’s standards. Care for your home, and it will take care of your family for decades.

07 April 2017

Keep Your Family Fit, Staying Thrifty

Health costs are a real problem for families and parents. We want to keep our children healthy, but the costs are often incredibly expensive. Let’s say that your child is involved in an accident on a school trip and breaks their leg. Treatment for an injury like this could easily cost you thousands. It’s also completely unavoidable. You have to make sure that you get them the treatment they need, no matter the cost. You might think staying healthy and looking after your family just means putting up with large expenses. But that’s not true, and there are lots of cases where you can save. Let’s look at a few of the options.

Healthy Eating--

To eat healthily, you really need to think about buying organic food for your family. The problem is that organic food is more expensive. It might not seem like it at first because it’s only a few dollars extra on each item, but it will add up. So, what do you do? Succumb to a lifestyle with food that could actually be damaging your health? Of course not, instead you should think about getting the food you need at home. For instance, you can buy the seeds you need to grow your own veggies. Since you’ll be growing it in your backyard, you will have the option to grow organically, and it will be cheap. You’ll be living off the land! It’s going to taste great, it’s going to be cheap, and it’s going to be easy.

Family Fun--

If you’re interested in staying fit, you might have already bought a full annual gym membership so you can use all the gear to stay in shape. Not a bad idea but it will definitely be costing you a lot of money. Particularly, if you have multiple memberships in the family. Instead, why not try working out as a family outside of the gym. This is also a great way to get kids interested in fitness and sports. You can go on family bike rides or perhaps participate in sporting competitions. Even just taking walks with the family at the weekend will keep you in shape. It won’t cost you a lot of money, either. All you really need is a good pair of shoes.

Health Care Coverage--

We’ve already briefly mentioned health care bills, and that could include anything from dental work to expensive, complex surgeries. You need to make sure you are covered for all the possibilities. In the long term, this is definitely going to save you money. You’ll be able to get the health care you need without the expensive bills. With individual dental plans, you can even make sure you get the coverage type required for each member of the family. For instance, older family members are going to need more dental care.

Personal Care--

Last but not least, if you want to keep healthy living costs low, you just need to make sure you’re minimizing the causes of health issues in your home. Believe it or not, a great, healthy diet will do this naturally. Certain foods such as red bell peppers and broccoli increase the strength of the immune system. If you want to avoid the doctor visits, these are the type of foods you need to add to your family’s diet.

Can't Stand the (Lack of) Heat

Given the prices of keeping your home warm, it can be tempting to avoid doing so whenever possible.

With spring now in full flow, you might be even more tempted to shut everything down and try and forget about it until October (at the very earliest). It’s one of the first things that feels more like a luxury than a necessity when you’re trying to cut down on your cash expenditure, so down the thermometer goes and on goes the woolly sweater to make up the difference.

Is this a sensible way of saving money, though?

Yes, Obviously… Right?

If you turn the heating off in favor of heavier clothes and just plain putting up with it, then yes, on a basic level this is the right decision to make. Heating bills are expensive, no matter what type of fuel - oil, electric, or gas - you use to power them, it’s going to cut your outflow if you use them less.

Low Heat Can Harm Health--

Sound unlikely? It’s not.

It’s been suggested that the best room temperature for human habitation is around 64.4º F. Below that temperature, health begins to suffer - especially if you’re in a vulnerable group. This is a particularly important temperature milestone to hit if you’re pregnant, have young children, suffer from chronic conditions, or live with elderly relatives.

Can it be that catastrophic if you don’t keep a room to that temperature? Yes, it can. Even if you are otherwise healthy, living in a lower temperature environment can compromise your immune system. If you’re trying to lose weight, living with the thermometer off can mean that your cortisol levels are higher, making weight loss far more difficult.

Are You Thinking: "64.4º F Is Too High! I Feel Fine Way Below That!"?

That might be the case, but that doesn’t mean you are fine. To push the point, people who have hypothermia also tend to feel quite warm in the final stages. Just because you feel comfortable doesn’t mean you are. You don’t need to be relentlessly shivering to be feeling the impact of living in a colder temperature.

Are There Other Ways to Stay Warm?--

Of course - you can put on the aforementioned sweater, drink hot drinks, and even tuck yourself up under a blanket if you feel like it. However, that’s not going to change the ambient temperature - it’s a small fix for a bigger problem. Therefore, you need to tackle the main issue…

There Are Ways & Means of Cutting Your Heating Bills--

Now to the crux of the point: why are you spending so much on heating, to the point where you’re willing to compromise your health for it?

If you’ve not had your heating system checked by experts like Save Home Heat in the past two years, then you’re well overdue. A system that isn’t running efficiently is going to cost you money, to the point where you have to consider drastic action to cope.

It’s also a good idea to run checks on whether or not you’re paying a sensible rate for your energy. There are comparison sites that will help you do this, or you can contact your existing supplier directly to ask for a better rate.

Whatever you have to do to make heating a more viable option-- do it. By the time summer rolls around you can probably do without, but in those crisper, transitional months, you still need to put your health first.

03 April 2017

Top Three Things to Remember When Moving Out

Sooner or later, a time will come when you need to move out of your house for whatever reason. Either your lease is up and you need a bigger space for a growing family, or you’d like to be closer to work. Whatever your reasons, here is a list of things you have to do before you hand the over the keys.
Find All the Documents Relating to Your Tenancy--
This isn’t an issue if you’re selling, but if you’re ending a lease then the first thing you need to do is find all the documents citing any written agreements you have with your landlord. This includes any emails you have sent them about any repairs that you needed done, the receipts for all the rental and utility payments, and (most importantly) the inventory report from when you moved in.
Use these documents to figure out the correct procedure to end your tenancy, and how to cancel or transfer your subscriptions and services. If you are selling your property, you should also contact the utility companies to let them know you’re moving. They will schedule a time to come and do a reading so you don’t receive bills for a home you no longer own.
Finally, be absolutely certain that your deposit is protected by an authorized protection agency, then start inspecting the property for any damage and deterioration that may have occurred during your tenancy. Double check which items are deductible from your deposit and which ones are your landlord’s responsibility.
Use Your Time Wisely-- 
Start looking for a new place two months before you want to move or before your lease is up. Take the time to figure out your budget, how many rooms you need, and which amenities you need nearby. Homeowners should start looking as soon as they contact an agency to sell their property, so that they have something lined up whenever the new owners decide to move in.
If you’re renting, and you have a good relationship with your landlord or the agency they used, ask if there are any properties that fit your criteria and this will speed up the searching process.
Once you’ve found a place, and before you start packing, purge your belongings. You accumulate a lot of clutter, most of which you haven’t paid attention to in years, and you won’t have any use for in a new place. Moving will be so much easier if you have less boxes to transport.
When all the boxes are packed away, why not hire some end of lease cleaners to give the house a spruce? Years of dust, dirt, and misplaced items have gathered behind dressers and bookcases that haven’t been moved in years. Don’t leave it for the landlord or new owners to clean up!
Hand over the Keys--
By now, you should have given notice to your providers, put the boxes in the moving van, and left the house in excellent condition. Good luck in your new home!