While it seems simple enough to purchase an alarm system and call it a day, there are countless other ways to increase the security of your home. Luckily, burglars and other criminals tend to follow similar trends, making it easier to be proactive when it comes to protecting your home and loved ones. The following are some helpful ways to do so.
Often, burglars will cut exterior wires in order to sufficiently distract or disarm whoever is inside.
First, ensure you are in the habit of consistently using all locks in your home. This includes window locks on second floors. Burglars will usually try and find an open window or back door before eventually attempting to kick in the front door. Breaking windows or picking locks are too time-consuming and noisy. Make your door less vulnerable to human strength by installing a heavy-duty deadbolt lock, and make sure back and side doors have multiple locks. Ensure all windows have functioning locks and perhaps look into investing in pin locks as well.
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Having an appraisal come in low can be upsetting to both the buyer and seller. Considering the impact a low appraisal can have on the home buying and selling process, it's important to educate yourself on what factors typically lead to a low appraisal.
Your home may have an incredibly finished basement, but the appraiser will still have to calculate the value of the basement differently than the square footage above ground. This is, in fact, one of the more common reasons why an appraisal comes in low. Valuing a basement can often be far more subjective, especially when there are extravagant features such as a home theater, custom bar, or a personal gym. While a nice finished basement can substantially upgrade the square footage and features of a home, the value of the basement space will still only be worth a fraction of what similar space upstairs would be.
Every day there are thousands of properties that have price reductions, and it only means one thing: the home was not priced appropriately. The seller was overzealous, or perhaps the agent promised the moon in hopes to make a sale. In states where dual agency exists, a buyer will occasionally go directly to the listing agent. They don’t have a buyer’s agent in their corner guiding them, and they end up significantly overpaying for the property. When purchasing a home, it always makes sense to have a buyer’s agent representing your best interests. Don’t be conned by dual agency.
The home appraisal can be a nerve-wracking process for many sellers. While most appraisals don't ruin a sale (fortunately!), there are still some persistent myths that far too many sellers believe. Remember: the more you know, the less likely it is that you'll be surprised!
Wrong — they are very different! As stated in our last blog post, a home inspection is intended to identify issues with the home that everyone should be aware of before money is exchanged, while an appraisal aims to determine the market value of the home. While an appraiser may flag problems that they notice during the appraisal, it is in everyone's best interest to hire an inspector in addition to the appraisal.
This is often the hardest pill for most homeowners to swallow. You may have the biggest, most beautiful home in your area, but that does not guarantee that the appraisal price will reflect how exceptional your home is. In fact, standing out too much can even do more harm than good.Homes are priced based on their area. More specifically, homes are priced based on their neighborhood. The appraiser will consider the size and amenities of other homes in your neighborhood to determine the price of your home. If everyone else has 2,000 square feet of space and laminate countertops, but you have 4,000 square feet and granite countertops, yours will likely be priced somewhat higher, but not nearly enough to get your money back if you have over-improved.As always, talk to an experienced appraiser before making any major changes to your home. When it comes time to sell, you'll be glad you did.
We all have good intentions when starting a New Year's resolution. Along with dieting and exercising more, saving money is a popular resolution that many people vow to start once the clock strikes midnight. However, just like becoming healthier, you'll only start noticing a change when you develop healthy habits. Sound overwhelming? It doesn't have to be. With a few tweaks to your spending habits, you'll be on the fast track to financial success all year long.
Most people—after they calculate a budget—are shocked to find out how much they’re actually spending at the grocery store each month. And if you’re the average American family, you’re probably spending around $650. Grocery purchases (or budget busters) add up quite a bit and end up blowing the budget every single month.Save money on groceries by planning out your meals each week and taking a good look at what you already have in your pantry before you head to the store. Look online to put together a shopping plan that includes weekly deals, manufacturer's coupons, and store coupons you can stack.And if you’re really trying to find ways to save money, try grocery pickup. Most major grocery stores offer it (sometimes for free). This is valuable because picking up your groceries gets rid of any temptation to grab any unplanned purchases that will go over your budget.
In most cases, the only thing that’s better about brand-name products is the marketing. Generic brands of medicine, staple food items (like rice and beans), cleaning supplies, and paper products cost far less than their brand-name, marked-up competitors—and they work just as well.
It’s no secret that cable prices are continuing to rise. The average monthly price for cable TV is about $106 a month—which adds up to over $1,200 a year. Here’s the good news: Cable isn’t the only way to watch your favorite shows these days. Cut the cord and find out how to save big with alternatives to cable like network apps and streaming services.
Did you know that you can save money without thinking about it? Try setting up your bank account to automatically transfer funds from your checking account into a savings account every month. If that sounds scary to you, you can also set up your direct deposit to automatically transfer 10% of each paycheck into your savings account.
Put your fat work bonus, inheritance, or tax refund to good use. If you’ve still got debt, you’ll be better off using those funds to pay off your student loans or the balance on your credit card instead of stashing that money away. If you’re debt-free, use those extra dollars to build up your emergency fund—you know, for emergencies.Bonus tip: If you regularly receive large tax refunds, it’s time to adjust the withholding on your paycheck so you can bring home even more money each month.
Did you know that you can save money on your electric bill just by making a few tweaks to your home? Start with some simple things like taking shorter showers, fixing leaky pipes, washing your clothes in cold tap water, and installing dimmer switches and LED lightbulbs.While new, energy-efficient appliances are a great way to save money on your electric bill, they’re expensive! But if you work it into your monthly budget, you can pay cash for those small improvements.
Email marketers are really good at what they do. They know the irresistible temptation of a flash sale or exclusive coupon.If you just can’t resist shopping when you see a special offer, click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email. You’ll be less tempted to spend, and your inbox will be a lot less cluttered.
You never know until you ask—and you should always ask. Next time you’re getting tickets at a movie theater, museum, or sporting event, check to see if they have any special discounts for seniors, students, first responders, military, or AAA members. If not, never underestimate the negotiating power of cash!
If your monthly cell phone bill competes with your monthly grocery budget, it’s time to find ways to cut back. Save money on your cell service by getting rid of extras like costly data plans, phone insurance, and unnecessary warranties. And don’t be afraid to haggle with or completely switch your provider! It might require a little persistence and research, but the savings are worth it.
Don’t buy any nonessential items for a week—or, if you're up for a challenge, a month! Think about it as a contentment challenge. Make your spending freeze successful by prepping meals with the food you already have, avoiding stores where you tend to impulse buy, and saying no to anything that isn’t a basic necessity.
Before you shell out the cash to pay for a new backsplash, fancy light fixture, or even changing the oil in your car, think about doing it yourself! Usually, the cost of materials and a simple Google or YouTube search will save you a ton of money on your latest home project. (Plus, you won’t have to pay someone to do something you can most likely do yourself). But if you’re the type that can’t seem to hit the nail on the head, you might want to ask a friend or neighbor for help so you don’t have to spend extra money to fix what you messed up.
We get it. This one is painful. But instead of spending $5 on that daily latte, you can save money by just making your coffee at home. Listen, we’re not saying you should only drink instant coffee (unless you’re into that sort of thing). But even purchasing a bag of local beans from your neighborhood coffee shop and brewing it at home will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Before you click “add to cart” on that brand-new book, check your local library to see if you can borrow it! Most libraries also have audiobooks and digital copies of your favorite books for rent. It’s an easy way to get your reading in without breaking the bank.
When your goal is to save money, a vacation is the worst thing you could spend your money on. Instead of whisking your family off to Cabo, try being a tourist in your own city or state. Not only will this save you hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars, but you can also explore your neighborhood with fresh eyes and have some fun while doing it.