Money Saving Tips on Moving

Moving can be an expensive endeavor. Even if you decide to rent a truck and move your belongings yourself there are lots of other expenses that can add up. Luckily, there are a few simple ways consumers can save money hauling their belongings from their current home to the next one.

Purge your things. Instead of moving things that you don’t use sell or donate them. If you decide to donate items to charity, you could save lots of time and even get a tax deduction.

Move on a less popular day. The most popular time to move is at the end of the month. Since most closings happen and leases are up at the end of the month there’s more competition for the trucks and moving crews. Moving at the end of the month will also cost you more. Choose your moving date midweek, closer to the middle of the month.

Packing materials like bubble wrap and foam peanuts are costly. If you are packing your own items use things you have around the house like bed linens, towels and clothing to pad your items. You can also use newspapers and tissue paper from gift bags. Be careful when using newspaper as the newsprint will smudge on dishes and other items.

Don’t buy moving boxes check Freecycle and Craigslist for free ones first. Ask around, your friends may have boxes suitable for moving.

Your Financial House: 3 simple steps

TinaSutherandHeadshot

As the year begins it is a good time to get your house in order as well as your financial “house”.

Tina Sutherand

Tina Southerland G&N Insurance

Among the things you should review when you do your tax preparation, is your insurance coverage.  Has your situation changed recently?  Did you make any major purchases that need to be insured?  Do you have adequate coverage for your valuables, home and vehicle/s? Below are 3 simple steps you can take to ensure you are receiving the best rates and coverage. Thanks to insurance expert Tina Southerland at G&N Insurance of Southboro, MA for compiling this list.

Reviewing your finances?  Meeting with your accountant for tax purposes? 

How about reviewing your current personal insurance plan? 

Many people are under the impression that they have enough insurance coverage at a great price.  However, this rarely turns out to be the case. I take pride in making sure my clients are properly protected, while saving on their annual premiums.  Statistics show that 75% of MA residents have not comparison shopped their insurance policy in years!  Fact is, we now have a competitive market and it is definitely worth tackling this small homework assignment.  As an independent agent specializing in auto and home insurance, I have the ability to compare rates with dozens of companies in MA.  Follow these 3 easy steps to obtain a review from me!

  1. Gather your current up to date coverage selections pages for your home, auto and umbrella policies (if you cannot locate one at home, most companies offer access to policy documents online)
  2. Send me a copy of those pages via email  Tina@InsureWithGN.com or fax 508-342-8381GN LOGO
  3. Set up a time to chat over the phone, or meet in person so I can make sure you get all the discounts for which you qualify.  Email or call me at 508-873-7793

It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3!  I will be sure to email you the proposed new package, outline the savings and any improved coverage limits.  If you decide you want to move forward, I will handle the cancellation with your current agency.  I look forward to assisting you today!

Germiest Places in the Home

Germs are everywhere. You may be surprised to know they are even lurking in your home. Where are the germiest places in the home? How can you protect your family from germs and bacteria?

Here is a list of germ-laden places all around your home:

Kitchen Sink
Even the kitchen sink is germ laden. Think about all the food and dirt that goes down the drain. Believe it or not kitchen sinks are actually germier than toilet seats. The best way to keep your kitchen sink germ free is to use a bleach-based cleaner. You can also scrub your sink with a mild soap. White vinegar can be used to sanitize the sink and remove any stubborn stains or spots.

Kitchen Sponge
Not far from your kitchen sink is the kitchen sponge. Sponges are used to wipe up spills and messes and make a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and germs. Make sure to disinfect your sponge by tossing it in the dishwasher, or microwave a wet sponge for 1-2 minutes.

Bed sheets
This may give you the creepy crawlies but all the germs you come in contact with all day long end up in your bed. Your bed sheets are covered in sweat, skin, and bacteria from your body.  Wash your sheets about once a week in warm or hot water with a regular detergent.

Wall-to-wall carpet
Wall-to-wall carpet can be a trap for millions of germs and allergens.  Wall-to-wall carpets are full of pet dander, germs from dirty shoes, and mold.  The best way to clean Wall-to-wall carpeting is to use a vacuum with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter.

Staging Your Home

When selling your home, you want it to appeal to a wide variety of people, not showcase your personality or preferences. While you might love deep red walls in your dining room, it might be too bold for a potential buyer. Your goal is to sell your home and having the right buyer appeal is key. There are a few things to think of when staging your home.

Paint color is a must unless you already use neutral colors in your home. When looking for paint colors think of beige, olives, yellows, tans and greys. Outdated wallpaper patterns are a big no-no. Not only will an outdated look not be appealing to a buyer but the thought of having to take it down after buying the home can be a negative to a buyer. Taking down the wallpaper, fixing any imperfections in the walls with spackle and sanding, and applying a new coat of paint will go a long way. Choosing a paint with a low sheen will help hide any imperfections that may still remain.

De-cluttering your home will give it a clean, organized look that will appeal to a buyer. Minimal items should remain in your home and going through your space to take out anything you don’t need and sending it to storage is ideal. Think about your furniture as well, since often too much furniture can cause spaces to look small. In addition, by pulling furniture away from the walls and placing them in conversational groups, you add space to a room.

Having the right decorative items can help to create an inviting space. Rather than having items lined up, trying grouping different items together, like on the coffee table. Hang pictures and art work in groups as well, avoiding a traditional straight line on the wall. Make sure that you have things such as decorative towels and soaps in the bathroom to help set the scene. Adding the right lighting can help set a welcoming mood. Make sure you have a variety of lighting in each space, from table lamps, to accent lighting, and whole room lighting.

Basically, when staging your home, you want to make it a place that someone would want to live. Little touches here and there can really make a difference. With a little investment you will attract the right buyer .

Eating For Good Health

One may wonder, what does “Eating for good health” mean?  Eating for good health means to consume the right quantities of food, from all the food groups, in order to maintain a healthy and balanced life. A balanced diet is a crucial part of healthy eating.

Here are some rules that should not be taken for granted with respect to eating well.

  • Never Skip Breakfast.   Although mornings are usually rushed and chaotic, it is best to take the time to eat a healthy breakfast for many reasons.  Did you know skipping breakfast may be linked to increasing a woman’s risk of diabetes? Eating a healthy breakfast is also connected with a lower incidence of heart disease in men. Eating breakfast helps to keep your metabolism going because your blood sugar levels drop in the morning and your body needs fuel to help keep your energy levels up. Eating breakfast just helps you perform better and helps to keep you from being irritable and grumpy.
  • Eat More Fruits and Vegetables.  People tend to underestimate the benefits that eating more vegetables and fruits can provide for the body. It is recommended that you consume at least five portions of different types of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.  Eating an assortment of vegetables and fruits can help you avert many ailments like high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke and even prevent some types of cancer.
  • Reduce Saturated Fat. Everyone needs to reduce the amount of fat consumed on a daily basis. Fat comes in two forms, saturated and unsaturated. Excess saturated fat can increase the cholesterol levels in the blood leading to an increased risk of heart disease.  Try to cut down on foods like cakes, biscuits, butter, pies and processed foods and increase your intake of vegetables and fruits.
  • Drink Plenty Of Water. Drinking a sufficient amount of water is an essential part of eating healthy. Do not wait until you are thirsty before you drink water. Human’s need to drink about 1.2 liters of water on a daily basis.  Drinking plenty of water helps the kidneys to flush out toxins and can help the body increase energy and relieve fatigue. Did you also know that water is a natural appetite suppressant?  Drinking water before a meal helps to fill you up and raises your metabolism. So drink up, but make sure it’s zero calorie water:  wine, fruit juices and other beverages do not off the same benefits as good old water.
  • Remain Active. In addition to a healthy diet, engaging in daily exercise is beneficial in boosting your metabolism.  Regular physical activity helps the body to function better, reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease and promotes weight loss.  For individuals that live a sedentary lifestyle, it is important to introduce physical activity gently into their daily routine.  Even engaging in light physical activity can get your muscles working and stimulate healthy blood flow. As always, an individual’s physician should be consulted prior to introducing a new exercise routine.

The benefits of a healthy diet are many, even simple changes can produce noticeable results. Embracing a healthy diet will have you feeling great and full of energy in no time.

Getting Your Home Inspected

Before you sign the papers to purchase your home, you will want to get one important thing done: a home inspection. This essential task will not only give you insight into the potential problems a home has, it was also give you the ability to renegotiate based on what is found. Knowing what to expect is the first step.

A home inspection should include the condition of the roof, attic, walls, ceilings floors, windows and doors, the heating and cooling system, plumbing and electrical systems, the foundation and basement. All these areas of inspection as done only if accessible. For example: if the roof is covered with snow, an inspector will look at what they can, but the snow may obstruct the view.

The cost of an inspection can vary depending on your location. Getting a variety of prices from different licensed inspectors can help you find the best deal in the area. While the cost may make you want to skip out on an inspection (with all the money you are spending to by the house, one more cost can feel enormous), not getting one can really hurt your wallet later on. Major structural issues, leaks, and toxins can cost big bucks to fix.

A multi page detailed report will be created based on the inspection, including recommendations. This should be reviewed carefully to estimate the amount of work that will be involved in maintaining and/or fixing the house. While that roof the report mentioned isn’t leaking today, if the inspector mentioned that it may need to be replaced soon, figure it will. Then of course, there are more immediate areas that may need attention, that you will have to plan on addressing right away.

Finally, if there are major issues with the house, you can negotiate this into your offer. All offers should be made contingent on the inspection, so that once the inspection is done, the offer can change. So if that roof is already starting to leak, you can bring down the offer price to be able to put money towards a new roof right away.

No matter if you are buying a year old home, or one from 1950, a home inspection is a must when making an offer. Skipping the inspection will only increase the risk of damage to your finances down the road. Better safe than sorry!

Breathe Easy in Your Home

Allergens, dust particles and pollutants all add up in your home and over time can lead to serious respiratory problems for its occupants. If you notice you are not breathing as easy as you should  or you just want to improve your indoor air quality there are steps to minimize the potential for dust particles in your home.

  • Clean your home regularly.
  • Use an air purification unit to attract dust particles and return cleaner air throughout the house.
  • Using an air-sealing product such as spray foam insulation to insulate and air-seal the home. This reduces  the amount of particles and allergens that enter the home.

These simple strategies will help significantly reduce the potential for respiratory problems in your home and you will be breathing easier in no time.

How to Spruce up Your Home: Prepping for sale

If you’re going to be putting your house on the market, you want it to be in the best condition possible for when prospective buyers come and look at it. A little sprucing up can add a lot of curb appeal and increase the chances of selling your home as soon as possible.

Make Over Kitchen Cabinets

An older, out of date kitchen can be given a face lift with the addition of some paint and new cabinet doors. The doors on the kitchen cabinets can make or break the way a kitchen looks. If you don’t have the funds to buy new cabinet doors, consider painting the cabinets. Avoid any type of wild paint, sticking instead to solid colors or the tried and true basic white. Add interesting touches like removing one cabinet door and paint the inside of the cabinet and shelves a different color. You can keep it open, or add a glass door. Adding some new knobs and handles will improve the look even more. You can go basic, or get really fancy with some high-end hardware, depending on the style of your home.

Give the Entrance a Makeover

Brighten the entrance to your home by painting the door. Choose an accent color from the rest of the front of the house. Add brand new hardware for a totally new, finished look. Place potted plants on either side of the door, or if you have wide steps, place them on the steps. Paint railings with fresh paint, being sure to scrape off the old paint first. Place solar lights along your walkway to add even more brightness. Replacing your mail box will also add character and instant curb appeal to your home. Be sure your house number can be seen from the road by placing large numbers on both your mail box and the house.

Organize Closets

People, especially women, always take closet space into consideration when looking for a house to buy. Purchase closet organizers and have them installed, or install them yourself. Then organize those closets and get rid of everything you don’t actually use. This will make your closets seem much larger and add so much more storage space by utilizing empty spaces in the closets. Alternately, if you have two closets in one bedroom, take the doors off one closet and turn that one into an office. There are “office in a closet” kits that come with shelves, and a deeper shelf to use as a desk. Add a desk chair, a computer and place a few books on the shelves and it looks like you have a home office, virtually creating a whole new room within a room.

 

 

Why I LOVE my Crock pot and reasons you might too!

If it seems like you never have time for a homemade meal, a crockpot may be the answer. When you think crockpot you might be thinking it is something your grandmother used. Crockpot recipes have come a long way since then. Today you can find posts of fabulous slow cooker meals getting a lot of attention on social media sites. Here are just a few reasons why you may want to add a crockpot to your kitchen:

1.  They are inexpensive. You can find a crockpot for about $25.

2. You can put your food in the crockpot in the morning and by dinner time the meal is DONE.

3. Using a crockpot cooks the food slowly and can improve the flavor.

4. It is easy cleanup, only one pot.

5. You can cook just about any meal. A crockpot is not just for soups and stews. Did you know that you can make brownies? A whole chicken? Brisket? Pulled Pork?

6.  Your house will smell wonderful while your meal is cooking!

What is your favorite crockpot recipe?

Got Solar? Benefits and Pitfalls of Solar Power

Everywhere you turn people are saying “go green”. More and more people are looking for alternatives to heat and power their homes. One alternative is solar energy. There are both benefits and pitfalls to solar energy.

The Benefits

•Solar power is predictable. It is easy to predict how much electricity your system will produce because the amount of sunlight that hits your roof doesn’t vary that much. This means it is also easy to predict how much you will save in electric bills.

•Solar power will lower your electric bill. Solar power will offset the usage of conventional electricity especially in places where the price for grid power is high — like California, Hawaii and much of the northeast.

•Solar power is safe and clean. Solar energy systems produce emissions-free electricity.

•Installing solar panels may also help you qualify for a tax credit. For more information on energy tax credits click here.

The Pitfalls

•Solar power can be predictable but it is also variable. In other words, it can be predicted on a long term basis but not on a daily or even weekly basis. For example, solar panels won’t produce electricity at night.

•Solar power can be a more expensive alternative in the short term. The price of solar panels continue to fall but there are many aggressive financing options. If your state has no tax incentives and electricity prices are relatively low solar would be an expensive option for you.

•Some homes just don’t work. The roof must be in good condition with an unobstructed southern exposure. If the house is surrounded by trees and tall buildings solar panels will probably not work. A ground-mounted system is an option only if you have sufficient space in your yard.