How to Keep Yourself Safe in a Power Outage

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Whether it’s a bad storm or a downed utility pole, power outages can strike at any time. While most only last for a couple of hours, a prolonged power outage presents a whole host of obstacles. Here’s how to make sure your home and your family stay safe next time you lose electricity.

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How Can You Use Home Equity?

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

Many homeowners have heard that homeownership is a great investment. However, knowing why and how is a different story. This is especially pertinent when it comes to home equity, which is often a homeowner’s largest financial asset, and can make up over half of their net worth. But how can you use your equity to your advantage?

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3 Things to Know Before Flipping Your Home

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

By Damien Justus

Thanks to Reality TV, you can see people buying houses and flipping them for profit on cable television and even your local public network. While some of these shows tell you how much the people spend on each segment, others show this process as a seamless task that can be completed with almost no troubles. Experts come in to demolish the site overnight and the host gets to shop for trendy, beautiful replacements. Almost like magic, a new house appears, a huge amount of money is earned and everyone walks away happy.

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How to Clear Your Home of Allergens

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

If seasonal allergies have you sniffling, sneezing and rubbing your eyes, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans suffer from seasonal allergies, but there are things you can do to help keep culprits out of your home.

Below are a handful of quick and easy tips from Winstar Home Services to help homeowners prepare and upgrade their HVAC systems to handle allergens:

Keep a healthy level of humidity:

- Dust mites and mold love moisture. Keeping humidity around 30 to 50 percent helps keep them and other allergens under control.
- Use an exhaust fan when cooking, running the dishwasher, or bathing.
- Empty catch pans in your dehumidifier.

Dust and vacuum frequently: 

- Avoid using a dry cloth or feather duster, as they tend to push allergens back into the air. Instead, clean hard surfaces, floors and window shades/blinds weekly with treated dust rags, damp mops or damp rags.
- Hardwood, tile and linoleum are ideal for chronic allergy sufferers, but if a home has carpet, be sure to vacuum carpeted areas weekly. Vacuum and wash rugs regularly as well.

Ensure proper ventilation: 

- To combat indoor allergies such as mold, dust and animal hair, open your windows and doors and turn on any fans to help blow away allergens.
- If outdoor allergies are a problem, close windows and rely on air conditioning or use pollen proof screens to combat pollen that might come through open windows.
- Change air filters frequently to ensure that your HVAC system efficiently removes contaminates from your indoor air.
- The highest quality filters, called HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, can remove almost all particulates and contaminants.
- Install an air purification system.

Update and/or cover your bedding: 

- Use anti-allergy pillow, mattress and box spring covers on all bedding.
- If you have wool or feather bedding, consider replacing with synthetic materials.

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Refresh Your Home, Room by Room

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Spring is a sensible time to refresh and restore your home after heavy indoor use during winter. It's also an opportunity to conduct overdue home maintenance and achieve a sense of accomplishment.

Tackle the project room by room with these tips from the experts at Office Depot to make the work feel more manageable and ensure you complete a thoroughly satisfying job.

Entryway
The main entrance, whether it's the front door or a mudroom entrance off the garage, tends to become a dumping ground where items are shed with each trip through the door. You may have to wade through some clutter to make headway, but after a thorough cleaning of the furniture, floors and walls in this space, your next challenge is making sense of all the mess.

One solution is assigning designated storage spaces for each family member. A series of plastic storage boxes or cubby-style organizers can help contain possessions like shoes, backpacks, handbags and more. Rely on stylish hooks or a coat tree for extra storage. Put your finishing touch on the freshly cleaned entryway with some pops of color and personality, such as cheerful wall art and a welcoming rug.

Home Office
If there's any room that comes close to the clutter of the entryway, it's the home office. A major difference is that generally, office messes come in the form of paperwork, and paper can actually be organized quite easily.

Sorting is the best first step, so you know exactly what you're up against. Create piles for all the different types of paper you're likely to encounter, from bills and to-do lists to the kids' school work. Separate other items by category, such medical records and financial documents or art supplies and books, into piles of their own.

There are dozens of options when it comes to home filing systems. Consider keeping current documents in a location you can access at your fingertips, such as a hanging file drawer or a desktop filer. Labeled tabs and color-coded folders can help make frequently used documents more easily accessible.

For archival materials, such as tax returns and insurance policies that you're likely to consult infrequently, a secure but separate storage solution makes more sense. Drawer labels and colored hanging file pockets paired with a categorical or alphabetical organization system can make it easy to dispose of unwanted clutter without tossing important papers.

Once you've dealt with all the paperwork, don't overlook important details like dusting the computer desk and screen to make your freshly cleaned office extra inviting. Adding a stylish, functional centerpiece can also help you stay organized now and in the future.

Kitchen
Because it's likely the most used room in the house, the kitchen sees a fair bit of cleaning year-round. However, in any busy household it's easy to let deeper cleaning slide. While you're tackling the rest of the house, take time to give the kitchen its due. Mop the floors, disinfect all surfaces and remove clutter that has accumulated, including old and out-of-date food from the refrigerator and pantry.

Because consumables are such an integral part of this space, it's a good idea to use green cleaning products that won't leave harmful residues on your cooking surfaces or distribute contaminants into the air.

Bedrooms
When warm spring weather arrives, throwing open the windows to circulate fresh air can be one of the most welcoming ways to wake up the bedroom after long winter months. Freshly washed linens and a flipped or rotated mattress can also give the room a freshness you can see and feel.

Beyond the typical chores like vacuuming and dusting, don't forget dusty baseboards and make sure to wipe down any glass or mirrored surfaces for extra shine. Another way to make a big difference is organizing items that exceed the storage capacity of your furniture. In the bedroom itself, a trunk at the foot of the bed or a wardrobe organizer that complements your other furnishings is a smart bet.

In the closet, you can repurpose common office supplies and organizers to make the most of limited space. For example, adhesive hooks are perfect for handbags, necklaces and scarves. Lightweight shelving or cubbies make it easy to confine shoes, and for an assortment of accessories and knick-knacks, try stacking plastic bins. Another idea to maximize drawer space in your dresser: move undergarments and socks into a portable storage cart with trays or drawers that fits neatly in the closet.

Multi-Purpose Rooms
Sometimes space dictates that each room in the house cannot be dedicated to just one purpose, but combining multiple spaces – such as a home office and craft room, den or storage area – can often lead to clutter accumulating. Start by organizing things into piles based on which part of the space is best suited for each item. 

Also, take time to check for broken items or ones you haven't used in a while and determine what can be repaired, donated or discarded. Once everything has been properly sorted, store any items that didn't previously have a home. Hanging items that are used often for crafting is one way to make creative use of your space and free up space for additional furniture or storage, such as shelving or attractive totes.Source: OfficeDepot.com.

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How to Decide If Your Dream Home Is a Good Deal

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

By Jessica Thiefels

It's an amazing neighborhood, the price is right—but is the house your dream home?

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Tips for Homebuyers and Sellers This Spring

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

Spring is here, and so is spring home-buying and -selling. Buyers and sellers preparing to take action this season should put those plans into play now—according to Zillow Group’s Report on Consumer Housing Trends, the No. 1 regret for both buyers and sellers is “not starting their home search or prepping their home to sell soon enough.”

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Know Your Real Estate: 5 Researching Tips for Homebuyers

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

By Dixie Somers

Being a first time homebuyer can be an intimidating prospect; it seems like there's so much to learn! The process doesn't get less challenging the second or third time around, but here are five tips to help you research and prepare for your next home buying experience.

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Home Renovations That Can Hurt (and Help) Property Value

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

By Brooke Nally

If you’re into renovation projects, then updating and revamping your home can be a lot of fun. But before you get too excited about knocking down walls and setting up a custom movie room, you might want to consider resale value. Flashy renovations don’t always yield the best returns, so you’ll need to take care when picking projects.

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The 5 Best Money Tips to Teach Your Kids

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

By Barbara Pronin

The money habits children develop while they’re young can help form habits that guide their financial future, and the younger they are when they learn good money habits, the more likely they are to value them.

Financial editors at the money and investment site, The Motley Fool, suggest the five most important money tips you can teach kids at an early age:

1.  Money grows – It has the potential to earn you more if you stow it properly. Show your kids that if you put $500 into a savings account at just one percent interest annually, you will have $552 in ten years with no more effort on your part. As your kids get older, you can explore more lucrative earnings efforts, including investment opportunities.

2.  Look for value – There’s nothing wrong with buying what you want, but you can make the effort to spend less for it if you wait until it goes on sale or consider a store brand instead of a name brand. You can show kids how this works with a trip to the supermarket, and teach them to research the differences between products.

3.  Saving is less expensive than borrowing – Kids, like many adults, want what they want when they want it. They may not have access to credit cards, as adults do, but next time they want something they don’t have enough money for, offer to lend it to them. But charge interest. Once kids see that borrowing entails extra cost, they may see the value of saving up.

4.  Your friend’s money is none of your business – When your kids are trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses,’ explain that they have no idea how much their friends have or where there money goes or is coming from. It’s wise to focus on your own situation, rather than on someone else’s.

5.  Know that your time has value – Kids should be willing to work to earn money, but understand that their time has value. Selling lemonade on a quiet cul-de-sac with little foot traffic, for example, may not be a good investment of their time. Having a strong work ethic will be valuable all their lives, but they should understand that time and effort have worth.

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