Entries in home (24)


Starting an Emergency Fund

Finances - Emergency Saving Funds

Starting an emergency fund is an essential part ( or SHOULD be) of everyone's financial situation. It helps provide a cushion should an emergency arise where you need it! The reasons for using an emergency fund are endless, so it's critical to prepare and build an emergency fund to avoid letting unexpected expenses lead you to financial ruin. 

HOW to START/Build an emergency fund: 

Starting an emergency fund can be as easy as splitting a portion of your direct deposit into a savings account or money market account. It can also consist of setting up a recurring transfer from your checking account into a savings or money market account each week, every other week or monthly. In addition to splitting a portion of your direct deposit into an emergency savings account, tally up your expenses at the end of the month, and compare with your net income. 

If you are not sure where the funds for this emergency fund will come from, re-evaluate your spending habits and your budget. Start with a small amount of savings each month, but try to increase it whenever possible. And anytime you get a tax refund or bonus, add it to your fund. And gradually boost your savings by selling items you don't need, holding a yard sale or putting change into a jar every evening — anything to slowly accumulate cash. Make small goals at first, such as saving $1,000, and then work your way up to a reserve to cover several months' worth of expenses. While your savings goal will depend on your income and expenses, a general rule of thumb is to save enough to cover three to six months' worth of expenses. 

5 Money-Saving Tips for Spring House Projects


Spring is a common time of year to begin work on a home. The following five project ideas from Howmuch.net are designed to not only help a home look its best, but to also save your clients money:

1. Siding repair

A home’s siding is important both for its optimum function and for curb appeal. But repairing the siding in a timely way can help home owners save money too. The longer a home owner waits to repair their siding, the more likely it is that water can infiltrate, rotting the wood beneath and causing problems like black mold. At the same time, the home could be losing value if the curb appeal is going down.

For the latest information on the value of remodeling, check out our Remodeling Impact Report.

Costs: The average cost to repair siding of nearly any type is about $300, with a full range of up to $1,000 for more invasive types of repairs.

Money-saving tips:

  • Do your best to color match the new siding to the old. If you’re able to do this, it can save you a lot of money on painting the section to match.
  • Remember that it’s always possible to paint any material from aluminum to fiber cement to help it match better and enable you to replace a smaller section.

2. Gutter Cleaning

The gutters do a lot to help protect your home. They help carry away moisture that could back up beneath your roofing shingles, damaging the wood below and causing leaks. Things like pine needles and leaves can clog up your gutters, causing them to overflow, which can lead to more costly repairs. By keeping the gutters clean, home owners can help save money on things like roof and foundation repair later on.

Costs: The average cost of cleaning gutters is between $100 and $140 for a two-story home with a normal amount of debris. Total costs range from $60 for a one-story home with short gutters to $500 for a multi-story home with clogged gutters and downspouts.

Money-saving tips:

  • Install a gutter guard over your gutters to help prevent them from clogging. This will save you money year round as it eliminates the need for cleaning and helps prevent the damage that clogged gutters can cause.

3. Attic insulation

Most homes are under-insulated, particularly those that were built prior to the 1960s. And even those that did have adequate insulation installed may not have the right amount any longer. Insulation can degrade over time, or be moved by contractors or pests. Having the right amount of insulation in a home can save home owners a lot of money on energy bills each year. At the same time, a well-insulated attic can help protect a home from problems like ice dams in the winter, which are one of the biggest causes of the need for roof repair. Adding additional insulation to an attic will also help keep a home more comfortable as well.

Costs: The average cost for installing attic insulation is around $897 for blown-in insulation of R-19 in 1,500 square feet. Total costs range from $617 for roll in insulation of R-13 installed DIY to $1,501 for fiberglass roll insulation of R-19.

Money-saving tips:

  • Have insulation applied to the underside of your roof decking as well. This area is commonly under-insulated, but can save owners a lot of money on energy costs by preventing your attic from becoming super heated in the summer and letting your warm air escape in the winter.
  • Check for local subsidies or grants for energy improvements that may help offset costs

4. Pest control

Pests may seem like just a nuisance, but they can cost home owners lot in time, money, and health if they don’t take care of them in a timely way. Pests can spread diseases, contaminate food, and eat the structure and integrity of a home. By taking care of pest problems as soon as they’re detected, home owners can help prevent more serious problems and repairs in the future.

Costs: The average costs of hiring an exterminator to deal with pests is between $250 and $300. Total costs range from $50 to $1200 depending on your location, the type of pest, and how extensive the infestation.

Money-saving tips:

  • The sooner you deal with a pest problem, the less costly it will be to contain. Consider using things like traps or diatomaceous earth to deal with minor issues yourself, before they become larger.

5. Stain the deck

The deck is an important part of a home’s curb appeal and enjoyment of the space. After a long winter, the deck may have sustained damage such as peel stain, which could lead to further problems down the road. By staining the deck in the spring, home owners not only are helping to maintain its good looks, but also preventing future problems like rotting wood, which could cost a lot more to repair.

Cost: The average cost of staining a deck is around $2 a square foot, assuming a deck of around 500 square feet. In most cases the cost will not be any higher than $400 for the total job.

Money-saving tips:

  • Power wash the deck yourself the day before it’s stained to help save on labor fees.
  • If you’re comfortable doing the work yourself, staining the deck DIY could help save you between 4 to 5 hours of labor costs.

Emergency Preparation Checklist

Are You Prepared?

 Are You Prepared?

 Get Started Building a Home Emergency Kit

Winter storm season is upon us and according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half the people in the U.S. do not have resources and plans in place to deal with an emergency. 

The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take now to help you prepare for an emergency. Depending on where you live, and the unique needs of your family, you might need different things in an emergency, but here are a few things that everyone should have in their home emergency kit.

Food and Water

  • Water, at least one gallon per person per day for a minimum of three days
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food per person
  • Manual can opener for canned food
  • Pet food and extra water


  • Flashlight
  • Cell phone with charger, inverter, or solar charger
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio (a NOAA Weather Radio suggested)
  • Extra batteries

Health and Safety

  • First aid kit
  • Medicines (three-day supply, minimum)
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

Storing and Maintaining Your Kit

Once your supplies are together, here are a few tips to keep your supplies ready:

  • Write the date you store food and water on all containers.
  • Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
  • Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers to protect from pests.
  • Change food, water, medicine and batteries ever six months.
  • Rethink your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.

Mobile Apps:

The Red Cross also has a number of free apps including:

  • Emergency app – Stay on top of severe weather and emergency alerts and gain access to safety information
  • First Aid app – Instant access to information for common first aid emergencies
  • Pet First Aid app – Important first aid information for your cat or dog

FEMA also has a mobile app to that includes safety and emergency preparedness as well as weather alerts, disasters resources and reports.

Other Resources:

By  on February 4, 2016


Smart Houses are Here to Stay! Just Ask Barbie

Even Barbie Has a Smart Home

Barbie’s Dreamhouse is now outfitted with voice-activated smart home commands, the toy manufacturer Mattel announced recently at the 2016 International Toy Fair in New York.

The Hello Barbie Dreamhouse includes Wi-Fi capabilities that allow users to connect to an app and use voice-recognition software to talk directly to the home and control it. It mimics smart home technology heading into real-life homes today, such as Siri working with Apple HomeKit-enabled products or Amazon’s Echo. For example, kids playing with Barbie’s Hello Dreamhouse can say: “Hello, Dreamhouse. Turn on the bedroom light,” and the lights will turn on. Other voice-activated controls include the elevator, the oven, and a whole-house "party mode" that makes the chandeliers spin and turns the stairs into a slide.
And if the smart home wasn’t enough, Barbie is also getting a drone/hoverboard. Mattel unveiled the Star Light Adventure RC Hoverboard RC drone, which Barbie stands on as it flies around the room, controlled by a remote. Both products will be available in fall 2016 – the Hello Dreamhouse for $299 and Barbie drone retailing for $59.99.

Why You Need a Home Inventory