Archive for the ‘Homeowners Corner’ Category

Top 6 Homeowner’s Insurance Coverage Tips

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Top 6 Homeowner's Insurance Coverage Tips

Buying your own home can be the biggest decision you ever make, besides deciding on your spouse or partner. Of the many things to take into account before you purchase your home, the effectiveness and cost of your homeowner insurance ranks high on the list.

Not only can homeowner insurance in some areas be hard to get, in most areas the premiums are usually more than you may expect. In addition, you can expect to pay more if you ever have to use your insurance.

This is why I’m here to help you today in this important area, by bringing your homeowner’s insurance to your attention. After you read this friendly reminder, I recommend reviewing your current coverage to make sure you are in good shape before you need to use your insurance.

Here are six of the most common situations you can encounter as a homeowner, which can cause you to pay more for insurance, or lose your insurance coverage altogether:

Insurance Tip #1) Dog and Animal Bites

As a responsible pet owner, you have to take steps to keep your pets safe, especially if they live outdoors. However, you have to consider the safety of others too. Close to 1 Million people a year in the US suffer animal-related injuries that require medical attention. When you call your insurer in the case that your pet injures someone, they will pay for that person’s injuries. Afterward, it’s common for the insurer to ask that you get rid of the animal, or you may risk getting dropped by them, making it difficult for you to insure your pet.

Insurance Tip #2) Sewer System Issues

Whether you have a septic tank or city sewer service, you are ultimately responsible for the part of the system that is on your property. Since most homeowner’s policies do not offer sewer system protection up front, many people may not be covered for sewer problems and not even know it.

Insurance Tip #3) High End Items and Jewelry Coverage

If your valuables are damaged due to a fire, flood, burglary or a disaster, it’s too late to get coverage for items you thought were already covered by your main policy, but are not. To protect valuables, it’s almost always required, and a smart move if not required, to purchase a separate policy for them.

Insurance Tip #4) Construction Theft, Damage and Risk

With home ownership comes repairs and improvements. While many areas of construction may be covered by your insurance, some may not be covered. It’s wise to know before you begin construction. As a homeowner, you may want to make improvements that increases your home’s value. In this case, it’s important to protect yourself from construction-related issues like construction theft, property damage and the general risk of having workers on your property.

Insurance Tip #5) Pool and Trampoline Injuries

One of the great perks of owning your own home is having fun in the sun in your back yard. Just be aware of the injuries and liabilities this can bring, including pool accidents, trampoline injuries and even cook-out mishaps. With the right coverage, you back yard can always be fun.

Insurance Tip #6) Roof Claims

The roof on your home takes a beating. Between the blistering sun in summer, frigid conditions in winter, plus damage from windstorms, lightning and hail, your roof is arguably the most important part of your home. Depending on your insurance carrier, when you file a roof claim for damage, many carriers will want to give you what they call the “actual value” for your roof replacement, which is different from the “replacement cost.” Consult your agent about your coverage now, so you are covered in the event you are faced with roof repairs or replacement. This one step alone can save you big bucks down the road.

When in doubt about whether you are covered for these areas enough or at all, your insurance agent will lay it all out for you. Insurance is one of those things we don’t want to pay for. However, if you’re under-insured, you could end up paying much more in the end.

My recommendation, so you have protection and peace of mind, is to sit down with your agent every six months and review your coverage. This way, when you need to make a claim, you won’t have to pay out-of-pocket expenses.

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7 Tips for Outsmarting Robo-Calls & Spam Emails

Monday, August 14th, 2017

7 Tips for Outsmarting Robo-Calls & Spam Emails

Are you getting tired of all those fake robo-calls to your home phone or cell phone? They can be as simple as trying to trick you into signing up for a different home security system, or as dangerous as falsely proclaiming you owe the IRS money and they are suing you, and the caller says they will help.

What about those SPAM emails that tell you have $500,000 waiting to be transferred to your bank account, or your computer has a virus and they will fix it for a fee?

If you’re like me, you got tired of all this a long time ago. So what can you do to protect yourself, and not get taken advantage of by scammers, rip-off artists and thieves?

Follow these 6 Tips to avoid getting ripped off by scammers:

Scammer Tip #1: Always trust your gut.

If it doesn’t feel right, just hang up the phone or delete the email. If you still don’t feel right, try…

Scammer Tip #2: Do a quick online search.

Search on the company or person that’s trying to scam you. Simply enter the name of the person or company, followed by the words “rip-off” or “review” before their name in the search box. You’ll probably see lots of comments about the same scammer, and it’s likely you’ll find out what they are doing. You can always check the Better Business Bureau too. This is where a lot of people go first to report a complaint about a business or person trying to scam others.

Scammer Tip #3: Let your good judgement prevail.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Realize that no one is going to give you $500,000 for doing little to nothing, or offer to pay you 12% per month on your money, over the phone or by email.

Scammer Tip #4: Don’t believe caller ID.

Many people don’t realize this, but new technology enables scam artists to fake their caller ID status. They can make their phone call look like a trusted company or person you know. When in doubt, call your local police department to report suspicious scammer activity.

Scammer Tip #5: Beware of fake check and bank wire schemes.

Don’t deposit a check and wire the money back to the scammer if someone asks you to do so. There is no reason to deposit a check from someone you don’t know. If the check you deposited is fake you are still responsible for the money sent by wire.

Scammer Tip #6: It’s not free if you have to pay for it.

If someone calls you about a prize you won, be wary and skeptical. If you really won a prize it’s free… never pay for the prize. With legitimate contests, you are never required to buy anything or pay to enter, much less pay to claim your prize.

Scammer Tip #7: Be a prepared citizen in 2017.

In today’s world, scammers are everywhere. Your best defense is knowledge. You can get yourself up to date with the latest scams by signing up for free scam alerts at

How To Save 10% Per Year On Your Home Energy Bill

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

How To Save 10% Per Year On Your Home Energy Bill

How would you like to save 10% on your energy bill each and every year? Who wouldn’t, right?

According to you can save 10% on your electric bill by simply turning your AC thermostat up 7 to 10 degrees for 8 hours a day from it’s normal setting.

You stand to save even more by turning off the AC completely when you leave the house for work.

This can be done manually, but programmable thermostats will avoid any discomfort by returning temperatures to normal before you wake or return home.

Also, according to This Old House, avoid setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and higher electric bills.

During winter time, by closing your chimney’s damper, you can save close to 10% on heating that would normally go up the chimney.

When buying new appliances, look for the EnergyStar seal. By making this smart choice, you can save $80/year on your refrigerator, plus another $110/year on operating your washing machine. You can also save $30/year operating your dishwasher.

When you pick up these new appliances, your energy savings can pay for your fridge in about five years, pay for your washing machine in eight years and pay for your dishwasher in eight years.

Want to save even more? Many old-style water heaters with the big tank can cost a fortune, especially if you have a large family. Instead, you can install an energy-efficient water heater that only comes on when you need it, saving you on electric and water, that can pay for the heater in three to four years.

5 Tips For Investing In Rental Properties

Saturday, June 10th, 2017

5 Tips For Investing In Rental Properties

Have you ever considered investing in rental properties?

Having a few income-generating properties in your portfolio is a great way to supplement your income, build wealth and set up your family’s next generation financially.

If you like the idea of having properties you own, that generates income for you each month…

Here are 5 tips when investing in rental properties:

Rental Property Tip #1: The goal is to earn a profit.

It is critical you start with this mindset before dropping a dime into a property. A rental property that puts you more in debt, without having the upside of profit that gives you passive income, is not a smart move.

Rental Property Tip #2: Pick good houses in good neighborhoods.

As you can imagine, there is no sense in becoming a landlord in a bad neighborhood. When you focus on acquiring quality properties, you will usually attract better tenants who appreciate you and have a greater profit potential.

Rental Property Tip #3: Know where you buy.

You want to be the expert in your town when it come to real estate. You should know the key numbers like… average sales prices, taxes, rental income, vacancy rates and handyman service fees.

Rental Property Tip #4: Don’t pay retail prices unless it’s a sweet deal.

Buy properties that are undervalued, that is where your money will be made. Try to envision what the place could be like with a little work, and not necessarily what it looks like now.

Rental Property Tip #5: Become a student of real estate.

Learn as much as you can about investing in real estate in your area. Read books, listen to podcasts and speak with and interview other investors. An educated investor is a wealthy investor.

Then get out there and pick up your first rental property. You will learn more by getting started doing than by being stuck in studying mode that any other approach.

When Are New Mortgage Points Tax Deductible?

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

When Are New Mortgage Points Tax Deductible

Most of us know we can deduct mortgage interest on our taxes each year. But what are the rules when it comes to deducting “points” paid on your new mortgage?

First lets talk about what points are.

Points are charges that are paid by a borrower, you, to get into a mortgage.

Points are considered prepaid interest. Generally speaking, because points are prepaid interest, you must deduct them over the term of the mortgage.

However the IRS says you may be able to deduct the points in the year of the actual payments, as long as you meet the following requirements:

1. The loan is for your primary residence.

2. Paying points is common in your area.

3. You use the cash method of accounting.

4. Points were not used for items like appraisal, inspection, title and attorney fees.

5. You brought the funds at closing and did not borrow the funds from a lender.

6. The points were computed as a percentage of the principal of the mortgage.

If you answer yes to all of these questions, then you can deduct the points paid for the year in which the payment was made.

5 Ways to Avoid Costly Mistakes and Save More Money (Part 3)

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

5 Ways to Avoid Costly Mistakes and Save More Money Part 3

This month I’m continuing my special segment for homeowners, to help you keep more cash in your pocket. These tips will help you save money and avoid mistakes that cost you money.

See how many of these money saving tips you’re already doing, and how many mistakes you may be making now.

Keeping More Cash Tip #1: Don’t Ignore Mold

If you see mold near water pipes, waste lines, ice maker lines or plumbing fixtures, chances are you have a leak somewhere. To find the problem, let the water run while you check for water or damp spots. Remember that water can travel in any direction if it gets sucked into material like drywall or carpeting.

Keeping More Cash Tip #2: Inspect Water Heaters For Leaks

Water heaters can leak from the drain or relief valves, which are easy to replace. If a leak is coming from the tank, it’s time to take action. Over the years, tanks can crack from rust developing. Don’t ignore puddles or wet spots. A damaged tank will leave you with a flood on your hands sooner or later.

Keeping More Cash Tip #3: Replace Old Circuit Breakers

In one of our previous issues of Financial Fitness Magazine, we talked about how to troubleshoot lighting and appliances, and how you can sometimes just reset the breaker. However, when a breaker trips again and again, it needs to be replaced, or you risk serious damage or even fire.

Keeping More Cash Tip #4: Pests Like Older Houses

It’s always a good idea to occasionally take a screwdriver and poke around the wood around your windows, doors and closets. Hard wood is what you want to see. If your screwdriver goes into the wood easily, you could have bugs that eat wood, making a meal on your wood.

Keeping More Cash Tip #5: Prepare When On Vacations

If you go on a vacation with your family for more than a week, it’s a good idea to prepare your home for being left alone. It’s smart to turn off the water main. Also be sure to close and lock your windows and doors, including your garage door. This will prevent leaks from developing or getting out of hand while you’re gone, and make gaining entry to your home more difficult for would-be thieves or animals.

With all of these cases, and many more, it’s always a wise idea to be proactive when it comes to monitoring the condition of your home. Left alone, your home can turn into a money pit, and even a safety hazard, with you constantly doing emergency repairs. Be proactive. You’ll save a pile of cash and avoid a lot of headaches and stress.

5 Ways to Avoid Costly Mistakes and Save More Money (Part 2)

Friday, March 10th, 2017

5 Ways to Avoid Costly Mistakes and Save More Money Part 2

This month I’m continuing my special segment for homeowners, to help you keep more cash in your pocket. These tips will help you save money and avoid mistakes that cost you money.

See how many of these money saving tips you’re already doing, and how many mistakes you may be making now.

Then look out for 5 more tips coming your way in next month’s Financial Fitness Magazine.

Keeping More Cash Tip #1: Check The Reset Button.

When a light goes out, who do you call? If you’re like most, you call the local home repair company. They come out and check the situation, fix it for you, then leave you with a hefty bill. Next time a light goes out, check the GFCI, or ground fault circuit interrupter first. That’s the little red button on most newer plug receptacles and outdoor lighting. Press it, and most likely you’ll reset the GFCI and you’re good to go. Do this next time before you call for help, and you’ll save a pile of cash.

Keeping More Cash Tip #2: Test the Outlet.

Ever have one of your electronic devices stop working out of the blue? It can happen any time. Before you assume the electronic device is broken, and you go out and buy another, try this instead. Unplug the device and plug in a lamp or clock in the same outlet. If the lamp works and the clock shows the time, your outlet is fine, and the outage was just a momentary glitch. This is another way to save cash when you would usually call an expensive repair man, for something that is really simple to check.

Keeping More Cash Tip #3: Flip the Breaker.

Staying with my last example, if you find the lamp or clock does not work, don’t throw them away. Leave them plugged in, and find the box in your home where the circuit breakers are located. You’ll see all the switches will be in the same direction. When you see one that is in the opposite direction, you may have had a power surge that tripped that circuit breaker. Just flip that one breaker in the same direction as the others, and you should be good to go, without calling anyone.

Keeping More Cash Tip #4: Fixing Leaking Doors.

Do you sometime see water coming in from under an outside door, when it rains hard for a while? Do you sometime feel a cool or warm breeze coming up from the threshold? Leaving this situation alone can cost you money as cool or warm air leaves your home. Water leaking in can cause damage that will need to be repaired. Instead, get a screwdriver and adjust the screws on the threshold. As you do, the metal piece raises so it is closer to the bottom of your door. This will save you money by stopping water from coming in and stopping your AC or heated air from leaking out.

Keeping More Cash Tip #5: Inspect Your Gutters.

During different times of the year, debris from trees can collect in your home’s gutters. As this builds up, the gutters can’t do their job effectively. Let this build up for a long time, and you can develop leaks that can make their way into your home. In severe cases, the weight of debris can bring down your gutters, requiring a repair company to come to your location and fix it. As usual, when you call a service company to come to your home, you can expect a hefty bill. It makes sense to clean your gutters regularly, so you can keep more cash in the bank.

5 Ways to Avoid Costly Mistakes and Save More Money (Part 1)

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

5 Ways to Avoid Costly Mistakes and Save More Money Part 1

With all of the expenses that come along with owning your own home, you must do what you can to minimize mistakes that cost you money, while always looking for ways to save any money you can.

Remember, saving your money, even if it is only a little bit at a time, can really add up. By the end of the year, you can actually save enough for an important home improvement, or enough to take your family on that big vacation they’ve always dreamed of.

This month begins my special segment for homeowners, to help you keep more cash in your pocket. My intent is to help you save more money and avoid mistakes that cost you money.

See how many of these money saving tips you’re doing, and also how many of these mistakes you may be making. Then look out for 5 more tips coming your way in next month’s Financial Fitness Magazine:

Keeping More Cash Tip #1: Is your fridge too warm or too cold?

With different family members in and out of your fridge many times a day, personal preferences may come into play, with some wanting certain things very cold, then others who change the setting back to warmer. Since many foods can spoil from being too cold or too warm, find a happy medium that will make your family happy, and save you money on wasted spoiled food. Also remember that a higher yet still cold setting can save you money every month.

Keeping More Cash Tip #2: Low-Flow Toilets and Showers.

The sources of water you use every day can really add up over the course of a month, and much more over the course of a year. If you live in an older home with old fixtures, making the decision to save all the water you can by replacing your old toilets and shower heads to newer “low flow” models will save you a pile of cash, while also helping to conserve one of our most precious resources, clean water.

Keeping More Cash Tip #3: Insulate Doors and Windows.

Whether it’s summer or winter, or any time in between, you are spending good money to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. Yet if your windows and doors let air from the outside in, and let your comfortable air from inside escape to the outside, you are letting your hard-earned money blow away with the wind. Do a yearly check to make sure your windows are insulated and close tightly, as well as seeing that any openings around your outside doors have the proper weather stripping.

Keeping More Cash Tip #4: Use Fans For Circulation.

Did you know that moving air helps to increase evaporation of moisture in the air in your home? If you use air conditioning regularly, you can make your family more comfortable by installing ceiling fans. Doing this will enable you to lower the setting on your air conditioner, keeping your home comfortable, while saving cash every month.

Keeping More Cash Tip #5: Keeping Walls Clean Without Paint.

If your family is anything like mine, they are always moving through the house with dirty hands, touching walls and light switches, creating ugly marks and fingerprints. Before you get the temptation to buy paint and repaint your interior, try a cloth with warm water and gentle soap first. Doing this will clean most marks off your walls. Then you can keep the $25 or more in your pocket that you would have spent on a can of paint, every time your walls and switch plates get dirty again.

7 Ways to Create Your Dream Home

Friday, January 13th, 2017

7 Ways to Create Your Dream Home

You shopped long and hard to find just the right home in just the right part of town. While you loved the location, you may have wanted to make a few improvements.

Here are my 7 best Dream Home tips for upgrading your home, while increasing its value at the same time:

1) Custom Wine Rack and Bar
If you like to entertain in your home, nothing is sure to turn heads like your own custom bar and built-in wine rack. This means no more having your guests going to the refrigerator full of leftover food, smelly cheese and vegetables that are two weeks old.

#2) Indoor and Outdoor Living
Many people enjoy spending time outside as much as they do inside. For some, this means living inside and outside all the time, with glass panel doors that open for easy access to the great outdoors and close when the weather is not so nice.

#3) Roll-Away Kitchen Cabinets
Sometimes it’s just you and your partner cooking in the kitchen. While you can just use your counter top when you have guests over for a larger party, your countertop space can quickly be used up. Now you can install roll-away sections that are cabinets with a countertop, which hides away under your main countertop.

#4) Mini Fridge for Above and Below
Do you have a multi-level home with floors above and a basement below? If so, you know how many times you have to travel up and down when you’re entertaining or just lounging around? Install a small mini-fridge upstairs and below, and what you need will always be just steps away.

#5) Do Something with Unused Space
Many homes have at least one area too small to do much with, yet big enough that it makes part of your home seem empty. A smart way to use extra space like this is to create a small playroom for the children, a small office or even small yet useful hidden sliding door closets for extra storage.

#6) Who Else Wants More Drawer Space?
For every set of cabinets you have in any room, whether in the bathrooms or the kitchen, there is always that wasted space between the cabinets and the floor. Smart homeowners turn this space into extra drawers that sure come in handy!

#7) Use the Space Under Your Stairs
Ever wonder what to do with that empty space under your stairs? Well creative homeowners use this space for all sorts of things, including a doggie apartment, a library for all their books, and even more cabinets and drawers.

While you’ll get to enjoy all the upgrades you make to your home, it makes financial sense to improve your property for when that day comes when you want to sell it and move someplace else. Most quality home improvements can give you a positive return on your investment when it comes time to sell.

What In the World is a Jumbo Loan?

Monday, December 12th, 2016


If you ever bought a house and worked with a mortgage professional, you may have noticed that some will try to dazzle you with fancy mortgage terms like “jumbo” or “conforming loans.”

Well what in the world is a jumbo loan? Let me try to make this as simple as possible for you, so you can make wise decisions when it comes to financing a new home.

The first thing you should know is that about 90% of all mortgages are backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (I’ll cover those in a future segment).

These two agencies buy, package and resell virtually any mortgage that adheres to what they call their “conforming loan guidelines.”

There is a maximum limit for conforming loans. In Honolulu it’s $721,000. Kauai is $713,000.The Big Island is $625,000. Maui comes in at $657,800. When mortgages exceed these limits, that’s when they are called Jumbo loans.

These Jumbo loans are not backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, so lenders typically will require a bigger down payment and are much more strict with qualifying requirements.

I brought you this look at Jumbo mortgages to expand your education and knowledge about what they are and how they work, in case you are ever in the position of using one.

As you can see, mortgages can get very large, depending on where you live and the kind of home you want to live in. Mortgages of this size and above can really affect your budget when you have to make payments each month for 20 or 30 years.

Just imagine what it would be like to have a mortgage like these and pay it all off not in 20 or 30 years… but in only 5 to 8 years? Do you think this sounds impossible?

Well I have good news for you. Not only is it possible to pay off a substantial long-term mortgage in only 5 to 8 years… hundreds of our 101 Financial students have done it.

How can you find out how to pay off your mortgage in only 5 to 8 years, while saving all those interest payments you would otherwise be making for 20 or 30 years?

I lay it all out for you, in my free online training called “Experiencing Financial Peace of Mind.”

Register to attend this free online training here.

During our free online training, we show people just like you how they can take control of their finances, and live better lives.

As part of the training, we go in-depth about how our students pay off their mortgages in a fraction of the time it would usually take, while they save 10s or even 100s of thousands of dollars of interest charges they would normally send to their banker.

There’s so much to share, I just don’t have the room for it all here. Claim your free spot for this training now. Then attend to get the whole story.

Do You Have a Budget For Your Home?

Thursday, November 10th, 2016


Whether you’re a new homeowner, or you’ve owned a home for decades, you know how a home can suck up every last dime you have if you let it.

Today we’re taking a look at ways you can apply a budget to your home, just like you do your personal finances.

Except this time, instead of having a budget that controls what you and your family spend on living expenses… we’re talking about having a budget for expenses related to your home.

Just like a traditional budget, where you know how much you bring in, and how much you can spend without going bankrupt… you must know how much money you have to spend on your home, so you don’t overspend and jeopardize your family budget for living expenses.

As you know already, your home will take any money you give it, and then demand more. The object is to not let your home expenses take over your entire family budget.

Here are 4 areas to watch with your home budget, where your home will want to take more money than it should:

#1: Fix Those Home Repairs Now

Though home repairs must be a part of your home budget, if you put off or ignore repairs that need to be made, the problem will only get worse, not better. That means when the time comes when you don’t have a choice but to make those repairs, it’s likely they will cost you 50% more, since you let the small repairs turn into major projects.

#2: Monitor The Cost of Your Utilities

Did you know you have control over how much you pay for utilities each month? Well you do, and it’s easier than you think. Does your family let the shower run a long time? Do you leave your home for days, with all the lights on? Do you water your yard for an hour, when it only needs 10 minutes? Paying attention to these areas will save you cash each and every month.

#3: Do You Pay For More Entertainment Than You Use?

These days many families have internet, cable, multiple smart phone data plans and satellite, as well as on-demand this and on-demand that. Do you have the super-duper deluxe package, yet you only watch 5 channels, and you go out to the movies? You could cut your home entertainment costs by 50% or more, by cutting your services to be in line with what you actually use.

#4: Make Your Mortgage Your Friend

Some people habitually pay their mortgage late. You have to pay your mortgage each month. Why not pay it on time, and save the late payment charge each month? Even better, when you make an additional payment to your principle, you will pay off your mortgage faster, and save a mountain of interest payments.

Now you know that your home should have a budget, too. When you put the attention you need to your home’s budget each month, you have also made your mortgage your friend.

7 Reasons To Have Your Home Inspected Annually

Friday, October 7th, 2016


Your home is probably the biggest investment you’ve ever made. In addition to the price of your home, you also incur interest charges from your mortgage for decades, and pay hefty insurance premiums and taxes.

When you decide it’s time to sell your home, to move into another area or to lease instead of own, you expect to receive a cash windfall from the sale. However, sometime this is not the case, due to problems with your home’s condition.

It can be difficult to assess the condition of your home just by looking at it from the street. Yet not knowing the current condition of your home can lead to many serious problems.

The best way to know for sure if your home is in good shape, or needs some attention, is to have a qualified, licensed home inspector take a thorough look inside, outside, above and below your home once a year.

Here are 7 big reasons to have your home inspected annually by a qualified professional, and protect your investment:

Reason #1) Outdated Electrical Systems In Older Homes:

If your home was built prior to 1970, it’s possible that the fuse box, the wiring in your walls and the entire electrical system could be dangerous. Pre-1970 homes and electrical systems were held to different standards than homes built more recently. These problems can lead to power outages and in the worst scenarios, electrical fires.

Reason #2) Leaky Water and Sewer Pipes:

Depending on the age of your home, and the part of the country where it was built, it’s possible that the pipes that supply water throughout your home can degrade and become pitted. Over the years, pipe joint connections can also degrade, which can lead to expensive repairs of not only your pipes, but walls, ceilings and flooring, too.

Reason #3) Sloping Grade Bringing Water Toward Home:

Over time, with weather and the seasons, the grade of your property can change. If the grade now has areas where it leads water toward your building instead of away from it, water can create serious damage. Your foundation can be compromised, allowing leaks to seep in your home and under the foundation. Water can also affect walls of your home that were not protected from the water flow.

Reason #4) Weathered Wood or Asphalt Roofing:

Asphalt roof shingles have been a popular product since the 1970s, as they can handle extreme heat and cold, while still maintaining protection for the wooden roof underneath. Some homes have even been built using wooden shingles, which give the house a nice appearance, but like asphalt shingles, wood shingles can break down, where they can crack and leak over time.

Reason #5) Textured Stucco On Spanish-Style Homes:

Many areas of the country are home to Spanish-style architecture, which includes the common use of stucco inside the home and on the exterior. As stucco ages, small pockets can form that catch water from rain. As this water remains in the stucco pockets over time, the water can find it’s way into cracks, leading to leaks and water damage.

Reason #6) Insect, Mold and Other Hidden Damage:

While you can’t see inside walls and wood structures, they can be affected by certain factors that can cause structural and health-related issues. Insects of all kinds, including termites, carpenter ants, bees and more, can build nests that damage the structure of your home. Mold from water leaks can take hold and grow, leading to respiratory problems for you and your family. If you live in an area prone to earthquakes, there could be damage that you can’t see, that can affect the structural integrity of the home.

Reason #7) Aged Furnaces, Heating and Cooling Systems:

Heating systems and furnaces in older homes suffer from fatigue just like any other system or structure that can deteriorate over time. With faulty heating systems, there is the risk of carbon monoxide or other dangerous elements entering the living space of your home. Older cooling systems can have an equally damaging impact on your home by not draining condensation properly, leading to leaks and mold in wood and walls.

This important look at what home owners can face when not knowing the condition of their houses is very real. My intent is to give you a wake up call, so you realize the benefit and necessity of having your home inspected annually.

As founder of 101 Financial, I’m in your financial corner. I want to see only the best for you. This is why I urge you to make plans now to get your home inspected. It would be sad to hear that the investment you’ve made over all these years would be for not, because the condition of your home doesn’t bring you the selling price you expect.

A New Kitchen Can Increase Your Home’s Value and Enjoyment

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Do you enjoy cooking for your family, your relatives and for friends around the neighborhood? How about the great get-togethers that happen around a home that smells like a gourmet restaurant?

If you like to eat out in restaurants every day, this tip is not for you. But if you value the time you spend in the kitchen creating new and delicious meals that are crowd and family pleasers, I’m here to tell you… Keep on cooking baby!

However, cooking is not nearly as much fun when you’re in a kitchen that looks like it’s from the 1960s. It’s a fact, that amateur home chefs have much more fun, and are more creative, cooking in a kitchen with all the new appliances, fixtures and “bells and whistles.”

What’s great is, while you’re enjoying your awesome kitchen… a kitchen your visitors want to hang out in because it’s so cool… you secretly think about how your new kitchen increased the value of your home by $40,000, $50,000 or more!

While it does cost you to totally remodel your kitchen, this cost is really an investment in your home. Not only will a modern kitchen with all the bells and whistles increase your home’s value… when you go to sell your home, your awesome kitchen could be the biggest selling point.

And that’s a big deal, since at any time there are 10s of thousands of homes for sale in any particular area. And when you want to sell, who’s homes do you think will sell the easiest? The home with the 1960s faded yellow appliances and the old school fake counter top laminates? Or the kitchen that looks like a studio for Food Network?

7 Summertime Tips for Homeowners

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Summer is a great time for family fun, picnics in the park, going to the beach and traveling to your favorite locations.

However, summer is also an important time for homeowners.

Here are 7 Summertime Tips all homeowners should pay attention to, if you want to save some cash, and keep your stress levels down:

Summertime Tip #1) Do a summertime audit of your insurance coverage.

While your family is enjoying time off from school, and spending time having fun in the sun, this time of year is a great time to check your home’s insurance coverage. One good storm can damage your home with flying objects, buckets of rain water leaking into home, trees falling on your home (or on your neighbor’s home) and more.

Summertime Tip #2) Give your air conditioning system a yearly checkup.

While we may not even think much about our air conditioners in cooler months, it’s something most of us can’t do without during the warmer months of summer. Many air conditioning contractors and service companies offer “summertime checkups” that can give you peace of mind that all is fine, or alert you to serious problems ahead, that a simple repair could help you avoid.

Summertime Tip #3) A clean home is a beautiful home.

During the cooler and darker days of winter, not many people spend time or effort cleaning the outside of their homes. Yet left to the elements, including pollution and shade that causes mold buildup, your home can start looking unkept. Taking the time to do a thorough cleaning of the outside of your home in summer (or have someone do it for you) can leave your home looking great all winter long.

Summertime Tip #4) Help your air conditioner help you.

Summer is also a great time to make sure that the cool air you are paying good money for is not just leaking out and cooling the entire neighborhood. Spending just one weekend making sure your windows seal properly, while caulking any openings you find in windows, siding and door frames, could save you hundreds of dollars over just one summer season.

Summertime Tip #5) Ensure peace of mind while you’re away.

Many families do a lot of traveling during the summer months. With no one to watch over your home, you may return with a number of unpleasant surprises. A smart move is to turn off the water to your home, or at least close the faucets going to your clothes washer. Another is to have a security system on your home, as well as a friend or neighbor who will watch for any suspicious activity or emergencies.

Summertime Tip #6) Keep your gutters clean and water-sealed.

Even if it isn’t the end of fall, leaves and debris can still accumulate in your home’s gutters. Then all it takes is a good storm to bring them down. Also be sure to seal all cracks and joints so water doesn’t escape where it can leak into your home.

Summertime Tip #7) Don’t forget to take a look at your roof.

The roof on your home takes the full force of winter weather, strong winds, and heavy rains. Roofing can also get baked with temperatures as high as 120 degrees. With all the work your roof does for you, it pays to climb up there while the weather is nice during summer to do a thorough inspection. Fix (or have a qualified professional fix) any issues you find, before they get out of hand and cost you big bucks.

Taking action on each of these smart money-saving and preventative moves during summer will ensure your home stays safe, sound and beautiful.

The savings you could enjoy by focusing on just half of these tips may well be enough for next summer’s big vacation.

5 Tips For Saving On Home Expenses Month After Month

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

As a homeowner, you know the bills and expenses you pay each month to maintain your home can get out of control. Especially if you ask yourself this question at the end of each month…

“Where did all that money go?”

Well today I’m here to help you reclaim some of that cash, especially the home expenses you have that happen every month.

Here are 5 smart tips for saving on your home expenses month after month:

Home Expense Savings Tip #1: Electricity.

If your electric bill is anything like most people’s, you could use some ideas for cutting that bill in a big way. So what can you do to shrink your electric bill every month?

Consider adding natural gas service. Do you know how much it costs to run an electric hot water heater day in and day out? It’s not cheap. With a natural gas “on demand” water heater, the gas only comes on when you turn the water on. And there is no tank to keep hot when you’re not using it, which is most of the time.

Then there’s all the other electric consumers you have in your home. Be sure to use energy efficient lighting, and have window shades to block the sun during the day. You’ll also want to have ceiling fans, and a smart thermostat that adjusts for day and night heating and cooling.

Home Expense Savings Tip #2: Perform preventative maintenance.

It’s a fact, it takes a lot less money to keep your home in good condition, than letting it get so bad you have to call a professional to fix it. It pays to have someone look at and tune up your appliances once a year. And to put a fresh coat of paint inside and out. Do this and you’ll feel like you’re living in a new home, for a long time, with minimal expense.

Home Expense Savings Tip #3: Do your own yard maintenance.

Have you added up how much it costs you each month for your lawn cutter guy, your pest control guy, your tree trimmer guy and your fertilizer guy to show up? Well you can do all yourself, and it’s not really that much to do. And the savings will really add up.

Home Expense Savings Tip #4: Shop around for insurance.

When you bought your home, did you check out what other companies were charging? I have news for you, many people don’t. They just go with the company “their mother” always used. Or the company that the lady down the block uses. Do your homework and you could save a pile of cash every year.

Home Expense Savings Tip #5: Don’t fall for extended repair plans and appliance insurance.

If you have ever accepted one of these “plans” you know it’s likely you never used it, though you pay for it, often monthly. You’ll save far more by having something fixed when it needs it, or buying a new item, than paying for “what if” appliance and services insurance that you’ll probably never use.

Home Expense Savings BONUS Tip #6: Pay down your mortgage so you can stop paying PMI.

If you didn’t put at least 20% down on your home when you bought it, it’s likely you’re paying Private Mortgage Insurance in every one of your mortgage payments. Pay as much as you can toward the principle on your loan, and your PMI payments will go away much sooner, saving you a boatload over the life of your mortgage.

As you can see, you stand to save a significant amount of cash by following any of the tips I’ve shared with you today.

Just imagine what these savings could add up to month after month, when you apply all of these tips? It could be enough to take a great trip, build an addition on your home, or even make your family’s savings much bigger than it is now.

7 Tips for Increasing the Value of Your Home

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

If you’re in the market to sell your home, or just want to prepare it so when that day comes, you can get the most out of your investment, you’ll want to remember my 7 Tips for Increasing the Value of Your Home…

Tip 1) Curb Appeal Speaks Volumes.

Any realtor will tell you, if you can make your home look like a million dollars when someone drives up, you’re on your way to increasing the value of your home. Just by adding some nice plants and maybe some decorative bricks or paver stones, you can have people thinking…”That’s the nicest house on the block.”

Tip 2) It’s Amazing What A Fresh Coat Of Paint Can Do.

While paint can protect your home for up to 10 years, it can get a bit weathered looking after just a few years in the hot sun, or after a few brutal winters. Hiring a quality contractor who uses premium paint can not only boost the value of your home, your house could become the star of the neighborhood.

Tip 3) How Old Does Your Kitchen Look?

Another focal point of a nice home is a well laid-out kitchen, with all the latest appliances and a comfortable kitchen living area. While buying all new appliances and cabinets is great, it’s a wonder what your kitchen could look like just by cleaning and refinishing what you have.

Tip 4) Are Your Floors ‘Old School’?

There used to be a time when shag carpeting was all the rage. Times have changed though. By tearing out old musty carpets, along with cheap linoleum flooring, and reflooring with today’s beautiful and low-maintenance hard wood and laminate wood floors, you stand to increase your home’s value significantly.

Tip 5) Insulation and Climate Control.

Gone are the days of having “window rattlers” to cool you, and dusty and dangerous heaters to keep you warm. Today’s electric and natural gas-powered climate control systems will keep you comfortable all year long. Plus, you’ll reduce your electric bill and add to your home’s value measurably by being more energy efficient.

Tip 6) Improve Your Indoor And Outdoor Lighting.

With the emergence of LED lighting at affordable prices, there’s no longer the need for high-wattage incandescent bulbs that give harsh light and generate heat. Plus, LED lighting can typically last up to 10 times longer, saving you the hassle and expense of replacing 20 light bulbs, 2 or 3 times a year.

Tip 7) Create a Beautiful Landscape For You And Your Neighbors.

Nothing improves a home’s appearance and value like a striking landscape. While it does take a few dollars to install and maintain a grand, lush landscape… this addition will make you feel better about your home every day. And make your neighbors and visitors jealous every time they drive by your home.

Some realtors estimate that by making the improvements you’ve read today, depending on the local real estate market, that your efforts could increase the value of your home as much as 25%.