Advice

Time to Check Your Credit Score

If you have a well-functioning brain, you know how important your credit score can is, and how it helps/hurts you. The higher your score, the lower the interest rates you will receive for credit cards, loans, etc. It is becoming even more important than ever as employers and landlords are starting to ask for this information.

Most people do not know their credit score, and it’s something everyone should know. Only one in five consumers check it annually, which shows their payback patterns to banks and other lenders.

For those one in five, they are often surprised by their findings. Sometimes there is an old bill at the bottom of your desk you forgot to pay, and after a few months it was sent to collections and is now showing up on your report.

Even the tiniest of bills that go unpaid can leave a big mark on your credit score.  Unpaid traffic tickets, utility bills, overdue library book fees, and medical expenses are examples of little things that often go overlooked and end up penalizing you in the end, as much as 100 points. For the average life of a 30 year loan, this one mistake could potentially cost you as much as $9,000.

Credit takes quite a while to build, so it is always worth your time to keep a watchful eye on your bills. Check your credit reports regularly at AnnualCreditReport.com. This site allows you one free report each year. When looking at your report, check it thoroughly for false credit card accounts, and payments that are marked as late, but weren’t.

Big mistakes in your report will cost your score significant points, which essentially measures your risk. If your credit scores tanks too low, it could cost you your loan application. If you find an error, notify your creditors and financial institutions immediately.

Delinquencies have the largest negative black mark on your credit score, because your payment history accounts for a significant 35% of your score. Pay them in full!

If...

DIY Staging When Trying to Sell

Technical staging can be the difference between your house selling quickly and sitting on the house for months. We all know staging does help, but which staging projects help the most? Here are the best six projects to do when you are trying to sell your house.

Clean

Dirty homes give the potential buyers the idea that your home isn’t taken care of. If thorough cleaning isn’t one of your skills, then hire a professional cleaning service to clean the hell of the place. Make sure they get windows and light fixtures. Before each showing, take the time to wipe off every surface, window sill, and it wouldn’t hurt to add an air freshener.

Remove personal mementos and décor

Pack up your wedding photos and get them out. The buyer doesn’t want to see your photos, they want to envision theirs. This will also help ease the emotional attachment of the home.

Reduce, remove, and let go

Having too much stuff around the house can bring the size down a bit, and even make it feel overcrowded. Figure out what stuff that is lying around has a specific home or not. Put everything where it belongs. Once everything is out of the way, take back out a few items that make for a good picture, like a nice painting, or a vase. Put the items in rooms you want people to look at, so it’s attracting them. You can also use them to distract from one part of the room. If there’s a low-grade piece of furniture, you can place a rally nice flower in the room to be the room’s attraction.

 New paint never hurts

Having a fresh coat of paint, does wonders for a home. It brightens the room, kills most odors, and makes it feel new. Even touching paint up can make miracles happen, but...

What is NOT Covered in Home Insurance

If you’ve got homeowners insurance, you can probably sleep at night. What you may not know, are the things homeowners insurance doesn’t cover. Read this list and know what is not covered. It doesn’t matter if you live in San Francisco which makes you more liable to earth quakes, or not, or in a valley during the rainy season. Mind this little list and start asking your insurance agent to close these gaps to get a better rate.

Flooding- No one thinks it can happen to them, until it’s too late. Ask the people who’ve been affected by hurricane Joaquin and Sandy. Even if you live in a local flood zone or not, fork over the money for flood insurance, because most home ownership insurance doesn’t cover flood. As unlikely as this may be, you’ll be happy when it saves your butt down the road.

Mold – with moisture comes spores, and not just one. Mold doesn’t ask permission to arrive, and where to stay. It goes where it will which is usually in air ducts, and behind your drywall. The truth is everyone has mold, but it is the harmful kind that can be dangerous. Some of the side effects can be skin irritation, sore throat, nasal congestion, and wheezing. These can really have a severe impact on kids. Depending on your mold will determine if you are covered, but if it’s a large amount, and an unfriendly kind, this will be paid for by none other than you.

Sewer backups – Sewer backup damage can be a big pain. This is water damage coming from the ground. Exactly like floods, these aren’t covered by the typical home owner policy. Don’t risk your personal items thinking this won’t happen to you. It happens more often than you realize, so get yourself that extra payment every month and save your butt.

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Low Budget Ideas for Your Own Space

Have you ever wanted your own “man cave”, but don’t have a basement? I don’t literally mean a cave where only men can relax and threw a few back. I am talking about your own personal sanctuary where you do whatever helps you relax. Whether it is going in to read a book, make some pottery, have a beer or two, or whatever it is you do to escape the day.

Whether you already have a shed, or are building one, you will find all the ideas of how to remodel them and make them truly yours.

Go vintage – if you have an affinity for old classics, an old airstream type of thing should work. Painting it will give it a feel that it’s yours. Don’t be boring with the paint either, spice it up with multiple colors.

Hang it – Having a wall(s) that you can hang anything to would be quite helpful. Hanging corkboard inside is what I am getting at. There are a plethora of options with corkboard, like hanging fabric so it looks like a wall, magazine clippings of the workout you want to start. The beauty of this is, once you get tired of what is up there, taking it down is much easy than repainting.

Go green – Who doesn’t like plants? Plants can make any room feel a bit homier. Plus, they also look good! Be sure to get the low maintenance plants or else they will become a pain.

Go outside – get a few lawn chairs and put them outside. Maybe while you’re painting someone will come and join you. Adding curb appeal will add another element to your shed.

Do the ceilings – Hang up flags, Christmas lights, drapes, etc. Hanging various things in a room helps to make it feel bigger.

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8 Keywords to Use to Find a Home Faster

Home Hunting is a process and it may take quite a while to find something you really like. If you are not having any luck, try these words in your search to uplift it a bit. Today’s market is a seller’s market, meaning there is a large inventory and homes sell rather quickly. When looking for a home, don’t make your search too large, or too small.

Here are some of the best hidden words to use when home hunting. These will help you guide your search in the direction needed to find what you want.

“Move-in ready” vs. “fixer uppers”

Properties that tend to be move-in ready have hidden key words in them such as, “showplace”, “modern”, and “pride”. On the other hand, words like, “TLC”, “vintage”, and “handyman special” will ensure this house needs some work, if not a lot. A word such as “black canvas” typically means the property has been completely gutted, and is ready for anyone with the gall to rebuild it from the inside.

Study up on schools

Checking out local school districts is worth your time whether you plan on having kids or not. Type in “A-rated” into the search bar to look for the better school districts, and what zones they cover; this little hint will help you know which districts to look for and which to avoid. If the property is in an A-rated district, the seller wants that to be known.  

Townhouse or Condo

If you are looking for one of these types of units, this word will be your best friend, “end unit”. End units not only have better natural light, they only have one neighbor! These units are generally in high demand, so be sure if you find one, to keep your eye on it.

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How to Deal With a Roommate Who Hogs All the Internet

There is little that is as annoying as not having enough internet when you need it. Whether you are trying to stream your favorite show, make a post to Facebook, or send an email, the amount of bandwidth needed is crucial. In today’s society, each household has several users clogging the Wi-Fi. Sharing can be a pain, but there is a way to deal with your roommates who tend to hog it all.

How much is enough?

For beginners, playing online video games, being on your phone, and perhaps your TV is using Wi-Fi. Find out how much bandwidth you will need to run all the appliances you need at the same time. Anything less than that amount will slow everything down.  Having the right amount of bandwidth will allow everyone’s online activities to run smoothly.

The average household in America has three users online at all times. They could be streaming videos, checking their smart phone, and listening to music, a 30 Mbps will suffice. If someone gets a gaming system, you will likely need more.

Occasionally there will a situation where no matter how much bandwidth you have, it is still running slow. It could be your roommate; then again it could be the service. But before you start interrogating your roommate, do your best to find out if they are the culprit.

How do you know if there’s a hog in the house?

To keep things civil, just voice your concern about your internet being slow lately. See if they have an answer. Halt on the blitzkrieg interrogation for now until you’ve got some solid evidence. Take a look inside your laptop of PC to determine where most of your internet is going.

Check the bandwidth to check the internet speeds, and how much bandwidth is being used. Sometimes you can track exactly where it is all going, depending on how you are checking the status.  Other times you can...

Reasons to NOT be a FSBO Type of Person

You may think you can save a couple hundred, if not thousands, of dollars when you decide to sell your home yourself. Unless you are a qualified professional, this won’t be true. The needed expertise will get you a higher sales price for your home, which will be more than you end up saving on commissions. Statistically speaking, homes that are sold by the owner more of than not, sell for less, and take longer, than those that use an agent. Below are five reasons you should opt-out of the DIY approach, and let a qualified professional handle your home.

Price – the surest way to sell your home quickly is to price it right. You cannot afford to price it too high and get zero offers, nor can you price it too low and lose money. Agents know the local market and how to price it based on what you are selling. Having an agent will keep you from making any emotional mistakes that could hurt your chances of selling.

Negotiation – selling and buying something that is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars is no easy task. There are three parts to this process: beginning offer, counter offer, and post offer period for inspections and concessions. Unless you are a master negotiator, I would leave this up to a professional.

Exposure - When selling your house it is imperative it be seen by as many people as possible. It’s your agent’s duty to know every possible marketing avenue to use when selling your house. The one tool they will have you won’t, is the ability to talk to other agents looking for interested buyers.

Buyer perception – Most other buyers will have an agent representing them. It’s not uncommon for buyers to be deterred by For Sale By Owner because their agents simply don’t...

Who is Responsible For What Repairs?

One of the best parts about being a renter is most of the repairs fall on the landlord. Your kitchen sink might be leaking, your washing machine doesn’t spin, or your ceiling fan looks like it’s about to come crashing down with every rotation. After you’ve submitted your repair request, just like magic, everything should be fixed by the time you get home from work.

Landlords take most of the financial burden when you take good care of the place. If you are trashing it, they could easily blame you for the broken appliance.  Occasionally with a bad landlord, they will take a couple weeks to fix the issue. Always call your landlord first before you attempt to fix it. Their job, by law, is to make their rental unit livable. If you aren’t sure which repairs fall under your responsibility or your landlords, here are the rules to follow.

Communicate the issue

All repairs should be left to the landlord, and they should be notified of them as soon as possible. They are required to respond within a “reasonable” amount of time. Occasionally, the time frame is stated in the lease. This “reasonable” amount of time really depends on the nature of the problem. If your heater goes off in the dead of winter, this doesn’t need to be put off for a week. If a light switch doesn’t work you will be fine for a few days.

Ultimately look at it like this: does this pose a safety risk, or is it superficial? Does it impede on your ability to do essential daily tasks, or just an inconvenience.

Wait a decent amount of time

If you have effectively communicated the problem to your landlord and they have done nothing about it, you have the option to take matters into your own hands. You may either fix it yourself, or call a general contractor to fix it. From here, always document how and when...

How to Protect Your Home

Protecting your home is an important part of owning real estate. Whether you live in it year round, rent it out, or leave it empty for part of the year, your house is always susceptible to danger. Whether it is criminals, or weather, protecting your house is always a good idea.

Right when you purchase your home, the smartest thing you can do is to change your locks right away. This is to prevent burglars from messing with the locks, and strangers wandering inside. If you want the ultimate security, consider spending the money to buy the smart locks. They offer better protection and give you the control even when you are away from home.

Beef Up the First Line of Defense

The first line of defense is always your landscaping. Burglars will hide behind tall bushes and trees, so make it a priority to keep them well trimmed. If you have trees, keep all limbs trimmed back from windows, particularly second story windows. Don’t keep ladders or anything someone could climb in your yard. This is almost inviting them in! Even if you don’t have a home security system, having a yard picket will surely keep them away. Keeping the security sign in a visible area is key, so don’t just put it by the garage in the back yard.

Secure Entry Paths

A burglar’s entry preferred entry point is the front door. Most aren’t daring enough to go through the front, but the windows, back doors, garage doors will do. To keep this line of defense secure, have no broken windows, door hinges, or locks. If any of those does happen to be broken, change it right away.

Automatic Lights

Burglars always prefer a dark home. Even one light that is always one will deter most. Smart lights are a great hindrance for intruders. Having a smart light allows you to control when, and how...

Four Reasons Renters Should Have An Emergency Fund

Renting is usually a part of everyone’s life at some point in time, but few are lucky. There are perks of renting vs. buying, but emergency funds are still necessary no matter your living situation. Life throws curve balls occasionally and a big wad of money is sometimes the only thing that can keep your head above water. If you happen to find yourself renting, here are a few reasons you will want to have this emergency fund.

Landlords control rent, and can raise it when they feel like it – While most states offer protection to the renter by prohibiting landlords from raising rent during the term of the lease, month-to-month renters can have rent raised in as little as 30 days.

States like Texas and New York allow rent increases only if both parties agree.  If the tenant doesn’t agree to the price increase, then the lease must be terminated. Keep in mind though, inaction legally is like the tenant approving. Be sure to read the fine print of the lease to make sure the landlord doesn’t have a clause stating he can raise rent at any time.

Disaster can strike anyone, at any time – We all know those weeks where nothing seems to go right. Your car needs a big service repair, you’ve broken your cell phone so bad a new one is the only option, and your dog needs a trip to the vet. All of these situations aren’t going to wait until you can afford all of them. Just like every month, rent is expected the day it is due. So if you lose your job, you will still need at least 3 months’ rent ready while you go find yourself a new one.

Paying your debts? Emergency fund is still necessary – As high as your debts may seem, the emergency fund is still the better path. Yes, get those paid off as quickly as you can, but keep the cash in your back pocket....

Is it Time to Get A New Real Estate Agent?

Having your own real estate agent is much like having a significant other, but it’s a professional relationship instead of a romantic one. You tend to spend a lot of time with them during the week, hunting for homes, possibly hanging out, and you’ll even spend a decent amount of time with them on the phone.  

As most relationships do, they will come to an end. When the rosy feeling in your stomach about real estate disappears, or when they start putting in less time and effort, it could be time to cut it off. Here are some signs that it is time to leave them for good.

Missing in action – whether your relationship is personal, or business related with your agent, they can still disappear for a while. They might send your calls right to voicemail, ignore your text messages, pass you off to their assistant, lose track of the emails, etc. Whatever happens, they just aren’t communicating with you. The home you want to see tomorrow won’t be happening until four days later. If they do this in a cold market, no one would be happy. Now in a hot market, you don’t stand a chance to land your dream home. When this happens, you’ve been put on the backburner, and it’s time to move on

High-pressure sales tactics – You might begin to feel you are now shopping for a used car rather than a new home. Each interaction with them leaves you with anxiety because every other house on the market is already in contract and about to be sold. Your time is running out and your foot isn’t even in the door. You shouldn’t be feeling anxious when you leave your agent after a showing, you should be filled with market information, but also feel like they’ve showed you everything in an honest and straight forward manner.

They don’t listen –...

Is Your Monthly Mortgage Payment About to Increase?

 If you signed the papers on a fixed mortgage rate for 15 or 30 years, you probably thought those payments would stay the same the entire life of the loan. Staying away from the adjustable rate mortgages gave you that piece of mind, but you could still be in for a price hike.

Don’t freak out yet! Knowing why you might be paying more can help you plan for the increase, and solve the issues this problem could create. 

Ins and Outs of Escrow Accounts – for those of you who borrowed more than 80% of the value of the house, the bank will most likely require you to get an escrow account. This account is a specific account to collect property taxes, homeowner insurance, mortgage insurance, and HOA dues; given all on top of your mortgage payments. These funds will sit in your escrow account until the bill comes. Escrow accounts are helpful to those who have trouble saving up large amounts of money for these large bills. The reason your mortgage could increase is due to what’s happening with your escrow account behind the scenes. They break down all the expenses and add them to your mortgage.

Property taxes – property taxes are one of the biggest financial burdens for homeowners. Greedy government needs, rising property values, or home improvements can lead to an increase in property taxes. Lenders will begin collecting more per month for the escrow accounts to cover their total cost as the property taxes rise. Because the property taxes are rising, so will your escrow, which in turn will lead to the mortgage payment increase. This can however, be disputed by appealing for a lower assessment amount. It’s not guaranteed to land in your favor though.

Homeowners insurance – For every mortgage, homeowners insurance is a requirement. What can make this expense rise...

Simple Ways to Declutter Your Home

Throughout the years we often collect clutter around the house. No matter have valuable you think it may be all this “valuable” stuff still gets in the way.  This blog is a list of ways to declutter your home the simplest ways possible.

Getting rid of all the stuff lying around the house can be a feeling of relief. It has been proven that with everything lying around, it can actually hinder our ability to process information. This is because it distracts us, drains us of energy, and can make us easily annoyed. S why have all that unnecessary garbage in your life? Let’s get started shall we?

Reverse hanger tactic – how many of your clothes haven’t been taken off the hanger in years? Use this trick; take all your clothes on hangers and put them in backwards, so the open end of each hanger now faces you. Write down on the calendar six months ahead. Each time you wear the piece, put it facing away from you. After six months you will know what you wear and don’t wear regularly. If you haven’t worn it in six months, toss it.

Bedsheet Bundle – We all struggle with folding sheets, especially the one with the stretchy band. Somehow they end up mashed in the closet, which in turn creates a cluttered closet. TO avoid all this, fold the entire set as best you can, and place them inside one pillowcase. Easy right?

Four-box method – If a room in your house has a bunch of random things in it, it’s time to use the four box trick. Bring in three regular boxes and one trash can. Label these boxes, “trash, donate, storage, and put away”. Sort the items accordingly, and the room should be free in no time.

Use your trunk – After you have all your boxes lined up and ready, put...

What to Do When You're Yard Is Dead

Adding curb appeal to your home during a drought isn’t all that difficult. One just has to know how to do it correctly. Especially on the west coast is the drought really becoming a problem, but drought can happen almost anywhere. If you are trying to sell your home and need to spice up the entire front landscape of your yard, here are a few simple tricks to make it green again.

 

Lawn alternatives – Hardly anyone has the green grass enclosed by a white picket fence anymore; now they turn to stones closing the yard with drought resistant shrubs surrounding their house. If the once green grass has turned brown, and you can’t quite bring it back to life, try using different grass. These aren’t truly grasses, but they serve as a substitute. Try Asiatic Jasmine, or pea gravel. These two types of substitutes need very little maintenance and keep the home looking fresh year round.

 

Drought tolerant plants – Go to your local garden center and ask them about plants that do well during droughts. Using sea grasses usually requires less watering, and less trimming. These plants usually only need attention twice a year. If that’s not attractive I don’t know what is.

 

Another attraction to these kinds of landscapes is that weeding, trimming, and mulching are no longer something to be dreaded. Those days are long gone. Another piece that could add some flare to your yard could be a hammock. Who doesn’t enjoy a hammock?

 

Faux lawn – Here is the barebones remedy to a brown lawn. Paint it green. As comical as this may seem, it is actually a growing trend. It is completely safe for children and pets.            This job can either be done by professionals or you can do it if you have a paint sprayer!

 

I hope these tips give you some help in reviving your dead lawn. If nothing else works, try...

Time to Start Aggressively Paying Off Your Mortgage

If you are in a healthy financial situation and have little debt, it’s time to start chipping, hacking away at your mortgage. Today’s market shows extremely low interest rates, which aren’t typically draining your bank account. With this being said, the urgency to pay it off has somewhat diminished for people. Only the real go-getters don’t want this hovering over them for years.

                Before you decide to go all in on killing your mortgage, there are a couple things you should do first. In order of importance, here are the places you need to fix your financial attention before tacking the beast.

 Kill your credit cards

                Pay off all your credit cards. Don’t get close; don’t say you’ll do it later; DO IT! Pay off the ones with low interest rates too. They goal is to own your home, not own a bunch of credit card debt.

Have a rainy day fund

                This is a side fund worth 6-12 months of expenses. You will need this money when you suddenly get laid off, or can’t work for some reason. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Build your retirement

                Contribute the maximum amount you can towards your 401K, IRA, or whatever account you have. Talk to your accountant about it.

Get the kids to school

                This step all depends on your child situation....

How to Stay Cool This Summer Without Air Conditioner

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have an air conditioner. Whether you don’t have one, it’s busted, and/or, just trying to keep your electric bill down, use these hacks to stay cool during the summer. There are days and nights where it can be just miserable to live without ac. These tips will help you survive the unbearable heat.

  1. Make your ceiling fan go counterclockwise

There will be a little switch on the motor of your fan indicating which way the blades spin.  It’s easier than you think. Naturally, counterclockwise creates a cooler breeze than clockwise.

  1. Keep the light out

Not letting light in by closing shades, blinds, and curtains can keep your place cooled by 20 degrees.

  1. Find your inner MacGyver

Put a full bowl of ice cubes directly in front of the fan. Make sure the fan blows on them directly to cool the room. The air hits the ice to create a cool, misty breeze. It works, trust me.

  1. Don’t close yourself off

Keep doors open to allow air to circulate through the house. Closing doors keeps air trapped and makes rooms have that stuffy feeling.

  1. Revamp your bedding

Take off your flannel sheets already! Put on any other sheets and your skin will breathe much better at night. A trick you can do is to get a spray bottle and mist down your sheets before you fall asleep. Everyone can agree the worst feeling is waking up drenched in sweat.

  1. Sleep alone

Sleep alone one night and notice how much body heat a partner emits.

  1. Get a water bottle

Throw a water bottle in the freezer for a little while, and then put it on your feet before bed. Another thing you can do is to dunk your feet in ice water before bed. The feet have many nerves and pulse points, so chilling these will tell your body to cool off.

  1. Unplug

Appliances that are plugged in create heat, no doubt about it. Unplug...

Going on Vacation? Here's A Quick Checklist for Home

We all enjoy vacations, but the moment you hit the road, don’t let the paranoia kick in by questioning if you didn’t prep the house for a week of inactivity while you’re gone. Don’t be the family that comes home to a house that stresses you out. Try to set yourself up to get back into your routine as quickly as possible.

Take a look at this list, and prepare yourself to come back to your palace, just as you left it.

Keep things running

Keep the air conditioner on if your usual household temperature isn’t between 85 degrees and 65 degrees. If you are in between those temperatures, you’re golden, but if not, it’s best to set the AC on auto. Temperatures that are too warm can cause mold and mildew in a few days.

If your trip isn’t for awhile, consider getting a NEST thermostat. These you can control from your phone, anywhere, anytime.

Flush

Start the week with a fresh bowl of toilet water. Flush the toilers before you go so you don’t come home to stagnant water.

Clear drains & gutters

Clear them! Maybe it hasn’t rained in weeks; if they are by chance clogged, and water overflows onto the siding of your house, it could seep into the basement or siding of the house. This type of damage is always expensive.

Secure the garage

Take out garage door openers and unplug the garage door. This way the door is permanently shut while you are gone.

Power down

Unplug your small appliances like toasters, lamps, TVs, and almost anything with a clock on it. Circuits to blow from time to time, so avoid that happening and causing a fire. If this is too much of a pain, then buy a surge protector.

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How NOT to Lose Your Rental Security Deposit

Whenever renting an apartment, house, condo, etc. there is always a security deposit. These are to ensure you do not destroy the place during your stay. The landlord then keeps the deposit in case you do not fulfill your end of the contract. All this can be avoided with a few simple steps to play by the rules, and ultimately getting your money back.

1. Take photos (video) when you move in: Walk through your new rental unit with your landlord and take pictures and video (if necessary) of every room in the place. This will show what it looked like before you moved in, so if a big hole in the wall was already there, you cannot be accused of creating it.

Email the photos to your landlord that day so there is a digital trace of this documentation. If they are too big to send, use dropbox, or post them on Youtube and make it private.

2. Give ample written notice: Some leases have clauses saying how much time you have to tell your landlord before you move out. These are usually anywhere from 30 – 60 days. It will also say what type of communication is preferred. Always go with writing though, this can never fail. Just comply with whatever the lease agreement states, and if you don’t, they can nail you and say you didn’t follow the lease agreement.

If your lease doesn’t mention anything about move out, ask your landlord before you move in, and then get their answer in writing. The reason they do this is so they can get ready for their next tenants. Having an empty unit is quite costly for landlords. The more help you are to them, the more help they’ll be to you.

 3. Don’t disrupt their showings: Don’t act like Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in Step Brothers when Derrick is trying to sell their parents house. Landlords won’t appreciate that at all. Another few “don’ts” is leaving the house a mess, be difficult, change the locks, leave out valuables, and make the landlord work around your schedule.

Watch out...

How to Screen Your Landlord

We all have had one experience or another with landlords, whether good or bad. We all hope for the good, but there’s a couple screening tricks you can do to make sure you like your landlord.

 

They will definitely be screening you as they do all tenants, so why not screen them to make sure they have a reputable history as a landlord. Here are four easy steps you can take to screen them.

 

  1. Check Public Records – searching public records can divulge a plethora of information helpful to your cause. You can find info for the landlord whether it be their personal, or corporation, and the property itself. Look for red flags though such as bankruptcy, liens on assets, criminal records, and any pending lawsuits.

Liens will come up if in the property records if there is one against it, whether if it is in the idle of a foreclosure, and any other legal problems it might have. The tax records will show you who bought the property, when it was built, and how much they paid for it. Be on the lookout if a property management company owns this property, and if they are underwater or filing for bankruptcy, chances are your stay might not be as long as you planned.

  1. Consider Complaints – Sometimes people will complain more than others, it’s just who they are. But take those complaints seriously, and consider where they are coming from. Find an online forum about the property, landlord, property Management Company, and see how other renters’ experiences have been. Look for repeated complaints.

Check with the Better Business Bureau if you are dealing with a property management company. Social media isn’t a bad way to check too. If they are an individual person, check on Google! They have everything.

  1. Talk to Your Neighbors – Your neighbors will have the entire scoop on your landlord. They are the ones who see him coming and going whenever they do. They will (and should) be happy to tell you about...

Easiest Way to Saving Money Around the House

One of the easiest and best ways to save money just by being at home is to unplug everything that isn’t necessary all the time. This can go a long way throughout the course of a month.

Walk around your house but keep an eye out for all the outlets. Are they being used? If so, by what? In my house I can see a coffee maker, three TV’s, a microwave, a few lamps, a charger, a toaster, and that’s only on the first floor.

These little gadgets that are seemingly always plugged in add to your electric bill daily, even when you’re not using them. This is called Phantom Power use. They are just using power while they are plugged in. The average house has about 40 gadgets to plug in. Having this running all the time can contribute to 10% of your energy bills, costing you $100 a year. Here’s a list of appliances that you should unplug when not in use, and some of the ones that aren’t costing you a penny while plugged in.

Unplug!

  1. Small kitchen appliances – Obviously leave your bigger appliances plugged in, but take out the coffee makers, food processors, microwaves, toasters, electric can openers etc. Basically if it has a clock on it it’s using energy. The ones without are using energy, but slightly less.
  2. Chargers – I know I have a bad habit of leaving my chargers plugged in. Whether it is to my phone, laptop, vacuum, once your device has reached full charge, unplug it.
  3. Entertainment system – This one is the king of all wasted energy. All the colorful lights blinking and flashing while you sleep. The stereo system is displaying phrases, while the cable box changes the little clock every minute of the night. Yes waiting for these to reboot is a hassle when you want to use it again, but just make a devout effort to kill the wait time by doing it right when you get home from work. You should definitely unplug this while you go on vacation.
  4. Computers – Screen savers don’t save jack, and sleep mode doesn’t...