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Cost-Efficient Thermostat Temperatures to Save You Money This Summer!

Cost-efficient thermostat temperatures are so important to save you money this summer on your electricity bill! During this time of year with temperatures reaching the high 90s in most areas, thermostat adjustments to keep your home cool and your bill low are necessary. Cooling your home with your air conditioning unit depending on the size, could sky rocket your bill into the high hundreds! Though it is tempting to adjust your thermostat really low during the summer in an effort to cool your home faster, this could actually be counter productive because your unit is working harder and burning more energy. Consistent set temperatures maintain energy output levels and reduces your out-of-pocket cost.

Before you receive your next bill and its causes you to break into a sweat, let me share a couple of cost-efficient thermostat temperature tips below!

  1. If you plan to be away from your home for an extended amount of time during the day (4 hours or more) keep the temperature set at a higher number. Once you arrive back home, adjust the temperature to 78 degrees. Based on your comfort level your thermostat should stay at this temperature throughout the warmer months.
  2.  Use your windows at night, turning off the A/C unit completely which allows the breeze to keep you cool while you are sleep. Also, utilize ceiling fans while you are in the room and then turn them off once you leave. It is unnecessary to leave ceiling fans on when you are no longer in the room as the fans do not keep the room itself cooler but cools the people who are in it.

According to Energy.gov for every degree higher you set your thermostat over 78 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer you could save six-eight percent off your energy bill per degree! These savings can be used to entertain your family and friends grilling in your backyard! Or a fun-filled water day at the local pool or water park! Making these small adjustments could add up significantly over time. Comment on this post and let me know if these tips would work for you! Also check out all of our available homes today!

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5 Things To Do To Improve Your Credit Score Before Buying a New Home

The home buying process begins long before your start looking at new home listings online. One of the first steps in the home buying process is getting a handle on your finances and understanding your credit. Here are five things to do to improve your credit score before buying a new home.

5 Things to do to Improve Your Credit Score

  1. Know what’s on your credit report.
    When was the last time you checked your credit report? If it hasn’t been in the last year, then you could be missing something that could be hurting your credit score. Every year, you can get your credit report, for free, from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian by going to annualcreditreport.com. While this doesn’t provide you with your credit score, it does show you what the lenders see.
  1. Identify and fix any errors.
    Once you’ve reviewed your credit report with a fine-toothed comb, you need to start fixing any errors. On each of the credit bureau websites there are step-by-step instructions on how to dispute errors, and your credit report will have instructions as well. When contacting the credit bureaus, keep detailed notes on what you submit to them and copies of any documents.
  1. Always be on time.
    It may seem like commonsense but if you’re looking to increase your credit score pay your bills on time every month and don’t miss a payment. Paying more than the minimum balance, even if it’s just a little more, looks good to the lenders. It also helps you pay your bills off faster.
  1. Pay off your credit cards, but don’t close them.
    Paying off your credit cards is a great way to lower your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. Every lender has different standards for DTI ratios, but according to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a DTI of 43% is, in many cases, the highest ratio a borrower can have and still qualify for a mortgage.
  1. Be smart with new and old lines of credit.
    If you are under contract to buy a new home, opening up new lines of credit or making any large charges on your current credit card can negatively alter your DTI. This makes you look risky to lenders. If you are building a new home, it can sometimes be a six-month or longer process, so be sure to plan ahead. It is recommended to wait until after closing to buy a new car, new furniture or book that all-inclusive vacation. If you have any thing that comes up before closing consult your lender. While not opening new lines of credit is important, keeping old lines of credit open is advised. These old lines of credit show your credit history and closing them could change your DTI for the worse.

Source: Forbes.com; HGTV.com

Planning for Your Move-Part 4 (Moving Day)

Moving 101

Planning For Your Move, Part 4
by Bob and Sue Russo

Moving day is finally here. You’ve gathered boxes, made lists, sorted items and packed a bag. But did you remember what to put in the bag?

From the video you can tell that Bob thought barbecue-stained beer shirts with holes in them were the way to go. Maybe he just planned to party. We also failed on the moving company-inventory process or Bob’s shirts would have made it to our new home!

The inventory process I am referring to can be tedious and time consuming, but it is well worth the effort.

Inventory Process When Using a Moving Company-

  1. The moving company places a numbered tag on everything that’s being moved (boxes, furniture, lamps…)
  2. The moving company creates an inventory list of every item going into their van.
  3. When the van gets to your new home, you will be handed the inventory list.
  4. You will check off the items as the movers bring them into your new home.
  5. Check the inventory list to be sure all items are accounted for.
  6. Sign receipt indicating that all items are in your new home, only if all items are accounted for.

When you signed the contract with the moving company, you had a choice of getting “full replacement value” or a “flat rate by weight replacement value.” The “flat rate by weight” replacement-moving fee will be quite a bit cheaper. If you do choose this option and your item gets lost, you will be reimbursed by the weight of the item, not its actual value. We have always chosen this option and historically it has worked out for us, however our last move from Florida back to North Carolina did not go so well. We had both, a long distance moving company and many willing family members to help unpack in our new home. The “inventory” person changed several times and one of us (Bob) signed off on the inventory as being okay. We lost several sentimental items as well as many decorative pieces…oh and as Bob mentioned, he doesn’t have any summer tee shirts. Remember, checking inventory and making sure furniture is placed in the right room are extremely important. It helps to have one “go to” person for each job.

If you have decided to make the move without the help of a moving company, I hope you have some help! If you have followed the process in Parts1-3 of the Planning Your Move Series, you have labeled each box with its contents and location (for example grandma’s clothes/upstairs room to the right). Doing this will ensure everyone knows where to place each box and will eliminate hearing, “where does this go?” over and over. Keep the stronger people moving boxes and let the other people start unpacking. We do the kitchen first and work from there.

Don’t forget to stop by the store on your way to your new home and pick up some food for your helpers. Deli meat, chips, cookies, paper plates, napkins and liquid refreshments will do nicely. As a courtesy, we also provide food and beverage for the professional movers.

No matter how careful everyone is. Moving boxes and furniture into a home may cause scuff marks on your walls or baseboards. A Magic Eraser or the generic version will do the trick!

Don’t worry if you got a little ding in your wall. We’ll tell you how to fix that later.

You’ve got this! Enjoy your new home! Bob and Sue

Planning For Your Move Part 3 (Packing and Sorting)

Moving 101

Planning For Your Move, Part 3
by Bob and Sue Russo

Packing and sorting are important aspects of planning for your move. This article will help you prioritize items so you know what to keep with you, what to pack, and what items you might want to consider getting rid of.

Maybe you don’t have an “ugly chicken conversation piece” like Sue, but you get the idea. While you’re packing is the perfect time to do a good spring cleaning. When you pick up something decide which of the following groups your item belongs in:

  • Must Haves: Things you will need in the next few days/weeks. Some of these items will need to travel with you instead of with the movers so keep them handy. See Planning For Your Move, Part 1.
  • Need Later: What you need to keep, but won’t need for the next few weeks. Pack these now. Make sure you label all boxes clearly. What’s in the box and where does it go? For example: KITCHEN- GOOD GLASSWARE.
  • May Not Need: Finally, what you haven’t used for the last six months. Seriously! Think about donating or selling the items that you haven’t used in the last six months. Yes, we know that there will be things that you haven’t used in the last six months that you will want to keep, but this is an exercise to make sure what you move (lift, carry or pay to move) doesn’t just end up in the trash at the other end. (We’re keeping the chicken!)

While you’re doing all the prep work make sure all of your important documents are packed together. If you don’t have a desk file or alphabetized flexible file, now is the time to get organized. Your birth certificate, house deeds, passports, insurance papers, car titles, checkbooks and any other legal documents need to be gathered and these should not be packed for the move. These documents should remain with you during the move.

The final step is to pack the “must haves” we discussed above and referenced in Planning For Your Move, Part 1 (Pack a bag). If at all possible these, as well as your important documents, should travel with you to your new home.

Moving does not need to be stressful and scary. With thorough planning and preparation, moving can be a pleasant and rewarding experience. Stay tuned for the next article in our Planning Your Move Series Part 4 – Day Of.

Planning for Your Move Part 2 (Lists)

Moving 101

Planning For Your Move, Part 2
by Bob and Sue Russo

We have found that creating lists is a vital part of the moving process. List are helpful for a variety of reasons. Creating a detailed list of everything that you need to do will help reduce the stress of the move. If it’s on the list, it’s off our mind until you complete the “to do.” You can keep this list on a piece of scrap paper, your iPad or smart phone if you like, but we have found it very helpful to go “old school” on this one. We purchase a “move” composition notebook, which serves as a temporary file for all our move documents and receipts.

making a list

Yes, just like the type of notebook we used in school. Write down everything you need to do in this notebook. The more detailed you are in your list, the less you need to think about it on the spot. Don’t just say, “call utilities”, write them all out. For example:

  • Does my new home have the same cell service (depending on the move you may need to change providers).
  • Create staging area for our packed boxes.
  • Call old cell provider and cancel service.
  • Call new cell provider and establish service.
  • Cancel old electric service.
  • Call new electric service.
  • Add line item for every utility both old and new.
  • Clean out master bedroom closet (we will talk more about this in item 3 below).
  • Add line item for every room and closet in your home.
  • Take donated items to the Salvation Army.
  • If you are not making a local move, check your calendar for all future appointments and cancel them.
  • Do you need a referral for doctors, etc. in your new area?
  • If you are moving local, and are not planning to hire someone to help, tell friends and family the date you are moving (hopefully you have some volunteers).
  • Don’t forget to check ISP, TV, insurance, USPS address change notice, notify bank regarding address change (some bank documents will not get forwarded), etc.

You get the idea! You may be thinking you can handle a lot of the utility transfers online, but based on our experience some providers insist on talking to you regarding canceling or starting new service. Can’t tell you how many hours we’ve been on hold with utility companies. (Maybe you can be cleaning out the closet while you’re waiting on hold.)

When you make contact with old and new providers, make a note next to your line item in your notebook such as: method of contact, date of contact and results of contact, for example, I called on Monday, June 10 at 11:00 and was on hold for 20 minutes, got tired of waiting and hung up.

This does help! When your significant other asks, “did you call the internet service provider?” You can say, “yes I called on 4/30 at 2PM and they said they do provide service at our new location.” Don’t you look smart. Good for you!

Okay, so one of the best reasons we like the detailed list idea, is the satisfaction we feel when we cross items off the list. If you clean out a closet today or called one utility, cross it off your list! If you leave it on there, it might feel like you didn’t accomplish anything, when in fact you actually did.

Making a list is a tried and true practice. Our teachers and councilors alike have told us if it’s on your mind, write it down. We take this advice to heart when it comes to planning a move.   We recommend that you do the same. Happy planning!