Sunday, March 28, 2010

2012: Are You Prepared?


Part of living an efficient and effective lifestyle often entails being prepared -- asking yourself questions such as -- “What happens when things go wrong and the government isn’t there to help? Am I ready? What will I do?” Have you ever even thought about such things?

Whether 2012 is the true date for society’s destruction or not, the scenario it presents is worth a few minutes contemplation.

While the end of the world as we know it may or may not be just around the corner, the arrival of the year 2012, and the possible Armageddon associated with the date should give us all pause to consider our preparations -- or lack thereof -- for a major catastrophe. While I’m not a doomsday seeker or avid promoter of the calamities that spread worldwide death and destruction, I am of the mindset that it is best to be prepared. Maybe it’s my Midwest upbringing. It could be the long winters I endured in the relative seclusion of rural Indiana that taught me the value of preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. More than anything though, it is probably the satisfaction I take in knowing that I can assist family, friends, and neighbors should the situation arise.

I recently read an article in which the author was interviewing 2012 extremists preparing their bunkers out in the vast wilderness of Wyoming, South Dakota, and similarly sparsely populated western states. At the conclusion of the article, as the author returned to his Miami condominium, he made mention of the fact that he only had a bottle of vodka and a pineapple stashed in his refrigerator in the event of an emergency. Now this is certainly an extreme example of the lack of consideration for even the smallest of crises, especially seeing as how the author lived in Florida, home of the hurricane. I think it does however, justify my concerns regarding society’s overall readiness and preparation for disasters -- and I’m not just talking about a hurricane or a power outage.

There was a show playing on the History Channel the other day called, Day After Disaster. The program chronicled the possible events following a nuclear detonation in Washington, D.C. I admit that I found myself glued to the television for the entire two-hour program. Living in Chicago, I have often contemplated the mass exodus and the ensuing chaos of such an event. The show did a fantastic job at detailing what would happen in the aftermath of a nuclear detonation. The show focused not only on the effects upon the city and population of Washington, D.C. itself, but upon other major cities, surrounding states, the nation as a whole, and our governing structure.

My wife wasn’t home when I watched the show, so I recorded a later running of it for her to watch. I hoped she would take the warnings and advice regarding the government’s number one terrorist scenario more seriously coming from the History Channel, than her rambling, overly cautious husband. No such luck. After two failed attempts in which she fell asleep about ten minutes into the show, I gave up. While I realize that she leaves such planning and worrying to me even though the possibilities of such a disaster occurring in her beloved Chicago are quite real, I though that nuclear Armageddon might actually keep her awake. Wroooooonnng! More than anything, her actions spelled out to me more clearly than ever, that hers was the prevailing attitude in America -- a far more laissez faire mentality toward very real disaster possibilities and scenarios. It was the, “I’ll deal with it when I get there,” type thinking, which is fine when you go to the mall or are picking out what color car to buy, but not when contemplating annihilation at the hands of nuclear terrorists. I might be the odd man out here, but when it comes to preparing yourself to survive an inevitable disaster (sorry, but as history has shown us, something bad will happen eventually), I think the subject deserves a bit more consideration.

As I mentioned earlier, I really don’t consider myself an extremist when it comes to disaster preparation. Sure, I have extra food and water in the pantry, candles and batteries if we lose power, a cook stove with extra propane, crank powered flashlight and radio, and similar fixings, as well as a general idea of what I’d do or where I’d go if it came down to leaving the Chicago metro area. I will even admit to occasionally visiting one particular website that discusses an interesting variety of disaster scenarios and possibilities, which in my opinion are not overly pessimistic or far-fetched.

The website, Armegeddononline.org, combines real disaster news with historical background information, and updates regarding possible disaster scenarios from around the world. I have found that the information appears to be quite reliable, informative, and backed up with qualified sources. More importantly, it does not lose sight of the facts among all the disaster mongering and “The end is upon us!” type hype you’ll find on many such websites. Everything from nuclear detonations to super volcano eruptions, hurricanes, tsunamis, famine, financial meltdowns, and the always-popular cosmic collision scenarios are discussed and updated. The site even goes so far as to dispel or clarify rumors and speculation regarding possible disaster scenarios (2012, Y2K, etc.). The site is worth checking out if you’re interested in learning about what “real” disasters face the world.

Now, I’m not going to tell you to start building your bunker in the backyard, stockpiling loads of food (although having extra survival supplies on hand isn’t a bad idea), and devoting all your available time and resources for preparing for the end. That is no way to live. And what would be the point anyway if true Armageddon does arrive? If that were the case, wouldn’t your preparations be farcical -- simply an attempt to outlast everyone else only to live in what would be an unlivable world? My goal is simply to plant the seeds of thoughtful consideration as to the prospects that lay ahead, whether they are tomorrow, in 2012, or 2043. The odds show us that something will happen at some time. When, where, and all the rest of the specifics are what makes being prepared necessary.

Therefore, whether December 21, 2012 comes and goes with a bang or a whimper, the date itself should serve as an allegorical reminder that we need to consider our personal wellbeing far in advance of a disaster -- not during or after. Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, the 2004 tsunami, and similar catastrophes are but small reminders (compared to a worldwide cataclysm) of the chaos that can ensue after a disaster. You don’t want to be one of those trapped without a plan of action or the resources to save yourself. We all remember stories and images of those waiting for help on the upper floors of the World Trade Towers, were caught in the 2004 tsunami, or were trapped in New Orleans during Katrina. I certainly think it is worth a few minutes of contemplation, planning, and healthy discussion with our loved ones in order to avoid similar fates when the unthinkable becomes reality.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Great Ways of Stashing Cash


These days everyone is looking for ways to save money and it seems like everywhere we look we’re getting tips on how to do just that. There is more to stashing cash though than just helpful tidbits and ways to save. You have to make saving a frame of mind. Stashing a couple bucks here, and a few pennies there is good, but if it’s not made a sustainable and even habitual practice, it won’t get you to where you want to be financially. Here are some ways to make saving money more than just something that is done during tough economic times.

It’s already saved
One of the best ways to keep yourself from spending is to think of your money as already saved. If you consider every penny of your paycheck as saved from the minute you get it, then it should begin to make it just a little bit harder to spend. This is not because it really is any more difficult, but because of the mental stigma that saved money should not be spent. This will hopefully begin to create the frame of mind that makes it easier to save money.

Think before you spend
Once you are in the right mode to save, begin to think before you spend. Sure, everyone thinks a little before they start shelling out cash or swiping the credit card, at least in most cases, but how many of us actually consider the amount of work it took us to earn what we are spending? Say you are going out for a nice dinner and the bill runs you a hundred dollars. If you are taking home twenty dollars an hour, it took you five hours at work to earn that dinner. Was it worth it? How much do you really like that dinner now? These are the questions you must ask yourself before you spend in order to truly adjust your spending habits and make saving money even easier.

Cheap entertainment
If you find the answers to the questions you ask yourself regarding the spending and saving of your money are not ones you want to hear, it might be time to consider other forms entertainment. Start looking for activities that don’t cost as much, or activities that cost money but that can be done in a cheaper way. For example, if you enjoy going to restaurants more for the socialization factor than the food, consider looking for restaurants that offer great atmosphere but cheaper prices. Alternately, if you don’t want to change restaurants, maybe go for lunch instead of dinner, split just one entrĂ©e, or do without drinks or dessert. There are plenty of options to consider, but you probably get the point. Begin thinking outside the box when it comes to entertainment. A weekend camping, or a rented movie and a cheap pizza at home, are not only cheap activities, but also ones that can build great family bonds. Remember – more often than not, it’s the people you are spending your time and money with that make the memories, not how much money you’re spending to be with them.

Coupons
Coupons have been mentioned in countless articles regarding ways in which you can save money, but many people still scoff when it comes to using them. If you saw a dollar lying on the ground, would you pick it up, or just laugh and walk past? If a friend of yours told you that he would be more than happy to let you in on a little investment tip where you could double your investment return in a day, would you be interested? Now reason those same questions this way. If you saw a coupon for a dollar off your favorite product lying on the ground, would it have the same effect as seeing that dollar? If your friend told you his investment scheme was to use coupons to buy twenty dollars worth of groceries for ten dollars, would it still have the same impact? Probably not. But that’s because you still aren’t in the proper frame of mind when it comes to saving. Money is money, whether you get it through investments in the stock market, bonds, a savings account, or heaven forbid coupons!

Taking a few moments to cut out some little pieces paper is probably one of the easiest savings options available, yet many of us throw hundreds of dollars worth of those little bits of paper away each year. Would you throw hundreds of dollars of your own money in the garbage? It’s pretty much the same thing.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hotel Tips


Leaving gratuities for hotel room attendants has gone of the way of the shoeshine and the milkman’s delivery -- it still occurs, but on a less frequent basis. Few hotel guests realize the importance of the tip, not only to the room attendant, but to insure the quality of service received during a guest’s stay.

Just a few dollars a day can make the difference between a top-notch cleaning effort and a quickly thrown together ‘make-up’ of the room. Room attendants remember such a gesture and it will often show in the cleanliness of the room. By leaving a reasonable tip each morning, instead of waiting until the last day of your stay, you’ll better ensure your attendant’s full attention. A smaller daily tip, as opposed to one large one, will also avoid a replacement attendant taking the full gratuity if your normal attendant is not working.

Spotting a Clean Hotel Room

It can be easy to spot a dirty hotel room when you walk in and find stains on the carpet, the bed rumpled, and hair in the shower. But what if everything appears as it should? Can you still be sure your room is completely clean?

To determine how clean your accommodations truly are, look to the details. Here are a couple quick ways to find out whether your room meets your expectations of cleanliness.

• Check for spots, lipstick, and fingerprints on drinking glasses/mugs.
• Look under or around the edges of the bed for dirt and debris.
• Inspect soap dishes for residue.
• Look for debris under chair/sofa cushions.
• Inspect ledges, vents, frames, for dust.

These are just a few of the quick ways to find out whether you are getting your money’s worth from your hotel room.

Determining Hotel Charges

So you’ve returned from your vacation or business trip, everything went as planned, your stay was uneventful, and now you’re looking at your credit card statement. Well, maybe not everything went as planned. Your hotel bill appears to be higher than you expected and you have no idea why. What should you do?

The answer to this question is easy; you cut to the chase. If you call the hotel directly, you’ll typically wind up speaking to either a hotel operator or a front desk agent, neither of which will likely have the answer to your questions. While a front desk agent might be able to help you, you’ll likely waste a lot of time with them, only to find that they aren’t authorized to make billing adjustments. The person you want is in accounting or the front office manager. Speaking to someone who works in accounting or management can make determining what a charge is, whether it is legitimate, and how to make it go away, quicker, easier, and more efficient.

Ten Tips for Stay-at-home Dads


Being a new parent can be an exciting, yet frightening time for anyone, let alone for dads who are planning to stay home with their little one. Fear not though, there are ways to make your experience less traumatizing…even enjoyable! Here are ten tips that can help guide you on your way to successfully navigating the seemingly treacherous waters of being a stay-at-home dad.

Take Advantage of Naptime
Naptime will be one of the few opportunities you have time to relax and get a little bit of time to yourself, so take full advantage. If it has been a particularly busy day or you didn’t get much sleep last night, you might want to consider taking a nap along with your little one.

Try Two Naps
A morning and afternoon nap for you precious pumpkin can help break up the day, as well as give you more time to yourself. It doesn’t always work, but if you can build it into your routine, you’ll learn to love double nap days.

Get Outside
Depending on the weather where you live this might not always be a reasonable suggestion. But being outdoors can be the perfect way to break up monotony and get both of you some fresh air and exercise. It can also be a great way to tire out your baby and get him ready for a nap!

Teaching Activities
When it comes to teaching your little one, try to find learning activities that you both enjoy doing. This tip might sound a bit silly, but if you like to do these learning activities as well, you will tend to do them more often, which will benefit your baby.

Play Ball
Whether your little one is a boy or a girl, playing ball together can be fun and a good stress reliever for both of you. This activity can also help your baby built hand/eye coordination and stay active.

Utilize Onesies
Onesies can be the best friends of stay-at-home dads. They make changing diapers a breeze and are easy to get on and off.

Changing Diapers
Ah yes, the most dreaded activity in all of parenthood, the changing of the diaper. Like many things though, once you get used to it and have a routine, it really isn’t that bad. There are a couple of helpful hints though when it comes to changing. First, wipe your baby’s bottom with the gentle, gingerly touch that you would appreciate. This will help avoid redness, chaffing and irritation. Second, change diapers when needed. Over-changing can be wasteful and under-changing can cause rashes, irritation, and general discontent with your baby. Finally, practice changing diapers in the dark. By learning how to change a diaper by feel, it will allow you to do so at night without bright lights that will further awaken you and your baby.

Don’t Always React
By not reacting or overreacting to every boo-boo, trip, stumble, fall, or bump, your baby can better learn to cry only when crying is necessary. It can also help you determine when there is a real problem or if the crying is only related to a temper tantrum or attention fit.

Talk To Him/Her
While this might seem obvious, there will probably be times when you actually forget to talk to your baby. When an adult isn’t around to actively converse with you over the course of eight to ten hours, talking can begin to seem pointless. But remember, your baby needs interaction too and just hearing the sound of your voice can calm and sooth as well as help him or her begin to build a vocabulary and social skills.

Be The Boss
Finally, let your baby know who is in charge. This is not always easy, but if you set a routine and stick to it, as well as maintain and enforce rules constantly and consistently, you can win this battle of wills. In addition, by changing the tone of your voice when the baby has done something wrong, it will let him or her know when you mean business and when they have done something inappropriate.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

MY MORTGAGE MISTAKE

Finding the right mortgage, and not being taken advantage of during the process, can be tricky business, even for the most savvy consumer. I always thought myself above making mistakes when it came to a mortgage, but soon found myself knee deep in a mistake of my own.

If you are contemplating a mortgage, or moving to some type of early mortgage payoff plan, I urge you to read this article first.
Read more...

SAVINGS BONDS AND WHY I LOVE THEM

I received my first $100 US government savings bond at age sixteen as a essay contest award winner. Ever since then I've been hooked. I love the fact that savings bonds are safe, secure investments that unlike the stock market, won't loose me money and will let me rest easily at night.

There are certainly plenty of financial analysts, stock brokers, and other financial pundits out there that will knock US savings bonds as an investment choice. They'll say the returns on savings bonds aren't high enough, they don't keep up with inflation, or that savings bonds just aren't that great of an investment vehicle.

I disagree, and here is why.

Read more...

Monday, March 8, 2010

EFFECTIVELY NEGOTIATING A HOME PURCHASE


Buying a new home can be a stressful time in any person’s life, and effectively negotiating a price you feel is fair and reasonable can make you want to pull your hair out. You don’t have to be a wizard of high finance or a poker faced deal broker though to get a good deal when you’re buying a new home though. Several key negotiating skills can put you in the driver’s seat when it comes to reaching an agreement with the seller and hopefully save you some money in the process.

RESEARCH
Ensure you make the proper effort at due diligence when it comes to what, where, when, why, and how you are purchasing your home. When you know the market prices of your search area or areas, as well as the demographics, income levels, property tax rates, school systems, etc. you’ll have a better idea of where to begin your negotiations, how hard to push, what your bottom line should be, and when or if you are getting a good deal.

START LOW, BUT NOT TOO LOW
Unless the home is priced well under market value or the market is so hot your hand is forced, you should typically begin your negotiations below the asking price of a home. Sellers will likely factor this aspect of negotiating into their asking price and should be expecting a lower initial offer. Typically, 10-15 percent below asking price may be a good place to start (depending on market conditions). Starting lower than this is of course an option, but you don’t want to offend the seller, possibly creating a strained atmosphere in which he might be less likely to negotiate due to ill will or having taken offense to your initial offer.

DON’T SEEM DESPERATE
Even if you find your dream home or you’re on a tight timeline to purchase a house, you should try not to let on to the seller that this is the case. If the seller finds out you really want or need their home, it gives him the upper hand in negotiating. Make sure that if you are using a realtor that you let him or her know that you don’t want this information made public to the seller. While this negotiating technique might seem obvious, not every realtor out there is proficient in negotiating or even out for your best interest. Remember – realtors are paid largely on commission. That mean’s the higher the sales price, the larger their commission.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK
As my mother always said, “It never hurts to ask. All they can say is no.” If your home inspector discovers unforeseen problems during the course of his inspection, asking the seller to take care of them as a condition of the home sale or to issue you a credit on the sales price can be a great negotiating technique. Use these things to your advantage. If you’ve seen furniture you like inside the home, consider asking the seller if they would be willing to leave it. They might not want to move it anyway and will be willing to sell it to you at a minimal price. An effective negotiator is rarely afraid to ask for something when it is to their advantage.

UTILIZE YOUR REALTOR
Use your realtor as your negotiating tool, that’s what he or she is paid to be. A realtor used as a buffer between you and the seller can allow you to employ negotiating techniques such as making counteroffers, issuing requests for information, stalling for time, and offering firm and final offers.

HOW TO CUT UTILITY BILLS


Monthly utility bills can take a chunk out of any paycheck, big or small. And fewer things are more frustrating than spending money on utilities you might not even be able to see, like electricity and natural gas or that literally gets flushed down the toilet. Many times, we don’t even take a good look at our utility bills, just accepting that we have to pay them and writing the check. If you look at your bills though, and take a couple minutes of your day to follow a few simple tips, it can be easy to reduce your utility bills as well as conserve energy and natural resources.

PLAN OF ATTACK
Much like a general preparing for a battle, you must prepare for your daily utility usage. Just using your utilities in the same way each day is going to cost you. This is more than a battle though– it’s a campaign. By shutting vents to various areas or rooms during certain parts of the day or times of year, you can greatly reduce your consumption. Think of your home as the field of battle with which you must coordinate your attacks depending on your enemy, be it heat, cold, dryness, etc. By limiting the amount of space you utilize in your home, you can greatly reduce your utility bills. By not heating and cooling an entire area, like an upstairs or downstairs, or sectioning off rooms by closing door and vents you can also funnel the available heat or air into the space you are using, warming it quicker and in less time.

UTILZE YOUR SURROUNDINGS
It is amazing how much you can save but using or enhancing what nature provides. By opening blinds or shades when it is cold and allowing sunlight to heat a room, or opening windows to allow outside breezes to cool your home when it is hot, can make a drastic difference. At the same time, by planting trees or tall bushes to block sunlight in warmer climates or decrease wind velocity in cooler areas you can minimize the amount of electricity and/or gas you use to heat or cool your home.

MAKE IT FUN
One of the best ways to cut utility bills is to make the act of conservation fun or interesting. Doing so will not only turn something viewed as a hardship into something exciting, but it can help get the entire family involved. See if you can beat your previous month’s utility bills, or do better than the bill from the same month of the previous year. By making it a challenge you might find that you can work wonders when it comes to decreasing what you owe each month.

TRAIN YOUR FAMILY
Make sure that you let your family know the expectations when it comes to utilities. This can be a great opportunity for kids to learn responsibility, get them involved in helping conserve resources, as well as teaching them about budgeting and saving money. Be assured that when it comes to kids, and often even adults, the habits of turning off lights, conserving water and electricity, keeping the thermostat low, etc. won’t come immediately, but if you keep on them until it’s ingrained, in time it will happen – or they’ll just get tired of your nagging and move out!

Friday, March 5, 2010

FAST CASH WITH CASH4BOOKS.NET

Over the winter, I had some extra time and my hands and decided to earn a little cash on the side. After discovering Cash4Books.net, I realized I had found a way to collect some quick and easy money with very little effort. If you have some books lying around and need a little extra pocket money, Cash4Books.net might be a site worth checking out. My wife, mother-in-law and I made over $400 bucks just by sifting through some used textbooks we no longer wanted.
Read more...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

IS DUMPSTER DIVING THE NEW GARAGE SALE?


With the purse strings being drawn ever tighter among consumers, people are being forced toward more drastic action. Recently, garage sales have been en vogue, as people looking to make some quick cash are meeting those looking to save money by purchasing used items rather than new. But as the recession drags on, there is a new trend sweeping cities and towns. It is known as trash scavenging or ‘dumpster diving’ – and no, this isn’t your run of the mill college version where kids are grabbing milk crates and plywood to make coffee tables. Next trash day in your area, you might want to take a look around or drive through the upscale neighborhoods and see what’s sitting on the curb. People are getting rid of all sorts of good stuff. You might be surprised!

METALS
You can make good money if you have the time and know how to collect metals for resale. Recyclable material like soda cans, or scrap metal salvaged from appliances, tools, plumbing materials, and other household items that are set out as trash can typically be turned in at recycling centers or salvage yards for a price per pound payout.

CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS
You might be surprised at the types of useful construction material people will throw away, especially after they have completed a home renovation or other improvement project. Wood, cinderblocks, bricks, sand, shingles, metal piping, etc. are often set on the curb for the dump unless an enterprising person with projects of their own comes along with an eye for free materials.

FURNITURE
Getting furniture on garbage day can be hit or miss. If it rained the previous night, you might be out of luck when it comes to such items as sofas, sofa chairs, and mattresses. You can find some good home furnishings if you choose selectively and you can always sell or throw out what you don’t want later. You will have to be careful though and use common sense with some types of items, as they can have mysterious odors, stains, or bug infestations. If someone is clearing out their home due to a bedbug infestation, the last thing you want to do is pick up a mattress filled with the little critters and give them a new home.

By thoroughly inspecting items before you take them, you can protect yourself. I tend to leave furniture in the garage for a week or two and take a look at it again before making a real decision as to whether I really want to keep them, resell them or put them back out in the trash. While you’re better protected from issues when picking up dressers, chests, tables, desks, television cabinets, and other furniture made from non-fabric materials, you still can’t assume there aren’t pests hidden inside them.

TOYS
Children’s toys are probably one of the most prevalent items of good quality found in the shopping center of household garbage. From bicycles to stand up sandboxes, and from ride-in cars to wagons, there is a plethora of kid’s toys that might only need a good scrub down before being ready for play. Youngsters often don’t know the difference between “brand new” and “found in the trash,” and who’s going to know besides you unless you tell them? Last summer we found a water table in near perfect condition that would have cost us nearly $100 if we had bought it new.

HOW TO HAVE A SAVINGS PARTY


Finding ways to save money has become increasingly relevant as many of us struggle through the Great Recession. Having a 'savings' party can be a fantastic way to share money saving ideas and techniques, as well as commiserate with and support friends and family as they work through these tough times. Saving money doesn't have to be dull and unpleasant. Here's a quick 'how to' guide that can help explain how to throw your own savings party and assist those closest to you save money.

Read more...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

GARAGE SALE DO’S AND DON’TS


With spring right around the corner, it might be time to start thinking about clearing out some of the clutter that has collected over the winter. Having a garage sale can be a lot of work but it can also be a great way to get ride of stuff and make a little extra cash. There are however, some important and fairly quick and easy do’s and don’ts you should pay close attention to when it comes to your garage sale. Even seemingly insignificant factors can make the difference between a successful and profitable garage sale and a complete waste of time and effort.

DO: Price as many items as you can
The more items you have priced, the less time you will have to spend coming up with prices when people ask. It will take more prep time before your garage sale to do this, but it can save you time during the garage sale and increase your profits.

DON’T: Expect people to ask for prices
Many people who come to a garage sale are turned off when nothing is priced, and if you are busy with another customer don’t expect people to wait around for you to put a price on your junk. Other people are embarrassed or afraid to ask the price, which can limit your sales.


DO: Advertise
Signs, posters, balloons, and flags directing people to your sale can really boost the number of attendees. A small add in the local newspaper can also increase awareness of your garage sale.

DON’T: Over advertise
Spending more money on ads and aids to get people to your garage sale than you make in profits is just bad business. Watch out for extra word costs when advertising in the newspaper that can eat into your garage sale profits.


DO: Sell things don’t want
Selling stuff you want to get rid of is the whole point to a garage sale.

DON’T: Sell everything you don’t want
People aren’t going to want to buy your old underwear, opened tubes of toothpaste, and dirty sweat socks (at least I hope not). Putting super nasty or broken items out for your garage sale can send a bad message and turn people off from buying other items.


DO: Be friendly
Part of selling is being friendly and helpful. Assisting people with questions and trying to up-sell them along the way can really boost your sales and help you get rid of your junk.

DON’T: Talk people’s ears off
Talking incessantly to people who are trying to hunt for bargains at your garage sale can distract and annoy them, causing them to leave before purchasing something.


DO: Let people dicker
Bargain hunting is part of the fun of going to garage sales. Giving people a deal on something, even if it’s just a dollar or two, can really make their day, and might even get them to buy something else with their savings.

DON’T: Always take the first offer
Even though you are having a garage sale to get rid of your old stuff, you don’t always want to take someone’s first offer, especially on higher ticket items. If it’s early in the day and you have a feeling the item will go for a higher price, it might be worth telling them you’ll think about it or you want to wait for offers until later in the day.


DO: Let them test something out
If someone is interested in purchasing an appliance or electronic item at your sale, they probably want to make sure it works. Plugging it into a garage or outside outlet to show them it does is acceptable.

DON’T: Let them inside to test something out
It is not advisable to let someone into your home to test out an item, use the restroom, wash their hands, etc. unless you know them and are comfortable with them doing so.


DO: Try to make a profit
Of course you’re hoping to make a profit by selling your old stuff. Besides cleaning out some space, that’s the whole reason you’re out having a garage sale.

DON’T: Expect a huge profit
While you might think your old junk is a gold mine waiting to be discovered, have no illusions, most other people won’t agree. Unless you are selling big furniture, appliances, collectibles or antiques, chances are you won’t be buying a new car with your garage sale profits.


DO: Invite other families to participate
Having friends, family, or neighbors participate in your garage sale can increase the draw of attendees as well as your profits.

DON’T: Try to sell their stuff for them
Make sure that other people are at your garage sale to sell their stuff. If they can’t attend, ask them to mark all their items with prices, and don’t make deals or take lower offers on their stuff unless they say it is okay.

Monday, March 1, 2010

MONEY & TIME SAVING PROJECTS AFTER BUYING A HOME


Moving into a new home can be an exciting time in one’s life, and the anticipation that comes with this event often makes you want to settle into your new abode as quickly as you can. You don’t want to jump the gun though, as rushing to move all of your possessions into your home can leave you with a lot more work down the road. There are typically plenty of projects that come along with a home, especially if someone has lived there previously. Getting these projects out of the way before your home is cluttered with your belongings can be save you big headaches later.

If you have the time and opportunity, here are some of the larger projects to consider completing before you officially move in.

SORT LEFTOVERS
It’s amazing what people leave behind when they move out of a home. Much of the time it’s junk, but when my wife and I moved into our first house, we found all sorts of stuff – dishes, dining utensils, garden equipment, laundry, even a paperweight I sold on eBay for $80!

CLEAN CARPETS
If your home has carpets, consider cleaning them, having them cleaned, or removing them (if they’re in really bad condition) before you move your furniture into the house. This can make your life easier since you won’t have to work around furniture and other household items you’ve already placed in rooms.

CLEAN/REFINISH HARDWOOD FLOORS
The same can go for cleaning and/or refinishing any hardwood floors that might need some work. By doing this before you move in your furniture, floor rugs, etc. you avoid double work when you have to move all this stuff a second time when you need access to the floors.

REPLACE/REPAIR TILE FLOORS
Like doing work on carpets and wood floors, it can be a good idea to replace or repair any damaged linoleum, ceramic tile, or stone tile surfaces before you have things sitting on top of them. Not only will you save yourself time and effort, but you can avoid doing more damage to already broken or chipped flooring by not moving heavy furniture onto or over it until it’s repaired.

PATCH WALLS/CEILINGS
Patching and repairing walls or ceilings before you hang pictures, mirrors, and other decorations is a good idea. Not only do you avoid having to take those items down later to do the work, but drywall dust has a nasty way of finding its way into and onto furniture, rugs, and other possessions when you’re working on these areas.

PAINT
Instead of moving all your possessions into the home, and then having to move them again or cover them up when you paint, get your painting done with ahead of time. With no furnishings to mess with, you can just throw a drop cloth down on the floor, do your tape work, and get going.

CLEAN
Once furniture is inside your home and blocking walls, baseboards, vents, etc. and you’ve put things in cabinets, drawers, closets, and the like, it can be difficult to do your deep cleaning. Therefore, get this work done while the house is still empty and all areas are easily accessible. This is a good idea, not only because it saves you work doing it later, but who knows what people before you have done to and used these areas for. You don’t want their germs spread to your stuff!

HANG PICTURES/MIRRORS
Hanging pictures, mirrors, cabinets, and other wall decorations after you have make your repairs and done your cleaning, but before you move in, can make your life easier. This way you aren’t stretching over, moving, or working around furniture that is already in place.

LIMERICKS FOR RECESSION


I wrote these about a year ago and just stumbled across them again. I thought I'd throw them out there for the fun of it. Enjoy!

2008
Home prices seemed to forebode,
My retirement account to explode.
Now as I watch on the tube,
I feel like a boob,
All my money is down the commode.

Financial Advisor
As my quarterly call comes in,
It is to my shock and chagrin.
As I talk to my advisor,
He seems none the wiser.
I wonder just where he has been?

My New Home
I just bought a house in '08.
At the time, I though it was great.
Now I feel strong,
My decision was wrong,
And it’s my wife, I get to berate.

A Job?
I once had a very good job,
But all my time it did rob.
I quit ‘cause I knew,
Another one would come through,
And now I just sit like a blob.

My Bad
I just bought a home I thought cute,
A point that now seems rather moot.
But as I look around,
I feel like a clown,
And no one’s here to dispute.