4 Home Maintenance Tasks That Can Save You Money

Owning a home has many benefits, from keeping a roof over you and your family’s heads to serving as an investment that will hopefully increase in value over time. Homeownership is a joy, but it also takes work to care for your home and keep it in good shape. Here are four home maintenance tasks, which if done diligently, will save you money over time.

Keep Gutters Clean

Gutters are attached to the edge of your roof to collect rainwater and divert it away from the foundation of your home. Gutters can easily clog with leaves, sticks, and other natural debris. Once a gutter is clogged, it can trap rainwater and eventually lead to flooded basements and crawl spaces, as well as degrade the quality of a roof and lead to leaks.

Cleaning all your gutters of debris at least once a year will keep rainwater flowing smoothly away from your foundation and spare you from costly repairs in the future.

Replace Weatherstripping

Every place that a hole was cut through an exterior wall of your home — whether for a door, window, or air conditioner — is a place that air can leak out of your house. Depending on the season, you can lose precious heated or cooled air through those leaks. These small leaks will make your furnace or air conditioner work harder, which can decrease its life span and increase your utility costs.

Weatherstripping is the rubber or metal strips that can be installed around doors, windows, and indoor or outdoor appliances to make the leaks airtight and decrease your utility costs over time. As a bonus, stopping those leaks will keep your favorite picture window cozy for curling up in, no matter the season.

Install Clean HVAC Filters

Your HVAC system is likely the largest appliance in your home. HVAC systems not only control the temperature to keep your home comfortable year-round, but they also filter the air to keep dust particles, allergens, and bacteria from circulating throughout the house. To filter the air, heated and cooled air is pushed through a filter. Once that filter becomes clogged, the HVAC system has to work harder to push the air through, decreasing the system’s efficiency.

Luckily, HVAC air filters are relatively inexpensive and easy to switch out. Install a fresh air filter every three months or more frequently if you have pets.

Repair Water Leaks

At least once per year, check your toilets, sinks, and washing machine lines for water leaks. These leaks may not be obvious — especially in less-used areas like guest bathrooms — but they can cause serious damage. Leaking water can result in mildew, mold, and the need to replace flooring and sheetrock.

Checking for toilet leaks is simple with a little bit of food coloring, and sinks and washing machine lines can be checked with a visual inspection. If you see something amiss, either look to repair it yourself or call in a professional.

Your house is not only a place to call home but an investment in your future. Properly maintaining your house will make it comfortable for you and your family, saving you money by having you avoid big repairs in the future.

Read This Before You Sell Your Home for Cash: Must-Know Pros and Cons

If you’re a homeowner considering the option to sell your home for cash to a real estate investor, then this must-read list of pros and cons is for you!

Did you know that the housing market got influenced by the 2008 economic crisis?

As a matter of fact, the homeownership rate declined since 2005. Right now, the rate sits at 64.2%, a surprising slight increase after a decade of decrease.

If you’re in need of money, you might opt for a personal loan to cover for it. Sometimes you might not have the means and might sell your home for cash. Read on if you want to know how this affects you.

Pros

If you’re selling a house to a cash buyer, these are the pros you can expect. Read more here if you want a more in-depth discussion on the pros of selling your home.

1. Investors Buy As-is

There are a lot of people who can’t afford to repair their homes before selling, so if you don’t have the means of funding significant house renovations, cash offers become appealing. After all, your investors will buy your house in its current condition, no matter how bad it might be.

Completing the repairs on your own will cost you both time and money, and a lot of those renovations are necessary to put it up on the market. But the problem lies with the fact that you won’t get as much money in return.

You’ll get a low return on investment for projects like bathroom remodels. So if you want to make the most money, you can sell houses for cash instead.

2. You Avoid Contingency Clauses

There are a lot of contingency clauses on house contracts, and this helps protect buyers since they can back out of the deals. But these can become detrimental to you as a seller.

With this, you need to always keep vigilant when reading contracts since the fine print might say that the buyers only honor the offer if you meet certain conditions. It might be a time limit or something similar.

Either way, you don’t need to worry about it when you’re selling houses for cash since investors don’t need these contingency clauses. It’s an extra hurdle you avoid, making the process more convenient for you.

3. Financing is Different (In a Good Way)

The reason it takes forever to sell homes is due to the banks’ involvement. When borrowing money, you’re working on their timeline since the banks won’t care about your time constraints, regardless of reason.

Financing is the area home sales don’t excel in, that’s why it’s better to sell homes for cash since you don’t deal with banks at all. The investors often pay for any closing fees once you’re done with the deal.

4. Selling is Quicker

If someone shows interest in your home, you don’t need to go through all the processes that involve listing your home. You don’t need to hire professional photographers to make your house look attractive. It’s not required to spend hours to figure out a great marketing description as well.

You’re most likely not going to have an inspection. This allows you to skip out of any responsibilities involving repairs. With this, you also bypass any lending steps common when selling houses.

Often, all you need to do is to call investors. They’ll ask you some questions and make offers based on your answers. You can choose to take it or try somewhere else, making it quick.

Most deals close within a week or two, so you get money without waiting for long. The simplicity and speed can make it a better deal if you don’t have all the time in the world.

Cons

Selling homes for cash is a great way of getting money. But it’s not all benefits for you since there are drawbacks when you opt for this option. Here are some of the few:

1. You’ll Get Lowballed

Any investor buys houses for specific prices. Yet it’s important to remember that you’re trading speed with money when it comes to cash sales. A vast majority of your potential investors will try buying your home for a lot less than its real value.

In most cases, companies will offer around 65%-80% of your home’s fair market value. This means that you get an average of 23% less value per square foot of your property. Remember, investors aren’t buying because they want to live in your home.

Your investors aim to flip the property and sell it at a higher rate for profit. So if you want to get a lot of money, you’re better off hiring a reputable listing agent. You can still get better offers even if your asking price is lower when using the traditional methods.

2. Most Investors Aren’t Local

Companies that buy homes for cash often run a nationwide business. What this means is that they have minimal knowledge of your locality. They’re buying your house with no regard to certain factors since all they care about is to resell it faster.

That means they won’t take your neighbors into consideration. They won’t care whether your area is close to a lot of great places. They’ll disregard the fact that your neighborhood has a low crime rate.

If you want to get a better deal, you might have to sell your house to locals. These people will care about these factors and put it into consideration. That way, you get someone who can use your house and add more to your beloved neighborhood.

Learn How to Sell Your Home For Cash Today!

If you want to sell your house, you need to understand your options. When you’re not concerned about the time it takes, you can go with the traditional method. There are a lot of things that you need to do, but in the end, it will get you a higher monetary value.

When you sell your home for cash, you can expect a fast deal. But it’s often lower than your actual home’s worth. If you don’t want to pay more for renovations, this option is the best.

Do you need tips for selling your home? Check out our guide here and get more tips for a good asking price.

4 Legal Documents You Should Know About

There are a variety of legal documents that currently exist, some of which are easy to identify. However, the mention of most of these documents may come as a surprise to many. It’s important for all citizens to comply with all legal expectation required by the government.

Legal documents serve the imperative role of protecting your loved ones, personal property, assets and most importantly, the legacy you leave behind.

Here are 4 legal documents you should know about:

  • A will

The will is a crucial legal document that every individual needs to create. It lists all your assets and stipulates who gets each of your personal property. It’s best to create your will using the appropriate legal channels. Therefore, consult your attorney prior to commencing. Having a well-written will helps to secure the future of your kids and also allows you to distribute your property as you wish. If you own a prime estate, you should indicate who administers it after you’re gone (the executor). This ensures that the estate is handled by a responsible individual.

  • Social security card

The U.S. government requires all American citizens to have a social security card. Some scenarios in which you might need this card including applying for a job, opening a bank account and utilizing a credit card. You will certainly require to fill Form ss-5 when applying for your unique social security card. When filling this form, it’s important to consider your circumstances – some fill it because their social security card was stolen/lost while others fill it because they were recently married. But whichever the case, you must provide some key information when filling form ss-5. This includes your citizenship status, name and date of birth.

  • Medical Directive

This popular legal document is also called a living will. It explains the sort of care you desire to receive should you fall ill or become incapacitated. It can either be specific or wide-ranging, depending on your own preferences. Living wills normally define medical issues such as life-sustaining treatments. This document is extremely important because it dictates how health professionals should proceed should you fall terribly and lack the ability to communicate. You might be currently healthy, but our bodies degenerate as we age. We are also prone to accidents and unfavorable incidents that may leave us in terrible states. That’s why it’s crucial to have a succinct medical directive.

  • Revocable living trust

Wealth comes with its distinct set of complications. In a few cases, children forcibly take over the property and estates of their parents, much to the chagrin of the latter. A revocable living trust is a critical legal document that helps prevent such scenarios from happening. It secures your parents’ control and management of their estates, allowing them to transfer assets to beneficiaries as they deem fit. Simply put, parents become the executors of those property, estates and assets that they own. This revocable living trust effectively circumvents estate probates when their owners pass away.

These 4 legal documents will certainly come in handy at one point or another, so act hastily to avoid ruffling the feathers of law enforcers.

5 Tips to using a Mini Excavator

The number of people buying mini-excavators are increasing thus increasing the need to know how to use it effectively. The reason as to why excavators are increasing in number is because they have found different project and they have been customized for different projects. The other reason as to why you need to know how to use your mini excavator is the way that you use it will determine the productivity of the mini excavator and the lifetime value that it offers. Here are 5 useful tips that you need to have when using the mini excavator.

  1. Read the Safety manual

This is the most important thing that any user needs to do. The first step before using a mini-excavator is to read the safety manual. This is because the operator safety needs to be paramount. The safety tips which are universal include; maintaining the right weight, not working when the excavator is raised and making sure that the user has the right gear.

  1. Carry out pre-start check

After reading the manual the next thing which should follow, is to carry out the pre start checks. This includes making sure that the indicator lights and gauge light are working properly. Another check is to make sure that the seatbelt is present and working. One should never operate a mini excavator without having their seat belt on. Make sure that no one else is in the excavator and that you read all the warnings stickers which are posted on the excavator.

  1. Movement

When the mini-excavator is in operation and moving it’s important to make sure that the mini excavator tracks are in a straight line. The machine needs to be steer in a straight line as much as possible and when a change in direction is required the it should be done gradually and not abruptly. In movement on terrain the movement should be slow and the movement in an inclined area needs to be up or down and not diagonally as this can cause the mini-excavator to trip.

  1.    Digging/Excavating

Before the mini-excavator can start digging it’s important to make sure that the ground is level. The importance of level ground is that it increases the stability of the min-excavator and makes the works much easier. During excavation the mini-excavator should not be placed too close to the edge as the more you work the more the ground becomes unstable and may topple the machine.

  1.    Shutting down

After work the mini-excavator has to be shut down, there are few things which must be observed when shutting down the mini excavator. The machine has to be on a level ground and the blade and the bucket needs to be lowered to the ground. The RPM needs to be set to low and then the engine switched off and not the other way round. The operator should make sure that whether alighting or getting on the excavator they maintain three point of contact for their safety.

Creative Ways to Make More Money on the Side

Regardless of how much money you earn during a standard month, and how successful you are in your chosen career, there will be periods during everyone’s life where they wish they had a little extra cash lining their pockets. Perhaps you are saving for a dream vacation and at the glacial pace at which your holiday fund is growing.

It feels as though you won’t be able to afford it until retirement age! In an ideal world, it would be as straightforward as simply asking our bosses for extra overtime or an advance on our paycheck but in reality, that isn’t always an option. If you’re interested in making money on the side, keep reading:

Teach English Online

No prior experience as a Teacher you say? No problem! Over the course of the past decade, the demand for ESL Teachers (English as a second language) has soared. With more and more young people across the globe realizing the importance of learning English and the benefits that this could have on their professional careers, there is also more and more demand for English teachers. With regards to people relocating overseas, and those that teach online from anywhere. The specific requirements vary depending on the company in question, however for many online English Teacher opportunities there are no formal teaching qualification requirements. Having a TEFL or a similar teaching certificate is beneficial but not necessarily a prerequisite.

Most of the students using these websites are based in Far East countries such as China, Japan and South Korea and they want to improve their spoken English and pronunciation skills by practicing with a native speaker. This could be a perfect side hustle because essentially you are just getting paid to enjoy chatting with people about their hobbies and interests, rather than anything too strenuous. You may even make a new friend in the process!

Sell Your Unwanted Items

Okay so you don’t have to go around pawning all of your worldly possessions just to make a quick buck, however you may be surprised by how much value you have laying around the house in things that you aren’t using. For example, remember when you went through that fashion phase when you thought that clunky heavy gold jewelry looked incredible yet those items have been tucked away in a box ever since for the past four years?

If you don’t intend to wear an item of clothing or piece of jewelry again then it is doing no good just collecting dust. There are many dedicated websites where you can sell off your old items – from sites dedicated to clothing, to those dedicated to electronics, CDs and DVDs and even books. You can also look into Truval in New York if you’re wanting to sell your old jewelry. Sure it’s not a long term option, but you can make a few hundred dollars this way for sure.

Remote Working

Virtually any professional skill that can be done while working in an office can also be done remotely. Perhaps you have experience as an administrative assistant, or you built a successful career in international marketing. More than likely you will be able to find additional work to occupy your evenings and weekends through freelance platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, and any number of other similar platforms, or through marketing agencies.

Social Media Management

Do you consider yourself as having a knack for writing captions on your Facebook and Instagram that have your friends either feeling incredibly inspired, or cracking up in fits of laughter? Perhaps you could be well suited for a sideline in social media management! The beauty of this line of work is that it does not require oodles of background experience or any formal qualifications.

All that you will need to demonstrate is that you have an understanding of how to create compelling content for social media that encourages likes, clicks, and shares. If you have experience as a Blogger, or you have grown something of a following yourself then that is just an added benefit. There are many companies, brands and large scale blogs that search for someone to assist them in this manner so there is no shortage of opportunities available here.

Freelance Writing

Have a passion about a particular niche and a good grasp of grammar and written English? Then you could find plenty of opportunities available to you in freelance writing. When people think of paid work as a freelance writer, their minds immediately conjure up ideas of having to enter an extremely competitive market to write for leading publications and magazines however that isn’t necessarily the case.

Plenty of companies look for writers to contribute to their blog sections or to produce written website content and the pay for writing services can be quite good, especially if you have expertise in niche areas such as real estate or business and economics. To find paid opportunities as a writer, you can simply reach out to marketing agencies online and in your area, or browse the job boards on online freelancer platforms.

Rest assured, there are plenty of viable options available for making a little cash on the side which don’t involve resorting to pawning all of your worldly possessions, or busking on the street for coins! Keep these tips in mind if you’re looking to make extra money, and find which option works best for you.

4 Tips to Getting a Duplicate Social Security Card

All American residents require a social security card. It features your social security number and thus it’s important to keep it safe. With the number, you aren’t just able to process your personal records, but also financial records, including collecting your social security benefits. Therefore, losing or misplacing your social security card is cause for alarm.

If you’ve lost your card, you need to get a duplicate social security card. Here are the four tips to getting a copy of your social security card if you lose it:

Top 4 Tips to Replacing a Social Security Card

  1. Report the Stolen or Lost Card

Report the stolen or lost social security card to the social security office the moment you realize it’s no longer under your possession. The Internal Revenue Service office also needs to receive a report on the stolen card to ensure nobody uses it fraudulently to file taxes. Contact the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information website to report the theft.

The other office you need to contact is the Internet Crime Complaint Center to help ensure nobody apart from you gets to use your card.

  1. Print Form SS-5

After downloading the social security form SS-5 from the website of the US Social Security Administration, print it to apply for a copy of your lost or stolen social security card. Since the form is a PDF file, you need to ensure that Adobe Acrobat Reader is installed on your computer to enable you to open the file. Available on the Adobe website, simply download the form for free.

  1. Fill the Downloaded Form SS-5

After downloading the SS-5 form available as a PDF file, you need to fill it with your personal details as prompted.

  1. Provide Proof of Identity & Immigration Status or Citizenship

Proof of your citizenship or legal immigrant status is required to get a duplicate social security card after losing the original one. US citizens can produce a US passport, US birth certificate, certificate of citizenship, US birth consular report or certificate of naturalization to prove their citizenship.

If you’re an immigrant, provide your immigration documents to get your card replaced. A work permit card issued by the Homeland Security Department or Form I-551, I-94 with a current foreign passport is the only acceptable document for immigrants. The documents can either be certified copies or originals, but not notarized copies or photocopies. They are often mailed back.

An identity card issued by the state, a driver’s license or a US passport is an acceptable document for identity proof. In case these documents aren’t available, an adoption decree, marriage certificate, employee identification card, a life insurance policy, a school ID or a US military ID is acceptable.

The documents must feature your recent photo, identifying information, and full names to be acceptable. They must also be current with up-to-date information.

Conclusion

When done filling the application form and have the documents ready, find a social security office near you for submission. Submit your application via mail, online or in person and wait for your replacement social security card to arrive through mail. If you’re busy and work on a tight schedule, you can use third party services to replace your lost or stolen card.

However, if you want to save money and get a duplicate card free of charge, make the application on your own. The forms are available for free download online.

Visit https://www.application-filing-service.com/socialsecuritycard/change-name-on-social-security-card/ to help you apply for a duplicate social security card

Making Health Insurance Work for You

5 ways to optimize your insurance while minimizing your costs

Health insurance in the United States is currently in disarray. When the Republicans won the White House and started changing aspects of the law, Obamacare had already run into unforeseen difficulties making it harder for many people to get insurance.

This uncertainty, layered on top of the problems already existent with Obamacare has created a great deal of confusion amongst the consumers. Although health insurance is still mandated, the market has become volatile.

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It would take an expert in health insurance to figure it all out, which I am certainly not, but there are a few ways to ensure you have the best coverage for you and your family:

  1. Talk to an expert. Seriously, the advice and tips you get online are a good base, but it is impossible for a generic online article to account for all your personal variables. Every state has different requirements and rules and, as a consequence, the overarching framework of Obamacare became a muddled mess of laws, guidelines and requirements. There was a reason that the government trained people in setting up healthcare accounts when the law went active.
  2. Balance your needs with your means. If your policy has a $10,000 deductible to make it affordable, you probably have the wrong policy. Keeping it cheap while you are healthy by increasing the deductible to lower the monthly costs means that if and when you do get sick and need insurance, you will be paying a lot of money out of your pocket.
  3. Don’t dismiss any options. Medicaid is under something of a cloud right now, especially with doctors trying to collect from it, but it is better than nothing if you can’t afford health insurance or there are no providers in your state. Having some coverage will make it easier for you to see a doctor and minimize problems with emergency room or urgent care visits.
  4. Explore other options. With the current health insurance mess, other options have been appearing. As the health insurance crisis in the United States continues, these options will expand and alternative methods of healthcare will come into focus. With the government not enforcing the penalty for non-compliance, it is possible – although not advisable – to skip getting health care at all.
  5. Even if you don’t have health care, make sure your kids do. As an adult, you can decide to opt out of health care, but children don’t have that option. While figuring out how to maximize your insurance results you want to check out child only health insurance quotes online. Keeping your child covered is an expense you must be able to afford.

There is simply no telling what health insurance is going to look like in a year. Obamacare is unsustainable, the new Senate health bill hasn’t been voted on yet, but it will add to the confusion instead of subtracting from it. It is not in government’s nature to simplify any process.

Ensuring that you and your family are covered, whether that coverage is good or simply adequate, will help you ride through the process. Next year, it may change completely and everyone will have to start over. Other than reading tea leaves, there is just no way to tell.