4 Ways to Save Money on Home Repairs

Home repairs are a key reason many homeowners have an emergency fund. When an emergency strikes, you need to be able to protect one of your largest investments. If a repair isn’t an emergency, you’ll be able to take your time and save even more money on your repairs.

How can you save money?

1. Call Around and Ask for Quotes

If you have repairs that you’ve been putting off, sit down and write down a list of the repairs you need to make. Do-it-yourself repairs will require you to sit down and determine all of the materials you’ll need to make the repair, including tools.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll want to call different hardware stores and check online for the best price possible on materials.

But if you want to call on a professional, don’t be afraid to call multiple professionals and ask for a quote. You need to know the going rate for all of the repair work you need complete, and this is the absolute best way to determine local, fair pricing.

2. Manufacturer Rebates are Your Friend

Being frugal pays off in the long-term. Manufacturer rebates allow you to save a lot of money on home repairs, and if you buy expensive equipment, this can mean thousands of dollars in savings.

Ask retailers about any rebates that may exist, or call the manufacturer directly.

Incentives often include products that are environmentally-friendly, so if you keep the environment in mind when making your purchase, you’ll be able to save money in the process.

3. Search for Deals from Contractors

If you plan on hiring a contractor, don’t be afraid to scour their site for deals. You’ll find contractors or service providers won’t tell you the deals they’re offering unless you ask or find them yourself.

I opt to try and find deals before negotiating on price.

You can do a quick Google search for the company name and “discounts” or “coupons.” I did a quick search on Miranda, and I’ve found savings of $30 on a variety of services. Some service providers will openly promote these deals on their website, too.

If you happen to see a deal, print it out and have the website available on your smartphone for further validation.

4. Qualifying Tax Credits May Exist

Tax credits often exist for home improvement and remodeling projects. These deductions can be significant in the long-term, and you can often find out how much you’ll save by checking out the latest rebates and credits.

Every country is different when they offer tax credits, and your country may not offer a tax credit at all.

New homeowners, and this can extend up to four years for Canadians, may also be able to apply for a tax rebate. These rebates may not lower your repair bills, but they’ll be able to offset costs, which is a welcomed money-saving opportunity.

If you wait too long to make a repair, you also risk causing further damage, which is costlier in the long-term. So, stop putting off those much-needed repairs and start saving on potential future repairs.

3 Tips for Lowering Your Electric Bill in the Heat of Summer

Although everyone who rents or owns a home has to pay the bills each month, that doesn’t mean that getting the bill in the mail and seeing how much you owe grows any easier as time goes on. In fact, when the hot or cold months roll around, it often gets ever harder to live with that bill, since it’s usually going to be higher for most of us.

Luckily, there are quite a few things you can do to help yourself and your family consume less energy, and therefore pay a smaller bill during these peak times. Here are three tips for lowering your electric bill during the heat of summer.

Take Advantage of Your Windows

In the summer, it’s not only the exterior temperature that can heat up your home and compel you to use more electricity to stay cool. According to Amanda C. Haury, a contributor to Forbes.com, the sun glaring through your windows can also cause your home to heat up more than you’d like.

Knowing this, it’s a good idea to use your windows strategically. When the day cools off and turns to night, open your windows so you can let some of that cooler air inside and help offset the use of your air conditioner. Once the heat of the sun picks up again in the morning, close your windows and close heavy blinds over them to block out the sun and its heat.

Be Careful with Your Temperatures

Although you might like to keep your home very cold in the summer for relief from how it feels outside, you’re going to be paying a lot of money if this is how you choose to set your thermostat. But if you’re hoping to lower your bills, you’re going to want to be careful about which temperatures you choose to set.

According to Chris Bibey, a contributor to Money Crashers, you shouldn’t set your air conditioner to kick on any lower than 78 degrees. This might sound a bit warmer than you’d like, but it will still help to keep you cool inside while saving a lot of money on your monthly power bill.

Use Proper Insulation

To ensure that you’re able to keep the hot air out of your home and the cool air inside, it’s essential that you keep the proper amount of insulation in your home. According to Austin Lichtenstein, a contributor to Smart Energy, you can also use caulking or weather stripping to seal off any location in your home where you discover leaks may be occurring.

If you’re looking for a few ways you can stay cool this summer without having to bring home large energy bills, consider using the tips described above to help you do this.

Recovering from Financial Setbacks

There are many ways that people can slip into a bad financial situation. Unexpected expenses, such as medical bills and car repair bills, can take us by surprise. People may not receive expected income due to job loss or cutbacks. While all of these situations are stressful, they certainly aren’t the end-all. There are ways you can recover from financial setbacks and get your life back on track.

Getting Back On Your Feet After Bankruptcy

In some unfortunate circumstances, you may need to file for bankruptcy. If this is the case, don’t beat yourself up about it. Many others are in the same boat; 1.37 million Americans filed bankruptcy in 2011. Use this as an opportunity to re-evaluate your expenses and learn from the experience to avoid making the same mistakes again in the future. Pinpoint what caused the bankruptcy in the first place and work to find a solution. If you weren’t good with planning your expenses, consider setting a budget. If you had an emergency expense, such as a medical bill, you might create a savings plan in case something like that happens again. Finally, bankruptcy can take a toll on your credit. Therefore, it is important to reestablish good credit.

If you find that you need a bit of cash right away, consider using a service such as Eastern Loans, which provides payday loans in Canada. Companies like this can let you borrow a few hundred dollars to use for any immediate expenses you may have. You then can pay them back over the period of a few months.

Repairing Your Credit Score

Take out a couple credit cards and make sure to pay them on time every month in order to build your credit back up. If you are unable to get a credit card, try applying for a secured credit card instead. With these cards, you pay a deposit, and your credit limit is determined based on your deposit amount. This is a great way to build credit if you find getting a traditional credit card is not an option. It might take time, but eventually you can improve your credit score so it’s as good as it ever was. Obtain your credit report and double check it to make sure all information is correct. While you cannot erase accurate negative information pertaining to your credit, you will want to fix any incorrect records that might exist. If you find inaccurate information, speak with the company that the payment (or lack of payment) applies to so they can take steps to fix it.

If you suffer from bad credit, but find yourself in a situation where you need to make an important purchase, such as that of a vehicle, purchase from a company that will help you out a little. For example, Auto Auction Mall will let you finance a car with bad credit, which will allow you to have the assets you need to keep living your day-to-day life.

Dealing Emotionally and Mentally

Finding yourself in a bad financial situation can be stressful, to say the least. In addition to getting your finances back in order, it is also important that you take care of your own mental health when situations like this arise. Don’t overreact or make rash decisions. There isn’t going to be a quick fix, so don’t splurge on things such as a lottery ticket in hopes that it might solve all of your problems. Instead make logical, rational decisions about how to handle your finances from here on.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for emotional support. Sometimes just talking through things can help you feel better. You might also consider getting some professional help from counselors or financial advisors. These people are trained to help you feel better about your financial situation in the future. Also, make sure you are still taking good care of yourself by getting enough sleep and eating well. Being physically healthy can help you stay mentally healthy, and it helps you maintain the skills you need to address these financial setbacks. Finally, don’t beat yourself up. While this isn’t a fun situation to be in, you are not alone. Many people face financial problems in their lifetimes and are able to recover just fine.

4 Mistakes You’re Making with Your Money

Living frugal, maxing out your retirement fund and making the right financial choices is a good start. But knowing the most common mistakes people are making with their money can help you avoid costly mistakes.

The biggest money mistakes are often the simplest to fix, but with a little effort, you can correct these mistakes and save more for your retirement.

1. Paying Down Balances Instead of Contributing to a 401(k)

Stop trying to pay down balances on low interest debt before contributing to your 401 (k) account. A general rule of thumb is to focus on maxing out your 401 (k) when interest rates are 5% or lower. This means not paying off your mortgage faster before making a contribution.

Credit cards are a completely different beast.

Since credit cards have interest rates that can range from 8% to 30%+, you’ll want to tackle paying off these debts first. There are a lot of methods to follow, but a lot of people prefer the snowball method to pay off their credit cards quickly.

2. Neglecting Common Home Repairs

A home is one of the biggest investments a person will make. You need a place to live, and owning a home means you have a dwelling you can call your own. Paying off a mortgage is great, but neglecting common home repairs is not.

Homeowners will often neglect small repairs that turn into a costly mess.

Small leaks in piping, for example, can lead to costly mold problems or a potential pipe burst. Mold can cause a home to be deemed uninhabitable, and this means that your home is now valued at a lot less, if it has a value at all.

Don’t neglect common repairs while they’re small. Call on professionals, like Roto Rooter Ventura, to make a repair, or at the very least, determine the problem and make the repair yourself.

Otherwise, you may be losing money on your largest investment.

3. Forgetting That Stocks are Long-term

Traditional stocks are meant to be long-term. These stocks are what you’ll find on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq – not penny stocks. Panic mode is never good with stocks because stocks are designed to be a long-term game.

Think of the S&P 500.

The index has its ups and downs daily, yet it has positive returns 70% of the time in the past 90 years. This means despite ups and downs, in the long-term, the S&P 500 has been profitable. When stocks start to go into the red, don’t panic and sell.

Remember, stocks are meant to be long-term, so don’t check them daily.

4. Never Adjusting Your Portfolio

Investment portfolios are not designed for a “set and forget” type of approach. You want to take an approach that checks your portfolio periodically and adjusts it. This may mean selling off underperforming stocks to invest in an index fund.

Or this may mean buying more bonds because the economy is suffering from growth problems.

Make tactical changes so that your portfolio doesn’t remain stagnant. There are a lot of investment portfolio strategies, so pick the one that you’re most comfortable with based on risk and reward.

3 Tips for Balancing Your Savings and Paying Down Debt

Choosing whether to save or pay off debts can be a difficult decision. Saving money for a rainy day or retirement seems like a top priority, but will your debts linger on for years to come? 

Managing debt and maintaining savings is tailored to each individual, and different strategies can be implemented in helping to achieve your goals. Here are three tips on how to maintain a balance between paying down debt and saving.

Learn to Budget

The first step to managing your finances better is learning how to budget. Knowing your expenditure can seem like a scary thought at first, but creating a budget helps to prioritize financial obligations.

Start with your monthly income after tax, and then list your expenses. According to Certified Financial Planner, Jeff Rose, it’s best to separate your expenses into three categories.

  • Fixed: rent and debt repayments (these expenses are necessities).
  • Variable: groceries, travel expenses and utility bills (expenses that can be adjusted).
  • Optional: expenses that aren’t necessary, such as going to the movies, out to restaurants or on vacation (expenses that you can live without).

Breaking down expenses into categories helps identify optional expenses. By reducing them, you’re saving money.

Refinancing Debt

Gather information and find out the total amount owed, the interest charges, and the terms of the loans like how long you have to pay. 

Student loan refinancing can be one of the most effective ways to lower your monthly outgoings and help make your finances more manageable. Refinancing is essentially applying for a private loan at a much lower interest rate, and that could potentially save you thousands of dollars. Refinancing companies tend to be strict in terms of eligibility. Most lenders will want to see a steady stream of income, ability to manage finances, and good credit history.

Paying Down Debt First

Now that you have an idea of where you can free up some cash, it’s time to prioritize paying down larger debts first and paying the minimum towards debts with lower interest rates.

Donald Hammond, MBA, CFP, and executive vice president at Maritime Financial Group suggests:

“List your debt from the highest interest rate to the lowest. Pay off the highest-interest cards and loans first, paying more than the minimum each month. Continue to at least make minimum payments on the rest. Work your way down until everything is paid off.”

With this method, Hammond suggests to get more aggressive on larger debts with higher interest rates. For example, paying $400 towards a credit card with an interest rate of 17 percent is going to be more effective than paying down a credit card with an interest rate of 7 percent. 

You Can Do It

Saving for the future and paying down debt doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. Establish a budget, and you’ll get a clear picture of which outgoings can be tweaked to save money. The methods listed above are a strategy to chip away at your debts, maintain savings, and bring you one step closer to becoming debt-free. 

Extra Income for Artistic Types

It’s the ever-present bane of someone in the arts: how to actually make an income. Very few actors, painters, writers, and musicians can actually make a full living simply doing their craft and nothing else. Rarely does anyone actually become wealthy by it. Most artists take on a second (or third, or fourth) job in order to make ends meet. Waiting tables may be the classic method to go about generating income, but there are other, less exhausting options as well that provide the flexibility to let you pursue your craft while you make some dough.

Freelancing

If you have a particularly sought-after skill, such as web design, copy editing, or blog writing, freelancing may be a great option for you. As a freelancer, you hire yourself out to clients to perform a task for them. For instance, a company may need someone to proofread their monthly newsletter, but they don’t want to hire someone permanently just for that task. They will turn to a freelancer to do it as a one-off project or even on an ongoing basis. As a freelancer, you pick what projects you want to do, and you essentially piece together your own schedule, leaving you the time to pursue your art. Lots of freelance jobs are also remote, which means that you may even be able to work while you travel.

Freelancing can be great for artistic types, because you can freelance as you do your craft. An actor may go into voice-over work. A pianist may hire him or herself out to play for weddings and parties.

The drawback with freelancing is that it can be a bit tough to get started. Freelance platform sites like Upwork and MediaBistro can be great, but the competition is fierce. You might start by marketing yourself via word-of-mouth to friends and colleagues.

You also need to know how to file taxes as a freelancer. You should fill out a W-9 for your clients, get a 1099 form from the client (if you earned more than $600), and fill out a 1040 form for the IRS. How much you earn will determine the other types of forms you use. Since you’re self-employed, you won’t have part of your income withheld, so you may face a large sum come tax time. In order to keep this large amount from catching you off-guard, either stash away a percentage of your income every month or file taxes quarterly. You’ll have a lot of stuff you can write off, however. Keep track of everything that might be a business expense, right down to your computer! A good accountant can also help you figure out what you can write off.

Day Trading

If you’ve got a knack for numbers and tend to obsess over things, you might look into part-time trading. It usually takes about one to three hours of your time each day (during the official opening and closing of the market), especially once you get into the flow of it.

Trading, whether full-time or part-time, takes strategy and know-how. For instance, you should know what the Relative Strength Index (RSI) is. (It measure the speed and change of stock prices in order to determine if stocks are being overbought or oversold.) Make sure you educate yourself on a solid RSI trading Strategy from a reputable source.

There are some essential tips you should keep in mind if you’re a first-time trader. For instance, rather than jumping around from strategy to strategy, pick one and stick with it. As you gather facts about trading, make sure you learn how to trade as well. You might start with this strategy developed by a veteran part-time trader to help simplify and streamline the process for beginners.

And you can’t slack on it! Trading, even part-time, means you have to monitor the market all the time and make carefully-planned decisions. You can’t just trade when you feel like it; you have to dedicate yourself to a daily regimen. There’s not a lot of room for error. In the early days, you should also have another job, because you probably will make a lot of mistakes. Over time, though, successful trading can give you the flexibility you need to travel and say, “Yes,” to projects that forward your artistic career.

Temping

Lots of artists turn to temping as a way to make money. Temp jobs can last for one day, or they can last for months. If you are good at data entry, handling phones, or even cleaning, a temp agency may be a good way to go.

A temp job could be anything from covering the front desk for a day, stepping into retail service during Christmas, or stepping into a personal assistant role for a few months while the permanent employee is on maternity leave. You may go into a temp job knowing the exact end date, or you may go into one that turns into a permanent position–temp-to-hire is a common route lots of companies and employees take. And it’s a good way to learn new skills and make connections–that way, if you’re in a car wreck, you can call up that personal injury lawyer Surrey you worked for for a summer and get some advice.

When you apply for a temp agency, they do the vetting and interview process, so companies looking for, say, a new receptionist already know they have good options. And you can always turn down a temp job. Granted, you may have a maximum number of jobs you can reject, but if you are getting called for work on a day-by-day basis, and you have a gig come up, you do have the opportunity to decline. Since you’re technically hired by the staffing agency, you may be eligible for employer insurance if you work enough hours. And if there aren’t jobs available, lots of temp agencies will let you work a half-day for them, so you’re at least getting some pay for the day.

Of course, temping also means changing jobs frequently and having to get used to a new workplace environment time and time again. But if you want to financially support a life in the arts, temping may be a good, well, temporary way to pay the bills while you get established as an artist.

Most Common Causes of Water Damage in Houses

“Insurance claims of homeowners for water damage have been growing faster than other insurance components,” according to the American Insurance Association. Billions of dollars are spent each year in restoring properties affected by water damage across the nation.

Water damage occurs when excess water pools in certain areas, due to various factors. Such damage can put a hole in a home-owner’s pocket. Water is capable of causing irreparable damage to floors, wood furniture, upholstery, household appliances, electronics, plumbing equipment and even property structure, which can cost thousands of dollars in repairs, says an expert at Disaster Restore 365, a reputed water damage restoration service in Houston.

Water damage also increases the risk of mold and other organisms breeding in the house and causing health issues like aggravating allergy and asthma symptoms, especially in children and people with a weak immune system. It also increases the risk for respiratory diseases and other health problems.

Water Damage Due to Leaking Pipes

Plumbing, faucets or pipes leaking are some of the most common causes of damage to the walls, ceilings or floors. Damage occurs when water seeps in from cracks in the foundation or at the exterior of the dwelling, allowing water to enter your home. Corrosion, excess water pressure, clogs, movement and degradation are the common causes of pipe leakage. In Houston, residents rely on water removal & extraction services to prevent water damage to their property.

Houses with Flat Roofs

In Houston, most homes have a flat roof that is slightly convex, which makes the water to run off into the gutters, to prevent any potential damage. Over time, leaves, branches and debris build up on the roof. The excess pressure applied causes the roof to slightly collapse inwards at the weakest point. This makes water to pool on the top of the roof, leading to water damage and formation of mold on the ceiling and roof, while creating cracks and leaks.  

Blocked Gutters

The gutter system is included in the house structure to redirect water away from the roof. It keeps the water away from the building by making it run off the edges. However, over time, gutters can get blocked with leaves and branches. When water can’t find passage, it starts to overflow, running down the sides of the building. This stains the walls with watermarks and damages the walls.

Malfunctioning Household Appliances

Washing machines, refrigerators, water heaters and dishwashers are some common appliances used in households. However, with time, the pipes in them start to rust and crack, which can cause water damage in homes. Washing machines and water tanks are the most common culprits of such scenarios.

Natural Disasters

Natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis are no less than a nightmare. The amount of damage to human lives and property can go beyond imagination. When floods, storms and hurricanes occur, they trigger water build-up, which can cause irreparable damage to property. Homeowners need to contact an emergency service for flood damage, flood restoration and flood cleanup as soon as possible to prevent mold build-up.

Water damage can occur in so many other ways. It is always better to get the home inspected by an experienced water damage specialist in Houston to track down the problem in its initial stages.

4 Home Repairs that Can Bust the Family Budget

They say your home is your biggest investment, but it’s also one of the biggest expenses you’ll ever incur. A leaky roof here, a burst water pipe there. Before you know it, you’ve spent thousands of dollars on repairs and maintenance before you even celebrated your home’s 10-year anniversary.

Many repairs are minor and easy to tackle on your own, but some can really bust the family budget. Here are four home repairs that will cost you big time.

1. Pests

Pests, critters – call them what you will. No matter their name, they will cost you money to exterminate.

Your family home is a pretty cozy and comfortable place to live. Bugs and other critters don’t understand trespassing laws. They just see a safe, warm place to ride out the winter or build a nest.

From mice to termites, raccoons and everything in between, homes are an easy target for pests.

Depending on the type and severity of the infestation, extermination can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Repairing the damage can push the final bill even higher.

2. Tree Roots

That big, beautiful tree in your yard is the perfect place to hang a swing and catch some shade in the summer. But it can also cause you big problems in the future.

Eventually, the roots may grow into the drain line in your yard. Clogs and backups are common when roots invade sewer pipe lines.

A sewer camera inspection may be necessary if you’re dealing with clogs and backups.

According to Next Level Pipe Lining, sewer camera inspections provide “a clear picture of the state of your pipes, the nature of your damage, and where the problem is located. This is in contrast to traditional methods, which used an estimated guess to locate the source of your plumbing problem.”

Sewer repair is expensive and will require technicians to dig up your yard to access your pipes. Expect to spend even more money on repairing your yard after the work is complete.

3. Leaking Windows

If your windows are leaking, they may just need some new caulking. Or – they may need to be replaced entirely. On top of the leak issue, you also have to worry about water damage and mold growth.

Almost all windows will leak at some point. Finding the root cause of the leak can be a challenge.

Caulking is a simple, inexpensive fix, but window replacement can be very costly.

4. Roof Repairs

A home’s roof is vulnerable to rotting, leaks and other issues. Repairing a few shingles or fixing a few spot leaks will only cost you a few hundred dollars. However, when the damage is extensive, the entire roof may need to be replaced.

A complete roof replacement can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $12,000 or more, depending on the size of the roof and the material used.

As with most home issues, prevention can go a long way in helping avoid these costly repairs. Regular roof and sewer inspections can help prevent expensive replacement. Sealing holes and windows can prevent pest invasions and leaks.

 

RRSP's

RRSP.ORG Registered Retirement Savings Plan

Registered Retirement Savings Plan – RRSP.ORG the original website that best describes everything you wanted to know about Canadian registered plans and schemes has taken a turn for the best. The information and knowledge base on RRSP.ORG is more than ready for change and a complete overhaul.

MONEY.CA the leading Canadian money and personal finance website has acquired the aging website for all the right reasons. RRSP is just one of many keyword subject sites that most of Canada wants and needs. For over 20 years this small and meaningful site providing news and information in the world of Registered plans for Canadians has now been taken over by people who know and care dearly about the subject matter and the benefits and advantages it brings to Canadian’s, the government and the country as a whole.

Look forward to the changes and updates as Canadian financial consumers will learn how to make, save and preserve more of their hard earned wealth. The advisor channel is more than welcome to contribute news, information, stories and articles that make sense and pays dividends to the average Canadian.

How the Opioid Epidemic is Having a Devastating Impact on Our Economy

If you have been reading or listening to the news lately, you know that the opioid epidemic in America is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, there is a good chance that you have been personally addicted by this modern plight on our society. Even if you don’t know someone who has struggled with opioid addiction, this crisis is far-reaching and goes well beyond the nation’s emergency rooms. Opioid addiction is devastating the workforce and the economy, which means it could be impacting you in ways you don’t even realize.

A Smaller, Less Experienced Workforce

As of 2016, experts estimated that over 2.7 million people in the US are addicted to opioids. As a result, fewer citizens are able to participate in the labor force. While many are quick to assume that young people account for most of the addicted population, the majority of addicts are white men between the ages of 45-64. This means that some of the most experienced and knowledgeable resources within the workforce are being sidelined. While it is difficult to know the exact role that opioid addiction is playing in the steep decline in labor force participation that began in 1999, researchers estimate that 20% can be attributed to opioid addiction.

The Toll on Families

As more people succumb to opioid addiction, more babies are born already addicted. In fact, every 19 minutes an opioid addicted infant is born in the US and their only choice of treatment is to go cold turkey. This means constant monitoring by hospital staff as the baby experiences the painful effects of withdrawal. If symptoms persist, doctors will administer methadone or morphine to keep the baby alive. As these babies develop, they will continue to face challenges and usually suffer from learning disabilities and trouble with social engagement. This can often begin a cycle of problems that places a burden on community and government resources.

An Overwhelmed Foster Care System

Even before the opioid epidemic began to sweep the US, the foster care system often had trouble finding suitable homes for children who needed temporary or permanent housing. With more parents overdosing and ending up in legal trouble, there is a flood of new children entering the system. Again, this shifts the responsibility of childcare to the community and government agencies.

An Increase in Drug Related Arrests

As you might expect, along with more drug use comes more drug arrests as people are caught selling and distributing drugs and committing crimes to support their habit. Ultimately, this means an overtaxed legal system and crowded jails that are having trouble keeping up with the influx of new inmates.

With all these different costs, it is estimated that the opioid crisis costs Americans $78.5 billion every year. However, many experts argue that this number is low because it is based off of 2013 statistics and only includes addiction to prescription opioids and not the cheaper street versions of heroin and fentanyl. From an economic standpoint, we can begin to try and estimate numerical costs, but in reality, the cost to families and their communities is simply incalculable.