Monday, February 4, 2013

Before You Leave Home...Check

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The last thing you want to do while you're on a trip is to worry about someone burglarizing your home. Use this checklist to add some peace of mind to your travel plans.

  • Ask a trusted friend - to pick up your mail and newspaper and keep the yard free of trash and advertisements.
  • Stop your mail but maybe not your newspaper - you can easily handle this online by going to the US Postal Service's Hold Mail Service. A recent story implicated an employee from a major newspaper who was passing customer hold requests to burglars.
  • Don't post about your trip on Facebook and Twitter until you return - some burglars actually look for this type of announcement to schedule their activities.
  • Do notify police and/or neighborhood watch - especially if you're going to be gone for more than just a few days. Let your monitoring service know when you'll be gone and if someone will be checking on your home for you.
  • Light timers make it look like someone is home - use several set for different times to better simulate someone at home.
  • Do unplug certain appliances - TVs, computers, toaster ovens that use electricity even when they're off and to protect them from power surges.
  • Don't hide a key - burglars know exactly where to look for your key and it only takes them a moment to check under the mat, above the door, in the flower pot or in a fake rock.
These easy-to-handle suggestions may protect your belongings while you’re gone while adding a level of serenity to your trip.

Friday, February 1, 2013

What's it Going to Take?


thumbsupdown.jpgHow much evidence is needed to make a decision to get out of the rent race and become a homeowner? Compare your rent with a mortgage payment on a similar size property. If you want a larger home than your current one, use the rent that property would require instead of what you're currently paying. If it's considerably cheaper, you may not need any further encouragement. By the time you consider the principal reduction, appreciation and tax savings, your monthly cost of housing could be much less than the rent you're paying. The principal reduction included in each payment is like a forced savings account that increases as your mortgage balance decreases. Your equity in the property will also grow due to appreciation. The equity is part of your net worth and an investment in your family's future. The income tax savings can be an additional financial consideration if the combined interest and property taxes exceed the allowable standard deduction. Trends are showing that both tenants and homeowners are staying in their homes longer. It's been said that whether you rent or own, you're paying for the home. Do you really want to buy the home for your landlord? Check out your numbers on a Rent vs. Own.