Would you like to save money every month? How about eliminating $1,000 a month from your budget?  Trimming $1,000 a month is no easy task. Here are some places to start reducing your monthly expenses.

1. Phone, Cable and Internet

Start out trying to cut costs on utilities. Call your cable, phone and Internet providers. Review the services you have, look for services you don’t need, and slim down the utility bill as much as possible. Don’t forget to ask about any specials or promotions they may be running. You may also want to call the competition to see if they offer a better deal.

2. Child Care

You can save money on child care if your employer offers a flexible spending account. A flexible spending account lets you set aside pre-taxed dollars to pay for health care, child care and commuting costs.

3. The Mortgage

If mortgage rates are low you may want to consider refinancing. A lower interest rate can help reduce monthly mortgage payments. You may also consider future savings and change the terms of your mortgage. Look into 15-year mortgage options that could allow you to have your home paid off prior to retirement.

4. Groceries

Take the time to comparison shop when buying groceries. Try the store brand instead of paying top dollar from brand name food. Coupon clipping can also save you money, every little bit helps. You may not have time to become a master coupon clipper, however, saving a few dollars each week will add up over time.

If you can focus on recurring monthly expenses, and make cut backs as needed, you won’t have to work as hard every month to save money.

Staging your home for potential buyers can be quite the hassle. You may start moving your furniture around spontaneously, or become tense when your children or spouse make messes in a room that you just prepped for show. With all of the planning that one can put into making their home shine, one crucial step in home staging is often overlooked: your family pet.

For the sake of simplicity, I will outline a few things that you must keep in mind when cleaning up after your pet in a home for sale.

Pet presence – For obvious reasons, some pets can’t leave the house. Giant enclosures, aquariums, and disabled pets are hard to relocate sometimes, and a lot of people will be understanding of this. But if your dog or cat is healthy, then you’ll want to strongly consider relocating your pets temporarily. Many people aren’t pet owners, and don’t like being around an excitable golden retriever or a yippy chihuahua when they are trying to imagine their family occupying your home. Remember….You are trying to make the potential buyer as relaxed as possible. Ask a friend if they wouldn’t mind looking after your loved one for a bit, and if all else fails, look into a reputable boarding service for your pet.

Fur – Fur can get everywhere. Even in places that you, as a resident of your home, don’t necessarily notice all of the time. Be sure to give your couches, chairs, and love seats proper attention. That means taking the pillows and cushions off, and using a hand vacuum or brush to remove all of the fur you see. After you are sure that they are thoroughly cleaned, use a fabric freshener to finish it off. Try to do this well in advance of the potential buyer, as some people have sensitivities to fabric fresheners.

Litter – No matter what kind of animal you have, odds are you have do deal with some form of waste. It may sound pretty obvious, but make sure your litter beds are clean and well hidden. Even if you own an exotic pet like a reptile of amphibian, this includes you too. Many people don’t like snakes, but they’ll like a messy snake cage even less. Another important thing to remember as an exotic pet owner is this: even though you may not be able to smell anything offensive coming from your reptile’s cage, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t an odor. Many people who live with reptiles get used to the subtle odors that emit from the cages, and will tend to spot-clean their animal’s cage without giving it the proper scrub-down that it needs.

Odors – Don’t use air fresheners to mask pet odor. It is meant to freshen the air…Not cover pet odors up. Instead, use powdered cleaners on carpets and rugs that your pets frequent. These can be purchased at your local pet store in the cleaning isle. Odds are, if someone has a severe allergy to animals, then they are going to be at risk of having a reaction. The cleaner the house, the less dander will be in the home.

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Selling a house is a stressful experience. You have to look at your home
with the eyes of a potential buyer and, when you do, all those nicks, stains,
scratches and worn finishes become glaringly obvious. The same thing
happens when you look around your yard: all those flaws you’ve managed
to ignore all these years suddenly become visible.

There are many things you can do–with or without professional help–to fix
up your property and get it ready for sale. Most people focus on the house
itself; after all, freshly painted walls and steam cleaned carpets do make a
big difference. But there’s one area that’s often overlooked–one that can
make a big difference not only in attracting potential buyers but also in
sales value. “Curb appeal”: you’ve probably heard the phrase before. But
what exactly is it and what can you do to achieve it?

Curb appeal is evident in that first glance at your property: does it look
well-kept, is it attractive, does it look like someplace your prospective
buyer would like to call home? The first step is to take a walk around your
property, looking at it as if you were a stranger. It can be very helpful to
have your realtor take this inventory with you–a trained eye can make a big
difference.

Look for the obvious things first: bald spots in your lawn, overgrown
shrubs, cracked steps, dandelions, piles of leaves and sticks. Make a list of
everything you see. It may seem overwhelming and you may not have the
means to take care of everything, but prioritizing will help. If you can afford
professional help, all the better; if you can’t, there are things you can do
yourself to improve the appearance of your property.

The following list will help:

• Start with general yard clean-up: remove any branches, piles of leaves or
dead plants. If you have a dog, make sure there are no “land mines”
on the property.

• Reseed and fertilize your lawn; make sure it’s kept mown and watered
at all times while you’re trying to sell. Take an edger and neaten
up where the grass meets walkways and foundation. If you have
areas of dead grass, consider treating for grubs. And, get rid of those
dandelions!

• Trim overgrown shrubs, especially those close to your house. If you don’t
have any shrubs, consider buying a few. Even a small evergreen on
either side of the front door can make a welcoming difference.

• If you have flower beds, make sure they’re free of weeds. Renew or add
a layer of mulch around flowers, shrubs and any trees you have in
your yard. Not only does mulch keep weeds down and help retain
moisture in the soil, it makes the beds look neater. mulch comes in
different colors: choose one that will complement your flowers and
your house. If your yard slopes, a low stone retaining wall will not only
hold the soil (and flowers) in place, but it will also make the bed look
neater.

• What about the approach to your house–do you have a walkway? If you
do, it may need replacing. If you don’t, now is the time to add one;
even a few simple pavers between the driveway and the front door
can make a difference. If you don’t have a railing on your front steps,
consider adding one. Make sure your front door is clean and in good
shape.

• Do you have a driveway? If you have asphalt, look for cracks and oil
stains. If you have dirt, consider laying down some gravel or pea
stone.

• Fencing can make a big difference in your home’s salability. People with
young children or dogs will most likely want one for safety’s sake.
Privacy is another reason for fencing; it doesn’t have to be a stockade
fence–a few fast-growing evergreens like arborvitae can make a big
difference. Aesthetics is another reason to edge your property. If your
home is in a rural area, you may already–like many homeowners in
New England–have a stone wall around your property. If so, check it
for loose or fallen rocks.

• If you don’t have any perennial flower beds, consider planting some
annuals. Flats of bright, long-lasting blooms like marigolds and
impatiens are inexpensive and add to your yard’s beauty. As with
any plants, consider the growing zone in which you live. If you’re
purchasing shrubs or perennials, choose ones that are hardy and
require little maintenance. If the soil has a high clay concentration,
loosen it up and enrich it by mixing in some loam.

• If you have a deck, you may need to power wash and re-stain or paint it.
Check for loose support beams; sand any areas that feel rough and
might produce splinters. If you have a patio, make sure it is free of
weeds and cracks. Consider replacing a cement patio with slate or
brick which not only look nicer but are easier to replace.

• Check your outdoor lighting; replace the bulbs, remove any dead insects.
If you don’t have any, consider adding some. If you can’t afford
wiring, solar-battery stake lights are inexpensive. If your mailbox is
battered or wobbly, replace it.

It sounds like a lot to consider and there’s no denying that selling your
home can be a difficult thing on more than one level. You want the
highest price you can get, however, and these things that add curb appeal
will increase your home’s value and can make the difference between
someone who makes an appointment to look at your home and someone
who drives by and keeps on going.

Have you ever thought of selling your home on your own? If so, you may want to think again. It is not just the expense, time and legal issues you will have to worry about you also need to worry about getting a buyer.

According to the National Association of Realtors, ninety percent of all real estate transactions happen with the help of a real estate professional. Why? Besides the legal challenges of representing yourself in a sale, buyers just don’t trust the homeowner when it comes to selling a home. Real estate professionals have a legal and ethical obligation to disclose defects in the home. Buyers know that it is impossible to remain unbiased when selling your own home.

Often times buyers who attempt to buy from an unrepresented seller will only try to deduct the commission from the home price in the negotiation process. According to the National Association of Realtors, sellers who use a real estate professional actually net 16% more in the sale of their home.

 

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