With the winter season upon us, cold temperatures and frozen precipitation will be the norm for the foreseeable future. It’s important to prep your living space for winter’s wrath. By following some simple tips, you can successfully winterize your home, saving energy and money and perhaps even qualifying for a tax credit.
- Be draft-free. An easy way to prepare your home for cold weather is to block openings that are causing drafts. Cold air can seep in through window and door frames, recessed lighting, and electrical outlets. Find these leaks and block them using door sweeps, caulk, outlet gaskets, and draft snakes.
- Do a furnace check-up. A healthy furnace should be odor-free. If yours is not, schedule a professional tune-up; if it is, be sure the filters are clean and being changed monthly for efficient airflow and less demand for energy- electrostatic or genuine HEPA filters are the way to go.
- Insulate. Keep windows, walls, attics and basements insulated to ensure warmth, as well as money and energy savings, during winter months. Window insulation kits are an inexpensive alternative to hiring a professional.
- Layer up. Dress for the weather, even indoors. By throwing on a cozy sweater, blanket, or pair of slippers, you can raise your body heat without raising the thermostat or the heating bill.
- Winterize windows. Storm windows mean warmth. Replace any screens with storm windows if you have them. If you don’t, consider changing out your drafty windows for energy-efficient windows.
Even if you have a low credit score, or no established credit, you may be able to buy a home of your own.
Here are some steps outlined by one of my recommended loan companies.
When you are buying a house you need to take closing costs into consideration to budget the amount of money you need to have on hand. But what are closing costs? Most of the costs are generated as a result of applying for you loan.
Here is a short list with some typical costs :
(DO NOT QUOTE ME ON COSTS)
|FLOOD LIFE OF LOAN FEE,
|TAX SERVICE FEE – – FHA
|TITLE INS-LENDER COVERAGE,
|TITLE INS-OWNERS COVERAGE,
|ENDORSEMENT TO TITLE-ALL,
|RECORDING FEE – MRTG/DOT,
|RECORDING FEE – DEED,
|CITY/CNTY TAX STAMP-MRTG,
|STATE TAX STAMPS-MRTG/DOT,
|STATE TAX STAMP – DEED,
|RECORDING FEE -ASSIGNMENT,
|FHA UPFRONT MIP,
With more in the news about securing your personal information, you will find this article helpful.
When Should You Shred Your Financial Documents?
How do you know what happens to your documents when you put a piece of paper in the trash? It can be difficult to know who is seeing it and what they are doing with it. It isn’t very common to burn trash anymore; therefore you can be sure that your paper garbage or recycling is likely to pass through several hands on its way to a landfill or recycling center.
Step–By–Step, Your Documents Can Get Pilfered
Every step that occurs once the trash leaves your control has risk that someone will find personal information they can use to cause you harm. One way to safeguard personal information is to shred it before it goes into the trash.
Shredding devices are available at most office supply stores. Cross-cut shredders provide more security than strip-cut shredders. You may want to consider one depending on your level of concern. Shredding services or shredding events are often offered by financial institutions or community organizations.
Properly destroying sensitive personal information is a key step in helping to keep your identity secure. You really should shred any documents containing personal information, but be cautious not to shred financial documents that you may still need.
To Shred Or Not To Shred, That Is The Question…Or Maybe It‘s When To Shred
The Better Business Bureau offers these guidelines on when to shred:
- Deposit, ATM, credit, and debit card receipts can be shredded once the transaction appears on your statement
- Canceled checks, credit card statements, and bank statements with no long-term significance can go through the shredder after one year; if used to support tax returns, keep them for seven years
- Monthly bill statements can be shredded one year after receiving, to allow for year-to-year bill comparisons (another good way to monitor your budget!)
- Credit card contracts and loan agreements should be saved for as long as the account is active
- Pay stubs can be shredded yearly after reconciling with your W-2 or other tax forms
- Documentation of investment purchases or sales should be kept for as long as you own the investment and then seven years after that; shred monthly investment account statements annually after reconciling with a year-end statement
- Always shred documents with Social Security numbers, birth dates, PIN numbers or passwords, financial information, contracts or letters with signatures, pre-approved credit card applications, medical and dental bills, travel itineraries, and used airline tickets.
Do you really want to go to Zillow or Trulia to determine the value of your house? Trust me when I say a computer cannot place an accurate value on a home. Contact me to get a complete market analysis.
The energy-efficient home upgrades tax credit is scheduled to expire on December 31st this year. If you need to make improvements to your home, this could be an incentive to do it before the end of the year. If you have already made qualifying improvements without realizing the tax credit is available, it may seem like a holiday gift you weren’t expecting.
The equipment must be installed to qualify for the credit which can put you under a time crunch. Heating and cooling systems, insulation, windows, doors, skylights, water heaters and home weatherization may qualify.
The Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit has been available for purchases since January 1, 2011. The tax credit is 10% of up to $5,000 of qualifying improvements which would make a maximum of $500 tax credit.
The cumulative maximum amount of tax credit that can be claimed by a taxpayer in the different years this law has been in effect is $500. If it has been claimed in previous years, the taxpayer is not eligible for this credit for additional new purchases.
For more information, see energy.gov or talk to your tax professional.
During the winter months, many people use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances to heat their homes. Heating fires account for 36 percent of residential fires in rural areas each year. These fires are often due to creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes. The U.S. Fire Administration encourages these steps and more to keep your home fires burning safely:
- Have your chimney/wood stove inspected and cleaned yearly by a certified chimney specialist
- Leave glass doors open while burning a fire to prevent creosote buildup
- Install stovepipe thermometers to help monitor flue temperatures
Do you know how to properly build and maintain a fire to heat your home? Watch the video series hosted by the National Fire Academy Deputy Superintendent to learn fire safety techniques. Taking a few fire safety actions will reduce the number of home fires and injuries to make your holiday season disaster free!