Dripping Dollars

November 26, 2012

Conserving water to be green while lowering your monthly bill to save green is a beneficial combination. Little things can contribute significantly to a large water bill.

  • faucet.jpgLeaky faucets can waste over 1,000 gallons a year
  • Leaky toilets can waste 7,000 gallons a month
  • A five-minute shower saves more water than a tub bath
  • Water running while you brush your teeth or shave
  • Sprinkler heads need to be adjusted to spray on the yard only
  • Install a rain sensor on sprinkler system
  • Pool equipment can be a hidden source of wasted water

A larger than normal water bill can be your first indication you have a leak. Then, you’ll need to track it down.

  1. Turn off all the water faucets and appliances; don’t forget the ice maker.
  2. Open the water meter, usually located near the sidewalk in the front of the house. You may need a water key that can be purchased from a home improvement store or possibly borrowed from a neighbor.
  3. Locate the dial indicating water usage. It should not be moving since all of the water is off. If it is still moving, verify that you have turned off anything that might be using water.
  4. If it appears to be still, make a mark with a Sharpie and wait 15 minutes. If the flow indicator has moved, you probably have a leak.
  5. Now that you’ve confirmed that you have a leak, you may need help in locating it. A plumber or leak specialist may be able to help you track it down and repair it.
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Thankful

November 19, 2012

As the week of Thanksgiving begins, I’m beginning my yearly race to grocery shop, menu planning and doing what I can ahead of time in order to lighten my load.  I do two Thanksgiving meals each year.  One on Tuesday for my agents and employees and one on Thursday for family and friends.  I do enjoy planning and preparing, but genuinely enjoy Friday.  I’m not a Black Friday shopper.  I’m more of a “don’t bother me” after Thanksgiving Day kinda person.  The husband goes hunting.  Traditionally I have decorated the house with the Christmas tree and other items, watch movies and generally get my head geared towards the Christmas holiday.  What used to be a stressed out annual event of making sure I had the “perfect” gifts for my children, family and friends has now become a relatively quiet and calm 4-5 weeks.  Our extended families quit swapping gifts a few years ago.  I focus now on enjoying the holidays by attending parties, cookie swaps, open houses, pouring over Christmas cards and reading those that send letters recalling their year.  The shopping thing eludes me.  I just don’t go there.  I love my church during the holidays.  The Chrismon Tree, the poinsettias, the music and the reminder of Christmas past.  Our children singing in children’s choir.  I can literally visualize them as small children.  Now we have an almost 4 year old grandson that captures my heart and a 6 week old granddaughter that will equally captivate me in future years.

I am thankful for family, friends, grandchildren, co-workers, good food, a peace of taking a breath and enjoying this holiday season.  I refuse to allow all the hoopla to rob me of the joy of truly enjoying the season.  God has blessed me with a loving and caring family.  Thanks be to God for all that he provides!

 

What’s the Point?

November 19, 2012

Pre-paid interest, sometimes called “points”, is generally tax deductible when a person pays them in connection with buying, building or improving their principal residence. When points are paid on a refinance, they are not a current deduction but have to be taken pro-rata over the life of the mortgage.percentage.png

For instance, if $3,000 in points were paid on refinancing a 30 year mortgage, deduction of $100 per year is allowed. When the loan is paid off or replaced by refinancing again or the home is sold and the mortgage paid off from the proceeds, the balance of any un-deducted points may be taken in that tax year.

Your tax professional needs to be made aware of any of these situations so that he can accurately reflect the deduction in your return. Currently, the most common situation is where homeowners may be refinancing their home for the second, third or even fourth time. If there are points that have not been completely deducted, they need to be treated in the year of refinancing.

For more information, see points in IRS Publication 936; there is a section on refinancing in this publication. For advice considering your specific situation, contact your tax professional.

1963 was a good year…

November 14, 2012

Today is my 49th birthday.  It’s been my best decade so far.  Moved to Montgomery, started my real estate career, gained a daughter in law and two grandbabies.  One of the best parts of the last 10 years are the friends I’ve made.  REALTORS®, builders, attorneys, lenders, contractors, clients and co-workers.  Prior to this life of mine I was an administrative assistant in different industries, making an adequate second income for our family, working 8-5 and earning a paycheck every two weeks like clockwork.  I remember leaving that life and jumping into a commission only income with a sink or swim feeling of “what if I don’t make it”?  My friend Catherine who encouraged and mentored me those first few years never hesitated in believing in me.  I truly don’t know if I would have succeeded without her constant support.  We were in direct competition with each other but she pushed me anyway.  The Aronov’s pushed me beyond my limits too.  Trusting me with the job I have now and supporting me through my failures and accomplishments.  There have been many others over the last 10 years that have been my cheerleaders.  My 2008 AAR Leadership Class is one of the groups that truly  helped me come into my own.  I’m so grateful for having met them and know they will always be part of my life in and out of the business.

My daddy always said I could do anything I set my mind to.  Jumping off the cliff and learning to fly is scary but necessary in order to grow and learn your limits.  Growing older enables you to have the courage to jump.  I’m looking forward to the next decade and what will be revealed in both my career and personal growth.

 

Changing the Lock is Key

November 12, 2012

There are times when you need to change the locks on your home to protect your family and possessions. It should always be considered when you move into a new home; when keys are lost, stolen or unreturned; or a cleaning or other service provider hasn’t returned the key.locks.jpg

Replacing the lockset would give you a totally new mechanism that should work better and if you go back with the same manufacturer, you’ll probably avoid any carpentry. You can order the locks online and have them work with the same key at no extra charge.

Another alternative is to have a locksmith rekey them. The locksmith can easily make all of the locks work with the same key. Compare the cost and decide which would be a better expenditure.

While you’re considering your security, a key safe might be a very convenient addition. Most makers say that it is much easier to break into a home than a key safe. The cost is reasonable and you can attach it to your exterior wall. Generally, they’re combination locks that would allow you access if you or another family member forgot their key. It’s also convenient to give a house keeper the combination and can be easily changed if necessary.

Change of Seasons

November 9, 2012

Turned on the heat for the first time last night as we woke up to 34 degrees this morning.  Leaves are everywhere and I’m wearing tights and boots today!  It’s the fall season.  Time changed last weekend and we have the election behind us.  Thanksgiving is two weeks away.  I usually prepare Thanksgiving dinner for my husbands family and a few friends.  This year will be very different.  We lost a cousin this year that was an integral part of our annual celebration.  She brought food, wine and always something worth talking about.  She had never married, didn’t have children, but was the biggest “family” girl you would have ever known.  My children loved her and called her “Aunt Leah”.  I’m fighting the sadness already of knowing that she will not be with us.  Her 81 year old mother will be there as well as her two brothers.  We’ve lost an uncle, my father-in-law and Leah in the last 3 years.  We’ve gained two new babies since then.  Sawyer and Maggie.  Every year brings change.  Imagine if we had no seasons how dreary it would be.  Imagine if we never experienced loss and gains of friends and family how we would miss the ability to grow emotionally.  I love Thanksgiving.  I love that it is a special holiday where we publicly acknowledge the blessings we are given and those people we strive to be a blessing to. 

A number of things can cause water damage to a home and it’s important to know whether they’re covered by your insurance policy. Some water damage may be covered and other may not be. Generally, you need an incident to invoke coverage rather than something gradual due to lack of maintenance.waterdamage.jpg

However, some incidents are specifically exempt from homeowner policies such as floods. A flood can be described as rising water due to overflow of inland or tidal waters or unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface water from any source.

Homes in designated high-risk flood areas with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders are required to have flood insurance.

Even if you don’t live in a dedicated flood zone, you could be affected by flood damage. Review your policy about water damage and call your insurance agent to get a better understanding. Ask if you need to purchase additional coverage or separate flood insurance along with other questions.

Flood insurance can be purchased for the building and the contents. The average flood insurance policy costs about $600 per year. For more information, see the National Flood Insurance Program.

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