Bonnie Chase's Blog
You've won!Congratulations! By reading this article you've won an all-expenses paid trip to the destination of your dreams. One of the most common scams affecting homeowners come in the form of phone calls, mail, or even door-knockers informing you that you've won some kind of prize. Unless you've specifically entered to win a certain prize, you can almost be certain that this is a scam.
Identity crisisWe've often heard of the dangers of identity theft, but homeowners in particular are an at-risk demographic. Identity thieves attempt to steal your personal information in order to commit fraud or crimes. To avoid identity theft, be responsible with your mail. Always shred mail with personal data and be sure to have someone take care of your mail for you when away from home for extended periods.
I noticed your roof needs to be repairedMany scams come in the form of people knocking on your door to offer a great deal on a service. People who solicit you and ask to be let into your home or onto your property to "inspect" part of your home should never be allowed in. They may actually be a roofer attempting to convince you to repair your roof (regardless of whether it needs to be repaired). Or, they could be a would-be burglar scoping out your residence. These scammers will attempt to sell you anything from "subsidized" and "energy efficient" home energy products all the way down to fixing imagined water/moisture issues in your basement.
Make $60k a year working from home!Work-from-home jobs do exist, and they're growing in number as technology makes it easier and more efficient than traveling. However, some job offers are too good to be true. Be wary of job offers that require you to enter personal information like your social security number before ever having met the employer. Many of these "too good to be true" jobs can be spotted when they ask you for money to get started. They may say to need to pay for your own training but then can make thousands, or will ask for a company buy-in that will pay off later. Regardless, never give money to a potential employer.
I came to read the metersSomeone in a safety vest with a name tag and clipboard knocks on your door and says they're from the energy company, water company, etc. They seem legitimate and tell you how important it is to have your meter read. The might even say you're eligible for a refund or subsidy. It's important to always ask representatives to show you their ID or ask them to call and make an appointment before letting them enter your home.
For many of us, it can seem like our paychecks are gone before we even get a chance to see them. With seemingly endless bills and expenses, both recurring and unforeseen, saving up for a house is a daunting task.
Fortunately, there are ways you can prepare yourself for those intimidating down payments and many closing costs.
In this article, we’re going to walk you through how you can start saving for a home right this moment. After all, every day is another day you could be contributing to your savings and taking another step closer to owning your own home.
Use a Budgeting Tool
The first step to saving and determining how much you can save is to start budgeting. Many people hear the term “budget” and get nervous thinking they’ll have to start counting the number of coffees they buy. However, there are less anxiety-inducing ways to budget.
From your phone, tablet, or computer you have access to a large number of free budgeting tools. Mint, You Need a Budget (YNAB), and PocketGuard are three of the top budgeting tools that will get you started.
With apps that integrate with your bank accounts and loan balances, there is little work required on your part. Just set an amount to save each week or month, and direct the funds into your savings account.
Set up a dedicated savings account
Speaking of savings accounts--now is a great time to set up a new one. It’s almost always free to open a new account with your bank. What’s more, it’s a lot less tempting to pull from a savings account when it’s labeled something like “HOUSE SAVINGS - DO NOT TOUCH.”
Once you have your budgeting app and bank account set up, it’s time to dig into some of the ways you can save money without skipping meals.
Cutting Monthly Expenses
Rather than telling yourself you can’t buy any more fancy Starbucks drinks anymore until you have a house (don’t torture yourself), make a list of all your monthly expenses. That can include anything from Netflix and Spotify to haircuts and car washes.
A great way to make this list is to go through your credit and debit card transactions. If you have autopay set up, you might not even realize how many services are withdrawing directly from your accounts each month.
For each item on your list, determine if you can either eliminate the expense or spend less on it. Maybe you go for the deluxe car war rather than the basic. Or, you might pay for services you don’t use as much as you used to.
If you’re worried about having no entertainment if you drop Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime, you could try out your local library system. Most of the time you can have books, movies, and music shipped for free from all around your state.
When it comes to cable, cell phone plans, car insurance, and other monthly bills give your provider a call and tell them you’re thinking about switching over to a cheaper competitor. They’ll likely offer you a discounted rate. If they don’t, follow through on your promise and call other providers to see if you can get better rates.
Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is the latest technology hitting shelves and being brought into homes. We now not only have the ability to control various devices in our home from an app on our phone but we can also create reports to gain insight into how we use them. Data enthusiasts unite!
The Nest learning thermostat is every Dad’s best friend. You now have the hard data to back up why everyone needs to keep the house temperature exactly where you set it. And if anyone does turn it up you can turn it back down right from your phone.
If you are a data enthusiast you can use reports to see how much energy you’ve used throughout the week and/or month. Let’s be honest that’s enough to make us all data enthusiast converts.
Nest Cam IQ allows you to keep watch over your domain. It has face recognition capabilities and high-quality footage to recognize family members, frequent visitors, and intruders. When you add the Nest Aware feature you can even get updates right on your phone of the comings and goings of your home.
With microphone capability, you’re able to speak to those in the room, even if your two towns over. Keep your home safe, dogs off of the couch and teens from breaking house rules. And night mode utilized LED lights to get clear pictures for 24/7 film coverage.
Nest Protect is the smart smoke and carbon monoxide alarm you wish you always had. It recognizes the difference between smoke and steam which means no more obnoxious false alarms when cooking. You can use your towels solely for drying your hands again.
If that alarm happens to go off when you aren’t home it alerts your phone so you’re in the know at all times. It even warns you when the alarm is about to go off so it does scare the bejeezus out of you. As in it actually says “Heads up. There’s smoke in the kitchen” (or whichever room it’s installed in).
Nest Protect even has a motion detector and nightlight. So it knows to give you a little light as you walk by at night. You don’t have to choose between stumbling in the dark or fighting bleary-eyed through the brightness of normal lighting.
One last thing: if you upgrade to a Rheem water heater you can sync it up to your Nest Protect. Why would you want to do that? If one of your alarms does go off you can set up a trigger reaction where your water heater will shut off. It can also sync up to your Nest thermostat and turn the heat off as well.