7 Minimalist Wedding Registry Ideas for Couples Who Move Often

The following is a guest post from Christina Wood

Getting married is exciting, but if you and your partner move often, furnishing a house and stocking up on home essentials before walking down the aisle is impractical. If you have no desire to add to your collection of towels and kitchen appliances, creating a wedding registry can be a challenge.

So, what should you do? Instead of telling your guests to skip the gifts (they probably won’t listen to you, anyway), create a nontraditional wedding registry with these seven ideas.

1. Ask for experiences

Instead of material items, ask your guests to gift you an experience. Sites like Zola let your guests contribute to airfare for a trip, buy tickets to a show or performance, or gift a night in an Airbnb. Skipping the honeymoon? Ask for a wine club subscription, cooking classes, or meal delivery service, or explore your hometown together with a kayak tour, sunset cruise, or bike-share membership. It’s fun to think outside the box, and you’ll have a blast doing everything together as a married couple.

2. Contribute to a honeymoon fund

If travel is your thing, let your guests get in on the planning. Sites like Honeyfund and Traveler’s Joy let you choose a destination, and guests can contribute to adventures, restaurants, and activities. If friends or family have been to where you’re traveling to, let them surprise you with their favorite activity from their trip.

3.  Stock the bar

Getting married is a great reason to restock your bar. ThirstyNest lets your guests buy you a bottle of your favorite wine or liquor to enjoy once the festivities are over. They can even buy a bottle for everyone to enjoy at the wedding—who wouldn’t love a gift like that?

4. Ask for jewelry or handmade accessories

Maybe you don’t need anything for your house but would like some jewelry or accessories to wear at your wedding, on the honeymoon, or after the big day. Sites like Etsy specialize in unique handmade items that make great gifts and serve as a special memory that can be enjoyed for years to come.

5. Donate to a charity

If you have a special cause that’s close to your heart, ask everyone to donate to a charity in lieu of a gift. Charity sites like JustGiving let you choose what you’d like to raise money for, and your guests can choose how much they’d like to give. Some sites, like Blueprint Registry, include donations as part of your registry, so guests can choose to give to charity or gift you with something from your list.

6. Register for big-ticket items

Even if you have all the essentials, all couples have a few big-ticket items on their wish list. Whether it’s a new couch, the latest laptop, or gear to support your favorite hobby, many sites let guests contribute to expensive items as part of a group gift.

7. Create a cash registry

Money is a popular (and welcome) wedding gift, but it can be considered rude to ask for it. A cash registry, such as the Newlywed Fund at The Knot, earmarks the money for something special, so your guests contribute towards a bigger goal, like a down payment on a new home or a dream vacation.

A wedding registry doesn’t just need to be for home essentials. From once-in-a-lifetime experiences to practical, big-ticket items, these non-traditional ideas are perfect for modern couples who already have everything they need.

Christina Wood covers topics including money-saving advice, technology, and business. She contributes to publications like Family Circle, PC World, Better Homes and Gardens, Popular Science, This Old House Magazine, NASDAQ International, Working Woman, Discovery, Greatschools.org, Jaguar Magazine, and JeanKnowsCars.com. She covers money-saving and shopping tips for Groupon. You can find savings on school supplies and more on Groupon’s Bed Bath & Beyond page here.   

Identify and Embrace Your Style to Grow Your Business

Your wardrobe is an important part of succeeding in business according to Personal Stylist and Owner of Trousseau Style, Lauren Hartman. But for Lauren, there is no one “right” style that leads to success. The key to a wardrobe that works for you is finding and embracing your personal style because when you feel like yourself you have the confidence to negotiate deals and win listings. Plus, with a well-designed wardrobe, you can spend less time deciding what to wear and more time with your clients. At the first annual She’s Unstoppable conference, Lauren shared the four steps she uses with her clients to help them create a wardrobe that reflects their personality, professionalism and makes life as a real estate entrepreneur easier.


Four steps to an empowering wardrobe

Define your personal style and style goals. To define your style and goals, Lauren suggests asking yourself how you want to feel in the morning. Visualize your highest self on an ideal day and picture what this accomplished individual looks like. Let that vision be authentic and embody it.

As real estate professional, so much of your business is dependent on you. You must relate to your clients and understand their needs therefore, it’s important that, as their agent, they know and understand you. Clothes tell current and potential clients who you are without you having to say a word. Defining your style and goals you want to accomplish with your style helps you create a wardrobe that sends a strong and consistent message to your network.

Declutter and start with a clean slate. Lauren states that most people are only wearing 10-20% of their closet, with the same few items on rotation. Eliminating and replacing the rest of the items that you don’t wear reduces the amount of time spent looking for an outfit freeing up valuable time you can be using for business prospecting. Lauren advises to try on every single piece of clothing in your closet because they hold clues that can help you define your likes and dislikes. When you try each piece on ask yourself: Why did I buy this? What did I like about this? Why do I love/hate to wear this? Don’t be afraid to get specific. And write it down. Keep these notes with you when you head into the next step.

Rebuild with intention. Buying is an extremely emotional activity, and it’s easy to buy things that look nice but don’t serve a true purpose or fit within your lifestyle. To rebuild your closet with intention, start by making a budget, make a very detailed list of items you need to purchase, and only shop at stores priced with items within your budget so you can shop by style and not by price tag. While shopping, try on each item, take pictures of what you like, and then put your favorites on hold. Spend some time looking at the photos and evaluate the cost of each item and the value the item brings to your wardrobe. Return to the store to purchase only the items that fit your needs. This eliminates impulse buying. This business-like approach allows you to stay within your budget and saves you time by not having to return items and money on items you won’t wear.

Styling upfront.  Integrate the new items purchased with the existing items you kept by creating outfits and trying them on. Doing this will allow you to see how the pieces work together. While trying them on, take pictures of the outfits that work and save them on a folder in your phone. It is easy to forget outfits and having pictures on your phone gives you an arsenal of outfits you can choose from. Do this for everything from your casual coffee meeting to big event looks. Don’t forget the shoes, jewelry and accessories! Having this outfit library at your fingertips will ensure that you are prepared for any last minute appointments and saves you time in the mornings.  

Real estate agents are always on the go and oftentimes unpredictable events occur. Creating a wardrobe that is true to your identity and fits your lifestyle and business needs ensures that you will be ready no matter what call you get. It provides a more empowered approach to tackling your business goals and meeting challenges head on. And having that extra confidence and doing it all in style is icing on the cake.

For more information, you can download the Trousseau Style workbook here.

To find out more about how Coldwell Banker can be the place that supports you and your business, visit CBWomen.com.

Summer Home Maintenance Guide

The following is a guest post by William Dukes

Homeowner beware: Summer does not mean vacation when it comes to your house. It’s easy to put off regular home maintenance during these long, lazy days of summer. But a little bit of effort now can save you a lot of time — and money — down the road. Here are five must-dos for summer home maintenance.


LAWN CARE

Summer lawn care basics are the same, no matter where you live. Mow regularly, Water deeply and keep an eye out for pests and diseases. Those tasks and a little weeding should keep your lawn green and lush. Different kinds of grasses, whether warm-season or cool-season, need different amounts of water and mowing heights. Lawns in warmer, humid areas are more prone to fungal diseases. A good rule of thumb to ward off fungal diseases such as brown patch is to water early in the morning. It allows the water to seep into the roots and the soil, but the remaining water droplets will evaporate during the daytime heat.

This is also the time to trim your bushes and shrubs. Before you start removing all the dead and damaged branches, make sure you have the right tools, and you know how to cut at the right angle. Improper pruning can stress the shrubs.

HVAC

Most people sleep better when the room is cool. Science shows adults sleep best when the room is between 60 and 67 degrees at night. Keeping your bedroom cool is just one reason why you need to keep your HVAC in tiptop shape. Don’t wait until something malfunctions. Have an HVAC technician make regular maintenance visits. The technician will not only keep things running smoothly but can often tell you if you have a major repair or even a replacement on the horizon. Regular HVAC visits save you money and often give you time to budget for a replacement. It also prevents you from tossing and turning through a sweaty summer night.

INSPECT/REPAIR HOME EXTERIOR

Take a slow walk around your house and pay special attention to the exterior. Is the siding cracked? What condition is the paint in? Is there any apparent damage? Now’s the time to get things fixed. A little bit of damage to your siding can be a DIY project that’s easy to do. Summer is the time to touch up paint, or power wash your home’s exterior and driveway and take care of any projects before the winter weather gets in the way.

SEAL WINDOWS

A significant amount of your home’s energy loss happens around your windows and doors, making your home more expensive to cool in the summer and heat in the winter. Summer is a great time to seal and caulk your windows, and any other small holes that you might find. Take a close look near your kitchen exhaust fan or fireplace flues. Summer is also a great time to replace your windows with more energy-efficient models. Window replacement is pricey, but it will save your home a lot of energy loss and make it easier to keep the temperature comfortable.

OUTDOOR COOKERS

A summertime backyard cookout is peak American. Whether you have a gas grill, a charcoal grill, a smoker, or any other outdoor cooker, you can increase their efficiency and lower your risk of food poisoning by cleaning them. For gas grills, turn on the grill and let it heat up for about 20 minutes, then turn off the gas and scrub the grill with a barbecue brush. For a charcoal grill, remove the grill and scour it with a metal brush, or even a ball of aluminum foil and get the ash, rust, and gunk off of it. Remove and empty the ash can and wipe out any debris on the bottom of the grill. But you don’t want to aggressively scrub a smoker. The oily, smoky coating is important in the low and slow cooking process. You’ll want to remove the ash and grease regularly and be sure not to disturb the smoker’s seasoning.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to keep your home running smoothly during the summer months, and repair any damage that may have happened over the cold months. Remember, maintenance and minor repairs are always less of a headache than major repairs and replacement!

William Dukes is a freelance writer and home decorator. He spends most of his time landscaping and fixing up and flipping old houses. He and his wife enjoy home DIY projects and recently built a new barn for their ranch.

Moved In and Cash Strapped? 6 Tips to Cut Expenses

Moving In

The following is a guest post by Christy Matte

Moving into a new home brings with it the promise of a fresh start and new experiences, but it can also bring some financial challenges. Rental or mortgage costs, paying for movers, and new furniture can quickly add up. If you find yourself needing to cut back on spending, it doesn’t have to be painful. These ideas will help you shift from scrimping to saving in no time at all.

Bundle your mobile, Internet, and cable

With a new environment, it might also be time for a new phone carrier. Shop around for a mobile plan that meets your needs without paying for extras you don’t want. You may also be able to find savings by bundling with your Internet and cable service.

• Consider a by-the-gig mobile plan if you use varying amounts of data each month.
• See if you can take your current phone to your new carrier instead of buying a new phone when making the switch.
• Pair up for a family plan with a family member, so you both save.

Spread out decorating expenses

As you’re settling into your new home, you’re probably imagining the perfect living room rug, bedroom paint job, and dining room table. However, if money is tight, it’s time to be practical.

Feel free to dream and pin your perfect décor choices onto your Pinterest boards, but you’ll also want to draw up a budget. Leave plenty of room for the inevitable challenges that will arise, and figure out what you can put toward redecorating each month.

• Make a list of desired updates and prioritize them. Consider which items will have the greatest impact in terms of efficiency, comfort, and mood.
• If your budget allows, set aside money each month for your redecorating plans.
• Purchase and update according to your priorities. Be flexible if something you’re waiting for goes on sale.

Cut back on the pampering

You may have gotten used to having plenty of “fun money” in your previous home. Maybe you got in the habit of sending out for dinner multiple times a week, sipping on fancy lattes, or hitting the spa whenever the mood hit. Take stock of those splurge purchases and taper back — or cut them out entirely. Instead, try some budget-friendly ways to have fun.

• Search out fun new recipes and enjoy cooking in your new kitchen. Engage your partner or a friend and cook together.
• Use candles and music to create a spa-like area in your home where you can relax. Enjoy a bubble bath, a face mask, or a cozy spot for reading.
• Invite friends over for movie night rather than hitting the theater.

Conserve energy

Household utilities eat away a large portion of a monthly budget and small changes can add up over time.

• Turn off lights and unplug electronics when not in use.
• Use programmable thermostats to adjust the temperature in your home throughout the day.
• Be conscious of your household water usage.
• Look into a free energy audit. It will identify areas of your home you can update or change to save energy and money.

Shop smart

When our budgets aren’t quite as tight, frugal shopping can go out the window. Take the time to focus more on finding ways to save at the cash register.

• Use coupons. This takes some planning but can result in huge savings.
• Stock up during sales. If you have the storage space, grab extra non-perishable items when the costs are low. If you have enough freezer space, you can also stock up on meat and other freezer-friendly items.
• Shop around and seek out good deals. Big-ticket items may be available for less at smaller or online retailers, and your local retailer may be willing to price match to keep your business.
• If you can’t tell the difference, go generic. Generic food items are typically processed in the same plants as name brands. Buying off-label clothing and furniture can also help cut back on costs.

Borrow items you don’t use all the time

While it may seem easier to buy what you need or want, consider borrowing or renting things you will only use once or won’t use often. Not only will you save money, but it will free up your storage space, too.

• Get a library card. Many libraries offer digital content like movies, audiobooks, free music downloads, magazines, and streaming video that can all be accessed online. Check your local library’s calendar for free activities, like book readings, movie nights, craft gatherings, and workshops.

• Your new home may come with new needs, like a carpet steamer, pressure washer, extra-tall ladder, or specific lawn equipment. If you only need these items sporadically, consider borrowing from a friend or renting from your local home improvement store.

There are plenty of ways to save money in your new home without having to sacrifice all your favorite indulgences. Small adjustments to your budget can add up quickly and help you adjust to your new household expenses.

Christy Matte is a Boston-based writer and contributor for Xfinity Mobile. She has been covering tech for the past decade but has been enamored with it her whole life. Christy has two Minecraft-obsessed kids, a software engineer husband, a crazy cat who thinks she’s a dog, and a hedgehog who barely tolerates them all.

Selling Your Home: Allow for Buyer Imagination!

The busy spring home selling season is here! Homes are bought and sold all year-long in the Des Moines Area but the end of spring break marks the beginning of the selling season. More than a third of the 549 Johnston homes that exchanged hands in 2018 did so between the end of March and July 4th.  

When it comes time to sell it takes more than a sign in the yard and a good realtor to reach your goals. Allowing buyers to visualize their “stuff” and their family living in the home is key to receiving an offer. Here are three ways to allow for buyer imagination! 

1. Clear Out Your Belongings 

We are all attached to our stuff, but the first rule is to clean it up, clear it out and pack it away.

  • Pack away personal items like family photos and kid’s artwork.
  • Make sure toiletries, clothing, jewelry and accessories are in drawers and out of sight.
  • Eliminate excessive clutter. 

If you have Children, clean out their bedrooms and clear away as much clutter as possible. Invest in covered containers that will fit under the bed or in the closet for toys and extra clothes.

2. Make the Rooms Look Bigger

You want to make each room look as spacious as possible. You want buyers to imagine their “stuff” not navigate yours!

  • Remove some furniture, open up the room. 
  • Clear off kitchen counters – yes, everything! 
  • Roll up area rugs.
  • Arrange furniture in intimate seating groups that encourage conversation and coziness. Don’t line everything up along the wall!

Installing curtains and blinds as close to the ceiling as possible draws the eye up and makes the room appear bigger. 

3. Pay Attention to Your Decor

Highlight your home’s best features and downplay the less-than-perfect areas. 

  • Paint is an easy fix. Paint walls in pale, neutral colors like soft grey, beige or off-white. Neutral colors allow for imagination! 
  • Windows without draperies make a room feel empty or undone. Curtains also help absorb sound in rooms with wood floors.
  • Open up wall space with minimal artwork.
  • Temporarily replace superhero bedspreads with coverlets or duvets in solid colors and encourage your kids to keep their room neat and tidy.

Once you’ve taken these steps, look around and walk through your house. Do buyers have the ability to imagine your home as theirs? If yes, then you are ready for the selling season! 

How To Pack a Home Entertainment System

Co-Founder NorthStar Moving Company Laura McHolm

China packed? Check. Picture frames packed? Check. Clothes packed? Check. Suddenly, you look into your family room, the music from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho plays in your head. The stereo and home theater glare back at you, taunting you – “Go ahead pack us, we will never come back to life again.”

Electronics are some of the last things to be packed before a move. No one wants to disconnect their entertainment lifelines. You’re filled with the dread of trying to fit each electronic piece into boxes and the terror of not being able to set them all up correctly in your new place. Thankfully, with these tips your entire stereo and home theater system will fit into boxes properly. You can put an end to the scary visions of endless tangled wires and the confusion of not knowing where to plug each cord. Simply color-code your wires and use your cell phone camera to document the process. Here is how to tame your electronics when packing for a move:

Step 1: Prepare and Pack Your Electronics

  • Get the Proper Gear – Visit your local office supply store and purchase colored dot stickers and colored Velcro cord wraps.
  • Label – BEFORE unplugging your stereo systems and home theater wires: neatly wrap each wire with a different color cord sticker. Label each corresponding input with a colored dot. Match the color of the sticker wrapped around the cord to the color of the input dot. For example, place a green dot next to your mouse input on your computer and place a matching green sticker wrap around your mouse cord. You simply match the colors when you are setting your electronics back up. Always label both ends of each cord with the same color dot.
  • Photograph -BEFORE you unplug. Use your camera and snap a shot or two of your color-coded work.
  • Unplug – After you have colored labels on all of your cords and inputs, properly shut down your electronics. Then unplug all of your cords from all inputs. 
  • Organize – Before packing up a cord, place a Velcro colored wrap around one end of the cord. Use the same color Velcro wrap as the dot sticker already placed on the cord. Then gently and loosely wrap the cord in a circle around your hand. Once you have wrapped it, secure it with the Velcro wrap. Using Velcro cord wraps will better secure your cords during your move as well as prevent them from tangling.

Now you will be able to channel your inner geek and set your electronics back up like a nerdy pro! Next up, packing your electronics.

Step 2: Pack Your Electronics

  • Proper Gear – If possible, pack your electronics in their original cartons. If you did not keep their original boxes, use a dishpak box. Dishpaks are specially designed boxes to handle and protect fragile items. You can find dishpaks at moving companies, box stores and home improvement stores. If you can’t find dishpaks, use double corrugated boxes. You will also need lots of recyclable packing paper, bubble and packing tape.
  • Assemble – Put the boxes together. Place double packing tape on the bottom of each box over the opening and across the middle. Then double tape the perimeter for extra support.
  • Pad – After taping, pack the bottom of each box with crumbled packing paper for padding.
  • Wrap – Always pack your heaviest items first. Wrap all electronic items separately. Lay your bubble on a flat surface with the pop side facing up. Place your stereo, DVD player, etc. standing up right on top of the bubble. Pull the wrap over and tape it all together. Repeat by laying the item on its side and pulling the bubble over the sides. Keep taping until the wrap is securely tight to the item and on all sides. Make sure the item is completely covered. Place it up right, vertically in the box. Repeat this process for the next big item then place it vertically in the box next to the first item.
  • Stuff – Before packing smaller items like your speakers and remotes, stuff packing paper in open spaces between the bigger electronics such as the DVD player to ensure they cannot shift. Pack some paper on top for extra cushion.
  • Park Accessories – Wrap your remotes and accessories in packing paper before placing them in the top of the box. Then wrap up your carefully color coded wires in packing paper. Tape the paper around the wires to secure them and then place them on the very top of the box. Fill the rest of the box with crumpled packing paper. Be sure to label the wrapped up items with a pen: so they don’t get mistaken for the crumbled up packing paper.
  • Tape & Label – Tape each box shut by double taping over the opening and across the middle. Then double tape along the top perimeter of the boxes for extra security. Label the outside of the box with the contents and the room the electronic should be moved into. Make sure to mark FRAGILE on all sides of the box. 

Done! Your electronics are safely packed and organized! Once you are ready to set up your home theater in your new place, just carefully unpack each component, refer to your photos on your camera and let your color codes lead you safely back to movie watching.

Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage serviceswww.northstarmoving.com

7 Easy Landscape Ideas for a New Home

The following is a guest post by Meredith Hale.

You’ve closed on your new home, unpacked your belongings and breathed a sigh of relief. Now it’s time to look outside and turn your attention to the landscaping. If you’re lucky, you purchased a home that was once owned by a master gardener. However, most of us find our new yard needs a bit of work to make it our own. While some large-scale projects are more complex, there are some simple things you can do to personalize your outdoor living space. Check out these seven easy landscape ideas for a new home:

Plant Shade Trees

Trees are valuable to a landscape once they’ve matured. Older trees not only help shade your home and yard but also freshen the air. Trees also harbor neighborhood birds, which are important to the local environment. Planting a tree is a great way to mark the purchase of your new home and invest in the future. Make sure to plant a shade tree far enough away from the house so that it doesn’t interfere with the foundation or sewer system. You also want to avoid trees that will have you constantly raking and cleaning out the gutters. Consider planting evergreens on a breezy side of the yard to help block the wind.

Go Native

If you plan on adding any new plants to your landscaping, choose purple yarrow, coreopsis, red yucca shrubs or any of the native options that thrive naturally in Dallas. These are the plants that you may notice growing along the edge of a lake, beside roadways, and in untamed areas while on a hike. Native flowers need little water and will attract pollinators to your yard. They’ll also cut down on the amount of time you’ll have to spend maintaining your landscape.

Spread Some Mulch

Bringing in mulch to spread around the base of your landscaped plants is easy and will pay off in the long run. Organic mulch options, like bark dust, will provide beautiful color to the yard and keep plants hydrated. Inorganic mulch options, like stones or pebbles, will last longer but can be harder to spread due to their weight. Both options will help prevent weeds from popping up. Investing an afternoon spreading mulch can also save you a lot of maintenance time later on.

Make It Private

There will be areas of your yard that you will want to enjoy without the glances from neighbors walking by. Have fun with it and start some outdoor projects by planting a row of boxwoods for some semi-private areas or even hang some lattice on one side of the patio. Windscreens and vertical gardens are other ways that you can use the vertical space in the yard to add privacy. Adding a shade canopy or large umbrella can create a sense of privacy for homes with two-story neighbors.

Find A Favorite Spot

Outdoor seating is an integral part of landscaping a backyard. You can easily incorporate room amid plants and garden beds. Place a metal café table near your favorite rose bushes or even hang a hammock between two mature shade trees. Finding a spot in the yard that you can enjoy daily, while also being comfortable, will help you use your outdoor space more often.

Light it Up

A string of patio lights or outdoor solar lights will make the yard safer in the dark and allow you to use your yard well after dark. Go a step further and add a fire pit to the patio (either a permanent or less expensive portable one). The extra light will add a certain ambiance to your yard and encourage your family to get outdoors more often.

Add Some Stepping Stones

Many backyards have gates or side entry points that allow you to enter the yard without going through the house. These areas are often forgotten and usually, don’t include any kind of walkway or path. Consider adding stepping stones from the gate to the back patio to help encourage the use of the pathway without bringing dirt into your new home. Installing just a few stones will also help keep shoes out of the mud and provide a stable area that’s safe to use.

Updating your landscaping will help you increase the usable square footage of your home. You’ll now have more areas to relax and entertain guests.

 

Meredith Hale is a gardening and landscape writer, and design addict. She has coordinated the design on many house flipping projects, admitting that her favorite part is creating inspired outdoor spaces.

 

Make the Move, Minimize the Stress!

For most of us moving is a BIG deal.  Here are a few ideas to help make your move a little less stressful:

1. Don’t wait until the last minute to book your movers. This is true any day of the month but if your move is at the end or beginning of the month you are part of a larger crowd! Start looking for a company early and get on its schedule as soon as you know the property possession date.

 

2. Take the time to research. Do your due diligence and make sure you’re choosing a reputable and certified company. An advantage of using a Realtor are the movers your agent knows and trusts and can recommend!   

 

3. Be realistic about what you own.  More items than discussed with your movers, and you will likely get a higher bill or worse, no room on the truck! The reverse is true as well. You may find yourself paying more than you need to when you overestimate your moving needs.

 

4. Labeling. Don’t assume your packers will be labeling boxes for you! Ask about their policy for labeling boxes. If they don’t label, plan to be present while the packers work and make it your job to label each box as it’s completed. Make sure the label names the room it goes in and a reminder of what is inside! 

 

5. Remember to measure. This actually happened to us when we moved – the basement stairway was too tight for our couch and the basement window too small to fit through. Measure doorways and stairwells in advance and consider turns in the stairway – we did not and now have a couch in the loft, not the basement! 

 

6. Think bigs; the rest can wait. The major, heavy items need your attention first. Furniture of course, but don’t forget rugs and anything you will have the movers position. If you have time, a floor plan of the new space with furniture positions marked out will be helpful for the movers or plan on being onsite and guiding items into place.

 

Don’t expect to be unpacked right away – just unpack the bedding, get a good night’s sleep and begin enjoying your new home!

5 Home Features That Could Impact Your Insurance Rate (and Upgrades That Can Lower It)

The following is a guest post from Paul Martin

The way home insurance rates are calculated can seem like a mystery. However, once you understand the mindset of the insurance company, it becomes easier to figure out. To lower your home insurance rate, you’ll need to honestly review some key features of your home that could be costing you big bucks. Take these upgrades that commonly impact rates into consideration, and you may start writing smaller checks.

  1. The condition of your plumbing

One of the biggest concerns an insurance company has is a home’s plumbing system. Damage from water leaks is among the most common home insurance claims, and it can cost both you and your insurance company big time. Older homes (built in the ’80s or before) are higher risk and might require you to pay higher premiums.

Updating your home’s plumbing system is very attractive to an insurance company, and they’ll reward you for it. However, updating the entire house at once can be costly. Making changes to the water system one room at a time, such as the kitchen or bathroom, can still help.

  1. The condition of your wiring

Another big concern for insurance companies, particularly in older houses, is the wiring system. Older buildings may have had aluminum wiring installed, making the home more susceptible to fire, and therefore, expensive premiums. Also, older homes may have wiring that is no longer up to state code, which could negatively impact your rate.

Insurance companies take note of homeowners who put in the effort to update their wiring system. Decreasing the risk of fire damage, as well as bringing any aspect of your home up to current state code, can have a dramatically positive impact on your insurance rate.

  1. The condition of your roof

An older, weathered, and weak roof is one of the biggest features that can cause your rate to skyrocket. Especially in regions of the country prone to hail, replacement costs can be huge for insurance companies, as roof damage commonly extends beyond what a deductible covers (often reaching between $9,000—$20,000).

Depending on where in the country you live, upgrading your roof to hail-resistant or dent-proof shingles will eliminate a major risk factor for both you and your insurance company. Homes with these upgraded roofs installed most likely won’t need a replacement for decades, and insurance companies will reward the homeowner for it.

  1. The addition of fire-suppression features

Fire damage is another one of the biggest home insurance claims in both frequency and cost. Fires may be caused by accidents within the home, natural disasters, or any number of incidents. No matter where someone lives, the risk of fire damage is always present.

Any installation of fire-suppression features, such as sprinkler systems, is highly attractive to insurance companies. Though installing a sprinkler system can be costly (typically between $8,000—$10,000), it can save you in the long run, with both peace of mind and a much lower insurance rate.

  1. The addition of a security system

Theft losses are another frequent and pricey home insurance claim. A burglar may not only steal from your home, but they may damage it upon their intrusion. A lack of security features for the home is frowned upon by insurance companies.

Installing a burglar alarm and displaying the signage that your home is equipped with such a system can significantly reduce your risk of break-ins and theft. The less attractive your home becomes to burglars, the more attractive it becomes to your insurance company. Spending money on a security system up front can save you on insurance in the long run.

If you do upgrade any of your home’s features, reconnect with your agent. They’ll reach out to your insurance company and try to negotiate a new, lower rate for you, or they’ll go ahead and shop new insurance policies across multiple companies. Ultimately, they’ll get you set up with a rate that matches your home’s updated condition.

 

Paul Martin, CPCU, is an insurance professional for Trusted Choice with over 30 years’ experience in the field. Throughout his career, his mission has been to advance the insurance industry through education to be better equipped to serve the public.