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Back-to-School: Top Ways to Save Money and Stay Organized 

shutterstock_173113364by Rebecca Bradshaw

Sending the kids back to school after summer break can be a hectic time, filled with added expense, new routines, and busier than ever schedules. Reduce some of the stress with these tips on how to save money and stay organized as you get the kids back to school.

Know What They’ll Need:

When it comes to back to school shopping, one of the easiest ways to save money and get organized at the same time is by knowing what your kids will need before school even begins. Most schools post a list of necessary items by grade on their websites before summer’s end. Get organized at home first by sorting through the supplies you already have, and discarding anything that is no longer usable. Visit dollar, craft, and discount stores for the best prices on supplies.

Closets Count:

The same rule of knowing what’s on hand applies to shopping for back to school clothing as well—sort through last year’s school clothes to see what needs to be replaced or can be passed along to a younger child. Take the opportunity to organize your kids’ closets with DIY shoe caddies and storage bins; you’ll save yourself frustrating last minute searches for that missing shoe or mitten later on.

Set up an Organization Station:

Getting the family ready for work and school in the morning can be chaotic. Streamline the process by designating a spot near the front door to keep everything the kids will need for school that day. Use wall pockets or magazine caddies from the discount store to hold schoolwork in color coded folders, and keep permission slips or other important papers from getting lost by clipping them to an inexpensive oversized calendar; use it to note everything from when assignments are due to school holidays.

Do Lunch Right:

Nothing is worse on a rushed morning than realizing you didn’t pack school lunches the night before. Solve the problem by organizing areas of your kitchen to speed up the lunch packing process. Keep grab and go items in clear storage containers in your refrigerator—they’ll make it easy to see when supplies are running low. Give a kitchen cabinet the same lunch-only designation and use it to store lunch boxes, sandwich bags, and frequently used items such as peanut butter. Stay ahead of the game and save money by planning lunches a week in advance and buying snack items in bulk.

Get a Handle on Homework:

Good organization is equally important at the end of the day when everyone is home from school with projects and homework to be done. Get the kids into the routine of hitting the books after school by deeming an area of your home as a homework zone, complete with bought-in-bulk school supplies. Forego spending lots of money on a new laptop for the kids by buying a refurbished model from a computer repair or office supply store, or ask friends and family if they have an older system they’d be willing to pass along.

Stay organized, save money, and have a great school year!

 

Sources:

HDTV, Hip2Save, Home Storage Solutions 101, Organized Home

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Trusty Preparation Tips for Your Final Walkthrough

By Rachel Collar

shutterstock_307474913You have found your new home and you are so excited to move in that you cannot wait to complete the final steps before closing! While you daydream about arranging your furniture and putting your dishes into the cabinets, make sure you are giving proper attention to the very important final walkthrough of your new palace. This should take place after the home inspection and about a week before closing. Prepare yourself by getting plenty of sleep for mental clarity, bringing a support system to help out, and packing a few small tools to aid in your walkthrough. Being very careful to check every detail will ensure you have a happy homecoming when the keys are finally yours.

When completing your final walkthrough, make sure you check every appliance, window, door and electrical outlet. Check all faucets and flush all toilets. Open every cabinet. Bring someone with you and task him or her with checking a particular area or category. Though your inspection has already occurred, there could be problems that may have come up since. You may find that a faucet that worked during inspection is no longer working after the seller removed a water filter improperly. It could happen that a roof leak has caused water damage that was not visible before. You can use a phone and charger or outlet tester to check every outlet in the house. Take a notebook with you and write the name of each room on each page to record any issues.

Are there any items that the seller agreed to leave behind such as light fixtures, shelving or outdoor structures? Be thorough in checking that these items are in place and intact. A specific area that always gets overlooked is landscaping. Walk the yard while referencing photos from your previous visit to ensure that no trees or shrubbery or built-in patio items were removed if the agreement was for them to stay. Use your notebook and camera or phone to document any issues. Be very specific.

After the seller’s belongings have been removed, check all storage areas and nooks for items left behind. You do not want to be responsible for throwing out a box of old paint left in the garage or heavy crates full of magazines shoved in an attic corner. You also do not want to have to communicate with the seller or have them come by to retrieve items while you are trying to make the home your own. Check walls again to make sure no damage occurred while moving out. It is not uncommon for television sets to leave gaping holes in walls or for a sofa to take out a chunk of a doorframe on its way out. Make sure any potential issues are properly repaired, and not just patched up to provide temporary visual appeal.

It is very important that you schedule your final walkthrough with plenty of advance time for repairs to take place. Remember, you may need to schedule an additional walkthrough to double check that all loose ends are tied. Giving yourself an extra week is often easier than rescheduling a closing due to a dispute. Your home is your investment and making reasonable requests for repairs or changes is part of the real estate process. Do not let your eagerness to settle in cause you to settle for less.

 

Walkthrough Tools Checklist:
  1. Phone and charger or outlet tester
  2. Notebook and pen
  3. Camera or Smartphone
  4. Support system
  5. Paperwork or contracts

 

 

Sources: www.homebuyingabout.com , www.foxbusiness.com, www.forbes.com

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Mailbox Makeovers for Instant Curb Appeal 

by Cat Queen

When visitors or potential buyers see your home for the first time, make sure your tired old mailbox doesn’t leave them with the wrong impression. These quick and easy mailbox makeovers will help you instantly improve your home’s curb appeal.

shutterstock_18671005

Perhaps the best way to give your mailbox a more charming presence is by creating a lovely space for it. Plant brightly colored flowers or low-maintenance shrubbery in a small garden around your mailbox. Then, use an edge trimmer to create a neat perimeter around your new flower bed. If other areas of your yard are trimmed-in with brick or concrete blocks, keep the look consistent by using the same material around your mailbox.

For a quicker fix, try sprucing up your mailbox’s post. Metal or wrought iron can be easily spray painted. If you have a traditional wooden post, first check the post for any rotten or chipped away areas. (In most cases, you can fill these cracks with wood putty; if the post is too far gone, it might be better to replace it.) Then, paint or stain the wood to give it an instant face-lift.

Large, stacked rock mailbox enclosures are beautiful but can be pretty expensive. You can achieve a similar look by adhering faux stacked rock to your existing wooden post.

Next, consider painting your mailbox with weather-proof spray paint. Try to coordinate your mailbox colors with your home’s exterior. White, green, and blue are great for catching the eye without being overwhelming. Red is also a popular and bold choice.

Tip: Steer clear of loud or neon colors like hot pink, orange, or bright yellow, which may be too bold for potential buyers. Hobby or sports themed mailboxes can also negatively affect a buyer’s first impression of the home.

If bright colors aren’t really your thing, use white or ivory paint with stencils instead. Quickly rejuvenate your mailbox by stenciling the number of your address in a fancy script against a plain black background. For a more personalized touch, add the first letter of your last name above the address in a larger font. You can also add embellishments like ivy or flowers.

Remember, when showing your home, try to appeal to all potential home buyers. Plain, classic stylings give your house a sense of character and charm without offending the personal taste of visitors. It is equally important to ensure that your home appears as well maintained as possible. A bright, clean mailbox in a well-manicured flower bed will always give the right impression.

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