Tax Advantages for Home Improvement Projects

Most homeowners know that by making renovations they can greatly increase the value of their property, but did you know that you can also save money on your taxes by making these improvements? By qualifying for home-related tax deductions, you are guaranteed to pay off the hard work and money needed to upgrade your property.

Make the following home changes and you’ll be sure to see a return on your investment coming from tax time.

Add a Home Office Space

While everyone used to be eligible for tax deductions from home office, a shift occurred in 2018. Only those who are self-employed or run their own business can now deduct their home office expenses from their taxes because of an update in tax law.

You are eligible for a major deduction if you are self-employed or run your own business but do not have a home office. Use this opportunity to transform a bedroom or a portion of your living space into a work-specific zone. Be sure to save the receipts and deduct them from your taxes from all the costs incurred.

In addition to the deductions that you will qualify for the year you create your office, each year thereafter you will be eligible for deductions. Keep track of the necessary improvements to your office space and the repairs needed to keep your office as these expenses are fully deductible. Furthermore, repairs and upgrades to your entire home (such as a new roof or air conditioning) are partly deductible as a work-related expense.

Create a Rental Space – Apartment or AirBnB

You can save money on your taxes by renting a portion of your home if you have extra space that could be renovated or an existing in-law suite. The rental property deductions are similar to those for a home office. Reparations you make in your rental property are fully deductible and some of the repairs you make to your home as a whole are deductible. You may also be eligible to deduct the following expenses in addition to repairs: advertising, rental agent fees, property taxes, utilities, interest in cleaning and mortgage.

Look for Capital Improvements

There is a big difference between repairing and doing home improvements when it comes to tax deductions. Costs can be deductible every year if you have a home office or rental. Major improvements that increase your house’s value for more than a year (also known as capital improvements) can not be deducted annually, but they can save you thousands of dollars in taxes when it comes to selling.

You may be subject to a federal tax, depending on the total capital gain you receive on your home when you sell. Because of this, keeping detailed records of all the improvements they have made that have increased the value of their home is important for homeowners. It is possible to deduct these expenses from the capital gains tax.

Examples of capital improvements include:

  • Installation of a new roof
  • Remodeling of the kitchen
  • Adding to a master suite
  • Insulation improvements
  • Restoration of the home after a disaster
  • Finishing of the basement
  • Replacement of the water heater or furnace

Consider Adding Energy Efficient Upgrades

Making your home more energy efficient will not only save you money on your utility bills every month but thanks to the Renewable Energy Tax Credit you will be eligible for tax deductions.

You can receive a credit equal to 30% of the cost of your energy-efficient upgrade, including installation, under this initiative. Home improvements may qualify as follows:

  • Solar panels (as long as the household power is used)
  • Geothermal heat pumps that meet the Energy Star guidelines
  • Solar-powered water heaters used to heat water used inside the house (swimming pools and hot tubs do not qualify for this tax credit)
  • Wind turbines that generate up to 100 kilowatts of electricity
  • Fuel cells that rely on renewable energy to generate residential energy

Home Improvements for Medical Conditions

If due to a medical condition affecting you, your spouse, or one of your dependents, you make improvements in your home, this update is likely eligible for a tax deduction. But before you make major renovations with the expectation of this year’s deduction, you must first assess whether the project increases your home’s value. Major home renovations completed for medical purposes that increase the value of the home (like installing an elevator) cannot be deducted on your annual taxes, but they may be eligible for a tax deduction as a capital improvement when the home is sold.

Here are some examples of medical home improvements that are tax deductible the year they are completed:

  • Installation of support bars in the bathroom
  • Modifying warning systems such as fire and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Installation of a wheelchair ramp or lift
  • In the kitchen and bathroom, lowering cabinets
  • Hallway and doorway widening

Maximize your investment by keeping the previous tax deductions and credits in mind when renovating your home. You’ll be sure to pay off your hard work and home improvements with some careful planning and a little knowledge about tax law.

Every Homeowner Should Know: Home Maintenance

Many homeowners think that when something goes wrong or breaks in their home they have to hire a contractor or repairman. The truth is, many housekeeping skills are easy to learn and implement. There are some maintenance tips that should be known to every homeowner.

Plumbing Systems

In every home, leaky faucets, clogged drains, running toilets, stalled disposals, and other similar problems are all easy things to learn how to fix. If you are faced with these and similar problems, there is a good chance that these easy repairs to plumbing can only call for a bucket, plunger, toilet flappers, rubber washers and/or O-rings, adjustable wrench, plunger, and rubber gloves. Some repairs may require the drain traps to be cleaned out, while others may need more time and tools. Either at the water supply valve behind the toilet or under the sink or at the main source in the home, always turn off the water before any plumbing repairs.

Window and Door Sealing

It is a good idea to check the weather stripping around all windows and doors on an annual basis to keep your home as energy-efficient as possible. Replace areas that do not hold a seal or are frayed. If necessary, inspect all the caulking and re-caulk.

Water Heating

As minerals can build up and settle in the bottom of the tank, forming a layer of hard sediment, it is also important to keep the water heater in your home up to snuff. Drain your tank and flush it out with cold water at least once a year to help prevent this buildup and possible ruptures and overheating. Ask your plumber to perform this service as part of your maintenance program if you don’t feel comfortable with this project. Reduce the water temperature to 120 degrees for extra energy savings.

Gutter Health

Keeping gutters clear and free of pests and nature buildup is important. This is best done as a two-person job, securing the ladder by one person and spotting the person doing the dirty work. Use a leaf blower or wet-dry vacuum to remove leaves by hand. A garden hose can be useful for flushing gutters and ensuring that water flows through them freely.

Pressure Washing Your Home

Washing a house, driveway, and walkways under pressure can make a home look new again and is not a hard task to learn. Make sure you read instructions carefully to understand how much pressure to use on different surface types and make sure you don’t keep the water flow too long in one place.

HVAC System

Make yourself a reminder to replace filters once a month or clean permanent filters on a monthly basis to ensure that your heating and cooling system runs as efficiently as possible. Remove all debris and plant growth around air-conditioning units and ensure that no creeping plants have grown into the unit itself.

Home Appliances

It’s a good idea to coil vacuum refrigerators every few months and clean them under all appliances. Check all gas and electrical households and ensure that they are not worn or need repair. Dryer vents and the external exhaust duct are vacuumed at least twice a year. Make sure that the duct is metal and replace it with rigid sheet metal ducting if not. Anything but metal is a hazard of fire.

Water Vapor Barrier in Crawlspaces

Humidity in crawl spaces can cause homeowners problems, but luckily there is an easy solution: put down a vapor barrier. Basic water vapor that rises naturally from the ground is easily trapped in the crawl space with a layer of thick plastic. Many companies will charge steep prices for the installation of vapor barriers, but for the cost of a plastic roll, and for some time, homeowners can install a vapor barrier and help prevent future problems with moisture.

Alert Systems (Fire Alarm, Carbon Monoxide Detectors)

Replace batteries every six months in smoke detectors and check back-up batteries in home alarm systems. Monthly testing systems to ensure that they work properly. It is also important to check fire extinguishers to ensure that they do not need to be replaced and check in with family members to make sure they know how to use them in the event of a fire.

Electrical Systems

It’s a good idea to check all outlets and switches at least once or twice a year for any damage. Testing all GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets on a monthly basis is also a good practice. Replace all burned out bulbs and consider switching to incandescent or LED bulbs that are energy efficient.

Knowing tips for home maintenance can be very helpful, especially when you cannot arrange for a professional to help as soon as you need them. These tips can save you time and money as well, two things that we can all use more.

What to Look For When Buying a Home

Buying a new home is an exciting life event. Once you find the house that looks like it is a perfect fit, take time to thoroughly check it out before making a formal offer. Thoroughly inspecting a home and knowing exactly what you may be purchasing is extremely important and can save you money and headaches in the future. It is also a good idea to bring along someone who has experience in the construction industry and is willing to lend a discerning eye and expert insight.


Walk around the home and carefully evaluate the state of the home’s exterior. Find out when it was last painted and who did the work. Are the shutters intact? Is there evidence of pests? Are the fences, sidewalks, and driveway in good repair? Are there cracks or other concerning issues in the foundation? Find out how old the roof is and check it for damage or signs of leaks. Check out the gutters and notice whether or not they are clean, and if the drains are clear and the downspouts are pointed away from the house.

Crawl Space and Attic

Check out the crawl space and the attic and look for signs of mold, pests, water damage or standing water. Make sure there is proper ventilation and insulation, and make sure the insulation is dry. Note whether or not there is a vapor barrier in the crawl space.


Beyond the aesthetics of the interior, notice the way the inside has been maintained and if there are signs of damage from weather or otherwise. Are there water marks on the ceiling? Are the floors sagging or buckling in any area? Are there any unusual smells or odors present?


Carefully check all the plumbing in the home. Flush all the toilets and turn on all the faucets to make sure they run properly. Look for signs of leaks, current or past under all sinks, behind toilets and around tubs and showers. Evaluate the seals around sinks, toilets and bathtubs/showers, as well as the condition of the caulk. Take a look at the vent pipes and the housings under the sink and toilets and look for signs of wear, damage or corrosion. Even check the pipes under the home and in the attic for signs of damage.

Water Heater

Find out when the water heater was last replaced or if it ever has been, and ask when it was last flushed out. Check the water pressure and see how long it takes for hot water to reach each room. Ask if the water heater has been serviced regularly and find out who the current homeowner has contracted with to do so.


There are many things to inspect in a kitchen. Beginning with the appliances, find out how old they are, open them to see the condition of the interior and note how clean they are. Note any musty or damp odors. Turn on the faucets and burners, as well as the range hood fan. See if cabinet doors open and close easily and if drawers are on their tracks and are clean.

Electrical System

Consider the age of the home and find out whether the wiring has ever been replaced. Take a look at the breaker box and see if all breakers are in good working order. If the wiring isn’t up to code, that is a significant factor to add to consideration. Carefully check all outlets, light switches and fixtures to make sure they are working properly and there are no signs of disrepair.

Doors, Windows and Trim

Look carefully around doors, windows and trim work for signs of rotted or soft wood. Make sure all glass is secure and there are no signs of breakage. Check the seals and make sure the caulk is in good condition. Do doors and windows open and close easily? These are areas that need to be well-maintained to keep the heat or the cold in, depending on the season.

Heating and Cooling System

Make sure the heating and cooling systems operate properly. Check the filters to see how clean they are and notice what the temperature the system is set on and whether or not the desired temperature has been reached. If the temperature doesn’t match the setting, that could be a sign of a problem with the system. Look at the filters and make sure they are clean, and listen to the system as it runs. Find out how old the system is and judge how long it would be before it needed to be replaced.

After you carefully evaluate the home and you still find that it is a perfect fit, then you can feel confident that you are making a good purchase and look forward to making the house into your home.

Quick Fixes with Big Impacts on Your Home

As a homeowner, you may believe that a significant investment is necessary to make a meaningful difference in the look, feel and value of your home. The truth is, there are many quick fixes that you can easily take care of on your own that make a big impact on your home. And, the good news is that you don’t have to be highly skilled in that particular area to implement them.


Good lighting can make all the difference in a home. Replace all burned out bulbs, inside and outside, and clean fixtures to ensure maximum brightness. To create a pleasing ambiance and realize greater energy efficiency, replace all bulbs with warm light by using a lower wattage LED or incandescent light with a 3,000 Kelvin or lower. Invest in lighting around favorite paintings or pieces of art to add an extra special touch.

A Fresh Coat of Paint

A gallon of paint isn’t very expensive, but it can go a long way to change the look and feel of a space. Evaluate each room in your home and imagine what it would be like if the walls were a different color. If you feel excited and inspired, then make a trip to your local paint store!

Small Repairs

A broken switchplate, a loose cabinet knob or a squeaky door — individually they aren’t that big of a deal, but when all these needed repairs add up, they can start affecting your home and the way you feel about it. Grab your toolbox and spend an afternoon going through each room and making these simple repairs. If you don’t feel skilled enough for the job, then take the stress off by hiring a reputable handyman or woman.

Plumbing in Good Working Order

It is always a good idea to stay on top of the plumbing in your home. This will help prevent costly repairs and help you save money. Tighten loose fixtures, replace any worn or rusted faucets and handles, and repair all leaks. If the shower door is dingy and outdated, consider installing a new one. If the caulk around sinks, showers, and bathtubs is discolored or peeling, then replace it for a cleaner look.

Water Heaters

It is also important to maintain the water heater in your home as minerals can build up and settle in the bottom of the tank, forming a layer of hard sediment. Drain your tank and flush it out with cold water at least once a year to help prevent this buildup and potential overheating and ruptures. If you don’t feel comfortable with this project, ask your plumber to perform this service as part of your maintenance program. For extra energy savings, lower the water temperature to 120 degrees.

Heating and Cooling

We all like to be cool in the summer and warm in the winter, but lowering the temperature in the winter and increasing the temperature in the summer by just one or two degrees can make a big difference in energy bills. To prevent your system from working as hard, make sure you replace filters once a month or clean them regularly if you have permanent filters. Servicing your units on an annual basis will also ensure they run as efficiently as possible.

Deep Cleaning

The great feeling you get after giving your home a real deep cleaning just can’t be beaten. Taking the time for doing things like wiping down baseboards and door frames, washing windows, cleaning carpets, shining wood floors and vacuuming window treatments and under furniture can make your home feel fresh, clean and inviting.

“Fluff” Your Home

After you finish deep cleaning, go through each room and consider rearranging furniture to create a new look. Make each room even more inviting and freshen the space by adding new pillows and throw blankets, a scented candle or essential oil diffuser, and fresh flowers.

Spruce Up Outdoor Areas

Curb appeal makes a significant impression on all who pass by or visit your home. However, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make this impression a positive one. Keep your yard well maintained, prune all shrubbery several times a year, and plant fresh flowers each season. Consider adding a container of greenery and fresh flowers and a new doormat to your front porch. We all know that spiders like to take up residence in the eaves of homes, so clean off the webs and other evidence of nature on the eaves as well as around the windows and doors.

Being a homeowner is definitely a great responsibility. However, it is nice to know that there are a lot of things you can do to your home that don’t require a lot of time and money, but the results yield a big impact.

How to Survive A Los Angeles Commute

In a recent study, Palmdale, California (a part of northern Los Angeles) was found to have 35% of its population commute for over 2 hours each day. This came to an average commute in the area being 85 minutes per day. Almost everyone you ask would consider this to be absurd, but this is becoming a reality for those who live in the densely packed Los Angeles area. If this sounds like something similar to what you experience during the work week, we’re looking at some different options for making your time behind the wheel a bit more manageable.


Altering Your Driving Routine


If your commute is starting to affect other areas of your life, consider making a change in how you do it. Rush hour becomes such a crunch because of the convenience that it permits with the standard work week. See if altering your drive time to an earlier or later part of the day is a possibility. This option might not exist for everyone but some employers might be open to the altered schedule. If changing the time you arrive at and leave work isn’t a possibility, maybe there is an option to work from home or at a different location. If things really need to change, consider moving your home to somewhere more convenient.


Take Advantage of Your Time


The biggest negative of having a long commute is what feels like the loss of time. When sitting in traffic it can be difficult not fantasize about the different things that you could be doing instead. Catching up on sleep, exercising, even grocery shopping can sound more enticing. A positive for the average commuter is the way that technology is taking advantage of this “lost time”. Podcasts, audiobooks, streamable music. All different mediums that don’t require us using our eyes or hands and permit us to maximize our time in the car. Find something that interests you, whether it’s the latest Game of Thrones audiobook, or a podcast on entrepreneurship. Think of your time in the car as a time for relaxation or personal development. Many cars come with tech features that allow hands free connection to smart phones which makes this process seamless.


Think Outside the Box


Similar to the technological changes that can enhance our commute, think of ways that you can take advantage of this time by yourself. You can assume that others are facing a similar dismal outlook on their morning drive. Call your parents or siblings. Maybe phone a friend that you don’t speak to as much as you would like. Many non-luxury vehicles come standard with tech features that make talking on the phone easier than ever. If you’re more of an introvert, use the time to focus on the day ahead and think of any improvements that you can make. You might not be able to avoid a long commute but you can do your best to make the most of it instead of wasting time being frustrated.




Carpooling can positively benefit your commute in a handful of ways. If a coworker or someone in your family lives close to you or works in a similar area, take advantage of what you can offer each other. Maybe the driving itself is what is driving you crazy and having someone else take the wheel every other week is something that relieves a lot of stress. It also lets you save some money on gas as well as wear and tear on your vehicle. Don’t forget that the HOV lane can be an amazing time saver in certain situations. Having someone along for the ride might be the thing that gets you out of your head during the mornings and refocuses you in a more positive manner. It helps to have at least a midsize SUV so that you and your fellow carpoolers are comfortable. 


Morning commutes in LA can be crippling but it’s good to try your best to make the most of it. You deserve to take advantage of the time instead of wasting it and being frustrated. It could translate to better job performance and a more positive mood. In the end, traffic might be inevitable but it’s important to do what you can to limit its negative effects on your life.

Signs It Might Be Time to Replace Appliances

Sometimes, it’s very clear that an old, broken appliance needs to be replaced. But other times, a new appliance breaks before its time and you need to ask yourself whether you should replace the product or get it repaired. There are a few factors to consider when making this decision, from your budget at the time to the advantages of installing a newer model. These signs it might be time to replace your old appliances will help you decide whether to repair or replace the most common household appliances.


When your refrigerator isn’t working correctly, it can cause big problems. Not only do you run the risk of losing all the food you have inside, but it can also be a costly appliance to replace. There are a variety of small issues that could easily be repaired by an experienced technician, from cooling problems to icemaker issues.

If you’re experiencing problems with your refrigerator, first make sure the appliance is really broken. Start by making sure the refrigerator didn’t get unplugged accidentally. Also, check the temperature settings to be sure they are set correctly. Finally, give the appliance a good cleaning by moving the refrigerator away from the wall and cleaning the coils with a vacuum. You can also clean the gasket inside the refrigerator door to make sure it is sealing properly when the door is closed.

If none of these tactics work, it’s time to call a repairman. A general rule of thumb when considering whether to repair or replace an appliance is the 50% rule – if the repairs will cost half or more than the cost of a new machine, it’s time to replace the appliance. Another indicator that it’s time to replace your refrigerator is if it was manufactured before 1997. That’s when Energy Star was created to designate energy efficient appliances. A simple upgrade to a more energy efficient model will save you enough money on your electric bill to pay for the purchase in a few years.


If your dishwasher is causing you problems, there may be a few simple solutions to try before calling a professional. Start by ensuring your dishwasher’s filters and drain are clear of debris. Then, run a cleaning cycle to remove any stuck-on residue or greasy grime that may be clogging the machine. Finally, be sure your dishwasher has enough rinse aid in the dispenser to prevent spots on the dishes after they have dried.

After trying all these tactics, you will need to call a repairman to diagnose the appliance if it’s still not working properly. Dishwashers typically last between nine and 16 years, but sometimes they quit working properly before their lifecycle is up. Get a quote on the repairs to see if purchasing a new appliance is a more cost-effective option than repairing your existing dishwasher.


Your kitchen range is made up of several different components, all of which could become faulty at some point in the life of the appliance. One common problem many homeowners find in their range is that the oven temperature runs too hot or cold. This can be remedied by simply recalibrating the oven’s thermostat. Most of the time, you can find directions for this easy fix in your appliance’s manual.

With other range problems, you should contact a repairman to diagnose the problem since the appliance is made up of a variety of sensitive components that only a trained professional should handle. After the problem is found, follow the 50% rule to decide if you should repair or replace the range. Keep in mind that the typical life expectancy of a gas range is 15 to 20 years and an electric range is expected to last 13 to 20 years.

Water Heater

While you can get away with waiting until most household appliances break down before purchasing new ones, waiting until your water heater breaks may be too late. A broken water heater could lead to a disastrous flood or contaminated water. That’s why it’s important to look for signs your water heater needs to be replaced before it breaks.

There are a few key indicators to look for when deciding whether to replace your water heater. First, determine how old your water heater is by taking a look at the serial number on the unit. The first two numbers that appear on your water heater indicate the year it was manufactured. If your water heater is more than 10 years old, it may need to be replaced. In addition to your water heater’s age, keep an eye out for other signs it’s time to replace the unit, like rusty water or rumbling noises coming from the machine. Noticing water around your water heater is another sure sign you need to replace this appliance before it breaks down completely.

How to Tackle the LA Commute from your New Home


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The commute into Los Angeles is one of the most infamous in the country, often depicted in movies and media as being a multi-hour pursuit leaving no time left in the day for much else. In real life, there are many ways you can cut down your commute time going into L.A. whether those options be public transportation, alternate routes, or other methods.

Honolulu Traffic

With so many different places to commute from and to in the greater Los Angeles area, it is impossible to note down every conceivable shortcut for every commuting route in Southern California. Instead, this guide to tackling the Los Angeles traffic is intended to give you new ideas as to cutting down your driving time, and cut down the toll of the commute on your day.




Be Aware of Rush Hour

One of the most important things to be aware of in Los Angeles is the time when rush hour begins. Generally, roads start to get bad at about 5 a.m until 10 a.m., and again at about 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m – it is especially bad from about 7 to 9 in the morning and again from 4 to 6 at night during the weekdays.

Avoiding the main roads as much as you can during these hours is key to making your commute as painless as possible – two things you can do to make rush hour easier for yourself are to leave home much earlier and depart the city much later on. Consider going to a coffee shop or diner to enjoy a nice start to the day before work starts, or make a nice dinner to bring to a park while you wait for rush hour to end at the close of the day, or hit the gym afterwork.



Try A New Route

This one may require a bit of planning on your part, but it can shave lots of time off your commute if you find a route that works for you.

One example of a better route into the city is the commute from Miracle Mile to the UCLA campus through Wilshire – one user on the forums pointed out that the commute can take about 20 minutes on a great day, as it’s theoretically a near-straight shot from the neighborhood, but on days with high traffic it can easily take up to an hour of driving. The user claims that with a “long-cut” they planned out through side-roads, you can cut down the time travelled by half, making it about a 30 minute trip on rush days despite it being a slightly longer distance.

That’s just one example, be sure to look for alternative routes to highways and major roads in your commute and you could easily shave lots of time off of your travel.  Having a fuel-efficient car helps a lot as well.



Public Transportation Options

L.A. has a subway system, commuter bus transportation systems, park-n-ride stations outside the city center and other options for making your trip into the city as hassle-free as possible.

The subway system is relatively expansive, covering a good part of the LA city limits. There are stations in Eastside, the San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, and other areas that are more accessible to commuters than driving into the inner city. Consider investing in a TAP card, charge your phone, and you can reduce the stress of your commute underground.

Another option is bus systems and park-n-ride stations scattered throughout the outskirts of L.A. and the greater metro area. Park-n-ride services help traffic by reducing the number of cars on the road significantly. The bus system and subway system in the city can get you around downtown, but park-n-rides takes your hands off the wheel and let you do other things while you travel into L.A.

Although there are some complaints as to its effectiveness in cutting down your actual commute time, public transit can make your commute easier by letting somebody else deal with the stress of traffic and maybe let you catch up on Netflix shows in your favorites list.



Moving? Save Money and Save Time: Tips for a Better Move

Moving? That’s the last thing any of us probably want to do, but a new school, warmer location, nicer neighborhood or many other reasons could be the cause. But does moving really have to be the total pain that we all expect it to be? The answer is no. And it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to get your stuff from old place to new place, either.

Maybe you’re making a cross-country move from a Cincinnati apartment where rent prices are finally stabilizing to a LA beachside mansion and you’re expecting a huge bump in living expenses; or you’re simply moving down the block in your local suburb and the prices aren’t changing — either way, there are some things you can do to make the process much, much easier and less expensive.

How Much Time Do You (Really) Have?

If you know well in advance that you’re going to be moving soon, it makes sense to take advantage of the time you have. Sometimes, quick moves are unavoidable and you can’t do anything to change the circumstances. That’s an entirely different issue; but for now, follow these steps for a great moving experience.

One Room at a Time

Start in one room. Pick one–any one—and drawer by drawer, closet by closet and shelf by shelf methodically pack everything away into easily handled boxes. If you’ve given yourself ample time to prepare, just divide the number of days you have left by the rooms and stick to the schedule that way. When you finally have all materials from one room boxed up and ready to be moved, then start on the next room. It might sound simple, but pacing yourself is key. Of course, first pack the things you do NOT use often. Simply put, don’t pack your toothbrush two weeks in advance.

Use a Service

We’re all busy. Jobs, family, social functions, your side hustle to earn a few extra bucks. Who has time to do this all themselves? If you’re bogged down or just not willing to make the move by yourself, go find someone to do it for you. For a few bucks, you can find an organizing service. They’ll pack your stuff for you, and you can even work side-by-side with them to make sure nothing gets lost or stolen. And if you oversee their work, you’ll be able to easily unpack and find everything you need in your new place.

Researching the Moving Company

Moving companies are all over the place. It’s 2018, so with just the click of a button you’ll be able to find a company suitable to your needs. That said, be careful and do your research. Many people have reported problems with these services like lost items, late trucks and belongings held hostage.

Instead, consider getting a cube delivered; you fill it up, lock it up and open and unload it at your new location. Again, there are many services that will help you do this—for a fee of course. These services also have amazing tracking services, so this will provide you with some well-needed peace of mind.

Truck Drivin’

If you’re an adventure seeker, then head on over to the truck rental spot and grab yourself a 24-foot truck. Load it—or get help—and you then drive it to your new place. You can take extra time, do it leisurely, or power through it and drive long hours. Either way, you are with your stuff and will not have to even think about someone else being in control of it.

Yard Sale?

How much stuff do you have in your place that you truly never use? If you’re like the rest of us, that’s actually the case with most of your material items. Easy fix — give it away, throw it away or sell it at a yard sale.

Do you really need the original notes you used to write your master’s thesis, or that old giant TV that still works but takes up an entire shelf and sticks out two feet?

Think you might need all of those monitor cables and old computer towers for some reason? Face the facts, you’re never going to use that stuff anymore.

Overall, moving is never that much fun, but if you take the time to plan out your strategy, you’ll save a ton of time and even more money. Maybe you’re a Millennial looking to purchase your first home; or someone saving up for a down payment on a newly constructed suburban home — either way, saving money on your next move is huge.

Plan it out and you’ll thank us later.

Forgotten Home Maintenance Items

Owning your own home comes with chores aplenty. Keeping up with things requires constant attention to make sure all of your bases are covered. It’s easy to get into a routine when getting to these chores and there are certain areas of your home that need more frequent attention than others. Others only need to be done once a year or even once every two years, and these chores can be very easy to miss the next year. In this post, I will outline a few home maintenance items that are easily forgotten about but important to make sure your home runs smoothly and you don’t end up with unexpected failures or outages.


Gutter build up is easy to miss as it’s not easily visible from the base of the house. However, backed up gutters can create some serious issues like water seeping into the home potentially causing flooding and or mold. Schedule some time before you expect the rainier/snowier season and give them a good clean out.


While you’re up on the ladder to clean out your gutters it’s a good idea to give your roof a look over. There are many signs your roof may be decaying that are visible with a quick glance. Be on the lookout for:

  • Shingles that are blistered, buckling, or curling up
  • Cracked or missing shingles
  • Moss or lichen build up (a sign the roof may be corroding underneath)


Your HVAC system is among the most important parts of your home. Dust, dirt, grime, and condensation can severely hamper your systems ability to function efficiently, and when things go wrong it can add it up very quickly. Do a good check up on this system at least once a year. House logic has a wonderful HVAC preventative maintenance check list that I recommend making a copy of.


Sump Pump

If you live in an area where your water table is above the foundation of your home, a sump pump is an absolute lifesaver. They are not needed often but when they are, you best hope it works. That’s why it’s important to do a yearly check up on this important facet. You can test your sump pump by unplugging and plugging the unit back in if the unit doesn’t immediately turn back on it needs to be repaired or replaced. The second way to test your sump pump is to raise the water in the reservoir to raise the float, at which point your sump pump should kick on and remove the excess water.

Draining Your Water Heater

The most common type of water heater found in homes is a tank style water heater. They contain a tank with 20 – 80 gallons of heated water. Because of the minerals and sediments that exist in the water from your city (which can vary depending on what region you live in), you should drain your water heater at least once a year. This is a great video on how to properly drain your water heater.

There are some of the most commonly forgotten home maintenance items for homeowners. One thing that I found helpful to make sure nothing slipped through the cracks was to add a note on the calendar on my phone to reoccur each year, that way I am reminded to get to every item.

Should you invest in Solar Panels for your Home?


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The cost of electricity is continually rising as the cost of home solar panel systems decline every year.  Investing in a home solar installation is a better financial decision than it’s ever been before. The actual cost of install and the amount of money you can save, however, depends on many important factors.

Before making a decision, research your current electricity plan stipulations, the suitability of the are you reside, and how local and federal incentives can impact the total cost of a solar installation.



Look Over your Electricity Plan

Solar panels generate electricity during daylight hours on their own and can entirely offset your power bill every month. The more expensive your electric rates are currently, the more you can save from switching to solar.  Electric usage amounts and kWh rates frequently fluctuate month-to-month and since it is generally the main expense on your power bills, the amount you will save each month varies.

As power prices change, so too does the amount of your potential savings.  Also, if the amount of energy your household consumes frequently varies by the month, the amount of savings you attain by going solar may surge and deflate accordingly.  The location of your home also significantly affects electricity rates along with the amount of sun/shade you receive.


Conduct a Solar Evaluation of your Home

If you live in an area the gets more sun, more power can be generated each day (and vice versa), and you’ll have more savings potential by switching to solar power.  Your roof’s orientation in relation to the sun, your roof type, and the amount of shade your home receives on average also greatly affects solar panel electric output.  Your neighborhood’s solar efficiency rating can be calculated by using a Solar Estimate Calculator tool online. Enter your zipcode, your home’s energy efficiency rating (which they help you calculate), and details about the roof area you wish to install the panels on.


Initial Cost of a Residential Solar Installation

Despite the downward price trend, solar panels can still be rather expensive.  According to UK Power Ltd, “The standard solar PV costs associated with any installation depend on your system’s brand, efficiency and power generation capability. Standard costs include:

  • Equipment and installation costs of between £2,500 and £15,000 depending on the size and quality of your system. (A typical 3.5kWp system, which has the potential to provide you with up to 75% of your electricity needs, costs around £6,500.)
  • A fee of between £60 and £120 for an Energy Performance Certificate, which you need before you can receive payments under the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) scheme.

All these initial costs can be offset against future profits, and financial assistance is available for those who need it.”

The long-term power expenses of your home will help offset the initial installation expenses.  High quality solar panels often come with 20+ year warrantees and don’t require much maintenance to operate at optimal efficiency.  When calculating out all of the install expenditures, look over your power bill and consider how much electricity you normally use each day on average and decide on a suitable size and kWh production rating for your solar panel system.  Ideally, your system should generate enough electricity to cover your needs most days.

There are many different solar panel installers across the California so be sure to shop around and compare installers the same way you would for other expensive items, like a car for example.  Remember, solar companies are competing for your business and will often offer lower install costs through money-back rebates or other incentive programs.  Get a quote from at least 3 to 5 installers before making a final decision.


Cash In on Government Incentives

Tax credits and local incentives vary by zipcode, but if your home is in an area with a high solar ranking, you could possibly be eligible for extra property tax exemptions, expedited permits, and waived fees in some cases. UK Power further states, “To encourage the take up of Solar PV, the government will pay you just for generating energy, even if you’re using it yourself.  Also, if your Solar PV panels produce more electricity than you need, the excess can be sold back to the national grid through a Feed-In Tariff scheme. Consumers with a typical 3.5kWp Solar PV system could make combined saving and income of £628 per year (based on a solar PV system eligible for a generation tariff of 15.44p/kWh). What’s more, a typical Solar PV system will save around 30 tons of CO2 in its lifetime.”  Look up local and government incentives and tax credits that might be available in your area online and speak with a solar contractor for additional advice.

Incentives won’t last long unfortunately and some may disappear entirely by 2020, so don’t wait for too long.  As solar PV becomes less and less expensive, federal and local governments and utility companies are tightening the incentives available to homeowners.

If you’d like to upgrade your home with solar panels but can’t afford the initial expense, you can avoid the sticker shock be exploring PPA options through your utility company and zero-down solar loans.  Leasing also offers a lower upfront cost, but since you don’t actually own the solar panels, they will not increase the value of your home and you would be ineligible for incentives.  No matter how you invest in solar, you can expect decreased electric bills and will be actively supporting a greener planet.