Friday, February 16, 2018

4 Easy Tips to Declutter Your House

declutter your home

Are you looking to declutter your life? The best place to start is with your home.
Piles of stuff can make you feel boxed in, and purging your house of unnecessary objects can improve your outlook and make it easier to enjoy spending time around the house, whether you just a neater space or are in the process of downsizing. But decluttering a home can feel daunting unless you have a plan.
You may want to tackle small tasks first, build a sense of accomplishment and then move on to bigger projects. You may even want to set several goals. Whatever you decide, here are four ways to get started on decluttering.

1. Use a four-bin system

To start eliminating clutter, go through your home room by room with four bins: keep, toss, donate and store. In the “keep” bin you’ll put items you want to keep but need to put in a new place. The “toss” bin goes to the garbage, the “donate” bin receives items other people can use and the “store” bin is for those things that you don’t use frequently but want to keep.

2. Clear flat surfaces in the kitchen

Clear off flat surfaces in your kitchen, including your countertops, tables and more obscure spots like the top of your refrigerator and microwave.
You’ll want to remove everything that you don’t use on a daily basis. File the pile of bills and other papers. Consider placing a toaster you use once a month in a cupboard and paring down the dozen cookbooks you’ve been keeping on top of the refrigerator to just your favorites.

3. Declutter bedroom closets

Bedroom closets tend to be a catchall. Many people toss what they don’t need or don’t have time to hang up into their closets. Take some time to organize and determine what you no longer wear or use.
One possible strategy: Remove everything from your closet shelves, wipe them down and then make decisions about what to do with various objects before you start replacing things.
If you haven’t worn something in your closet for a year or more, consider placing it in the Donate bin. Be decisive, but don’t be afraid to hang on to a few key sentimental pieces if they mean a lot to you, either.
4. Free the entryway
When you first walk into your home, do you trip on a pile of shoes? Are dozens of coats piled on a table? If your entryway is cluttered, it makes your house feel unkempt. Coat and shoe racks can solve this problem. You might also make a rule to limit shoes and coats to those needed for a season, the rest can be stored away too.
If you’re decluttering in a hurry, be sure to check out these quick house cleaning tips.
When your home is decluttered, it’s even easier to enjoy spending time in this peaceful, relaxing space. Find a homeowners insurance policy that’s tailored to your unique needs to increase your peace of mind even further.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Complete Wedding Planning Checklist: 43 To-Do’s Before Saying Your “I Do’s”




couple sitting together at a wedding


The congratulatory calls and engagement parties have waned. Now what? It’s time to get down to serious wedding planning. Fun? Yes! Overwhelming? Oh, yes. But don’t fret. We’ve compiled this pre-wedding timeline and wedding planning checklist for soon-to-be brides and grooms.

16-9 months before your wedding day

1. Create a file or binder to keep wedding information organized and together
  • Wedding planning sections should include the following:
    BudgetDate
    VenueGuests
    Wedding partyVendors
    AttireStyling
    CeremonyReception
    EntertainmentMenu
    Pre-wedding plans: rehearsal dinner, bachelor party, bridal shower etc.Post-wedding plans: honeymoon
2. Plan your budget. TheKnot.com’s budget allocation chart can help:
Reception48-50%
Attire8-10%
Flowers/D├ęcor8-10%
Entertainment/Music8-10%
Photography/Video10-12%
Favors and Gifts2-3%
Ceremony2-3%
Stationary2-3%
Wedding Rings2-3%
Transportation2-3%
Miscellaneous8%
When planning your budget, it’s a good idea to avoid piling up bills that you’ll be paying back for years to come. Here are some wedding financing tips to help you avoid going into debt. 3. Set a date and reserve a venue for the ceremony and reception
3. Set a date and reserve a venue for the ceremony and reception
Research listings and compare features, cost, size, etc. Arrange visits and bring a list of questions to ask venue planners. Also, consider wedding insurance for protection in case of a cancellation or damage to the venue.
4. Create the guest list
  • Draft the list based on your budget and venue size.
  • Use Google Docs or similar resources to keep the list organized and easily editable.
  • Make sure guests’ names are on the RSVP card to avoid any confusion.
5. Choose your wedding party
6. Hire a wedding planner to help with details
7. Have the engagement ring appraised
You will most likely be able to have your ring appraised for free at the jewelry store where the ring was purchased. In the event your ring is lost or damaged, it’s a good idea to keep the appraisal and receipts in a safe place.
8. Insure the engagement ring for protection
Research your options when it comes to insuring your ring. You can contact your agent for more details on the steps you should take.
9. Choose an officiant for the ceremony

8 months before your wedding day

 10. Select a photographer and videographer
  • Decide on a photography style – candid, classic, edgy?
  • Read client reviews.
  • Interview prospective photographers and view their work.
  • Compare photo packages.
  • Inquire about your rights to the photos, since many photographers own the rights to all wedding images.
  • Find out post-production details, such as how long it takes to get your photos, how many you’ll receive, and whether the photographer offers retouching options.
11. Decide on entertainment
When choosing between a band or DJ, consider the following:
  • Vibe – Music sets the tone, theme and ambiance of your wedding
  • Variety – Make sure the entertainment can play the mix of genres you desire
  • Budget – While a DJ generally costs less than a band, the price of a band often depends on the number of musicians
  • Space – Check with the venue about restrictions. For example, is there a limit to the number of musicians or pieces of equipment you can bring in?
12. Choose a caterer
Schedule a tasting of what you want to serve and find out exactly what’s included, such as plates, silverware, table linens, etc.
13. Plan attire for the bride, groom, bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girl and ring bearer
Schedule fittings and keep track of dates. Don’t forget jewelry, bag, shoes, bridal veil and other accessories.
14. Reserve a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests
15. Register for gifts with at least three retailers
Print out a wedding registry checklist to avoid missing any essentials.
16. Look into coverage options for any new gifts you receive
Check your homeowners or renters policy to find out if new gifts are already covered. If not, look into different property insurance options that could insure your new items.

7-6 months before your wedding day

17. Design invitations
  • Choose text and colors that are legible.
  • Order at least 25 extra invitations in the event of re-sends.
18. Plan your honeymoon
Planning your honeymoon well in advance can help avoid any last minute problems and can save you money. It’s also a good idea to get travel insurance so you’re protected if an incident affects your trip.
19. Send save-the-date cards
20. Reserve things like portable restrooms and outdoor lighting if needed
21. Book a florist
22. Create a music playlist, including a list of no-play songs
23. Arrange transportation for guests
  • Book transportation for the wedding party, as well as for you if you plan to arrive separately.
  • Hire a shuttle or bus to take guests to and from the hotel.

5-4 months before your wedding day

24. Finalize the menu
25. Choose a wedding cake
Schedule a tasting with bakeries so you can try different types of cakes, ask questions and review the bakery’s portfolio.
26. Address wedding invitations
Consider hiring a calligrapher to make your invitations more elegant and consistent.

3 months before your wedding day

27. Map out the ceremony with your officiant
28. Choose wedding favors for your guests
29. Create a list of who will be toasting at the reception
Be sure to allot time for speeches in your day-of schedule.
30. Purchase bride and groom wedding bands

2 months before your wedding day

31. Confirm times with all vendors
Send your day-of schedule to vendors and confirm appointments for hair and makeup.
32. Buy gifts for your wedding party
33. Send invitations

1 month before your wedding day

34. Get your marriage license
35. Separate RSVPs as you receive them by “attending” and “not attending”
The RSVP date should be 2-3 three weeks before your wedding in order to give the caterer a head count and set your seating chart a week ahead of time.
36. Schedule the timing for all day-of activities, such as the cake cutting and the first dance
A wedding planner or coordinator can help.
37. Put together gift bags for out-of-town guests

Week of the wedding

38. Assign seating for the reception
Create a seating chart at least a week before the big day. A site like seatingarrangement.com can help with the task.
39. Confirm honeymoon details
40. Deliver gift bags to guests at the hotel
41. Put tips and final payments for vendors into separate envelopes
42. Pack for your honeymoon
Check out our tips for efficient packing, and our guide to following TSA carry-on rules so your honeymoon isn’t derailed at the airport.
43. Breathe and enjoy as all your planning comes together!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Sharing Finances After Marriage


sharing finances


When couples marry, they typically combine a number of things – their belongings, their families and, often, their finances. While money ranks high on the list of things couples fight about most, experts say there are healthy ways to resolve – and even prevent – financial disagreements.
Much of the problem couples have with money comes from the fact that most of us are raised not to talk about money, according to the American Psychological Association. The association’s 2014 study, “Stress in America,” found 31% of couples said money is a major source of conflict in their marriage. What’s more, according to the APA, those conversations tend to be more heated than other touchy topics that couples experience.
Like many beliefs, our thoughts about money are developed early on and they’re largely inherited from our parents and the way we were raised. In the study “Predictors of Belief About Money,” researchers found these beliefs about money might be so ingrained in us that we don’t consciously recognize all of them even though they will affect how we act toward money as well as how we interact with our spouses.

Something to talk about

When couples begin dating, they often talk about career goals, beliefs about how to raise children and where they want to live. But in most cases they do not discuss their views on spending and saving or explore their attitudes toward money.
The APA says it’s important to talk about each other’s “money history” to become more aware of what the other person believes and to become more aware of their own perspectives on finances.
According to the APA, these are good questions for couples to ask one another to begin the discussion about their personal financial beliefs:
  • What did your parents teach you about money?
  • What are your financial goals?
  • What are your fears about money?
From there, couples can also begin talking about what they’d like to accomplish together as a couple and begin defining what is important to achieve. Like most aspects of a relationship, it will take work and compromise – but discussing and planning it will inevitably be more successful than not talking about it and then fighting later.
Couples may also want to discuss the attitudes toward money they want to eventually instill in their children. What do you want them to learn about spending and saving? How will you shape their views of the value of money? Ideally, both partners should approach the matter consciously and take an active role in defining their family’s view of finances for the future.

When opposites attract

If two partners find that they have very different views about money, there are still plenty of ways to make a relationship work without having money as an ongoing dispute.
Talking about your views on money as a couple can help each person view the situation through the other person’s eyes and should help make communications about money more open and empathetic. You can establish guidelines for spending and saving that both of you are comfortable with.
Remember, this should be a negotiation, not a hostage situation, and it’s something you agree on together. That way, each person feels like they are being heard and they have a chance to create a budget or spending plan that works with both styles.
If you merged or are considering merging your finances with your partner, talk to a Nationwide financial advisor who can help you plan for the future.

Friday, February 9, 2018

10 Medicine Cabinet Essentials

well-stocked medicine cabinet

When it comes to first aid in the home, be prepared with a well-stocked medicine cabinet. If you need to treat an illness or injury, you will have all the basics on hand to help yourself or others.
Before you head to the drugstore, take an inventory of your medicine cabinet and what’s currently on your shelves. This is a good opportunity to clear your medicine cabinet of old prescriptions and expired products. Make this a habit and try to do this every three months. Find a local center near you that can properly dispose of old medication. Some grocery stores or community centers offer this service annually. By doing this, you won’t have to worry about how long that bottle of pink liquid has been sitting on your shelf the next time you have a sudden stomach ache.
Remember: Always follow dosage instructions as indicated on medication packaging.

Medications and first aid supplies to have on hand at all times

The following medicine cabinet supplies can treat a range of illnesses and minor injuries, from allergies and stomach aches to cut, bruises, aches and pains.
1. Emergency instructions
Tape a list of important phone numbers (doctors, Poison Control), medication instructions and allergy alerts inside the cabinet door.

2. Acetaminophen and an NSAID

Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and fever reducer. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce inflammation related to conditions like backaches and toothaches. Be aware of NSAID sensitivity in your family, especially in young children.

3. Aspirin

Aspirin works as a pain reliever for adults, but it’s also important to have on hand in case of emergencies. According to the American Heart Association, taking aspirin also helps during a heart attack. In fact, people having a heart attack are often given an aspirin by emergency medical services. However, it’s wise to be aware of aspirin sensitivity in your family, and it should never be given to children under 18.

4. Antihistamine

Antihistamines treat hives, itching and allergic reactions from a wide range of causes. Stock both oral antihistamines (the liquid or pill form that may be helpful during a serious allergic reaction) and hydrocortisone cream.

5. Decongestant, cough suppressant and flu relief medicine

You won’t want to leave home to go to the drugstore when you’re feeling lousy, so keep cold and flu relief medication on hand.

6. Antacids

If you are suffering from heartburn, these are your best bet for quick relief.

7. Antibiotic ointment

Apply this after you’ve washed cuts and scrapes with warm water and soap, then cover the wound with clean bandages.

8. Bandages

Stock up on adhesive bandages of all sizes, plus plenty of gauze and sterile tape.

9. Thermometer

Feeling someone’s forehead may be a good first step, but a thermometer is necessary for an accurate temperature reading.

10. Heat and ice packs

Keep several of these on hand, as they can provide relief for everything from headaches and sprains to injuries and sore muscles.
Staying healthy and safe is everyone’s concern. But if someone gets injured on your property, you’ll need more protection than what’s available in your emergency medicine cabinet. Make sure you’re covered with personal umbrella liabilitycoverage from Nationwide, which may help protect you beyond your homeowners insurance coverage limits.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?

The average dog owner spends $852 annually on routine and surgical visits to the vet. Insuring your pet can help ease the financial burden. The cost of pet insurance is not only affordable, it can also help you save on pet care through reimbursements. With Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), monthly insurance plans might be less than you think:

Average monthly cost of pet insurance

  • Dog Insurance Cost: $38.58
  • Cat Insurance Cost: $27.58
  • Bird Insurance Cost: $ 15.75
  • Exotic Pet Insurance Cost: $9
  • Reptile Insurance Cost: $8
Compared to the monthly price of your pet’s food, the cost of pet insurance is a small price to pay for your animal’s protection.
How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost? [Infographic]

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Benefits of Minimalist Living

Living a minimalist lifestyle with smaller rooms
Accumulating things is just part of life. There are the items we need, and then there are those we don’t really need — but how much is too much? At a certain point, you may feel overwhelmed or crowded by all of your stuff. Your things may cease to have meaning, or worse, you may not be able to locate important items.
If this sounds right, it might be time to adopt a minimalist lifestyle. From a practical standpoint, relinquishing objects can help you de-clutter your living space. It also may have symbolic value, signaling a change in your perspective and priorities in life.

1. Create a minimalist living plan

You’ll have to prioritize the objects you can’t live without and those that are less important. Every room in the house can accumulate clutter. Don’t ignore any opportunity. Remember that you want fewer items.
One great way to get started with a minimalist lifestyle is to formulate a plan to systematically go through your things and determine what you want to keep. It can feel overwhelming to think you need to tackle everything in one day – and you don’t need to. Instead, break each part of the process into steps.
One idea is to set a goal of going through one room a day – or a weekend for larger rooms with more items, like your kitchen. Or, if you have a bunch of boxes to go through, sort one every evening after you get home from work. It can also help to set up a staging area somewhere else in your home; seeing the items outside their “natural habitat” makes it easier to think about their utility. However you declutter, choose the pace that works for you, and remember it’s not a race. It took time to accumulate things, and it can take some time to declutter, too.

2. Artwork and decorative objects

Artwork and ornamental objects can create a richer environment, but they’re not a necessity and can easily clutter a room. They may serve as a good starting point in your minimalist efforts. Keep only what has nostalgic value or that’s meaningful and attractive, and sell or give away the rest. If an art piece is valuable enough, consider donating it to charity.

3. Living with less furniture

Many houses have extra furniture on hand, which can overcrowd the space. Think about taking out pieces, starting with the ones that you simply don’t like anymore or that aren’t essential for your convenience or comfort. If you don’t use it frequently or have a need for it, don’t hesitate to get rid of it. Remember that some charitable services and thrift stores will pick up bulky items you want to donate.

4. Kitchen equipment and utensils

Culinary-minded households acquire kitchen gadgets and utensils quickly. You might like the aesthetics of certain items or want to purchase the latest devices. But too many small appliances and tools, like food processors and blenders, can monopolize your counter and cabinet space. So can those utensils you have doubles or even triples of — there are only so many spatulas, serving spoons or pots that you need.
Look for kitchen items you’re not using frequently or that you have multiples of. If you do an effective job of streamlining your kitchen, you’ll find that this room is easier and more enjoyable to use. This is also a helpful way to prepare for a remodel.

5. Clearing out clothing

It’s not unusual to see bedroom closets and dressers overflowing with clothes. Many of us own extra clothing, and many of us also don’t wear a good portion of our wardrobes. If you’re overstocked, pinpoint the items that you wear most frequently and donate the rest.
With these helpful ideas in mind, it’s easier to begin the de-cluttering process on your path to a more minimalist lifestyle. Whether you’re preparing for a move, cleaning the kids’ rooms after they’ve left for college or looking into adopting minimalist living, a decluttered living space provides contentment and relaxation.
Looking to enjoy even more peace of mind at home? Nationwide’s homeowners insurance coverage can help protect your important belongings, regardless of how minimalist your lifestyle is.

Friday, February 2, 2018

FIRE & BURNS: HOME FIRE DRILL

HAVE YOU PRACTICED WITH YOUR FAMILY?
  

Get out your stopwatches, because it’s time for a two-minute home fire drill. Home fires are more common than many parents realize, but only a fraction of families have an escape plan. Visit HomeFireDrillDay.com to learn fun and memorable ways to teach kids how to escape a home fire in an emergency.

STEPS TO SAFETY


MAKE A PLAN

Draw a floor plan for each floor of your home, including windows and doors. For each room, find two ways out, and label them on your plan. Get started by downloading the worksheet.
Designate one adult to help get babies, young children, or family members who need extra help out safely. Have a back-up plan in case the primary person is overcome by smoke, or is not home.
Decide on a safe meeting place for your family. Make sure it is a safe distance away from the home.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS

Make sure everyone knows what to do and where to go in case of a fire.
Test your smoke alarms once a month, and make sure your child can recognize the sound.
Teach your child to get low and crawl on the ground, where the air is less smoky.
Show your child how to use the back of his hand to check doors for heat before opening. Teach them to use a different way out if the door is hot to the touch.
If your child needs to use an escape ladder, show him where you keep it, and how to use it.
Children can become scared and confused during emergencies, so teach them to never hide from firefighters.
Teach children to NEVER go back inside a burning building. Once they are out, stay out!

DO A HOME FIRE DRILL

Practice your fire escape plan twice a year. Fires can start anywhere in the home and at any time, so run through the plan at different times of the day or night, and practice different ways out.
Use a stopwatch to time how fast everyone can get out and to the specified meeting place. The goal should be under 2 minutes.
Practice feeling the door and doorknob with the back of your hand for heat.
Explain that if they do catch fire, they need to stop, drop and roll.


Thursday, February 1, 2018

2018 Five Star Home/Auto Insurance Professionals Richmond


We are so excited to have the honor of being a 2018 WINNER of the Five Star Home/Auto Insurance Professionals Richmond! Five Star Professional partnered with Richmond magazine to identify real estate, mortgage and insurance professionals in the Richmond area who deliver outstanding service and client satisfaction. Award candidates are identified through evaluations submitted by consumers. To receive the Five Star Home/Auto Insurance Professional award, a home/auto insurance professional must satisfy five objective eligibility and evaluation criteria that are associated with home/auto insurance professionals who provide quality services to their clients. The award process is conducted annually in each market. Homeowners are asked to evaluate home/auto insurance professionals with whom they have worked and evaluate them based on five criteria. Self-nominations are not accepted.

This our 3rd year (2015, 2017, 2018) receiving this award and we want to say thank you to all of our wonderful clients who have helped us continue to strive for excellence! We pride ourselves on one-on-one customer service and will work with you to identify and assess your insurance needs, explain the options available, and help you choose a policy that provides superior protection.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Nationwide Recognized for Providing Outstanding Retirement Plan Service

DALBAR, the nation’s leading financial services market research firm, has once again honored Nationwide for its outstanding service to retirement plans. This year, Nationwide earned three separate DALBAR awards recognizing the level of service being provided to its retirement plan partners, plan sponsors and participants. The awards earned are:
  • 2017 Plan Participant Service Award for contact center support to plan participants in both public and private sector plans
  • 2017 Recognition for Excellence for telephone support and relationship management through the New Plan Implementation and Conversionsprocesses
  • 2017 Recognition for Excellence for email support and relationship management by the Client Services Team to plan sponsors, third-party administrators and financial advisors
2017 marked the fourth straight year that Nationwide has earned both the Plan Participant Service Award for contact center support and the Recognition for Excellence for email support to plan sponsors and TPAs. This is the third consecutive year that Nationwide has been recognized for telephone support and relationship management for new plan implementation and conversions.
“Nationwide’s focus on the customer experience extends across the life cycle of its retirement plans, from the initial implementation through disbursement,” said Brendan Yeager, DALBAR director.  “Nationwide is committed to providing an award-winning experience to all of its stakeholders, from the financial advisor and third-party administrator to the plan sponsor and, of course, individual participant. The company excels at both transactional interactions through its contact center and at building trust-based relationships with plan sponsors and business partners.”
Wendy Shaw, Nationwide’s vice president of retirement plan operations, said the awards demonstrate Nationwide’s commitment to providing a superior standard of care to retirement plan customers, and its ongoing investments in its people and technology.
“We’ve worked hard to build a culture that’s committed to excellence and continuous improvement,” said Shaw. “Our commitment extends from the plan sponsor or third-party administrator all the way to individual plan participants. It starts from the time a retirement plan comes to Nationwide and carries through to each and every plan sponsor and participant interaction – from their first payroll contribution all the way through retirement. These awards are clear evidence that we are delivering on that promise, and we’re extremely proud of our service leaders and associates who consistently deliver an outstanding experience to our retirement plan clients.”
The recognition of excellence is only awarded to firms that exceed strict standards for communication. The service award is based on systematic testing of customer service throughout the year based on thousands of tests measuring how financial companies respond to the service needs of their customers.
Learn more about how you can begin working with Nationwide’s award-winning retirement planning services to help you prepare for the future.

Friday, January 26, 2018

7 Ways to Teach Kids How to Save Money


Starting early can make a world of difference when it comes to teaching children to save and make sound financial decisions.
Luckily, there are simple ways to teach kids about money and help youngsters learn smart saving techniques. Here are some approaches to teaching children the valuable art of saving.

1. Teach kids about money with actual money 

In a world where anything can be purchased with the swipe of a card or typing of a password, the simple reality of cash can help teach the value of a dollar. That’s why using physical currency can be a smart way to teach kids about money. Counting coins and bills can also help preschoolers with hand-eye coordination and math skills.

2. Give an allowance

Giving children their own money is a good way to start teaching them how to save. Kindergarten is a great age to start a weekly or monthly allowance. A good rule of thumb is to pay $1 for every year of their age, so the incentive grows as they do. Make sure the allowance is based on completed chores, though. That way, kids understand that money is earned.

3. See the savings

Using a clear container as a bank can help give kids a sense of accomplishment watching the coins and dollars stack up. Make goals visible by marking a line on the side of the container as a target to reach. Not only does this teach children about saving, it makes reaching goals exciting and fun!

4. Teach children to allocate their savings

To introduce money management, as well as delayed gratification and charity, encourage your child to divide their money into three piles: savings, spending and sharing. You can do this online with the website Threejars.com, where kids can track their earned allowance and even earn interest on savings.

5. Set saving goals

Help your child develop savings targets to make sure savings isn’t an open-ended concept. The first goals should be reachable, fun and defined by both the parent and child. Sure, it may seem silly to save for a small toy, but the sense of achievement is worth it.

6. Teach kids about saving money in a bank account

As your child matures and has accumulated at least $100 in long-term savings, look into a bank savings account. Most major banks offer children’s savings accounts that can be opened online or at a local branch. A trip to the bank may be a new and fascinating experience for your child, inspiring a sense of maturity and financial responsibility. It’s also a great time to teach kids about other money concepts, like interest and risk.

7. Have conversations about saving

The best tool for money management is conversation. Parents should talk to their kids about money matters like budgeting and investing. Aim to mirror good money behaviors, but remember it’s also okay to admit to your own money mistakes.
Show your kids what smart money management is. Visit Nationwide Bank for information on banking, investing and more.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

How to Negotiate Your Rent

woman negotiating her rent with landlord

Whether you’re apartment hunting and the perfect place is slightly out of your price range, or your landlord is raising the rent on your current apartment, you have the option to try and negotiate your rent. It sounds intimidating, but with a little strategy, you just might win over the landlord. Here are some ways you can go about negotiating your rent price:

Ask the landlord if rent price is open to discussion

Politely ask if the landlord is willing to discuss rent prices and when a good time to talk would be. If you’re negotiating price for a new place, it’s important to know who you are talking to. A large property company is less likely to negotiate terms, while an independent landlord has more leeway to change prices.
If you’re facing a rent increase, start the conversation at least a month before your lease ends so your landlord has enough time to consider your offer or, if need be, you have time to make other plans.

Highlight your strengths as a tenant

If you’re looking for a new place, you can show you’re financially stable by offering the landlord a few concessions, such as paying a few months of rent in advance or signing on for a longer lease which saves the landlord money in turnover.
In the case of a rent increase, you should remind the landlord what a reliable, responsible tenant you’ve been. If you’ve always paid your rent on time, are courteous to other tenants and have kept the property in good shape, make sure your landlord knows it. It can help prove your worthiness and give them an incentive to keep your current rent.

Inquire about extending the lease

Showing that you plan to stay in your apartment for a substantial length of time can demonstrate that you’re a stable investment. If the lease is annual, offer to extend it to 18-24 months in exchange for keeping your current rent. If the landlord knows he or she won’t have to take a risk with a new tenant, this could be a good compromise.

Offer to end the lease in the summer

Landlords know the summer is usually an easier time to find tenants. Since most people have more flexible schedules then, such as recently graduated college students looking for first apartments, there are simply more people looking for rental spaces. Offering to end your lease in the summer can be an attractive option for a landlord, and they might be willing to shave prices in exchange for the convenient end date.

Research the property’s value

Consider if the is rent beyond the actual worth of the prevailing market. Research rent rates by talking to other landlords or neighbors in the area. Knowing average property prices and frequency of rent hikes in the neighborhood may give you leverage.

Be open to compromise

Unless you’re simply unwilling or unable to afford the rent rate, suggest a compromise amount that you can afford. For instance, if the rent is $100 higher than you’d like, offer to pay $50 instead. Back up your offer by mentioning your research findings and focusing on your stability as a tenant.

Negotiate in person, follow up in writing

Try to talk to the landlord in person as face to face negotiation is usually best. Remain calm, polite and professional during the discussion – never rude or defensive. Follow up the discussion within 24 hours with a brief email thanking them for the meeting and reiterating your “ask.”

Have a backup plan

If you’re looking for a new place, you should have more than one apartment, house or condo on your radar. Banking on a landlord decreasing rent prices can be risky, especially if you have a set date you need to move out of your old place.
If you’re facing a rent increase, you have to decide if you’d be willing to pay the higher rate just in case negotiations don’t go as planned. If you are definitely unwilling or unable to accept the new rate, it’s a good idea to start researching new apartments. If you decide to stay and pay more each month, you can request property upgrades to make the increase more palatable, such as repainting the walls or updating the landscaping.

Rent increases aren’t the only unexpected thing that can happen to renters. Find out how Nationwide renters insurance can protect you against theft, damage to personal belongings, and more.

Monday, January 22, 2018

6 Energy-Efficient Technologies to Make Your Home Greener


Energy efficient technology in the home
Installing energy-saving technology is a great idea, whether you’re moving into a new place or upgrading your current home.
Different devices and types of technology can increase the comfort of your home and help you save money. They can also help you become more environmentally conscious.
There’s an increasing array of devices and software programs that can help you increase your energy efficiency. Below you’ll find 6 ways that you can use green home technology to help the environment and your wallet.
1. Programmable thermostat
A programmable thermostat is easy to install, and you can program it to change the temperature at times when you don’t need as much heating or cooling, including when you’re at work, on vacation or asleep. Some thermostats allow you to control them an app on your phone or on your computer, making it easy for you to change the temperature when you’re not home.

2. Smart home automation systems

Smart home systems integrate and can improve various functions. For example, a smart alarm system combined with cameras or sensors that monitor specific areas can keep your home safer by letting you know via your smartphone when someone is there. Smart thermostats can adjust and control temperature automatically Other programs control lighting with similar precision and efficiency. For example, with some of the latest lighting systems, you can turn off lighting by room or area, or create a schedule for when certain lights should switch on or off. That way, even if someone leaves the lights on in one room, they’ll still turn off at a designated time. Some systems control smart appliances, turning on an oven, for instance, so it’s already pre-heated when you get home; turning off a coffee maker you accidentally left on; or closing a garage door at your command.

3. Energy-efficient windows

Energy-efficient windows can decrease your heating and air conditioning costs. Switching from single-pane to double-pane windows requires an initial investment, but the cost savings will add up as you spend less on energy bills. Older windows allow hot or cold air to escape through cracks, and single-paned designs don’t retain heat or cool air as well. If you aren’t ready to upgrade your windows, you can insulate each window, which can cut some of the air leakage.
Window coverings can also help. By keeping windows shaded on hot days, you can cut down on air conditioning usage. On cold days, keep those same window shades open to allow in natural, warm sunlight.

4. Energy-efficient air conditioners

In addition to using an energy-efficient air conditioner (look for one with an Energy Star rating), energy-savings solutions include closing off air conditioning vents in parts of the home you might not be using. That way, you’re not cooling an area that’s sitting empty, which is a great way to save energy during the summer. Also, consider raising the thermostat temperature a few degrees higher from where you normally set it. A new normal for you might mean lower energy bills, and you’ll still be comfortable. If you’re using a window air conditioning unit, be sure there’s a tight fit so air doesn’t escape out the window.

5. LED lights

Controlling your lighting makes your home more comfortable, makes it easier to see and helps you relax. You can do this with automated systems by changing out some your light bulbs. LED lights use less energy and are cooler when running than traditional incandescent lights, and they also last longer. Swapping out  light bulbs helps your home go green and can save you money in the long run. Consider installing smart bulbs for even more control over your home lighting; these devices pair with a smartphone app, so you can turn them on or off or switch their color remotely.

6. Energy-saving devices

Home appliances including refrigerators, hot water heaters, dishwashers and clothes dryers consume a lot of energy. Consider purchasing energy-efficient appliances with Energy Star ratings if you’re in the market for new appliances or are looking to upgrade. Their energy-saving technology is an easy way to reduce your energy usage.
Are you on a roll with saving energy around your home? Keep up the momentum. Learn even more ways to use green technology to improve the energy-efficiency of your appliances.