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December 2016 News

December 2016 News

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! There is so much to be grateful for and so much to look forward to. This month’s newsletter keeps with the theme of the holidays as we look at holiday decorating safety and budgeting (How much do those outdoor light displays cost you?). Plus, for those of you who are looking forward to moving this coming year, we’ve put together a few moving tips to keep your stress level down and your organization skills up. Finally, a special holiday message for all our valued clients and colleagues.




Moving Tips

Insurance. The moving company must have insurance to cover any damage they may cause to your belongings but it is difficult to collect from a moving company in the event of a loss. The best way to protect against anything going wrong it to keep your homeowners policy active on your old house, until all your belongings are securely delivered to your new home and the homeowner’s policy on your new home has kicked in. This prevents any gap in your coverage and could protect you from a financial catastrophe. Most insurance companies will agree to do this, and most policies protect your belongings even when they aren’t inside your home. But to be safe have a chat with your insurance company to see what your options are during your transition.
Packing. Pack ahead of time. Do not leave packing for the day or two before moving day. It always takes a lot longer than you think it will take and when you’re packing against the clock the stress level will be through the roof. Pack smart and safe. Wrap delicate items in newsprint or bubble wrap. Keep boxes and containers light enough to lift and light enough that box can safely hold the contents without breaking. Don’t use your furniture (dresser drawers or cabinets) to store heavy items. The furniture could be damaged under the stress and the contents could be lost or damaged as well. Also, if your movers are towing a car for you, be aware that you cannot fill your car with items. This will be treated as freight and auto transporters are only licensed to carry automobiles, not freight.  
Clearly label your moving boxes. Write on each box a description of the contents and what room it goes in. This will make it much easier to unpack, and to find things before you’re completely unpacked.
Pack a bag of essentials for each family member, as if you were going on a trip for a couple of days. Moving is exhausting and by the end of moving day you won’t want to have to unpack the entire master bathroom box to find the toothbrushes and moisturizer. Include medications, favorite toys, and basic toiletries like toilet paper, toothpaste and soap.
Transfer of service. All the services that you get at home can be canceled at the current location and transferred to the new home ahead of time. Schedule your connect and disconnect services for your utilities: gas, electric, television, internet, water, sewer, and any regular delivery services such as Amazon, magazines, etc. Begin making a list of all the places you’ll need to change your address (credit cards, online accounts) so you’ll have a resource once you move.
Moving week. Be prepared (see above). Communicate with the family and your helpers about the process. When the trucks are coming, what goes where, who is in charge of what. Do not schedule any housewarming parties or visitors for the first month after moving. It takes time to unpack and get your home set up. Don’t add to the stress by creating unnecessary deadlines.
Moving is stressful, hectic, and a lot of work. But it’s also exciting and new. Try making it fun every chance you get. Relax and remember you’ll get there eventually, it doesn’t all have to be finished now. It’s like moving a pile of sticks one bundle at a time. You’ll get to handle and admire every item you own. Consider downsizing some of your belongings and be grateful for the opportunity to organize and appreciate!

Holiday Safety

Around the holidays people are busier, more distracted and have many extra fire hazards in their homes. The Christmas tree, extra paper and boxes lying around, candles burning, strings of lights, and lots of lots of cooking all add to the increase in home fires over the holidays. Did you know that unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the US?
Here are some very simple guidelines to protect you over this beautiful season of lights!
  1. Keep an eye on the oven and stove. Use your timers and make sure everything is off before leaving the house.
  2. If you are a smoker or have guests who smoke be sure to provide plenty of ashtrays and check them frequently. Douse ashes and butts with water before throwing them in the trash.
  3. Keep matches and lighters out of sight and out of reach of children.
  4. Keep candles out of reach of children. Burn candles in fire-safe trays or containers. Keep candles clear of curtains, greenery, lampshades and other flammable materials. Always put out your candles before leaving the house.
  5. Test your smoke alarms!
  6. Review your fire escape route and plans with your family. Make sure your overnight guests know escape plan.

Budgeting your holiday decorating

From Realtor.com written by Natalie Way
See the entire article here >>

How much is that amazing outdoor light show costing you?

"New research from electric company Xcel Energy in Colorado has crunched the numbers, comparing the price of using old-fashioned incandescent lights versus LEDs. And as you might have guessed, energy-efficient LEDs suck up a whole lot less electricity, which is all the more financially significant if you’re decking your whole house like the Griswolds did in “National Lampoon’s Vacation.”

Xcel calculated that on average, five strands of LED Christmas lights (the average number used by American households) will add a mere 22 cents to your December electric bill. Five strands of incandescents, by contrast, will raise your bill by $13.65 for the same period.
Still, though: Anyone who’s ever comparison-shopped for Christmas lights knows that incandescents are cheaper upfront. Target sells single strands of 25 incandescent bulbs for $7.49, while single strands of 25 LEDs go for nearly twice that, at $12.99. Note that no one strings up just one strand. So given that average Americans typically hang five, the grand total to buy incandescents is $37.45; LEDs are $64.95. And some Americans go way beyond that.
Now it’s just a matter of adding it all up:
Incandescent lights: $37.45 (cost of five strands) + $13.65 (energy cost for one Christmas) = $51.10
LED lights: $64.95 (cost of five strands) + $0.22 (energy cost for one Christmas) = $65.17
But that’s not the whole (Christmas) story. After all, most people reuse their lights. So if you add in the costs for next year, you’ll see that incandescents still have a slight edge on price. But by the third Christmas, incandescents are more expensive, and the gap just widens from there.
Incandescent lights: $37.45 (cost of five strands) + $40.95 (energy cost for three Christmases) = $78.40
LED lights: $64.95 (cost of five strands) + $0.66 (energy cost for three Christmases) = $65.61
So as long as you reuse your holiday lights for at least three years, it’s cheaper to get LEDs. Plus the bulbs in LEDs last longer, too. One study found that they’ll remain lit after 4,000 hours of use, while that same string of incandescents will see one or two blink out in half that time. LEDs also run cooler, limiting your risk of accidental fires.
So choose wisely, my friends! Make Santa proud."


A  Holiday message from Ron

Create memories
Many of us are from different religious faiths and have different Holiday traditions. No matter what your faith, the holidays should be a time to set aside time to spend time with & cherish your family & loved ones. This is the time to create memories for you and your family that will last a lifetime! For some of us who have lost loved ones, the holiday season can be filled with sadness. Rather than mourning, make it a tradition to reminisce about the fun times, or tell antidotes about those who are no longer with us. Appreciate those who you are with you now, and make sure they know you appreciate them. With the Holidays being so commercialized, it’s easy to forget what’s really important. No of us remember most of the gifts we received throughout our lifetime, and most of the gifts are long gone. Fond memories last a lifetime!

The Holidays are about giving. Give to those in need! I guarantee it will warm your heart doing something for someone less fortunate than watching your child open a pile of gifts, most of which won’t be around next year. Some of the gifts you can give cost little or no money. Give an hour of your time to a local charity, buy a meal for a family, volunteer at an Animal shelter, give used coats or toys to the less fortunate, adopt a Senior citizen or someone that is alone this holiday season. Whatever you do, will be appreciated much more than any gifts you can buy. Get intimate! Writing a check & putting it in the mailbox is always appreciated, but seeing someone put on a warm coat, eating a warm meal, or a child with their first baby doll or truck is a humbling and remarkable experience.

Buy local
It is so easy to sit in front of the computer and shop away without ever leaving your house. Remember, local business owners live in your community. They may attend the same church, or their kids may go to school with your kids, or they may sponsor a local youth sports team. When you buy from a local business, most of the money stays in your community.  Many of us have seen several mom & pop stores go out of business in our life. We see once thriving & magnificent downtowns with boarded up buildings. Yes, you can often buy cheaper from big box or online stores, but where does your money end up; Georgia, Washington, or even China? The fact of the matter is, these mega stores destroy local economies, and drive down wages. Once the online & big box stores force the small businesses out of business, we won’t have a choice, and their prices won’t be so low.  

Be Thankful
We come from all walks of life and our financial situations vary greatly. Don’t dwell on what you don’t have. Focus on what you have & can be thankful for. I am truly grateful; I will spend time with my family on Christmas day. We will eat, open presents, laugh, reminisce & even bicker like all families. I am also grateful that I have can make a living doing something I am passionate about & sincerely love doing. I am grateful for all of you! Whether you are an agent that recommended me, or a client who hired me; thank you from the bottom of my heart! Without you, I would not be living my dream.
I wish you all Happy Holidays, and a prosperous New Year!

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