Sears Real Estate



Posted by Sears Real Estate on 10/16/2017

If money is tight right now, or if you're just trying to live frugally, there are a number of ways to save money without having to drastically change your lifestyle. One of the best way to save money is by going through all of your recurring bills to see where you can eliminate or reduce spending. In our age of user-friendly, advanced technology, there are more services available to us than ever before. You can call an Uber with one tap on your phone or order more laundry detergent by clicking the Amazon Dash button in your cabinet. With services this readily available to us, it's hard not to sign up. Read on to learn how to save some money on your monthly services without having to sacrifice too many of life's comforts.

Utilities

There are countless ways to save on water, heat, and electricity. Yes, you can turn down the heat in the winter time and take shorter showers, but there are less commonly known ways to save as well. For example:
  • Keep multiple electric-powered items plugged into one power-strip and power off the strip overnight. This will stop those items from consuming electricity in standby mode
  • Insulate your windows in the winter time by using caulking, weather stripping, and shrink wrap your windows with heat shrink film to keep the heat in
  • Some Saturday afternoon make a checklist of all of your home's lightbulbs. Then go out and replace them with energy efficient CFLs and LED bulbs
  • Hang clothes on the line in fair weather and wash your clothes in cold water; much of the energy consumed by washing clothes goes to heating the water up first

Monthly services

Remember when there were only a few good shows on TV and paying for cable was the only way to watch them? Now any given household can have Netflix, Amazon Streaming, HBO Go, and countless other monthly services for watching TV. To save on watching your favorite movies and television, try these tips:
  • Ditch Netflix DVD services or expensive premium cable channels and rent from your local library system. Through inter-library loans you can get the newest movies and TV shows shipped to your library for free
  • Cancel your cable bill and try a cheap service like Hulu. If you're worried about missing the news, use websites or news apps on your smart TV to keep up to date on the issues
  • Negotiate rates with your provider. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call to learn about better options. Since many people are taking the internet-only approach, cable companies are desperate to maintain customers
Saving on telephone bills:
  • First, ditch the landline. You probably only get telemarketers calling there anyway; what do you have to lose?
  • Use a family plan and calculate your data usage. Make sure your family is on wifi whenever possible. You can save up to $30/month just by having a lower data plan
  • Negotiate with your provider. Reminding your provider that you have other options when it comes to cell phones can get you a better rate.
General tips and tricks:
  • If you have a student email address (.edu) this can be used to gain discounts from a number of monthly services
  • Ask your providers to apply promotions to your account. If you see that something you pay for is running a deal, call and ask if you can have the rate as well. You're a loyal customer after all
  • If you've built up good credit, look for lower interest rates online. There are apps and websites dedicated to finding you better deals





Posted by Sears Real Estate on 7/17/2017

Whether you call it a "rainy day fund" or a "financial cushion", having some money set aside for emergencies or unexpected expenses can help keep life on an even keel.

Although health insurance and a homeowners' policy can provide a measure of protection, insurance deductibles can take a large bite out of your bank account.

In addition to all the predictable expenses that accompany home ownership, mechanical systems like furnaces, hot water heaters, and air conditioning units have a way of breaking down at the most inopportune times. Another crisis that many people aren't prepared for is the potential loss of a job. When families don't have money set aside to weather the storm of an unplanned income loss, then there's no "safety net" to cushion the fall.

Strategies For Saving Money

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to build up financial reserves, but it often requires self discipline, a new set of habits, and the intention to make it happen. One of the first steps to putting some money aside for a rainy day is to open up a separate bank account. If you put extra money in your regular account -- or (even worse) keep it around the house -- chances are it will get spent pretty quickly. However, if it's deposited into a separate account that's designated for emergencies, unexpected household expenses, or even a college fund, then it'll stand a greater chance of being left alone until it's needed. Putting money aside does take some doing, but it can contribute to your family's financial security and ability to do things that are important to you.

If you have a tight budget, you're probably wondering where this extra money is going to come from! Sometimes, the very act of developing a written budget can provide you with clues and ideas for reducing your expenses. You'd also be amazed at how much the savings can add up when you comparison shop, buy in bulk, use coupons, negotiate lower interest charges on your credit cards, quit smoking, car pool to work, cut back on restaurant food, and make up your mind to live just a little more frugally.

Depending on how committed you are to creating a financial cushion, you could also make the fund grow faster by depositing a percentage of Christmas bonuses, tax refunds, manufacturer rebates, salary increases (raises), and other sources of extra income. Additional ways to beef up your financial safety net could include getting a part-time job, doing freelance work, holding a garage sale, or selling unwanted items through ads or flyers. When you pay off credit cards, car loans, or other debts, you could also redirect some or all of those monthly payments into your "future needs fund."

Whatever you decide to call it, it's nice to know that there's some extra money on hand for unexpected expenses, emergencies, potential job losses, college tuition, weddings, family vacations, home renovations, nursing home costs, or even retirement.






Posted by Sears Real Estate on 8/3/2015

Do you have clogged drains? All of us will experience a backed up drain at some point in our life. Store bought drain cleaners have harsh chemicals and can be expensive. Homemade drain cleaners can be an effective alternative to the store bought ones, and you probably have everything you need in your home already. Here is how to clear your drain the natural way in just a few minutes: 1. Pour ½ cup baking soda into the drain. 2. Pour ½ cup of vinegar into the drain. 3. The ingredients will start bubbling and fizzing. 4. When the bubbling and fizzing has stopped pour boiling water into the drain. 5. Flush the drain with hot water. You may have to do this a few times, but soon your drain should be as good as new.





Posted by Sears Real Estate on 3/9/2015

Moving can be an expensive endeavor. Even if you decide to rent a truck and move your belongings yourself there are lots of other expenses that can add up. Luckily, there are a few simple ways consumers can save money hauling their belongings from their current home to the next one. Purge your things. Instead of moving things that you don't use sell or donate them. If you decide to donate items to charity, you could save lots of time and even get a tax deduction. Move on a less popular day. The most popular time to move is at the end of the month. Since most closings happen and leases are up at the end of the month there’s more competition for the trucks and moving crews. Moving at the end of the month will also cost you more. Choose your moving date midweek, closer to the middle of the month. Packing materials like bubble wrap and foam peanuts are costly. If you are packing your own items use things you have around the house like bed linens, towels and clothing to pad your items. You can also use newspapers and tissue paper from gift bags. Be careful when using newspaper as the newsprint will smudge on dishes and other items. Don't buy moving boxes check Freecycle and Craigslist for free ones first. Ask around, your friends may have boxes suitable for moving.





Posted by Sears Real Estate on 2/23/2015

Going to college can be a very expensive endeavor as a result of the financial requirements and obligations.  It requires a lot of financing from textbooks, to housing accommodations, transportation and other miscellaneous expenses.  This does not even include the cost of tuition. There are several ways of handling these costs effectively without going broke. Here are a few suggestions to assist in your financial planning. 529 College Plans This is a form of investment that allows parents to set aside some money towards their kid’s education, allowing it to appreciate in value tax free.  This implies that when you withdraw from your savings, as long as the funds are used for the purpose of your child’s education, you will not be taxed. Irrespective of your income, and other family members can contribute to a 529 account. Coverdell Education Saving Accounts (ESA) This account functions like an IRA. But in this case, it is for education and not retirement. With this form of savings, you can make contributions up to $2000 with post tax dollars and allow the money to grow tax free. When you withdraw, you are not taxed on the money or interest as long as it is used for the purpose of education. IRA and Roth IRA Accounts Basically, these accounts are investment accounts used to save money for college or retirement with no significant taxes. They come as deductible and non deductible accounts. In order to qualify for this type of accounts, your income as well as an existing retirement plan is taken into consideration. With a deductible IRA, tax is deducted from your annual contributions. When you make withdrawals, you will be taxed based on your contributions and earnings. Roth IRA, contributions are not tax deductible and your earnings are also tax free if your withdraws after a five year period are used for an appropriate expenses like college tuition.