Archive for category Saving Money

Edmond Sees Increase in December Sales Tax Collection

Edmond Sees Increase in December Sales Tax Collection

Since pre-holiday shopping encourages major spending among consumers, it is no surprise that the City of Edmond will be collecting more sales tax revenue.  Edmond officials recently announced an increase in sales tax revenue by 3.25 percent, and although it’s not entirely credited to pre-holiday shopping, it exceeded expectations with significant growth compared to last year.

An 8.25 percent sales tax is paid by shoppers on each of their purchases with 4.5 percent going to the state and 3.75 percent to the city. There was a $4,439,437 increase in the city’s tax collection in December as compared to last year.  That is about a 19.97 percent increase since July, which amounts to $26,669,492.

Of that amount, 2 percent will go to the general fund for operations, amounting to a total of $2,736,018, which is an increase of $652,442, or 31.31 percent, as compared to last year. In addition, $4,102,999 has been collected from the new half-cent sales tax, which is going toward the public safety center.

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors
http://www.alanandheatherdavis.com

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September Maintenance Checklist for Your Home

September marks the time of year when the air starts to cool and Fall nears. Kids have returned to school, and the days start getting shorter.  September is the time when we realize that summer is gone the change of seasons is just around the corner. It is also the perfect time to work on our homes and prepare them for the colder months ahead.

Home maintenance is very important as seasons and temperatures start to change. It is a good way to make sure that damages and repairs are addressed early, so that they are not exacerbated by harsh winter weather.  Below is a home maintenance checklist for the month of September.

  • Start cleaning, repairing and repainting your home exterior. Take the time to clean the exterior of your home while the weather is nice outside. Also clean the gutters and roof to prevent unnecessary weight during snow and to avoid hindrances to drainage.  Repaint areas that have faded or chipped, but just be sure to do it on a day that it’s not raining.
  • Service your heating system. Cold days will be here before you know it, and you want to be sure your heater functions properly when you are ready to use it.  Do a general check of your heating system, and if any repairs need to be made, have them done immediately.
  • Add or replace weather stripping on your doors and windows. Check your doors and windows for possible gaps and cracks.  If you already have weather stripping on your doors and windows, check for missing or torn parts and replace them as soon as possible.
  • Check your attic and home insulation. Make sure that your home insulation is working well and add more if needed. This will help you save energy and money during the colder months.
  • Inspect your deck and re-stain if needed. Check for possible wood rot and other damage and add a new layer of water proofer to help protect it against winter moisture.  Do the same for wooden handrails and steps.
  • Inspect your basement. Check to see if there are any cracks, holes or other damages that need repair.
  • Stack wood. If you use wood for your fireplace, it is a good time to start collecting and storing if for the winter months.

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors
http://www.alanandheatherdavis.com

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Smart Landscaping for a Cooler Home This Summer

When hot summer weather arrives, the natural inclination is to turn up your air conditioning to keep it cool inside.  A home can become a sauna when heat gets trapped inside, and that is unbearable for everyone, but the problem is that your energy bills begin to soar.

Smart landscaping can actually be a practical and effective way to keep your house a little cooler, so you don’t have to crank your air conditioner up as high.  Trees and shrubs planted around your house will shield it from direct sunlight, thus maintaining the coolness inside your home. By having a cooler home, your air conditioner can run less frequently, which will help to reduce your energy bill.

To create your own smart landscaping at home, here are some useful tips:

  • Windows and roofs absorb the heat of the sun, thus creating a hot atmosphere in your house.  Reduce the heat absorption of your windows and roof by making the areas around them more shady.  Plant trees and shrubs that thicken and grow tall.
  • Plant trees with dense canopies and branches that go different direction. This will create full shade coverage for your house and minimize heat absorption.
  • Avoid planting trees too close to your house or other structures on your property. Allow a little space for their roots to extend, so they do not crawl under your house, and cause potential damage to your foundation later.
  • Prune the branches of your trees whenever they start getting to close to your roof or are in the way of good air circulation. Lower branches are often unnecessary, and you don’t want to have to duck when you are walking around your yard either.
  • Reduce the amount of energy your air conditioner uses by planting trees or vines near it. Air conditioners consumes less energy if they are already in a cool environment. Be sure they are at least three feet from your air conditioning unit, though, to they do not block air flow.

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors
http://www.alanandheatherdavis.com

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Tips for Storing Breakables Inexpensively

Over time, as you look around your house, you notice that you begin to accumulate things.  Some of the things that seem to accumulate the most are extra cups, plates, and glasses that you buy on sale or purchase so you can be prepared for parties and unexpected guests.  Although you do need lots of dining essentials for large parties and holiday get-togethers, they can feel like clutter during your everyday life.  The space they take up is disproportionate to the frequency with which they’re used.

When you do not need your extra dining wear, the most practical way to keep them from taking up a ton of kitchen and storage space is to store them in a safe place that will protect them, yet allow them to be easily accessible in case you need them.

Below are some tips on how to store your home breakables effectively without spending a lot of money during the process:

  • Use old newspapers to wrap your breakables. Make sure you have enough newspaper to cover the item entirely and provide a thick layer for added protection. Seal the papers with scotch tape or masking tape so they won’t fall apart easily.
  • Store your kitchen breakables in a sturdy box. Store all similar items in one box, so you have a box for plates, a box for cups, etc. Just be sure that you choose a box that can support the weight.  Label the boxes so you can easily find something if you need it and make sure you seal everything well.
  • Create a soft bed of padding before you begin packing the box. You can place used foam, thick bubble wrap, or several crumpled newspapers in the bottom to provide shock support for when boxes are moved.  Also, fill the top of the box after placing all your breakables, so they are protected in case the box falls or is stored sideways.
  • Fill your cups, mugs, and glasses with crumpled paper as an added protection against breakage.
  • Do not forget to label your boxes as FRAGILE. This will alert others to handle them with care in case you are not the one handling them.
  • Avoid placing one box on top of another, as the weight of the other items on top can easily crush the items below. If space allows, avoid doing this.

 

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors
http://www.alanandheatherdavis.com

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Simple Home Repair Tips to Save You Money

When large repairs are required at home, most people hire a professional because the required skills are usually beyond our expertise. However, when it comes to simple repairs at home, many homeowners opt to do the job themselves to save money by not having to pay a serviceman.

But, what about homeowners who may not have the slightest idea about how to perform home repairs? Do they just settle for paying a huge fee every time?  For these types of homeowner, many of them simply leave small repairs undone, so they do not have to deal with an out of pocket expense.  However, keep in mind that by doing so, small problems can gradually become bigger, resulting in a larger expense in the end.

To save money on simple home repairs, here are some useful tips you can follow:

  • Ask your neighbors or family members if they are capable of doing the repairs. You can simply compensate them with a small check or do something in exchange like cook them dinner.  Oftentimes, however,  they will do the repairs for free.
  • If you are new in the neighborhood, ask your neighbors for recommendations for a basic handyman that you can call for small repairs. Sometimes, there are freelance servicemen that work for a more affordable and negotiable rate.
  • Try calling and asking for instructions from a professional you know instead of having them come over. That will help you avoid a service charge since you would be doing the work yourself.  Just be sure to follow their instructions, so the job is done correctly.
  • Do not hesitate to ask servicemen for establish their exact fees upfront. Oftentimes, repair companies say that the cost of their repairs will depend on what the task requires along the way. This often leaves homeowners with an expensive surprise at the end, but at that point you unfortunately cannot doing anything about it.  So, avoid surprises by requiring a specific estimate for the repair up front. Give a detailed description of the damages to them, so they are provided with complete information up front as well.
  • Hire a handyman service company. They will usually do multiple repairs for you in one visit, thus keeping the charge to only one service fee. Hiring an independent person for multiple jobs can result in doubled service fees.
  • If you already have a specific person for one job, but they do not do another type of job that you need done, ask them for recommendations.  These people have more connections when it comes to home repair services, so they can lead you to quality, reputable servicemen.
  • Learn how to do basic repairs yourself. This will save you a lot of money because you won’t have to hire someone every time there is a minor issue.

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors
http://www.alanandheatherdavis.com

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How to Find a Good Contractor for Your Home

Home renovations are tough tasks, and even though we all try to cut costs where we can, sometimes doing it yourself is an impractical idea. Hiring a good contractor will not only save you the effort and time involved in doing the renovations yourself, but it will also end up saving you a lot of money because you’re eliminating the trial and error that can become quite costly.

Choosing the right contractor for your home, however, can be tricky. There are cases where contractors are really good, but also quite expensive. There are also instances where you can find a really low bid, but the results are subpar, and you end up spending more money to get it fixed. Therefore, there are several attributes you must look for in a contractor to guarantee you get your money’s worth.

Here are a few questions to ask when you are interviewing contractors for the job:

  • Does he or she have a license? One major proof of expertise is a license. If your contractor has a license, then he or she is certified to work efficiently and at a high standard. When interviewing contractors, ask them if they are licensed, and if they are, also ask them to show you their license, so you can confirm they are telling the truth.
  • Does he or she provide a written contract?  Any negotiations, however major or minor, must be reflected in a written contract in case issues or problems arise in the future.  This will demonstrate that both parties signed off on the agreement and therefore must abide by it.  It also serves as an important legal document should there be a conflict.
  • Does he or she work for a certified and known company? If a contractor works for a reliable company, that can provide insight into the level of standards to which he or she is held.  However, keep in mind that not all good contractors work for a company.  Many work independently.  If that is the case, just be sure that they are certified / licensed.
  • Does he or she have any experience doing your particular type of job?  If so, can he or she provide references?  Having experiences is a very important factor for determining if the contractor can actually deliver the renovation you want. Also, ask if they can show you the current project that they are working on.
  • Is he or she amiable enough to work well with you?  Bear in mind that your contractor will be working and communicating with you very regularly. Choose a person you feel comfortable around and with whom you feel you can communicate easily.

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors
http://www.alanandheatherdavis.com

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How to Organize Your Coat Closet

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Warmer weather may be only a few months away, but during these winter months, it’s important to be sure your coat closet is neat and organized.  Organizing your coat closet is as important as organizing your clothes closet. Yes, you may only need your coat for a portion of the year, but there are many other things that you store in your coat closet, and it’s good to be able to access them easily.  So, instead of throwing things haphazardly about, save the valuable time you would spend searching for your coat, umbrella, or scarf and organize your coat closet now.

Here are a few tips to get you started…

  • Divide and conquer.  Whether your coat closet is large or small, you can maximize its space by creating and defining compartments to accommodate smaller things like your mittens and scarves. Use wooden dividers or bins to create distinctive areas, so you can arrange and sort everything.
  • Leave the floor to your shoes.  Don’t place other items on the floor because that is the one space that is suitable for shoes.  Keep the floor area open and available for shoes, so they don’t end up being scattered about the house.
  • Sort by season. Not everything in your coat closet is useful for every season.  You may need easy access to your heavy coat during the winter, but in the warmer months it can easily get in the way when you’re looking for lighter jackets and shawls.  Reorganize your coats seasonally, so that the most appropriate items are at the forefront when you need them most.
  • Make use of hooks. Install hooks on the inside of your closet door, so you can hang frequently used coats or hats. It’s even a perfect place to hang your handbag, so you can easily reach for it before you leave the house.
  • Have an umbrella rack or bin. If there is space on your floor, position an umbrella rack or small bin in that area to keep your umbrellas organized in one spot, so you’ll know where to find them on those rainy days.
  • Invest in a number of hangers to keep exclusively inside your coat closet. If you’re going to organize your coat closet, you need to be sure you can actually hang your coats!  Designating hangers for the coat closet will prevent them from being “stolen” to hang other clothes, and it will also save space versus if you folded your coats.

Heather & Alan Davis
Oklahoma City Realtors
http://www.alanandheatherdavis.com

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