Who doesn’t want to save money these days? The cost of home insurance has been on the rise but that doesn’t mean you have to always keep paying more. Take the time to examine your policy and see if there are some ways to save some money. Here are some suggestions on how to look for ways to gets the best rates possible:

  • Shop around. Get at least three quotes.
  • If you can afford it out some money in the bank and instead raise your deductible. The higher your deductible, the less premium you’ll have to pay.
  • Combine your policies. Some insurance companies will reduce your premium up to 15 percent if you have at least two policies (home and auto for example) with their company.
  • Look for discounts. Some insurance companies offer discounts for installing smoke detectors, burglar alarms and dead-bolt locks. Ask about what types of discounts the company offers some insurers even offer discounts for a sprinkler system and a fire and burglar alarm that rings at the police, fire or other monitoring stations.
  • Be a loyal customer. Many companies offer discounts for longer-term customers. Compare prices against other companies once in a while.
  • Review your policy and the value of your possessions often.

 

Buying and affording a home is becoming a little bit easier for military families with the help of PenFed Foundation’s Dream Makers program. The Dream Makers program is funded by private donations from individuals and corporations and awards grants to military families to help them buy a new home. The program awarded its first grant in 2007 and today hopes to award a total of $1 million in grants.

To be eligible for a grant you must:

  • be a member of the PenFed Foundation (Pentagon Federal Credit Union)
  • be a member of a military branch of service, including the Coast Guard (widows are also eligible)
  • be a first-time home buyer
  • have a gross annual income of $55,000 or less, or 80 percent of area median income, adjusted for family size
  • The program does more than just help military families buy homes it also provides emergency financial assistance and child care to wounded warriors and their families through its Military Heroes Fund and interest-free loans to service members through its Asset Recovery Kit program.

    If you would like to donate to the program or apply for a Dream Makers grant click here for more information.

Who wouldn’t like to pay off the mortgage early? Getting rid of mortgage debt will allow you the security and the psychological benefit of owning your home free and clear. There are lots of ways to accomplish these goals. Here are some suggestions on ways to get rid of your mortgage debt. Compare the options and do what works best for you.

1. Add more money to your monthly payment. This will help pay down the principal balance shortening the length of your loan. When you pay more on your principal is gets lower, and the lower your principal gets, the more every payment from then on is applied to principal, as less goes to cover interest expense.

2. Refinance. Refinance your mortgage to 10, 15 or 20 years. Your payments will be higher on a 15-year loan, but often the rate is lower and the loan is paid off much quicker. If you are afraid to take out a 15- year loan take out a 30-year loan, but make payments as if you had a 15-year loan.

3. Make biweekly payments. Most banks have a biweekly payment plan. Since there are 52 weeks in the year if you pay half your regular mortgage payment every other week, you’ll have made 26 half-payments, or 13 payments.

There are options when it comes to owning your home free and clear. Just decide which one works for you and be on your way to being mortgage free.

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Did you know that staging your home to sell will get your more money and sell your home in less time? If you are considering selling your home you may want to hire a professional trained in home staging to get your home in tip top shape before hitting the market. You could also implement some of the tips from the pros to transform your house into every buyer’s dream.

Here is how to get your home in ready-to-sell condition:

1. Clear out the clutter
Show off your home to the would-be buyers not your stuff. Clear out your clutter by reducing knickknacks, decluttering bookshelves, and removing personal items including photos from your home.

2. Let in the light
Let the natural light in by opening the shades and pulling back the curtains. During a showing, turn on all the lights inside and outside of the home. Don’t forget to turn on the lamps, the soft light can be very inviting.

3. Use neutrals
Paint your walls in neutral shades, it will make the space will feel bigger. You can add pops of color with artwork, area rugs and linens.

4. Stage a setting
Stage rooms in your home to appeal to buyers. If you have a formal dining area set your table for a dinner party.Take your master bath and turn it into a spa-like retreat with fresh towels, jars of pretty bath salts and unscented candles.

5. Stop the smell
Don’t try to cover up odors with fancy sprays or candles. Neutralize odors by opening the windows and letting fresh air into your home. Try sprinkling baking soda in the bottom of trash cans and place a box of it in the fridge to absorb unpleasant odors.

6. Clean thoroughly
You may think your home is clean but look at it from a buyer’s point of view. Clear out the fridge, dust the light fixtures and scrub the grout. Would-be buyers will be going through every square foot of your home.

7. Show off your space
Make the rooms feel more spacious by removing a few pieces of furniture. Put pieces that are rarely used in storage, then rearrange what’s left to maximize each room’s space.

8. Don’t forget the outside
Start with the house number, make sure it is clean, straight and easy to read. Go for simple, clean and easy to maintain landscaping. Prospective buyers will also be interested in the garage and shed so don’t forget to clean those too.

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