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January Home Tasks

January Home Tasks

Happy New Year.  I hope you had wonderful holiday season.  Now it’s time to return to reality. :)

Now is a good time to review home tasks for the month of January:

  •     Organize your home improvement files. Review warranties and product manuals to check on recommended maintenance for furnaces, equipment, appliances and tools. Mark your calendar to track scheduled upkeep and service.
  •     Inspect furniture, cabinets and vanities for loose knobs, pulls and hinges. Tighten or repair as necessary. Lubricate squeaky door hinges with lightweight machine oil. Free sticky doors by trimming edges or shimming hinges with thin pieces of cardboard.
  •      Fix squeaks in floors and stairs by applying weight to the area (having a partner stand on it works) and driving an 8d or 12d galvanized finish nail through the flooring into a floor joist or stringer. If you have access to the floor from underneath, glue and screw backs to the floor or treads and to the joist or stringer.
  •     Look for bargains on discontinued appliances and tools. Before buying, make sure that warranties are valid.
  •    Make a room-by-room inventory of everything in your house. In the event of fire, flood or other disaster, it will be important in filing an insurance claim. Photographs or video of your possessions can also be helpful.
  •    Don’t close vents to crawl spaces. If you live where pipes can freeze and the floor becomes very cold, insulate pipes and under the floor. Vents play an important role in controlling condensation beneath a house.
  •    Double-check insulation around exterior pipes that are exposed to freezing weather to be certain that water cannot seep under the insulation.

Here’s to a very prosperous 2013!

 

 

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Warner Robins Community Concerts Announced

The Warner Robins Community Concert Association has announced performers and dates for its next concert series.

Upcoming concerts are: Wellston Winds, Aug. 26; Otis Murphy, saxophonist, Oct. 14; Melanie Buckner, vocalist, and Thomason Bandy, pianist, Jan. 13; Eighth Regiment Band, Feb. 10; and Griffin Choral Arts Group, April 14.

Concerts are at 3 p.m. in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church, 205 N. Davis Drive, Warner Robins.

Tickets will be sold at the door, but season tickets are now available. Single season adult tickets are $25 through June 30. After that, it’s $30. Other contribution levels also are available. Students are free. To purchase season tickets, send a check to: Warner Robins Community Concert Association, P.O. Box 819, Warner Robins, GA 31099-0819.

For more information, contact Norma Hunt at 923-7024 or info@wrconcert.org.

Trim Your Remodeling Cost: 4 Ways to Save

Case Remodeling recently featured several ideas at its blog on how to make those remodeling projects more budget friendly. Here are a few ways to trim remodeling costs:

1. Don’t change plumbing or electrical configurations. Keep your plumbing fixtures and electrical work where they’re at. Instead of moving the plumbing or electrical all over the room, Case recommends for remodelers to “think about supplementing and extending your existing wiring instead of ripping it out and starting over,” which can be much more costly.

2. Find savings in materials. “The cost of cabinets, counters, fixtures, paneling, etc. can constitute up to 70 percent of your remodeling budget,” Case Remodeling notes in its blog. “While labor costs may be hard to reduce, the choice of materials is within your control.” For example, solid surfaces can look similar to marble, and granite tiles may be an option over stone to curb costs.

 

3. Build up, not out. You’d be better off adding stories or building upward than expanding those rooms outward on the lower floor, according to Case Remodeling. Adding another story to a home, like over the garage, can be cheaper than laying a foundation to extend a home out.

4. Consider energy efficient upgrades. By selecting energy efficient windows and appliances, you may have to pay a little more upfront but in the long-run, you’ll be saving. Energy efficient upgrades may be an item worth splurging on initially in order to cheapen your utility bills and the cost of operating your home.

 

How Couples Sabotage Their Finances

By Chris Taylor

updated 6/13/2012 12:38:18 PM ET

NEW YORK — With a wedding coming up, you’d think Jay Buerck would be obsessing about the usual details: Writing vows, choosing appetizers, or figuring out seating charts to accommodate challenging relatives.

But what worries the 29-year-old St. Louis marketing professional isn’t any of those things: It’s money.

Not that he and his bride-to-be Liz Downey won’t have enough; they earn comfortable salaries. What really freaks him out is the inherent challenge of joining two people’s finances.

“Money is the reason why many people get divorced,” says Buerck. “I have a buddy who got married and didn’t tell his wife about the extent of his debt, and they had a rough go of it when he came clean. That’s something I want to try and avoid.”

The couple has already taken steps to prepare their finances. That’s a smart strategy, according to financial experts, especially now that U.S. couples are waiting longer to marry, and many people have thousands of dollars in student loans and credit card debt by the time they take their vows.

Money causes more arguments than other typical flashpoints, according to a recent survey by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Harris Interactive.

A full 27 percent of respondents said their spats started over money, more than problems with kids (16 percent) or chores (13 percent).

Couples who lock horns over finances at least once a week are 30 percent more likely to get divorced, according to a 2009 study by researchers at Utah State University,

“I probably spend 15 percent of my time with couples actually talking about money, and the other 85 percent talking about personal issues,” says Chris Kimball, a certified financial planner in Lakewood, Washington, who also has a Masters of Divinity degree.

“It all ties into money. It’s a very powerful thing that can do great things in people’s lives, or can really mess them up.”

Shockingly, nearly one-half of all people have lied to their significant other about money, according to an April poll by Self Magazine and Today.com.

And a survey conducted this spring by CreditCards.com revealed that 6 million Americans have hidden financial accounts from their spouses or live-in partners.

The deception isn’t usually malicious. Often it’s prompted by guilt and embarrassment about spending. Compounding the problem is that financial behavior is very deeply set, and can’t be altered easily.

So where do couples go wrong, when it comes to money — and how can they make it right?

Have the money talk 
Only 43 percent of couples talked about money before marriage, according to a May 2010 survey conducted for American Express.

But lack of disclosure about your financial issues — maybe you’re struggling with $100,000 in student debt, or maybe you filed for bankruptcy at some point — isn’t really any different from lying. Be up front about your financial situation, have the “money talk” long before the big day, and tackle any challenges as a couple.

“My significant other didn’t tell me about the money problems we were having, and then one day we had no credit left and had lost pretty much everything,” says Holli Rovenger, an author and speaker in Greenville, S.C. “If we’d worked together, maybe our finances wouldn’t have spiraled out of control.”

Minor money differences can be overcome as long as you have the basics covered: You have your daily needs met, you’re bringing in more than you’re paying out, and you’re able to build a nest egg for the future. But once overspending and debt enter the picture, all bets are off.

“I was always a black-belt shopper, and hated to miss a sale,” says Jenny Triplett, an entrepreneur in Powder Springs, Ga., who’s been married to husband Rufus Triplett for 22 years. “I’d have bags full of new clothes in the closet, and only bring them out one piece at a time. But eventually we came to a compromise, and I got my spending under control.”

That’s exactly the right template for resolving money disputes, planners advise. Even with differing money styles, if both partners take strides toward the middle and agree on broad outlines of a budget, it could prevent countless disputes.

Hiding from help 
Money is such an emotional issue that it could be difficult for couples to untangle all the knots on their own. A trained third party can help you figure out the core issues, and mutually agree on a financial plan.

“I’ve had clients yelling at each other in the parking lot, who came into the conference room and then wouldn’t say a word to each other for the first hour,” says Kimball. “But eventually we were able to work through it. Talking to someone can help air these financial issues in a safe environment.”

Check out the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education, which has a database of trained financial counselors.

Being on the same page 
It’s helpful to have basic guidelines in place that will keep you on the same page. For instance, purchases under a certain dollar amount can be left to each spouse’s discretion, while larger ones should to be cleared with your partner.

Some couples might be comfortable pooling all of their money, and others may not; neither is the “right” choice, but that should be decided explicitly.

“Understanding your partner’s values on money is so very important,” says Andi Wrenn, a financial counselor in Boston with a master’s in marriage and family therapy. “Talk about how they learned money management, and what they plan to do in the future with the money they have and earn. Not often do people marry that are from exactly the same background.”

That certainly applies to Jay Buerck and his bride-to-be. She’s traditionally been more of a budgeter, and he’s more laissez faire when it comes to counting pennies. But since they set up a joint account and moved in together, finances have “actually become less stressful,” he says. “It’s all about being open and honest.” 

Today’s Fun Fact!

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In a very early draft of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones carried brass knuckles instead of a bullwhip.

 
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U.S. Housing Market Finally Reaches a Turning Point

U.S. Housing Market Finally Reaches a Turning Point
 
RISMEDIA, Saturday, June 02, 2012— Home valuations will start to climb again while adjacent consumer industries will capture significant new growth opportunities in 2012 and beyond as the U.S. housing market finally turns the corner, concludes a major new study released today by The Demand Institute. The recovery of the housing market will have far-reaching impacts in the coming years across the United States and international markets as U.S. consumers increase their spending on buying, renovating, furnishing and maintaining their homes.

 

Launched in February 2012 and jointly operated by The Conference Board and Nielsen, The Demand Institute is a non-profit, non-advocacy organization with a mission to illuminate where consumer demand is headed around the world.

The new report, The Shifting Nature of U.S. Housing Demand, predicts that average home prices will increase by up to 1 percent in the second half of 2012. By 2014, home prices will increase by as much as 2.5 percent. From 2015 to 2017, the study projects annual increases between 3 and 4 percent. This recovery will not be uniform across the country, and the strongest markets could capture average gains of 5 percent or more in the coming years.

“In these initial years, the prime driver of recovery won’t be new home construction, but rather demand for rental properties,” said Louise Keely, Chief Research Officer at The Demand Institute and a co-author of the report. “This is a remarkable change from previous recoveries. It is a measure of just how severe the Great Recession has been that such a wide swath of Americans had to delay, scale back, or put off entirely their dreams of home ownership.”

“In the long-term, we don’t expect home ownership rates to change,” said Bart van Ark, Chief Economist at The Conference Board and co-author of the report. “Over 80 percent of Americans in recent surveys still agree that buying a home is the best long-term investment they can make. What will be intriguing to watch is how their aspirations around home ownership are affected by this period of extended austerity.”

Between 2006 and 2011, some $7 trillion in American wealth was wiped out when home prices dropped 30 percent after dramatic climb in valuations during the housing bubble. Looking forward, the moderate growth expectations for coming years suggest a return to normalcy. As home prices continue to drop and interest rates fall further, first-time buyers and others who remained relatively cautious will be drawn back into the housing market. And, as the market recovers, so too will consumer spending.

“As the U.S. housing market strengthens, almost every consumer-facing industry will be impacted in the coming years,” said Mark Leiter, Chairman of The Demand Institute. “Business and government leaders will benefit by fully understanding the nature of this recovery. In doing so they will be better able to anticipate how consumer demand will evolve, and to formulate critical business and policy decisions to lead their organizations.”

Key Findings in the Report 
In addition to the projected gains in home prices, the report discusses in detail the dynamics at work in the U.S. Housing market and the impacts across industries. What follows are highlights from the report:

• The recovery will be led by demand from buyers for rental properties, rather than, as in previous cycles, demand from buyers acquiring new or existing properties for themselves. More than 50 percent of those planning to move in the next two years say they intend to rent.
• Young people—who were particularly hard hit by the recession—and immigrants will lead the demand for rental properties. Developers and investors will fulfill it, developers by building multifamily homes for rent (that is, buildings containing two or more units, such as apartment blocks or townhouses), and investors by buying foreclosed single-family properties for the same purpose.
• Rental demand will help to clear the huge oversupply of existing homes for sale. In 2011, some 14 percent of all housing units were vacant, while almost 13 percent of mortgages were in foreclosure or delinquent—increases of 12 and 129 percent respectively over 2005 levels. It will take two to three years for this oversupply to be cleared, and at that point home ownership rates will rise and return to historical levels.
• The housing market recovery will not be uniform across the country. Some states will see annual price gains of 5 percent or more. Others will not recover for many years. The deciding factors will include the level of foreclosed inventory and rates of unemployment.
• There will also be vast differences within states. Here, additional factors count, such as whether local amenities, including access to public transport, are within walking distance of homes. By examining seven factors that influence house prices at a local level, the report identifies four categories of cities and towns in which prices will behave differently.
• The average size of the American home will shrink. Many baby boomers who delayed retirement for financial reasons during the recession will downsize. They will not be alone. The majority of Americans have seen little or no wage increase for several years, and many will scale back their housing aspirations. The size of an average new home is expected to continue to fall, reaching mid-1990s levels by 2015.
• Consumer industries including financial services, home furnishings, home remodeling will all experience shifts in demand and new growth opportunities. Part of this spending is linked to increases in wealth from improving home valuations, while an even bigger part is tied to the “transaction” of buying or selling the home which sets in motion increased demand for a wide range of products and services.
• Despite the number of Americans who have been hurt financially by the housing crash, the desire to own a home remains strong. We do not expect to see a long-term drop in ownership rates. Indeed, one survey has revealed that more than 80 percent of Americans recently thought buying a home remained the best long-term investment they could make.

 
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PEACH FESTIVAL EVENTS IN FORT VALLEY

Tuesday, June 5
  • 5:30 – 8 p.m.: Spaghetti & Jazz, Austin Theater in downtown Fort Valley. Tickets $10 per plate, take-outs available
Friday, June 8
  • 8 p.m.: Karaoke at the Bandstand downtown Fort Valley
Saturday, June 9 THE BIG DAY
  • 7 a.m.: Khoury’s Walk for Health, Fort Valley United Methodist Church NEW DAY THIS YEAR
  • 7 a.m.: Kiwanis Club Pancake Breakfast, Fort Valley United Methodist Church
  • 10 a.m.: Peach Festival Parade starts at Boys and Girls Club in Fort Valley
  • 10:30 a.m.: Introduction of Miss Georgia Peach and her court at the bandstand
  • 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.: Peach County Historical Society’s Famous Chicken Salad Luncheon
  • 2 p.m.: WORLD’S LARGEST PEACH COBBLER is served FREE presented Peach County Board of Commissioners, Lane Southern Orchards and Pearson Farm
  • 7 p.m.: Concert on the main stage in the Courthouse parking lot featuring the Soul Purpose Band
  • 9:45 p.m.:Fireworks Grand Finale
5K ROAD RACE
  • Saturday June 16: 7 a.m., 5K Road Race and Fun Run, First Baptist Church, Fort Valley
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