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Ever go food shopping and think you need only a few items?
You do your shopping, thinking you didn’t buy much and then you get to the register.
The amounts on the register screen start piling up.
When your order total pops up you do a triple take saying “what?!?”
You’ve just spent way more than you wanted. What’s worse is you get home and you don’t really have much food for meals. Ends up you have a lot of snacks and such.
We recently put our home on the market to sell. Man, do we have a lot to do to get the place in ship shape! We have been busy for the past couple of weeks doing what we could to make the place look more appealing to a potential buyer. Living there for so long we didn’t realize how much stuff we had and how many little things could be fixed. I’d be lying to say we weren’t concerned about getting a good price in today’s market!
Our goal is to make our home look as clean, big, and attractive as possible without breaking the bank! Fortunately there are many things we can do to help achieve this.
These are inexpensive ideas to help sell your home:
- Paint (@MoneyMatters) – We hired someone to paint most of the place for us. It wasn’t that expensive and it’s made the place look so much bigger and brighter! We used light, neutral colors that would be appealing to most (our prior colors were great but too dark for most people’s tastes). This could be done yourself to save more. We just didn’t have the time to do it ourselves (and we got a great deal on a local painter).
- Replace Light Fixtures – We replaced our dining room, bathroom, and the bedroom’s light fixtures. We bought them at Home Depot and they weren’t that expensive. Combined with the new paint job, the apartment looks much bigger than before. Add to that we used fluorescent lights so we can tell prospective buyers that the light costs will be lower.
- Remove Clutter (@nomorespending)- We’ve already removed all of our CD’s and their shelves as well as our books and bookshelf. It’s really opened up the place (I have a LOT of CD’s). Remove, give away, put in storage whatever you can. Get down to the bare minimums to make the place look as big as possible and let a buyer step in and imagine it as theirs. This will also help you when you move as you will have less to box and bring with you.
- Clean Carpets/Wax Floors (@thepassivedad) – Renting a machine for the day to clean your carpets can be inexpensive. Same is true for a floor buffer. There’s also less expensive cleaners you can use that may require more elbow grease but can be as effective. If you’re able add no base board molding. Basically give a buyer the thought that they don’t have to do any work on the floors if they don’t want to!
- Landscaping (@misformoney)- If you have a garden or lawn space do what you can to spruce it up and make it lively! New plants don’t have to be expensive and can make the front of your home look much more inviting!
- Take Great Pictures (@pffirewall) – Your home will most likely be online somewhere for sale and you will need photos of it. Make sure the photos are good quality taken at the time of the day the light is the best. Wait until you have everything ready and use a good camera. If you have a friend who’s a photography buff ask him to come over and take a few shots for you. You want big and clean! I’ve seen people post photos of cluttered rooms that make me instantly go to the next listing on the site.
- Re-Grout Wall and Floor Tiles - This sounds like more work than it really is. I’ve discovered it takes some elbow grease but doesn’t cost too much. And new grout will make your tiles look almost new again. Go ahead and take a close look at how dingy they may be… I’ve been slowly re-working the tiles in our bathroom!
- Replace Old Sinks, Cabinets, Faucets – You can go crazy replacing these items and spend thousands for sure. But sometimes if yours are beat up and old an inexpensive replacement will look much better than what you have. New usually equals clean and that helps a buyer!
- Replace Outlet Covers and Light Switch Covers – Over the years these can get beat up and dirty. But they cost little to replace. Put these in after you have painted to keep them clean.
- De-Personalize Your Home – Put away all of your photos and pictures. You can leave a few up to display but you want a buyer to walk in and imagine the place as theirs. Seeing your face all over doesn’t help that. It also helps remove the clutter too!
- Read Magazines/Watch TV (@nodebtplan)- No, I’m not saying you should sit around and be lazy. What you can do is look at what homes look like in advertisements and shows. There are also plenty of home shows on TV these days to give you ideas as well. You can get a good idea of what a model home should look like.
- We Need More Light! – When you are showing the home turn on the lights to make the place look bigger even if it’s during the day!
- Bake Before a Showing – This one is a bit cliche but you would be amazed how well it works! We had friends over and one was helping me install a new dining room light. At the same time my wife happened to be baking a cake. It smelled amazing and really made the place feel “home”-ey. (And really how much do those instant bake cookies cost?)
- Build a Website – A friend mentioned that when he was selling his Manahttan apartment he put up a quick website with some pictures and contact forms. Six months hosting isn’t very expensive and a lot of hosting companies will give you a free domain name and web site kit. He ended up selling the place himself! You can also list your home on Craiglist.
- Clean, Scrub, Sweep, Repeat – Clean like a madman. Then go do it again. Then ask a neighbor or friend to point out what still seems dingy and hit the cleaners again. Make the place sparkle! The cleaner the better. A clean place tells a buyer that you take care of the home (and it makes it look great).
- Empty Those Closets - As best you can clean out the closets. Again, live with the bare minimum that you need and get those closets looking as big as possible. Buyers will want to see how much of their stuff they can put in them not how much of yours!
- Visit Other Homes In Your Area – Take an afernoon and go visit the open houses in your area. See what their homes look like and what they offer and the price they ask. If you see a similar place as yours take note; this is your competition and you want your place to look better! Is it cleaner? Newer? You may be surprised to find out it won’t take much to make your place look nicer.
- Replace the Toilet Seat – Seriously! People will notice that it’s sparkling clean which will get you big points. Either they don’t need to get a new one themselves or they believe you keep things super-clean, you win.
Yes, it takes some work on your part to do these things. But if it will help you sell then it will more than pay off!! A couple of years ago you might have had a bidding war for a home that wasn’t all done up. But in today’s economy you have to put your best foot forward just to get the sale! Don’t let something small keep a buyer from wanting your place.
Any other ideas?
Have you ever realized you had a bill sitting around that was due today? Or worse, yesterday? If you are lucky you can pay the bill online but that’s not always an option (I’ve found that some companies have a cut-off time).
There was a time when I had a lot of credit card debt. Digging out of it was tough but what made it harder was paying late fees because I would miss the credit card due date by a few days or so. There was just about nothing more frustrating than looking through your bills and realizing one was already past due!
I definitely needed a bill/pay calendar system that would work for me!
So how can we avoid paying bills late?
You can pay the bill immediately. But if you are like me you would rather keep the money in savings for as along as possible or you budget in such a way that certain bills get paid with different paychecks.
You can write the date you need to pay the bill on the envelope. I do this. Usually this works great. Problems occur when you don’t notice the date or forget to keep up with the bill. That happens to me too!
So what’s another fail safe you can use?
I’ve been experimenting with Google Calendar to set up reminders to pay my bills on time!
When I get a bill I open it up and check out the due date. I then determine when I have to actually pay the bill to make sure I meet the due date. For example: If I have to mail a bill I give myself about a week. For online bills I pad a few days before the due date. If I need to transfer money I give myself about a week too to make sure the money gets transferred over (I keep my savings in my ING Direct account).
Next I write that date on the bill. That’s one fail safe.
The real useful fail safe is Google Calendar.
I take my bill and log onto my account, go to the day I need to pay the bill by, and write in a reminder that gets emailed to me when it comes up. Since my cell gets email it’s like an extra reminder since it’s on my phone and my computer!
Let me show you how I set up Google Calendar as my Bill/Pay Calendar:
Log onto your Google Calendar and open up the month for your bill due date:
Click on the day you need to pay your bill on, enter the bill name, and hit “edit event details”:
Enter the details (date; what the bill is; whatever you need):
Click on Options:
Here’s an important part – Click Add a Reminder. Set the reminder to Email (this will send you an email reminder):
Viola! You’ve now setup a reminder in Google Calendar to remind you when to pay your bill!
Update: You can also set up Google Calendar to send you a text message as well.
So far this has worked really great for me. The key to this is to make sure your enter you bill in GCal when you get the bill. I’ve used this to remind me about car payments as well as credit card due dates.
How do you keep track of your bill’s due dates?
Additional resources to help with your budget and pay bills:
Kudos to you if you are still keeping up with your New Year’s resolutions! But most people who make New Year’s resolutions aren’t keeping them by month’s end.
Why? They weren’t SMART!
What are SMART goals?
S – Specific
M - Measurable
A - Attainable
R – Realistic
T – Time-Bound
Specific - Your goals should be as detailed and specific as possible. It’s not enough to say you have a goal of saving lots of money. You need to give it a figure like “I will save $3000 this year.” Without specifics you are just floating out there. If you only say your goal is to save then did you achieve your goal by putting fifty cents in a jar? Didn’t accomplish much with that.
Measurable - To continue with the savings example, how will you get that $3000? In one lump sum? Or perhaps in measurable terms like “I will save $250 a month. This will be $125 from each of my pay periods in the monthly.” Being able to measure your progress will help you move along in your goal.
Attainable - Can you achieve this goal? Will you be able to break it up into smaller achievements that will add up to the goal? In our example we save $125 per paycheck in order to attain the big goal of $ 3000 in savings for the year.
Realistic - Do you believe your goal can be reached? For our example you have to be able to save $250 a month. If you currently only save about $50 a month then you either have to figure out a way to squeeze out more savings or you might need to make your goal more realistic. When a goal is unrealistic you’ll become frustrated before long and give up the goal.
Time-Bound – Give yourself a pre-determined time frame for your goal. Back to out example – It’s great to want to save $3000 but it’s very different to do that in year and to do it in ten years.
The SMART system is a great guideline for you to set goals with. Ask yourself if your New Year’s resolutions are SMART. If they are you have a much better chance of accomplishing them!