How to Make a Disaster Plan for Your Pet

A hurricane. A flood. A fire. When disaster strikes, our worst fears can come to life. There’s panic and confusion. And, depending on the catastrophe, you may need to leave your home – often in a hurry.

dog rescue alert sticker

Who can forget the image of pragmatic Otis–a German shepherd mix–who was not a stray but escaped from a screen porch during flooding, carrying his own bag of dog food.

 

When it comes to these terrifying events, there’s a lot to think about, and it’s important to exactly know what to do with your family, including your pets. So while we hope it never comes to this, let’s make sure you and your pets are prepared in the event of an emergency.

1. Make a Plan

When it comes to disaster planning, preparation is key! That’s why it’s a smart idea to keep a leash by the exit and have a planned destination in case you need to leave in a hurry. If possible, it’s a good idea to have more than one transportation option in mind just in case your primary mode becomes unavailable.

In the event you are separated from your pet, you will want to make sure they have proper identification. This includes having an up-to-date license, a microchip, and accurately labeling their carriers. You want to make it easy for anyone who finds your pet to contact you. That way you and your buddy can be reunited as quickly as possible.

2. Know Where to Seek Shelter

It’s not easy to think about something happening to your home, but it’s important to have a plan in place should you – and your pets – need to evacuate.

For many, it’s as simple as calling a friend or family member, but what if that’s not an option? Ask your veterinarian for a list of facilities that can accommodate pets. It’s also a good idea to identify pet-friendly places you and your pet could stay until it’s safe to return home.

3. Build an Emergency Kit

From clothing to medicine, most of us know what we need to pack if we’re going to be away from home for a period of time. However, in the event of an emergency, it could be hard to pack for yourself and your pet when you’re under duress and in a hurry, increasing the likelihood of forgetting something important.

To avoid this, prepare a pet emergency kit that you can easily grab if you’re running out the door. This will ensure you can provide for your pet’s needs when you’re away from home and it will save you precious seconds if you are rushing to evacuate. When preparing a kit, consider everything your pal needs on a daily basis: food, water, prescriptions, leash or harness, maybe even a toy or two. It’s also important to include a pet first-aid kit (create your own with this handy checklist) in case your pet gets injured.

4. Don’t Forget Your Rescue Alert Sticker

What if you’re not home when disaster strikes? How will rescuers know you share your home with a furry family member? That’s why you place a rescue alert sticker near your front door.

These stickers let rescuers know what types of pets are in your home, how many there are, and provides them with your veterinarian’s contact information. Get a Free Rescue Alert Sticker today from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®)!

YOUR TURN

Did you ever have to evacuate with a pet? What was your experience like? Do you have tips to add to our list? Sound off on our Facebook page or on our Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram feeds. And don’t forget to sign up for our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

How to Meet Your Neighbors: Icebreakers Even Introverts Can Pull Off

 

Want to know the secret of how to meet your neighbors? It’s this: Stop waiting for people to swing by with an apple pie. These days you have to be proactive and get out there yourself!

So how do you do that?

Granted, whether you’ve just moved in or lived someplace for eons, many find this simple act of reaching out amazingly hard. If that sounds like you, it’s OK: It’s all about knowing a few icebreakers. Here are a few that even the shyest of shy can try.

neighbors_housing_happiness

1. Hold A Garage Sale

This project doubles as decluttering—and works whether you’ve lived in a place for years or just moved in and didn’t get a chance to fully purge before you packed up for your new digs.

Not only will a garage sale provide you with a clean slate, it’s also a low-key way to meet your neighbors. Even if you don’t make a sale, you might be meeting your new best friend for the first time.

2. Ask To Borrow Something

Tools are one of the more popular items you may not have dug out of the box yet but find you’ll need right away. Don’t be too shy to ring the neighbors door and ask to borrow that hammer or screwdriver.

And remember, this is an equal opportunity endeavor: Sooner or later you’re bound to have something a neighbor might need, from a rake to cup of sugar. Go ahead and let your neighbors know to stop by “if you need anything”.

3. Do A Good Deed

Sometimes the best way to break the ice is to look for a way to pull someone out of it.

Three years ago, during an East Coast polar vortex, one of our client’s was leaving their home at 4 a.m. to attempt to get to work when he happened to see water gushing out of his neighbor’s garage. No one was home, so he called the fire department.

A sprinkler system had burst on the third floor and was destroying their home. Our client ultimately broke into the home but only to turn off the water and managed to save the home in the process.

Once his neighbors returned from their vacation they were very appreciative and are close friends to this day.

Not that you have to wait for disaster to strike. There are opportunities year-round; from plant-sitting during Spring Break and Summer Vacation to offering to clear leaves from gutters in the Fall or shovel snow in the winter. Who could refuse? And now you’ve got a friend whom, odds are, you can depend on in a pinch, too.

4. Find A Common Cause

Last summer a feral cat had a litter of kittens in the yard of one of our client’s homes. Concerned about their welfare—not to mention the number of cats already roaming her neighborhood—our client went door to door to bring the issue to her neighbors’ attention. Ten houses down, she found a neighbor eager to help the free-range cats. Today, cats in their community are well cared for—and these two neighbors are fast friends.

When you work together toward something that matters to you, you can’t help but bond.

Don’t have a passionate cause of your own? Then get involved in an HOA or local community group.

Volunteering is one of the best ways to get to know people because you move quickly past small talk.

5. Sometimes, Going Online Is A Good Idea

So maybe you want to be part of your community but work crazy hours. Or you’re always shuttling your kids from one after school activity to another and your schedule looks like that of an air traffic controller.

Maybe your nearest neighbor is a mile (or more) away. If meeting your neighbors “IRL” is a challenge, then maybe you do need to pick up that tablet or smartphone and join a local online group.

JOIN: The Bradley Beach Residents Group

JOIN: The Ocean Township Residents Group

JOIN: The Jersey Shore and Eastern Monmouth County Lifestyle Group

Have a goal though. Try and build relationships online that will lead to offline interactions.

You hear that? Your iPhone addiction actually can lead to meaningful connections outside your front door.

YOUR TURN

How did you break the ice with your neighbors? Do you have any tips to add to our list? Sound off on The Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or our Twitter or Instagram feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

8 Maintenance Tasks All Homeowners Should Do Once a Year

 

You have the basics of homeownership maintenance down. You change the ceiling blade direction every summer and winter, you scrub the inside and outside of your windows each spring, and you remove every drop of water from your sprinkler system before the first frost.

But are you sure you’re getting everything done?

These eight annual maintenance to-dos are easily forgotten—but checking them off once per year can save you some major headaches, heartaches—and money!

 

home-maintenance

1. Salt your water softener

You’ll need to take a trip to your local home maintenance store for this project. If your water heater features a rad built-in water softener, skipping regular maintenance can cause irreversible damage.

Let’s say you’ve purchased a home with a 2-year-old hot water heater. Pretty new, right? Well, if the previous owner skipped salting the softener, letting mineral build up inside the unit, it will sound like a rock tumbler.

Should that happen, a few intense flushes should do the trick. But don’t wait.

At the end of the day, regular maintenance will prevent damage and will help you avoid a major expense down the road.

2. Test your well water

Having your own well can be a perk—sweet, fresh-from-the-earth water, with no bill! But in-ground water is subject to all sorts of contaminants, including high levels of nitrates, sulfates, or microorganisms. To keep your gut happy and prevent nastier health issues, make sure to test your well water every year. (Shallow wells can require more frequent testing.)

Many municipalities offer free water screening. If yours isn’t so kind, you can send samples to a nearby laboratory for analysis.

3. Update your disaster kit

You don’t have to be a prepper to be prepared. Even minor storms can knock out power for a days. Darkness is a lot less miserable with basic supplies. Every household needs a disaster kit—essential supplies that can keep you going in an emergency. Include necessities such as a first-aid kit, a three-day supply of nonperishable food, plenty of water, printed maps, and a whistle.

Dig through your kit once a year, and check the expiration dates of all of your food, look for broken seals, and make sure none of your necessities have been used or gone missing in the previous 365 days. Check your stock against Ready.gov’s extensive list of basic disaster supplies.

4. Know your humidity

Humidity—especially in the basement—is an early warning sign of future problems. High humidity can cause mildew and black mold. Left unchecked for a significant period of time, it can even cause structural damage. So pick up a hygrometer, and check your levels at least once a year.

If the reading is low, don’t assume you’re in the clear. Too little humidity might not be as dangerous as high levels, but it can still cause sore throats and itchiness—and damage the house. Wood might crack, paint can chip, and electronics could be permanently damaged. Shoot for humidity levels that fall between 30% and 50%.

5. Check for termites

Many homeowners tend to take an “out of sight, out of mind” approach to these wood-eating buggers—but once a year, make sure termites are on your mind.

Ultimately, an annual termite inspection is typically less than $100, and can save you thousands.

6. Take a photo

You’d never skip snapping a shot of your kid on her first day of school each year—so why wouldn’t you do the same for your house? On the anniversary of your purchase, step outside with a camera and shoot a picture of your home in its current state. Over the years, you’ll be astonished by how much your home has evolved.

7. Save 1% of the home’s value

The typical rule of thumb is that a home costs 1% of its value in maintenance fees each year. For example, if you’re purchasing a home worth $300,000, expect to pay $3,000 each year to keep it in shipshape condition.

While you should be regularly saving throughout the year, taking the time once annually to investigate your bank accounts can keep you out of hot water. And, of course, the 1% rule is only an estimate—when it comes to homeownership, anything can go wrong.

A new roof might cost $7,500 (or more—way more). Serious foundation issues could ring in at $40,000. And new siding might require a $10,000 payment. Adding more to your home savings account is never a bad idea. But at the very least, make sure you have the bare minimum.

8. Create a donation pile

After a few years in your home, you might be astounded to find out just how much unnecessary stuff has piled up. Once a year—perhaps around spring-cleaning—do a deep dive into your closets, drawers, bookshelves, and garage. Toss or donate anything you haven’t touched in the past year.

RELATED: Do I Have Too Much Stuff?

Here’s what not to do with all that newly empty space: Fill it up again. But if you fail, well, you’ll be sorting through it again next year when you do these steps all over again.

YOUR TURN

As a homeowner, what annual home rituals do you keep? What advice might you have to new homeowners when it comes to ongoing home maintenance? Sound off on The Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or our Twitter or Instagram feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Living With Less: Do You Have Too Much Stuff?

We’ve all been there. The cabinets are overflowing. There’s no more room in any closet. And the drawers are crammed so full they won’t close. Your stuff has outgrown your space. But instead of blaming your home for its lack of storage, maybe consider that you have too much stuff. That issue is easier to address quickly and doesn’t involve a whole home remodel.

So, how do you know if you have too much stuff? and What do you get rid of?

clutter-free-home

Here are three questions you can ask yourself to help with paring down to quality possessions:

1. Do you own multiple versions of the same thing?

Do you have three blenders because you got updated versions twice and have yet to get rid of your old ones? This is the kind of thing that creates clutter.

What to do about it: Start in one space, and go section by section. For example, in your kitchen open up all of your cabinets. Go from cabinet to cabinet, removing all of the items.

Try starting with small appliances. Lay them all out on the counter, and keep only the ones you use. Donate or sell the rest. Move on to the pantry, then the serving pieces, then the dishes and on and on around the room. The same rules apply for every section. Get rid of the things you don’t use.

Tip: Try and lose the guilt you feel from getting rid of any gifts you have been given (or inherited). It really is OK to pass along things you don’t use or love.

2. Do you feel stressed about having to find a place for all of your things?

Are your closets jam-packed? Do you find that you wear the same things over and over even though your closet is overflowing? If you answered “Yes,” you probably have too many clothes.

In an effort to try and live with less, you must eliminate the things that don’t serve you. This same concept applies to any space in your home that’s overflowing.

What to do about it: Take all of your clothing out of your closet, or take out certain categories at once (denim, sweaters, shoes). Ask yourself very honestly if you love each item and want to wear it. If yes, great, it stays. If no, put it in a designated spot for donation or resale. Ask yourself this question with each and every item you come across in your closet.

3. Is it hard to keep track of your belongings?

Are you constantly losing things in drawers, cupboards, bins or other nooks and crannies of your home? This is usually a sign of too many belongings.

What to do about it: Keep your things consistent. Use one wallet, one makeup case, one pencil case … at a time. Having one place where your items live reduces the amount of backup items you have.

The goal: These questions and the resulting work will take time. You won’t be able to just snap your fingers and magically have uncluttered closets, drawers and living spaces. Instead, set aside an hour or two every day or week to tackle one area — or a whole room if you’re feeling ambitious. Regardless of how long it takes, you’ll appreciate the time you put toward living with less.

YOUR TURN

What struggles or strategies do you have when it comes to purging your belongings? Sound off on our Facebook Page or on our Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm eNewsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

5 Questions to Decide Whether to Pay Down Debt or Save

It can be hard deciding whether to prioritize paying down debt or putting money into savings – especially if you have limited resources. Answering five key questions can help you allocate your funds.

1. Do you have high-interest debt?

Interest rates on credit cards are often high. That can cost you considerably over time, since credit card interest typically accumulates faster than what you can earn on savings.

RELATED: How Much Will Paying Off Credit Cards Improve My Credit Score?

Pay it down!

If you’re carrying debt with double-digit rates, it may make sense to prioritize paying it down so you can free up future funds to save or pay other debts.

2. Do you have an emergency fund?

emergency-fund

An emergency fund provides cash you can draw on in case of:

  • Unexpected car or home repairs
  • Medical emergencies
  • Essential costs like rent and groceries if you are laid off or out of work

Save it up!

If you don’t have three months’ worth of living expenses set aside for emergencies, consider that goal next, while paying at least the minimum on any loans and credit cards.

3. Are you planning for retirement?

Your retirement account earnings may produce earnings of their own, so the earlier you start to save, the more growth potential you have. Plus, some retirement contributions help you minimize taxes.

Save it up!

You can’t borrow for retirement, so consider this goal next. As you build your retirement accounts, you can continue to chip away at debt at the same time.

5. What are your other goals or needs?

If your high-rate debt is under control, you have savings in an emergency fund and are contributing to your retirement, it’s time to consider saving for other things.

Save it up!

Depending on your goals, you can save for: A new car, education or a down payment on a home. Once you have those up and running, you can look toward the fun stuff like vacation and other big purchases.

Pay it down!

If your rates and terms are reasonable, you may decide to stay the course with your monthly payments. Or you could bump up your payments to pay those debts faster – especially any with higher rates. That way you’ll save on total interest paid and have more money to allocate to your goals.

YOUR TURN

Based on your current financial goals; are you Saving Up or Paying Down? We want to hear from you! Sound off on our Facebook Page, our Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly eNewsletter. You may unsubscribe at any time.

 

The material provided on this website is for informational use only and is not intended for financial or investment advice. Patrick Parker Realty assumes no liability for any loss or damage resulting from one’s reliance on the material provided. Please also note that such material is not updated regularly and that some of the information may not therefore be current. Consult with your own financial professional when making decisions regarding your financial or investment options.

7 Handy Ways to Improve Your Home in 2018

If you let a lot of home improvement projects slip by without taking action in 2017, take heart. 2018 is here! You’ve now got an entire year to jump on those big household tasks. It’s time to seize the day, the month and the year.

Not sure what to put next on your to-do list, or do you even have a list at all? Take a look at this list for inspiration along with a selection of How To articles. Gathered here are everything from quick tweaks like setting your thermostat just right to big jobs like switching locks, doorbells and light switches.

We’ve even got downright messy but critical assignments such as cleaning dryer vents and gas cooktops. There’s bound to be a must-do task below for you, no matter how skilled or experienced you are.

nest_thermostat

1. Set your Nest right

Dive a little deeper into your Nest thermostat settings. You’ll be able to issue it voice commands though Alexa or the Google Assistant. Other tips are how to have it control humidity, work to save you money, and make it stop acting crazy when it’s on automatic.

Read: 5 tips for your new Nest Thermostat

2. Make multimeters your friend

If you have no clue what a multimeter is or you own one that’s gathering dust, this guide is for you. We take a quick look at how multimeters are versatile, flexible home DIY tools every homeowner should have.

3. Tend to your gas cooktop

Cooktops, stoves and ranges need regular attention and TLC. If they don’t get it, they won’t serve you well. Treat them right by keeping them spic and span, with all burners ready for action. Both you and your house guests will appreciate the sparkling new look of your tidy appliance, too.

Read: How to clean your gas cooktop with just a few supplies

4. Goodbye, blah light switches

Don’t hang onto old, boring light switches just because they happen to be three-way. Use this guide to help you overcome your fear. With a little care and caution, you’ll be swapping in fancy new dimmers in no time.

5. Ditch the keys for convenience

Physical keys are so medieval. Your front door should rock a sleek, electronic lock like it’s 2018. These gadgets are flexible, motorized, and look great. Take a gander for yourself and see just what we mean.

6. See who’s there from anywhere

Know who’s at your doorstep before they press the buzzer. Find out if anyone has their paws on your packages. A sweet video doorbell can help with all those things. Read on to learn how to hook one up yourself in a flash.

7. Don’t neglect that dryer vent

As the saying goes, it’s a dirty job but someone has to do it. I’m talking about your home’s dryer vent. If you don’t take time to clear it out every year, it can quickly become a dangerous fire risk. Bite the bullet with this deep dive into dryer vent hygiene.

Read: How to deep clean your dryer duct in 5 steps

YOUR TURN

How are you making home improvement a priority in 2018? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, on our Twitter or Instagram feeds or on LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Patrick Parker Realty HOME ADVICEtm eNewsletter for articles, tips and guides like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

40 Easy Moving And Packing Tips That Will Make Your Move Super Smooth

Congrats on your new home! Now you just have to figure out how you’re going to pack and move everything without breaking the bank, your fragile lamp, or your back. Good thing we put together this list of 40 easy moving and packing tips that will make your move dead simple.

How do we know these tips will make your move super smooth?

We asked expert movers, packers, and professional organizers to share their best tips.

40 Easy Moving And Packing Tips That Will Make Your Move Super Smooth

So sit back, grab a snack, and dive in!

1. Get rid of everything

Okay, maybe not everything, but the more unused and unnecessary items you eliminate from your home, the less stuff you’ll have to pack up, haul across town, unload, and organize.

Clear any clutter from your home as soon as you know you’ll be moving.

Be ruthless with your stuff. That coat you think is cute but haven’t worn in four months? Donate it.

The very first coffee maker you ever bought that flavors your morning brew with little pieces of rust? Trash it.

Doing a massive preliminary purge will have the single biggest impact on the efficiency and ease of your entire packing process.

2. Sort things by category

Organize your belongings by category, not by room (note that the category part only applies to the organization process, not the unpacking — that’s a whole separate ordeal).

Instead of spending a day cleaning out your entire bedroom, spend an afternoon sorting through every article of clothing you own.

Scour every coat closet, dirty clothes hamper, and laundry room until you’ve got all your clothes in one place. Then sort.

Do the same thing for books, shoes, important papers, and the like.

3. Schedule a free donation pickup

In most markets and in most cases, you can schedule a donation pick-up online with the Salvation Army. The good news is, you don’t even have to be home so long as you properly label all bags/boxes that are being donated.

4. Set aside stuff to sell

You probably have a few items you no longer want, but would love to get a little money for. If that’s the case, set these items aside and determine where you can sell them.

If it’s furniture, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplaces are best bets. If it’s brand name clothing, you could try Poshmark or a local consignment store.

For specialty items like a gently used Coach purse or your collection of 90’s Beanie Babies, get on eBay.

5. Research professional moving companies

Research is never fun. Yelp and Google will overwhelm you with the sheer volume of choices for household moving companies to hire, but don’t give in to the pressure and pick the first four-star rating you see.

A moving company can often make or break your entire moving experience, so it’s important to get it right. The more effort you put into finding a reputable company with excellent customer service ahead of time, the less hassle you’ll have on moving day.

There are tens of thousands of people claiming to be a ‘moving company’ when in actuality it’s just some guy with a van trying to make some extra money. So it is important to make sure to do your due diligence.

RELATED: How To Not Get Scammed By A Moving Company

Make sure to read the company’s list of services, fine print, and refund or damage policies, too. For example, some companies don’t lift items that aren’t in boxes (so your stuffed-to-the-brim duffel bags won’t make the cut), while others ask for full payment several weeks early.

Find out the specifics so there are no unwelcome surprises come moving day.

6. Pick the right moving day

Hire your movers at least a month out so you can plan accordingly. If you have a flexible schedule, play around with potential moving dates and try to find the cheapest time of month to make an appointment.

Moving companies are busiest on weekends, so if you can skip the Saturday chaos and schedule your move for a Tuesday, you might get a significant discount.

7. Map out the best way to get to your new home

Whether you’re moving to the Jersey Shore, across the country, across state lines, or just to a neighboring town, you’re going to need an efficient travel route so you don’t waste your move-in day sitting in traffic or pulling over three different times to type an address into your GPS.

Figure out the easiest, most efficient way to get where you’re going. Look up potential highway construction schedules ahead of time. And take traffic, detours, and necessary stops into account when you’re making your plan.

8. Create a master moving to-do list

When you move homes, you inevitably end up having 600 different things to do and remember. Don’t let all these tasks and important reminders, no matter how seemingly obvious, slip your mind.

Write them down somewhere. Put them in the Notes app on your phone, in a to-do list app such as Wunderlist, or go old-school with a giant yellow legal pad.

No detail is too insignificant. You just remembered the name of the little bookstore in town that will accept your used novels? Write it down.

You stuck that extra screw from the broken drawer next to the sink? Take note.

You have to return your cable box to your provider at least one day before you leave? Jot it down.

9. Put moving tasks on your calendar

Take your organization a step further and spend an evening mapping out everything you have to do. Get an oversized calendar and mark the empty white boxes with important daily tasks to prepare for your move.

Tuesday: Call moving company.

Wednesday: Sort through toiletries.

Thursday: Buy new sheets.

An added bonus to using the calendar method is that breaking up your tasks by day makes them seem more manageable.

10. Get moving boxes from your local liquor store

Pay a visit to your local liquor store to see if they recycle their used boxes. If so, ask if you can grab a handful so you’re saving a little paper in your moving journey.

Just make sure the boxes are very gently worn and that you only use them to hold lightweight items like linens and towels. You don’t want to deal with ripped boxes and broken valuables on the big day.

11. Check to see if you have original boxes for your electronics

You might think your flat screen TV could withstand a 30-minute drive across town in a cardboard box, but alas, it’s a fragile piece of technology. The best way to transport your electronics is in the original boxes they arrived in when you purchased them.

Check to see if you stashed these boxes somewhere — attic? Garage? If you don’t have them, make a list of what you’ll need to buy or borrow to properly cushion your stuff.

Quilted blankets, bubble wrap, and sturdy tape all work well to protect TVs and similarly delicate items.

12. Go to the hardware store

How, you might ask, is one trip to the hardware store even possible?

Here’s how: lists.

Make one and make it really thorough and detailed. Sit down with your family, partner, or roommates and brainstorm every possible item you will need to help you get through the moving process.

Again, nothing is too insignificant. Packing tape, cardboard boxes, packing paper, extra screws, putty, a measuring tape, a new industrial-size broom, you name it. Buy it all in one big haul.

13. Grab extra packing and moving supplies

Don’t forget the “just in case” items when you’re making your master hardware store list. Stock up now on extra supplies like light bulbs (check your lamps to verify the type you need), extension cords, and power strips so you’ll be set to go when you start moving things in.

14. Schedule disconnect times

Call your cable, internet, electricity, and gas providers at least a week ahead of your move to figure out when you need to shut everything off. Make sure you leave enough time in your schedule to gather any necessary items — like cords, remotes, or cable boxes — you may need to return.

15. Call in favors early

If you’re relying on friends and family to help with your move, be courteous and give them a month’s notice. Do the same with babysitters for your children.

Send out an email with the details of where to meet, what time, what to bring, and what to wear (read: no sundresses or uncomfortable shoes) so everyone is on the same page.

16. Pack ahead

Packing little by little is far less stressful than trying to tackle it all in one day. As early as a couple months out, start packing the stuff you know you won’t be using.

This can be anything from off-season clothing to books you’ve already read to mementos, pictures, and keepsakes.

17. Pack decorative items a few weeks out

Pack up all your art and decorative items several weeks before you move. These pieces can be some of the trickiest to store because they’re fragile and often oddly shaped, so having a bit of extra time to figure out how to properly cushion them is crucial.

Sure, your walls and mantels will look a bit stark, but when you’re running around the house a week before the move feeling like you’re about to lose your mind, you’ll be so glad your grandma’s landscape painting is already nestled in its precious bubble wrap.

18. Change your address a week before you move

This is one of those things everyone forgets to do until they’re two weeks into life in a new home and they realize their Amazon Prime shipment still hasn’t arrived. Change your address ahead of time so your bills, credit card statements, and packages can arrive on time and without hassle.

19. Label moving boxes like a boss

The key to finding your stuff easily is labeling all your packed boxes accurately and clearly. When you’re stacking boxes in a van or car you won’t be able to see their tops, so make sure you label the sides as well. But don’t stop there.

Label the boxes by category and by room (for example, Books, Library and Books, Bedroom) to speed up the unloading process.

If you’re more of a visual learner, use color-coded electrical tape to label your boxes.

20. Create a number system

If you want to take your box labeling a step further, create a number system.

As you pack up a box, take note of every single item inside of it. Write the list in a Google doc, or use a handy organizing app like Sortly, and then give the box a number.

This genius strategy has two major benefits:

1. You can go straight to box #16 with the plunger instead of digging through every “Bathroom” box just to find it.
2. You’ll know the total number of boxes you’re transporting so you can check to see if one goes missing or is stolen.

21. Use small boxes for heavy items

It sounds obvious, but if you’ve ever known the struggle that is carrying a large cardboard box stuffed full of college textbooks across a parking lot, then you also know this advice cannot be overstated.

Fill your small boxes with heavier items and use large boxes for light things like decorative pillows, towels, and linens.

22. Use packing tape

Not to be confused with duct tape, packing tape is the heavy-duty, insanely sticky clear tape you see at the post office.

Always make sure your boxes have tops, but don’t do the interlocking fold method with the flaps of your box tops — just tape them closed. It’s much more secure this way.

23. Protect fragile items with packing paper, bubble wrap, or blankets

Remember that packing paper you put on your master list when you stocked up on supplies at the hardware store?

Use it to pad all your fragile dishware and decorative items. Stuff it inside glasses, wrap it around vases and bowls, and shove it between your dishes and the side of your boxes.

Make sure you wrap each of your fragile items separately, so they’re fully cushioned. If you don’t have packing paper, opt for bubble wrap or a quilted blanket.

24. Pack dishes vertically

Don’t stack your dishes horizontally inside a box. Instead, wrap your plates and bowls in packing paper, gently place them into a box on their sides like records, and then fill the empty spaces with bubble wrap to prevent cracking and breaking.

25. Cover the tops of toiletry bottles with Saran Wrap

To prevent potential leaking and spilling (and crying), take an extra two minutes as you pack to secure your toiletry bottles.

Unscrew the cap of your shampoo bottle, wrap a piece of Saran Wrap (or a Ziploc bag) over the top, and screw the cap back on. Simple and surprisingly effective.

26. Pack a clear plastic box with things you’ll need right away

This can include toilet paper, a shower curtain, hand soap, towels, sheets, snacks, or whatever else you think you’ll need for the first day or night in your new home.

Having a few essential items on hand will make you feel more comfortable and prepared to tackle unpacking everything else.

27. Pack a personal overnight bag

Chances are you won’t get everything unpacked in the first day, so bring whatever you need to feel relaxed and settled on your first night.

A change of clothes, your toiletries, a water bottle, and your laptop can go a long way in making your new place feel more like home.

28. Stop buying groceries a week before you leave

To save you the guilt of throwing away perfectly decent food, stop buying groceries a week or two before you’re scheduled to move. Try to make meals at home to use all the food you have left.

If you don’t finish everything, invite a friend or two over to see if they need some half-finished spices or boxes of pasta.

For anything you can’t get rid of, toss it and don’t look back.

29. Take pictures of your electronics

Before you take them apart and pack them up, take a few pictures of the back of your electronic devices — the cord situations, if you will.

Having these pictures will make it that much easier to set up your TV or monitor as soon as you move in — no fretting necessary.

30. Put your storage bins and luggage to use

Instead of trying to figure out how to pack up all your woven seagrass baskets, linen bins, and carry-on suitcases, store stuff inside them.

Think clothes and shoes for sturdy suitcases, and hand towels and pillowcases for lightweight, open-top bins and baskets.

31. Make copies of important papers

Pack a separate box or briefcase with copies of all your important documents in case of an emergency.

Though it might be a tedious project to scan or copy every birth certificate, passport, social security card, proof of insurance paper, and tax claim, you don’t want to risk damaging the only version of your papers in transit. They’re too precious.

32. Set aside cleaning supplies for moving day

Build a mini cleanup kit so you can do one final sweep through your home on moving day.

Set aside a broom, mop, dustpan, duster, sponge, cleaning products, paper towels, and old rags for wiping the grimy, hidden surfaces you could never get to when all your stuff was in the way.

33. Defrost your fridge at least one day before you move

Who wants to wake up to a grungy, mildewy fridge in their new home?

No one. No one at all.

Take time to thoroughly clean your fridge and wipe away all the liquid before you haul it to your new home.

34. Load boxes from the same rooms together

Stack and load boxes in groups according to the rooms indicated on the labels. Put all the kitchen stuff together, all the bedroom stuff together, and all the living room stuff together.

That way, you can unload all the boxes from the same rooms at the same time, which makes unpacking everything a cinch.

35. Load heavy furniture into the moving truck first

Have the person with the highest Tetris score be in charge of figuring out how to fit everything in the back of the moving truck is the most efficient way possible.

Load your heavy furniture first, like sofas and sectionals. Then finish with lighter items, like your nightstand and side tables.

Be gentle with everything, as most seemingly wooden items are not actually made from wood, but particle board.

Don’t be afraid to flip things over, either — couches actually transport well on their sides and save a ton of space in the process.

36. Take pictures of your new home before you move anything in

This moving tip really only applies if you’re renting your new home:

Before your friends and family start stacking boxes in the entryway, or scuffing the doorway trying to shove your couch through, snap a few shots of your space so you can note any existing damage.

It’ll be more difficult to prove you didn’t cause that damage after you’ve moved in all your furniture.

37. Delegate tasks when you’re unloading the moving truck

Figure out ahead of time who will be the chief of moving day. Whoever feels comfortable taking charge of the unloading and organization process (and inevitably answering 400 different questions) should assume this position.

Delegate every little task so no one is wasting time or sitting around with nothing to do. With all hands on deck, your unpacking process will fly by.

38. Keep Ziploc bags handy

Keep a stash of Ziploc bags in your purse or backpack for the big moving day. You can use the bags to store doorknobs, tiny screws and brackets, luggage keys, or other small, easily forgettable items.

39. Make the beds first

Make your beds as soon as you move in. That way, instead of worrying about tucking in your dust ruffle, or finding the right set of sheets at the end of a long night, you can just crash right away.

40. Be a good host

Make sure you take care of the people who help you move, regardless of whether or not they’re being paid to do it.

Provide beverages and snacks for everyone, break for pizza, or pay for everyone’s dinner and get it delivered using a food ordering app errand-outsourcing service.

YOUR TURN

Did you recently orchestrate a smooth move? What tips to you have to add to our list? Sound of on our Facebook Page, Twitter or Instagram feeds or connect with us on LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for great tips for homeowners and sellers delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Twelve Days of Holiday Safety Tips

Tips from the Red Cross

Having a busy time getting ready for the holidays? While you are shopping, baking, gift wrapping, decorating and going to parties, the American Red Cross has holiday safety tips to help keep the season safe, happy and bright.

• Prepare your vehicle for traveling to grandmother’s house. Build an emergency kit and include items such as blankets or sleeping bags, jumper cables, fire extinguisher, compass and road maps, shovel, tire repair kit and pump, extra clothing, flares, and a tow rope.

RELATED: How To Winterize Your Car

• Drive your sleigh and reindeer safely. Avoid driving in a storm. If you must travel, let someone know where you are going, the route you’re taking to get there, and when you expect to arrive. If the car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along their predetermined route.

• Help prevent the spread of the flu. Stay home if you’re sick. Wash hands with soap and water as often as possible, or use an alcohol-based hand rub. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. Learn more about preventing the spread of the flu.

• Follow Santa’s fashion lead – dress in layers. When it’s cold outside, layered lightweight clothing will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs.

• Use a Red Cross-trained babysitter when attending holiday festivities. Red Cross-certified babysitters learn to administer basic first aid; properly hold and feed a child; take emergency action when needed and monitor safe play. Some may be certified in Infant and Child CPR.

• Avoid danger while roasting chestnuts on an open fire. Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.

• Be a lifesaver during the holidays. The Red Cross recommends at least one person in every household should take first aid and CPR/AED training.

• Designate a driver or skip the holiday cheer. Buckle up, slow down, don’t drive impaired. If you plan on drinking, designate a driver who won’t drink.

• When the weather outside is frightful, heat your home safely. Never use your stove or oven to heat your home. Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended. Install smoke alarms.

• Cut down on your heating bills without being a Grinch. Get your furnace cleaned and change the filters. Make sure your furniture isn’t blocking the heat vents. Close off any rooms not in use and turn off the heat in those rooms. Turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater.

• Home for the holidays? Travel safely. Check the air pressure in your tires and make sure you have windshield fluid. Be well rested and alert. Give your full attention to the road – avoid distractions such as cell phones. If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.

• (Bonus!) Resolve to Be Red Cross Ready in the New Year. Get ready now in case you or a member of your household faces an emergency in 2015. Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed.

YOUR TURN

Have holiday safety tips to add to our list? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or on our Twitter or Instagram Feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm eNewsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

When is Black Friday 2017? It Depends.

Perhaps you’ll snag major deals on Black Friday, but don’t let that stop you from finding deals any time of year. Depending on what you’re looking for, Black Friday might not be the cheapest day to shop.

Websites BlackFriday.com and Rather Be Shopping looked at historical data and announced sales to determine the best dates to score deals from now until Christmas.

And if you’re looking to avoid crowds, cross that information, which follows below, with intelligence from Foursquare on the days of the week and times when stores are the least busy, broken down by product category. Generally speaking, Monday, Thursday and Friday are the best days to shop, based on foot-traffic data from the app’s users.

Mondays are good for buying cosmetics (around noon, to be precise), clothing, jewelry and candy. And Monday evenings are ideal for purchasing booze.

Thursdays are great for books, beer and building supplies.

Shopping for kids? Friday is the best day to hit up big box stores like Target, Walmart and Big Lots. It’s not just about good deals, but accessibility. Friday evenings are the slowest at stores, especially supermarkets where grocery aisles are the easiest to navigate.

Sundays are the best for buying gifts at department stores, craft stores and electronics merchants. Again, evenings have the fewest crowds.

Shopping by Product Category

What many retail shoppers and online shoppers don’t realize is there are optimal times during November and December to be buying certain products. Again, based on data, consider the following:

Dec. 4-25 – Jewelry and Wedding Bands

December is the most popular time of year to get engaged, according to wedding resource The Knot. Baubles also make great holiday gifts.

Jewelry promotions are in heavy rotation from Dec. 4 through Christmas Day, according to BlackFriday.com.

Dec. 9-11 – Name Brand HDTVs

Electronics are Black Friday favorites, but that doesn’t end after Cyber Monday.

Prices stabilize a bit following Cyber Week, but there is renewed promotional activity the second weekend in December.

Look for deals of 30-40% off on big brands including Samsung, Sony, Vizio and Panasonic, according to Rather Be Shopping.

Dec. 10 – Fitness Gear and Equipment

Dec. 12 – Stocking Stuffers and Small Gifts

Dec. 13 – Laptops

For the past three years, Dec. 13 has yielded online coupons from Dell.com and HP.com including $500 off a top of the line unit and budget models for less than $250, according to Rather Be Shopping.

Look for more of the same this year.

Dec. 14-17 – PlayStation and Xbox Consoles

Video games and consoles are big sellers in December and these are the best days to get a discount, according to BlackFriday.com

Dec. 14 – Tools and Hardware

Home improvement stores aren’t to be left out of the holiday sales rush and Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware and Harbor Freight will have offers of up to 30% off.

Still, Father’s Day brings better deals, so for those self-gifting tools and supplies, it pays to wait until Spring.

Dec. 15 – Toys

Both BlackFriday.com and coupon site Rather Be Shopping agree that this is the absolute best day to buy toys this month at big retailers such as Toys R Us, Target, Amazon and Walmart.

This is when retailers reach crunch time for toy sales and the incentives are aplenty in order to cash in on those “semi” last minute shoppers.

Dec. 16 – Apparel, Shoes, Accessories, Winter Clothing and Kitchen Gear

The absolute best prices on these goods before Christmas is Cyber Monday, but the next best opportunity is the Friday otherwise known as ‘Free Shipping Day.’

This is traditionally the day when retailers offer guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve, for free.
A large majority of online sites like Gap.com, Lands’ End.com, American Eagle, Macy’s and Old Navy will have fantastic coupon codes to go along with their free shipping offer.

It’s also a great day for kitchen and home goods.

Dec. 21-24 – Big Ticket Items

Retailers begin panic discounting on gift items the closer we get to Christmas, but they also begin clearing out the year’s models on appliances and furniture, but the deals get even better the day after Christmas.

Additional Ways To Save

Online shoppers would be silly not to take advantage of eBates.com. No tricks, no gimmicks, no forms to fill out.  Ebates makes earning cash back easy!

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Here’s how it works:

1. Shop  First, start your search for the retailer where you wish to shop at eBates.com. They are partnered with hundreds of thousands of retailers, it would be extremely rare that whatever you want is not there. Then, be sure to click on any Ebates link to the store you’ll shop with before you make your purchase.

2. Validate When you click an Ebates link, you’ll see a pop-up confirmation letting you know you’re ready to shop and earn Cash Back at that store.

3. Purchase Complete your purchase as you normally would. This will also complete your Shopping Trip.

That’s all you have to do.

That’s it.  And every quarter you get a check in the mail.

YOUR TURN

Do you have any secret holiday shopping tips to share? Sound off on our Facebook Page or on our Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly eNewsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

How to Remove Stripped Screws, Fill Nail Holes, and Other Home Hacks

Our homes are full of small, but mind-boggling challenges, such as: Is there a way to remove stripped screws? Or eliminate those water rings on your coffee table, or those divots where your table once sat on your carpet? If you’re looking for answers to common conundrums you might encounter, a new book can help: “Tidy Hacks: Handy Hints to Make Life Easier.”

Written by home hack expert Dan Marshall, this modern-day maintenance manual is geared to people who have no time for home maintenance. The fix-its that it recommends are insanely easy to accomplish. And since we’re all about making home management easier, check out a few of these genius tips below.

How to remove stripped screws

How to remove stripped screws

Can’t put in (or take out) a screw because that X-marked divot is too worn to turn with your screwdriver? Place a flat rubber band over the top of the screw head, and insert the screwdriver so it pins the rubber band in place. The rubber band will give you enough grip to remove the screw with ease.

How to shine shoes with a banana

The combination of the potassium found in bananas (which is also an ingredient of shoe polish) and the natural oils in a banana peel makes a great natural leather shoe polish. So, when your shoes need shining and you’re in a pinch with no shoe polish around, reach for the next best thing: a banana. Rub the inside of the peel on your shoes to buff away the scuff.

How to organize cleaning supplies

How to organize cleaning supplies

Get your cleaning supplies out of that awkward low cabinet under your sink. If you hang up a shoe organizer in an area that is easy to reach, like the back of your laundry-room door, you can store them handily, without turning yourself into a pretzel. The best part? Close the door, and you won’t have to look at the bleach and Windex until it’s time to start cleaning.

How to fill nail holes

How to fill nail holes

For many people, hanging a picture or a piece of art isn’t an exact science, and it often involves a certain amount of trial and error. If you happen to hammer a nail into the wrong spot on the wall, grab a crayon that matches the color of the paint and draw on the hole until it is filled. Wipe away any excess wax with a clean cloth.

How to get rid of a water ring

How to get rid of a water ring

How dare your guests ruin your beautiful wood table with their damp drinking glasses? Don’t lose your head, though, because you have this ingenious trick to remove the liquid stain. Turn a hairdryer on high heat and hold it close to the water mark. It will start to disappear before your eyes! Keep the heat on the ring until it’s completely gone.

How to get rid of dents in the carpet

How to get rid of dents in the carpet

Rearranging the furniture in your bedroom or living room can be an exciting way to reinvigorate your home decor, but a heavy table or armoire is sure to leave unsightly dents in your carpet. Believe it or not, the secret of getting rid of those dents is hiding in your freezer. Simply place ice cubes along the indents, leave them there until the ice has melted, and then vacuum over the area to fluff up the fibers.

YOUR TURN

Do you have any ingenious Home Hacks to add to our list? Sound of on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

 

 


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