Caring for Wooden Decks and Porches

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If you plan to add a deck to your home, begin by selecting quality pressure-treated or composite building material. If you build with pressure-treated wood, let the porch or deck set raw — without paint or stain — for at least six months to a year. The longer you let it set, the more of the chemical used to pressure treat the wood dries. As long as it is wet, it will cause paint and stain to peel. You may never get a good coat to stick if you paint or stain when the wood is still green.

If your home already has a deck or porch, the following tips will help you keep it looking great for years.

Composite Decks and Porches

It’s really easy to care for composite decks and porches. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning. If the exact details are not available to you, washing the surfaces with gentle soap and water and rinsing them well should keep the composite clean.

Wood Decks and Porches

Before painting or staining your wood decks and porches the first time, pressure wash them to get any grime off. Let them dry completely — usually a couple of days in sunny weather. Once you have paint or stain on the decks, they are easy to care for. Just wash them when you wash the exterior of your house.

If you notice areas where the stain or paint is wearing off, paint or stain those areas. Once the paint or stain dries, add a coat or two to the entire deck to maintain a uniform look.

Choosing the Proper Stain or Paint

When you choose a stain or paint, it’s beneficial to select a brand that is well-known. Some less expensive brands won’t cover as well, so you’ll need several coats. You’ll end up spending a similar amount of money in the long run. Better stains and paints are also less likely to peel up after a couple of years.

As with the paint on your house, the paint and stain on the decks and porches need to be refreshed every 3 to 5 years, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations. Keep the paint color chip so you can use the same color the next time.

If you decide to change the color, you can stain or paint over the old color. Keep in mind that if you are going lighter than what is on the porch now, you’ll need additional coats, or you might want to remove the old paint or stain.

3 Moving Tips for Millennials

Millennials, i.e. individuals between the ages of 18 and 29 years old, often grab life by the horns. However, when it comes to getting ready for a move, Millennials often encounter problems along the way.

Fortunately, we’re here to help Millennials who recently bought or sold a house discover what it takes to complete a successful move.

Let’s take a look at three moving tips that every Millennial needs to know.

1. Get a Head Start on Your Move

Let’s face it – the stress associated with moving can be overwhelming. And in some cases, it may lead Millennials to wait until the last minute to start packing.

Procrastination is never a good idea, particularly when it comes to moving. If you get an early start on your move, you can enjoy a seamless transition from one address to the next.

2. Pick Up Plenty of Packing Supplies

If you own a wide range of books, clothing and DVDs, there is no need to worry. Pick up plenty of packing supplies prior to moving day, and you can safeguard your belongings during your move.

Moving boxes are essential and come in a variety of sizes. You can always purchase moving boxes; or, you may be able to pick up boxes for free from a local grocery store or retailer.

In addition, be sure to pick up packing tape, bubble wrap and other packing supplies. With the right packing supplies at your disposal, you’ll have no trouble getting your belongings ready for moving day.

3. Hire a Professional Moving Company

When it comes to moving, there is no need to work alone. Luckily, many moving companies are available to help Millennials complete a successful relocation.

Reach out to a variety of moving companies in your area – you’ll be glad you did. If you discuss your moving budget and requirements with several moving companies, you should be able to find a professional mover that meets or exceeds your expectations.

Of course, if you need assistance as you search for a moving company, you may want to discuss your options with a real estate agent as well.

A real estate agent can put a Millennial in touch with the best moving companies in any city or town. By doing so, this housing market professional will make it simple for you to get the help that you need for your move.

Lastly, any time you need to buy or sell a house, it pays to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional will learn about your homebuying or home selling goals and ensure you can achieve your desired results. Plus, if you ever have homebuying or home selling questions, a real estate agent is happy to respond to them.

Ready to relocate to a new address? Use the aforementioned moving tips, and any Millennial can pack up his or her belongings and enjoy a quick, easy move.

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How to Save When Owning a Home

Money is the root of many people’s stress and anxiety and it’s also the cause of many fights. But it doesn’t have to be for you. You may own a home now, but it doesn’t mean you should stop saving or that saving has to be a difficult undertaking.

Ideally you already have a robust emergency fund—this type of account is suggested by financial experts to have even before paying down ‘good’ debt such as student loans. This account is extremely important as you never know when or if that “rainy day” will come. The suggested amount to have in an emergency fund is six to nine months’ worth of income—and to be on the higher end if you own a home and have children. For instance, if you take home $3,000 a month, you should have $18,000 to $27,000 in your emergency fund. You should also consider whether it’s best to keep these funds in a regular savings account or a money market account.

Now that we’ve covered the importance of an emergency fund,let’s discuss how to keep saving—whether you are saving just to save or saving for a vacation, new car, or that fancy grill you’ve been eyeing.

Automatic deposit from primary income: If you aren’t doing this already then you should be. Automatic deposit is the easiest way to save money. Many places of employment offer this option, and if not your financial institution will. Automatically depositing money into a savings account (separate of the rest of your income) will force you to save. And if your place of employment offers this option then that money will never enter your checking account—out of sight, out of mind. If you must use your financial institution then have the automatic transfer occur on the day you are paid so the money is almost like it was never there for spending. Of course, this will be an adjustment if you are used to living off that money, especially if you just purchased a home. However, you can start small and work your way to a larger amount such as when you receive a raise or have other forms of incoming income.

Automatic transfer from checking to savings: Many financial institutions offer the ability to automatically transfer funds between your checking account and savings account each time you use your debit card. If your bank does not offer this opportunity there are apps for your phone that can easily connect to your online bank accounts and do the work for you. It’s a great way to save a small amount of money each time you swipe your card. And depending on how often you use your debit card, those savings could add up quickly. For example, you spend $25.33 at the grocery store and use your debit card to pay. Your bank (or app) will round that number up to $26.00 and transfer .67 into your account of choice. It’s too easy not to participate!

There are many other ways to be a better saver, but it’s best to start simple and small. Overwhelming yourself with how much you need/want to save and with many ways of saving, might cause the opposite to happen. Remember, you have a house to pay for and all the other expenses that come with it. Be conscious of your financial situation and be diligent with your savings strategy and you’ll be on the road to being a savings master.