Preparing for Hurricane Season

As a homeowner, a hurricane can prove to be your biggest nightmare. Storm damages caused by flooding, strong winds and airborne projectiles can cost thousands to fix. Of course, there are steps you can take to protect your property, but where do you begin? It’s all so overwhelming! No worries; we’ll walk you through keeping you, your loved ones, your home, and your property safe when the wild storms blow in!

1.) Check your insurance coverage. Your first step should be a review of your homeowner’s insurance policy. If it seems insufficient, now is a good time to consider upgrading to a plan that will provide more extensive coverage.

2.) Protect your property against flooding. Before storm season, spend an afternoon cleaning your gutters and downspouts to ensure they’re in optimal working order. During the next rainfall, do a quick scout of your external drains and pipes, checking that they’re working effectively and that there are no areas where water gathers. If you spot a problem, take note of what needs to be fixed and tackle the job as quickly as you can after the rain.

3.) Inspect your property’s structure. Ensure there are no structural issues on your property that can be worsened by a hurricane. Shaky roofs, loose shingles and weakened external walls can all give storm winds entry to your home where they can do substantial damage. Check your windows too. Be sure to seal up leaks and secure window latches.

4.) Review your evacuation route. Prepare your evacuation route in advance and make plans for where you’d stay in case of a storm.

5.) Stock up! To ease your pre-storm prep, get your stock ready now. Designate an area in your home for storm supplies and keep it stocked with bottled water, flashlights, extra batteries, a first-aid kit and non-perishable food items. You might also want to purchase a crank-powered or battery-operated radio in case of a power outage.

Here at Insight Credit Union we want to help. Call, click, or stop by today to ask about our fantastic rates on loans for flood-related expenses. We’ll help you stay safe and dry this hurricane season!

How do you prepare for hurricane season? Share your own tips and strategies with us in the comments!

Home Renovations On A Budget

Is your home in desperate need of a face lift? As you probably know, renovations don’t come cheap. In fact, the average kitchen remodel tops $60,000 and bathroom overhauls can cost $18,000! With some careful planning, though, you can shave thousands of dollars off these price tags. Keep reading to find out how.

1.) Don’t do a complete remodel. Instead of knocking down walls, give the outdated area a fresh coat of paint, new light fixtures and some minor décor upgrades. Potential money saved: $30,000.

2.) Shop around for a contractor. Find someone professional, reliable and willing to give you a decent price. Check out at least three different contractors before making your decision. Ask for references and meet with each contractor in person to get a feel for their professional conduct and character. Also, be sure to sign a detailed contract. Potential money saved: several thousand dollars.

3.) Consider long–term benefits. It often makes sense to pay more now if it’ll save you big down the line. For example, if you’re installing clapboard siding, you’ll save in the long run by paying more for pre-primed and pre-painted boards. Using the prefinished claps means you’ll need half as many paint jobs in the future. Money saved: $1,250 (for a 10×40 area).

4.) Pick decent but midgrade materials. When long-term functionality is not a criterion, choose the midgrade option. One area where you’ll see this at play is in carpeting. Olefin and polyester carpeting will run you $1 to $2 per square foot .while wool costs upward of $9 to $11 per square foot. Money saved: $400 (for a 40-square-feet area).

5.) Bring in natural light without windows. Looking to bring a splash of sunshine into your kitchen? Instead of adding a window, consider installing a “light tube.” It slips between the rafters on your roof and works to funnel sunshine down into the living space below. Adding a double-pane window can run you $1,500; a light tube costs $500.Money saved: $1,000.

6.) Lend a hand. Save big by doing some of the demolition work yourself, painting some walls, or even sanding walls to prep them for painting. You can also lend a hand with the cleanup instead of hiring a crew. Money saved: $200 or more.

7.) Increase efficiency, not size; Cramped kitchen? Don’t assume you need to push out walls to make it work. Instead, reorganize your kitchen for optimal efficiency and save tens of thousands of dollars. Upgrade your cabinets with lazy susans, pullout drawers, dividers and more. Consider hiring a professional organizer to show you how to maximize your space – you’ll still save big overall.

Money saved: up to $60,000. Before making any decisions, be sure to call, click or stop by Insight Credit Union today to learn about our fantastic rates on Home Equity Lines of Credit!

Have you recently remodeled? How did you save money? Share your best hacks with us in the comments!

Sell Your Home Quickly With These 12 Tips

If you’re looking to sell your home and start over elsewhere, you likely want that sale to happen as quickly as possible. Here are a few simple tips that will help it sell faster and for the best price!

1.) Price it right 

Find out the true worth of your home, and then lower it 20%. You’ll have buyers rushing – and then bidding up the price to what you really wanted.

2.) Choose the right agent 

Do your research before hiring a realtor. Your broker should have an excellent track record that includes recent sales and being updated on market trends. Be sure to ask for references and credentials, too.

3.) Let the light shine 

Change your lampshades and use the maximum possible wattage for every light fixture in your home. You can also scrub your windows, remove the drapes and let the sunshine in.

4.) Rent a storage unit 

You want your house to be clutter-free and your closets to look as spacious as possible. To do this, you’ll probably need to get rid of half the stuff around your home and in your closets. Consider renting a mini storage unit to store your extra stuff until your house sells.

5.) Amp up your curb appeal 

Attract buyers by sprucing up the exterior of your home. Splurge on a striking patio set, trim your shrubs and plant some pretty flowers along your walkway.

6.) Focus on the kitchen 

The kitchen is where it’s at. Depending on the state of your kitchen, you might want to do a quick remodel, including a fresh coat of paint, new cabinets and more. Remember: A buyer can easily shave $10,000 off the asking price by claiming your kitchen is outdated.

7.) Upgrade – but don’t go overboard

It’s OK to do some light remodeling throughout your home, but don’t go overboard. A paint job, new light fixtures, door handles and rugs can do the trick.

8.) Make it impersonal 

Get rid of your personal items before showing your home. You want visitors to envision their own belongings here – not yours.

9.) Market it yourself 

Be your own best agent. Let everyone and their neighbor know you’re selling your home and be sure to speak in glowing terms about your house to anyone who asks for details.

10.) Make it sparkle 

Don’t skimp on this one! Give your entire home a deep cleaning before showing it to buyers.

11.) Hide your pets 

Not everyone is an animal lover. If you’ve got some furry critters at home, hide the evidence! If you’re hosting an open house, send your pets to a friend’s place for the day.

12.) Hire a professional 

Consider hiring professional help for staging and photographing your home.

With these tips and trick, you’re all set! Now get out there and put your home’s best face forward! For mortgage options on your next home, visit Insight Credit Union’s website for more information.

Have you recently sold your home? Tell us how you made it happen! Share your best tips and tricks with us in the comments!

7 Ways to Save on Thanksgiving Dinner

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Thanksgiving means giving thanks for all the good in our lives. It also means stuffed turkey and gravy, pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes. It’s a time-honored tradition of spending time enjoying a delectable holiday meal while in the company of those we love. It can also mean spending an awful lot of money.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average host cooking a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 guests will spend approximately $50 on the dinner alone. Of course, if you’re expecting more than 10 guests or you tend to overspend when hosting, your costs can easily top that amount. Between the turkey, ingredients for that luscious holiday meal and décor to set the ambiance, hosting a Thanksgiving dinner is not cheap.

Looking for ways to cut back without compromising on the quality and festivity of your meal? Look no further! You know that here at Insight we love to keep your wallet plump. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of seven easy ways for you to save on your Thanksgiving costs this year.

1. Verify your guests’ attendance

Before you start writing up a spectacular menu or a detailed shopping list, check to make sure you have an accurate head count of the guests and family members who will be joining you for Thanksgiving dinner. You don’t want to end up with a fridge full of leftovers. Verify that all who are invited are indeed planning on showing, and only then begin planning your menu.

2. Find out what your guests like

While you’re doing your invites, ask for your guests’ individual tastes. You don’t want to forget that Great Aunt Martha is on a strict gluten-free food plan or that your cousin’s spouse is a vegetarian. Aside from specialized diets, ask about particular foods your guests like to eat and those they won’t touch. If something on your menu isn’t very popular with your guests, skip it – even if you think it’s an essential Thanksgiving food. This way, you won’t exhaust yourself over a pumpkin soup that nobody will touch or end your holiday meal with trays full of leftovers and lots of hungry guests.

3. Make it a potluck

Slash your spending and your stress in one step by answering an enthusiastic “yes!” to every guest who asks if they can bring something. Don’t just say anything’s fine, though, or you might have seven desserts. Instead, create a Google Sheet with your planned menu and let your guests add what they’d like to contribute to the meal. This way, they’ll know exactly what you need, you’ll know what they’re bringing and best of all, you won’t be doing all the cooking yourself.

 4. Serve on smaller plates

Most people will load up their plates to capacity, regardless of the plate’s size. Curb the wasting at your table by using smaller dinnerware. Let your guests load up all the way without leaving half-full plates. They can always refill if they still want to eat more later.

5. DIY décor

You can set a beautiful holiday tablescape without blowing your budget; all it takes is a little imagination. Shop the local dollar store for discounted décor that still packs a punch, like colored vases, silk flower arrangements, and other centerpieces. Look for easy, inexpensive DIY ideas online. Finally, get creative by using things from around the house or yard as your décor. For instance, you can create a whimsical candleholder by gluing cinnamon sticks around a candle or design an autumn-themed centerpiece with leaves and pine cones which can be found at your local craft store. You can take a look at our blog on frugal fall decorating for more inspiration.

6. Shop the sales

Grocery stores and shopping centers tend to run specials on turkeys and other Thanksgiving staples starting as early as Halloween. Plan your menu several weeks in advance so you can take advantage of these sales. Keep it flexible until you see the circulars and then base your dishes on the ingredients and produce that’s cheapest. Also, be sure to shop around for your turkey! Supermarkets tend to have the best deals on the birds, with some even running free turkey deals when you spend a specific amount on other groceries.

7. Cook from scratch

Most everything is less expensive – and tastes better – when it’s homemade. Think gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing and apple pie. Start your cooking well enough in advance so you don’t find yourself relying on too many convenience foods and paying the price both in cash and taste. Your wallet and your guests will thank you!

When you gather around the table with family and friends this Thanksgiving, you can be thankful for all the good in your life without feeling guilty over how much you spent on the meal. All it takes is a little planning!

What are some of your best Thanksgiving dinner hacks? Share them with us in the comments!

Frugal Fall Decorating Ideas for the Home

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With its rich and vibrant colors, autumn has to be one of the best seasons for decorating. The crisp air, cooler nights and gorgeous foliage all help to inspire cozy and colorful decor for the home. Here are 5 unique ideas to spruce up your home for the autumn season.

  1. Look outdoors for inspiration. The wide variety of fall produce and other natural elements add elegance and autumn style to the home. Look for mums, pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn (the dried, multi-colored kind, most stores carry these now), leaves, pinecones, and even acorns, can all be used to decorate your house. Try putting mini pumpkins and gourds into a crystal bowl for a gorgeous table or sideboard centerpiece.
  2. Dollar Store bargains. Dollar Store and Dollar Tree stores have tons of pretty autumn decorations for you to incorporate into your home. Most of these stores carry faux foliage, colorful wreaths and garlands, silk flowers and autumn-hued vases, and ceramic pumpkins. You can spend just $5 and have the makings for a stunning autumn centerpiece for your coffee table.
  3. Use fall colors and patterns. The most popular fall colors are burgundy, gold, deep green and chocolate brown, and they generally work well with most other colors you already have in your home. Pillows, throws and candles are all fairly inexpensive and work well to freshen up your house.
  4. DIY decor. If you are crafty, why not try making your own fall decorations? Here are just a few you could make: wreaths and garlands, pumpkin or apple votive holders, potpourri jars-Pinterest is a great resource for DIY projects. Local craft stores often have an abundance of items to fit all of your fall decorating needs.

Now that we’ve given you a head start on making your home fall-ready, we’d love to see pictures. Share your autumn décor with us on Facebook or Instagram.