Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Budget Friendly Ways to Finish Your Lower Level

Transform your basement into a living area, laundry, bathroom or workspace you can use now — without a full renovation.

Houzz Contributor, Nicole Jacobs
We’re always looking for more space in our homes, it seems, whether for extra storage, an additional living zone or a new spot to decorate. Often, valuable space can be found in the basement, but fully developing this square footage can be expensive. Add up the costs of framing, flooring, drywall, electrical and finishes,and your project may run into the thousands of dollars. Introduce new decor, and you’ve got an even pricier endeavor.
But there are ways to enjoy that below-grade space while avoiding the hefty price tag of a full remodel. Partially finishing your basement can offer warmth, style and comfort, as well as that extra space you’re craving. Here is how to get the most out of an unfinished basement without breaking the bank.

Create an Industrial-Style Living Room
1. Keep the ceiling exposed. This smart basement renovation reveals a key secret to enjoying a partially finished basement: Keep the ceiling open. We don’t all have the advantage of deep basements with high ceilings, and we need all the help we can get, height-wise. While there are some stylish drop-ceiling panels now available, keeping the ceiling joists open and painting them a bold color, such as black, creates the illusion of depth, helping the ceiling to recede and become less noticeable. The added advantage is that your wiring is available to you without having to cut into drywall.
2. Ditch the drywall. Paint is quite often the quickest and least expensive way to freshen and update a room.
Another tip is to drywall only some areas of the room. A limited use of drywall can demarcate spaces, add interest and keep costs down.
Another unexpected and low-cost alternative wall material is an engineered lumber such as oriented strand board. OSB, which is typically used for subfloors or sheathing in construction — making it an unconventional choice for walls — is a creative, less expensive way to cover your concrete walls and divide living zones. The key to using a material like this is to apply it to a large area so that it’s clear that using it was an intentional design choice.

3. Capture the power of white. This basement obviously gets a lot of natural light, thanks to the fact that it is a walk-out basement-style space. But a great way to provide the illusion of light and to add ceiling height is to paint everything white. In this room, with the exposed ceilings and walls painted a crisp white, it’s hard to tell where the walls end and the ceilings begin.

4. Establish a focal point. Go ahead and furnish your unfinished below-grade space as cozily as you would your upstairs, finished rooms. A great way to do this is to furnish around a focal point. Here, the designer created a focal point for the room by adding a bar and a shelving area with space for a TV, books and games. Graphic rugs and large, soft furniture and lighting bring warmth and life to the space.
Note that this basement is, like the other examples, mostly unfinished. The ceilings are open, the concrete block wall is painted, and it appears the concrete floor is as well. Finally, the owner chose white wall paint. This room shows how this simple formula for a basement can form the backdrop for a cozy living space. The finished decorative and soft furnishing elements add the comforts that make the space feel homey.

Outfit a Laundry Room
For many of us, basement laundry means a dark and dank place to toss the clothes in, pull them out and quickly run back upstairs. But this doesn’t have to be the way we choose to live. A little effort can convert an ugly space to one where you’ll want to spend time.
1. Get creative with paint and decor. This basement laundry is left nearly entirely unfinished, but with some creativity it’s become a clean and bright corner nonetheless. The exposed ceiling joists are painted a deep charcoal, the concrete floor is a fun red, and wood shelving and furniture add interest and utility. A throw rug warms up the floor, and what appears to be reclaimed wood boards frame off a private bath.
2. Install cabinetry. The money saved on finishing flooring, walls and ceiling can often be better spent on cabinets in your basement laundry area. Additional cabinetry can be used for a variety of things, like storing dry goods, linens or out-of-season clothing.

Build a Bathroom
Adding a bathroom to your basement can be a worthwhile venture. In addition to being functional, it adds a lot of value to your home. But basement bathroom additions are costly, especially if you don’t already have the plumbing and drains roughed in. If you’re lucky enough to have this option, finishing it on a budget will be rewarding.
1. Just do the basics. This bathroom, which abuts one of the laundry rooms I’ve featured, is mostly unfinished. Creatively sectioned off with wood planks and paint, it proves that a bathroom need not have marble and high-end finishing to be warm, cute and functional.

2. Dress up with shine. Another otherwise unfinished space with exposed ceiling joists and concrete walls and floor, this bathroom has all the components to be completely functional, yet also sharp. Stock cabinetry is added for necessary storage, and the mirror, lighting and accessories provide some glitz. Mirrors and other shiny accessories can be found at a variety of price points, helping you to stick with your budget.

3. Leave it open. Another way to save some money in your basement bathroom is to skip the walls altogether. Here, a section of the basement is used for the bathroom, which is open concept. The shower is made out of a tiled curb with a curtain bar, giving it a modern look when privacy is not a concern. The toilet, not seen in this photo, is in a separate, walled-off enclosure behind the wall with the towel bar.

Work-spaces are often hard to come by, and if you can designate a corner for one in your basement, you’ll be glad for it. Surprisingly, it doesn’t take much to create a bright and functional zone out of, well, nothing.
1. Furnish and decorate. This basement office room works so well because it really has everything you need. Again, this is essentially a raw basement that has been cleaned up with paint. Two collapsible tables are tucked into a corner to create ample desk space. An antique-style armoire and side table add hefty traditional elements that dress up the zone and offer storage. An area rug warms the painted concrete floor, and the bright task track lighting is layered with the warm glow of a table lamp. The pretty butterfly mobile finishes this space.
2. Make a rug statement. Carpet tiles are a cost-effective option for basement flooring as they can be purchased by the box and laid out to separate a zone or add warmth to a bare concrete floor.
3. Make a spot for the kids. Kids come with a lot of stuff, from toys to books and crafts, and a neat little work area in your basement is the perfect spot to organize it all.

Originally posted by Coldwell Banker Blue Matter blog

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending January 19, 2019

Although snow and cold have been affecting a sizable portion of the nation this January, the initial assessment of early-year weekly real estate trends indicates a healthy level of new listings in many housing markets – even in wintry locales. Pending sales figures are generally showing a healthy balance compared to last year at this time. Combined with favorable mortgage rates, these early indicators bode well for active real estate markets across the nation. Let's look at what happened locally.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending January 19:
 • New Listings increased 9.0% to 1,029
 • Pending Sales decreased 7.2% to 695
 • Inventory increased 2.1% to 8,029

For the month of December:
 • Median Sales Price increased 4.0% to $258,000
 • Days on Market decreased 6.6% to 57
 • Percent of Original List Price Received decreased 0.2% to 96.9%
 • Months Supply of Homes For Sale increased 13.3% to 1.7

Friday, January 25, 2019

Most Profitable Home Improvements for the Luxury Market

Want to get more bang for your buck when selling your luxury home? Explore a couple of additions and improvements that have been shown to be the most profitable in luxury homes.

The following is a guest post written by Hillary Hertzberg of the The Jills®
When it comes time to sell your luxury home, you want to ensure you’re receiving the biggest bang for your buck. Typically this means making sure that any additions and improvements made to your home are ones that have the best odds of being profitable. With that in mind, let’s explore a couple of additions that have been proven to be the most profitable in luxury homes.
If your home lacks a true family room or has one that can be spruced up, this is a great way to not only bring the family together but also get a nice return by adding some additional resale square footage.
Is your luxury home a single story residence? Why not consider adding another floor to it? To be competitive in today’s market, a two-story home is practically a requirement. This may likely include having the aforementioned family room on the first floor and a luxurious master suite on the second. With the additional floor, it’s almost like having a blank canvas full of different ideas you can entertain and implement that will help to give your home a profitable edge if and when it comes to sell. An additional bedroom or two for guests or growing families, a home office space with all of your necessary items to get work done, the options are virtually limitless.
For some extra living space, you may wish to consider adding a deck or patio to the home. Buyers are really big on outdoor spaces and with the right deck addition, your home will essentially become a paradise of entertainment. With a return on investment of just over seventy percent, it’s a profitable addition that will definitely attract the attention of buyers that like to host their own al fresco get-to-gethers.
The next one is one that you may be quite familiar with, and that’s a kitchen remodel. Perhaps best of all, it’s a remodel that doesn’t have to be elaborate as you might think. As opposed to a full kitchen remodel, a minor remodeling involving something such as replacing appliances for newer ones, swapping a countertop for one with natural stone or granite can result in great resale perks.
Looking for something quick yet effective? Let’s use the front door. Considering it’s one of the first things you and your guests will see each and every time you walk into the home, it’s something that could use a replacement. Plus, the entry door will also be one of the first things a buyer will notice as they walk inside the prospective home they intend to purchase. This replacement won’t take very long and can be completed during the afternoon.
No home improvement and resale value guide would be complete without the mentioning the possibilities available by choosing to upgrade and modernize the bathroom. You may not see the significant return on investment like with some of these aforementioned upgrades like the deck addition, but a larger or modernized bathroom will certainly have its perks among certain buyers.

Originally posted by Coldwell Banker Blue Matter blog

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

5 Apps to Redecorate Your Home with Your Phone

Whether you’re looking to give your living room a quick refresh or want to completely revamp your home, these five apps can help you get started. Create a stunning look without blowing your budget — no professional interior designer needed.

Guest post by Lori Cunningham
With dozens of decorating apps to choose from and inspiration just a finger touch away, redecorating your home has never been easier. Augmented Reality (AR) now lets you use your phone to see how colors, accessories, and furniture will look in your own house. On the horizon, you can expect to see apps using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to learn your style through your interaction with them.
Whether you’re looking to give your living room a quick refresh or want to completely revamp your home, these five apps can help you get started. Create a stunning look without blowing your budget — no professional interior designer needed.
Houzz: Start with online inspiration
Apps like Pinterest and Instagram have plenty of pictures and designs to start your inspiration journey. However, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, and keeping track of design ideas can be cumbersome.  It’s not always simple to buy an item featured in a picture, and you might need to search around to find a similar item. A site like Houzz can help you keep everything organized and in one place.
Houzz covers architecture, interior design, decorating, landscape design, and home improvement. It has over 17 million high-resolution photos, all of which can be filtered by room, style, budget, size, color, or a combination.

Many of the pictures have purchasing information on the featured items, allowing you to purchase them within the Houzz app.  You can also save pictures to an “Ideabook” to help keep your style ideas all in one place.
The app uses AR to help you see what an item will look like in your home. Click the “View in my room” button to see the item in 2D using your phone’s camera. 
The Houzz app is free on iOS and Android.
MagicPlan: Create a floor plan from your phone
To ensure that the furniture you plan to purchase fits in the room you’d like to decorate, it helps to create a floor plan.  The MagicPlan app lets you input the dimensions of a room by measuring, drawing, or using your phone’s camera to create the floor plan.
Once you’ve added your room’s dimensions, you can add doors, windows, structural features, plumbing, appliances, electrical, HVAC, furniture, flooring, and more to your floor plan.  Many of these features are free to use, but there is an in-app cost for things like cabinetry, light switches, and outlets.
When you add MagicPlan’s 2D furniture, you can adjust it to the size you want by using your fingers or inputting the dimensions.  You can add your own photos to your floor plan, as well.  
If you are planning to paint or replace the flooring, estimate how much it would cost by clicking “Estimate” for the approximate price. Just remember the estimates do not include the cost of labor.
MagicPlan is free on iOS and Android.
TapPainter: Virtually paint your walls
Swatches from your local home improvement store make it hard to envision the color of the whole room, and buying paint samples can get expensive. The TapPainter applets you choose paint colors from Benjamin Moore, Behr, Sherwin Williams, and other popular brands.
Use the app to snap pictures of the room you want to paint and try out different colors by entering the code from a paint swatch, choosing a color from one of the brands included, or mixing your own custom color.  You can even add different colors to different walls.
TapPainter is free on iOS.
D├ęcorMatters: Design a room using AR
DecorMatters is an app that lets you virtually add pieces and design elements to a real room.  Take a picture of the room you want to decorate and use AR and the AR ruler to add and measure 3D pieces. This is a simple way to see if a piece you’ve been eyeing will fit. 
The app features items from popular stores like Crate & Barrel, Target, Overstock, West Elm, IKEA, and Ashley, and you can make in-app purchases right from your phone. You can save your ideas to your mood board to share with friends, and the DecorMatters in-app messaging also offers free feedback and suggestions from real DecorMatters interior designers.
DecorMatters is free on iOS. Add some art to your walls
Finally, the app offers hundreds of frame styles and sizes to help you plan your gallery wall. Use the app to arrange different layouts to see how your gallery wall could look.’s latest app release also lets you upload your own artwork and family pictures to pair with any style frame, and you can even have them printed on canvas, wood mount, acrylic, and more.
The app is free on iOS and Android.
It’s easy to create a stunning look that suits your style, all from your phone. These five apps offer the inspiration, confidence, and guidance you need to get started on your redecorating project.
Lori Cunningham is a family tech advocate and contributing writer for Xfinity Mobile. She is a mom to two creative children and started the to share her passion for technology with others.
Originally posted by Coldwell Banker Burnet Blue Matter

Monday, January 21, 2019

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending January 12, 2019

The unemployment rate rose by 0.2 percent to finish December 2018 at 3.9 percent. Although the rate went up from the month prior, it was down by 1.2 percent compared to the same month last year. As the nation continues to wrestle with a partial government shutdown that has some people worried about the economy at large, it is important to note that the employment situation at large remains in a relatively strong position.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending January 12:
 • New Listings increased 14.9% to 1,026
 • Pending Sales increased 6.9% to 650
 • Inventory increased 2.8% to 7,969

For the month of December:
 • Median Sales Price increased 4.0% to $258,000
 • Days on Market decreased 6.6% to 57
 • Percent of Original List Price Received decreased 0.2% to 96.9%
 • Months Supply of Homes For Sale increased 13.3% to 1.7

Publish Date: January 21, 2019 • All comparisons are to 2018 All data from NorthstarMLS. Provided by Minneapolis Area REALTORS®. Report © 2019 ShowingTime

Friday, January 18, 2019

Best of Smart Home from the Consumer Electronics Show 2019

We’re experiencing a whole new level of control and interaction with our homes. Here’s the best of smart home that we saw at CES 2019.

The following post is a guest contribution from Angel Piontek, associate broker and vice president of marketing at Coldwell Banker Elite.
When it comes to experiencing and discovering the latest in consumer technology, CES is an event like no other. The world’s best and biggest companies come together in one place to show off their newest innovations. CES boasts 4,500 exhibiting companies, 2.9 million net square feet of space and over 188,000 attendees.
As a real estate professional and early adopter of smart home devices, I spent a lot of time in the Smart Home Marketplace at CES. We are experiencing a whole new level of control and interaction with our homes. The Smart Home Marketplace features up-and-coming products, services and companies in this category.
Here are my picks for the best of smart home:
Ring Door View Cam
One of Ring’s most popular devices is the Ring doorbell. It was only a matter of time for Ring to target those without a doorbell – apartment and condo dwellers. Ring’s Door View Cam replaces your standard peephole with a camera and uses some of the same technology as their doorbell cams: motion detection, two-way talk and HD video. It’s battery-operated, so there’s no pesky wires. At CES, they were sure to mention that the battery is located on the inside so it won’t be affected by severe weather. It’s easy to install and remove so you can take it with you on your next move.
KitchenAid Smart Display
Whirlpool-owned KitchenAid and Yummly have come together to deliver a smart display perfect for the home chef offering recipes, meal planning and cooking guides and videos. The KitchenAid Smart Display is powered by Google Assistant which means you can also use it to control thousands of smart home devices. Admittedly, I thought that cooking with a smart display was a bit of a novelty until I tried it. Gone are the days of having to clean flour off your screen to see the next step; you can progress through the recipe by voice. What makes the KitchenAid unique is the splash-resistant display – it’s made for the kitchen.
Nanoleaf Canvas
This was a fun pick. Nanoleaf lights up your home with ultra energy-efficient LED panels that connect together to create a unique design. Their newest product, Nanoleaf Canvas comes in squares that can be attached to any surface. It responds to music in the room as well as touch. Nanoleaf has designed interactive modes with games like Whack-a-mole and Memory. I love the combination of smart, efficient lighting, decorative display and interactivity all in one product.
C by GE
GE introduced more products in the C by GE line of connected devices. They are equipped with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, which means you don’t need a hub. Plus, it integrates nicely with Google Assistant, Alexa and Homekit. GE released color-changing bulbs as well as a line of new smart light switches. The C-Start Smart Switchhas a built-in motion sensor, which is great for those late night trips to the bathroom.
Kohler Smart Bathroom
For those thinking of building a smart home from the ground up or doing a major renovation, consider Kohler’s smart bathroom collection. At CES last year, Kohler released Kohler Konnect, a line of smart bathroom elements that include a smart mirror, shower, vanity and bathtub. This year, they released Numi 2.0 Intelligent Toilet. They call it a “fully-immersive” experience with voice-control, a heated seat and music. Its modern design is what you would expect from a smart toilet. Starting at $8,000, you can truly have a personalized toilet experience every single time.
An overarching theme at the CES Smart Home Marketplace this year is the integration of artificial intelligence and its role in anticipating the needs of its users – and this technology will only become smarter. Understanding the impact of consumer technology in the real estate industry is more critical than ever, and attending CES is the best way to stay on the pulse of new smart home technology.
By Athena Snow for Coldwell Banker Blue Matter 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

What to Do ASAP as a New Homeowner (“Future You” Will Thank You)

It’s finally yours. Your very own home. You can paint the walls whatever you like. Heck, even knock out a wall! There’s no landlord to fight you.
But if you’re serious about developing good homeowner habits (so your home makes you richer, not poorer), you’ll use this worksheet the minute you close on your home — if not before. Easier to do now than suffer some head-slapping regrets later.
Things to do after buying a house worksheet for download
Things to do after buying a house worksheet for download
If that doesn’t do it for you, here’s a *cheater* version done in the form of 22 tips. You only need scroll:

Security & Safety

These are the very first things you should do after buying a house (for obvious reasons):
1. Change locks. Spares could be floating around anywhere.
2. Hide an extra key in a lockbox. Thieves look under flower pots.
3. Reset the key codes for garage doors, gates, etc. The former owners might’ve trusted half the neighborhood.
4. Test fire and carbon monoxide detectors. Who knows when the last time was. Definitely install them if there are none.
5. Check the temperature on your water heater, especially if you have young ones, so it won’t accidentally scald. Manufacturers tend to set them high. (but the best temperature setting for hot water is 120 degrees).
6. Make sure motion lights and other security lights have working bulbs.
7. Put a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and each additional floor.

Maintenance Planning

Start your master maintenance plan (and good home-keeping habits) by setting reminders in your calendar to do these basic maintenance tasks:
8. Clean out the dryer hose and vent yearly. Clogged ones burn down houses. And you don’t know the last time the previous homeowner did it.
9. Change your HVAC filters at least once a season. You’ll save on heating and cooling — and your unit will last longer. (While you’re at it, go ahead and stock up on them, too.)
10. Schedule HVAC maintenance for spring and fall.
11. Clean your fridge coils at least once a year. It’ll run better and last longer. (Don’t see any coils? Lucky you! Newer fridges often have coils insulated, so there’s no need for annual cleaning.)
12. Drain your water heater once a year.
13. Clean your gutters at least twice a year.
14. And if all items on your inspection report were not addressed, make a plan to fix them — before they become bigger and more expensive repairs.

Emergency Preparedness

You really really don’t want to be figuring any of this out in a real emergency. Do it now. You’ll sleep better and be less likely to ruin your home.
15. Locate the main water shut-off valve. Because busted pipes happen to almost every homeowner at least once. And water damage is value-busting and pricey to fix.
16. Find the circuit box, and label all circuit breakers.
17. Find the gas shut-off valve, too, if you have gas.
18. Test the sump pump if you have one. Especially before the rainy season starts.
19. List emergency contacts. You already know 911. These are the other numbers you often need in an emergency. You should have them posted where they’re easy to see. In fact, here’s a worksheet you can fill out and post.
  • Your utility companies
  • Your insurance agent
  • Plumber
  • Electrician
20. Assemble an emergency supply kit. Some key items are:
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Non-perishable food and water
  • Blankets and warm clothing
  • A radio, TV, or cell phone with backup batteries

Home & Mortgage Documents

In case there’s a dispute with your mortgage lender or a neighbor over property lines, or if you’re a bit forgetful about due dates.
21. Store copies (the originals should be in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box) of important home documents so they’re readily available. Go paper, cloud, or better, yet, both.
  • Lender contact information
  • Property survey
  • Inspection report
  • Final closing documents
  • Insurance documents
22. Set mortgage and other bills to auto-pay so you’re never late.

Reposted from Coldwell Banker Burnet Blue Mater Blog

Monday, January 14, 2019

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending January 5, 2019

The turn of a calendar year often creates a desire to resolve to do something different. Weight loss through a combination of regular exercise and healthy eating is often at the top of the list, followed by learning a new skill, quitting smoking, reading more, spending more time with loved ones, getting more organized, traveling and saving money. Annual evidence indicates that a bump in listing and buying activity also occurs each January, which appears to be the case again in 2019 for much of the country.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending January 5:
 • New Listings decreased 4.9% to 809
 • Pending Sales increased 0.7% to 553
 • Inventory increased 6.0% to 8,209

For the month of November:
 • Median Sales Price increased 8.2% to $265,000
 • Days on Market decreased 7.1% to 52
 • Percent of Original List Price Received decreased 0.1% to 97.3%
 • Months Supply of Homes For Sale increased 10.5% to 2.1

All data from NorthstarMLS. Provided by Minneapolis Area REALTORS®. Report © 2019 ShowingTime Publish Date: January 14, 2019 • All comparisons are to 2018

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Designs, they are a changin' - New Trend Alert for 2019

Wave Goodbye to Palm Fronds: Here’s the New Pattern That Will Be Everywhere in 2019

Whimsical, vibrant and reminiscent of the tropical vacay we took last summer (mojito in hand, of course), palm fronds will always hold a special place in our hearts.
But the leafy stems have held the spotlight for a few years now in the form of wallpaper, furniture, pillows and, yes, even our phone case—and we think it’s time to turn over a new leaf (you knew that was coming…).
Introducing 2019’s prettiest decor trend: Birds…as in toucans, parrots and swans, oh my! We’ve been eyeing delicately feathered fowl on wallpaper, bold, bright tropical flyers on throw pillows and even graceful hummingbirds on bed linens. Yep, we’re renovating our (bird)house with at least a few iterations of the pretty winged creatures. And they’re a breath of fresh air from the oversupply of pineapples, succulents and, you guessed it! Fronds.
You know what they say: Birds of a feather, decorate together (or something along those lines…)
Image result for bird print fabric

Thursday, January 3, 2019

10 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home in 2019

10 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home in 2019
Sure, you can make a resolution to start hitting the gym or eating better, but don’t neglect your home! These New Year’s resolutions will help your space look better, which will naturally make you feel better—and there’s no kale or cardio involved!


Not only will it look great to have cleaned-out those closets and cleared-off those counters, but it will feel great, too. “It turns out that your well-being could also become victim to what we might call the ‘clutter effect,’” said Psychology Today.“A collection of recent studies on stress, life satisfaction, physical health, and cognition all speak to the value of streamlining.”

Donate, donate donate

There are so many worthy organizations out there who are desperate for clothes, shoes, linens, and housewares. Let The Pinnacle Listhelp you decide what to let go of. “Employ the 6-month rule,” they said. “It’s undeniably hard to get rid of things you have fond memories of, but if you need to reevaluate your space needs, it’s time to start donating or throwing out some of your stuff. If you have clothing, odds and ends, or even appliances that you haven’t used in the past six months, odds are that’s not going to change out of the blue. If it’s hit the half-year mark and those items are gathering dust, put them in the donation bin.”

Get your credit in check

Do you check your credit report every year? You can do so for free, and keeping up with your credit report frequently will ensure that you can quickly take care of anything that’s incorrect. Make this the year that you also take care of legitimate issues on your credit. Whether you’re already a homeowner and aren’t intending to move anytime soon or are looking to buy this year, getting your credit in order and improving your score can leave you better prepared for anything that pops up.

Clear out the entry

You don’t notice the pile of shoes and tangle of jackets and umbrellas right inside your front door, but everyone who comes through your house does. Take a fresh look at your home this and resolve to streamline that entry. You know what they say about first impressions.

Invest in a good mattress

We don’t want to invoke the selling proposition of mattress companies, because, frankly, that whole seven-year rule (and the reason they say to replace your mattress every seven years) is disgusting. So, we’ll just leave it at this: You deserve to be more comfortable. And, you can do that these days rather inexpensively. Business Insider’smost recommended option is the Leese Sapira Mattress for $1,360, while the much-loved Nectar is just $699.

Clean your showerhead

Your shower could be SO. MUCH. BETTER. And don’t you deserve a better shower in 2019? Chances are, the flow is being compromised. Thankfully, the fix is easy. “If the flow from your showerhead is growing weaker, the cause is probably mineral buildup,” said Family Handyman. “Many manufacturers recommend that you remove the showerhead and soak it in a half-and-half mixture of warm water and vinegar (any type). But there’s really no need to remove the head. Just pour the mix into a heavy-duty plastic bag and attach it to the shower arm with a rubber band. The acid in the vinegar dissolves minerals, but prolonged contact can harm some plastics and metal finishes, so remove the bag every 15 minutes and check the shower flow.”

Make your money make money

This is a great time to review your bank accounts and credit cards to see if you’re getting the best yield and interest rates. There are some great high-yield bank accounts offered by online-only banks, while zero-interest credit cards are a great option for those who want to transfer a balance so they can pay it off more quickly.

Pump up your emergency fund

If you already have one, it may be time to up the amount you contribute. If you don’t have one and think you’re too strapped for cash to start putting away money for a rainy day, even the couple bucks you save here and there from skipping Starbucks can help. An “emergency savings fund provides a financial safety net, and your new home is the perfect reason to start one,” said NerdWallet. “Remember, if the furnace quits on a cold night, there’s no landlord to call. Laid off unexpectedly or surprised by major car repairs? Mortgage payments are still expected on time and in full. Without an emergency fund, these expenses could force you into credit card debt or worse.
Ideally, your emergency fund should cover several months of expenses, but it’s OK to start small. Set aside a portion of every paycheck with the goal of saving $500 as quickly as possible, and then contribute as much as you can moving forward.”

Take a look at your insurance

Are your homeowner’s insurance and car insurance policies handled by separate companies? You could be missing out on big discounts. Ask friends and family for a referral to an insurance broker who can review your current insurance, make recommendations, and hopefully find you better options. Depending on where you live, you may also want to ask about insurance for things like earthquakes, floods, and fires, which may not be required but would give you greater peace of mind.

Become more water-wise

A few simple changes can reduce the amount of water you use at home and save you money “Our houses are thirsty,” said Houselogic. “The average household uses about 400 gallons of water each day, or almost $700 per year in water and sewer costs. Making a few simple changes, such as installing EPA-certified WaterSense products, could trim up to $200 from your annual water bill. Add to that energy savings from reduced costs to heat water, and your yearly savings could reach $300 or more per year. Replacing your pre-1994, water-guzzling toilet with a low-flow toilet prevents $90 worth of water costs from being flushed away. HE (high-efficiency) toilets use compressed air and electric water pumps to flush with less than 1 gallon of water; older models required up to 8 gallons.” 

Originally posted by Coldwell Banker Blue Matter