9 Tips To Take Care Of Your Roof

We replaced our roof a few years ago.  It cost us a lot of money.  Chances are if you own a home for a long period of time, you’ll have to replace the roof.  Once you do, you’ll want to keep it lasting for as long as possible.  With winter just a few months away, give your roof some attention.  A few easy tips and you can extend the life of your roof.  This can save you thousands in the long run.  Here are some tips to take care of your roof.

Inspect It Regularly

I don’t get up on my roof regularly.  However, I do walk around and check things out regularly.  I will look things over every spring.  After a big windstorm, I always walk around.  So far I haven’t noticed any problems, which is great.  However, if there did happen to be a problem, early detection and repair is key.

Keep Your Gutters Clean

We have a lot of tall trees around our home.  Every year the leaves clog the gutters.  I don’t enjoy paying to have the gutters cleaned, but I do anyway.  Clogged gutters can increase your chances of ice dams under the shingles.  Gutters that are clear will allow water to drain off properly.

Keep Trees Trimmed

As I mentioned above, we have many mature trees.  We keep them trimmed regularly.  One of the things I had done during trimming is to have branches close to the roof removed.  I don’t want them scratching against the roof.  Nor do I want branches or twigs falling loose onto the roof.

Remove Debris

If something does land on your roof, make sure it gets removed.  Moisture can form underneath anything that sits on your roof for a long period of time.  Getting up on your roof isn’t fun, nor is paying someone to do so.  However, if you need your roof cleared of something, you may have to bite the bullet.

Stay Off The Roof As Much As Possible

Try to stay off the roof if at all possible.  As mentioned above, there might be times when you need to get up there.  However, try to stay off of it.  People traipsing around will just create additional wear and tear.  This can shorten the life of your roof.  Additionally, many roofs have materials which are meant to reduce spotting or mildew.  Anytime you get on the roof, you knock some of this material off.  So, stay off the roof if you can.

Don’t Mess With The Structure Below

A co-worker of mine once had an attic fan installed.  Without their knowledge, the installers cut through part of a truss.  A roofer later told them that this was bad as the trusses are installed in a way to evenly distribute the load.  They ended up having to take on an expensive repair to reinforce their structure.  Make sure anything you have installed, such as attic fans or solar panels, don’t modify the support structure of the roof itself.

Leave The Snow On The Roof

Going along with the item above, it’s usually best to leave snow alone.  There is the occasional snowfall that does require removal, but most of the time, the roof can handle heavy snowfalls.  Homeowners that attempt to rake or shovel the snow off often cause unnecessary harm to their roof.  If you are nervous about the snow on your roof, call a roofer.

Ventilate Your Attic

When we had our roof redone, our roofer added more soffet vents.  He said that code dictated how many vents need to be installed during construction.  Builders follow this. However, this is way short of what roofing manufacturers recommend.  More ventilation keeps the attic space from overheating.  It also reduces moisture buildup from underneath.

Hire Professionals

If you have any work done tied to the recommendations above, hire professionals.  Whether it’s someone working on your roof or someone that will come in contact with it, professionals are much more used to being up on a roof.  Solid pros will know how to do their work with the roof in mind.  They should also be insured in the event that anything does happen.

To properly take care of your roof, these are practices I follow.  I hope that they’re helpful.  Everyone wants a long lasting and healthy roof.  After all, the roof is what covers us up!

Readers, what do you do for your roof?  What tips do you have to take care of your roof?  Let me know in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

In Search of Debt Relief? Read This.

Finding yourself in more debt than you can bear? You wouldn’t be unique. Overall American credit card debt reached $927 billion in 2017, a five percent increase, according to NerdWallet. As you can imagine, this means that the average American household with credit card debt carries a lot of it; $15,482 to be exact.

Combined with the accruing monthly credit card interest and secured loans like a mortgage or auto, a consumer can quickly get in over their head.

If this scenario sounds familiar, there’s no shame in seeking a debt relief solution. After all, the worst way to handle debt is to do nothing. Instead, be proactive; start your search for debt relief solutions properly with this baseline approach.

Don’t Expect a Fast Resolution

If you’re expecting to get rid of your debt in a relatively quick manner, be prepared to lose some stuff. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the fastest option by far, taking 4–6 months, but the court may seize some of your assets to help pay back your creditors. You can protect your assets with a lengthier approach; debt settlement takes between 2–4 years and chapter 13 bankruptcy 3-5 years. Consolidation and credit counseling timelines will vary based on your debt level but will still take time to play out.

For-Profit Doesn’t Mean Scam

A company isn’t a scam just because they are for profit. In fact, most debt settlement companies, as well as lawyers, will be working for a profit should you seek debt relief assistance through them. Whether you declare chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, you’ll have pay court costs, attorney fees and financial management courses. Opting for debt settlement (and having success) will require you to pay a percentage fee based on the original amount of the resolved debt.

Non-Profit Doesn’t Automatically Mean Trust

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a company that doesn’t charge money to wipe away your debt or a legal route free of financial obligations. If your situation doesn’t require any debt forgiveness, many credit unions, religious organizations, and legitimate non-profit agencies provide free or low-cost counseling options.

Be forewarned: just because a credit counseling company has nonprofit status, doesn’t mean their services are free, affordable, or even legitimate, per the FTC. Some credit counseling organizations may try to conceal the high fees they charge or ask for “voluntary” contributions. Make sure any credit counseling agency you work with is accredited by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA).

Always Trust Your Gut

You can tell a lot from talking to a company representative on the phone and asking thoughtful questions. Are they patient and thorough with their answers? Are they asking insightful questions about your situation? Or are they steering you toward a product or solution of theirs with little concern for educating you?

If a company feels like they’re out for your money, they probably are. Legitimate companies put education first, only giving advice after carefully studying your financial situation. Validate your feelings by checking review sites like Consumer Affairs and investigate each company’s website. The company you work with should have a resourceful website filled with information on the process. An example would be the Freedom Debt Relief reviews and FAQ page, which provides clear, detailed answers to over a dozen commonly asked debt relief questions.

Know Your Caveats

All options carry caveats. Being aware of them ahead of time helps to avoid “uh-oh” moments. For example, while declaring chapter 7 is by far the fastest debt relief option, it stays on credit reports for up to a decade, three years longer than debt settlement or chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 also results in the liquidation of your non-exempt assets, meaning, any property that you don’t need to maintain a home and job. Last thing: with debt settlement, any debt you are forgiven will be taxed by the IRS as income, so be prepared for a bigger tax bill if you have success with debt settlement.

Debt Relief isn’t for the faint of heart but can provide that spark needed to leave debt behind for good. Keep the above tips in mind when exploring different debt relief options so you can make the best choice for your situation.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

We Sold Our Camper!

What a whirlwind few days we had.  As you may remember, we had been considering selling our camper.  We decided to give it a shot, and wow!  We sold our camper in record time.

Deciding On A Sale

After I wrote the article in late August, my wife and I had a serious discussion.  We decided that we would definitely be looking for a new camper by next season.  The camper was still great.  Our family had just outgrown it.  We camped 31 nights this season in our camper.  With it being a lightweight camper, there were drawback.

  • The water tank is small.  We always had to fill it during trips.
  • The holding tanks are small.  We dumped dishwater and mostly used the campground bathrooms.
  • The beds are a pain.  Folding them down once or twice a season is fine.  But, we camped over half a dozen times.  It’s a lot.
  • We were sick of the minor problems.  There was nothing awfully wrong.  The annoyances had just grown, well, annoying.

Preparing For A Sale

We had a camping trip planned for Labor Day weekend.  We decided we’d try to put it up for sale after that.  In prep for that, we started thinking about taking pictures.  One thing about our camper is that we always kept it clean. This was true both inside and out.  We knew that some great pictures would help show it off well.

The outdoor pictures we took were done during our final trip.  We normally have quite a few things under our awning.  In order to take great pictures, we set most everything aside.  We took pictures with the awning down, the camping rug out, and our camping chairs.  It looked great.

After the trip, we similarly took indoor pictures.  We took just about everything out that’s visible and took interior pictures.  This made it look very open and highlighted how clean we keep it.  This turned out to be very important.

The Near Mistake Sale

At this point, something weird happened.  We took the interior pictures after we got home.  The camper was parked in our driveway.  Someone driving by saw the stuff piled out and the picture taking and asked if the camper was for sale.

My wife and I couldn’t believe it.  Could we actually sell it just like that?  We said that it was going up for sale.

The person got out of the car and started looking it over.  We told him about it, showed it, and were honest about all the issues.

He offered us cash on the spot.  His offer was for $2,500.  However, it was much lower than I had anticipated.  We went back and forth but his ‘final’ offer was still low.  I had figured we could get around $3,500 for it.

Still, I actually considered it.  I wasn’t sure how much demand there would be at the end of a season.  In addition, I knew that showing it could involve having to make multiple trips back and forth to the storage lot.

We ended up moving on from the guy.  The scary thing is that I didn’t move on because of the price as my primary reason.  He wanted to make things happen so quick that I wasn’t comfortable.  When I asked him to back off, he got upset and yelled at me on the phone.  That was that.

As it turns out, none of my worries were real.

The Sale

We listed it for sale the same evening.  We put it on both Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.  For the price, we decided to list it for $4,000.  This, we figured, gave us some bargaining room.

Instantly, people started inquiring about it.  The very first people that inquired seemed like great people. They explained that they’d been looking for a used camper.  There were 3-4 that they’d inquired about that they missed out on.  They were pretty excited that we hadn’t sold ours.  But, they were worried that we’d sell it and wanted to come out right away.

We ‘held’ it for them, because that’s the way I sell things.  I’m not one of those that tells everyone that’s interested to come out and the first person gets it.  That’s too stressful for me as a seller, plus I just don’t think it’s cool.  So, we told them that we wouldn’t show it so long as they came out. Which they did.

And they made us a full price offer!  They sent a deposit via PayPal while standing in our driveway.

Two days later, we turned everything over and it was theirs.  We actually took it over to them and dropped it off.  By the time we left, their youngest son had fallen asleep inside!

It was a whirlwind couple of days!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

As I mentioned, the people seemed like very nice people.  And they were.  My wife and the wife of the family that bought it have been texting back and forth.  The new owner loves to redecorate.  And she started right away!  She painted over the wallpaper.  They put contact paper up over the sink that made it look like a tile backsplash. They painted the cabinets and the doors.  She even made the front of the fridge a chalkboard with that kind of paint.  Finally, they put laminate flooring down.

Top to bottom, they completely changed it, practically overnight!

It was really cool to see the transformation.  I think they really will love it.  I truly hope that they do.

Next Steps

Now, we are going to start looking for a new camper for our family.  We have a good idea of what we want.  We’ve been looking on the same sites we put ours up for sale.

What’s working in our favor is that the more expensive campers that fit our criteria seem to be lasting longer.  Ours sold quickly because it was a great price point.  I realize that I underestimated the appeal.  But, I also know that our care of it showed in the pictures.  When we looked at campers priced around ours, many were dirty or cluttered or just didn’t look like they’d been well taken care of.  So yay to my wife and I for keeping it clean and healthy.

There’s a camper show coming into town that we’ll go to.  We are targeting something used, to save money, but the show gives us great ideas on floor plans and models.  Plus, many of the dealers often have a great inventory of used items that they’ll highlight.

If nothing else, it gives us information to use if we decide to wait until next spring.  We’re definitely planning on camping, but because we sold our camper, it definitely won’t be in our old camper.  We’ve got lots of great memories now.  Time to make some new ones!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

7 Ways For Families To Manage Student Loan Debt

If your family has student debt, you’re not alone.  If you feel like it’s a mountain with no end in sight, that’s also quite normal.  The fact is that student loan debt is a huge part of our lives.  Some people think that their debt is something they’ll have to deal with forever.  But, it doesn’t have to be that way.  You can manage student loan debt.  It might not be easy or quick, but a good plan can pay off.  Here are a few way for your family to manage student loan debt.

Make Student Loan Debt Payoff A Priority

Some people think that student loan debt will be around forever.  For some people, paying off their debt is just another bill payment.  If you’re serious about getting rid of student loan debt, give it more priority.  Additional attention is necessary to tackle something so big.

Additionally, your entire family will have to commit to your plan to manage student loan debt.

Build excitement. Look at the end goals.  Picture your life without debt.  Have plans for what you can do when student loan debt is gone.

To properly manage your student debt will take time and dedication.  Know this up front and be ready for a long but fulfilling journey.

Create A Budget

If you don’t have a budget, now is the time to get started.  You cannot manage student loan debt optimally without one.  A budget will show everything you’re bringing in and sending out.  Put student loan debt payments at the top of your budget.  Make sure it’s front and center.  Give it the attention in your budget and it will spill over into your life.

Keep in mind there are some tips, especially if you’ve never had a budget before.  Start simple.  Spend some time just tracking at first.  Eventually, expand it to track goals.  Then, track against them.  Keep building your budget.  A good budget is something you grow into.  A good budget will help you manage student loan debt.  It won’t take long to get there, I promise!

Review Your Extras

Once you’re cruising along with your budget, start looking at it in depth.  What are your spending categories?  Are any of your spending habits changeable?

The goal here is to find money in your budget that you can re-allocate to your student loan payments.  Any bit of extra counts!  Don’t think that just because it’s only $5, you shouldn’t bother.  Guess what?  Every dollar makes a difference!  Plus, dollars add up.  In fact, starting small is a great way to start.  Chances are you’ll find small amounts and the difference in your life won’t even be noticeable.  Once you get a few of these changes under your belt, you can challenge yourself to go bigger.

Keep reviewing your spending and asking what you can change.  Premium cable channels.  Your cell phone bill.  In fact, do you really need to replace your cell phone already?  All of these and many other things are questions you can ask.  The answers can help manage student loan debt.

Allocate New Money

If you want to start paying down your debt faster, a great way is to allocate new money.  When you get a raise at work, figure out the difference in your paycheck and increase your student loan payment.  If you get a bonus, send that as a one time payment.  Same goes with income tax refunds.

The bottom line is that you should be living within the budget you created earlier.  Committing extra money to your student loans is a fast and easy way to knock that balance down.

Set Goals And Track Targets

Paying off your student loans will likely take considerable time.  In order to stay motivated, set some targets.  Every so often, check how you’re doing.  Targets give you something to track along the way.  For example, if you set a target to pay off 5% of your balance the first year, but you end up paying off 6%, that’s great progress.  It may not seem like a lot, but it is.  Why? Because it shows that you’re ahead of schedule.

That kind of little check up can provide extra motivation to keep on going.  Plus, you can challenge yourself to do even better the next year.

Snowball Payments

If you can pay extra on your loans, target one payment for the extras.  Which one is up to you. Some people like paying off the loan with the smallest balance.  Others prefer targeting the loan with the highest interest rate.  To me, there’s no hard and fast rule.  But, regardless, pick one and knock it out.

Why do I recommend this instead of spreading payments to multiple loans?  For me, it’s a matter of motivation.  Once you get a loan fully paid off, guess what? You’re going to feel great.  That’s going to be a meaningful accomplishment!  You can immediately start applying that payment to the next loan.  Then you can knock that one out, and so on and so forth.

A side benefit is that eliminating loans change your cash flow obligation.  While the goal is to never reduce your student loan payment, reducing the number of payments does give you flexibility in the event of an emergency or job loss.

Celebrate Milestones

Paying off your student loans can take years. It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture over a long period of time.  In order to reduce this, set milestones and celebrate.  When you hit your first 10%, go to a special dinner.  If you get that smallest loan paid off, consider a small getaway.  When you’re halfway there, get that fancy bottle of wine you once sipped.

These little motivations along the way will show definite achievement.  And, the celebrations will keep you motivated to hit the next goal.  That’s what it’s all about in the end!

I hope that these tips have helped.  I won’t sugarcoat it.  Paying off debt isn’t easy, especially if you have a lot of it.  But, you can do it and you can come in way ahead if you follow these steps.

Readers, do you have any good stories about paying off student loan debt?  How do you manage student loan debt?  Please comment below.  And, thanks so much for reading!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.