Say Farewell to Shag Carpet—Family Tackles 1970s Time Capsule Makeover

A Florida family has embarked on a wild ride to bring a 1970s time capsule in Indiana into the 21st century.

On a whim, they bought a vintage gem in Fort Wayne, IN, covered top to bottom in shag carpet, after seeing it online. It was our most popular home of the week in early December and garnered hundreds of thousands of views—the Jackson family among them.

How the time capsule was won

“So we weren’t actually looking for a home to buy,” says Alysha Jackson, who lives in Clermont, FL, with her husband, Nate, two toddlers, and a rescue dog, Ingrid.

“We have a home there and we love it,” she says. “We had talked about getting into real estate one day, but it wasn’t really on our radar yet. Then this house went viral.”

Nate saw the house online and came in with his computer to show the listing to Alysha.

“He’s like, ‘Hey, don’t shut this down right away, but what if we put in an offer on this house?’” she says.

“Usually, I’m the skeptical one, but I just looked at it and had this gut feeling, and I said, ‘You know what? I actually love it. Let’s put in an offer.’”

Interior of home in Fort Wayne, IN
Interior of home in Fort Wayne, IN

Dustin McKibben

Interior
Interior

Dustin McKibben

Bathroom
Bathroom

Dustin McKibben

Like everyone who laid eyes on the photos, Nate and Alysha first spotted the colorful carpet. The deep shag is hard to miss: It’s everywhere, even on some of the walls.

Alysha says her first reaction was: “Whoa, that’s a lot of shag carpet!” Then, she noticed how much potential the house had.

“I kind of envisioned what it could look like with some renovating,” she says. “We’re staying thing true to the vibe of it and the time period, but we have to update it.”

Aftermath of Christmas
Aftermath of Christmas

Jackson family

Door
Door

Dustin McKibben

Jackson family
Jackson family

Dustin McKibben

The Jacksons journey back in time

Just a few weeks after putting in their offer, the two former teachers, who now sell on Amazon, packed up their family minivan (including Christmas presents) and headed north. Their work offers them the freedom to work where they choose.

Since then, the family has been living bare-bones in the house, with just a few mattresses and other essential items. They have decided to live in the home as is for a while.

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Watch: Listing Agents Answer Our Burning Questions About the ‘Silence of the Lambs’ House

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“We wanted to just stay in it a little while before changing anything, because we just wanted to get a feel for the house before we just came in and made sweeping changes,” Alysha Jackson explains.

“I’m so glad we did, because we actually changed a lot of our designs based upon actually living in the home for a little bit first.”

Most importantly, they staged a 1970s-style photo shoot.

Interior
Interior

Dustin McKibben

Enjoying the view
Enjoying the view

Jackson family

Even Ingrid, the dog, seems to have settled in.

“She has a spot in the house where she can see the entire yard, thanks to the surrounding sliding doors and windows,” Jackson says.

“Ingrid was so sad when she saw us packing the van for our trip here, but literally jumped up and down when we got the leash out and she realized she was coming with us on the trip.”

Kitchen
Kitchen

Dustin McKibben

Kitchen
Kitchen

Dustin McKibben

Kitchen
Kitchen

Dustin McKibben

The former owner of the house, James Sherbondy, a retired architect, designed the home as his family’s personal residence. It was occupied until just a few months ago, so everything inside was in working order.

“We walked in, brought in our stuff, and used the fridge. The bathrooms were functional. It was pretty great,” Jackson says.

Everything in the kitchen works, and the cabinets are in good shape. However, the layout may not work for the family, she adds.

Lower level
Lower level

Dustin McKibben

Lower level
Lower level

Dustin McKibben

Lower-level bathroom
Lower-level bathroom

Dustin McKibben

Lower-level bathroom
Lower-level bathroom

Dustin McKibben

The family made some immediate changes for safety reasons and are currently living on the lower level. They’re tackling that and the main level first, and leaving the upstairs master bedroom and bathroom for last.

A bathroom with green counters and blue sink will ultimately meet its demise, but the Jack-and-Jill style entry is staying.

“The more we see, the more we want to keep, which is kind of funny,” Alysha says. “Before, we didn’t really know too much about ’70s style, and we didn’t know too much about midcentury modern even. But the more I talk with people and more research I do on my own, the more I see the beauty and the value in it, and so I want to keep that style in the home.”

Stairs
Stairs

Dustin McKibben

Toddler-proof stairs
Toddler-proof stairs

Dustin McKibben

The Jacksons have sought input from a number of experts on the Instagram account they started for their rehab project. They had hopes of reaching 10,000 followers by the summer. As of now, they’ve blown past their goal and have over 30,000 folks tracking the renovation journey.

“I just love sharing projects with people. When we did a ’70s photo shoot, we thought it would be really fun to share these. We had no idea it would go viral as quickly as it did,” Jackson says. “It’s been really fun to share what we’re doing with people, and we’ve gotten so much great input.”

Lower level
Lower level

Dustin McKibben

Lower level
Lower level

Dustin McKibben

The carpet can’t stay

Sadly, for lovers of colorful floor coverings, the carpet is one of the first things that’s going to go.

“There’s literally carpet in every single room, including the bathrooms. It’s everywhere and it’s 50 years old. From what we know, it is original to the home,” Jackson says.

She added that there are stains in several places, and it doesn’t smell particularly great, especially in the bathrooms.

Eventually, there will be new flooring in many of the rooms and tile in the bathrooms. But the carpet won’t vanish completely.

“I am going to be making an art piece of the different carpet colors,” she says. “There’s about four or five different colors in the home, and we just want to keep a piece of each. I’m going to cut some out from each color—deep-clean it, of course—and then create some sort of art piece with it to hang in the house on the wall.”

Master bathroom
Master bathroom

Dustin McKibben

Master bathroom
Master bathroom

Dustin McKibben

People on social media had a lot to say about the carpet-bedecked bathtub in the master bedroom. The tub has purple tile and no curtain. For now, it’s the only bathtub in the house, so the kids need to take their baths there.

Jackson says the tub is super clean, but the trick for the couple is to keep the children from enjoying their time on the floor.

“To them, it’s like a big towel,” she adds. The first time their son took a bath, she says, “He got out of the tub and started rolling on the shag carpet.”

Fireplace

Other modifications on the way

Back on the main level, the dramatic floor-to-ceiling fireplace will stay—but with some modifications for safety.

Wood paneling and accents
Wood paneling and accents

Dustin McKibben

Some of the wood paneling and carved accents throughout the house will also remain.

“I stare at the wood every day. I think that’s maybe my favorite part of the house,” Jackson says.

Some people on Instagram say the carved wood might be by an artist named Ackerman, and the Jacksons are trying to verify that.

“It’s the first thing you see when you walk in the home on the door,” Alysha says.

Work time
Work time

Jackson family

Life outside the box

The Jacksons rehabbed their Florida house, so a huge project isn’t entirely new for them and they have some family support nearby. Both Alysha and Nate are from Indiana, and much of their family still lives there. While some close to them were surprised by the somewhat impulsive purchase, they weren’t shocked.

“We kind of joke with people that Nate and I are ‘Go big or go home’ people. We kind of live life outside the box, so they were excited for us,” Jackson says.

Some relatives thought they were crazy, she adds, but changed their minds when they saw how beautiful the home is—and they’re especially excited that the family will be closer to them.

For now, the family plans to split time between the two homes and rent the other one as a vacation rental.

We’ll be tracking the process of this time capsule transformation and can’t wait to see what’s next.

Source: realtor.com

Living Legacy: Making a Family Home in a Historic Mansion

From 800 square feet in sprawling Manhattan to 6,000 square feet in historic Nyack.

Noah and Dennis Brodsky didn’t set out to buy a historic home.

They were just looking for a place that could provide a bit more room for their growing family than their 800-square-foot Manhattan apartment. But as soon as they saw this Nyack, New York, home, they knew it was meant to be.

The Gothic Revival house hit all the marks they were looking for and more: It’s spacious with a gorgeous view of the Hudson River, and it’s within walking distance to town.

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A powerful history

Discovering the home’s history was an added bonus.

Built in the 1850s, the 6,000-square-foot house was once owned by Thomas Edison’s lab assistant, William H. Hand. Hand and Edison worked together often in the barn, making significant technological improvements to the battery.

The house was in excellent condition when the Brodskys made the purchase in 2014. “What we really spent time doing was making it feel like ours,” explains Noah.

They changed the colors, added their own furniture and built a nursery for their baby. As an homage to the history of the house, they replaced the standard light bulbs in the kitchen with Edison bulbs.

“That personalization is really where we put our energy,” Noah remarks.

Quirks and challenges

While the home has been modernized, many historic touches — like original handmade crown moldings and a maid’s bell system that no longer works — remain.

Noah says that they also find relics hidden around the property. For example, in the backyard, they discovered an old smokehouse and a rusted animal-pulled mower buried in the ground.

Living in a historic home can have its quirky challenges. Getting Wi-Fi throughout the house is “constantly frustrating” because of all the brick. And after the couple’s first chilly winter, they added insulation in the attic to help with the heating.

Tips for historic home buyers

Dennis advises overestimating maintenance costs. If something needs to be restored or fixed in a historic home, often you can’t simply call a contractor.

Additionally, the couple didn’t anticipate the impact that having a home on the National Registry of Historic Places would have on their insurance costs.

“But it’s a lovely house,” says Noah, and the two are relishing creating new family traditions in it.

Related:

Originally published November 22, 2016. 

Source: zillow.com

Car Insurance: Liability vs. Full Coverage

December 31, 2018 &• 5 min read by Taylor Cenicola Comments 0 Comments

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Most people need car insurance in order to drive legally. Car insurance has two main categories: liability and full coverage.

The two types of car insurance will cover you in different circumstances. They also come at two very different prices. This article will cover the difference between the two types of car insurance coverage.

Liability Coverage 

Liability car insurance is simply insurance that covers your liability. In other words, liability coverage will pay for any damage to other property or people. You must pay out of pocket for your own damage though.

Liability coverage has two other subcategories as well.

Bodily Injury

Bodily injury coverage is exactly what it sounds like. This type of coverage covers medical expenses for the other party in the event you have an accident. Without bodily injury protection, you have to pay their medical expenses.

You can choose the amount of bodily injury coverage that you want to purchase. Keep in mind that most states require drivers to have bodily injury liability insurance to legally drive a vehicle.

Property Damage

Property damage coverage is also exactly what it sounds like. This covers physical damage to property, which usually means a vehicle. It may cover other property damage too, but this depends on the coverage.

Full Coverage

Full coverage car insurance is likely what most people think of when they search for auto insurance. Full coverage insurance will cover your vehicle in the event of an accident.

It may also cover your vehicle for than just an accident too, but this depends on the terms of the policy. Some policies cover acts of God, which means you will have coverage for natural disasters and other natural events. Some examples include the following:

  • Falling objects
  • Flooding
  • Theft
  • Other unforeseen circumstances

Legally Required Coverage

The coverage required by law varies depending on the state. Forty-seven states require liability insurance. The amount varies depending on the state. However, if you use a loan to purchase to a vehicle, then your loan provider will require you to purchase full coverage insurance. Lenders do this so they can receive money if you have an accident, or the car gets damaged.

Do I Need Full Coverage?

The decision to get full coverage or liability coverage is one that depends on a wide range of factors and your risk tolerance. This section will cover all the factors you should consider before deciding what insurance to choose. However, this section will not recommend a policy type for you to purchase. Simply consider the factors listed below when shopping for auto insurance.

Things to Consider

The following are a few considerations to make when deciding the level of insurance coverage you will need:

Your Ability to Purchase a Vehicle: one of the most important things to consider is your ability to purchase a new vehicle in the event of an accident. Remember, if you total a vehicle, then you will likely need a rental car for a few days while you search for a new car.

Also, you might have money at the moment, but if you’re in a money crunch and wreck your car, then you might have a problem purchasing a vehicle. Make sure to keep your ability to purchase a new vehicle in mind before dropping full coverage.

Vehicle Resale Value: another important factor is the resale of your vehicle. For instance, if you have a junk car, then paying for full coverage might not be worth it. Your insurance company will most likely total the car in the event of even the most minor accident because the cost of repairs exceeds the total loss in value of the vehicle. The car’s value might not even exceed the deductible, which means you might have to pay out of pocket!

On the other hand, if you have a very expensive vehicle, then full coverage will mean your wallet will not hurt as much in the event you wreck your vehicle. Your insurance company may even pay to fix the vehicle rather than writing it off. This just depends on the cost of the repairs and the total value of your car.

Policy Cost: the price difference between a liability insurance policy and a full coverage insurance policy will vary depending on a lot of factors such as your driving record, type of vehicle, zip code, and even the color of your car. It will also depend on your credit score!

Despite all those factors, sometimes only a marginal difference in price between the two policies exists. If the price difference is small enough, then it might make more sense to purchase the comprehensive coverage.

Risk Tolerance: one of the more critical factors in deciding the type of coverage you want is your risk tolerance. Insurance, by definition, is merely paying to transfer your risk to another party. You will have to analyze all the factors and determine the amount of risk you want to have.

Loan: if you have a loan on your vehicle, then you will have to purchase full coverage insurance for the amount of your loan. You might have the ability to lower the total coverage to your loan amount though. You will have to contact your lender to check.

Final Thoughts

The difference between liability insurance and full coverage insurance is a very large one in a legal sense and a benefit sense. It can also make a financial difference. You want to know exactly what type of coverage you purchase before signing a contract.

Make sure to fully review the policy and understand exactly what it covers and does not cover. This understanding is especially important for a full coverage plan since they tend to be very large.

More importantly, understand exactly what type of insurance fits your needs. Sometimes purchasing a liability plan make more sense for you and sometimes purchasing full coverage makes more sense for you. The above checklist should help you find the right type of insurance for your needs.

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Source: credit.com

6 Ways to Have a Debt-Free Retirement

If you are a typical American approaching retirement, chances are you’re carrying some form of debt. In fact, the median debt per American household is $2,300, while the average debt stands at $5,700, according to a study by Lending Tree.

But retiring with debt can be detrimental to retirement planning, says credit counselor Thomas Nitzsche, of ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions.

“High levels of debt can leave aging consumers unable to put money aside for other financial goals,” Nitzsche says. “Unfortunately, it is common for seniors to be retiring with debt.”

Most financial advisors suggest people pay down their debt to a manageable amount – at most $5,000 – and have enough in savings for emergencies, maintenance costs, and leisure expenses.

However, a debt-free retirement is ideal. When you retire, you are living off a fixed income – meaning you are not making any more money. So spending your limited resources on debt (and interest on the debt) is like throwing your retirement money out the window. (When you are working, debt is less damaging to your finances because you are earning money.)

Kansas City-based financial advisor Tracy St. John, with Financial Avenues, LLC., and Steven Van Metre, who provides retirement planning through the firm Steven Van Metre Financial, based in Bakersfield, California, both say there are plenty of ways people can effectively manage their debt when planning for retirement.

Here are five strategies they suggest for a debt-free retirement:

According to St. John, frequent restaurant trips or extended cable packages might make life a little more comfortable, but these are living expenses that can be cut back to help manage debt.

Instead of paying $20 here and there on unnecessary services or products, advisors suggest people put that money toward paying down their debt.

“Even if it’s $25 a paycheck, it’s something they weren’t doing before,” St. John says.

Setting a strict budget and adhering to it can help. People should budget for current and future expenses, while also factoring in debt and expected retirement income.

They should plan to have no more than $5,000 in debt, or should make sure they can pay off their debt within the first three years of retirement.

“Most people spend more money in their first three years, and when you have debt on top of that, the reality is that most people won’t pay it off,” Van Metre says. “They should have a budget and stick with it so they can build into their budget their debt payments.”

Using a retirement calculator can help people determine what they will need to have saved or paid off before leaving the workforce.

Both St. John and Van Metre suggest people work longer than planned, or pick up part-time jobs, during retirement to pay down debt.

“If you’ve got $10,000 on your credit card and it’s a matter of working six more months [to pay it down], it’s totally worth it,” Van Metre says. “If someone retires with that debt, they’ll inevitably take on another job.”

If retiring with debt, St. John suggests looking into odd jobs, such as mowing neighbors’ lawns, fixing meals for busy parents, or babysitting.

If possible, retirees should look into ways they can restructure or refinance their debt to find lower interest rates, Van Metre says.

For many, the quick solution to getting rid of debt often boils down to liquidating assets. But dipping into retirement savings will leave little money remaining for living expenses during retirement.

Instead, they should, for example, look for credit cards that offer 0% interest for a period of time, or have lower interest rates than their current cards.

Ways you can restructure your debt include:

Finally, consulting a financial advisor, retirement planner, or debt counselor years prior to retirement can increase the likelihood of successfully managing debt.

Ideally, people should seek advice 10 years before retiring. However, doing so five years prior would be realistic and would still allow time for financial planning. The more time left before retiring, the better chance of achieving a debt-free retirement.

“Time gives people the opportunity to put things into perspective and gives us the opportunity to guide them and make their retirement a reality,” Van Metre says.

Search for a retirement financial advisor to start the planning process.

Truly the best way to be out of debt is to avoid it like the plague in the first place.

Debt can be so tempting.  If you feel like you really want or need something, consider tips for avoiding easy debt.

Source: newretirement.com

Senior Home Equity Booms: Should You Get a Reverse Mortgage?

Senior couple at home
Photo by wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com

Homeowners who are 62 or older are sitting on a record amount of home equity, according to new figures from the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association.

From the first quarter of this year to the second quarter, housing wealth among those 62 and older grew by 1.8% — or $134 billion — and now totals $7.7 trillion.

All of that locked-up wealth may tempt some seniors into considering a reverse mortgage, particularly during these tough times brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

What is a reverse mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is like the home loans we all are familiar with, but with an important twist. With this type of mortgage, you borrow money against your house and get cash every month.

Other types of reverse mortgages give you money as a lump sum or let you use the mortgage to establish a line of credit.

To get a reverse mortgage, you must be 62 or older. But is a reverse mortgage a good idea?

Advantages of reverse mortgages

Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson says reverse mortgages can make sense for some homeowners. As he has written:

“If you’ve got a lot of equity in your house and Social Security just isn’t doing it for you, well, maybe this is a great way for you to increase your monthly income by tapping your home equity without leaving your home.”

Stacy notes that people who take out reverse mortgages generally plan to stay in their homes until they die. After a homeowner with a reverse mortgage dies, the home is sold to pay off the loan, or simply turned over to the lender.

Drawbacks of reverse mortgages

A reverse mortgage does not always make sense. That is especially true if you have heirs who would like to own your home after you die. As Stacy explains:

“Remember, the mortgage is getting bigger and bigger. When you die, or when you move to a nursing home, etc., someone will have to pay off that mortgage if you want to keep the house in the family.”

Should you get a reverse mortgage?

It can be difficult to decide whether a reverse mortgage is right for you.

Stacy recommends sitting down with an expert at a nonprofit credit counseling agency and discussing your options. Such counseling is not free — Stacy estimates it will cost between $100 and $125. However, paying that fee is a lot less costly than making a big mistake.

Additionally, counseling is required before you can close on a reverse mortgage. So, even if you decide to go ahead with a reverse mortgage, the counseling cost will not be money wasted.

If you decide a reverse mortgage is not right for you, consider any of the “10 Alternatives to a Reverse Mortgage.”

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

When Should you Drop Full Coverage on your Car?

  • Car Insurance

Full coverage car insurance covers you for most eventualities, but it is also expensive. You get what you pay for, and in this case, what you pay for is liability coverage, collision coverage, and comprehensive coverage.

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The question is, how essential are all of these coverage options and at what point do they become surplus to requirements?

Your insurance coverage is never set in stone. You can increase your coverage as needed and drop coverage when it is no longer needed. Staying on top of everything is just a case of making the right choices at the right time.

What is Full Coverage Auto Insurance?

There are several different types of auto insurance, each covering you for something different. The most important cover is something known as liability insurance, which spans bodily injury and property damage and covers you when you injure another driver or their property.

Liability insurance is required in nearly all states and there are minimum coverage limits in all of them. To make sure you are legal, you need to meet these limits. If you want additional liability cover to protect your personal assets, you can pay more and aim higher.

Collision coverage and comprehensive coverage are also required if you want full coverage car insurance. With collision insurance, you are protected against damage caused to your own property, whether that damage is the result of a road traffic accident or a collision with a wall or guardrail. As for comprehensive insurance, it protects you against vandalism, theft, weather damage, and most of the things not covered by collision insurance.

A full coverage policy should also include some personal injury protection (PIP) cover, whether in the form of medical payments coverage or personal injury protection coverage. Both are designed to help you with medical bills and other expenses resulting from personal injury, while PIP goes one step further and covers you for transportation costs, childcare expenses, and loss of work.

All of these options are part of a full coverage insurance policy. There are also many additional coverage options and add-ons, but these aren’t necessarily part of a full coverage policy and, in most cases, need to be added for an extra cost. These options include:

  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage: Minimum cover car insurance won’t protect you if you are hit by an uninsured driver. It has been estimated that as many as 13% of all drivers on US roads are not insured and, in some states, this climbs as high as 25%. With uninsured motorist coverage, you will be protected for such eventualities.
  • Gap Insurance: When you purchase a brand new car on finance, the lender will often insist on gap insurance. A car depreciates rapidly and if that depreciation drops the value below the balance of the loan, the lender stands to lose out. Gap insurance protects them against such an outcome and covers the difference to make sure they get their money back if the car is written off.
  • New Car Replacement: A new car replacement policy will do exactly what the name suggests, providing you with a new vehicle in the event your current one is written off. Depending on the insurer, there will be limits concerning the age of the vehicle and the number of miles on the clock.
  • Roadside Assistance: With roadside assistance, you will be covered for essential services if you break down by the side of the road. It typically includes tire changes, fuel delivery, towing, lost key replacement, and more.
  • Pet Injury: What happens when your pet gets injured during a road traffic accident? If you have pet insurance, they will be covered through that. If not, many providers will give you a pet injury insurance add-on.
  • Rental Car Reimbursement: If your car is stolen or getting repaired, rental car reimbursement coverage will help you to cover the costs of a short term rental. This insurance option is often fixed at a daily sum of between $50 and $100 and lasts for no more than 30 days.
  • Accidental Death: A type of life insurance that focuses on accidents, paying a death benefit to a beneficiary when a loved one dies in an accident.

When to Drop Full Car Insurance Coverage

The value of the car you drive, along with your insurance rates and your driving record, will impact whether or not you should drop full coverage auto insurance. Take a look at the following examples to discover when this might be the right option for you:

1. Your Insurance Premiums are too High

If your car insurance rates are higher than the size of a payout following an accident, it might be time to trim the fat. Insurance is a gamble, a form of protection. You pay a small sum of money in the knowledge that you’ll be covered for a large sum if something untoward happens. But if you reach a point when your premiums begin to exceed the potential payout, it’s no longer useful.

2. You Have an Old Car

The lower your car’s value, the less you need full coverage car insurance. If you’re driving around in a car that costs less than $1,000 and you’re paying $2,000 for the pleasure, you may as well be throwing your money down a wishing well.

In the event of an accident, you’ll have a deductible to pay and that deductible could be near the value of the car. In such cases, it will nearly always make more sense to stick with minimum insurance and to just scrap your car if anything serious happens.

3. You Have a Large Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is a sum of money you keep to one side to cover you for emergencies, including job issues, medical bills, broken appliances, and car troubles. If you have such a fund available, you have a few more options at your disposal and can consider dropping full coverage.

It will save you money in the long term and if anything happens in the short term, you still have options and won’t be completely financially destitute.

Bottom Line: When It’s Needed

While there are times when full coverage is unnecessary and excessive, there are also times when it is essential. If you have a new car, for instance, you should get all of the cover you can afford, otherwise, you could be seriously out of pocket following an accident or theft.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

How to Get Cheap Car Insurance

How to Get Cheap Car Insurance – SmartAsset

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For many people, car insurance is a major expense category in the household budget. And because it’s against the law to drive without car insurance, it’s not a budget item that can be eliminated unless you’re willing to go car-free. That doesn’t mean, though, that you’re stuck paying sky-high rates. Here’s how to get cheap car insurance. 

Learn about personal loan rates. 

How Insurance Companies Set Car Insurance Rates

Like health insurance, car insurance comes with both premiums and deductibles. The premiums are what you pay the insurance company every month to maintain your coverage. The deductible is what you’ll pay when you start making claims, up to a certain annual cap of, say, $1,000.

It’s worth noting that most people who say they want cheap car insurance mean that they want car insurance with low monthly premiums. But, as with health insurance, there’s a risk to having a policy with low premiums and a high deductible. In the event of a serious accident, you’ll have to meet that deductible. So, one way to get lower premiums is to opt for a higher deductible, but this is only a safe strategy if you have enough liquidity to cover your deductible in the event of an accident.

When car insurance companies set insurance premium rates they take several factors into account. These include applicants’ age, gender and driving history, as well as the type of car the applicant drives and the driver’s state of residence. While you can’t change your age, there are other steps you can take to get favorable rates from car insurance companies.

Types of Coverage

Insurance companies charge more for comprehensive car insurance than they do for basic coverage. In most states you’re required to have liability insurance to cover any damage you do to another car or driver. The extent of that coverage requirement varies by state. In most states, you’re not required to have insurance to cover damage to your own car, or injuries you might suffer in an accident.

If you choose to add insurance coverage for yourself, you can opt for comprehensive coverage or collision coverage. Collision coverage, as the name indicates, covers damage from an accident with another car or an object, and in the event that your car flips. Comprehensive coverage covers things like theft, vandalism and natural disasters, too.

So, while you’ll almost definitely need to buy liability coverage to cover other drivers’ damages, you might not need to buy physical damage coverage for your own vehicle. It will depend on the terms of your lease if you’re leasing a car, and on your own assessment of the risks you face.

If you’re buying a valuable new car, you’ll probably want comprehensive coverage. If you’re paying cash for an older, used vehicle, you can probably get away with a more basic level of coverage. Whatever insurance option you choose for yourself, be sure to comply with state laws relating to liability insurance for any damage you might do to another driver. Once you have a car insurance policy, carry proof of insurance with you in your vehicle at all times. 

How to Get Cheap Car Insurance Rates

In the long term, one of the best ways to get cheap car insurance is to be a safe, responsible driver. The worst drivers have high rates because the insurance company needs financial compensation for the high likelihood that it will have to pay out in the event these drivers get in an accident. If you have a spotless driving record, keep it up. If you have some accidents or tickets in your past, they shouldn’t drive your rates up forever. If it’s been a few years since your last incident, you can try calling your insurance company and asking for a lower rate, using your recent, safe driving record as a bargaining chip.

Another way to get cheap car insurance is to use the same insurance company for more than one type of insurance and get a discount for your loyalty. For example, you can contact the insurance company that provides your homeowners insurance, life insurance or motorcycle insurance and ask if the company can give you a good deal on car insurance. If you have more than one car, you can bundle the insurance coverage on both vehicles.

Your credit score will also affect your car insurance rates, just like it affects the rates you’re offered when shopping for a mortgage. If your credit has improved since you last bought car insurance, you may be able to negotiate your way to cheaper car insurance. And if you pay your car insurance premiums and bills on time and in full, you’ll build up goodwill with your insurer and might qualify for promotional rates.

If you don’t drive very much during the year, you might get cheaper car insurance from a usage-based plan than you would from regular car insurance. Track your mileage before you start shopping for car insurance and see if your low mileage makes you eligible for a better deal.

If you’re under 25, you’ll pay higher premiums, all things being equal. That’s because insurance companies judge young drivers to be riskier drivers. You can get lower rates by joining your parents’ plan, or by using your good grades to get a discount on rates, if your insurance company offers that option. Once you reach your mid-20s there’s no reason to keep paying the high rates that insurance companies levy on young drivers. You can ask your insurance company to lower your rate, or shop around for insurance from another provider.

Finally, the type of car you drive can affect your car insurance rates. Big, powerful and flashy cars are more likely to trigger high car insurance rates because the insurance company assumes you’ll be more likely to speed in that kind of vehicle, and that the vehicle will be a target for theft. Vehicles with high repair costs (such as foreign-made cars) may be more expensive to cover, too. In some states, having a used car will mean lower rates because rates are affected by your car’s replacement value. But in other states, rates are based on vehicles’ safety features, so having an older car won’t necessarily help you get cheap car insurance. If your car has special safety and/or anti-theft features, you may qualify for cheaper car insurance on that basis.

Bottom Line

If you don’t have a vehicle or you’re thinking about getting a new (or used) car, it may be worth doing some research to find out which kinds of cars will get you the lowest car insurance rates. And if you’re paying a lot for car insurance now, you may be able to get cheaper coverage by negotiating your premiums or switching providers.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/andresr, ©iStock.com/ipopba, ©iStock.com/kate_sept2004

Amelia Josephson Amelia Josephson is a writer passionate about covering financial literacy topics. Her areas of expertise include retirement and home buying. Amelia’s work has appeared across the web, including on AOL, CBS News and The Simple Dollar. She holds degrees from Columbia and Oxford. Originally from Alaska, Amelia now calls Brooklyn home.
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Source: smartasset.com

How to Calculate Square Feet, Even If Your Home Is a Hexagon

If you’re selling your home or looking to buy, one concept that’s crucial to understand is how to calculate square feet. Having to do a square footage calculation may be giving you panicked thoughts about being late to homeroom, but  there’s a huge difference between a home that’s 400 square feet (tiny) and one that’s 4,000 (McMansion), and not just in terms of how much space you’ve got to stretch your legs.

A home’s square footage is a crucial element in determining the price of a home you’re trying to buy or sell, how much you’ll pay in taxes if you live there, and what kinds of renovations are possible in your future. Plus, a home’s square footage can be surprisingly subjective.

Since most people don’t have a square foot calculator in their back pocket, here’s what you need to know to ace any square footage calculations that crop up in your future.

Watch: How to Calculate Your Home’s Square Footage (It’s Surprisingly Tricky)

How to calculate square feet

You probably know how to calculate the square footage of a simple room without any funny shapes. Just break out your measuring tape—or a laser measure—to get its length and width. Multiply the width by the length and voila! You have the square footage. Say a room is 20 feet wide by 13 feet long, then 20 x 13 = 260 square feet.

How to calculate square feet
How to calculate square feet

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How to calculate the square footage of an entire home

While measuring a single room is no big deal, people get kind of intimidated when it comes to calculating the square footage of an entire home. While homes can initially seem “daunting to measure, they’re just a collection of small boxes,” says Mario Mazzamuto of SF Bay Appraisal. Don’t sweat it if a room has an outcropping. Simply break that area down into a smaller box, and measure each box individually. Add up each box’s square footage to get the room’s total area. So if your living room, bedroom, bathroom, and hallway are  500, 400, 200, and 100 square feet respectively, that means the total is 500 + 400 + 200 + 100 = 1,200 square feet total.

Even complicated floor plans are just a series of rectangles you can add up.
Even complicated floor plans are just a series of rectangles you can add up.

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If you have a round kitchen and a triangular rumpus room, fear not. Just check out vCalc’s handy calculator that will tell you how to calculate square feet no matter what polygon’s thrown your way. Once you choose a shape, the calculator will prompt you for the measurements needed to compute square footage.

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Take the square foot calculation with a grain of salt

Now that you know how to calculate the square footage of a home, it’s time to bust your bubble with a big caveat: A square footage calculation is surprisingly subjective based on who’s doing the measuring. For instance, you measured the actual, livable square footage between the interior walls. But many architects use their own square foot calculation method, measuring the square footage from the exterior walls.

This explains why there are often discrepancies between your square foot calculations and those of a real estate agent, builder, or other sources. (looking for an agent? Here’s how to find a real estate agent in your area.)

“Many MLS services require a listing’s square footage to come from a specific source,” says Robin Kencel of Connecticut’s Stevens Kencel Group. So while you can make your own estimate, you may need to hire a certain professional to come up with a number that can be used on your listing; check with your Realtor or town’s building department to determine who that is.

As a general rule, “the square footage extends through the Sheetrock and framing to the exterior of the wall,” says Mazzamuto. Generally, to do the same for your measurements, add 6 inches per measurement, he says.

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Watch: The Features That Help a Home Sell Fastest

Looking to sell your home? Claim your home and get info on your home’s value.

Source: realtor.com

What You Need to Know About Virtual Open Houses in the COVID-19 Era

In 2019, the real estate industry celebrated 100 years of open houses. Over the course of those decades that real estate professionals have been hosting open houses, they have evolved, and in some cases, disappeared. Since the arrival of the COVID-19 crisis, the real estate industry has scrambled to evolve once again. That includes if, and how, open houses are conducted. At the guidance of the National Association of Realtors, open houses during this time should look different and those marketing properties have found new ways to make touring the home virtually accessible.

The traditional open house is what we’re all widely familiar with. It’s hosted by a real estate agent and potential home buyers are allowed to come and go while they tour the property. However, since the COVID-19 outbreak, the National Association of Realtors has advised suspending in-person open houses. While this is simply a guidance to brokers, many state and local governments have also enacted “shelter-in-place” orders which deem in-person open houses not permissible.

Virtual Open Houses: A Quick Guide

What is the Difference Between a Virtual Tour and a Virtual Open House?

Many programs exist to provide 24/7, 360-degree virtual tours to buyers. While a virtual tour is the first step any prospective homebuyers should take, if interest is there for that property, a guided tour would be the next step. The difference between virtual tours and virtual open houses are that a real estate professional will guide you through the open house while virtual tours are completed on your own. Virtual tours can be completed from the listing page of a property without any prior scheduling. Virtual tour software goes beyond photography and provides 3-D, walking virtual tours of a property. This allows potential buyers to feel like they are literally standing in the middle of the room touring the home, but without having to leave the comfort of their own home.

Young woman sitting on bed in bedroom and having video call via laptopYoung woman sitting on bed in bedroom and having video call via laptop

Virtual open houses can help provide more insight to potential homebuyers. They’re usually scheduled after you took a virtual tour or looked through the listing’s photos and felt interested enough to see the property in all its glory. Buyers can schedule a virtual open house with an agent directly from the Homes.com listing page. As in-person open houses and home tours are suspended, the prevalence of virtual tours will be of paramount importance.

Having these services are a crucial part of an effective real estate marketing plan during this time, so if you’re looking to sell, make sure you can find an agent that has the capability to utilize virtual tours and open houses.

Questions to Ask, or Be Prepared for, During a Virtual Open House

While your agent helps conduct the virtual open house, it’s always good to be prepared in advance with a list of questions for each property you’re going to see (virtually, that is). Start gathering your list after, or during, the virtual tour of that property. You can find a list of questions to start here, but also take into consideration that you’ll want to know the following:

  1. What’s the neighborhood like? Is it safe and walkable? Are there kids in the area and is it in a good school zone? These questions are important to ask local real estate agents, so make sure you’re working with someone who is familiar with the area you’re shopping around in.
  2. Are the current owners living in the home? Is it move-in ready? If the current owners are still living on the property, get an idea for the length of time to help set a basis for when you’ll be moving.
  3. Is the home in a flood zone? If so, what does the cost of flood insurance look like? If you’re in a coastal city or living near a body of water, these questions are pertinent to ask during the virtual open house.

Looking to Sell? Try These Alternatives in Addition to Virtual Open Houses

Despite a pandemic, many homeowners still need to sell their home which requires creativity on the part of the listing agent to market the home effectively and safely. By hiring an experienced and innovative real estate professional to the list a home, homebuyers can be rest assured that Realtors are working to reinvent the wheel and best serve their clients through a host of options.

Professional Photography

While hiring a list agent that understands the value of professional photography over cell phone list photos has always been crucial, the quality of digital images is even more important as more buyers will be searching on sites like Homes.com. By incorporating high resolution professional photography into the marketing plan, homes have statistically sold 32% faster.

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse.A kitchen in a modern farmhouse.

Drone Video

The rule of real estate is location, location, location. Even with the best professional photography and 3D tours of a home, many of these options lack the ability to properly view the location of the home. By incorporating drone images and video into a marketing plan, home buyers can evaluate surrounding conditions, proximity, as well as other factors. In fact, homes with aerial & drone photography sold statistically 68% faster than listings without aerial images.

As Realtors work to promote social distancing and safe practices, they have not slowed in their efforts to effectively assist buyers and sellers. If anything, real estate professionals are working harder than ever to reinvent the wheel and evolve in an ever-changing climate. While open houses and real estate marketing may look different than before, the real estate industry has incorporated multiple tools that adhere to social distancing guidelines without sacrificing the exposure of available properties.


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Jennifer is an accidental house flipper turned Realtor and real estate investor. She is the voice behind the blog, Bachelorette Pad Flip. Over five years, Jennifer paid off $70,000 in student loan debt through real estate investing. She’s passionate about the power of real estate. She’s also passionate about southern cooking, good architecture, and thrift store treasure hunting. She calls Northwest Arkansas home with her cat Smokey, but she has a deep love affair with South Florida.

Source: homes.com

Would You Roll the Dice on Nevada’s ‘Hard Luck Castle’?

An offer is pending on a remote and distinctive dwelling in Nevada known as the Hard Luck Castle and Mine.

“We got a lot of interesting calls from people in various parts of the country, because it was marketed as kind of a Doomsday ‘Mad Max’ house, out in the middle of nowhere on 40 acres,” explains the listing agent, Brian Krueger.

“It is completely off-grid, self-sustaining. The owner built the home pretty much on his own, and it took him many years to do it.”

Over a decade of hard work created a one-of-a-kind castle on Bonnie Clair Road, which is currently listed for $549,900. The massive, 8,000-square-foot structure sits near the tiny town of Goldfield, NV.

The owner originally decided a couple of years ago that he wanted to sell the castle.

“I think we initially started out at $1.2 million, and slowly, over time, the seller agreed—based on our recommendations—to reduce the price. And we’ve probably had a handful of price reductions,” Krueger says.

Property records show that the castle came on the market in October 2018. Since then, the price was sliced eight times before it landed at its final price in June 2020.

Exterior of Hard Luck Castle near Goldfield, NV
Exterior of Hard Luck Castle near Goldfield, NV

Jake Rasmuson

Exterior
Exterior

Jake Rasmuson

Sign
Sign

Jake Rasmuson

Front door
Front door

Jake Rasmuson

Exterior
Exterior

Jake Rasmuson

The structure was a true labor of love by its owner.

“It was constructed from 2000 to 2012, so it took him about 12 years,” Krueger says.

It’s solidly built of steel and concrete cinder blocks, with 16-inch thick walls, and since it was engineered to last 400 to 500 years, it’s not going anywhere.

As for the infrastructure, in this remote corner of Nevada? The property has a 4,000-gallon water tank, solar and wind power, a 3,000-gallon propane tank, and diesel generators.

Equipment
Equipment

Jake Rasmuson

Solar
Solar

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Interior
Interior

Jake Rasmuson

Fountain room
Fountain room

Jake Rasmuson

Theater
Theater

Jake Rasmuson

Inside, the four-story castle has 22 rooms with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a number of unique features.

“There’s a wine cellar, there’s a theater and a game room, there’s a glass solarium planetarium. And there’s a fountain room,” Krueger says.

Oh, and there are also two 1920s pipe organs.

“This was kind of just a personal love of the owner. He loves to play the organ, and it’s quite a spectacle when you go in,” Krueger explains.

“I don’t think he ever thought he was going to sell it when he built it. He was building this to be the place he was going to live in for the rest of his life. One of his loves was the organ.”

Dual pipe organ consoles
Dual pipe organ consoles

Jake Rasmuson

Organ
Organ

Jake Rasmuson

Interior
Interior

Jake Rasmuson

Interior
Interior

Jake Rasmuson

Kitchen
Kitchen

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Bedroom
Bedroom

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Deck
Deck

Jake Rasmuson

There are also two kitchens and decks with views of the surrounding land. Many of the antiques inside the castle will convey with the sale.

Mine
Mine

Jake Rasmuson

Mine
Mine

Jake Rasmuson

Mine
Mine

Jake Rasmuson

For the buyer truly looking to dig in, the property’s 4 acres offer an intriguing element. A dormant gold mine with mining rights is also included.

The listing details state that the mine shaft is in serviceable condition, even though it closed at the start of World War II and was never reopened. The owner also offered tours to any tourists hardy enough to reach this remote locale.

Land
Land

Jake Rasmuson

Workshop
Workshop

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The outbuildings include a wood and metal shop, a miner’s cabin that sleeps four, and a shower house.

Monument
Monument

Jake Rasmuson

Hard Luck is the original name of the mine on the property. From a monumental tower on the property, you can see open desert for miles.

“Gold Point is about 10 miles away. That’s the nearest town,” Krueger says.

At one point, the mining town had 125 homes and various businesses. Now, it’s a historical ghost town.

To give a sense of how far removed the castle is from civilization, the bright lights of Las Vegas are 187 miles away, and the city of Reno is 325 miles from Hard Luck.

The white tower on the property, on a rocky outcrop, serves as a landmark in the area and lists all the names of the U.S. presidents and the years they served.

Like everything else on the property, it’s distinctive. Suffice it to say, the Hard Luck Castle isn’t for every buyer.

“It kind of combines the Wild West with a modern-day castle,” Krueger says. “It’s definitely eclectic, but that’s what made it unique.”

Interior
Interior

Jake Rasmuson

Interior
Interior

Jake Rasmuson

Interior
Interior

Jake Rasmuson

Interior
Interior

Jake Rasmuson

Exterior
Exterior

Jake Rasmuson

Exterior
Exterior

Jake Rasmuson

  • For more photos and details, check out the full listing.
  • Homes for sale in Goldfield, NV
  • Learn more about Goldfield, NV

Source: realtor.com