Winter Purchases: Supplies and Clothing

With the change of season comes the need for warmer clothes, winter weather supplies and even a pantry stocked with enough food, medication and other items to tide you over during a blizzard.  If you find the notion of winter shopping intimidating, here are some tips:   Clothing Shopping for winter clothing can be trickier than you think, particularly when moving between home, car, office and public spaces that are all heated to a different temperature. In addition to basic winter gear (coat, gloves, hat, boots) pick up layering pieces, such as jackets and cardigan sweaters that you can put on and take off as the need arises. If you plan to vacation in a warm destination during the winter months, check out the clearance racks at your favorite stores. You’ll find some great deals on warm-weather fashions. Emergency Tip: Stow older coats, gloves and boots in the trunk of your car. They may come in handy if you find yourself stranded in bad weather. Winter Supplies Be prepared for the first cold snap or snowstorm by making sure that you have winter tools and supplies on hand. Check your snow shovel (or snow blower) to see if it needs replacing or repair. Do you have salt for your sidewalk? Do the windows in your older house need insulation? Put these items on your shopping list. Holiday Gifts The holiday season is expensive. Reduce the hit to your wallet by starting your holiday shopping early. Take advantage of sales and wrap and label your gifts right after you buy them so that you aren’t left frantic the night before...

Reasons Why Snowbirds Should Consider Off-Site Storage

Northern and Midwestern winters can be tough, so many folks in these areas fly south during the colder months. These “snowbirds” typically spend anywhere from 2-5 months each year away from home, basking in the sunny confines of Florida, Arizona or another warm state until spring’s arrival. These folks often rent their homes to short-term tenants, hire a caretaker or ask a friend or family member to house sit until the snowbirds fly back home again. No matter what arrangements a winter traveler might make for the season, renting an offsite storage space is often a good idea. Here are some reasons why: Protection against theft: With nobody home, a snowbird’s house becomes a prime target for burglars. A thief can strike and be long gone before a caretaker notices and reports the break-in. Protection against damage: Bad winter weather can cause leaks and burst pipes. Without the presence of a housesitter or tenant who can take immediate action, weather damage can ruin furniture and other belongings. Forced downsizing: Many people own too much stuff. Snowbirds can use the time spent packing things up for storage to evaluate possessions and decide what to keep, what to give to family, and what should be thrown away or donated to charity. Easy access: This primarily affects snowbirds who rent out their homes or hire a full time housesitter. Sometimes the homeowner (or a family) needs access to possessions left in the house. This requires negotiations with the current tenant or housesitter. Offsite storage protects a housesitter/tenant’s privacy while giving the snowbird and his or her family members freedom to do what...

Shopping for Singles: Save time, Money, and Space

Shopping for singles isn’t as easy as it might seem. One significant problem is that suppliers often package grocery items in amounts suitable for families of three or more people, which can lead to food waste. Planning your shopping trips ahead of time, as well as learning safe food storage techniques, can make grocery shopping for one less stressful and expensive. Here are some tips for solo grocery shopping: Use specialized cookbooks: There are several “meals for one” cookbooks on the market, including some ethnic cookbooks. Yes, you may need to buy a few new pieces of cookware, such as a small skillet or a tiny crockpot, but once you learn to cook for one, you’ll be less likely to rely on prepackaged meals or delivery food. Create plans and lists: As you browse through your cookbooks, select a week’s worth of recipes and create a shopping list. Shopping lists not only keep you from forgetting things that you need at the store, but can also help prevent impulse buys of junk and convenience food. Select your stores carefully: Some chains, such as Trader Joe’s, offer packaged foods in smaller quantities (1 or 2 servings). Independent grocery stores in trendy neighborhoods, where lots of singles live, might likewise offer foods packed in smaller quantities. Shop the parameter: Dietitians have been telling us for years that it is best to shop the parameter of a store, where fresh, whole foods are. While this is good advice for everybody, shopping the parameter has another advantage: This is the area where you can buy unpackaged foods from the produce section, butcher shop,...

4 Tips for Selecting a Thoughtful Housewarming Gift

Moving is a major transition and many people appreciate the support of their friends as they adjust to their new home. If a friend or family member recently relocated, a housewarming gift is a wonderful way to show your support. If you’re having trouble selecting a gift, and the recipient hasn’t joined a gift registry, here are a few tips to help you choose:  Consider Space & Needs The gift-giving impulse is a good one, but must be tempered with the realization that not everyone has a lot of space for gifts. While recent college grads often need a lot of help setting up housekeeping, many adults have more “stuff” than they actually need. This is particularly true for people moving into smaller homes after retirement.  Make Gift Cards Personal Gift cards are sometimes the most practical option, even though they might seem sterile. Here are some ideas for making this gift more meaningful: Focus on the issuing brand or store. Friends who are on tight budgets after their moves, or who have enough material possessions, might appreciate gift cards for grocery stores, landscaping services, a salon or a local restaurant. Don’t present the gift card on its own or in the little folder that it came in. Place it in a housewarming card and include a handwritten note. Pair a small, inexpensive gift with the gift card, such as a nice corkscrew with a gift card for a wine shop, or a jar of bath salts with a spa gift card.  Combine Resources With Friends Sometimes people need gifts that are beyond what one person can afford. If...

Six Tips for Renting with Pets

Looking for a place to rent is always an adventure, even more so if you’re a pet owner. Many landlords and property management companies are wary about renting with pets, and for good reason: Irresponsible pet owners can alienate neighbors and cost property owners thousands of dollars in damage repairs. Prepare for some extra challenges when finding a new place to live when renting with pets. Here are some tips for getting a great apartment for yourself and your furry or feathered companion: Understand Landlord Concerns About Renting with Pets Landlords don’t forbid pets in their buildings just to be mean. Pets can do some serious damage to both rental units and community spaces and it is ultimately the landlord’s responsibility to deal with repairs. Here are some typical landlord concerns: Damage to carpet and furnishings. Inability to get pet odors out of the unit after your departure. Dog messes on the building’s grounds. Animals left alone can make a lot of noise and are at greater risk of damaging the property. Risk of injury to another tenant. Large dogs or dogs that are considered to be of a “dangerous” breed might be considered a liability risk. If you approach your landlord with an understanding of his concerns, you’ll be in a better position to negotiate an arrangement that works for both of you. Talk to Your Vet Before you begin your search for a rental home, take your animal in for a vet visit. Having vet records showing that your animal is in good health and is up to date on shots can be helpful in persuading a...