The “what and when to buy” of December Holiday shopping!

December 8th, 2016

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Toys

Despite all of the insane Black Friday sales, you won’t see a lot of great toy deals in November, according to Benjamin Glaser of DealNews.

“The best time to buy is the second week of December, when discounts are at their peak, but selection is still good too,” Glaser said. “And if you see a deal on a really in-demand toy, like PAW Patrol or Star Wars merchandise, snap it up immediately.”

So, if you’re looking for a troll doll or a specific LEGO set to make someone’s year, wait until the weeks closer to Christmas, if possible, to get the best deal — good luck finding a Hatchimal though.

Gift Cards

If you’re looking for some easy stocking stuffers that are sure to please even the fussiest of family members this holiday season, December is a great time to buy gift cards — especially for your favorite restaurants.

“Many stores offer gift cards with purchase during December, or offer additional gift cards if you buy a certain amount,” said Glaser. “This is especially popular at national chain restaurants..”

Many restaurants will give you a $10 gift card for every $50 you spend in some instances — which can essentially be free money if it’s a restaurant you eat at regularly. Most gift cards never expire either, so there’s no deadline for when you have to use it by.

This is also the best month to find discounts on iTunes cards, according to DealNews. Some stores like Best Buy, OfficeMax and eBay will offer discounts of up to 20 percent off. So, be on the lookout for some great gift card steals this December — like a $50 iTunes card for $40.

Blu-Ray DVDs

Whether you’re looking for some simple stocking stuffers, or a gift to entertain you this holiday season, DVDs and Blu-ray Discs are a good idea. Both tend to go on sale for Black Friday, but lower prices extend well into December and retailers often add on additional discounts through the end of the year.

Look for the best sales at online retailers like Amazon and eBay, but also look for great DVD sales and price drops this month from Walmart and Target.

And even if you don’t have any interest in building out your own home theater, a few movies are a nice cost-effective holiday gift for just about anyone on your list.

Seasonal Decorations

Now that Thanksgiving is over, and Christmas will be here before you know it, many seasonal decorations will be deeply discounted.

“At this point, it’s common knowledge that holiday decorations see their greatest discounts after the holiday in question has passed, and this is no different for Christmas,” said Glaser. “If you wait until Dec. 26, you’ll see discounts of 40 to 75 percent off seasonal goods.”

“However, if you absolutely must buy a fake Christmas tree before the 25th, look to Target, Sears, and Home Depot for inexpensive options,” he added. “[A]ny seller with fresh-cut trees is likely going to start discounting them around Dec. 20.”

Worst Things to Buy in December

Despite being lured in by holiday shopping madness — and wanting to buy plenty of gifts for everyone nice on your list — there are some things you should avoid buying this December.

If you’re looking to buy a high-end TV, computer or even some jewelry, you might want to wait for these to go on sale after the new year before spending a pretty penny.

High-End Electronics

For the techie on your list, you might need to get them their most coveted gift a little late if you want to score a good deal — especially if they want a new high-end laptop or cutting edge TV.

“If you want a new 4K TV or gaming laptop, wait until the new year,” Glaser said. “Not only do prices drop again after the holidays, but older models will be discounted when new ones debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.”

CES is a major trade expo that takes place in January each year. This year, it’s Jan. 5 through Jan. 8. Many new electronics will be showcased during the convention, so the best thing to do would be to wait on purchasing most high-end electronics until mid to late January.

Gym Memberships and Exercise Equipment

If you plan to prepare for the new year a bit early — you should rethink your strategy if it involves spending money on a gym membership or new exercise equipment. It’s smart to get a jump start on your health in December — to beat the crowds — but items like treadmills and gym memberships are not very cheap right now.

Instead, wait until the New Year’s deals start rolling in this January. Gyms and fitness equipment suppliers will discount memberships and machines in early 2017 to take advantage of those just starting their New Year’s resolution of staying fit.

Calendars and Planners

If you’re itching to start the new year off organized and prepared — hold off, over achievers. Although it might be tempting to buy a 2017 calendar this December, in most cases, that’s the most expensive time to buy one.

Instead, it’s best to wait until after the new year to get your 2017 planner or calendar.

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It WILL eventually get cold! Get your home prepared!

November 17th, 2016

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Heating System

Heaters and fireplaces are the most important tools to warming your home. Have a professional come and check yours if you think there might be a problem.

Some tips for using your heater effectively: Maintain a minimum of 55 degrees in your home, even if you love the cold. In addition, instead of closing off unused rooms to the house like attics or pantries, open the doors to allow heat to flow easily around the entire home.

Insulation

Insulation is the last line of attack standing between your family and the blustering winds of winter. If your insulation isn’t doing the job, it’s time to inspect and install a more successful layer. If your insulation is in good shape, but you’re still feeling the winter breeze inside, take a caulk gun to the edges on your windows and doors to prevent cold air from getting in.

The attic is an important place often overlooked. Aside from leaving the top layer of your house unprotected, heat escaping can easily form ice dams, which can cause leaks. Make sure to protect the attic, even if no one in your family spends time there.

Pipes

Any exposed pipes located in unheated areas of the home — such as garages — should be wrapped with heat tape or insulated before the temperature drops. If your pipes run through walls on the exterior of your home, make sure to double and triple check your insulation. Always be prepared and take precautions to learn how to shut off your pipes just in case freezing occurs.

And it’s not just your indoor pipes you need to take care of. Undrained water in your exterior faucets can freeze and cause pipes to burst. Turn off the valve before it gets too cold.

Landscape

Trees in your yard with dead branches can become safety hazards in the winter months. Be sure to cut down any branches that hang over your home, or hire someone to remove them for you.

It is also important to clear out your gutters before snow falls or ice forms to make sure that melting water drains and doesn’t cause leaks in your siding.

Supplies

Equip your home with all of the supplies you need before it gets too cold and snowy. Make sure that you have easy access to snow shovels, or a snow blower, and that your generator is running smoothly. You’ll also want to keep extra fuel for your snow blower on hand in case you run out during the winter months.

To ensure an easy (and warm) winter, take the time to prepare your home for the coming months. Winter can be tough, but you don’t have to let the weather ruin your season. Follow these tips to stay cozy from now until spring.

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The surprising feature 92% of home buyers are looking for!

November 10th, 2016

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Laundry Room

Percentage of buyers who want this feature: 92%

Cost to install: $1,000 – $10,000 depending on scope of project

More than anything else, homeowners want a room other than the guest bedroom to stack all the clean laundry in until it finally gets put away. A separate laundry room topped the National Association of Home Builders’ list of most-wanted home features for buyers of all ages — from millennials to seniors. “Having a separate room [to use for things such as folding or ironing clothes] helps to keep the mess out of your living space . . . Potential buyers will see it as a huge benefit,” says Paul Sullivan, founder and president of the Sullivan Company, a Newton, Mass., remodeling and custom-building firm.

If you don’t have an existing laundry room and want to add one, the basement is usually the easiest (and cheapest) place to put it, Sullivan advises. The utility lines are already there, and in many cases the basement is unfinished, so you won’t have to demolish anything first. Adding a laundry room in the basement can cost as little as $1,000, he says. Homeowners who prefer a laundry room or laundry closet (which fits just a washer and dryer) closer to the bedroom level can expect to pay between $5,000 and $10,000 for installation, Sullivan notes.