Rising food and gas prices are leaving American homeowners with less money to spend and more concerns about the future.
That is why in addition to suggesting smarter ways to spend a dollar, MainStreet also looks for ways to stretch dollars, too. How so with homes? "People have a lot of opportunities to reduce their home owners [insurance] premium if they invested in certain equipment and protective services in their house," says Peter Spicer of Chubb Insurance (CB). "It’s a good time for people to look to see if they have taken advantage of all these credits and services."
Home improvements can also increase your asking price when you sell, and can result in your home being sold sooner than later. (Of course, where your house is located should always be considered before you begin recession-proofing your home, not every home will benefit from home improvements in the same way.)
Here are a few tips to recession-proof your abode:
ALARM YOURSELFSafety can save you. Not only can a security protection system protect you from a robber or fire, installing one can also lower your monthly insurance payments. The benefits depend on what type of system you have in place, be it a deadbolt or something more. Your premium can dip by as much as 20% if you install a sophisticated sprinkler system, and a fire and burglar alarm that rings a monitor station, according to the Insurance Information Institute. That could mean $400 annual savings if your insurance plan costs $2,000.
CURB APPEALSpend a little time on landscaping. "Within the first 30 seconds, people are passing judgment on your house," says Dan Dunleavy, CEO of Fix to Flip . If you’re a do-it-yourself type, then this will cost you absolutely nothing for labor. A quick trip to Sears (SHLD) is a good place to start for landscaping tips. Hiring a landscape artist on, say, Craigslist might cost you $22 an hour and up. The payoff is a house that might be easier to sell.
GET BEAUTIFUL ON THE INSIDE
"Flooring, painting, carpeting and molding" are the first things you see when you walk through the door, says Dunleavy. It should be "eye candy," which means no carpet that predates the birth of its homeowner. Other rooms to modernize? The kitchen and the bathroom. "People want a bathroom that looks appealing," says Dunleavy. "They don’t want a stone age bathtub or sink." A contractor might hit your wallet "pretty hard" but there are websites, such as the Do It Yourself Network that can help you with your own home improvements. And even though a new toilet from Home Depot (HD) might cost you $149, the added value is real. "Bathrooms are a big deal," says Dunleavy.
STAY DRYMother nature's monsoons might be unpredictable, but a water leak is detectable. A water leak detection device can save you about 2% on insurance, if there is a monitor system in place. That’s a 30 year savings of $1200, for a detection device that costs around $600 to install. (Not to mention the savings you get from detecting and preventing water damage before it starts.)
Remember, reducing the amount you spend on your home, and increasing its value, means more money for essentials, like gas and groceries.