How to Incorporate Collections into Your Home

Your home should be a reflection of you and your family. Incorporate your personality into your home decor by displaying family collections. Your collections tell stories that deserve to be told – and represented throughout your home.

Get creative and find a place for all of your cherished collections. Here are a few sample ideas to get you started. Modify them according to your collection of choice.

1. Stamps: Do you have a bevy of vintage or one-of-a-kind stamps? Frame pages of stamps. Display your framed collections on mantels, in your entryway, or even create a gallery wall.

2. Crystal Figurines: Display your figurines in glass cases or on a shelf near a window. The light from the windows and glass will reflect on the figurines and make them sparkle beautifully.

3. Matchboxes: If you have a collection of fancy, beautifully designed matchboxes, put them out for show. Group them together on an end table or in an armoire with glass panels.

4. Antiques: One of the most popular collections to display in a home is antiques. Whether it’s antique furniture, picture frames, or something as small as a breadbox, place them in their appropriate room for added decor. Display them in different rooms so that you remember the story behind them whenever you see them.

5. Travel Souvenirs: Save travel souvenirs like museum tickets, plane tickets, and even currency. Put them in memory boxes and frame them throughout your home. Hang a map with pins representing every place you’ve traveled as a family.

6. Any other quirky item: Any collectible has the ability to be hung up on a wall. Creating a gallery wall is the easiest, no fuss way to display your items. Grouping similar picture frames, silver trays, or any other like items on a blank wall in your home creates a focal point of beautiful decor.

Displaying your beloved and timeless collections throughout your home is not only a great way to display your interests, but it’s also a great conversation starter.

Source: century21.com

Deck the Halls: 10 Things to Do Leading Up to Christmas

Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year. You have to buy and wrap presents, decorate the tree, cook, bake, and more. Preparing your home for Christmas may seem stressful but it doesn’t have to be. Here are small things that you can do every day leading up to Christmas. Your home can be more festive in no time.

1. Create a Christmas card display: Arrange the Christmas cards you’ve received over the past few weeks on a mantel or in a nice Christmas wreath. This adds a sentimental value to the holiday and shows your family and friends that you appreciate them.

2. Plan Christmas menu: Knowing exactly what you’re cooking makes grocery shopping faster. Plus you won’t have to run out because you forgot milk…again.

3. Put out smaller decorations: There is no such thing as too many Christmas decorations. If your tree is up and the outside of your home is decked out, adding small touches inside the home is the next step. Hang wreaths, display nutcrackers, snow globes, and hang the stockings — this added decor brings the Christmas season full circle.

4. Display presents under the tree: As you are finished wrapping presents for your family and Christmas guests, display them under the tree. You’ll remember where you put the gifts and you’ll get excited every time you see them under the tree. Note to Self: Stop hiding gifts and forgetting where they’re hidden.

5. Prepare for guests: If you have family staying over during the holidays, prepare in advance. There’s no need to run around on Christmas trying to cook, clean, and get things together for guests. A few days prior to the holiday, put out extra towels, bedding, and anything else your guests may need. If you have enough time, use these tips to set up a great guest room.

6. Bake, bake, bake: A night or two before Christmas, get all your baking done. It’s a fun activity to do with your family and you’ll take care of something else on your to-do list.

7. Deep clean your home: A clean home is a happy home, especially during the holidays. Clean your home a few days before Christmas. A mess may ensue during the holiday but at least the meticulous cleaning job is done.

8. Set the table: Don’t set your table in a hurry. Take some time to make it beautiful. Set up a runner, put out candles, and add a festive centerpiece.

9. Set out seating: If your home doesn’t have the capacity to hold all your guests, make arrangements in advance. Borrow or rent extra tables and chairs so there is room for everyone and everything.

10. Burn candles: There is nothing like the fresh scent of a Christmas candle. Light a few before your guests arrive to help make your home look and smell beautiful.

If you do one small thing each day before Christmas, your home will be prepared for the actual day. As a host, you will be able to enjoy the holiday more knowing everything is taken care of.

Source: century21.com

How To Estimate Your Home Insurance Costs

Whether you’re shopping for your first home insurance policy or you just moved to your forever home and want to make sure it’s fully insured for the long haul, you want to know how much coverage to buy.

You might use a homeowners insurance calculator or ask your insurance agent for a home insurance estimate, but you don’t want to leave all of the legwork up to others. If you do, you could be left without enough coverage — only to find out just when you need it most, after disaster strikes.

To help yourself out, you want to know how to create an accurate homeowners insurance estimate. And that comes down to knowing what a typical policy covers, which additional coverages you might need and how your policy will pay out after a covered loss. With these things, which you’ll learn here, you’ll be a walking homeowners insurance calculator.

[ Read: The Best Homeowners Insurance Companies ]

In this article

Why it’s great to know how to estimate when shopping for homes 

Coming up with a home insurance estimate isn’t just a fun number-crunching exercise. It’s a critical component of knowing how much home you can afford — and where to buy it.

Your homeowners insurance payment won’t be as hefty as your mortgage, certainly, but it is an additional cost of homeownership that you need to factor in. And certain homes cost more to insure than others. Some things that could leave you with pricey premiums include:

  • A home in an area with a lot of crime
  • A home in an area prone to natural disasters
  • An old roof
  • Lackluster fire suppression systems
  • A pool (because of the increased liability that someone could drown)

Generally, if you want to keep your home insurance costs low, you should look for a home with limited risk. That means one located in a safe area that’s protected from natural disasters. It means choosing a home without aging systems — or planning to replace them right away. And it probably means skipping the pool.

Typical home insurance 

Aside from avoiding high-risk homes while you’re house shopping, the next biggest thing you can do to get an accurate home insurance estimate is understand the different types of available coverages — and roughly how much you’ll pay for each.

As a quick primer, home insurance policies generally cover:

  • Your house itself
  • The personal property you store in it (up to your policy limits)
  • Unattached structures like fences and garages
  • Your liability in certain instances, like if a neighbor slips at your home and sues you
  • Extra expenses you incur if you get displaced by a covered cause and have to stay in a hotel (i.e., loss of use coverage)

But the times when a home insurance policy will kick in to cover the above varies from policy to policy. Different types of home insurance policies cover different things.

An HO-1 policy, for example, only insures you against the perils specifically named in your policy (e.g., fire, theft), while an HO-5 policy will insure you against everything unless it’s specifically named as an exclusion in your policy.

As is true will all insurance products, the more protection you buy, the more you’ll pay for it. To get a solid homeowners insurance estimate, it can be helpful to decide which type of policy is right for you before house hunting. That way, you can compare the cost of that policy type across any homes you’re considering.

Additionally, you need to consider any additional coverages you might need for your home. Almost all home insurance policies specifically exclude earthquake and flood coverage. If you live in an area prone to either and want insurance for that risk, you’ll need to buy a separate policy. Factor that into your overall home insurance estimate.

[ Read: The Complete Guide to Homeowners Insurance ]

How home insurance varies by state

You can use a homeowners insurance calculator to get a rough idea of your home insurance costs, certainly. But there’s one key issue there.

Many calculators don’t take location into account. And insurance needs vary depending on where you live. We’ve already mentioned that you might need flood or earthquake insurance, depending on your location. But even standard homeowners insurance coverages can cost more or less, depending on your location.

Standard home policies include tornado coverage, for example. While homes are generally cheaper in Kansas than in, say, California, the cost of home insurance might not be too different from a coastal home if you’re house hunting in Tornado Alley.

All told, if you’re trying to come up with a homeowners insurance estimate, it’s important to understand how much coverage costs locally. Don’t worry: we’ve got you covered. Here’s a quick list of the average home insurance cost by state.

Replacement cost coverage: How does it work? 

Now you have a handle on some of the key components of an accurate home insurance estimate: high-risk factors that can raise costs, the type of policy you need and how your location affects your coverage and premium.

But there’s one final piece to consider. When you buy a homeowners insurance policy, you get either actual cost value (ACV) or replacement cost coverage. ACV factors in depreciation. So if your five-year-old couch gets destroyed in a fire, you’ll only get paid enough to buy what it was worth today. If you want enough money to replace the item with one of a similar quality, you’ll need replacement cost coverage.

When it comes to home policies, you’ll usually get replacement cost coverage automatically for your dwelling itself and the other structures on your property. That said, you can opt for extended or guaranteed replacement cost coverage, which offers money above your dwelling limits in case the rebuild costs more.

When it comes to your personal property coverage, you’ll generally need to elect to get replacement cost coverage. You’ll pay more for it, but it can help you rebuild your life the way it is now after a disaster.

[ Read: How to Find Cheap Homeowners Insurance ]

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

5 Home Projects to Complete in 10 Minutes or Less

You probably have a laundry list of projects you’ve been meaning to complete around your home. Luckily, there are tips to help you complete some of these tasks in ten minutes or less. Your home can feel more organized (almost) instantly.

Organize your kitchen pantry: Start by sorting out expired items. Now organize your shelves by function. Separate snacks, baking necessities, spices, and more. Take inspiration from your favorite grocery stores. This ten minute task can save you time when you’re cooking your favorite recipes or making a quick midnight snack. As an added bonus, it reduces the chance of adding salt instead of sugar or vice versa.

Make natural cleaning products: Skip the store. Make your own cleaning products using things you probably already have on hand. You can save money, have a clean home, and be more environmentally friendly. Get started by making these natural cleaning solutions.

Organize your closet: Set a timer and organize your closet for ten minutes. We recommend organizing by color, type, or function. For example, hang all shirts, jackets, sweaters, skirts, pants, and dresses with each other. You will probably end up saving time in the long run, because it will be easier to find what you’re looking for.

Peeling wallpaper: Put a drop of wallpaper paste on a sheet of paper, rub the paper on the underside of the exposed wall, then press the peeling wallpaper against the glue. Smooth any bubbles out with a clean cloth and the wall can look as good as new!

Sliding glass doors or windows: If your glass fixtures are not sliding as smoothly as they should, spray a cloth with silicone lubricant and wipe it along the tracks. It’ll make it easier to get some fresh air.

Get off your computer, turn off the TV, and get started!

Source: century21.com

The Best Renters Insurance Companies in Washington, D.C.

If you’re lucky enough to rent an apartment or house in the Washington, D.C. area, you already know that it’s not exactly a bargain hunter’s paradise. But it is possible to find renters insurance in D.C. that is cost-effective and comes with a side dish of responsive customer service and extensive coverage.

Do you need renter’s insurance in Washington, D.C? We’d say so, unless you want to be stuck shelling out cash if you are faced with a fire, theft of your belongings, or other mishaps.

We’ve done some of the legwork for you to find the best renters insurance in D.C., using our SimpleScore Methodology. We looked at a number of qualities — accessibility, coverage options, support, customer satisfaction and discounts — to find the best options for D.C. renters, no matter where in the District they live.

America’s top-rated renters insurance

  • Policies starting at just $5/month
  • Sign up in seconds, claims paid in minutes
  • Zero hassle, zero paperwork
In this article

The best renters insurance companies in Washington, D.C. 

Best renters insurance overall – Lemonade

They may be the new kid on the block, but Lemonade knocks it out of the park when it comes to pricing and support.

J.D. Power Rating

5/5

AM Best Rating

N/A

Standard & Poor’s

N/A

SimpleScore

3.6 / 5.0

SimpleScore Lemonade 3.6

Discounts 1

Coverage Options 3

Customer Satisfaction 5

Accessibility 5

When Lemonade Insurance started writing policies in 2015, it unsettled the big insurers by doing business totally online, with excellent resources and near-instant claim satisfaction. Since then, it’s only continued to improve, and currently holds the top spot in J.D. Power’s Overall Customer Satisfaction Ranking for renters insurance. You can get a comprehensive policy for as little as $5 a month. Customizable options include higher coverage rates for jewelry, bikes, and more; water back-up; and pet or water damage. As an added perk, Lemonade donates a portion of its earnings every year to a charity you choose when you sign up.

Best renters insurance for customer service – Erie

Erie’s 12,000+ independent agents are on the job 24/7 to help you file and manage your claims and handle all your insurance needs cheerfully and professionally.

J.D. Power Rating

3/5

AM Best Rating

A+

Standard & Poor’s

N/A

SimpleScore

2.4 / 5.0

SimpleScore Erie 2.4

Discounts 1

Coverage Options 2

Customer Satisfaction 3

Accessibility 3

With nearly 100 years of policy-writing experience, Erie insurance is worth a look when you are purchasing renters insurance. This is especially true if you like working with a live agent, rather than an online chatbot (as you’d get with Lemonade). Erie has agents on the ground in the D.C. region who understand the needs of renters living in the metropolitan area. They can write you a policy that will cover your stuff, as well as provide liability coverage and living expenses if you should have to leave your apartment following a disaster. Bundle your renters policy with auto insurance from Erie and you stand to save money on your premium costs, which is never a bad thing.

Best renters insurance for military members – USAA

USAA’s policyholders sing their praises for the company — and they should, because it excels at pricing, customer service and more.

J.D. Power Rating

5/5

AM Best Rating

A++

Standard & Poor’s

N/A

SimpleScore

3.8 / 5.0

SimpleScore USAA 3.8

Discounts 2

Coverage Options 5

Customer Satisfaction 5

Accessibility 4

USAA may just be the best company you’ve never heard of — unless you’re in the military or are a veteran, in which case you’ve probably heard good things about it from your peers. And that’s the catch: USAA only sells policies to those in the military, veterans, and their family members. That demographic is well-represented in Washington, D.C., so if it fits you, USAA should be your first choice for a quote. In addition to competitive pricing, the company is known for its exemplary support of its customers. That support shows itself in everything from quick claims satisfaction to an excellent blog that is filled with information, financial and otherwise, with a military bent.

Most Customizable Policies – Capitol Benefits

A regional independent insurance agency, Capitol Benefit’s agents can write a policy for you that is geared exactly to your needs — at a price that works for your wallet.

J.D. Power Rating

N/A

AM Best Rating

A+

Standard & Poor’s

N/A

SimpleScore

3.5 / 5.0

SimpleScore Capitol Benefits 3.5

Disconts 4

Coverage Options 3

Customer Satisfaction N/A

Accessibility 4

Capitol Benefits is a regional supplier of renters insurance policies for residents of D.C. and its suburbs. The company works with a number of national and regional insurance underwriters to provide policies that can be tailored to your specific circumstances. Do you have expensive electronics, jewelry or art? Your policy’s pay-out for these items can be increased. Is your building particularly old or in a flood zone? The Capitol Benefits agents will be able to account for these factors when writing your policy. Since they don’t rely on a single insurer, you get the best from a range of suppliers, managed by an agent who knows the D.C. region intimately.

Most financially stable renters insurance – American Strategic Insurance

ASI offers the best of two worlds: the customer service that you find with smaller regional companies as well as the rock-solid financial stability that it earns through its partnership with Progressive.

J.D. Power Rating

3/5

AM Best Rating

A+

Standard & Poor’s

AA

SimpleScore

4.2 / 5.0

SimpleScore American Strategic Insurance 4.2

Disconts 5

Coverage Options 3

Customer Satisfaction 3

Accessibility 5

ASI offers standard renters insurance that covers theft, fire and smoke damage, wind and hail, and more, along with a handful of customizable options. It has feet-on-the-ground knowledge that comes with its agents’ presence in the D.C. metropolitan area. But it has an edge over other regional insurers: it is partly owned by national provider Progressive, and can tap into the benefits that come with having a mega-corporation standing behind you. One of these benefits is financial stability, as is seen with ASI’s A+ rating from AM Best. What does that mean to you? It means you don’t have to worry about your insurer’s ability to pay out on multiple claims following a large-scale disaster. With Washington squarely in the path of many summer hurricanes, that’s a nice reassurance to have.

America’s top-rated renters insurance

  • Policies starting at just $5/month
  • Sign up in seconds, claims paid in minutes
  • Zero hassle, zero paperwork

Choosing your provider 

We’ve included both regional insurers and large national corporations in our listing of the top renters insurance companies in D.C. No one company is right for everyone, and depending on your needs and wishes, the company that works for your neighbor might not be a good fit for you. Here are some pros and cons to help you determine where to start your search.

Local carrier 

Pros 

  • Agents knowledgeable about local area
  • Emphasis on friendly customer service and good agent relationships
  • May be less expensive

[ Read: What You Need to Know About Bundling Car and Renters Insurance ]

Cons 

  • Websites tend to be limited
  • Coverage options often not as extensive
  • Fewer discounts than national agencies

National carrier 

Pros

  • Often excellent websites, with online quote tools and more
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Broad range of coverage options and multiple discounts

Cons 

  • You’re one of thousands of clients: a number, not a person
  • Less coverage that is specific to your region

Additional renters insurance coverage in Washington, D.C.

Your renters insurance premium in Washington, D.C. will be determined by a number of factors. A few of these factors are common no matter where you live in the metropolitan D.C. area.

Weather

Washington’s weather is generally mild, with some snow in the winter and hot and balmy summers. But living this close to the Eastern seaboard leaves you vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms that sweep up the coast. In fact, depending on how close you live to the Potomac River, you may be in a flood zone — which means that it would be advisable to consider flood insurance coverage added to your policy.

[ Read: How much is Renters Insurance? ]

Crime

Unfortunately, some areas of Washington have fairly high crime rates. Your insurer knows what those rates are, and will adjust your premium accordingly. Since most renter’s insurance policies cover theft both from your apartment as well as items that are in storage or your car, you may find yourself paying more depending on your neighborhood.

High cost of living

Nobody lives in Washington to save money. In fact, the District lands on many listings of cities with the highest cost of living in the U.S. You’ll pay a premium rate for your apartment and you might pay a bit more for your renters insurance than you might if you lived in, say, Tulsa, Oklahoma. But that fact shouldn’t deter you from purchasing a policy. You can still get good renters insurance in Washington for $20 or $30 a month, and it will be more than worth it if disaster strikes and you need to replace damaged or stolen personal belongings.

How much does renters insurance cost in Washington, D.C.? 

The average cost of a renters insurance policy in the U.S. is $180, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Despite the high cost of living in D.C., the average renters insurance policy in the District is only $158. Your own rate, of course, will differ. Factors that play into that include the price you’re paying for rent, the amount of property coverage you purchase, and the neighborhood you live in. Each insurance company uses their own algorithms for determining premiums, which is why it pays to shop around and get several quotes when you’re looking for the cheapest renters insurance in D.C.

Washington, D.C. renters insurance FAQs

There is no law in Washington, D.C. that requires you to have renters insurance. However your landlord can require it as a condition of signing your lease. Your landlord should have their own policy to cover the building — but their policy will not cover your personal belongings. Even if it’s not a requirement, it’s a good idea to have a renters policy no matter where you live.

There is no one provider who always has the cheapest renters insurance in D.C. Each quote is unique, to reflect your own circumstances and location, and the insurer who gives your neighbor a great price may not do so for you. Your best bet is to get several quotes to find the cheapest policy for you.

Renters insurance averages $158 a year in Washington, which works out to about $13 a month. Your own premium may be more, but in general, renters insurance in Washington D.C. is fairly inexpensive.

We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the insurers we recommend. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com