Spring Cleaning: 6 Tips to Keep Your Apartment Allergen-Free

Indoor allergies caused by dust mites, pet dander and mold trigger allergy and even asthma symptoms in millions of indoor allergy sufferers each year. Spring cleaning is on the horizon!

While it is impossible to make your home completely allergen-free, below are a few tips to clear most of the bothersome allergens from your apartment.

Dust your surfaces

dusting surfacesdusting surfaces

Dust is the most common cause of indoor allergies, but be careful how you dust, because you can actually make your allergies worse by kicking up dirt and debris while you’re cleaning.

Use a wet or treated cloth that attracts dust, minimize dust-catching clutter and clean dusty surfaces, such as ceiling fan blades, regularly so that dust doesn’t have a chance to accumulate.

Vacuum

vacuumingvacuuming

To really ensure your space stays allergen-free, any carpet or rugs should be replaced with hard flooring, but that might not be an option in your apartment. Instead, use a vacuum that has a HEPA filter that traps dust mites, pet dander and other allergens, and try to vacuum at least once or twice a week.

Wash your bedclothes

washing bed sheetswashing bed sheets

Dust mites thrive in bedding, so wash your sheets, blankets and pillowcases once a week in hot water, then dry them in a hot dryer, to kill all the dust mites. Also, encase mattresses, comforters, pillows and other non-washable items in allergen-proof covers.

Go green

eco cleaning productseco cleaning products

Many cleaning products have harsh chemicals that can trigger allergic reactions in people. Opt for environmentally-friendly cleaning products instead. These contain plant-based, natural ingredients. You can also make many common household cleaners using things like baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice.

Reduce pet dander

dog on floordog on floor

A protein found in the saliva and dead skin of dogs and cats is a common indoor allergen. If you have pets, vacuum frequently and wash your pet once a week. You can also keep them off your bed and furniture and even designate certain areas of your apartment as pet-free areas. And if know there’s a certain pet that you know sets off your allergies, don’t get that type of animal. Unfortunately, a short-haired dog or cat will still cause an allergic reaction.

Go on mold patrol

bathroom moldbathroom mold

Spores from mold and mildew can get into the air and cause allergies and even sickness. Run an exhaust fan after you take a shower, and replace any bathroom wallpaper with tile or mold-resistant paint. Replace moldy or mildewed curtains and moldy carpeting.

Following these guidelines should keep your apartment relatively allergen-free, and you’ll be much more happy and healthy.

Comments

comments

Source: apartmentguide.com

PODCAST: Estate-Planning Your Stuff with T. Eric Reich

Listen now:

Subscribe FREE wherever you listen:
Links mentioned in this episode:

Transcript

David Muhlbaum: When it comes to estate planning, money is usually front of mind. Makes sense, that’s where decisions about wills, trusts and more can realize real tax savings. But it’s stuff, tangible things like houses, china and collectibles that often generate drama and conflict. We talk with a financial advisor who’s touched a nerve on this front. Also, meet Generation I. All coming up in this episode of your money’s worth—stick around.

David Muhlbaum: Welcome to Your Money’s Worth, I’m kiplinger.com senior editor David Muhlbaum, joined by my co-host, senior editor Sandy Block. How are you doing Sandy?

Sandy Block: I’m doing good.

David Muhlbaum: Well, good. Short of talking politics, there’s probably no quicker way to generate angry feedback than waging intergenerational battles.

Sandy Block: But you’re going to do it anyway?

David Muhlbaum: Sort of? I say that in part because while the study I’m going to discuss sounded like it was going to be kids versus the olds, it turns out there’s more nuance than that. Anyway, I’m going to talk about Generation I, which isn’t really even a generation but rather a handy little term that the Charles Schwab Investment firm cooked up for new investors. By that they mean people who are new to stock market investing.

Sandy Block: And those folks have been the source of some of the market drama we’ve seen this year like the GameStop bubble we talked about earlier this year.

David Muhlbaum: Yes, yes. There is overlap between the whole meme stocks crowd and Generation I. I stands for investor but since it’s a new term, let’s start with the definition. What Charles Schwab means by Generation Investor, Generation I, is people who started stock market investing in 2020—not before. So it doesn’t matter what your actual age is. There are Generation I members who are Boomers, Gen X, Millennials. Obviously, the group skews younger than investors broadly, but what’s striking is that Generation I, according to Schwab, accounts for 15% of all U.S. stock market investors.

Sandy Block: By population, not by dollars invested.

David Muhlbaum: Yes, by population. They don’t have a figure for a Generation I’s sum assets but I see what you’re getting at. And yes, Gen I earns about $20,000 less in annual income, at $76,000 a year, than those who began investing before 2020. And here’s another interesting number, half of Generation I says they live paycheck to paycheck.

Sandy Block: Okay. That sounds worrisome.

David Muhlbaum: Yeah, but here’s the thing. Some of the so-called Generation I are people who downloaded Robinhood and are watching a handful of stocks for big moves, short term trading. And if they’re doing that while missing payments on their car note, okay, that’s bad. But at least according to the study, they say they’re learning that investing is more about longer-term gains versus shorter-term wins. About learning to do research, diversification, capital market gains, taxes, risk tolerance, all that—the knowledge if you will.

Sandy Block: I’m hearing echoes of what Kyle Woodley was talking about when he joined us for the GameStop discussion about how it’s possible for people who came in for this excitement might be convinced to stay around for the long term, grow your wealth, not double your money, kids.

David Muhlbaum: Yeah, I totally agree. However, the big factor here is that the sum of Generation I’s market experience is this strong bull market. Will they stick around when things go south, which someday, sometime we’ll have a bear market. Markets go up, markets go down.

Sandy Block: That’s right, and I’m constantly reminded what our editor Anne Smith reminds us all the time, is that we’ve been here before, maybe not at these numbers. But in the 90s, when tech stocks were taking off, all kinds of people got in the market for the first time. And while you couldn’t make trades for nothing on an app, it was cheaper to buy and sell stocks than it had been in the past. And a lot of these people piled in because they had heard that tech stocks would never go down and they didn’t think they would ever lose money and they learned the hard way that they could.

David Muhlbaum: When we return for our main segment, we’ll talk with a financial advisor with some insights about the estate planning for stuff. Not just the money, the stuff.

David Muhlbaum: Welcome back to Your Money’s Worth. Joining us today is T. Eric Reich, the president and founder of Reich Asset Management in Southern New Jersey. Eric has a whole slew of professional certification acronyms after his name, including CFP. And the way we found him is that he’s a contributor to Kiplinger’s Wealth Creation Channel. That is an area of our website that has content from a range of financial professionals, CFPs, CPAs, tax lawyers and more. They’re qualified and they’re good writers. Plus, since they’re dealing directly with clients, I’d venture to say that they often have a closer sense of what personal finance guidance people actually need than personal finance writers. So Eric wrote a piece for us called, Time to Face Reality, Your Kids Don’t Want Your Stuff. And well, it was a hit. Welcome, Eric. We will get into what stuff and why, but since we’ve brought up how you professionals get to hear it directly from the clients, why don’t you tell us a little bit about the reaction you’ve been getting? Because, I understand from your assistant that you’ve gotten a lot of feedback.

T. Eric Reich: We have. We got probably a few dozen emails across the country from different readers of Kiplinger’s that saw it and then of course our own clients, of course, were calling us. They were writing or calling and letting us know their thoughts on it. And it’s funny, I wrote it because it’s such a recurring theme with a lot of people. They’re always convinced that people want all of your stuff and they just don’t. So I wanted to touch on why, but I knew it was going to get a strong reaction because I hear the same thing all the time from people. So if I hear locally on the ground, then I’m sure to a bigger audience, we were going to even get more opinion on that.

Sandy Block: Well, Eric, I immediately latched onto your piece because I am in the process of… My father passed away a couple of months ago and I’m in the process of distributing and cleaning out his house and it’s a mammoth job. So many of the things that you talked about really resonated with me. Obviously, we’re going to link to your piece so that people can follow up and read it in its entirety but we’re going to hit on some highlights and my question is, what’s the number one item people planning their estate think their kids want but the kids don’t actually want?

T. Eric Reich: By far the biggest one is the house. And it’s not that the kids don’t want the house, it’s that logistically it just doesn’t work. My example: I have three children, I have a nice house and I have three young kids. Let’s say my kids were in their twenties and something happened to me. My kids might want the house, but how’s that going to work? None of them can afford it because they’re just starting out in their careers. There’s three of them, they’re certainly not going to share it. And then one of them invariably wants to buy it, but they think they’re entitled to a discount because they’re my kid. But then the other two would be offended if they got a discount because they’re my kids, so why should they get shortchanged in favor of another one? So everybody thinks that their kids want the house, but the reality is most often that the biggest misconception is that your kids just really don’t want your house.

Sandy Block: So a follow-up question, Eric, if you aren’t going to leave the kids your house, how should you plan your estate so that doesn’t happen?

T. Eric Reich: So if you’re not going to leave the house to the kids, I mean, you can leave it to them, but you can reference in there, “Hey, these are the parameters in which someone’s going to keep it.” So if you want to keep it, it has to be appraised by two different independent people or three different and you take the average of the three it’s bought at fair market value. You have to specify the rules to which someone can keep it because if not, that’s where all the fights start, is the more ambiguity you leave in it the bigger the fight. So all of those things should be spelled out ahead of time. If you want it to be sold, say you want it to be sold. If somebody wants to keep it, fine, but here are the rules under which someone gets to keep it.

David Muhlbaum: What about setting up a trust? Couldn’t that help establish the rules you’re talking about?

T. Eric Reich: It can, I mean, I think a trust in general can help with a lot of things. Again, this is for an estate planning attorney more but to me, I like using trusts in general. Simply because it’s a way to control things and I hate to use this phrase, control from the grave, but that’s exactly what it is. And sometimes that comes off as sounding like a control freak or overbearing, but sometimes it’s for, honestly, just the protection of the beneficiaries themselves. If one’s a spendthrift, if one’s in a bad marriage, if one has a lot of creditors, you could be doing them a disservice by giving it to them outright instead of via trust.

Sandy Block: So, Eric, isn’t the other advantage of putting your house and other items in a trust that it keeps it out of probate?

T. Eric Reich: It keeps it out of probate and the biggest part of that too, is, that’s public record. I mean, I remember when a client had a family member pass away, they got a phone call a few months later from a guy wanting to buy the antique car that they just inherited. To which their response was, “Wait, who are you again?” Well, here they looked up in public records that one of the assets was this old antique Chevy and the guy wanted to buy it off him. And I always say, you see it in real life, you know,. Princess Diana’s will was published in a magazine. Whereas I always say, “Well, what about, Frank Sinatra?” And they go, “Well, I never heard anything about that.” Exactly, because everything was in a trust. So privacy is a big component of that as well. So avoiding probate and also what goes along with that is the privacy factor.

David Muhlbaum: The main family house is one thing but a vacation house can be even more emotionally loaded, no? I imagine someone working on their will thinking, wouldn’t be great for everyone to get together at the lake house every summer, roast marshmallows and remember grandma and grandpa for having found this place. And actually the kids are like, “Eh, we like going to Europe.”

T. Eric Reich: You’re absolutely right. It’s definitely bigger for the creator of the estate. It’s not that the beneficiaries don’t love the idea of the vacation home and everything else. The problem is, and again, I always go back to my example, I have three kids. Who gets to use it when? It’s only fit to be used in the summer months. I live at the Jersey shore, so, super-popular here June through the end of August. So, who gets to use it during that time period and what weeks and what holidays? And as I get older and my kids get older, their kids get older,

If one family has five kids and the other has one, are they getting more usage out of it? How are the expenses being paid? Is everyone sharing in that equally? So it really starts to create a problem. One of the ways around that maybe is that if that were in a trust, then I could also put money into that trust for the maintenance of the house, to pay the taxes, it’s going to pay everything it needs at least for the next decade. And then after 10 years, you guys have to come up with a solution based on x, y, and z of how we should deal with it going forward.

Sandy Block: Yeah. Eric, my experience with people who have inherited vacation homes, it sounds like a great idea at the time but very often they/ve moved and live many, many miles away. They don’t live near the Jersey Shore, they live in California, so it becomes a huge hassle. And I think that’s something probably you mentioned that people also need to think about, how close are your heirs to the actual vacation home that they could use it.

T. Eric Reich: Yeah, we actually just had a situation not too long ago. We had someone who owned a house on the beach, a very valuable house. They were kind of house poor; they had a phenomenal house, but not tons of money other than that. But the client really wanted to preserve that asset for a grandchild, the only grandchild, who lived hours and hours away. And I actually suggested, we call the grandchild and ask point blank, “Do you want this house?” The client was floored, like, “Well, of course they want the house, who doesn’t want a house on the beach in Ocean City in New Jersey.” Well, we called and it turned out the kid said, “That’s wonderful but I’m in my 20s, I work 80 hours a week. It’s three and a half hours away. I will absolutely never use that house. I’d much rather you sold it and got to use the money and enjoyed it. And if there’s something left over, wonderful, leave it to me but otherwise, I really don’t care.”

David Muhlbaum: Well, sounds like conversations really come down to the core of doing estate planning, especially around stuff. But those could be pretty fraught conversations. It sounds like this one went okay, but I assume they don’t always.

T. Eric Reich: Well, yeah, that’s true. I mean, the reason we had to make that phone call was because they were adamant that, of course, they would want this. Who wouldn’t want it? And the reality is there’s a lot of people that wouldn’t want it. The beauty of that is in the eye of the beholder, not so much somebody on the other end, but these are real world scenarios that people have to deal with. And of course the house being the biggest, but it’s not always just the house.

Sandy Block: Now that leads me to my next question, Eric, because you also talk in the slideshow about your stuff, your collectibles. They may have great sentimental value to you but maybe not to your children. Should you start getting rid of them while you’re still around?

T. Eric Reich: We do suggest that sometimes or at least explore it. Or, if not, educate the children on the value of it. A lot of times what we’ll see is someone has a collection of stuff, whatever it might be, the owner, of course, knows how valuable it is. They’ve been collecting it for 20, 30, 40 years, but an heir doesn’t necessarily have an idea of what that would be worth. And we ran into a scenario like that: We had someone that was going to basically just sell a bunch of stuff. And I think it was for like $1,000. And then we actually brought a specialist in to review it and turns out it was worth $45 to $50,000. So this poor guy was going to get ripped off because he didn’t understand the value of what it was, and that’s not uncommon at all.

Sandy Block: That’s my Antiques Road Show nightmare, Eric, is that I will give something to Goodwill and be watching Antiques Road Show and it’ll show up being worth $50,000 and I’ll realize that I gave it away. So I think you’re suggesting that you get that stuff valued and appraised while you’re still around to help your kids is a really good one.

T. Eric Reich: If you’re not a collector, you don’t know. Either sell it and let it go ahead of time, or at least communicate that value—and an actual value, because sometimes we also think collectibles are worth a lot more than they really are. We think it’s worth $50,000 and it’s worth $1, that’s more often the case. But nonetheless, an appraisal from an independent person will help.

David Muhlbaum: I’m glad you brought up the point about actual valuation, because my cats eat from some pretty fancy china bowls that someone thought had a lot more value than they did. And I think that sometimes these items that people have had for a long time or inherited from their predecessors, they really don’t fetch that much today.

T. Eric Reich: No, because unfortunately some of the things and it’s just a generational thing and I use china, actually as the example a lot of times. Because 50 years ago, 75 years ago, china was prized. I mean, for everybody, fine china was a real hallmark of things. Today, I probably have six or seven sets of fine china. Some of them apparently, extremely old, from great-great-great-grandmothers. But the reality is the generation today doesn’t use it at all. If they do, they can’t use five, six, seven sets of it. But the reality is that value from a long time ago doesn’t necessarily translate today for those reasons. So a lot of times things you think are very valuable maybe aren’t.

Sandy Block: Yeah. David Muhlbaum: and I have discussed this, and both of us are awash in china. And, I also have at least two sets of silver that again have been handed down from generations. As you said, young people—and this goes for even furniture—young people just don’t use that stuff. So I guess, the best thing you can do is either get rid of it or have some instructions for what you’d like to have done with it.

T. Eric Reich: Yeah. And valuation is key for that as long as you have a good value placed on it and you have a sense of what it might be worth? My wife’s family, they have a much, much larger family than I do. They’ll go to everybody in the family, two and three removed and say, “Hey, does anybody want this piece?” Because it is a family piece. But if not, then what do they ultimately do with it? It sounds sad to have to part with it, if really nobody wants it, and you know you mentioned yourself and you’re going through it personally, it’s only adding to the problem, we’ll call it, of settling an estate. And the less planning involved, the bigger the problem becomes.

David Muhlbaum: I imagine that in your line of work, Eric, you refer people out for valuations pretty often. How can our listeners get good qualified valuations for their stuff?

T. Eric Reich: So there are evaluation organizations. So you basically would want to find certified valuation type of people for that.

David Muhlbaum: Do they have acronyms like CFP?

T. Eric Reich: They probably do. I think I’ve seen one or two out there, definitely not an expert on it, but it is funny because from the article, I did have two different companies reach out to me and say, “Hey, this is what we do for a living. Feel free to pass our information along.” So these companies are out there, they do understand what things are worth. I got lucky in the one example of the $1000 offer for $50,000 worth of stuff. I happened to know a person who had some expertise in that area. But we frequently do refer out to an appraiser, to an estate-planning attorney, to a CPA. And all of them can have pretty good contacts in that world as well.

Sandy Block: Eric, this wasn’t in your slideshow, but you mentioned cars. Do you want to talk about cars?

T. Eric Reich: Cars are a big issue for a lot of people. My example: I have an old classic Corvette. I have a 1963 split-window coupe. So among the rarest of the rare. I have one of them and I have three kids. They all are convinced they’re getting the, “Vette.” Or the yellow car, as I like to call it, when I’m gone someday. Well, they can’t all get it. They also probably have no idea what it’s really worth. So for that reason just like the house or anything else, get a valuation. Get an appraisal of what is this thing really worth. And then again, if somebody wants to buy it at fair market value, that’s fine.

T. Eric Reich: But if not, it has to be sold. So otherwise it’s going to be unfair. Now, you can swap assets. You might say, if that car was worth $150,000, okay, well then if you’re getting that, then you have to give up a $100,000 of something else. And so that 50 and 50 go to the other two siblings. That’s fine you’re welcome to do that but my trust would stipulate that. Would lay out the terms at which someone could buy something.

David Muhlbaum: Could people set up a corporation to manage it for them?

T. Eric Reich: They could, that’s more of an estate lawyer question from that perspective. But you could, or you could probably do it all through a trust. It might just be too onerous to set up a corporation for that purpose. The logistics and maintenance of it might be a little too much.

David Muhlbaum: One interesting word you used in your article, Eric is “fun.” It’s a little surprising. Where’s the fun?

T. Eric Reich: Well, that’s just it, estate planning is never fun. Settling an estate is flat-out awful but the estate planning process and planning for your demise is never something that’s fun. But If you don’t deal with it, it is going to be a nightmare for the people behind you. So, why not deal with it today, when you’re of sound mind and body, as the phrase goes, to make those decisions. And again, try to make it fun, try to involve the kids from day one. It’s not like they’re fighting over your stuff. If everything’s out in the open and it’s shared freely, you really can have fun with… You know, I have one kid who’s clearly closest to my old Corvette than the other two.

T. Eric Reich: So the other two say, “We want it.” But as soon as they leave the room, he says, “Well, of course you know I’m getting it.” You can joke around with it that way but sometimes in those conversations, you will find that there are things of greater value to different family members. And it doesn’t have to be monetary value, they just really want something special to them. And if that’s what they really want, then maybe they get that and somebody else gets the car or the whatever, to be even.

David Muhlbaum: I see an opportunity for the younger generations to help here. As documentarians of a sort. They can take pictures, record, video, ask questions, discuss the things. What are the stories associated with the thing? And then you can decide, okay, we have a record of everything, now, these we’re going to keep and these we’re going to want to let go.

T. Eric Reich: That’s a really good point. I mean, recording it that way. Someone had reached out to me after reading the article and said, what they did, was they took pictures and many, many pictures of all the different things that they had collection wise. Wrote about them and then sold them. So they still have the pictures, they still have the story, they still have the context and everything else. They just don’t have the asset by itself, but they still have all the memories of it. They have the pictures, they have everything. So you did keep that meaning alive behind it, without actually worrying about who’s going to maintain this asset.

Sandy Block: Eric, it sounds like bottom-line here, a lot of people might be very conscientious about having their beneficiary designations correct for all of their finances, but they really don’t think about the solid items that they’re going to leave behind. And I suspect this often comes with people—and this is the case in my situation—people who have been in the same home for many years. If you move into a retirement community, you are forced to downsize but a lot of people die in the homes that they lived in. And I can tell you from personal experience, that clean-out can be a real job, especially if you don’t know what was the intention for some of these things.

T. Eric Reich: Yeah, it’s really the case. You live in the same house, 40, 50, 60 years, you accumulate a lot of stuff. Some of that stuff probably is fairly valuable. And really it is key because, the longer you’ve been in that house, your reference point is also of that house, and you have special memories of things in that house, because you’ve been going even yourself to that same place all that time. And that’s where a lot of that interest from heirs comes in, is there is a special piece or a special thing that reminds me of mom and dad or grandparents or whoever. And that sentimental value to that item is worth more than the financial value, and that’s why that honest, open communication is really key. Have this conversation while you’re alive and you’re healthy. When you’re in more advanced decline is where we see problems come in—or I promised that Corvette to all three kids at some point, because I forgot I promised it to the other two.

T. Eric Reich: Because I might be starting to slip a little bit or I’ve let things go or I let people take things out of the house over the years, things like that. So it really is important to not just focus on the, “yes, I’ve done estate planning, I set up a will or I set up a power of attorney.” That’s the bare minimum but even just writing out things like an ethical will, here’s the things I want to happen. This is what I want to see you do with stuff. Or here’s what I would love to see happen to the car, if you can’t, fine, then do this. A lot of times heirs will try to honor those wishes, if you really put it down in paper. It’s not something that would necessarily be part of a will. That’s more just the direct transfer of the property but more what I would like to see happen with something.

David Muhlbaum: Write it down on paper, tell people what you want to happen, have honest open conversation, always good advice. And I think we’ve had a good conversation here today ourselves. Thank you so much for joining us, Eric. We’re going to link up to your piece for people who want to dig a little bit deeper into what to do and not to do with your stuff. Thanks again.

T. Eric Reich: Thanks so much for having me.

David Muhlbaum: And that will just about do it for this episode of Your Money’s Worth. If you like what you heard, please sign up for more at Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your content. When you do, please give us a rating and a review. If you’ve already subscribed, thanks. Please, go back and add a rating or a review if you haven’t already, it matters. To see the links we’ve mentioned in our show, along with other great Kiplinger content on the topics we’ve discussed, go to kiplinger.com/podcast. The episodes, transcripts and links are all in there by date. And if you’re still here, because you wanted to give us a piece of your mind, you can stay connected with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or by emailing us directly at podcast@kiplinger.com. Thanks for listening.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. Reich Asset Management, LLC is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS

Subscribe FREE wherever you listen:

Source: kiplinger.com

Free Spay and Neuter Services for Dogs and Cats

Luckily, there are plenty of free spay/neuter programs across the country. Some programs will qualify you based on where you live. Others will have an added income requirement. Whether or not you qualify for free spay and neuter services depends on the individual program.
One of the most expensive initial procedures your pet will need is getting either spayed or neutered. Luckily, money doesn’t always have to be a huge obstacle when it comes to getting that early veterinary care. If you know where to look, there are a myriad of free or low-cost spay/neuter programs across the country.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com
Brynne Conroy is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

Should My Pet be Spayed or Neutered?

Friends of Animals works with veterinarians across the nation to bring low-cost spay/neuter services to American pet owners. First, you’ll need to pay a fee for a spay/neuter certificate from Friends of Animals. These certificates cost:
So far, we’ve seen programs with fairly strict income requirements. If we look to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, though, we’ll find an example of a spay/neuter program that is open to all residents even if you’re not a low-income household.
The ASPCA has also teamed up with PetSmart Charities to create a registry of low-cost spay/neuter clinics across the United States, covering an area far more vast than the three cities where the ASPCA runs low-cost spay/neuter clinics.
Free spay/neuter programs tend to be run by local government agencies. Look for these programs at the state, county and local levels.
And if this help exists locally, your animal shelter should know about it.

Do I Qualify for Free Spay and Neuter Services?

You can also look to other local cat rescue groups for similar spay or neuter services
The Spay/Neuter Assistance Program in North Carolina is administered through county animal shelters. For example, in the first three quarters of 2020, this program funded 233 spay or neutering procedures in Richmond County alone.
While they do work with veterinarians across the country, you’ll want to make sure one of them operates in your community before purchasing a certificate. You can find the closest veterinary clinic that accepts these certificates for spay/neuter services by using the Friends of Animals search tool.

How to Find Free Spay/Neuter Programs

In some states, you’ll find free spay/neuter programs at the county level. In North Carolina, state funding is commonly distributed in this way.
In our Richmond County example, the county animal shelter charges a fee even if you qualify for the program due to a low income. Presumably, this covers administrative costs, and the fact that the state doesn’t always pay the shelters back for 100% of every surgery.
Many states run a free spay/neuter program. It may operate directly through a state agency or through a state-designated community organization.

State-Level Spay and Neuter Programs

There are few cases where spaying or neutering is not the best decision for pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, you should always spay or neuter your cats. But there are certain breeds of dogs that can suffer adverse health effects if they are spayed or neutered depending on their gender or age. If you have a dog, err on the side of spaying or neutering. But also consult with your veterinarian.
Before you take your pet home, ask the shelter if they know of any local free or low-cost spay/neuter programs. This often comes up naturally, as most of the time you’re going to have to promise to spay or neuter your new pet as a part of the adoption process.
Currently the ASPCA offers low-cost spay/neuter services in:

  • Medicaid
  • SNAP/food stamps
  • Social Security benefits

If your income prevents you from qualifying for your state’s, county’s or city’s free spay or neuter program, look to other low-cost spay/neuter surgery providers in your area. These providers often work in tandem with an animal-focused nonprofit, which provides funding for these low-cost spay/neuter services.

A gray cat peeks its eyes over a wooden table while standing on a yellow chair.
Getty Images

County-Level Spay and Neuter Programs

You must schedule your appointment ahead of time even for the mobile spay/neuter clinic.
For example, The Oklahoma state Legislature has a fund set aside specifically for its Pet Overpopulation Program. You won’t interface with the state of Oklahoma, though. Instead, you’ll apply through the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA).
Yes! Spaying or neutering your pet reduces the overall pet population. This helps reduce the ever-present pet homelessness problem in the United States.
If you don’t qualify for a free program, you’re likely to be able to find discount spay/neuter services in your area

City-Level Spay and Neuter Programs

The local animal shelter.
If these upfront costs are preventing you from adopting your next furry family member, talk to the animal shelter. While not as prolific as free spay/neuter programs, you may be able to find ways to get financial assistance locally for these services, especially if you are from a low-income household.
After you have your certificate and have identified associated vet clinics in your community, you can call the clinic directly to schedule an appointment.

How to Find Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Services

2020 was quite a year. Mostly marked in terrible ways as the pandemic created a global health crisis and changed the ways we live.
Privacy Policy

ASPCA

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) hosts low-cost spay/neuter services in a handful of cities across the country. These services can be performed at a traditional spay/neuter clinic, but in some cities they are also available via a mobile, low-cost spay/neuter truck that visits neighborhoods on a rotating basis.
Doing so can also provide your pet with health benefits. Spaying female cats or dogs can help them avoid uterine infections and breast cancer, while neutering male cats or dogs can reduce their chances of getting testicular cancer. But there was at least one silver lining: Americans adopted or fostered shelter animals in record numbers. Because so many people worked from home they felt they had the time to devote to a new pet or to caring for an animal temporarily.

PetSmart Charities

Adopting a new pet — especially a shelter animal — is a caring decision. It’s also a financial decision because the cost of initial medical services for a dog or cat can add up quickly.
Here’s the thing about being a pet parent: It can get expensive fast.

North Shore Animal League America

Get the Penny Hoarder Daily

Two vets pet a dog and cat at their office.
Getty Images

Friends of Animals

Depending on state and local laws, there are other expenses involved with adopting a pet. Even if you don’t pay anything to spay/neuter your pet cat or dog, you may end up incurring fees for these often mandatory services:

  • $61 to neuter a male cat
  • $74 to neuter a male dog
  • $85 to spay a female cat
  • $110 to spay a female dog

Ready to stop worrying about money?
You may also want to look to low-cost spay/neuter services if you live in a state like North Carolina where you’re still going to pay some fees even with the “free” program. In a minority of cases, the fees required by the nonprofit program may cost less than the fees charged by the program sponsored by the local government.

Alley Cat Allies

Maybe you don’t have pet cats to worry about, but you do have quite a few neighborhood cats. Alley Cat Allies runs a program called Feral Friends that works to spay and neuter feral cats through trap and release measures. You can request a specialist reach out to you here.
However, the North Carolina program only covers the direct medical cost for low-income residents. If the shelter charges an administrative fee, you could still end up spending some money. The fee you pay is likely to pale in comparison to the cost of the actual spay/neuter procedure, though.

Ask Shelter to Help Find Low-Cost Clinic

Because spay/neuter programs are so hyperlocal, they’re as varied as kaleidoscopes. Some programs will come along with income requirements. Some won’t. In some states, the spay/neuter services in and of themselves will be free, but you’ll still owe some type of fee to the vet or animal shelter in administrative fees. In others, you’ll walk away without spending a penny to spay or neuter your pet.
The following list is a variety of programs though not an exhaustive list. Search your own state, county and local services to find what is offered close to you. You might be surprised at what’s available to you.
North Shore Animal League America runs a nationwide referral service for low-cost spay/neuter services called SpayUSA. For most of the listings, you need to obtain a referral from SpayUSA by entering basic household information. Some of these low-cost spay/neuter programs are only available to low-income households on programs like Medicaid, SNAP and Social Security.

What Else Is Involved at Spay/Neuter Clinics?

While the uptick in fostering and adopting shelter animals over the past year is an exciting trend, that doesn’t alone solve the pet overpopulation problem.

  • Rabies vaccination
  • Other immunizations
  • Licensing for dogs in certain cities and municipalities

All you need to do to qualify for Pittsburgh’s free spay/neuter program is live within city limits. There are additional licensing and vaccination requirements for dogs, but you will not be asked for your income for eligibility purposes.
Your state program may or may not be limited to low-income households. Oklahoma is an example, but not necessarily the rule.
In 2020, puppy mills also kicked into hyperdrive, increasing pet overpopulation and negating some of the progress made in the fight against pet homelessness. Overpopulation continues to be a problem that can be directly addressed by getting your pets spayed or neutered. <!–

–>




You know who’s going to know your local low-cost spay/neuter clinics really well?

Emergency Preparedness Guide and Checklist [Download]

Emergency preparedness can mean the difference between weathering a disaster and finding yourself vulnerable in a long-term crisis. From power failures to hurricanes, emergencies strike every day, often without warning. By the time they do, it’s too late to start planning.

Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do now to prepare yourself and your family for a future emergency. But it can be an involved process, and it’s easy to forget something. That’s why it’s a good idea to start with an emergency preparedness checklist.

These recommendations will help you create your own family emergency plan, including a checklist of steps to take and supplies to pack in a disaster supplies kit in the event of an emergency.

Download our printable emergency preparedness checklist

This printable emergency preparedness checklist can help you take the steps needed for creating an emergency plan to keep yourself and your family safe and secure.

emergency preparedness checklist download buttonemergency preparedness checklist download button

1. Understand the risks for your area

Start getting prepared for emergencies specific to your location by assessing the risks of your particular location. Though there are basic requirements for preparedness, each type of natural disaster also requires its own specialized preparations.

For example, an ice storm might cause an extended power outage, so you may want to install a portable generator. In an earthquake or tornado, you’ll need to know how to find the safest place to shelter. (In both cases, stay away from windows, near the center of an inside room.)

And different regions are prone to different disasters: Texas has been hit by freezing weather, hurricanes, floods, hail and fires. In California, earthquakes and fires are common threats. Oklahoma is in “tornado alley,” and is often hit by ice storms.

Consult relief agencies in your area to get information about emergency alerts for the community, evacuation routes from the area and special assistance options for elderly people and those with disabilities. Ask at your workplace and your children’s schools or daycare to learn about each facility’s emergency plan.

Monitor weather and fire reports via NOAA weather radio. Download a reliable weather app, and sign up for emergency alerts. Wireless Emergency Alerts sent to your smartphone will signal you with a unique tone and vibration, then brief text messages explaining the type of alert and recommended action.

2. Write down emergency contact numbers

Important phone numbers should be available in multiple locations and formats. It’s a good idea to post them on the fridge — along with your home number and address for reference — as well as near any landline telephones. Also, program these numbers into the cellphones of every household member.

Choose a primary emergency contact and at least one secondary contact to call if your family gets separated. One should live out of state, and one should live locally. Tell your family members and loved ones which to call during each possible type of emergency. Remember that sometimes during a crisis, it’s easier to get through to out-of-state numbers than local ones.

It’s also a good idea to know which emergency management and response organizations you may be dealing with following a disaster, such as FEMA or the American Red Cross. Post these numbers, as well, and store them in your contacts.

Program emergency services numbers into your phone and put them near the top of your list, so you can find them right away. Hint: Most phones list contacts alphabetically, so you might want to list emergency contacts with “AA” or the number 1. Then write them on a small card to place in your wallet, in case you’re away from the list you’ve posted, your phone isn’t charged or your WiFi is down.

Here are some numbers you should include:

  • Fire / paramedics
  • Police
  • Local relief agencies
  • Area utilities
  • Work
  • School
  • Child care
  • Relatives
  • Poison control

3. Identify escape routes

Draw out the floor plan of your house and determine which escape routes would be safest for a quick getaway in each type of emergency. Escape routes also should be practical for pets, if you have any.

Post escape route plans in a central location in your house, preferably alongside the important contact numbers, and in each bedroom. Consider loading these directions into your smartphone, too.

It’s important to know when to get out and when to take cover where you are. Fires can occur in any climate and are the most common type of emergency that require escape or evacuation routes; if you’re indoors during a tornado or earthquake, you’re better off staying put.

Strategically store any equipment that could help you escape more quickly, such as collapsible ladders in upstairs rooms or window breakers for shatterproof glass. If your windows or doors have security bars, be sure they’re equipped with emergency releases so you can get out quickly if you need to.

And if you have pets, make pet carriers easily accessible so you can load them up quickly. (Herding cats is even more difficult in a crisis.)

emergencyemergency

4. Locate emergency meeting places

Designate two different locations where family members can gather to find each other after leaving your home. One should be directly outside the home in the event of a fire. Identify a location that’s a safe distance from the house, such as a neighbor’s home, mailbox or nearby stop sign.

The other designated meeting place should be outside the neighborhood in case of an evacuation. In the event of a major disaster that requires an evacuation, tune in to local media and be on the lookout for alerts about where to find help at emergency shelters.

You might also designate an out-of-state meeting spot if it’s common for your whole area to be evacuated, as in hurricane season. Make sure your family members have these addresses and phone numbers among their emergency contacts.

Include all locations in your escape route plan, clearly marked on a map. Post the meeting plan alongside the important contact numbers and escape routes.

5. Practice escaping, responding and meeting with family

Discuss with household members what to do during a fire, storm, earthquake, etc. At least two people in your home should know how to shut off utilities and respond to power outages. At least two should be familiar with first aid procedures to address personal injuries.

Make sure your household takes time to review the escape routes and practice using them so your whole family will be ready in the event of an emergency. Hold periodic drills the way schools, businesses and other public facilities do, to be sure everyone can get out of the building. If you can, have your family meet up at the designated local emergency meeting spots.

6. Pack an emergency supplies kit

Have a go-bag or preparedness kit ready that includes family records and other important documents (stored in a safe portable container), along with survival essentials that you may need during an emergency. Refer to the emergency preparedness checklist below for supplies to include in your emergency kit.

“Go bag” supplies

“Go bags” are emergency kits that contain the essentials for people to stay safe and secure in a crisis. Most items listed will apply across the board. However, you can decide whether you need to pack other essentials that address special needs — for instance, specialized medical supplies, prescription medications, spare eyeglasses, personal hygiene items or pet food.

For more information, check with the U.S. government’s official emergency preparedness website, ready.gov.

Essential survival supplies

  • First aid kit
  • Emergency blanket
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Duct tape
  • Flashlight
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Pocket knife
  • Sleeping bag/tent
  • Drinking water
  • Protein bars
  • Canned food
  • Manual can opener

Additional supplies

  • Cellphone
  • Cellphone charger
  • Credit cards
  • Birth certificates
  • Garbage bags
  • Insurance policies
  • Traveler’s checks
  • Contact information
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Sleeping bags
  • Face mask
  • Rain gear, if applicable

Tool kit supplies

  • Pliers
  • Pocket knife
  • First aid kit
  • Duct tape
  • Can opener
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries]

Personal hygiene and health supplies

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toilet paper
  • Prescription medications
  • Feminine supplies
  • Extra change of clothing
  • Washcloths
  • Household chlorine bleach
  • Clean wipes or towelettes

Food and drink supplies

Plan on having a 3-day supply of non-perishable food in a waterproof container, plus a supply of water. Keep a gallon of water per day for each person for several days, to be used for drinking and sanitation. Pack as lightly as possible without leaving out essentials. Foods like protein bars are great space- and weight-savers.

  • Drinking water
  • Peanut butter
  • Granola bars
  • Vacuum-packed meats
  • Canned foods
  • Crackers
  • Protein bars

Stay safe with our emergency preparedness checklist

It can be a complicated process to create an emergency plan and assemble a kit of supplies for your family. But it’s an endeavor that’s worth every moment of effort when your preparations keep your family safe and secure during a disaster.

Comments

comments

Source: apartmentguide.com

Keeping Pets Safe Around Plants

Many plants represent a threat to Fido and Fluffy. Protect them with these tips from our gardening expert.

Gardens are wonderful places for pets. They provide entertainment, room to exercise and cool shade in the afternoon. However, many of the most common and seemingly innocuous garden plants are also poisonous to your furry friends.

The apples and oranges we humans enjoy, almost all flowering bulbs and some of the most popular houseplants all share one thing in common: They are dangerously toxic to cats and dogs.

toxic combo
Irises, bottlebrush and daylilies all pose a threat to pets.

Plants ranked ninth on the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (ASPCA’s) list of top pet toxins in 2017. Roughly 5 percent of calls made to the organization’s Animal Poison Control Center involved landscaping plants, houseplants and bouquets.

Before we even cover the poisonous plants, let’s focus on the biggest dangers. Insecticides ranked seventh on the ASPCA list, and lawn and garden products came in 10th. Keep all chemicals out of reach, and if you’re getting your lawn sprayed, allow at least a day before letting your pet on the grass.

Problem plants for pets

Many plants are poisonous or otherwise dangerous to pets, but luckily there are many more that are completely safe. Here are some toxic plants to avoid, followed by safe alternatives. This list is just an introduction and is by no means exhaustive, so refer to the ASPCA website to search for the plant in question.

Plant type Toxic Nontoxic
Bulbs Caladium, calla lily, tulip, daffodil, iris, narcissus, crinum, amaryllis,  dahlia, lily of  the valley, crocus Canna, muscari, Scarborough lily, ginger
 Annuals and
perennials
Arum, elephant ear, begonia, sweet pea, coleus, bird of paradise, cyclamen,  hellebore, hosta, lantana, chrysanthemum, morning glory, asparagus fern, geranium. Lilies and daylilies are toxic to cats but nontoxic to dogs. Aster, fern, marigold, gerber daisy, snapdragon, hollyhock, ornamental grasses, nasturtium, nerve plant, petunia, sunflower
 Trees
and shrubs
Holly, rhododendron, azalea, oleander, sago palm, citrus (lemons, oranges, etc.), apple, apricot, peach, cherry, yucca, black walnut, yew, gardenia, nandina, wisteria Crepe myrtle, bottlebrush, aralia, hawthorn, pittosporum, mulberry, magnolia, mahonia, rose, hickory, bamboo, banana
 Vegetables Tomato, garlic, leek, onion, shallot, grape Cucumber, squash, melon, okra, zucchini
 Houseplants Dieffenbachia, Swiss cheese plant, Chinese evergreen, dracaena, pothos, ficus, anthurium, aloe, desert rose, kalanchoe, snake plant, euphorbia, asparagus fern, schefflera Calathea, areca palm, cast iron plant, Christmas cactus, spider plant, episcia, false aralia, orchid, bromeliad, peperomia, echeveria, haworthia, sempervivum, gynura, plectranthus

If you’re unsure of the toxicity of a certain plant in your garden, refer to the ASPCA website to find out.

Bromeliads and echeveria are safe plants to have around your four-legged friends.
Bromeliads and echeveria are safe plants to have around your four-legged friends.

Safety steps

While you needn’t tear apart your garden to keep poisonous plants off your dog’s menu, you should definitely educate yourself so you can make your own informed decisions.

Remove risky plants, transplant them to pet-free areas of the garden or, if the plant is too big (or special) to easily remove, make it inaccessible to your pet with fencing.

Just remember that even fallen leaves or seedpods are also often poisonous, so acquaint yourself with the symptoms your pet might experience following ingestion so you know what to tell the vet.

You might not need to go out and remove a foundation planting of azaleas tomorrow, but it isn’t that big of a deal to replace your toxic aloe plant with a nontoxic (and more attractive) haworthia.

If your pet shows any worrying symptoms, don’t waste time looking at lists like these. Call your vet or visit the ASPCA poison control hotline website immediately.

Top photo from Offset.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Related:

Originally published June 25, 2015.

Source: zillow.com

4 Ways to Ensure Your Pet Is a Good Rental Resident

Yapping, chewing, howling, scratching … not in this home!

Nobody likes living next to a yappy dog — or even a howling cat. And while a growing number of rental properties specialize in pet-friendly apartments and homes, it’s understandable why both property owners and their leasing agents are skeptical about pets.

Here are some quick tips to help your pet be a neighborly renter.

1. Get them certified

To really show your future landlord that your dog is a good resident, consider getting a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate. Offered by the American Kennel Association (AKC), this certification proves that a dog has received basic training and is well socialized around both people and other dogs — thus, less likely to cause disturbances.

If your dog is currently working with a trainer, ask about this certification, as many trainers are also CGC certified. The AKC provides details about groups in various states that also offer this certification.

Additionally, get a letter of recommendation from a previous landlord about your pet’s behavior. It can put you in a strong position to look at a wider variety of pet-friendly properties.

2. Keep them busy

Take your dog for a long walk or run before you go to work to leave them tired and happy — and content to snooze instead of scratching the front door or annoying the neighbors by howling nonstop.

Separation anxiety and stress often lead to bad behavior in your absence. Give your pets distraction toys to keep them busy, or leave on a TV or radio for a sense of companionship.

Consider employing a dog walker to come once a day, or send your pup to day care. Even if it’s only one day a week, it’s one day less of them being stressed because they’re home alone.

A variety of calming products — such as plug-in pheromone diffusers and anxiety wraps like the ThunderShirt — may help reduce your pet’s anxiety levels and prevent nonstop barking throughout the day.

3. Mind the felines

If you have a cat, get a large litter box and scoop it daily. Cats will go outside the litter box and pee on carpets if their box is dirty.

Similarly, keep a variety of scratchers around the home. Cats usually like to scratch soon after they wake up from a nap, so place scratching posts close to a favorite sleeping spot. This will deter them from permanently damaging your woodwork and carpets.

4. Prevent pests

Summer is the height of flea and tick season. Make sure your pet has the necessary protection so they don’t bring fleas indoors to infest your home.

Interestingly, fleas only spend 20 percent of their life span on a pet. They spend the rest of their time in your carpeting and furnishings — and they can be difficult to eradicate quickly. Plus, landlords will charge for this kind of pest control.

Like with so many other things in life, prevention is key.

Looking for more information about renting? Check out our Renters Guide

Related:

Originally published July 13, 2016.

Source: zillow.com

Top Holiday Pet Hazards: How to Keep Your Pet Safe

The holiday season is a festive time to share with friends and family, but it can also pose a number of hazards for other members of your family—your beloved pets.

[find-an-apartment]

We only want the best for our furry friends, and taking a few preventive measures can ensure your dog or cat doesn’t get sick.

Winter Plants

Poinsettias are beautiful, festive plants used to decorate your home during the holidays. Although poinsettias are usually hyped as a poisonous plant, they are mildly toxic to animals. The following holiday plants are the ones you really need to watch for.

  • Christmas tree needles: Vacuum any fallen needles around your tree. Christmas tree needles aren’t digestible and could potentially puncture your pet’s gastrointestinal tract.
  • Holly: Holly is another plant commonly found in your home during the holidays. Ingesting either the leaves or berries could cause Fido to have digestive tract issues as they both contain soap-like chemicals called glycosides.
  • Mistletoe: Mistletoe is usually hung in a doorway to steal a smooch from your sweetheart. Make sure mistletoe is secured safely out of the reach of your pooch. This plant and its berries can also cause gastrointestinal or cardiovascular effects.
  • Lilies: All members of the Lilum genus are extremely toxic, especially for cats. It may not be a common winter plant, but lilies are commonly found in many floral bouquets. Ingesting just a small amount of petals or pollen can cause debilitating and possibly fatal acute kidney failure.

Festive Food

Holiday gatherings usually mean eating a lot of tasty food. It can be tempting to give little treats to your animal. However, many holiday treats, such as chocolate and candy, can be deadly. Chocolate contains substances called methylxanthines, which can be toxic to pets if ingested.

Other toxic foods and drinks to avoid include onions, garlic, milk, nuts (almonds, macadamia, walnuts), raisins, and xylitol (a sweetener found in gum, candy and baked goods). Are you still not sure which foods are safe? Try feeding your furry friend some healthy homemade treats and avoid feeding them any of these human foods.

Holiday Decorations

Top Holiday Pet Hazards KittenTop Holiday Pet Hazards Kitten

Holiday decorations may not appear to be hazardous, but some mischievous animals are attracted to shiny ornaments, tinsel, ribbons, and lights. If your pet is a chewer, keep all decorations and electrical cords far from their reach. Prevent your cat or dog from ingesting any ribbons or tinsel, as it can be a choking hazard and even twist in their intestines, posing the need for emergency surgery.

If you have a live Christmas tree in your home, the water located at the base of the tree could also be harmful to your cat or dog. It can contain fertilizers and bacteria, which can upset their stomach if ingested.

The key to keeping your four-legged family members safe is prevention. Keep any hazardous food or decorations in a separate room. If you are away from home, keep your animal confined to a room or crate.

If your pet is injured or poisoned, contact your veterinarian immediately or call poison control for emergency assistance:

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center – 888-426-4435 ($65 consultation fee)

Pet Poison Hotline – 800-213-6680 ($39 per incident fee)

More Pet Links

Top 5 Apps for Pet Owners

Help Fluffy or Fido Stay Healthy with Homemade Pet Treats

Appreciation of Man’s Best and Oldest Friend (Infographic)

How to Find a Veterinarian

Get Your Apartment Ready to Bring Home a Kitten

Photo Credit: Cristina Cheatwood; Shutterstock / Sue McDonald

Comments

comments

Source: apartmentguide.com

How Does Renters Insurance Work?

If you want to know how renters insurance works, you’re in luck. Renters insurance is not only one of the most straightforward types of insurance to purchase, but it’s also quite affordable. Renters insurance protects you in a wide variety of circumstances, from coverage if your laptop is stolen out of your car, to medical payments for your friend who manages to fall and hurt themselves in your kitchen. 

America’s top-rated renters insurance

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

While renters insurance is generally clear-cut, there are basics you should understand as you begin shopping for premiums. And knowing what isn’t covered by renters insurance is as important as knowing what is.

In this article

Do I need renters insurance? 

Obtaining a renters insurance policy makes sound financial sense. Yet an alarming number of renters choose not to obtain one. It could be because there is confusion surrounding the need for a policy. Renters commonly assume landlord’s insurance covers property damage, but this is false. Landlord’s insurance only covers the physical structure of the property, whereas renters insurance covers all the belongings located inside and personal liability.

Many landlords require you to carry renters insurance, but even if they don’t require it, the coverage is not very expensive. For an average cost of $180 per year, your belongings are covered if there’s damage from a wide variety of events. Your belongings can be replaced and your property repaired with help from a policy, not to mention the liability protection a policy provides. 

If you have any items worth protecting, or have pets and visitors, then a renters policy is worth the investment for your financial protection.

What does renters insurance cover? 

Renters insurance covers your personal property. But the policy goes further and also provides personal liability and medical payments in case someone is hurt inside your rental or as a result of an accident you caused. 

Another essential coverage category is the additional living expense (ALE) or loss-of-use. This coverage kicks in if you have to vacate your rental due to damage such as water or fire damage. It provides reimbursement if you have to live elsewhere and incur expenses for hotel bills, temporary rentals, meals and other living expenses. 

Renters insurance provides coverage for several major categories, but there are a few more areas a policy provides greater protection.

  • Credit cards and forgery: Most policies include protection if your debit or credit card is stolen or you’re a victim of fraud (including identity theft).
  • Food spoilage: If your refrigerator dies, the power is out or you’re forced out of your rental due to damage, your policy reimburses you for food lost.
  • Replacement value: Another option with renters insurance is choosing Replacement Value (RV) versus Actual Cost Value (ACV). When an item is damaged in your rental due to a covered event and it needs to be replaced, the renters insurance claim payout would either be RV or ACV. If you choose RV, you receive more of a payout, but your premiums are more expensive.
  • Personal belongings located elsewhere: If you have personal property located off-premise, it’s still covered by property damage. For instance, if your mountain bike is stored in a storage unit and it’s damaged, it’s covered.

[Read: Does Renters Insurance Cover Storage Units?]

What renters insurance doesn’t cover 

There are situations when renters insurance does not provide coverage — and you don’t want to be caught assuming you’re covered. The good news is, even if something is excluded, there are typically policy add-ons available to make your policy more comprehensive.

  • Natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes: Although most policies cover a long list of natural disasters, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and sinkholes are excluded. If you live in an area where these excluded disasters occur, talk to your agent about adding the coverage to your policy.
  • Pest damage: If your rental is damaged by bedbugs, termites, rodents or any other creepy crawling insects, your policy does not cover this. However, some insurance carriers offer optional protection against bedbugs and other critters.
  • Your roommates: A rental insurance policy only provides coverage for the person whose name is on the policy. This often excludes roommates, unless you sign a join-renters insurance policy together.
  • Your high-value items: Any items worth a certain amount, usually $1,500 or higher, are considered high-value. You need additional coverage added, otherwise the item is excluded. This applies to items such as jewelry, antiques, equipment and electronics.
  • Damage from pets: Damage from your cats and dogs inside your rental is not covered. For instance, if your furbaby chews through the walls of your rental then you’re responsible for the damage. However, if this same furbaby bites your neighbor, any necessary medical treatment would be covered by your policy.

[Read: Defending Against Porch Pirates: What to Do about Package Thefts]

America’s top-rated renters insurance

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

What to look out for when shopping for renters insurance 

Like other insurance products, there are specific items you should look for to ensure you’re getting the best policy for your financial situation. For starters, confirm the limits of the renters insurance payouts. Each category has different payout limits, which is the maximum amount paid for a claim. Make sure these limits aren’t too low or too high, and provide the right amount of coverage. 

The liability coverage should provide enough protection to equal your net worth. Your net worth is the value of your assets — such as retirement accounts, savings, cars you own free and clear  —  minus your debt. So if your net worth is $300,000, then your liability coverage should be at least this amount. The reason is to protect you in case of a lawsuit from an at-fault accident. If your net worth is higher than $300,000, the Insurance Information Institute recommends obtaining an additional liability policy.

Your property damage limit should be high enough to cover replacement of your belongings.

Comparison shopping is a smart tactic to make sure you get the coverage you need. Comparing renters insurance policies not only gives you the most competitive cost on your policy, but your agent can guide you to get the most comprehensive coverage.

[Read: 3 Reasons Why You Should Get Flood Insurance] 

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

Source: thesimpledollar.com