Category Archives: Consumer Advice

Nine Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Household Items

In a recent issue of Real Simple Magazine, they published a list of ordinary items that you probably have in your home right now—and shared how they can serve double-duty. Here is a list of the items and alternative ways to use them.

Ice-cube tray – Organize desk supplies like paperclips and rubber bands. Use them to store buttons and beads. Use them as an organizer for jewelry.

Uncooked spaghetti – When you don’t have a match long enough to light a candle sitting in a deep candle holder, use a piece of uncooked spaghetti. They easily catch on fire and stay lit for a long time.

Colander – Keep flies away from food by inverting the colander over the plate during your outside cookout.

Baby oil – Easily remove latex paint from your skin by squirting baby oil on a cotton ball or rag and wipe away.

Dental floss – Use unwaxed, unflavored dental floss to easily cut a cheese cake or layer cake. You won’t have the crumbs and mess of using a knife.

Antacid tablets – Drop a tablet in a little water to remove stains from the bottom of vases. Just let sit for several minutes and wipe clean.

Cotton swabs – Touch up paint chips on walls, cabinets or furniture by using a cotton swab instead of breaking out the paint brush.

Pillow case – Make lettuce last longer by placing it in a pillow case. Then put the lettuce and pillow case in a plastic bag in the fridge. The cotton will absorb the moisture and it will last longer than in just plastic.

Laundry basket – Line a laundry basket with a trash bag and fill with ice if you need an extra cooler for your party.

So, how do you use some of your ordinary household items in a unique and different way?

Easy Ways to Keep Your Home “Ready to Show” when Listing Your Home for Sale.

So, you’ve listed your home for sale — or maybe you’re thinking about it.

I’m sure one of the questions that you may be asking yourself is…

“How do I keep my home clean and ready to show to buyers—while we are still living here?” 

Here are a couple of tips from the pros…

  • Ask all family members to participate.
  • Create a checklist of what needs to be put away in their rooms every morning.
  • Lightly clean your home every day.
    • Vacuum or sweep
    • Clear all counter tops in kitchen and bathrooms
    • Wash dishes daily
    • Empty trash cans
    • Put baking soda in your garbage disposal
    • Hide laundry in washing machine or dryer
  • Purchase boxes and store seasonal clothing to make the closets look roomier.
  • Purchase plastic bins and store additional stuff under the beds.
  • Lock away your personal and financial papers (or move them to another location).
  • Sweep outside patios and entryways.
  • Water plants/shrubs.
  • Cut the lawn more frequently.

When a potential buyer wants to view a home, they usually want to do so right away — and not 2 days from now!

Having it “show-ready and show-quickly,” with a list of things to do every day during the listing period, will help relieve the franticness of having to clean at the last minute.

What other things would you like to share about how to keep your home show-ready?

Nine Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Household Items

In a recent issue of Real Simple Magazine, they published a list of ordinary items that you probably have in your home right now—and shared how they can serve double-duty. Here is a list of the items and alternative ways to use them.

Ice-cube tray – Organize desk supplies like paperclips and rubber bands. Use them to store buttons and beads. Use them as an organizer for jewelry.

Uncooked spaghetti – When you don’t have a match long enough to light a candle sitting in a deep candle holder, use a piece of uncooked spaghetti. They easily catch on fire and stay lit for a long time.

Colander – Keep flies away from food by inverting the colander over the plate during your outside cookout.

Baby oil – Easily remove latex paint from your skin by squirting baby oil on a cotton ball or rag and wipe away.

Dental floss – Use unwaxed, unflavored dental floss to easily cut a cheese cake or layer cake. You won’t have the crumbs and mess of using a knife.

Antacid tablets – Drop a tablet in a little water to remove stains from the bottom of vases. Just let sit for several minutes and wipe clean.

Cotton swabs – Touch up paint chips on walls, cabinets or furniture by using a cotton swab instead of breaking out the paint brush.

Pillow case – Make lettuce last longer by placing it in a pillow case. Then put the lettuce and pillow case in a plastic bag in the fridge. The cotton will absorb the moisture and it will last longer than in just plastic.

Laundry basket – Line a laundry basket with a trash bag and fill with ice if you need an extra cooler for your party.

So, how do you use some of your ordinary household items in a unique and different way?

What to Do About the Recent Equifax Security Breach

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REGARDING THE RECENTLY REPORTED EQUIFAX SECURITY BREACH

As many of you are likely aware, it’s been recently reported that Equifax suffered a security breach from mid-May through July that has compromised the personal identifying information of as many as 143 million or more consumers in the United States, UK and even Canada. Because names, addresses, social security numbers, birthdates and even driver license numbers were accessed by the perpetrators, many consumers are in obvious panic mode wondering what to do and how to immediately protect their identities from being used in fraudulent situations.

The FTC has issued instruction this morning directed to consumers that informs of what to do. These instructions can be easily shared through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It’s highly recommended that YOU follow the steps indicated in the article and also pass this information on to help educate as many consumers as possible about the breach and the steps they can take to have best chance at protecting their identities. They will appreciate your sharing the guidance with them.

Summary of Quick Steps Everyone Can & Should take NOW:

  • Visit Equifax’s website, equifaxsecurity2017.com. Click on the “Potential Impact” tab and enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. Your Social Security number is sensitive information, so make sure you’re on a secure computer and an encrypted network connection any time you enter it. The site will tell you if you’ve been affected by this breach.
  • Whether or not your information was exposed, U.S. consumers can get a year of free credit monitoring and other services. The site will give you a date when you can come back to enroll. Set a calendar reminder of the date and come back to the site and click “Enroll” on that date. You have until November 21, 2017 to enroll.
  • Order your free annual credit report from the bureaus (not just Equifax, but all of them if you are able). Review the reported data for accuracy and assure no credit is reporting that you did not personally authorize. If you find any questionable tradelines or inquiries that do not belong to you, dispute them by explaining you did not authorize the opening of such credit and fear your identity has been used as a result of the Equifax security breach.
  • If you indeed do find new tradelines or inquiries you did not authorize, file a formal complaint with the FTC at gov.
  • You may wish to place a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit files at the bureau level to implement an added layer of protection.
  • A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
  • A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing It is intended to stop fraudsters from opening any new credit using your identifying info.
  • Be sure to monitor your bank and credit card statements to assure no unauthorized charges are reporting. Alert your financial institutions to watch for patterns of charges that do not coincide with the account use you’ve displayed prior to the breach period and that you wish to be alerted of any questionable charges or new patterns.
  • Review the new IRS Taxpayers Guide to Identity Theft which explains the new identity theft procedures being implemented by IRS for 2017 tax filing season. You will want to file your income taxes as soon as possible in the next tax season. Note: The IRS identity theft procedures are changed from prior year instructions so you will want to make sure you are informed and educated about them.
  • Visit the FTC’s Site gov/databreach to learn more about protecting yourself after a data breach.

For consumers with additional questions, Equifax has established a dedicated call center. The call center is available at 866-447-7559, every day (including weekends) from 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. Eastern time.

Contact me today for more information.
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alt_text Steven Baxter
Sales Manager
NMLS 191033
Direct 302-260-7089
Mobile 302-542-8250
Fax 866-685-6528
jeff.baxter
32895 S Coastal Highway, Suite 201A
Bethany Beach, DE 19930
www.jeff-baxter.com

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Selling Your Home? The Bathroom Is One of the Most Important Rooms

It’s been said that “kitchens and bathrooms” sell houses.  So, when you are ready to sell your home, here are some tips on how to “show” your bathroom in all of its glory.

First of all, concentrate on getting it as clean as possible.  There are many products on the market that will easily get rid of mildew. Lighten up the grout between the tiles. Get rid of soap scum.  Make sure mirrors and the shower door glass sparkles.

Second, remove stuff from the counter tops.

Third, hide the plunger and trash cans.

Fourth, remove the rugs.  They make a bathroom look smaller. Make sure the floor is clean.

Fifth, if you have a master bathroom, make it appear as an “oasis.”  Place some candles around the soaking tub. A couple of plush towels.  Maybe a fern or orchid plant.

The whole goal is to make the bathroom inviting and not have a buyer think they are walking into a locker room.

Preventing Break-Ins: How to Keep Your Home Safe from Thieves

A View from the Beach

It’s been reported that in the US, a home is robbed every 14.6 seconds.  The average loss is just a little over $2,000.  So, if you have a $1,000 deductible on your homeowner’s insurance policy, only half of your loss would be covered.

Here are some strategies for keeping your home safe from would-be thieves:

Tear up cardboard boxes – There’s no better way for thieves to see that you just bought a new TV, computer, microwave, than by the empty box that is left alongside the trash containers.  Tear/cut them up and bundle them so they are inconspicuous.

Lock doors and windows – It may seem obvious, but most thieves gain access through open doors and windows that someone forgot to lock.

Don’t hide your keys in the obvious places – Thieves look for the “fake rock.”  The ledge above the door.  The door mat.  Consider leaving it with a neighbor, or in a less conspicuous location.

Don’t announce your plans on social network sites – While you may be excited to share your vacation plans (or a trip out of town for a wedding or funeral), don’t announce the dates you will be leaving and returning.  Wait till you return to post your pictures.

Do a little landscaping – Cut back bushes and trees that may hide windows and doors, which may also hide a thief from view.

Replace light bulbs – Another obvious strategy, but a well-lighted house will thwart thefts.

Close drapes/blinds – Giving someone a clear view of what you have inside can be trouble.  Even if you are leaving your home for a short period of time, close the drapes or blinds so thieves can’t see what you own.

Just a little prevention can save you money, as well as the heartache of someone violating your private space.

What about Those Energy Audits?

What is an energy audit?

It’s an audit by a qualified company to determine the efficiency of your heating, insulation, doors, windows, etc.

The audit considers a home a “system” where the components work together to determine where you might improve and save money on energy costs.

The contractor provides a series of tests.

A blower door test and a duct blaster test are done.  This determines if there are potential “leaks” that can be plugged around windows, doors and furnace area.

They also should check for air-flow pressure, energy efficiency, moisture and air-quality issues.

Here’s the thing.

Many of the recommendation are inexpensive fixes.  You normally don’t have to replace windows or doors—just provide additional insulation.

Good air flow may be a matter of cleaning your furnace or servicing your air conditioning unit.

Most of all, you may save a ton of money in energy costs.