Blog Archive for October, 2014

Homeowners Insurance 101

Categories: Blog | Posted: October 30, 2014


Tuskes Homes

Homeowners Insurance 101: A Guide to Smart Buying

Your home is probably the single biggest investment you’ll make. Homeowners insurance protects this precious investment, as well as the contents and your liability in the event of an accident on your property.

If you’ve never had to buy homeowners insurance, the choices can be confusing. What coverage do you need? How much?

Here’s a quick course, Homeowners Insurance 101: A Guide to Smart Buying.

  1. Determine how much coverage you need. Calculate the cost of rebuilding your life if the worst happens and you lose your home and everything in it. At the very least, you’ll need enough coverage to pay off the remainder of your mortgage, but, ideally, you want protection for much more.
  2. Look at the deductible. The deductible is your out-of-pocket expense before your insurance coverage kicks in. The lower the deductible, the higher your premium, so think about how much of a deductible you can comfortably handle in the event of a claim.
  3. Choose between replacement cost and actual cash value. You have two options for the reimbursement for lost property. Replacement cost covers the current price for purchasing a replacement, such as computer, electronics, furniture, and appliances, regardless of the age of the item. Actual cash value compensates you for what the property is currently worth. For example, a computer or television that is five years old will get a much smaller payout on actual cash value than replacement cost. If you want to reduce your premium, you can insure the property for a percentage of the replacement cost
  4. Learn the claims process. As you shop for the best coverage for you, be sure you understand the claims process for each carrier. Is it a painstaking process or relatively easy to have your claim processed? Does the carrier pay you right away or wait until you’ve actually replaced the contents? Do you have the financial capacity to front the costs until your insurance company comes through with the payment?
  5. Decide whether or not you need earthquake or flood insurance. Insurance carriers are understandably wary of insuring properties that are at risk of natural disasters like flood or earthquake. Your mortgage company might require this coverage, but if it’s an option, determine what you’re willing to gamble—or not.
  6. Consider endorsements for specific valuables. If you have particularly valuable property—like jewelry, original artwork, collectibles, and antiques—look at the cost of purchasing an endorsement or rider that covers the full cost of the property. These endorsements will cover you if the item is lost, stolen, or destroyed.
  7. Look at your liability coverage. Liability insurance protects you when someone is injured on your property—slipping on your icy front walk, bitten by your dog, or tripping over that frayed carpet you’ve been meaning to fix. Be clear about how much your liability policy will cover. If it’s less than $300,000 and you have certain risks—like a dog, swimming pool, trampoline, or other possible hazards—bear in mind that a victim is probably going to sue for more than $300,000.
  8. Shop for discounts. Ask your insurance agent about policy discounts. You might be able to reduce your premium by purchasing multiple policies (e.g., car, boat) or making enhancements that better protect the home, like installing a security system or new roof.
  9. Revisit your policy annually or after significant life events. Stay on top of your coverage by reviewing your policy every year with your agent. Talk about life changes, like marriage divorce, or new family members living there. If you’ve remodeled or made an addition to your home, be sure that you’re adequately covered.

Once you have your homeowners insurance, take inventory of the belongings in your home. It will be easier and more accurate to file a claim after a loss when you know what’s missing.

New City, New Adventure!

Categories: Blog | Posted: October 23, 2014

New City

Tips for moving to a new city

Moving to a new home is both exciting and scary, particularly when you’re leaving a familiar area and moving to a new city. You’re leaving behind the people and places that are important to you, and wondering if you’ll find something as good—if not better—in your new town or city.

As you prepare to make the big move, here are some tips for moving to a new city.

  1. Map it out. Go online to look at the area around your new home. Familiarize yourself with the street names. Use Google Maps to find the best route for your commute. See how far you are from area attractions and services.
  2. Find the hot spots. Go to Yelp or Citysearch to search for restaurants, shops, services, and attractions. Read the reviews and make a list of those you want to check out when you get settled into your new home.
  3. Pursue your passion. Look for groups and clubs that share your enthusiasm for specific activities, hobbies, recreation, and other ways to fill your free time. Visit Meetup, check out the local adult education programs, or visit the shops where you might purchase the equipment and supplies for that interest; they usually host groups, clubs, classes, or all of the above.
  4. Ask your social media connections for ideas. This is a great time to survey your Facebook friends, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, and other social media communities. Ask about places to go in your new city. Look for connections who live near there to see if you might meet. Also ask about places to avoid, and when and where traffic and parking is a nightmare.
  5. Get out of the house. Don’t sit at home reading a book when you can relax in a coffee shop or café. Eat your lunch in a park where you might meet interesting people. Take a walk along the beach, riverfront, or downtown market area. And while you’re out there, strike up a conversation with someone—a cashier, cab driver, someone picnicking like you, or another patron in the café. You might learn something new about the city you now call “home”.
  6. Play tourist. Visit the places where visitors go when they’re in this city. You’ll learn about the region’s heritage and discover what you’ll want to share when you have your own visitors.

“Unclutter” Your Home

Categories: Blog | Posted: October 16, 2014

Tuskes Homes

How to reduce clutter in your home:

With so many opportunities to buy “stuff”, it’s almost inevitable that you will acquire more and more items that clutter up your home. If you’re starting to feel buried under your possessions, here are some tips to reduce clutter in your home.

  1. Ruthlessly purge, one room at a time. Amidst all that clutter are items that you don’t yet know you no longer need or want. They’ve fallen into the background, unnoticed, unused. Start with one room and two boxes: one for items to donate and another for things you want to store. Look objectively at the items that are filling the room—decorative accessories, furniture, toys, books, and other things that aren’t essential. Be brutal, reminding yourself of your quest to reduce clutter. As you try to determine whether to keep, store, or donate, ask yourself why you want to keep the item and then decide how strong a reason that is. Create a place in your basement, attic, or garage for “Home Décor” and, when you want to change the look in your home, just “shop” from those boxes.
  2. Creatively organize. There are many ways to organize the things in your home in an attractive and functional way. Home décor shops, craft stores, and retailers like The Container Store and Ikea are filled with ideas for turning clutter into home organization.
  3. Keep things where they belong. Clutter can grow from disorganization. Simply putting away something when you’re done—keys, dishes, books, etc.—will help you maintain order in your home. Sort through your mail and organize it instead of letting it all pile up. Take the extra couple of seconds and save time later.
  4. Make careful buying choices. Before you purchase anything, ask yourself if it’s something you need or just want. If it falls into the latter category, how long will it be desirable to you? Will you still love it in three months? Or is it going to become another “thing” cluttering your home?
  5. Cancel junk mail. If you’re getting catalogs and magazines that you don’t read or want, make them stop. Cancel the subscriptions. Ask to be removed from mailing lists.
  6. One in, two out. When you come home with something new, purge two other items so you’re not adding to your clutter. Feel the need to add more dishes? Which ones don’t you want any more?

The most important step in reducing clutter is to change your mindset. When you’re shopping, avoid the impulse to buy what you don’t need. Picture it as more clutter in an already cluttered space and your home organization will become easier.

Creating Kids’ Rooms

Categories: Blog | Posted: October 9, 2014

Tuskes Homes

A child’s room is probably the most creative, comfy, happy space in your home. But designing something fun can be hard work. Where do you start? Here are some design ideas for kids’ rooms to bring out your interior decorator.

  1. Pick the theme. Start with a theme that will excite your child and make him or her want to spend time in this personal space. Your child has a favorite character or color, or maybe a very special toy. Think about building the interior décor around that idea. If you have a sports fanatic, think about adding a score board wall decal and a metal locker. For the animal lover, create jungle, with wall murals, and intertwined vines instead of curtain rods.
  2. Choose your palette. Once you have your theme, build a color palette for the room. Go through magazines to look for pairings that appeal to you and your child. Don’t go crazy; keep your choices to three colors that work well together. The main color should have more emphasis, while the other two will accent it, in accessories, trim, wall treatment, and floor covering. If you’re opting for paint on the walls, before you spend $40 on a color that looks great in the store, invest a little money in samples of various shades (about $3 each). Try them out on the walls where you can see how they will look in the room, with the actual light shining there at different times of the day.
  3. Find the furniture. It’s tempting to fill a child’s room with fun and funky furniture, but you have to ask yourself, “How long before this becomes too young for my child?” Instead, look for more conventional pieces and go wild with the accents (bedding, rugs, wall art, light fixtures). Look at yard sales, both in your area and online. Facebook is filled with online yard and garage sales where you can buy furniture for a fraction of the retail price.
  4. Make it functional. Kids’ rooms inevitably overflow with toys, books, clothes, and other items that will be strewn around. You can save yourself some headaches by creating storage spaces where these pieces can be easily stashed. A bed with drawers underneath is a great way to use this space for something other than dust bunnies and wandering socks that are missing their mates. Use the vertical space by mounting shelves, and install a closet organizer system with racks, shelves, and cubbies. Then stand back and hope your kids will actually store their stuff in the storage space provided.
  5. Add the accents. Here’s where you have fun. Pillows, throws, light fixtures, wall decals, rugs, mobiles, and more will add the final touches that create the signature style of the room. You can find creative light fixtures that complement your theme, and use strings of lights to add more fun to the mood.
  6. Inspire. Your child’s room is a haven. It’s a place to play as well as rest. Create a space that also inspires them. Set up an easel for drawing and painting. Use chalk paint on one wall where your child can express thoughts, do homework, and play games with friends. Paint the ceiling to look like the night sky so they can gaze at the stars while they drift off to sleep. Use stencils or wall decals to put encouraging words on the walls. Mount a bulletin board or cork board where they can post their favorite photos or other keepsakes without marking up the walls.

The most important aspect of decorating a child’s room is that it is tailored to your child. Make it special, as unique as your little one. Include your child in the decorating process so they feel a part of the makeover. You might not agree with the choices, but after all, whose room is it anyway?

Put Your Garden To Bed

Categories: Blog | Posted: October 2, 2014

Your Fall Gardening Checklist

Getting your garden off to a good start is essential. It will be extremely difficult to have a productive garden without the right planting techniques, bed design and supplies. That is why experienced gardeners spend so much time getting ready for the season and thinking about what kinds of plants they will be raising in their new gardens.

The flip side of the coin is just as important. Gardeners need to take just as much care when prime gardening season is over. As the warm days of summer give way to the cooler days of fall, it is time to put the garden to bed and get ready for the harsher weather to come.

This checklist will help you put your garden to bed and avoid problems when the next gardening season rolls around.

.   Check under your fruit trees and clean up any dropped or rotten fruit.

.   Mulch your flower beds and landscaping thoroughly to maintain soil quality through the winter.

.   Protect your perennial beds by mulching again after a hard freeze

.   Set up deer netting around plantings of tender ornamentals and berry bushes. Autumn brings out herds of hungry deer that could wreck your garden.

.   Cut back your perennials before winter. Overgrown perennials can provide shelter for slugs, snails and other garden pests.

.   Remove spent annuals before the seeds drop

.   Think about how you will rotate your garden crops in the coming year. Proper crop rotation can prevent pathogens from gaining a foothold and make your entire garden plot healthier.

.   Leave ornamental grasses and dried flowers in place. They provide food for winter birds and can spruce up your cold weather landscape.

.   Add leaves and grass clippings to your compost bin to create rich soil for planting next year. If you do not have a compost bin, now is the perfect time to build one.

.   Plant your spring bulbs now for a dash of color come spring.


Many people think of gardening as a spring and summer hobby, but the work does not end when the weather starts to cool. There is still plenty of gardening to do in the fall, and making the right moves now can get your garden off to an even better start next season.

ask martha

Ask Martha!

email phone chat