By Patricia L. Garcia
It’s a new year and a new you, right? What about your home? It deserves to be at its best and organized this year too!
Whether you are moving into a newly built home or it’ll be a little while longer in your older home, here are some New Year’s resolutions for the home that you’ll want to stick to:
Resolution #1: Keep It Safe
This is an easy one to follow: check your smoke alarms monthly! If you don’t have a smoke alarm, get one or two. The U.S. Fire Administration suggests testing smoke detectors at least once a month and replacing batteries at least twice a year. Easy stuff, minimal cost, valuable results. So, what are you waiting for?
In addition to making sure you have a fire alarm, other fire safety tips include having a charged fire extinguisher and an evacuation plan, says Peter Duncanson, director of Systems Development for ServiceMaster Restore, a disaster restoration company.
“Develop and practice an evacuation plan; locate at least two ways out of each room,” he says. “For insurance purposes, take pictures of your home and personal belongings from time to time. If you ever face a fire, you’ll have a clear record of the damage.”
Resolution #2: Put It on a Diet
Lots of folks resolve to diet in the new year, but you can also reduce your home’s intake by de-cluttering your home. Getting rid of clutter is one of the easiest ways to keep your home looking fresh.
“Every home has clutter … but it’s important to get a handle on your mess to not only gain more square footage, but to show off the home’s positive features,” says Tori Toth, a professional home stager who owns Stylish Stagers in Howard Beach, N.Y.
Toth, who wrote Feel at Home: Home Staging Secrets for a Quick and Easy Sell, says these are the most likely culprits to cause clutter in the home – and here are her tips for handling them:
- Mail and Paperwork: Create a system to contain each item. For instance, deal with mail as soon as you bring it in. Throw out junk mail and have a bin for current bills and a filing system for other important information.
- Toys: Have a designated area for the toys and only keep the ones out that your kids play with – the others, pack up or get rid of. Be creative with storage solutions by using decorative baskets, boxes or even a trunk.
- Clothes and Shoes: Get in the habit of taking coats off and hanging them in the closet, rather than throw on a chair back or floor. Corral shoes and have a system in place for dirty clothes. Put clean clothes away immediately.
Resolution #3: Pay It Down
This home-related resolution is also related to your wallet, so, you’re welcome. New or resale, it’s a good idea for you to pay your mortgage down. Ray Rodriguez, regional sales manager at TD Bank in the Greater New York City area, suggests making an extra mortgage payment.
Making an extra payment doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, you can do so with as little as an extra $10 each month.
“There are subtle ways to shave time off of your mortgage. If you divide your monthly mortgage payment by 12 and add that amount to each monthly payment, you’re effectively paying off your home sooner. Another option is to pay half of your payment every two weeks, also known as bi-weekly payments,” Rodriguez says. “These methods effectively force you to make one extra payment each year.”
As you think about what you want to improve about yourself in the new year, don’t forget to factor in some home-related resolutions too. Doing so will mean a less-stressful house – bringing you step closer to making your home the retreat that you’ve always wanted.
This list is not all-inclusive – so what’d we miss? Tell us what you resolve to do for your home in 2017 in the comments section.
Patricia L. Garcia is content manager for NewHomeSource.com.