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The Holidays & Overnight Guests PDF Print E-mail
 By Melissa Tosetti and Teresa Riccobuono
Do you have guests coming to stay with you over the holidays?  Here's a few tips to help you as well as your guests enjoy their visit so much more. 
If you have a spare bedroom…
Make sure the sheets have been freshly laundered. 
Also, set aside an extra blanket in case they get cold. 
For an added touch, set aside a box of tissue, as well as a few books and magazines so your guests can keep themselves entertained.
A couple of bottles of water by the bedside will be appreciated.
Place a few small holiday decorations in the room to keep the feel of the holidays intact.

If your guest will be sleeping on the couch which is not a sofa bed
Use a set of twin sheets for the sofa. It may not be a perfect fit over the cushions, but will help them be more comfortable while they sleep.

Provide a pillow with a freshly laundered pillow case as well as a few blankets. 
If possible, make adjustments to your morning routine if guests will be sleeping in community areas of your home. If you are an early bird and they are a night owl, prepare as much of your morning routine in advance. Grind your coffee beans the night before. 

In the bathroom…
Set aside a clean towel and washcloth for each guest.
Fragrant soaps and travel size toiletries in their original packaging (if you have them) will make your guests feel special.  

You may also want to put items like cotton swabs and cotton balls where your guests can see them.
Teresa has a couple of extra robes in sizes of her frequent visitors – (father, brother, best friend).
In the kitchen…
Keep fruit and snacks visible so guests feel free to help themselves.

If your guest is a coffee drinker – make sure you have creamer and sugar.

If your guest is a tea drinker – have English breakfast tea for the morning and Chamomile/herbal tea for the evening.
If your children or pets have any dietary restrictions, be sure to let your guests know so they don't inadvertently cause problems.

Let your guest know in advance if you’re planning on dining out or will be attending a holiday event over the course of the visit. It will help them plan their budget and wardrobe and give them an opportunity to let you know of any constraints they may have.
If your home has any quirks, such as sticky doors, tricks to getting an appliance to work correctly or you have multiple remotes to work the television set correctly, please let your guests know about them.
Our thanks to Kathleen Kuebelbeck for the many ideas she offers in her article, What Every Girl Should Have... for overnight guests
Home Repair Rule of Thumb PDF Print E-mail
By Melissa Tosetti
I just got off the phone with a client who told me about a fantastic rule of thumb regarding saving for home maintenance and repairs. 
Her father is a home inspector and he suggests that each year, you set aside 1% of what your home is worth into a savings account for repairs. 
For example, if your home is worth $200,000, you should save $2,000 annually.  If 1% feels like an overhwhelming number, then saving even 1/2 percent will at least get you started. 
When I work with clients to create a Spending Plan, one of the things we do is create a line item specifically for this category.  The amount earmarked varies depending on the age of their home, as well as the length of their list of repairs.  It's nice to now have a rule of thumb to keep in mind. 
Prepare Your Home for Fall and Winter PDF Print E-mail
By Kevin Gibbons
It just hit me last week - that first smell of the Northern California fall air. There’s nothing like it - a crisp coolness after the hot summer, a hint of dampness on the brown grass from the coastal fog and just the start of decaying foliage. Fall is definitely my favorite season. In fact, I enjoy it so much that I actually look forward to the rituals of preparing my home for the colder seasons. Here are some of my favorite, essential routines for getting ready for fall and winter.

1. Clean The Rain Gutters
The time for cleaning the rain gutters and down-spouts is in the last days of summer and first days of fall, not during the first heavy rain when water is pouring down the eaves. Get on a ladder and use a narrow gardening trowel to scoop all the debris out of the gutters. Start at the end opposite the downspout. When you get to the downspout, take a hose, or a bucket of water to flush the spout and make sure there are no clogs. If the downspout is clogged, the easiest way to clear it is with a plumber’s snake.
You will probably have to repeat this cleaning after the first rain of the season washes all the debris on your roof down, but a pre-emptive cleaning will go a long way towards making that easier.

2. Store Your Gardening Tools
When you have finished your last big gardening project, clean and store your tools. Wash your spades and clippers, and consider coating them with a thin layer of mineral oil to keep them from rusting. Put them in a safe place in a shed or garage where they won’t get banged up or lost. Then they will be ready when you are for spring planting.

3. Change Your Heater Filters
If you have a forced air centralized heating system, replace your air filters. Either they have been running all year long, in which case they are dirty, or, if you live in a warm climate and turned your heater off for the summer, they have been sitting stale for months, possibly growing mold and mildew. In either case, they are easy and cheap to replace. While you are at it, turn on the heater system at a moderate setting for several hours during the day while you are gone. That will give the system a chance to blow out all the dust they may have accumulated during the warm months. You can then air out the house when you get home. This is much better than having to deal with the smell of burnt dust when it is 40 degrees outside, and is a lot cheaper than paying for heating duct cleaning.

4. Check Your Vents and Fireplace Flues
If you used a fireplace during the summer, you may have got in the habit of leaving the flue open. With cold weather around the corner, you want to make sure to close any vents where heat can leak out. You will also want to verify that the flues are operating properly before you light the cozy winter fire.

5. Winterize Your Car
Auto maintenance is a whole topic unto itself, but there are four things you absolutely have to do for the winter months:
  1. Check your tires. Proper inflation and tread are essential for winter driving. If you do not know how to check your tires, go to your mechanic, or even one of those oil change places and have it done.
  2. Change your windshield wipers. The rubber in the wipers dries out over the summer and they become less effective.
  3. Flush your radiator and replace your antifreeze. Most manufacturers recommend changing your antifreeze/coolant every other year. If you live in a climate where it gets below freezing, get it done every year.
  4. Check that your heater and defroster work. Turn on your fan, with the temperature setting at the hottest position. Make sure air flows out of the defroster and the heater vent. If they don’t get your heater system checked by a mechanic before you take your Thanksgiving trip to Grandma’s house.
6. Change and Test the Batteries in Your Smoke Alarms
Most fire departments run "fire alarm battery change" campaigns to coincide with the Daylight Savings time changes. Check both your battery-operated alarms and the ones wired into your home electrical system.

7. Restock your Emergency Kit
Check your emergency kit. Make sure you have fresh batteries and a working bulb in your flashlight. Make sure the radio still works. Clean the blankets. Check the first aid kit and replace any expired or used items.


Taking Care... PDF Print E-mail
By Melissa Tosetti
A key component to savvy living is to appreciate and take care of what you already own.  If your goal is to purchase a new car, while you work to achieve it, keep the car you already own clean and ensure it receives proper maintenance. 

The same goes for your house.  You may not love where you're living, but keeping your home clean and well maintained will help you like it a little more while you work to purchase a new home.
Taking care of what you have applies to all things in your life - your clothes, appliances, computer, gadgets and furniture.  Care for and appreciate what you already have and set goals to achieve what you want. 

While it's important to set goals, don't fall into the trap of living for tomorrow.  Taking care of what you already own will help you appreciate today. 

Clutter = Your Next Vacation PDF Print E-mail
By Melissa Tosetti
I know many who’ve wanted to declutter their homes, but put it off for years. One major reason for putting it off is they’re overwhelmed by the project. They don’t know where to start.

Another reason is a lack of leverage. If there isn’t a big enough reason to declutter your home, it’s easy to be sidetracked by other “more important” things.

If you're willing to put a little extra time in, you can turn that clutter into your next weekend getaway through the use of garage sales, consignment shops and eBay. For me, a two-day paid vacation offers plenty of incentive to get to work!

As for being overwhelmed by the project, follow the suggestion of Flylady and don’t try to do it all at once. I’m a big fan of her process of cleaning and decluttering in 15 minute increments.
One of my favorite stories about decluttering to find money for a vacation is that of my friends Gina and Kathleen.  
In January 2000, Paul and I informed our loved ones that we would be getting married that September at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Gina and Kathleen started looking for ways to find money for the trip. 
Gina previously worked for Benefit Cosmetics and had a bathroom full of samples that she sold on eBay for a total of $400. 
Kathleen was a fan of Stila™ cosmetics and had a drawer full of their makeup. At the time, Stila was not available online. She was able to sell $200 of the product on eBay. 
With a little research, they found a hotel and flight package for Las Vegas that included four nights at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino and air travel for both of them for $400 - total! The money Kathleen made paid for her airfare and hotel. Gina made enough to pay for airfare, hotel and fun!
Whether selling your unwanted items on eBay, consignment shops or at a garage sale, the money for your next vacation could be hanging in your closet or sitting in your makeup drawer.
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