Monthly Archives: March 2020

4 ways to put your tax refund to good use

This tax season, the average federal tax refund is over $1,900. Tax refunds are a happy windfall for many people, and it’s tempting to spend that lump sum of cash on something fun. However, if you can resist the urge to splurge, here are four ways you can invest your refund toward your financial future:

  1. Reduce your debt. Paying down debt, especially on high-interest credit cards, may save you big on finance charges.
  2. Build your emergency fund. Experts recommend setting aside three to six months’ worth of expenses in a bank account as a safety net in case of unexpected expenses or loss of income.
  3. Improve your home. By investing in upgrades or repairs for your home, you can increase its value and enjoy the improvements.
  4. Save for your goals. Some extra funds could bring you closer to your next vacation, a home purchase or other goals.

Lastly, if you receive a big refund, consider adjusting your withholdings or estimated tax payments. Reducing your withholdings or payments may allow you to receive more in each paycheck rather than waiting for a big refund every year.This material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, accounting or financial planning advice. Consult your own tax, accounting and financial planning advisors for advice for your specific situation.

Why get preapproved for a mortgage?

The spring real estate market has arrived! If you’re considering buying or refinancing a home, getting preapproved for your mortgage is an important first step.

Here are the benefits of getting preapproved:

  • Shows you how much home financing you can receive and how much home you can buy
  • Provides you with a good estimate of what your monthly mortgage payment will be
  • Helps catch issues, save time and reduce stress later in the home financing process
  • Is required by most real estate agents and home sellers before you make an offer to buy a home

Getting preapproved is free, and it can be done easily online or over the phone. If you’re thinking of buying or refinancing a home and would like to get preapproved, get in touch!Programs included on this document are subject to approval based on individual program guidelines and borrower’s credit and underwriting approval. Contact your Draper and Kramer Mortgage Corp. professional for full program details.

Tips to make your home safer

We’re fortunate enough to live in a time of unmatched safety and comfort. However, it’s all too easy to overlook the more mundane dangers that still exist in our homes. Though they rarely grab headlines, threats such as fire, carbon monoxide and falls leave thousands injured or worse every year. Thankfully, many of these dangers can be significantly reduced with some simple precautions, habits or products. Here are four such ways to make your home safer.

Equip alarms

Though sometimes taken for granted in modern homes, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms play a crucial safety role. Fire can spread shockingly fast, and poisonous carbon monoxide is invisible and odorless, meaning alarms are an indispensable line of defense.

Functioning smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home, in every bedroom and outside every sleeping area. Smoke alarms should be tested every month and replaced every 10 years from the date of manufacture. Carbon monoxide alarms should also be installed on every level of the home and outside each sleeping area. Consider interconnected alarms so that all alarms will sound if one detects danger.

Fix fall hazards

Though it rarely grabs headlines, but some 10,000 people die each year as a result of falls at home, with many more being injured.

To reduce the chance of these kinds of accidents, begin by arranging furniture out of the way of your typical routes around the home. For example, no obstructions should be between your bed and the bedroom door. Place electrical cords, pet bowls and other smaller hazards against walls rather than in walkways. Consider doing away with throw rugs, which can slide or bunch up, or immobilize them with carpet tacks or two-sided carpet tape. Put a rubber mat or nonslip strips in your bathtub and install grab bars if necessary. Keeping your home clean and decluttered is also important.

If mobility is or is becoming an issue for someone in your home, it may be wise to consider a single-level home with few or no steps should be a consideration.

Consider cameras

Who best to keep watch on your home than yourself? Consumer-installable home monitoring systems have become easy and affordable thanks to digital technology and the Internet. With one or more Internet-connected cameras installed in your home, you can monitor your place from your smartphone or computer, checking in on pets, weather effects or other home welfare concerns. Other smart home elements can let you control your thermostat, lights or other appliances from afar for even more security.

However, Internet-connected devices introduce their own risks. Make sure you only purchase products and services from reputable brands, and use unique, secure passwords on all of your accounts and systems.

Block burns

Hundreds of thousands of people are treated for burn injuries in the U.S. every year, and many of them are children.

To reduce the risk of scalds from hot water faucets, consider turning down the maximum temperature of your water heater to the minimum level recommended by your heater’s manual (but don’t go any lower, or you may risk bacteria growth). Keep an eye on children when cooking, and consider installing safety covers for appliance knobs to prevent young ones from turning on hot surfaces.

Practice good fire safety, including educating all members of the household on how to prevent, recognize and escape fires – especially important for young children.


By following these steps, you can be satisfied knowing you’ve made your home a safer place.

Affordable ways to improve your home’s curb appeal

First impressions count, especially when you’re selling your home. Most homebuyers have many options, and whether they’re browsing a real estate website or looking for “for sale” signs while driving, their first look at your home is likely to come from the curb. Whether you’re putting your home on the market or just want to impress the neighbors, here are some simple ideas to improve your home’s curb appeal.

Paint and wash

A new coat or color of paint for the door, trim and shutters on your home is a simple way to make an impact. Consider a color that’s bold but not gaudy and complements the other hues of your house. If your siding, gutters, patio or driveway is looking dingy, a good pressure washing can help restore its original beauty.

Upgrade fixtures and hardware

Exterior lights. Door handles. House numbers. The mailbox. Are the ones on your home stylish, practical and functional? If not, upgrading them could be an efficient way to boost your home’s appeal. When choosing what to replace and what to replace it with, consider any painting the job may require and how well the new items will mount in their predecessors’ place.

Landscape or garden

Add new life to your home with actual life by using plants. Flowerpots, window boxes, garden plots, shrubs or even a new tree can lend color, contrast and liveliness to your property. Keep in mind how the plants will look and the maintenance they will require throughout the year as well as how large they will eventually grow.

With these modest investments, your home will be more likely to catch the kind of positive attention you want.

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