7 Things to do the Week Before Moving

7 Things to do the Week Before Moving - Charleston Crafted

Moving can be so incredibly stressful. In order to help unload some of that stress, it is important to do as much as possible in advance. Here are seven things that you can do the week before moving to make the process go smoothly!

7 Things to do the Week Before Moving - Charleston Crafted

  1. Take photos of your old place – if you haven’t packed up yet, go around and take some “final” photos of your old home. It sounds sentimental, but they can be really sweet to look back on later.
  2. Change your address and set up a mail forward with the Post Office – You don’t want to miss out on any important mail, especially if someone else will be moving in to your old place right away. In the USA, this is really simple. Here is the form!
  3. Purchase a new lock or book a locksmith – you never know who the previous tenants might have given a key to. The first thing that we always do before even moving in is change the locks. It’s a really simple DIY (all you need is a screwdriver!), but you can always hire it out.
  4. Schedule any maintenance or repairs that need to be done before moving in – if you are buying a place, you might know that you need a new AC unit or fresh carpets. It is much easier to get this type of project done before your furniture is in place. Schedule that now!
  5. Scheduler movers, book a moving truck, or go ahead and ask friends to schedule some time to help! You don’t want to wait until the last minute and find out the trucks are all booked or your friends made other plans.
  6. Gather moving boxes – you’re going to need a lot. Here are our favorite places to score free boxes!
  7. Get packed up! Packing is the worst but try to do it over the course of a week, going room by room. Label everything carefully to make the unloading process less painful!

What are your biggest tips for the week before a big move? 

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How to Budget for Home Renovations When You Are Househunting

How to Budget for Home Renovations When You Are Househunting - Charleston Crafted

This is a fun topic that we have gotten asked a bunch and I thought would be fun to address in it’s own post. When we were house hunting, we knew that we wanted a fixer upper. Not a tear down, but a house that needed cosmetic work. I obviously love DIY and design projects, but we also saw it as a way to add value to a home. But, if you know that you want to put money into a house before you even buy it, you might wonder how to budget for home renovations during the house hunting process.

How to Budget for Home Renovations When You Are Househunting - Charleston Crafted

The most important thing is to set your total overall budget. This is for your house and really for any cash that you will be able to put into it in the first six months of living there. You might could finance renovations with your bank, but we have never done that so I won’t speak to it.

Once you determine the total amount of cash that you have available, you have a starting point. This will need to cover down payment + closing costs + moving costs + renovations + any major furniture or decor purchases needed immediately like a bed or a couch.

It’s a good idea to talk to your lender and determine how much of a down payment you will need at different price points. Write that down on a note in your phone so as you scroll and look at houses, you can do quick calculations to determine your remaining renovation budget.

Think about the projects that you hope to do and do some general research. For example, the odds are good that you will need to replace flooring. Go to your local home improvement or flooring store and browse. Find a sample that you like. Get the price per square foot. When you look at a house, note the square footage and you will be able to do a rough estimate of costs. Look at water heaters, pick up a brochure on roofs, and swing by the appliances. Just keep a running note of sample costs and keep referencing it as you hunt.

Another great resource for estimating costs is your realtor. An experienced realtor can usually estimate renovation project costs.

If you want to be super organized, create a spread sheet. Enter in as columns the possible costs for the items that you researched. Make each potential house a row and add the square footage to approximate renovation costs for each house and make them easier to compare.

I hope that this helps you to budget for home renovations as you are house hunting. Do you have any other great advice or tips?

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How To Save Money on Large Purchases at Lowes or Home Depot

How To Save Money on Large Purchases at Lowes or Home Depot - Charleston Crafted

When you move, a lot of times you have big upfront expenses. For example, you might need a new washer and dryer or refrigerator. You might need to put in new flooring or buy ten gallons of paint. Whatever it is, you probably will be making a large purchase at Lowes or Home Depot. We personally had to purchase a washer and dryer as soon as we moved in and had just put all of our money into a down payment. Luckily, I was able to save 10% on our first big purchases, without opening a credit card!

How did I save so much money? By buying gift cards and coupons on eBay. I get that it sounds sketchy, but I promise that it is legit. I did this and have instructed other friends to do the same, and I have never heard of anyone having a negative experience.

How To Save Money on Large Purchases at Lowes or Home Depot - Charleston Crafted

All you need to do is search ebay for coupons. For example, there are tons of sets of 3 Lowes 10% off coupons for $3.25 total! Assuming that your three purchases would total to at least $33, that is all savings!

For Home Depot, I often see 10 10% off coupons for $10. That is a fantastic deal!

Either way, be sure to check expiration dates. They can’t sell expired coupons or cards (and you have the protection of eBay who will always back you up if they did) but some of them have a pretty quick turn around. Just keep that in mind if you are planning out in advance!

Another option is to buy discounted gift cards. Lowes and Home Depot are both all over eBay. Those usually have no expiration date!

You usually cannot combine coupons but CAN use a coupon + a (discounted!) gift card for maximum savings.

Also, don’t forget to use Ebates for bonus cash back at eBay!

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When to splurge on tools and when to save

When to splurge on tools and when to save - Charleston Crafted

When you’re a new homeowner, you don’t have a ton of money after you close on the home, but you also often need to do some improvements on your house. If you’ve never lived in a house before, like me, you might not have had a ton of tools to work with. When on a budget, it’s important to get an idea of when to splurge on tools and when to save.

I’ve written before about what tools you should have in your first tool box, what the best saws are for a new homeowner and what the essential yard tools are, but didn’t talk too much about which ones to buy and when. It can be a daunting thing to look at a $350 saw or a $150 drill or a $500 lawnmower, but do you need those? Often times, no, but here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding when to splurge on tools and when to save.

When to splurge on tools and when to save - Charleston Crafted

  • How often are you going to use it? – If the answer is “I’m going to use it all the time,” then you probably want to spend a little more money. I love the drill I have. The first drill I had had low torque, couldn’t drill deep into things and the battery died all the time. It was cheap and chinsy and a waste of money. The 20 volt Porter Cable drill I have now is awesome. It’s powerful, the battery is great, and I never have any problems. I literally use my drill almost every single day for one thing or another, so this is where I wanted to spend some money.
  • How unique is this tool? – This question is in line with the first one because if the answer is that the tool is very unique, you likely aren’t going to use it that often, and if you aren’t going to use it that often, it might be better to spend less or borrow. For instance, I borrowed my neighbor’s brad nailer and air compression unit when we hung crown molding. At the time, the cheapest nail gun I could find was on sale for $199. I didn’t really want to spend an extra $200 on our crown molding project for that tool when I didn’t think I’d have much use for it after. I also borrowed another neighbor’s electric pole saw to cut down a limb on one of our trees. I’m not going to need to cut down that many limbs, so why spend a couple hundred bucks when my friendly neighbor offered me his?
  • What scale do you need this tool? – I asked myself this question when I was shopping for a miter saw. I use my miter saw all the time, but I had never used one before and didn’t know how much I’d need it. One thing I did know was that they ranged in price from $150-500 and I didn’t need some massive piece of equipment in my small garage. I ended up going with a 7 1/4 inch blade miter saw that I thought would fit my needs. I splurged a bit and got one with a miter and bevel and a slide, but I saved by getting a smaller blade and one that didn’t have extendable arms for leveling. I decided I didn’t need that big of a scale of tool, so I opted for one that better suited my needs.
  • How long is this going to last? – Know that if you buy a cheaper tool, it will likely not last as long. The price reflects the quality. If you need something now, but don’t have the ability to fund a big purchase, consider buying a lower quality version and save up for a while to buy the next one. This question also applies to hand-me-downs. I got a bunch of yard tools when my dad moved, including his lawn mower. It’s so old that I used it when I was a kid to mow the grass. But it works. It has no problems, it’s just not fancy. I’m going to take care of this mower for as long as it will last, and then I’ll buy a new one.

Think you need a tool and don’t want to pay full price? We have found that pawn shops actually have a great tool selection at a bargain price. Some big box tool stores like Lowes or Home Depot also offer daily or weekly tool rental for large items.

Every tool purchase is going to be a big one. You don’t always need to splurge for the best and brightest tool on the shelf, but you also don’t want to necessarily get the crappy cheap one either. Know your budget, know what you’re going to use it for and how often and make the decision that is best for you. If you are debating something, please feel free to drop a comment below and I’m happy to give my opinion on your next purchase!

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How to Avoid & Address Problems with your Home Owners Association

How to Avoid & Address Problems with your Home Owners Association - Charleston crafted

Whether you are buying a home or renting a condo, there are good chances that you might live somewhere with a Homeowners Association (HOA). While some people hate HOAs, there are benefits – they are (in theory) looking out for what is best for the neighborhood. We have now lived in 2 places with HOAs and have finally figured out a plan for dealing with them both on a regular basis and when problems arise.

How to Avoid & Address Problems with your Home Owners Association - Charleston crafted

How to Avoid Problems with the HOA:

  • Read the rules & do your best to follow them. When you moved in, you were probably required to sign the rules. Did you read them? Probably not. It’s in your best interest to at least skim them, however, so you aren’t blindsided. If you choose to blatantly break a rule, go for it (and see below for our advice), but it’s better to know what the rules are either way.
  • Pick your battles. No one likes the guy who has a problem with everything. If you pop up at every meeting with a different problem, you’re going to be like the boy who cried wolf – no one will take you seriously. Try to pick one issue or topic to lead with for maximum effect.
  • Try to avoid complaining to the board. If you have a problem with a neighbor, just talk to them about it. Or leave an anonymous note if you’re scared. Don’t go to the board unless it’s a problem that you can’t solve on your own, or they will think you are annoying and naggy (see above). This does not apply to issues with common areas or neighborhood facilities.
  • Go to the meetings. I know, how annoying, how boring, yada yada. But, at the meetings, you will really hear what is going on. You will see who is in charge and can really pick up the dynamic of the board.
  • Make friends with someone on the board. The next best thing to being on the board yourself. You get the inside scoop and often get a heads up before something goes down. Plus, it’s always good to have someone on the inside on your side.

How to Handle Problems (Once You Have Them) with the HOA:

  • Approach the friendliest member first. If you followed my above advice, you made at least one friend on the board. Now is when you use that relationship. Oh I needed approval for that fence? You know I respect you buddy, that was just a mistake!
  • Plead ignorance. Now hopefully you actually read the HOA covenants as I suggested and you knew that you were willfully breaking a rule. They don’t know that, and they probably assume that you didn’t read the rules, or at least didn’t remember them. It’s a lot easier to forgive someone who accidentally broke a rule than willfully did it. I have actually gotten a fine waived to a warning just by acting like I didn’t know and being nice about it. The only thing with this one is that you can’t get away with it twice.
  • Apologize. Yeah, it sucks, but just saying “sorry about that!” will get you far.
  • Try to be nice. Name calling (to their face) won’t get you far. Remember, in this sad twisted situation, they hold the power. Yes, you pay dues, and that gets you one vote out of however many people in your neighborhood. They probably hold the proxy and get to cast many votes.
  • Consider running for the HOA. In both of the places that we have lived they have literally begged people to sign up. If you have a strong opinion, put yourself in a position to actually make a change.

Do you have any more advice for handling an HOA?

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