Sunday, March 16, 2008

Don't Spend that IRS Refund!!

Here's a bright idea...
Don't spend your IRS refund check!!
Okay, sure it's hard not to. It's 'found'
money, a gift for working so hard and
you deserve something special. Right?
How many times have you spent that
refund and a few months later can't
even remember what you did with it?
If you didn't already, when you fill out
your return, opt to have a direct deposit.
Once in the bank, transfer it to your
savings account. If you don't have one,
now is the time. Depending on the size
of your refund, you might purchasing a
Certificate of Deposit. Check with your
bank to see the current rate of interest.
For those who can't hand over the entire
refund to the bank, save at least 1/2.
Then have yourself some fun and maybe
next year it might be easier to save it all.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Renting Out Unused Space=$$

Make Room, Make Money
Letting Unused Space Pay For Itself

Own your own home? Then you have potential income waiting by renting out unused space.

How many of you park your car(s) in the driveway instead of using your garage? Usually most of whatever is being kept in the garage is stuff that could be tossed out or sold. How about a spare bedroom that is serving no other purpose but to store more stuff and an occasional sleepover guest.

If you are going to be keeping stuff in these places anyway, why not make money doing it? Ideally a two car garage is just what someone needs to store their car, small boat, ski mobiles, motorcycles etc. Put some strong, well secured shelving along the walls allowing even more space to rent. Many people are in transit from homes to an apartment with too many items to take and can't decide what to do. In the meantime they need a safe, secure place and your garage might be just the answer.
Others may need space to store boxed collectibles or items that can't be left in the garage. This is where that unused spare room comes in handy.

Place an ad in the local newspaper, or one of those smaller 'ads' newspapers found in convenience stores. Put a flyer on a bulletin board in the supermarket. Word of mouth is sometimes the best source for getting the word out. It's a good idea to state in the ad what you will allow stored. You might prefer vehicles only in the garage. This eliminates unnecessary callers looking to store other items instead.

Getting your garage or unused room ready is the next step. Depending on it's condition determines how much needs to be done. If you have it filled up with the stuff you don't have use for, then either sell it, donate it or toss it.
Try to remove as much furniture as possible from the spare room that you can. Take it to the cellar if you have one or attic. If neither is possible then take as many items to other rooms to provide more space to rent. Utilize the closet as well. Have the room pristine clean, carpet vacuumed and steam cleaned if necessary, walls washed down. Try to imagine if you would want to store you things in there.

1. Get the garage clean. Not just swept clean but spotless. After a through sweeping, hose it down from ceiling to floor. A few coats of white paint, at least one, is a must.

2. If the garage gets wet, even slightly during rain, find the source and get it fixed. Dampness and humidity from moisture will cause mildew and odor that will send potential renters away.

3. Provide adequate lighting, not just the overhead light that is usually nothing more then a naked bulb. Renters will want to be able to see their items without tripping over each other in the process.

4. If your garage door does not have an electric door opener, get one and have it professionally installed. Security is a must.

5. Have large, wooden pallets available for those who want to store boxed items. They should be at least 5" from the garage floor. It is the renters responsibility to have strong boxes, tightly sealed without holes or tears.

What You Need to Do to Protect Yourself:
1. Get at least 3 non-family references from your applicant. Check them out thoroughly and be sure they are local references. Utilize any online or city public records available.
2. Be sure to get a copy of their photo i.d.'s. You especially don't want minors trying to rent space.
3. Trust your instincts. If you feel even a little uncomfortable about a potential renter, find someone else.
4. This is vital. Have the renter supply you with a list of everything they plan to store. If they are storing boxes, have them opened, take a photo of each box before sealing them. Count the number of boxes and include that on the list. If they are storing vehicles or equipment, take several photos of each item so you can prove their condition on the date of storage. Make copies of this list for them and you.
5. For in-house room space rental, never give out a key to your home. If they insist on a key, ask them to rent some place else. Of course they have a right to access their belongings. You will be writing a contract(read below) include in it that the renter must call ahead 24 hours minimum, so you can be at home when they arrive. Privacy should be respected on both sides.
6. As for determining a rental fee. Checkout the current fees charged by the commercial storage rental places in your area. Since most of these are not usually located near a residential area, you provide the plus of location. It's also easier for a renter to just pull into your driveway then have to negotiate a larger area of hundreds of other storage units.
Your price will have to factor in the possible increase in your homeowners insurance as you should advise them you are doing this. If they do increase your rate, them charge your renter accordingly. Be sure to request a month's deposit in advance.
It is your responsibility to provide a safe enviorment for a renter's possessions. They may ask you if you have homeowners insurance and be allowed to see that documentation.
7. Get everything in writing. You can purchase or download from your pc a standard renter's contract. Print out several copies in case you make changes. By now you should have all your do's and don's on a list ready to transfer onto a contract. Be specific. State when the rent is due and how many days grace period allowed before charging late fees. Definitely include under what circumstances the contract would be terminated, such as non-payment, storing items not allowed, etc. Do not accept cash payments. Checks only. Print out a copy of the check for your records if you only do online banking.
8. Have the renter read the contract carefully in your presence and ask if there are any questions or suggestions. At least consider them and try to work together so that both sides are comfortable with the end result. Have the contract signed in the presence of a notary, this is a must do.
While this may seem quite a bit of prep work, it's to your advantage. The end result is that both sides are happy and you are making money. Sounds like a win/win situation.