• 7 Home Investments that Save Money

    by Jackie Heath | Sep 26, 2014

    Home Investments that Save MoneyEveryone knows that buying a new house is expensive. From the home’s purchase and closing costs to the act of moving, you’ll be spending plenty of money as you prepare to relocate. These costs don’t disappear right away, either. Getting your new house up to comfortable standards could take months (or even years), with plenty of renovations happening along the way.

    Fortunately, there are home investments that can save you money in the long run. If you’re limited in what home improvements you’re able to make, these ones tend to offer the highest annual savings and resale value.

    1. New Windows and Doors: Old windows and poorly sealed doors are one of the biggest contributors to losing heat and air conditioning. Not only will new, energy-efficient windows and doors look great, but they can save hundreds of dollars every year on your energy bill.  

    2. Air Conditioning/Heating/HVAC
    : Replacing a furnace or having air ducts installed is a big investment, but they almost always end up paying for themselves. Efficient heating and cooling will keep you comfortable and make your home more energy compliant. (Programmable thermostats are considered one of the best ways to save money on heating/cooling.)  

    3. Security Systems
    : Safety is always a good investment, which is why you might want to have a new security system installed. (You can also have floodlights put up or replace all the handles/locks in your home.) You can protect your belongings, lower your insurance, and increase your home’s value all at the same time.  

    Tankless Water Heaters: Traditional water heaters are among some of the least efficient appliances out there. They take up space, must continually heat the water in the reservoir, and have limited amounts of hot water for you to use. If you need to upgrade anyway, consider a tankless water heater that heats water only as it is needed.

    5. Bathrooms/Kitchens: If you’re going for total home renovation, always start with the bathrooms or kitchen. These areas of the house offer the quickest way to increase your home’s value—especially if you go for high-end appliances and details.

    6. Unhealthy Tree Removal: That big, gorgeous oak tree in the front yard might be providing you with great shade, but if it’s not in peak health, it could end up being a drain on your home. Dead or dying trees can spread infection or cause limbs to crash into property below. Tree health should always be a part of your regular maintenance. 

    Good Home Insurance: Many types of home insurance punish you for making claims. Others charge high prices with high deductibles and low customer service. Shop around and find a home insurance company you enjoy working with.

    Not every home improvement you make has to improve your home’s value. A fresh coat of paint, new carpets, a porch swing you can enjoy as a family…these things might not pay off financially, but they can make you feel more at home right from the start. With the right combination of renovations for you and for your future finances, you can enjoy your house and make sure your money is being put to good use.

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  • New Home Maintenance Guide

    by Jackie Heath | Sep 23, 2014

    new home maintenanceAnyone who’s ever owned or rented a house before can tell you what a big commitment it is. From mowing the lawn every week to emergency pest control, it seems like there’s always something that needs to be done.

    Your best bet is to start a good maintenance routine early. By incorporating these tasks into a regular rotation, you can make sure your home stays in good repair for as long as possible.


    > Touch up exterior paint
    > Repair/replace screens on windows
    > Fertilize/aerate lawn
    > Furnace tune-up
    > Air conditioner tune-up/cleaning
    > Drain/flush water heater
    > Apply weather stripping to windows/doors
    > Winterize outdoor pipes
    > Seal/repair driveway and sidewalk


    > Clean the gutters
    > Deep clean outdoor furniture/fixtures
    > Inspect roof/chimney for cracks and damages
    > Test sump pump
    > Prune trees and shrubs
    > Check for signs of insect/rodent infestation
    > Deep clean major appliances
    > Check caulking around tubs/showers
    > Vacuum refrigerator coils
    > Test ground circuits
    > Shampoo carpets


    > Wash windows (both inside and out)
    > Test smoke detectors
    > Check dryer exhaust vent for lint buildup
    > Change air conditioning/heating filters
    > Check fire extinguisher/replace as needed
    > Clear drains in kitchen and bathroom
    > Clean filters above stove
    > Add salt to water softener, if needed
    > Move appliances and clean underneath them
    > Update fire safety plans/routes


    > Dust blinds/vacuum curtains
    > Flush garbage disposal
    Clean out exterior and interior garbage cans
    > Throw out expired food/medication

    Your home is one of the most important investments you’ll ever make. Keep everything running smoothly—and safely—for as long as possible with regular home maintenance.

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  • Visit Allied on Pinterest

    by Jackie Heath | Sep 18, 2014
    Did you know Allied Van Lines is on Pinterest? Visit us at Pinterest.com/AlliedVL to help better prepare for your move or for home inspiration as you settle in after a move.

    On our Pinterest boards you will find everything from packing tips and advice on hiring moving companies, to real estate trends and home design or decor inspiration. Connect with us and begin organizing all those ideas you have for your new home, while learning quick tips to make your relocation smoother.

    Allied on Pinterest
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  • Ask Allied: How do I Tackle Unpacking?

    by Jackie Heath | Sep 17, 2014

    How to unpack after a moveThere are hundreds of articles and how-to tips on packing up a home to get ready for a big move, but we tend to forget that there’s a whole other side to the moving process: the unpacking. Because there usually isn’t a deadline in place, unpacking is a more leisurely affair. A few boxes here, a few boxes there, a few boxes that linger in a corner for months…if you’re like most people, there’s much less pressure to get everything done in time.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean you aren’t eager to have all the unpacking accomplished and the boxes carried out. As you face a house full of belongings and furniture just waiting to be put away, here are a few tips for making the process go faster.

    5 Tips to Starting to Unpack after a Move

    1. Start with the Kitchen: Until you get your kitchen unpacked and stocked, you’re going to be spending a lot of time exploring local takeout companies. It can be difficult for a house to feel like a home when the cupboards are bare and you have to search for every fork, so put the kitchen at the top of your list. You don’t have to put everything away, but make it functional and ensure you have enough counter space to do your cooking.

    2. Have a Place to Rest: After the kitchen is done, make sure you have beds to sleep in and a comfortable place to sit and rest. Food and sleeping—those are your top two priorities right now. Everything else can be delayed or spread out over a longer period of time.

    3. Place the Big Pieces: You might be itching to get inside those boxes and start putting everything away, but make sure all your large pieces of furniture are assembled and placed first. TV stands, beds, couches, pianos, chests of drawers, dining room sets, bookshelves—once these items are in place, you can start tackling the contents of those boxes.

    4. One Room at a Time: Instead of moving through your house in a haphazard whirl, consider taking it one room at a time. Choose a small room to start out with and make it your priority. You can paint it, decorate it, unpack the boxes…make it perfect and then move on to the next room. You’ll appreciate having a nice, quiet, fully unpacked room to turn to when you start to feel overwhelmed.

    5. Set Small Goals: Instead of saying you want to be totally unpacked by next week, set smaller, more attainable goals as you go. Unpack those two boxes before lunch. Get the bathroom fully set up by the end of the week. Move that pile of boxes upstairs before bed. Give yourself credit for each success.

    Perhaps most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Moving heavy pieces should always be done with more than one person on hand, and there’s nothing wrong with inviting friends over to have an “unpacking” party. It might take you days, weeks, or even
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  • Settling into a New School Year

    by Jackie Heath | Sep 15, 2014

    Back to School after a MoveYou made it through the first few weeks at a new school. Your kids are settling in and making friends. Your house is (almost) unpacked and you’re ready to tackle everything the fall has to offer. (At least in a perfect world, right?)

    The hard part is finished—now all you have to do is keep the momentum. Keep your children engaged in their surroundings and avoid a few common “new school year” mishaps to ensure continued success both at school and at home.

    1. Find Junior League Sports Teams: Extracurricular activities aren’t just a great way to keep your kids in good shape and build their future college applications—they’re also a way to engage children and build them a sense of place. A sports team, an academic club, a dance troupe…all of these things can help your child become grounded in their new surroundings and make lifelong friends.

    2. Be Involved (but not Over-involved): Your instinct might be to take every possible step to ensure your kid feels like he or she belongs. You might volunteer for school bake sales, offer to be an assistant coach, show up early for every PTA meeting, and be the coolest mom on the block for snack time—which is great, but be careful not to overdo it. Your child might want a little freedom to find his or her place in the community away from your influence.

    3. Create Longer-Term Incentives: One way to get kids excited about their new home is by allowing them to paint their rooms any color they want or setting up a game room in the basement. While this is a great plan, try not to do all the good stuff in the beginning. After the initial rush of moving-renovating-school wears off, your child may experience a slump (similar to the post-holiday feeling). Avoid this trap by setting long-term incentives like a new bed in October, a kid-themed housewarming party in November, or a staycation in December.

    4. Don’t Fill the Calendar All the Way: Make sure your kids have regular downtime without any sort of event or activity taking place. Moving to a new school is overwhelming, and they may need some alone time to reflect, relax, and just unwind.

    5. Maintain Careful Ties to the Past: There’s no question about it—one of the hardest parts of moving with kids is striking the right balance between new and old. You don’t want them to completely cut ties with their old friends and habits, but you also want to encourage them to find a place in their new surroundings. Do what you can to foster healthy relationships in both the cities where you have social ties.

    Above all else, be sure and talk to your kids about how well they’re settling in. They may be putting a happy face on things for your sake, or they might be perfectly happy with the change in situation—the only way you can know for sure is if you have good running dialogue and regular check-ins to see how things are going.

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