How to stop your pool from draining your wallet

pool

Tips for cutting pool power consumption

  • Switch to a variable speed pump: Analysis from the Department of the Environment and Energy revealed that a variable speed pump can cost twice to buy as much as a fixed speed pump, but half as much to run over the life of the pump, saving pool owners far more than the difference in the purchase price.
  • Take advantage of peak and off-peak pricing: Households that take advantage of time-of-use or flexible pricing for electricity will generally see the biggest savings by running pumps between 11pm and 7am. On the other hand, power will be the most expensive between 2pm and 8pm.
  • Adjust your maintenance schedule: Set your pool pump to the minimum runtime that still keeps the pool clean. Empty the skimmer basket regularly to maintain good water flow and reduce the load on the pump.

read more at: https://www.domain.com.au/advice/how-to-reduce-the-running-costs-of-your-pool-793219/?utm_campaign=strap-masthead&utm_source=smh&utm_medium=link&utm_content=pos5&ref=pos1

5 optional upgrades to think twice about when remodeling

1. Bi-fold doors

Bi-fold doors have become a standard fixture in new home builds, most commonly installed between the living spaces and al fresco zones. Ideal for blurring the boundary between inside and out, glass bi-folds look good and feel well-suited to the Australian outdoor lifestyle.

But Anchor Homes project consultant Laurie Raikes believes owners rarely take advantage of them.

“The concept is great but in reality they never get used,” he says. “You’ll pay a lot of money [on a project home] for bi-folds as an upgrade and they’re difficult to screen. You may want to consider allocating that money elsewhere.”

Bi-folds can also encroach on your living space, as they protrude once stacked, and may impair views as each panel has a wide frame.

On the other hand, sliding doors are generally cheaper and offer larger expanses of glass to maximize light and views.

2. Fancy Fittings

When it comes to designer fittings, Raikes says you risk alienating future owners with different tastes to your own. He also cautions against items like bar fridges and spa baths, which may have limited appeal.

Raikes installed a spa bath in his new home, but now regrets doing so.

“I thought it was a great idea, but I’ve probably only used it twice in 12 months,” he says. “A spa bath takes up a lot of space and might cost up to $2000.”

read more at: https://www.domain.com.au/advice/five-optional-upgrades-to-think-twice-about-when-renovating-or-building-a-new-home-815737/?utm_campaign=strap-masthead&utm_source=smh&utm_medium=link&utm_content=pos5&ref=pos1

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Getting a mortgage for the self-employed just got easier

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who are self-employed or earn money on the side through freelance, contract or “gig” work, you may know the drill firsthand: Applying for a mortgage can be an intrusive ordeal.

Compared with people who have W-2 forms or pay stubs to verify their income, you encounter a much more time-consuming process. Lenders want to see your full tax returns for a couple of years — the whole box of stuff, not just an electronic transcript from the IRS. They need hard documentation of any income you’re claiming to qualify for the loan. And even if you can document your sideline pay, it might not be steady enough or ongoing long enough to be eligible under mortgage-industry rules.

You’re likely to get hit with a lot of questions: How come you reported less on your tax returns than what you’re claiming as your income on your loan application? You may also get charged more in fees, take longer to get approved, and end up with a slightly higher interest rate on your loan.

 

Lenders do this because self-employed earnings for mortgage eligibility purposes can be squishy, and there’s a lot riding on accuracy. If they approve a loan that turns out to be based on inflated or ineligible self-employment income, they can be hit with severe penalties. If they sold your mortgage to an investor, which is commonplace, they could be forced to buy it back.

 

But major improvements are underway: As of earlier this month, the two largest sources of mortgage money in the U.S. — investors Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae — have deployed remarkable new technology that automates underwriting for applicants who are self-employed or have significant side income. Applications that previously would have taken days to analyze and verify may now take just minutes, thanks to the use of “optical character recognition” (OCR) technology that reads tax returns, identifies what qualifies as eligible income, and integrates it into both companies’ electronic underwriting systems. Dallas-based tech company LoanBeam supplies the OCR solution in both cases. Freddie Mac notified its thousands of lenders of the change March 6; Fannie Mae introduced its program in December.

 

Instead of an underwriter having to plow through wads of tax documents, lenders can now upload the paperwork directly to LoanBeam, where it will be scanned and analyzed within minutes, saving time and money for borrowers and lenders alike. Andy Higginbotham, a Freddie Mac senior vice president, told me the new system “takes three to five days out of the process,” can cut hundreds of dollars in costs, and slashes risk for the lender. If Freddie’s automated underwriting system approves the application with the LoanBeam-verified income, Freddie will not hold the lender responsible for inaccuracies that pop up later. Fannie Mae’s system does the same.

 

The move to automation could have wide impacts. In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were approximately 15 million self-employed individuals in 2015, one of every 10 people in the workforce. A tax-preparation industry estimate indicated that more than one-third of workers earned income from “gig-economy” sources in 2015 — such as driving for Lyft or renting out a house via Airbnb — and that the total will exceed 40 percent by 2020.

read more at: https://www.courant.com/consumer/hc-hre-harney-column-20190317-20190315-pv6znyqvpngozpnrqsqy6n3nri-story.html

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