CouchSurfing is an online community of friendly hosts who are ready and eager to throw their convertible couches open to travelers from across the world. The service offers more than a free place to crash; it connects travelers with like-minded people who are excited to share their enthusiasm for their hometown. But aren’t you going to be immediately robbed and stabbed by the opportunistic lechers lurking on the internet, you ask?
Never, never open your door to a contractor who randomly appears offering to fix some unseen problem. You would think it’s common sense, but a California senior ended up paying a shady contractor $20,000 to perform $300 worth of work, and it took a sting operation to stop a Long Island contractor who was going door-to-door offering to plug nonexistent carbon monoxide leaks. So how can you protect yourself? Here are a few warning signs to beware….
We remember from our formative days in suburbia that managing a lawn was a lot like fighting a war. And like modern wars, outsourcing was the cleanest and easiest option, even if it cost a bit more. Well, with five tips from noted cheapskate Jeff Yeager, managing your own lawn could become just a little more manageable.
Thanks to their bank, Victor Vangelakos and his family live by themselves in a 32-story tower.
The New York Times says a white roof on your house “can cost as little as 15 percent more than its dark counterpart” yet “reduce air-conditioning costs by 20 percent or more in hot, sunny weather.” This is because, scientifically speaking, the color white hates the stupid sun and won’t have anything to do with it.
Cool Tools describes the Caretaker Gazette as “house-sitting classifieds.” The tipster writes, “I’ve used [it] to live rent-free for the past three years […] living as a caretaker in California and Idaho. In exchange for my accommodations, my duties have included keeping trespassers off the property, taking messages, mowing the lawn, cleaning the pool and generally watching over the home when the owners are away.” An online subscription costs $30 a year, and includes a PDF issue every two months, plus listings online and a weekly email update.
CNNMoney has a list of 25 towns where the price of a house isn’t much more than the median family income. Guess where they all are?
The government thinks radioactive industrial waste from China is responsible for a recent sulfur stench that has plagued hundreds of Florida homes. Demand for Chinese drywall spiked during the housing boom, but federal regulators believe the drywall contained phosphogypsum, a banned waste byproduct that features prominently in Chinese construction. When used in drywall, the probable carcinogen can corrode “air conditioners, mirrors, electrical outlets and even jewelry.”
Life is full of surprises and challenges. Luckily, there’s a tax form for just about all of them. Via Kiplinger’s, here’s 14 major life events that allow for smart tax-saving moves, and how to make those moves.
Brett Arends at The Wall Street Journal has compared Case-Shiller house price data to annual inflation rates, and speculates that owning a home may not be a very good investment. “You can often do better on long-term inflation protected government bonds,” he writes.
Cool Tools has an interesting suggestion for home owners who want to incorporate solar technology, but can’t afford the steep investment costs: let the solar panel company finance it for you. The trade-off is you won’t save as much money as you would if you paid for them outright, but you will save some money, and the company that’s paying for the panels has a financial incentive to keep them working properly over the course of the agreement.
If you’re saddled with a Wells Fargo mortgage, now would be a good time to slash your rate and payment through little effort by hitting up the bank’s streamlined refinancing program, which under certain circumstances lets you refi without being gouged for closing costs.
Thomas says his wife was approached by a belligerent salesman the other day regarding the windows on their home. He tried to get her to agree to an instant estimate and promised a huge discount for being a “model home” for the window upgrades, but when she refused to make an instant decision, Thomas says he “snatched the card out of her hand” and “yelled at her.”
Meet Michelle. We met Michelle at Arbitration Fairness Day and she told us about being forced into arbitration when she tried to get her poorly constructed home repaired. Now she’d like to share her story with you.
We at Consumerist really hate mandatory binding arbitration, the faux-legal sucker punch that companies deliver when they screw up and you try to sue, and so should you. We’ve talked about its evils a lot, but no one can describe this legal abomination as well as the victims themselves, so this week we’ll let them speak.
David Kellermann, a former Freddie Mac senior vice president who had been serving as the acting chief financial officer of the mortgage buying company since its takeover by the federal government last September, was found “hanging in the basement of his Reston home, dead from an apparent suicide” early this morning. Police were called to his home by someone inside the house at about 5 am today and found Kellermann’s body.