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Todd McDaniel
REALTOR®, Partner/Owner | BHHS Chairman's Circle 2021
Office: 843-301-0013
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Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Bay Street Realty Group Blog

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August
20

Information is brought to you by
Todd McDaniel
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group

How to Make Your Home's Entryway Pop

The entrance of your home says a lot about your character, from interior design to overall aesthetics. Below are some helpful tips for ensuring your space wows you and your guests every time.

Kill the clutter. Clutter is a huge no-no in your entryway, as it impacts the entire vibe of your space from the moment you set foot in the door. However, this can be hard, as the entryway is the space you dump your keys, mail, boots, and coat. To remedy this, make sure you have designated, tucked-away spaces for everything you store at the entrance of your home. Hooks for coats, baskets for mail, and a covered bin for shoes can all work wonders.

Add a statement. Placing a beloved piece of art or furniture in the mouth of your home is a great way to appreciate it every time you enter and can offer a fantastic conversation starter between you and guests.

Have a seat. Whether it's a plush chair or a simple bench, a seat in your entryway is great for roosting as you tie your shoelaces and makes a perfect place for attractive accent pillows.

Light it right. Good lighting in your entryway is a must. Add an attractive lighting fixture, set up a dimmer for mood and a floor or table lamp for added options.

Personal touches. Placing photos of your family and pets in your entryway can add a nice personal element and warm your heart every time you pass by.


August
20

Information is brought to you by
Todd McDaniel
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group

Organizing Your Finances as a College Graduate

If you've just graduated from college, this is the perfect time to establish smart financial habits. With hopefully a full-time job awaiting, this is the time to establish habits you'll continue throughout your life.

Where to start? It's likely you've racked up some student loan debt. The good news is that federal student loans come with a grace period after graduation of usually six months. Borrowers don't have to make payments during this time and can use that time to make sure they have a payment plan they can afford.

Look at your total loan amount, interest rate and expected monthly payment. If you can't afford it, you may want to apply for a payment option that links your payments to your income. This can lead to paying more interest but will give you breathing room as you start your career. Also, make sure your loan servicer has your updated contact information so that statements and other information get to you on time.

Keep Track of Your Money
A cash flow analysis is an important financial habit to start because it lets you know how much money is coming in and what's going out. Start simply with a piece of paper. List income streams on the left (most likely to only be your paycheck) and list fixed expenses on the right. These can include rent, car payments, insurance, food and an emergency fund. Then list variable expenses, such as gifts, vacations and dining out.

If there's a gap between income and expenses, then it's time to alter one or both categories. Can you get a roommate to cut costs? Use public transportation instead of owning a car? There are all kinds of budgeting apps that can help you decide expenses to cut and that keep track of where your money goes.

Start Saving
Along with an emergency fund of six months of living expenses, start the habit of saving your money by contributing to your employer-sponsored 401(k) or other retirement plan. Try to invest at least the minimum amount to get a matching contribution from your employer, usually 3-5 percent. This way, you're giving your future self a raise without much work.

Health Insurance
The Affordable Care Act allows you to stay on your parents' health plan until you turn 26. If that isn't an option, hopefully your employer offers health insurance.

If you have low medical expenses, as most healthy, young, single adults do, then look for a plan that has a health savings account, so you can save for health emergencies. Such medical plans may have high deductibles, which is money you pay out of pocket when you're sick. However, the money is deposited before you pay taxes on them, and they grow tax free and can be withdrawn tax free for medical needs.

August
18

Information is brought to you by
Todd McDaniel
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group

What to Look for in a Credit Card Mobile App

A credit card's mobile app can give you immediate access to your account, making it easier to track purchases, make payments, review monthly statements, report a lost card and view rewards, among other things.

But not all mobile apps are the same, and knowing what's available can make it easier to choose a credit card and find the features you want in an app. Of course, that's after you've found the card with the best interest rate and rewards you want.

A 2018 satisfaction study by J.D. Power ranked the best apps on five factors: ease of navigation, appearance, clarity of information, range of services and availability of key information. Here are the top five credit card apps based on the results:

American Express
This was the only app to receive a rating of five out of five. The American Express mobile app allows users to track transactions, check monthly statements, redeem rewards and explore card benefits. Fraud notifications can also be set.

Chase
This app rated three out of five in J.D. Power's satisfaction survey. It can be used to review and pay Chase credit card bills, access rewards information and set up notifications. The app also allows you to view your VantageScore credit score, as well as secure messages from Chase's customer service team.

Citi
Citi also scored three out of five, with an app that allows users to view a summary of their main account information before signing in. Your credit card can be locked if your card is lost or stolen, and you can request a replacement card through the app, as well. You can also view transactions and pay your bill, as most other credit card apps allow. Citi also allows users to dispute unauthorized transactions, view and redeem rewards, and check their FICO credit score.

Bank of America
Allowing common services such as paying your credit card bill, viewing transactions, accessing your FICO score, getting account alerts and redeeming rewards, the Bank of America app scored a three out of five.

Capital One
This app received a rating of four out of five. Along with allowing users to review transactions and statements, view and redeem rewards, pay their credit card bill, and set up purchase notifications, the Capital One app has two top features that users say they want: the ability to instantly lock a card if it's lost or stolen, as well as the ability to unlock the card and continue using it if it's found.

Capital One also allows users to sign in using a pattern traced with a finger instead of typing in a password. Additionally, the app provides access to the company's credit monitoring service and VantageScore credit score.

August
18

Information is brought to you by
Todd McDaniel
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group

How to Clean Your Hardwood Floors

If you're the proud owner of a hardwood floor, you may be engaged in a constant cleaning battle. Hardwood looks best when it's buff and gleaming, but with a busy schedule, it can be hard to keep the floors sparkling at all times. Below are a handful of tips for quickly cleaning your wood floors.

Clear the space. This may seem obvious, but it's an often-overlooked step in the cleaning process. Clear your furniture (picking it up, not dragging it) so you can access the full plane of your floor.

Vacuum. Use a vacuum to pick up surface dirt and pet hair that will interfere with your mopping. If your vacuum has a crevice accessory, put it on and get in the tough to reach spots, like corners and baseboards.

Mop. Going with the grain, mop your floor from wall to wall, including your baseboards. If your floor is sealed with polyurethane, you can use simple dish soap for a little extra cleaning oomph.

Buff. Using a clean cloth or dry mop to buff the floor until it sparkles. Once fully dry, replace the furniture and enjoy.

August
15

Information is brought to you by
Todd McDaniel
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group

Best Ways to Use Credit Card Concierge

Somewhere on your credit card statement—or maybe even on the back of the card—is contact information for a credit card concierge. The service is usually free, and while it isn't available on all credit cards, many travel rewards cards offer it as a way to have someone do some tasks for you. Requests can be made over the phone or by filling out an online form.

Here are some of the best ways to use a concierge service offered through your credit card:

Sports Tickets
Is that hockey game you want to go to sold out? Is the game in two days and you really want to go? A credit card concierge can check resale markets for you, and should have a number of price ranges for you within a few hours.

Restaurant Reservations
If the OpenTable app or calling a restaurant directly doesn't get you a dinner reservation at the time you want, try the concierge. They may be able to find availability that you can't, getting you in to a popular restaurant.

Hotel
If you have a hotel rewards credit card, you may be better off calling the card's customer service line for help. After all, hotels are their specialty, so they should be able to find you a great room at a great price.

Otherwise, ask the credit card concierge for hotel recommendations. The hotel chain doesn't have to be tied to your credit card, though that can't hurt if it allows you to collect more rewards points from the trip. Just tell the concierge your travel dates, price range and location, and see what they can do.

Gifts
If you don't like to shop for gifts, give your concierge a few ideas on what your friend likes—along with their age—and, chances are, they can find a few gift ideas for birthdays or other events that you may not find on your own. You can direct the concierge to charge them to your credit card, or you can go purchase them yourself online.

If you're pressed for time and don't mind that you won't be comparison-shopping yourself, a credit card concierge can be one of the best free services on your credit card.

August
15

Information is brought to you by
Todd McDaniel
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group

Simple Money Lessons That Will Last Your Child a Lifetime

Carrying cash is becoming less common these days, which can be a nuisance for parents and their children—especially when it comes to paying children their allowance each week.

For many parents, cash allowances are becoming a thing of the past as they instead turn to prepaid debit cards that can be managed directly from their phones. In fact, by simply downloading an app onto their phone for the financial company they're working with, parents can load money onto a debit card that their child can use at stores, gas stations and anywhere else where debit and credit cards are accepted.

Parents typically sign up for the account and then link their checking account or debit card to fund the child's debit card.

Along with transferring an allowance, the app can be used to set spending limits, view expenses and automatically match money the child puts into a savings account. Taking this one step further, parents can receive a text message or email when their child makes a purchase—and they can even use the app to disable the card if the child loses it.

Parents can allow children to use their debit card anywhere or can limit it to certain stores and websites. Once these settings are in place, the card will be declined if the child tries to buy something at a non-approved store, or if they try to spend more money than is available on the card.

If the child has their own cellphone, they can get their own version of the app and check balances or get a parent's permission to buy a certain item. Better yet, some cards can be used at ATMs.

Some financial services allow parents to set chores for the child to complete and then pay the child through the app when the chore has been finished.

If you're looking to take advantage of this growing trend, some of the financial services that currently offer debit cards for children include Greenlight, Current, goHenry, FamZoo and Akimbo. TD Bank, American Express and Capital One also have debit cards for teens; however, some of these financial institutions require that teens have a checking account with the bank.

The debit cards usually have monthly fees of $5 or so, and some have annual fees. They usually don't charge extra for adding money onto the card, though parents should carefully read the fee schedule before enrolling in a program because some charge fees for reloading, as well as other services.

Before giving your child a debit card, make sure they understand how it works and how they can check the balance. Use it as a chance to discuss budgeting and saving, and to get them started on a solid financial foot that will hopefully follow them into adulthood.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional or legal advice.

July
31

Todd McDaniel
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group

How to Haggle on the Phone for Better Prices

Haggling may not be one of the funnest things you'll do on any given day, but if you're anywhere near good at it, you can save hundreds or thousands of dollars a year.

For people who don't want to haggle in person or don't want to send emails back and forth, the simplest option is calling on the phone. This can be done to reduce your costs for phone, cable TV, Internet service or other monthly bills, and for big-ticket purchases such as a car or household appliance.

Here are some tips for haggling over the phone:

Research
If you're looking for a better price on your cable TV package, for example, look online for deals your cable provider and other companies are offering new customers, and ask for the same deal. The more information you have, the better prepared you'll be to haggle by suggesting you'll go to a competitor that has a better price.

Know who to call
Most businesses have customer service phone numbers. If you get lost in a phone tree, press the number "0," which should usually connect you directly to an operator. Ask for a customer service representative. If that person isn't much help within a few minutes, ask to be transferred to their supervisor or a customer retention specialist who can usually offer the bigger discounts that you want.

Don't argue
Don't debate the person on the other end of the line. Being mad will likely cause the other person to lose interest in helping you, so stay calm and on point. Ask for what you want and explain how long you've been a loyal customer and how much longer they'll have you as a customer if they offer the discount.

Use silence
Being silent can give the other person the incentive to fill the space by talking and hopefully offering options. These may include a free add-on service, such as free delivery of a new mattress if you're negotiating the price of a new bed, or they may all of a sudden find a deal on their computer that they didn't offer during the first few minutes of your conversation.

Say goodbye
If the rep or retention specialist didn't offer you the best deal you expected, then thank them for their time and say goodbye and that you'll be checking with their competitors. This message that you may soon be dropping their service gives them one last chance to put you on hold and come up with a solution. If they don't, then either go find a better price at another company, or call back a few days later and talk to another customer service representative. The people you talk with later may be willing to help you.

April
5

Information is brought to you by
Todd McDaniel
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group

When Paying With a Credit Card Beats Cash

Paying for something with a credit card instead of cash can be easier for a number of reasons. While it can be difficult to find an ATM when you need it, carrying around a lot of cash can be dangerous, and some things are nearly impossible to buy with cash.

And by "cash," we also mean a debit card, since money that's pulled immediately out of a bank account through a debit card doesn't have as many protections as a credit card does.

Here are four specific instances when paying with plastic is a much better idea than using cash:

Digital Purchases

Ring tones, games on your smartphone or anything else you buy online that's delivered digitally can be difficult to get a refund on if you pay with a debit card or some other form of digital cash.

If something is wrong with the game you've bought, and the app seller doesn't help you, paying with a credit card will offer more protection than a debit card if you didn't get what you paid for. Not only will your credit card company help you resolve the issue and put off the charge until the problem has been rectified, they will also contact the seller for help.

Electronics and Warranty Extensions

Televisions, computers, refrigerators and other big-ticket items that come with a manufacturer's warranty often have the warranty extended for a year when paying with a credit card. Check with your credit card before making a purchse to see if it offers this free service. And only use the card if you can afford to pay off the balance when the bill arrives so that you're not paying interest on the new TV set you've bought.

Undelivered Items

If you've used a credit card to pay movers who didn't fulfill their contract, or the flowers you ordered for mom were never delivered, you can have your credit card company withhold payment until the products or services have been received. In other words, you won't pay until you're satisfied. 

Travel

It can be difficult, if not impossible, to reserve a plane ticket, hotel room or rental car with cash. A debit card can be used for some reservations, but a "hold" on the card for the expected total might hurt your ability to withdraw cash from your account or use the debit card elsewhere.

Credit cards make travel a lot easier. They often offer perks such as free checked luggage, protection against trip interruption or lost luggage, and free rental car insurance.

Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. All properties are subject to prior sale, change or withdrawal. Neither listing broker(s) or information provider(s) shall be responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, misprints and shall be held totally harmless. Listing(s) information is provided for consumers personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. Information on this site was last updated 10/03/2022. The listing information on this page last changed on 10/03/2022. The data relating to real estate for sale on this website comes in part from the Internet Data Exchange program of Low Country MLS (last updated Mon 10/03/2022 10:05:16 AM EST) or REsides Inc MLS (last updated Mon 10/03/2022 10:03:11 AM EST) or Savannah MLS (last updated Mon 10/03/2022 10:04:38 AM EST). Real estate listings held by brokerage firms other than BHHS Bay Street Realty Group may be marked with the Internet Data Exchange logo and detailed information about those properties will include the name of the listing broker(s) when required by the MLS. All rights reserved. --


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