tips from the pros tagged posts

Fireplace Safety for the Winter

This issue of Tips from the Pros is brought to you by Clean Sweep Chimney, Gutter & Slate Service.

clean sweet fireplace safety

Staying warm during the winter could mean piling on blankets, slipping on socks or huddling on the couch in front of a space heater, but for many people, it means lighting up the fireplace. Before you get cozy, refresh your fireplace safety knowledge with these simple tips.

Is Your Chimney Clean?

Before you worry about what type of logs to burn, you need to ensure that you have a clean chimney. Your chimney should be professionally swept at least once a year. Creosote, soot and debris will all be removed from the inside and the structure will be inspected for safety. If there are any problems with your chimney, it’s much better to find them out before something dangerous occurs.

How Low Sh...

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Do I need to organize?

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this episode of Tips from the Pros about how to organize your home.

organize your home

When you organize, you will find you have more time for yourself.

“I can find everything I need, it might just take me a while.”

“I know where all of the important stuff is in my home.”

Are these statements you’ve made? Do you spend time every day looking for things? It’s time to get organized!

Having clutter can be like carrying weights around with you all day. It slows you down and takes away time that could be spent with more productive or fun tasks. You may have trouble reaching your personal and business goals.

Once you have eliminated clutter and organized what is left, you’ll find that your mind seems more clear and you actually feel better...

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Tax Reform Bill and What it Means

Thanks to L.K. Benson for this issue of Tips from the Pros.

L.K. Benson Tips from the Pros tax reform

Over the past several months we have been closely following the tax reform bill and providing you with regular updates on the proposals and planning opportunities surrounding those proposals. Both the House and Senate passed the final version of the bill and received the President’s signature. The bill was signed into law and will be effective for the 2018 tax year. That leaves you with very little time to implement any tax planning strategies!

We have written a more detailed overview of the reform bill and some tax strategies you should consider before December 31 that you can find on our website here. Below is a brief summary of these planning ideas:

  1. If you have not yet fully paid your 2017 state income taxes, consider maki...
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L.K. Benson Tips from the Pros tax reform

Tax Reform Moves Closer to Reality and Capital Gain Distributions Incoming

Thanks to L.K. Benson for this issue of Tips from the Pros.

Last Friday night the Senate passed a tax reform bill that would bring sweeping changes to our income tax system for individuals and corporations. The House of Representatives had already passed a similar bill earlier in November, and now the reconciliation process has begun. While significant differences between the two bills remain (see here for a good summary), there are enough similarities that we believe the odds are high that a compromised version of the bill will be signed into law before the end of the year. Unfortunately, you won’t have much time after the bill is passed to determine exactly how it will impact your own situation and implement any tax planning strategies before year end...

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fireplaces clean sweep

The Role of Fireplaces in Home Value

Thanks to Clean Sweep Chimney, Gutter & Slate Service for this episode of Tips from the Pros about fireplaces and home sales.

Fireplaces Play an Important Role in Winter Home Sales

Fireplaces have a direct positive effect on home sales, provided that they are in good condition. A study by the National Association of Realtors showed that fireplaces were one of the top three amenities requested by prospective homebuyers.

How Do Fireplaces Affect Home Value?

Almost half of homebuyers indicate that they are willing to pay more for a home with a working fireplace. On average, both wood-burning and gas fireplaces increase a home’s selling price by 12%. Their value is undeniable, whether they are inside of a home, condominium, townhouse or apartment...

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Preparedness for big storms

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this episode of Tips from the Pros about how to organize your home.

preparedness is important when storms are on their way

With the number of hurricanes happening this season, it’s time to talk about planning for an emergency. It might seem corny or unnecessary, but having family fire drills can save lives. An emergency plan can come in handy when you need it.

In Baltimore, we have been spared the worst of the hurricanes, but the storms that end up here can be serious. They cause downed trees, water coming inside and a loss of power. Preparedness before a big storm is always a good idea.

Doctors recommend you have at least a week of your medications on hand at any given time. Having only one or two day’s worth of your medication could cause you extra stress in an already stressful situation...

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The 15 minute organizing challenge

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this month’s Tips from the Pros about ways to reduce clutter.

aim 4 order tips from the prosInstead of trying to organize your entire home in one afternoon, break bigger tasks into smaller ones and start organizing little by little. The clutter didn’t happen in a day and reducing it doesn’t either. Take the challenge and try to do 15 minutes of organizing every day for a week.

Here are some thing you can do in around 15 minutes:

Go through a stack of mail.

Recycle what you can, and keep current bills in a folder or drawer. Or pay the bills and file whatever you need to save for tax purposes. If you haven’t read an article in a few months, toss the magazines. If you really want to save it, cut out the article you want and recycle the rest...

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A plan for organizing

tips for the pros organizing

Interior of a nice apartment with living room furniture and an exterior balcony.

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this month’s Tips from the Pros about creating a plan to organize.

The struggle is real. Organizing your home can be an enormous job and because of this, it can be hard to even get started. Setting a plan can help. Once you figure out what you want to do, it becomes easier to execute. Having less clutter around the house makes cleaning and maintaining your living space much easier.


Think about how you want your home to look. Consider homes you have seen in magazines and how much space there is in them. Think about everything being put away or gone and how nice the room will be. Visualization works!

Get supplies together

You’ll need trash bags, boxes o...

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8 Ways to Reduce Clutter

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this month’s Tips from the Pros about ways to reduce clutter.

Everyday habits can drastically reduce clutter if you stick to it. By doing some simple tasks that take only a few minutes each day you will be able to get rid of the piles of laundry, stacks of dishes and towers of mail.

reduce clutter in bedroom

Let go of the idea that everything needs to be perfect. A home that is manageable is not only achievable, but much more realistic.

  1. Write out a to do list for each day, preferably the night before, with everything you need to do. Prioritize everything so even if you don’t get through the list, you at least do the most important tasks. Check the list throughout the day. Cross off things you did and watch how productive you are...
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Fake it ’til you make it

fake it 'til you make it

Thanks to the Toolbox Tomgirl for this issue of Tips from the Pros, about how long appliances typically last.

“Fake it ’til you make it.” I have no idea who said those words to me first. I remember hearing them when I was a kid and thinking they were so stupid. Some adult must have made them up to make me feel better about some sport I was trying to play. I always sucked at sports. I had no skill and was the sister of the captain of the football team. That should tell you enough.

When I became an adult and wanted to become part of the man’s world of construction those words were REALLY important to me. I had to fake it because I had a lot to learn and I didn’t want to look like an idiot. I knew I had to at least “look” like I knew what I was doing...

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