Archive for July 2020

5 Landscaping Strategies to Deter Burglars

5 Landscaping Strategies to Deter Burglars

One of the most important aspects of deterring burglars from your home is ensuring your exterior is designed to make a break in more difficult. There are many steps that homeowners can take to make their abodes less appealing to potential thieves. Here are five landscaping strategies to deter burglars.

photo of a front porch in the dark

Keep Bushes Trimmed Around House

There are a couple reasons why keeping the bushes around your house under control can help deter burglars. First, overgrown shrubs are a great place for robbers to hide. No matter the time of day, someone can conceal themselves between your home and some thick foliage, and completely evade detection.

Shaggy plants can also be a signal to burglars that you aren’t paying attention to your home. This might make them more likely to choose your home over one that has an orderly front yard.

Additionally, an unkempt lawn can be a sign of someone being out of town. This is something burglars look for when finding potentially vulnerable homes.

Strategically Plan Your Shrubs and Perennial Plants

Maybe you don’t want to be constantly trimming the bushes and trees around your home. Actually, unless you’re a true green thumb, you probably don’t want to be doing this at all.

This is where a bit of planning can come in handy. If you’re going to have bushes or shrubs right next to your house, try to pick ones that aren’t super thick, or else have some sort of defensive mechanism. For example, rose bushes can be a great choice because they have sharp thorns. Even the most dedicated of burglars isn’t going to want to wade through a weave of spikes.

It might just be a better idea to have no large shrubs next to your house at all, as this completely leaves burglars exposed to detection.

Get a Home Security System

A home security system is great for lowering the amount of time a burglar is willing to spend inside a home. This makes it more difficult for them to find your most valuable items, since they know they only have a few minutes before the police arrive.

There’s another benefit to a home security system: the decal. Sticking a home security sign in your yard or front window will make your home much less appealing to potential criminals. In fact, about 60 percent of convicted robbers in one study said a home security system was a deterrent for them.

While this isn’t necessarily going to increase your home’s curb appeal, it will keep you safer from intruders. Plus, having a home security system can lower homeowners insurance rates.

Speaking of insurance, during this time of uncertainty, it is important to make sure you have the right insurance that is responding to the situation.  Read a little more about homeowners insurance and COVID 19.

Related Article: 5 Hacks for Saving on Homeowners Insurance

Put Up a Fence

It can be expensive, but building a fence is one of the best ways to keep out potential burglars. There are a few things to consider before you decide on a fence.

Despite what you might think, a thick wall, or solid fence isn’t necessarily the best choice when it comes to home defense. These are typically easier for a burglar to get over because they have no give and provide ample footing. Better options are fences with vertical metal bars or chain-link fences with a solid foundation.

Install Some Exterior Lighting

It can be expensive and wasteful to leave exterior lighting on all night. For some people, however, doing this is necessary for their peace of mind. There are some other options to consider that are a bit less extreme, and can provide equally effective results.

Consider attaching your exterior flood lights to motion sensors. This will cause them to only go on when they detect a significant level of movement. By doing this, you can get the benefit of a lit yard, without wasting too much energy.

These are just a few things you can do to help keep your home safe from burglars. Your landscaping is a great place to start if you’re trying to make your home security air-tight.


Have you ever been robbed? What do you do to protect your home from burglars?


Photo courtesy of: KristopherK

Securities Demystified

When learning about investing, people hear a lot of terms. It is easy to get confused. When discussing securities, you’re basically just talking about things you already know but haven’t realized it. Equities fall into two basic categories and combine to make a third category. The following is a brief overview of these categories and if you’re interested in actually investing, you should talk to someone with tax trader status. It’s important you get advice before putting any money into any form of investment.

Equity Securities

Equity securities refer mostly to stocks: publicly traded shares of ownership of a company, partnership, or trust. The investor makes money from selling the shares at a higher price, also known as capital gains, or by receiving a dividend from the entity issuing the shares. Dividends are a portion of the entity’s profits spread out amongst the shareholders.

In short, equity means profit, so buying equity security means you have a way to make a profit from the investment. Be aware of any profit made from investing in equity securities, because they can be subject to taxation, even dividends. This is called a capital gains tax, and it can be anywhere from 0%, 15% or even 20% depending on income and filing status. Make sure you get help when preparing your income tax return in order to avoid having a high tax bill because you made a mistake somewhere.

Debt Securities

Debt securities mainly refer to bonds. This doesn’t mean you go into debt investing in these, not unless the entity issuing the bond goes out of business. No, it refers to the fact the entity issuing the bond goes into debt issuing the bond. They are using the bonds as a way to raise money, and when the bond comes due, they owe you the money you loaned them plus interest. Bonds are safer than stocks, but only if the entity remains solvent over the life of the bond.

Hybrid Securities

Hybrid securities are a combination of both stocks and bonds. An example of a hybrid equity security is an equity warrant. These allow shareholders to buy shares at a special price during a specific time such as a limited time sale on shares.

An example of a hybrid debt security is a convertible bond. These are bonds that can be turned into shares in the issuing entity. Entities will issue convertible bonds when their money is tight but their stock is on the rise. The bonds are converted into common stock shares in the hopes the price of the stocks they are converted into will be higher than the market price of the stocks thus encouraging the holder to sell. This then greatly reduces the entity’s debt.

Five Ways to Invest for Retirement is a great article to read about the basics of investing if you want to do further research on the topic of investing in general. The author, and the site, both have a lot of useful information about investing, and not just in securities.

To learn more about securities and the market they are traded in, explains more about the SEC, the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The information above is just a trio of the types of securities you can invest in. There are more, far more, but these are the best ones for the beginner. They will help you get a toe wet in the ocean of investing and get some experience to keep you from drowning. Securities trading and investing isn’t something to be scared of. They are just another vehicle to make money for retirement, or anything else you need money for and have time to save.

This article is only intended to inform, not to advise. Investing is not a sure-fire way to make money, and everyone has their own reason for wanting to invest. Knowing how much you have and how much risk you want to take, along with having more than a passing idea of what investing entails, will go a long way in helping you make wise decisions about what to do with your money.

Power of Attorney in Estate Planning: Why It Matters

handd holding a pen and signing paperwork

What is Power of Attorney?

The power of attorney is a powerful tool that can impact the lives of yourself, friends, and family long after the principal is deceased. “Power of attorney over a person, who is known as the principal, is most often utilized when the individual handing over power has concerns about their ability to make legal decisions for themselves,” says the Attorney Referral Service by the San Francisco bar association, which can help potential agents (or those who possess power of attorney) claim power of attorney in California.

The power of attorney is not only useful in legal or financial situations involving a deceased person’s estate. Any time you need someone to act in legal matters on your behalf, you can bestow upon them power of attorney to handle your affairs.

You can assign power of attorney for the duration of a short business deal or after a specific future event comes to pass. Some people assign power of attorney for matters of convenience in business, but it is most often used in wills to designate an agent in case of debilitation or death on the part of the principal.

For Your Parents

Having a conversation with your parents about their deaths is not easy business. However, it is a necessary evil we must all eventually go through, and it is better to get it out of the way when your parents are still of sound mind and body.

Encouraging your parents to draft a will or estate plan is in their best interests as well as yours. This becomes especially prudent if you or your parents have a lot of siblings. Estate planning is a great way to ensure that your parent’s friends and loved ones will not be distracted by petty disagreements or confusion after the principal’s death and can focus on mourning properly.

Sit down with your siblings, parents, and any other interested parties to hash out who should be preemptively assigned power of attorney.

For Yourself and Your Children

If one of your children or a third party contests your will after death, your family could be in for a drawn out and painful process. The contestation of a will can lead to more than hurt feelings between loved ones: your last wishes may not be met.

To avoid sowing conflict between family members, you can preemptively assign power of attorney. This itself may lead to hurt feelings, if one child or sibling feels as though they would better serve as the executor of your estate. But it is better to hurt feelings now, when you are alive, than to subject your mourning loved ones later to even more grief and heartache.

Take a hard look at your children, siblings, and spouse. Who has the best understanding of your desires for your assets post-mortem? What does the divestment of your state look like to you? It is important not only to choose someone who has a thorough knowledge of your value system, but also who is fair and balanced in their treatment of others. You want an agent who can navigate strong feelings and who will not take things too personally when things inevitably get heated in the divestment process.

How to Choose an Agent

The nature of being an agent with power of attorney necessitates an even keeled and fair judgment. When choosing an agent for yourself, you should look for someone who has a thorough understanding of what you would like done with your assets after death or debilitation. You want to take care that your agent is committed to the full realization of your wishes after your demise.

If you believe you are a good fit to be an agent for a principal, make your intentions known during the estate planning process. Demonstrate that you have a thorough understanding of the principal’s values and communicate how you would handle any disputes which may arise between family or friends during the execution of the estate.

Choosing an agent to receive power of attorney goes beyond planning for one’s death. If you have health issues or would just like to prepare for any worst-case scenario imaginable, consider a durable power of attorney over a general power of attorney. A durable power of attorney will retain legal standing in the case of your incapacitation, whereas a general power of attorney’s purview ends the moment you become incapacitated.

If you get sick or are otherwise injured and need someone to act on your behalf, it is prudent to assign a durable power of attorney to a trusted individual.