It’s blog carnival time again. This week, we have three more carnivals to share.

First, the Carnival of Personal Finance #224 hosted by My Life ROI. In addition to my post about flood insurance, I also recommend Pragmatic Environmentalism’s lesson on caulking to save energy. It won’t keep out flood waters, but it will keep you warm.

Next, the Festival of Frugality #197 hosted by Funny about Money. In addition to my post about handmade Christmas gifts, I also recommend Make It From Scratch’s instructions for fleece mittens and scarves.

Finally, the Money Hacks Carnival #84 hosted by the Military Finance Network. In addition to my post about renter’s insurance, I also recommend Lazy Man’s new method for deciding whether to buy something. It’s WAY better than the Latte Factor.

Recently I read that I should be saving 4.5% of the purchase price of my house for home maintenance and repairs. Since I live in California, that’s a fairly high number. But as my recent adventures in home ownership have revealed, it might not be that far from the truth.

Hurray for the Warranty
First off, let me say hurray for the home warranty we received as new homeowners. We’ve been in the house six weeks and this is our second warranty claim. The first was because we were idiots and didn’t turn the weird valve under the sink before filing a claim, so I basically spent $55 to learn how to better use my dishwasher. The second is a real claim though: odd moisture on the ceiling. We suspect it’s the AC, which is included in our warranty.

One Things Leads to Another
When we moved in, we knew we’d have to hire tree trimmers for the three large, really overgrown trees overhanging the roof. As we did some initial trimming on the yard, we realized two of those trees were dead and one of them was pushing on the side of the house, which could potentially damage the roof shingles. The cost to remove two trees and stumps and trim one tree was $565. Not too bad.

Then we made an interesting discovery a couple days later – water bubbling up from the ground where the tree used to be. A bit of digging revealed a broken pipe buried underground. With the tree gone, the water bubbled up into the sandy soil. Sandy soil runs downhill. We now have a bunch of sand on our patio, and a $275 bill to have the sprinkler system repaired.

You Always Go Over Budget
We budgeted $500 for the tree, so $565 wasn’t too far over, but the extra $275 for the sprinklers wasn’t in the budget. We’re getting a quote for roof repairs in the next few days, but our real estate agent also got a quote before we bought it, so hopefully the budget won’t be too far off. We’re also over budget on paint, and I way under-budgeted for all the furniture we had to buy.

DIY What You Can
We had a couple of repairs budgeted that we were able to do ourselves, and one it looks like our home inspector fixed while he was there. We’re also doing all the painting ourselves to save money and trimmed as much of the trees and bushes as we could ourselves.

Everything Takes Longer Than Planned
We got half the house painted before we moved in and I’d expected to be finished by now, but so far we’ve only painted the closets. We have to be finished by Thanksgiving, but our list of projects and shopping trips just keeps getting longer and longer.

There Is No Such Thing as a Quick Trip to Lowe’s
Our first trip to Lowe’s took three hours, and we didn’t complete our shopping list. My husband’s follow-up visit, the supposed “quick trip,” took an hour. It’s the same if you go to Home Depot, although we’ve found we prefer the service at Lowe’s. At the Home Depot we visited, one of the floor staffers actually said, “What’s a fireplace screen?”

Make a Plan, and Expect to Blow It
I have all of our major purchases and house projects mapped out in Excel. The purchases extend all the way to the end of 2010. The projects run through next summer, but most of the purchases and projects are scheduled for this year. That means I’ve got just about every weekend between now and Thanksgiving booked up for painting, shopping, and repairing. And here I thought I’d have more time now that we don’t have to spend every weekend looking for a house!

This Is All Fun
Even though some of these things are hassles, it really is fun and sort of an adventure. Last night when we detected the water on the ceiling, I dragged out the ladder and went up into the attic to check it out. I’d been meaning to check it out anyway, so that was an adventure. So was digging in the dirt to determine the source of the mysterious bubbling water. And that’s a good thing, because after everything we went through to buy and move into this house, my husband informed me that we’re never moving again. Right now, I’m okay with that.

In some parts of the country, cooler weather has arrived. The same is sort of true in Los Angeles, but only for a day or two at a time. Still, the return of fall always makes me a little sleepy. I long to snuggle into a cozy couch with a good book. But first, this is a great opportunity to do some cleaning.

Clean Out Your Old Clothes
I hear talk from East Coasters about “putting away their summer clothes.” Yeah, that doesn’t happen in Los Angeles, but this is still an opportunity to take stock of all your clothes. This morning I was standing in my closet and realized I hadn’t worn a couple of my skirts for three years, which means it’s time for another purge. Look through your closet carefully before pushing aside your summer clothes and moving in your fall/winter clothes. Chances are the clothes you wore a lot this summer are bunched together and the clothes you never wore are somewhere else. If you didn’t wear them this summer, then you probably don’t need them. Let someone else have them. Rethink the things you pull out of storage, too. Is that sweater still in style? Do you still like it? Does it still fit?

Replace Worn-Out Sheets and Towels
Some people change their bedding with the seasons. Even if you don’t, now is a good time to replace worn out bedding and towels. We noticed that our four-year-old towels are starting to smell soon after washing and don’t quite fluff up anymore. I tried to salvage them with the vinegar and baking soda method, but it wasn’t enough. It’s time to buy new towels, which is good because lots of stores have sales when they change stock for the season.

Swap Out Home Decorations
I usually replace the candles I use for decoration each season. I keep several in different colors in the closet and bring out new ones to match my mood. If you redecorate seasonally, take a good look at the items you’re putting away. If the dust won’t come off or pieces are chipping off, it’s probably time to toss it. Check décor pillows for broken seams and fix them if possible. If they’re too worn to repair, throw them out, otherwise they’re just more clutter in the closet.

Clean Out the Cupboard
I tend to cook different foods in the fall than I do in the summer. Sometimes I get on a tear and stock up on something, only to get bored with it after a few months. Go through your kitchen cabinets to get rid of foods you’re tired of or won’t be eating again before next summer. If it’s canned or boxed, donate it to a local food shelter. As long as the food isn’t expired, they’ll find a good use for it.

Replace Your Emergency Supplies
If you keep an emergency box for earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, or other natural disasters, pull it out and give it a once over. When we were moving, I discovered that most of the food in our box had expired a year ago and half the water had evaporated. It was too late to donate the food, so I threw it out. The batteries were still good, but you should check those as well. Now stockpile coupons and then hit the grocery store to restock your emergency kit. You should rotate those foods out every six months or so, so buy stuff that you’d actually be willing to eat in a non-emergency. Those heat-and-eat soups and cans of chili are great when you’re sick.

Most of these shouldn’t take too much of your time, so they’re great projects for the first rainy day of the season or a cold, blustery evening. Then you can find a great book and nestle down to listen to the fall weather.

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