Whether you suffered from flood waters during Harvey or not, now is a good time to make wise money choices as we strive to rebuild our community. Here are four easy, environmentally friendly tips that can save you money every month, along with some tips from Representative Ted Poe’s office concerning your next steps for your Harvey recovery efforts.
Save on: Clothes
Reduce: Pesticides, synthetic materials
If your clothing wasn’t made with organic fiber, chances are it was made with cotton grown with pesticides or oil-derived fibers like nylon, which is technically plastic. Rather than buy new clothes, organize a clothing swap with your friends. Attendees should bring items from their closet they don’t wear anymore to give away; offer snacks to make it a festive affair.
Save on: Grocery bill
Reduce: Food waste
Composting reduces food waste in your household. But many small cities and towns don’t have municipal composting services. Try collecting the leftover vegetable odds and ends from cooking—carrot ends, celery leaves, kale stems, for example—in a mason jar in your freezer. When the jar fills up, simmer the vegetables in salted water until fragrant, and use as a vegetable stock for soups, sauces and stews.
Save on: Water bill
Reduce: Wasted clean water
It may look like just a little drip, but that leaky faucet can account for more than 3,000 gallons of water wasted per household every year, according to the EPA. As soon as you see (or hear) a drip, either fix it yourself or call a plumber. Correcting drips can save homeowners as much as 10 percent on the monthly water bill, too.
Save on: Household paper goods
Reduce: Paper waste
One-time-use paper towels add up to massive amounts of waste—some experts estimate Americans throw away more than 3,000 tons of paper towels each year. The fix: Invest in beautiful, organic-cotton kitchen towels that can easily be tossed into the washing machine—they’re more expensive than paper towels but will save money over time. Or, cut old T-shirts into squares to dry dishes, wipe down counter tops and sop up spilled liquids.
Focus Recovery Efforts, Save Frustration and Money
According to U.S. Representative Ted Poe, you should keep your receipts and all documentation for any damage-related expenses from Harvey for 3 years. Check your mailbox for Poe’s information flyer, sent earlier this week, or check his website here, for more Harvey Recovery Resources.
When it comes to making claims for flood and storm damage, documentation is key. Take plenty of pictures, even video, and make lists of your losses and expenses that are as detailed as possible to save yourself headaches later down the road.
Keep a detailed contact log/activity log. Note the places you contact, the people you talk to, the date and times of your interactions, and what you discovered or need to follow up on. For example, once you are registered with FEMA, where assistance is based on damage and not income, you can also note if you have applied and been pre-approved for temporary housing for displaced individuals. You may also keep track of other important contact points, including your private insurance (Poe notes that individuals should file claims in case storm-related damage is covered, even if you did not have flood insurance, per se).
Many companies, including major mortgage companies and utilities, are offering assistance by delaying payments. Your activity log can be a great place to keep track of what and when you owe for your delayed bills so that you avoid any unnecessary late fees.
Two sources of relief you may not have thought about include the SBA and the IRS. Low-interest, disaster recovery loans may be available for businesses and homeowners/renters through the SBA. With documentation and appraisals, you may be able to claim a casualty loss for Harvey, even deducting the fee of the appraisal. According to Poe, the IRS is also waiving penalties for those wishing to make withdrawals from 401ks or retirement accounts in connection with the storm. Find out more here.
And don’t forget disaster unemployment assistance, which is available for those whose places of work were destroyed by the floods. The Texas Workforce Commission has more information on eligibility. Their number is 1-800-939-2989.
Attention to detail takes a few extra moments now that will save you so much time and frustration months down the road, when recovery is still a part of our every day normal. The money and energy we save now will be that much more we have available to help our neighbors and ourselves as we re-build our great city.
Article copyright 2017 by Delicious Living and Jenna Blumenfeld. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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