breaking news

breaking news

DEVELOPING:


Your guide to DIY home security systems

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 7:30 AM

Everyone likes to feel safe and the security of yourself and your family probably ranks pretty high on the list of things that are important to you in life. In most places, the days of leaving your house unlocked while you’re away are long gone.

With that in mind, homeowners can spend a pretty penny on the latest technology related to home security. Driven by electronic innovations, the global home security market is surging well past $100 billion, according to market watchers, with no sign of slowing down.

But what about a regular Joe who wants to upgrade past the traditional deadbolt lock? There are a number of security systems on the market right now that homeowners can install themselves without breaking the bank.

Home security means different things to different people — it could be motion-detecting lights, surveillance cameras or a plethora of “smart home” options from door-bell cameras to facial scanners. The question is what do you need to feel protected and have peace of mind?

Here are some affordable DIY security systems

Abode

If you want a system that can be easily integrated into other systems, Abode is a great option. The $379 starter kit is compatible with Nest, Amazon Alexa and a few other voice-activated systems. You won’t need any tools to install this one. The gear includes one gateway, which is the hub, one mini door sensor, one motion sensor and one keyfob. Starting cost: $379, If you want a real person monitoring the service along with cellular backup, tack on $30 a month.

Other home security systems that money expert Clark Howard has highlighted are:

Arlo

“The Arlo is a wireless camera system for indoor or outdoor use. And get this: It requires no electrical hookup! It uses lithium batteries instead, just like electric cars do,” Clark says. With eight camera models on the market, prices range from $249.99 for the two-set Arlo Security Light to four-camera bundles at $779.99.

Honeywell Smart Home Security System

Honeywell, a longtime security company, recently got into the smart market with its Smart Home Security System, which is a DIY kit featuring standalone and bundled options. The kit’s primary apparatus is the Camera Base Station, which comes with a powerful 147° wide-angle live video stream that focuses in pin-sharp 1080p high definition. The company is promising to add facial recognition, which you can set to identity friends and family, and voice control with Amazon Alexa.

The system is wrapping up an Indiegogo pre-order campaign, but will become more widely available early next year with bundled pricing for early birds starting at $375.

iSmartAlarm

This system has several tiers –starting at $150 to more than $600 — for various security kits, including one with a 110-decibel alarm system to alert your neighbors as well. One thing to be aware of though is that this system does not come with professional monitoring. Compatible with an IFTTT (If this then that) system, iSmartAlarm has a number of add-ons to make it more robust, such as Spot and the iCamera Keep Pro. Starting cost: $150.

Nest

The Nest Cam Indoor security camera is designed to be your remote eyes when you’re away from the home.

Its bread-and-butter feature is 24/7 live streaming camera in 1080p HD, ideal for TV or mobile phone playback. It comes with a magnetic stand and is all controllable from an app. From anywhere. Cost: Starting cost: $199 for a single camera and up to $669 for a 5-pack bundle.

Ooma

This no-frills security system offers a tiered system that caters to millennials on the go as well as seniors who are home around the clock. Ooma’s base plan, called the Home Security Starter Pack, gives homeowners  a Telo, motion sensor, and two door or window sensors for $149.98. You can add more sensors, a smoke alarm and the new Butterflye Camera for extra costs.

Ring

Video doorbell maker Ring has launched a comprehensive home security system called Protect, which comes with a hardware portfolio that would make Lego proud. Tech website The Verge describes it like this: “The base unit costs only $179 and includes a single door/window sensor and a motion detector. Three other tiers are available with the most expensive one, Video Doorbell Elite, retailing for $499. Starting cost: $179.

Scout

Scout is a built-your-system kit that starts with with a $129 Hub that communicates with all your sensors. Individual sensors start at $29 for the door/window and more. The system allows you to virtually grid your home into zones and name your sensors so that you know exactly which one went off. Add a no-contract monitoring plan for $9.99 a month. Notifications can be sent to both your smartphone or computer no matter where you are. Starting cost: $129.

SimpliSafe

Marketed as “the fastest-growing home security company in the nation,” SimpliSafe offers 24/7 professional monitoring without the excessive fees tacked on by third-party vendors. Tiered plans start from under $100 and go up to $489 for The Haven, which features an array of sensors to protect against fire and water damage. Starting cost: $99.

SmartThings ADT Home Security Starter Kit

Samsung brand SmartThings has partnered with ADT to create a pretty powerful DIY security system. The starter kit features an array of wireless detectors and alarms, including a 7-inch touchscreen control panel with siren, a battery, cell data backup, and wireless duel-encryption. Starting cost: $599 or $45.83 a month.

Wink Lookout

The Wink Lookout is a DIY security system that uses extensive notifications to alert you when someone breaches your door or windows. You can set it to send you alerts when you’re at work or on vacation as well as tell you when your kids get home from school. Prices start at $199 with no required monthly fees and features the Wink Hub, two door/window sensors, one motion sensor and one siren and chime. Starting cost: $199.

Beware of home-security ripoffs

“Unsavory players in the home security field have come up with a new way to rip you off,” Clark says. “Here’s how it plays: When you sign a contract, you’re not given a physical copy. What happens instead is you sign on a tablet or smartphone. The terms and conditions are in tiny type and you sign with either your finger or a stylus.”

While it’s difficult for anyone to read a lengthy contract, especially on the spot, Clark advises that homeowners at least skip past the legalese and read the part about what you’re agreeing to at what price and for how long.

In other words, before you secure anything else, secure your wallet. Happy home protection!

Trending - Most Read Stories

Downtown Dayton office building/Table 33 home sells for $2.8M

Published: Tuesday, May 01, 2018 @ 2:08 PM

Dayton city garage maintenance worker Kevin Price points upward at the 130 W Second St./ 1st National Plaza in downtown Dayton in this 2001 photo. FILE
Dayton city garage maintenance worker Kevin Price points upward at the 130 W Second St./ 1st National Plaza in downtown Dayton in this 2001 photo. FILE

A downtown Dayton office building near the federal building sold for just over $2.8 million today, according to local property records.

Titan Loan Investment Fund L.P. is identified as both the buyer and the seller for the May 1 transaction at 130 W. Second St. in downtown Dayton, according to Montgomery County property records.

The transaction is a sale to an investor named Brian Lash, a new owner coming into the market for this building, said Katie Doup, a Columbus-area spokeswoman with  real estate firm CBRE. She said a fuller press release was being prepared now on Lash’s investment in Dayton and his plans. 

 MOREMaker of Gibson guitars declares bankruptcy

Doup also said a second announcement on the sale of another Dayton building may be forthcoming in the near future. 

The 22-story building at 130 W. Second was on sale with an asking price of $4.25 million, according to a LoopNet real estate listing. It offered a rentable building area of just over 326,000 square feet and was built in 1972.

Acadia, the Table 33 restaurant, IT firm DataYard and County Corp. are some of the building’s most notable tenants. 

Acadia moved to the building last year from Kettering. The company moved to 4,800-square-feet of offices in that building.

Trending - Most Read Stories

6 tax mistakes procrastinators make and how to avoid them

Published: Thursday, April 05, 2018 @ 11:46 PM
Updated: Thursday, April 05, 2018 @ 11:46 PM

What Happens If You Don’t Pay Your Taxes

We get it. Doing your taxes is no fun, especially if you know you’re going to owe money. But as with any project on which you procrastinate, leaving everything to the last minute can lead to errors, both large and small, and some of those errors could cost you serious money.

If you’ve gone and done it, though, and are still looking at that pile of tax forms over there in the corner, we’ve compiled a list of six quick-and-dirty tips that could keep you from making some obvious, and not-so-obvious, mistakes when you finally sit down and tackle the task. They could also help you maximize your tax refund.

1. You Forgot to Sign It

You might wonder how anyone could forget to sign their tax form, but this simple process is one of the most common tax mistakes, according to the IRS. Just like forgetting to sign a check or a contract, it means your return isn’t valid. Usually, there isn’t a penalty or interest associated with this error (since you’ve already included a check or electronic payment if you owed), so the IRS will just send a notice asking for a valid signature, but it will delay the processing of your return. If you’re getting a refund, that too will be delayed.

So check, double-check — heck, triple-check — that you signed or completed the e-signature process before filing your return. Also, check out these last-minute filing tips from the IRS.

2. You Miscarried the 9

Math errors are also a very common mistake made by folks in a hurry. Fortunately for most people, the IRS corrects any miscalculations, so there’s no need for filing an amended return. But these mistakes can mean the difference between you thinking you’re getting a refund and the reality that you actually owe taxes, so be sure to check your calculations carefully.

One way to help you avoid math errors is to file electronically so the calculations are done for you. Bye-bye, No. 2 pencil! So long, calculator!

3. You Didn’t Account for All Your Income

Did you have a side hustle early last year? A freelance design gig for a friend’s business? If so, you’re going to need to account for it, regardless of whether you received a W-2 or 1099 from whomever paid you. That’s because, while there’s an IRS threshold for filing these documents by employers, there’s no similar threshold for claiming the income. Income is income is income. If you made money and don’t report it — and the IRS catches it — it’s going to cost you penalties and interest at best, and open you to a possible audit at worst.

4. You Forgot Deductions or Tax Credit

It’s easy to forget these things when you’re in a hurry, but they can end up saving you some serious money and are well worth the extra time to figure out if you qualify. So if you’re just claiming the standard deductions because you’re under the gun, you might want to take a deep breath and check out TurboTax’s list of 10 commonly overlooked tax deductions that can keep you from overpaying the tax man.

5. You Filed for an Extension but Didn’t Understand the Rules

Filing for an extension is a great idea if you’re down to the wire and don’t really understand your tax situation. But remember that an extension gives you an extra six months to file your paperwork, but not an extra six months to pay any taxes due. So, if you’re confused, tax pros recommend doing a quick calculation of your taxes, filing for your extension and making any required payment of taxes you think you owe. This will help you avoid penalties and interest once you get your final calculations together.

6. You Didn’t Bother to Request an Extension

You gave up. You shoved, slammed and jammed your return through and now it’s full of mistakes that are going to cost you money by way of penalties or because you’ve left money on the table. It’s a much better idea to file the extension, then get the help you need from a tax professional to ensure you’re not overpaying your taxes.

Whatever you do, make sure you file your taxes. Unpaid taxes can have serious consequences on your personal finances, including your credit scores if they go unpaid long enough.

Trending - Most Read Stories

11 ways to reduce next year’s tax bill

Published: Thursday, April 05, 2018 @ 11:55 PM
Updated: Thursday, April 05, 2018 @ 11:55 PM

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 14:  Liberty Tax Service tax preparer Ronn Seely works on tax returns on April 14, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 14: Liberty Tax Service tax preparer Ronn Seely works on tax returns on April 14, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

If you claimed the right number of dependents and standard deductions on your 2017 federal income tax return and you still ended up owing the IRS, you’re probably looking to avoid a repeat performance next year. Luckily, there are several ways to increase your chance for a refund (or at least reduce the amount you’ll owe) and you don’t have to be a tax whiz or accountant to take advantage.

Here are 11 ways you can pay less in federal taxes for your income return next year.

1. Contribute to a 401K or IRA

Contributing to a retirement fund is an important way to ensure financial independence in your golden years, but it can also convey short-term tax benefits. In most cases, the contributions you make to your 401K and IRA plans are tax-deductible and are not included in your taxable income at the end of the year. (Note: If you didn’t contribute to an IRA in 2017, you still have time. You have until April 17 to contribute up to the maximum amount and shave off a good chunk of your tax bill. Filed your taxes already? That’s OK. You can file an amended return to reflect the contribution.)

2. Buy a Home

There’s a distinct tax benefit to home ownership. The interest you pay on your mortgage is tax-deductible, and the interest is front-loaded. For the first several years, most of your mortgage payment goes toward interest, which will drastically reduce your adjusted gross income at tax time. Want an extra boost for your taxes next year? Consider paying January 2019’s mortgage payment in December to get a tax benefit before the end of the year.

3. Donate to Charity or Volunteer

You probably know charitable donations can be itemized and deducted from your income, so you’ll want to save receipts anytime you donate cash or items to charity. You can even deduct miles you travel for volunteering or other charity work.

“Miles you travel on behalf of a charity are deductible at 14 cents per mile for 2018,” said Gail Rosen, CPA.

4. Start a Home Business

Starting a home business can provide you with a new source of income and allow you to take deductions off any income the business generates.

These deductions include business costs you incur throughout the year, a portion of your mortgage and utilities if you use a home office and the cost of goods needed to keep your business running. You can even deduct startup costs.

“Any expenses that are incurred before the first sale are ‘start-up costs,’” Rosen said. “These costs cannot be deducted until the first sale. Then they are deducted over 15 years and you can deduct the first $5,000 in the first year.”

5. Search for a New Job

If you hunt for a new job in your field this year, you can write off some qualifying expenses as you search. There are exceptions, but potential write-offs include things like clothes or travel.

“If you looked for a new job in 2018, you should be aware of the income tax deduction that may be available with respect to job-search costs,” Rosen said. “Qualifying expenses are deductible even if they do not result in a new job being offered or accepted.”

6. Open a Flexible Spending Plan

Many employers offer flexible spending plans that let you contribute toward yearly medical expenses pre-tax. These contributions typically don’t count toward your taxable income.

7. Deduct Medical or Dental Expenses

Many medical and dental expenses are tax-deductible. According to Rosen, the cost of getting to and from medical treatment is deductible at 17 cents per mile, plus the cost of tolls and parking, and dependent expenses are also deductible.

“If you cover the medical cost of dependents, these can be deducted. Additionally, if you are covering the costs of an individual who would qualify as your dependent except that they have too much gross income — for example, an elderly parent — you may be able to deduct these costs as well,” said Rosen.

8. Education-Related Expenses

Current and former students have many eligible deductions and credits related to their education expenses. Paid student loan interest and tuition and fees can be claimed as deductions. Eligible current students can also access the American Opportunity Credit, which can cover up to $2,500 annually for four years, and the Lifetime Learning Credit, which can cover up to $2,000 per tax return.

9. Install Solar Energy

Homeowners who install solar energy systems in their home can get back tax credits at up to 30% of the cost of installation. This credit will begin to decrease after 2019 so you may want to act soon if you’re planning on installing solar panels.

As an added bonus, solar energy can significantly reduce your energy bills.

10. Hunt Down Every Available Tax Credit

We’ve named several tax credits above, but there are more, including credits for adopting children, the cost of child care and low-income households. Tax credits are more valuable than deductions, as they reduce your taxable income on a dollar-for-dollar basis, so make sure you’re taking advantage of every option.

11. Get a Pro to Do Your Taxes

No matter how much research you do, a professional may be able to identify tax deductions and credits that hadn’t occurred to you. Paying a reputable professional you trust can help you stay organized and minimize your tax liability. Here’s a handy guide to finding the right tax professional for your needs.

Trending - Most Read Stories

5 surefire ways to retire earlier than you thought

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 11:27 AM

The following are five surefire ways to get to retirement quicker Set clear goals for yourself and track your progress Working hard and being disciplined is the most reliable ways to retire early Streamline your spending and scale back on luxuries Cut your housing expenses Put your money to work - wisely

Retirement can seem like a difficult goal to reach, so the thought of achieving it early may seem downright impossible.

But getting to retirement quicker doesn't require genius-level investing knowledge or extreme deprivation. With a plan, hard work and discipline, you may be able to get there sooner rather than later.

RELATED: House hunters, here are 5 secrets to getting the best home loans

The following are five surefire ways to get to retirement quicker:

Set clear goals for yourself

Consumer adviser Clark Howard recently shared advice from Chris Reining, who decided in his late 20s that he wanted to retire early. By the time he turned 37, he was able to reach this goal.

Howard said he thought setting clear goals was one of the most important things that Reining did. He labeled his investment account "Retire early" so he could see the words every day. In addition, Reining tracked his progress by using a spreadsheet you can get on his website. He wanted to save up 25 times his annual expenses before retiring.

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Work hard

The Forbes Finance Council recommends working hard and being disciplined as the most reliable ways to retire early.

This can be achieved through a high-paying job combined with saving as much of your income as possible. Another path is starting your own business.

Reduce spending

Forbes quotes a blogger who retired early and says that streamlining your spending is an important step toward achieving this goal. It's not glamorous or complicated, but it works.

He suggests scaling back on luxuries and investing your savings in a low-cost index fund. When you accumulate 25 to 30 times your annual spending in this type of account, you can quit working for the rest of your life.

This Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, photo shows a new home for sale in a housing development in Raeford, N.C. On Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, Freddie Mac reports on the week’s average U.S. mortgage rates.

Cut your housing expenses

If you're like most people, your home is your biggest expense, so it's also your biggest opportunity to save, according to Money.

Housing costs take up about a third of the average budget, so Money recommends not taking out the biggest mortgage you can get. Live in a more modest-sized home when possible, and in some cases, homeowners can purchase a two-family home, living in one side and renting out the other.

Put your money to work - wisely

CNBC talked to Scott Alan Turner, who had more than $70,000 in debt at age 25, yet managed to turn things around and retire by age 44.

He put his money to work and although he made some mistakes in the beginning, he evolved into what he calls a boring investor. His savings are automatically funneled into low-cost index funds, which Warren Buffet calls a surefire way to build wealth.

Related

Trending - Most Read Stories