Frugal ways to keep your home safe

6 Ways to Protect Your Home While You're Away

by Paige Estigarribia

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Are you planning an extended vacation during the winter months? Maybe you'll be gone a week visiting family, or maybe you're planning a whole winter hibernation to sunny shores and palm trees. In any case, you may find yourself worrying about your house while you're gone, and you worry with good reason. According to the Insurance Information Institute, there are more than 2.15 million burglaries each year, with over 65% as residential break-ins. You want to make sure your place stays safe and looks cared for, so it is a less appealing target for potential criminal activity. Burglars see vacations as a perfect opportunity. Here are a few tips to make sure your place stays well-cared for while you are away, and you stay within your vacation budget.

1. Swap Lawn Care with a Neighbor

Are you planning your trip over the winter, while your neighbor is planning one during the summer? Why not swap lawn care during your vacations? Ask your neighbors if they would mind cutting grass and watering plants while you are away, and offer to do the same in exchange during their vacation. You might find you don't need to pay for that lawn care service while you're away after all!

2. See if Family or Trusted Friends Will Collect Your Mail

If your vacation will be relatively short, you might ask family or trusted friends to pick up your mail for you. If they drive by a few times a week and grab your mail, newspapers, and/or any packages, and hold all of it for you until you return, you can save the cost of house sitter visits. Plus, they can give you the peace of mind that all is well at your house.

However if you're planning a trip that will last a while, it may be best to have the post office hold your mail and newspapers or have it forwarded to a new address while you are away.

3. Take out the Trashcans (and have someone bring them in)

If people see your trashcans out by the road for pick up and then put away by your house when empty, they might assume your home is occupied, or at least someone is watching your house while you are away. You may talk with a neighbor about periodically taking out your trashcans and bringing them in for you, so that anyone watching will know that there is activity at your house.

4. Leave a Light On

Consider leaving a light on or scheduling lights with a timer, so it looks like someone is home. Naturally, make sure the light you leave on is one that will be safe to be left on for a while. A porch light might be good or any outdoor lights with motion sensors might also work.

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5. Consider a House Sitter

If you don't have friends or neighbors that are willing to help out, consider hiring a house sitter to check on your house while you are away. Make sure the person you choose is trustworthy and try to check references if possible.

6. Research the Newer Security Systems

There've been lots of advances recently in security system technology. Many of the newer security systems have options that allow for remote monitoring while you are away. You can set these new systems up so that actions, like turning on lights, will happen at certain times, and many functions can even be controlled through your smartphone. Before your vacation draws near, look into prices, requirements, and options for these types of companies, so you have the services in place before you leave.

These tips could be ones to think about when you are considering your vacation plans. Hopefully, they help ease your mind a bit and keep you having fun within your vacation budget.

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