Finding The Green ($$$) In Your Home

No matter where one looks today, one can’t help notice that our times are changing and that there is never enough eco-friendly alternatives to better mother earth. But we also have other big problems to deal with that coincidently are commonly referred to as “green issues” and which also effects our lives and families. However, this time having no green in your wallet is the big news!

The numbers are astonishing: according to CNN, in 2007 foreclosures were up 75%, soaring with 405,000 households losing their home. That’s up 51 percent from the 268,532 homes that were repossessed in 2006 — and the number is expected to increase this year as well. More than 1 percent of all U.S. households were in some stage of foreclosure during 2007, up from 0.58 percent the year before. With new homes becoming bigger than ever, it seems that homeowner’s problems are growing, too.

One can’t help but wonder just how much worse can this become? Maybe you’re the optimistic type, but regardless of how you look at it, this has become the new “green” crisis — and it has nothing to do with recycling.

As you know, taking pride in one’s home is what I’m all about, so just thinking about someone losing their home to a foreclosure devastates me to the core. Some of you may not know that I was a banker for 14 years, so it’s doubly painful for me to see people in this situation. So, my commitment to my readers is to creatively come up with solutions, ideas and recommendations that perhaps will help homeowners avoid becoming another statistic.

I would urge you to share this article with as many people as possible, in hopes that someone, somewhere, can benefit from it. You don’t even have to know if someone needs the advice in order to pass it on — the content will speak to those who are looking for the options. Besides, many of these ideas wouldn’t be odd if people undertook them without a pressing financial need; a homeowner would simply be thought of as a savvy or wise business person, so there’s no reason for anyone to think otherwise now.

Let’s begin with the basics- as homeowners with an empty room or rooms can look to rent as a temporary or even a long term solution to help meet their house payment or as a way to offsetting their monthly expenses. Here is how you can turn any spare bedroom into a monthly income: aka GREEN.

We’ve all heard about the “roommate” idea, and although this is a great way to provide financial help, most people do not feel comfortable with strangers living in their home. It’s no wonder — I still think of the 1992 Bridget Fonda thriller “Single White Female” and it gives me pause! The idea of searching for a roommate may be somewhat challenging, scary and stressful.

Therefore, I recommend beginning by renting to friends or family. It can be a great warm-up, but still a profitable enterprise. For example, if your sister-in-law has a son at a nearby college or university, paying top dollar on campus dorm-room living, you may want to offer your home as a better housing alternative. This needs to be a business transaction, so payments need to stay on a tuition payment schedule. And, as any young adult will tell you, if it’s a business arrangement they need to have the freedoms they would expect from campus living — they won’t want to feel they are paying for the “privilege” of having Auntie Aurora watching their every move. Communication is the only way any boarder relationship will work long-term, and this is no exception. Any relationship that requires living with someone will demand some time and energy. If a problem should come up, it’s better to talk about it right away than to try and ignore it. If you simply cannot communicate openly then perhaps the ideas I’m suggesting are not for you.

Airline crew members flying through.

To find crew members actively looking for rentals, landlords can post their “crash pads” at websites including, and Set your prices based on hotels in your area. A room for rent is a bargain when you consider the cost of a hotel room that can easily range anywhere from $100.00 to $300.00 a per night near airports, so crew members are looking for alternative bargains and are preferring “home accommodations” that can provide kitchen privileges. Upgrade that with Wi-Fi, laundry, television, a comfortable bed, and a private bathroom — whatever is truly available. Let’s not forget only using 100% cotton sheets with a high tread count and of course, being in close proximity or convenient transportation to the airport, and you’ll be booking your room in no time. Consider this as new experience to meet interesting professionals and a new chapter in your life. Have a calendar on hand to check your availability, and always refresh and clean the room with each overnight guest.

If you cannot offer a private bathroom in your spare bedroom but you have one in your master bedroom you may want to switch rooms for these kinds of arrangement. The minor inconvenience of switching in order to offer the bathroom can mean the difference between a “sign me up” and a “no thanks.” When doing so, I recommend removing any personal items. When deciding what to keep or store, think about the look and feel of a fine boutique hotel and duplicate the overall experience and details. Minimize items in the room by removing any clutter and/or unrelated items. This is not your storage room anymore, so remove the box of toys, the old suitcase and mom’s old sewing machine. Have a tag sale if necessary — which is another great income producer! Less is more, and more is too much when it come to boutique living!

Create house rules — then find a nice silver frame to post them in as if it was a hotel. And, according to my friend Debbie, it’s perfectly ok to keep this out even when family members are visiting because she says “sometimes they, too, need to know the rules!” When placing any ad, you want to mention these “house rules” as well as all the fabulous benefits you will offer. Offering a comfortable place with wonderful amenities will guarantee returning guests. Of course, always check with your mortgage company prior as the terms of your mortgage may require you to seek permission to renting out any spare room. Better be safe than sorry in my book.

Here are other ways to discover your home’s green potential:

Rent your garage space for storage or as artist studio space.

This is perfect for the person who needs the extra space and is not willing to travel a long distance from there home. My neighbor rents the garage as a storage space to her brother who has limited space in his home. Budding artists need space, but rarely find it — until you come along, that is. Your half-empty garage space can be the most inspiring location.

Rent a guest room as a home-office space:

This is a competitive area: many people have the option to work away from their office, but don’t have the space to really set up room in their home. How attractive is the idea of leaving home behind during the day but without a long commute. Now, this option is not about attracting someone who needs to see clients during the day — lawyer, etc — but can be a very easy way to have a win-win situation. If you have desirable locations or addresses (e.g., close to highways, recognizable street name, etc.) it’s even better, if you allow them to give out the address. The best part: it doesn’t requite overnight guests!

Rent a parking space:

This works perfectly when you live by a train station, beach or a downtown area where parking is limited or permit-required. Put a sign on the lawn and watch how quickly you can rent your parking space.

Rent your home for the season:

If you live anywhere near a tourist destination you may want to consult with a top realtor in your area for renting your home for a season, such as a winter wonderland or summer rental. These are short term rentals, so be flexible for 1 to 3 months, and be clear about the offer. This is an excellent time to visit your family or take to well deserved trip.

Disconnect your house telephone land line.

Do you even use it anymore? With The cell phone becoming more our primary number is there any need to have this extra monthly expense? Heck no!

Rent you home to private clubs.

With so many community charities around you could offer your home as the perfect place to host monthly meetings, special lectures or fund raising events. Find a charity you support and make the offer in exchange for a small gratuity.

In home pet-sitting

If you love animals and don’t mind tending to them, consider pet sitting as an option. My mother would take care of Corky while I went on vacation and I often though of how this would make a wonderful job for a retired person looking for some extra income. Dog walking or pet setting is a big business; start in your neighborhood and build your reputation from there. Print some simple business cards at your local copy center and ask to leave them at the pet store. If you’re good– word will get around fast!

Rent your home for film or photo shoots:

You home or property might be just the perfect setting for the next shoot happening nearby. It could be used as a possible location with film studios, production companies and advertising firms, all of which maintain lists of properties available for shooting purposes. Google your state’s film office to get started.

If you wish, be sure to also state that your home is available as a local temporary production office, not just as a shooting set. You should be prepared to have your home taken over by people setting up. Reputable productions will provide a written policy outlining what the company does and what will be taking place in your home. If you don’t see one, ask for it! Make sure to ask about things that may be damaged during the process and what replacement budget they have for it. You may want to remove anything of value to prevent this from happening. Any contract should include a provisions to “return the house back to its original state,” which may involve repainting or carpet cleaning and or cleaning services. This may not be for everyone nor should you take on this endeavor lightly.

These are just a few ideas — ask around and do your research and you’re sure to discover other creative ways to find your home’s green potential.

No matter what, always work with your mortgage company if you are having problems paying your bill. Live within your income, and don’t put up the smoke and mirrors for neighbors, friends or family; it takes valuable energy that you could be applying to your situation. People help people, so do consult with your banker and financial advisor for suggestions and other options they may offer.

One final note, since several of my ideas involve renting I want to remind you that any rental income must be reported on your taxes as income according to the Internal Revenue Service. I know, I know — but the good news is that updates, repairs and up keep to make your home more desirable may be tax deductable, so consult with you tax advisor for more information. If you live in a condo or any other group community, always discuss with your board and/or association.

Finding and discovering the green in your home will not only put big bucks back in your pocket, but also helps others. With homes being larger than ever it’s about time we begin to fill them with people.

And there you have it.