Our Response to COVID-19

Helping You Navigate Life’s Currents Over the past seven years, we have methodically attempted to prepare you for what we are all currently experiencing and hearing in the financial news. While the exact events can never be predicted, history has shown that times such as these occur in a fairly regular cycle. The following paragraph was included in the quarterly letter we sent April 18, 2017:

We feel that this is an ideal time to remember that bear markets are temporary declines greater than 20%. They occur an average of once every 4 years and last approximately 17 months. We are highlighting those realities this quarter so that when a temporary decline of more than 20% occurs in the future, you will understand that this is normal and temporary and therefore not succumb to financial journalism’s phenomenon we refer to as the “apocalypse du jour”.

After 11 years (7 years longer than normal), we officially entered bear market territory on March 11, 2020. The coronavirus (COVID-19) and a price war on oil were the catalysts. While not minimizing the seriousness of the current challenges, we hope the following thoughts help put the present realities into perspective.

• Real-life investment success can simply be defined as avoiding “The Big Mistake”, i.e. selling holdings during a significant temporary downturn. Remember, this too shall pass.
• Markets respond most negatively to fear and uncertainty. Both of these factors are running at extremely high levels which correlate to the magnitude and pace of the current temporary declines. We have no control over uncertainty; however, we can (and should!) have perfect control over how we respond to it.
• The disciplined practices of asset allocation, diversification and rebalancing are built into your portfolios. Together, these comprise the wisest way to achieve your long-term investment objectives across all market cycles. This is where our disciplined investment principles and practices are focused.

• Avoid “The Big Mistake” by being patient and maintaining the long-term investment plan and strategy we have helped you develop.
• Don’t hesitate to call our team for any reason. Part of our primary responsibility is to assist you through times like this. We are here for you and welcome any questions and conversations you would like to have.

It is a humbling honor for our team to advocate on your behalf by being objectives guides, wise investment counsellors
and “steady hands on the tiller”. We count it a sacred privilege to be entrusted with such important matters at all times,
but especially in these days.

With Appreciation,
Mark Olson, CIMA®
President/ Chief Investment Officer

Please remember that past performance may not be Indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there c.in be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, Investment strategy, or product
(in duding the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by GuldeStream Financial, Inc. (“GuldeStream Financiar), or any non-fnvestment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly fn this newsletter will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or appl!cabte laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or Information contained in this newsletter serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from GuideStream Financial. Please remember to contact GuideStream Financial, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. GuldeStream Financial is neither a law firm nor a certified publ!c accounting firm and no portion of the newsletter content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the GuideStream Financial’s current written disclosure Brnchure discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available upon request.

CARES ACT & RMDS for 2020


On March 27, 2020, The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was enacted. What does this mean for Required Minimum Distributions (RMD)? Under normal circumstances, federal laws typically require individuals of a certain age (historically age 70½ but recently changed to age 72) to take mandatory distributions from their retirement savings. Under the CARES Act, these mandatory distribution requirements are waived for 2020.

Individuals Already in Distribution Status
For individuals who were already in required distribution status (generally, those who turned 70½ prior to 2019), the law waives the mandatory distribution requirement for 2020.

Individuals Just Beginning RMDs
For individuals who reached age 70½ during 2019 and were required to take their first RMDs by no later than April 1, 2020, the law waives the mandatory distribution requirement for 2020 and, in some cases, the 2019 mandatory distribution as well. Only individuals who did not take their 2019 RMDs during 2019, however, are eligible for a waiver of the 2019 RMD.

RMD Relief Also Available for Beneficiaries
In addition to providing RMD relief for plan participants and IRA owners, the law provides temporary relief from the required distribution rules that apply to beneficiaries of deceased plan participants and IRA owners.

For beneficiaries, the form of relief varies depending on (1) when the plan participant or IRA owner passed away and (2) the beneficiary distribution option to which the beneficiary is subject. The 2020 RMD is waived for beneficiaries taking some form of life expectancy distributions. For beneficiaries subject to the 5-Year Rule, the 2020 calendar year is to be excluded when determining the applicable 5-year distribution timeframe.

Although the mandatory distribution requirements have been waived for 2020, individuals still have the option of taking distributions at their discretion. The law change merely provides IRA owners, plan participants and certain beneficiaries with the option of foregoing all or part of the required distribution amount if they wish to do so. Individuals who have already taken mandatory distributions during 2020 but would have preferred to leave the amounts in their IRAs or workplace retirement plans may wish to consult with a tax advisor to determine if some or all of their distributions may qualify either for conventional rollover treatment or for repayment treatment as a Coronavirus-Related Distribution.

If you would like to defer your 2020 RMD, please contact either Debb or Lori at (800) 325-8975.

Secure Act & Your IRA


A piece of legislation passed into law in December 2019 has changed the landscape for IRA accounts. The “Setting Every Community Up For Retirement Enhancement” (SECURE) Act is complex web of new rules and updates to old rules pertaining to retirement accounts. If you own an IRA, we wanted to make you aware of some of the recent changes:

  • Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) age now pushed out to age 72
    • If you have already started RMDs under the previous 70 ½ rule, then you must continue.
    • If you turn 70 ½ in 2020, you can defer your RMD start until you’re 72
    • PLEASE NOTE: Congress recently passed the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act), which permits individuals to forgo taking their 2020 RMD if they have been impacted by COVID-19. This option is open to individuals who have already begun taking RMDs, those who would have begun in 2020, and those who have extended their first RMD from 2019 into the first quarter of 2020. Please contact us if you have questions, or if you would like to postpone your RMD until 2021. 
  • IRA contributions: previously, IRA contributions were not allowed after an individual reached age 70 ½ . Under the SECURE Act, an IRA owner can contribute at any age, if he or she has earned income.
    • Please note that you cannot contribute for 2019 if you were age 70 ½ or older as of Dec. 31, 2019.
  • Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD) amounts:
    • After reaching age 70 1/2, you can make qualified charitable contributions of up to $100,000 per year directly from your IRA.
    • Deductible IRA contributions made for the year you reach age 70 1/2 and later years can reduce your annual QCD allowance.
  • We would encourage you to review the beneficiary arrangements on your IRAs:
    • If someone other than your spouse is your beneficiary, he/she will have to fully distribute the IRA money within 10 years. Unless your beneficiary is:
      • your minor child
      • a disabled individual
      • a chronically ill individual
      • an individual who is not more than 10 years younger than you
    • Thankfully, the new 10-Year Rule offers some flexibility around the timing of distributions. Funds can be withdrawn in any amount, at any time over the course of the 10-year term – as long as the entire amount is withdrawn by the end of the 10th year.
    • All the funds withdrawn are taxable to the beneficiary as income.
  • If you are currently taking required distributions from inherited money, according to your life expectancy, you may continue to do so. This change is only effective for beneficiaries of IRA owners who pass away in 2020 and beyond.

Please note that additional clarity on some of the details of the SECURE Act is forthcoming from the Federal government.

Your GuideStream Financial advisor would be glad to review your unique situation with you and answer any additional questions you may have. GuideStream Financial does not offer tax and/or legal advice, so it may be advisable to contact your CPA and your estate-planning attorney if you have one.

As always, please contact us with additional questions, concerns, of if you need to make changes to your account.

Please remember to contact GuideStream Financial, Inc. (“GuideStream Financial”), in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you want to impose, add, to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services, or if you wish to direct that GuideStream Financial  effect any specific transactions for your account.  A copy of our current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available upon request.

Four Options For Your 401(k) When Changing Jobs


Changing jobs is one of the biggest life decisions you can make and doing so presents an important financial decision: What should you do with your former employer’s 401(k) plan? There are four options you have and understanding the pros and cons of each will be crucial to find the best fit for your situation.

Keep the funds in the old employer’s plan

While this option certainly requires the least amount of effort, not all investors are eligible to leave funds in their former employer’s plan. If your vested 401(k) funds amount to less than $5,000, your former employer has the right to require you to remove the money in some fashion. That $5,000 balance can include all of your contributions, all vested employer contributions, and all investment earnings on those funds. Additionally, your former employer may require that you withdraw your funds once you reach the plan’s average retirement age.

Outside of being low-effort, keeping funds in your former employer’s plan can be beneficial if you need more time to research alternative options, if your new employer’s plan requires employees to reach a certain length of employment to enroll, or if you had access to exceptionally good investment options.

Before deciding to let the funds stay put, make sure there are no additional fees associated with the plan for non-current employees and that your investment options remain the same.

Roll the funds into your new employer’s plan

It has become far more commonplace for 401(k) plans to accept rollovers from past employers without penalty but there are considerations to make before doing so. First, be sure that you are satisfied with your new job and that you will be there for a reasonable amount of time. Should you decide the new position is not for you, it can be a headache transferring funds around. Second, compare the investment options in your new employer’s plan to your old one. Once you have transferred the funds out of the old plan, there is no going back to your previous options.

If you decide to roll over into your new employer’s plan, ensure that the transfer is made directly into the new plan – also known as a trustee-to-trustee transfer. This allows your funds to remain tax deferred and avoids the temporary 20 percent penalty that would be applied if you were to cash-out your retirement savings and then deposit them manually into your new employer’s plan. Now, you would get that 20 percent back once filing your tax return at the end of the year however, there is no need or benefit to putting up the money in this scenario. To avoid that penalty, make sure that rollover checks are written out directly to the new plan or plan administrator, not yourself. It would be wise to contact your company’s plan administrator for details on this process.

The biggest perk of rolling your retirement funds into your new employer’s plan is for simplicity’s sake. Often, investors can lose focus on the performance of their investments with a former employer. As long as your investment options are comparable at your new position, rolling over into one main account is a good practice.

Transfer the funds into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA)

Coming from a former employer’s plan can lead many investors to overlook the option of transferring their funds into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). An IRA can be set up through nearly any bank or other financial institution and allows a greater range of investment options than the ones chosen by most employer 401(k) plans. While the differences between a 401(k) and an IRA are numerous, the main advantage to your employer’s 401(k) is the matching of contributions up to a certain percentage.

It is important to note that you will not receive a match on the funds you transfer from a previous employer, only on the funds you contribute once enrolled in the new plan. Because of this, there is no real reward on choosing to transfer into your employer’s plan over an IRA unless the plan’s

investment options are more attractive. With an IRA, you are in the driver’s seat to choose which funds, stocks, or bonds you invest in and there will be more effort required as a result. On the other hand, you may encounter some savings depending on what plan fees are associated with your employer’s plan.

Just like rolling over into your new employer’s 401(k), you will want to execute a trustee-to-trustee transfer if choose the IRA option. The same fees will apply if you withdraw funds before transferring to your IRA.

Cash out the funds

Lastly, cashing out your funds from your former employer’s plan is the option that nearly every financial professional would advise against. The same penalties discussed above that apply to an early withdrawal cannot be made up in your tax return as they can with a 401(k) or IRA transfer and will be a pure loss. Despite the losses, 2013 research from Boston Research Technologies found that just over 30 percent of workers changing jobs will elect to cash-out their retirement funds.

The only two instances where cashing out should become an option is if you are over the age of 55 or need the money for an immediate purpose. If you terminate your employment in or after the calendar year in which you turn 55, you will no longer be subject to an early-withdrawal penalty for that employer’s plan. In the case of a former employer’s plan that you left before age 55, those funds will still be subject to this penalty. The potential workaround is if these funds were transferred into a post-55 employer’s plan.

For any 401(k) questions, please don’t hesitate to contact your GuideStream Financial Advisor.

Purpose, Priorities & Return on Life

Purpose, Priorities and Return on Life
by Mark Olson

Throughout our flawed and complex world, there is a consistent downward drift away from the elements in our lives that matter most. Slowly, over time our best intentions often become distorted by a wide range of influences that include the urgent, our culture and our own predispositions.  Most of us yearn for excellence, alignment and fulfilment but often find ourselves being complacent, confused and frustrated because we fall short of all we can be.

One dominant illusion created by our world of finance is that we will be fulfilled and content if we maximize our income, portfolio returns and net worth.  While industries spend massive amounts of time, money and energy promoting those outcomes, deep in our hearts we know those portrayals just aren’t true.

I’m hopeful the following two recommendations will spur you on as you fight against the downward forces in your circumstances and maximize the return on your life . While both may be simple and familiar, they represent missing links in most of our lives.

Clarify your purpose

Author Rick Warren has highlighted that “personal fulfilment, satisfaction and meaning can only be found when we realize that it’s not about us and we discover our purpose by figuring out what on earth we are here for.”

Helping people find hope after loss, loving God and loving others, or teaching and inspiring students to be more than they thought they could be, are some examples of a compelling purpose.

Determine what life priorities matter most to you

It’s amazing how even the most intelligent and gifted individuals often go through life without slowing down long enough to define the life priorities that matter the most to them.  They are not alone as mathematician and theologian Blaise Pascal stated, “The last thing one knows is what to put first.”

Honoring God, leading your family and caring for others are examples of meaningful life priorities.

When life priorities that matter most are defined, they provide guidance at every fork in the road, which increases the probability that what matters most is accomplished.  Without those priorities in place, critical decisions are often based upon urgent, shifting, less important factors which can lead to regrets about “what might have been.”

Commit to clarifying your purpose and determining what life priorities matter most. If you do, it will direct your actions, counter the downward drift and maximize the return on your life.

Summer Savings


This is an opportune time for many homeowners to tackle different remodeling projects around the house. Before the season officially begins on June 21, here are some tips for saving on these new additions.

Use longer light hours for landscaping needs

Graduation parties, barbecues, and holidays add up to a higher likelihood of hosting family and friends in the summer months. Early summer is a great time to get a head start on landscaping projects that will bring your yard to life. Although retail sales may be tough to find, opting to complete yard work on your own can bring sizable savings compared to hiring a landscaping company.

According to improvenet.com, the median cost for yard maintenance services in the U.S. is $226 per month but can cost up to $700 per month on the top end.

Exterior painting on a budget

With college students home for the summer, homeowners may look to student-run painting services for exterior paint jobs. While the quality might not reach the level of expensive professionals, serious savings can be had for a decent paint job.

Homeadvisor.com reports that the average homeowner spends between $1,714 and $3,682 to paint their house. Student-run services will often be in the lower price range and able to beat other professional quotes.

Rack up savings on an early-summer roof replacement

According to Angie’s List, late summer and early fall are the busiest times of the year for roofing contractors, giving homeowners an opportunity to rack up savings by scheduling their project for early summer. Unpredictable spring weather in the previous months makes June an ideal time to contact a roofing company and get the project underway.

Expect to pay between $3 and $7 per square foot, with the average total cost ranging from $4,900 to $14,100.

Save by strengthening home security

Though many summer projects can include a great deal of labor, one way to save without breaking a sweat is installing a home security system. The cost of installation can vary, with a DIY project ranging from $50 to $300, while a professional system can range $300 to $1,500.

Savings then come via reductions in your home insurance rates, with some insurance providers offering reductions of up to 25 percent for those with installed security systems. Before moving forward and counting on these savings, check with your current insurance provider on the discount offered and if only specific systems qualify.

Hot deals on cold weather needs

Products that are intended for winter use can have substantial savings in the summer months. One of the best areas for savings is in furnace inspections and replacement. By scheduling a furnace inspection in the summer, you will ensure that everything is running properly and may be able to score a discount on the inspection cost with lower seasonal demand for technicians.

In the event that a replacement is needed, many installation companies will have unsold inventory from the previous winter available at a fraction of the price. According to Angie’s List, inspections cost as little as $60 to $85 while a new replacement gas furnace ranges from $2,250 to $3,800.

Also, look to score a deal on a snowblower in the coming months. While most consumers are shopping at the local power equipment store for lawn mowers and weedwhackers, you can often pick up last year’s models on sale. Already in recent weeks, both Home Depot and Walmart have run sales of 30 percent off or more and expect these discounts to pop up throughout the summer.

Biggest Retirement Savings Mistakes


According to Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning & Progress Study, a shocking 21 percent of Americans have nothing at all saved for the future, and 78 percent say they are extremely or somewhat concerned about not having enough set aside for retirement.

Everyone’s path to retirement is different, but there are general rules that can help guide your savings strategy over time. Here are retirement tips for each stage of your life:

Your 20s: Not taking the advantage of time
Fresh into your new job out of college in your 20s is an exciting time and can set the foundation for a successful financial future. The biggest mistake to avoid during this time is not getting started early and missing out on the most powerful retirement savings factor out there: time.

Recency bias can push young savers to dedicate more than is required to student loans lessening the ability to compound savings. It may be natural to think of retirement as a lower priority since it is decades away compared to student loans, both can be done at the same time.

Be sure to understand how your employer’s match works and maximize this if possible. Even if you have doubts about your current job in the long-term, most retirement savings can be transferred to your next employer or an individual retirement account should you choose to switch jobs.

Your 30s: Getting housed in
Life changing events such as marriage and children will likely start coming into play during this time. As these events occur, some savers may find themselves buying a house too early.

While you should not feel pressure to stay cramped-up in a small apartment, be sure look at your first home purchase from all angles. Buying a home too small for your growing family might not work for your needs years down the road. Spending lavishly on a big home might seem sensible now, but consider what happens in the event of a move or job transition.

Your 40s: Shifting your focus
Your early years are considered the accumulation phase but do not think that your 40s are a time to neglect retirement contributions. By this time, there are may be many different areas that need financial attention in your life. How much should you be setting aside for your child’s education? Should you use that new bonus for a home remodel?

Questions during this time can get complex and it is important to prioritize what saving areas need the most attention. Now is a good time to consult with your GuideStream financial advisor to break down these various areas and your goals for each.

Your 50s: Inaccurate assumptions
By your 50s, you likely have a clearer picture of what your savings situation looks like and can begin preparing for when you want to retire and the expenses you expect to have.

Too often, savers underestimate what they will need throughout retirement. According to a recent study featured in Wealth Professional, 15 percent of retirees globally do not have enough income to live comfortably and another 43 percent say they could have used a little more income after retiring.

Similar to your 40s, these decisions of when to retire and how much will be needed can be complex to navigate. With the help of your GuideStream financial advisor, consider all of the factors that may be in play. These can include upcoming healthcare costs, what happens in the case of an underperforming market, and other scenarios.

Planning Your Estate

by Scott Blakemore

What is your dream sportscar? Corvette, Mustang, Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti, McLaren? Now, imagine you own it and decide to give it to your son or daughter … but they don’t know how to drive … because you never taught them. You just hand them the keys and say, “Good Luck!”

I think we can agree this strategy is a little crazy and unwise.  However, when you and your spouse are deceased, and your heirs inherit your estate without understanding how it was managed and for what purpose – it is the equivalent of handing a sportscar to an untrained driver.

I speak with clients daily about retirement cash flows, portfolio allocations, distribution timing, and taxes.  And while those things need to be understood and managed for a successful retirement, planning for the transition of an estate is equally crucial – especially if you’re concerned your heirs may not be ready to manage it or worse, you fear it might destroy them.

I know talking about death can be uncomfortable, and kids rarely want to discuss a future where their parents are gone.  But that day will come whether we like it or not. Talking about death with your children is like talking about sex – always a bit awkward, but the earlier the better.

So how do you prepare to talk to your children about your estate?  Here are several simple ideas to get the conversation started and a few that dig a little deeper.

First, the easier items to implement:

  • Talk about your funeral.  Write down your wishes and share them with your family.
  • Keep your bank, investment account(s) and insurance beneficiaries up to date.
  • Introduce your family to your Financial Advisor, CPA and/or Attorney.
  • Use Estate planning tools.  Let the family know if you have a Will or Trust as well as Durable and Health Care Power of Attorney (POA) documents.  Make sure your designated representative is willing to serve, understands your wishes, and knows where your documents are located.

Second, the more involved items to consider:

  • Have an annual family meeting to discuss any changes you have made to your financial or estate plan.  Be sure to allow time for questions.
  • Bring heirs into the conversation with organizations where you volunteer or provide financial support.
  • Create a family foundation or donor advised fund to give together during your lifetime. This is a great teaching tool.

These items will obviously require some work.  However, with your heirs being part of the discussion, and doing the work alongside you, you can be confident they not only hear and see your values but participate in them as well.  They will experience the legacy you are trying to create while learning valuable lessons about managing the resources that will one day be under their stewardship.

Remember, learning to drive isn’t accomplished through watching a YouTube video, and neither should learning how to manage an inheritance. I encourage you to work through the fear and discomfort and invite your children into the conversation to create a legacy impacting them and our world for good.

Retirement Planning for Small Businesses


Planning for retirement as a small business owner is important for you and your employees. Small businesses have unique needs. Thankfully, you have various options when it comes to retirement plans and a little bit of exploration can help you find a solution that best fits the needs of you and your employees.

Some of your retirement plan options include:

  • SEP IRAs
  • Traditional or Safe Harbor 401(k)s
  • Profit-sharing plans

Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRAis funded by employer contributions. Benefits for all employees must be uniform (ie: the same percentage of compensation). Contributions are limited to the lesser of either 25% of the employee’s compensation or $55,000 per year. SEP IRAs allow you a relatively low-maintenance way to contribute to your employees’ retirement, and contributions are deductible by the employer for income tax purposes.

Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) IRA allows for both employer and employee contributions. Employee contributions are limited to $12,500 per year, and employers have to either match up to 3% of employee contributions or contribute 2% of the employee’s salary.

Like a SIMPLE IRA, a401(k) Plansallow employees to save money in a tax-deferred account for retirement. Traditional 401k plans hold “pre-tax” money, so the money will be taxed when it’s withdrawn from the account for retirement expenses. 401k plans can be set up to allow Roth (or “after-tax”) contributions as well. Employees can contribute a regular amount into the account, straight out of their paycheck. 401k contribution limits are significantly higher than Traditional IRA limits. An employee could defer $18,500 for 2018, plus an additional $6000 if he/she is age 50 or over. Employers can choose to match funds contributed by employees. Keep in mind that 401k plans require a bit more administrative work and legal documentation. A Safe Harbor 401k plan mandates employer contributions.

Profit-sharing Plangives employees a portion of company profits. Employers have a great deal of latitude when it comes to contributions: employers can give as much as they want (up to the annual contribution limit, which is the lesser of $55,000 per year or 100% of the employee’s compensation) or none at all, depending on the year’s profits. Contributions do have to be distributed proportionately to the employees. The administration of a profit-sharing plan can be burdensome for some employers, depending on the number of participants in the plan.

There are two major things to consider when selecting a plan: contributions and administration. If you’re considering starting a plan for yourself and your employees, you should discuss your options in detail with your financial advisor and your CPA.

*information adapted from an article written by Advicent Solutions, an entity unrelated to GuideStream Financial. 

Cost & Timing of Home Remodeling


As with many large purchases, timing matters when remodeling a home. Each season holds advantages for different types of projects based on price and availability.  Consider these tips to take advantage of potential savings:

Fall: Pools, kitchens, and appliances
Though pools and summer are tightly linked, waiting until fall for installation can bring worthwhile savings. With the average cost of installing an in-ground pool at $49,224, those savings may be worth the wait.

Kitchen remodeling is among the most popular renovation projects and can be done at any time of the year. Scheduling this project for the fall capitalizes on a slower season for contractors, which can result in lower labor prices. Also, in terms of convenience, tearing apart the kitchen might be easier once children are back in school. While some kitchen renovations can fall in the $10,000 to $15,000 range, expect closer to the average of $22,530.

Fall can also be an ideal time for purchasing new appliances. In preparation for the holiday shopping season, most manufacturers will introduce their new models in the fall, resulting in sales on previous models.

Winter: Decks, bathrooms, and air conditioning
Ideally, you’ll want a new deck ready to go once the weather warms up but winter is actually the best time to schedule the preliminary planning and design process. This is a dead season for deck contractors and allows your project to be their top priority once the ground softens in the spring. While the cost of building a new deck varies with size, expect anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000.

Competing with the kitchen for the most popular home renovation is the bathroom. Again, indoor work such as this can be completed at any time of the year, but lower rates are more likely during contractors’ slow winters. This should make it easier to schedule the contractor and may lead to a quicker completion. Homeowners tend to spend an average of $10,167 on a new-look bathroom.

While air conditioning is likely the last thought on most consumers’ minds during the winter, this is the time for big savings on both repairs and replacements. Once spring and summer heatwaves kick in, rates will jump back up. The average cost for an A/C repair is $342, while a replacement is $5,465.

Spring: Windows and flooring
Window replacements become common in summer once homeowners start running the A/C, but getting ahead of the curve will help score a deal on installation. Be on the lookout for window companies offering sales to kick off the season and ideally schedule installation once it warms up to over 50 degrees. Prices vary widely based on home size, amount of windows, and type of windows. The average cost for a single-story home with 10 windows is between $3,000 and $7,000.

Late spring is also a great time to pull the trigger on flooring. Early spring can be busy for flooring companies as homeowners begin spending their tax returns, causing tighter scheduling. May is the sweet spot, being right in between this tax-return season and summer’s peak home buying season. Hardwood flooring averages between eight and $10 per square foot with installation while carpeting averages around $3.50 per square foot with installation.

Summer: Paint, landscaping, and furnaces
Demand for almost every renovation project increases during the summer, but there are still deals to be scored. As high school and college students take a break from the classroom, many of them will look towards the popular student painting services for employment. Student-operated painting crews boast substantial savings compared to the labor of professional crews, which should help trim down the $4,000 average cost of an exterior paint job.

Additionally, landscaping and yard work make the most sense to be completed during the summer when the work will be most visible. Though it may be tough to find any deals with the high demand, long summer days allow for more DIY opportunities to cut costs.

Lastly, like air conditioning in the winter, savings can be found on furnace repair and replacement in the summer. Average furnace repair costs are a little less than A/C, coming in at $287, while replacement costs an average of $4,237.

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