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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Frugal Corner: Give your home a spring checkup

Routine maintenance around the house may not be the most alluring of spring projects, but making sure the basics are in good condition can save you money on repair bills in the long run.

Here’s a list of home maintenance to do this time of year, from the NW Insurance Council, a nonprofit trade association:

•Clean out gutters, and check the roof for worn, curled or missing shingles. Replace them immediately. Repair loose or damaged siding, and make sure exterior walls are well-painted and sealed.

•Make sure downspouts slope away from the house and deposit water at least 5 feet from foundation walls. Also, make sure sprinklers are pointed away from the house.

•Have your air conditioning system inspected.

•Remove clutter from storage areas. Examine decks, porches and balconies for weak or broken railings and posts.

•Caulk and reseal windows and doors.

•Check the attic for moisture and surface discoloration.

•Check fire extinguishers in your kitchen and garage.

Same numbers, different ideas

When people are laid off, there’s some tough math for them to consider. An average severance is 12 to 14 weeks of pay, experts say – not much time when you consider the number of people you might be competing with for new jobs.

Federal statistics show that 4.4 million workers have lost their jobs in the past 15 months. Nationwide, more than 650,000 people were put out of work in February.

But another, more intimate factor on expectations comes for couples. Often, partners have much different ideas about what kind of shape they’re in post-layoff. More than a third of couples in a new study reported discrepancies of more than six months in their perceptions of how long the money would last after they lost their jobs, according to a McClatchy Newspapers story.

“Both people need to know how quickly the faucet is going to run out,” says Wayne Hochwarter, a management professor at Florida State University’s College of Business, which conducted the survey. “Often there’s a bit of disconnect there.”

Read the fine print

A reader called after last week’s story about car maintenance. He noted that a commonly dispensed bit of advice is for drivers to make sure their tires are properly inflated to get the best gas mileage.

The problem, he said, was that the information on inflation printed on the side of tires is “virtually impossible to see” and when you can see it, it’s in “hieroglyphics.”

If we’re supposed to keep the tires inflated properly, he suggests, perhaps tire companies ought to make the information easier to read.

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