How to Save Money With These Home Improvements

You have been in your home for a while now and you’re ready to make some home improvements. Yet you know that home improvements often mean a big investment. Perhaps you don’t have a large budget but you still want to do some remodeling. No problem, here are some ways you can save money with home improvements.

 

Keep your home safe 

Whether you live in an area with hurricanes and are in need of hurricane protection or you are located in a state that sees heavy snowfall in winter storms, making sure your home is protected from the elements can go far in helping you save money. Preventing storm damage is a wise move. The cost of repairs from hurricanes or winter storms can be very high, so upgrade your home in a way that will keep it protected, should you need it.

 

Change your doors

If you live in an area with hot summers or very cold winters, you could consider changing your doors. Installing energy efficient doors can make a world of difference on your electric bill. Doors may be the culprit for why you have to turn your heat way up in the winter or your air conditioning way down in the summer. So, to save money, upgrade to doors that won’t let interior heat or cool air escape. 

 

Install skylights

Skylights that you can open up when the weather is pleasant can be a great way to not only bring more lighting into your home, but also to allow fresh air to get in. While there will be an initial investment to do this, both the aesthetics and money saved from open windows and extra lighting will make it worth it. 

Did you know that skylights can increase your home’s value? This is a great upgrade to make for saving money, while also helping your home potentially sell for more money should that day come in the future. Plus, who doesn’t love a beautiful skylight in their home? 

 

Upgrade your lighting

You may be using the wrong light bulbs for saving on your energy bills. Perhaps one of the upgrades that you want has to do with your home’s lighting. Maybe you want to install a chandelier or some modern hanging lights in the kitchen over the island. 

 

In any case, this is the perfect time to start using energy efficient light bulbs. Look at your local hardware store or shop for energy saving light bulbs online. Many people who go for home upgrades think of ripping out old walls or getting rid of their tiles. Instead, modernizing your home could be as simple as changing out your light fixtures. 

Install smart home thermostats

Everybody knows that heating and air conditioning can cost you a lot of money. It can be easy to set your air conditioner or heater to a number on a hot or cold day and forget about it. But if your home’s temperature is set too high or too low, it can result in high energy bills every month. 

Consider installing smart home thermostats that can be set according to the outside temperature, so you’re never using more energy than you should for the kind of weather that is outside. This smart home quick fix can save you a lot of money. 

In Conclusion

While home improvements do have a price tag attached to them, they could be worth investing in, as they can help you save money and upgrade your home. From skylights to new lighting, there are unique homeimprovements that increase your home’s value but also save on energy. Which one of these home upgrades appeals to you?

6 Ways to Prepare For Buying Your First Home

The thought of buying your first home can be stressful. Purchasing a home for the first time is new, and even though you can ask your family and friends about the process, you’re still going to have questions and concerns no matter what. Luckily, there are ways to prepare for buying your first home. The key is figuring out what you should do and what you shouldn’t do. Here are a few tips, so you can prepare for purchasing your first house. 

  1. Consider Your Loan Options

There are several loan options out there, including First-Time Homebuyer (FHA) Loans, conventional loans, bank statement loans, and VA purchase loan, just to name a few. When it comes to considering your loan options, find a reputable mortgage lender in your area to find out what your options are. Remember, most loans, except for VA loans, will require you to put some percentage of money down on the house, so make sure that you have enough money saved to cover it. 

  2. Check Your Credit

Along with your income, lenders will look at your credit report to determine how likely you are to repay the loan, so it’s important for you to know what your credit score is. Make sure to pull your credit report and look for mistakes and inaccuracies that could be bringing you down. If you find mistakes, contact the credit bureaus to have them corrected. 

If you find out that you have a lower credit score than you thought, it might not be the right time to purchase a house. Instead, make changes to your financial habits to improve your credit score so that you can get the best mortgage rates.

   3.   Have Multiple Accounts

Lenders would like to see that you have at least three open accounts, which can consist of credit cards, student loans, and car loans that have been open for at least one year. Closing these loan accounts can impact your credit score for a short time, so make sure that you avoid canceling credit cards if you want to buy a house within the next few months. 

    4.     Save Money

Most loans will require a down payment. A conventional loan, in particular, will need at least 20% down or more. The good news is that the larger your down payment, the more you can save because you won’t be required to get any additional insurance. Not only that, but your mortgage payment each month will be lower because you put down more money and require less from the lender. 

If you need help saving money for your down payment, you can open a savings account that’s just for the downpayment or use a budget app to help you start saving more money.

    5.   Don’t Increase Debt

Along with your income stated on tax returns, your credit score is an important factor that can determine whether or not a lender will give you a home loan, but your debt-to-income ratio is also crucial. The more debt you take on when you begin the approval process, the more likely you are to reach the maximum debt-to-income ratio, which means that you will be less likely to close on the home loan.

     6.  Don’t Switch Jobs

Most mortgage lenders like to see employment histories of at least two years for any loan. While sometimes you can’t control what happens in your professional career, try to stay off of the job boards after you’ve decided to purchase your own home, so you’re not tempted to change jobs. While many lenders will still approve you if you change jobs but remain in the same industry, staying in the same position for years will increase your chances of mortgage loan approval. 

Buying Your First Home

Buying your first house doesn’t have to be stressful, as long as you have the necessary information on hand when you begin the mortgage approval process. Be prepared to hand over tax forms, profit and loss statements, pay stubs, and more to become eligible for a loan. The next step is finding a realtor to work with so that you can find your dream home. 

 

How to Become Debt-Free as a Young Adult

The best time to make good financial decisions is as a young adult. However, that can be difficult with debt looming over you. How is your financial health? If you’re a young adult with some debt in your life, consider taking action to become debt-free while you’re still youthful. This can be a decision that will pay off in the long run. Here are some ideas to help you become a debt-free young adult:

Get help with taxes

If you’re working and making money already, it’s important to stay on top of your taxes. Back taxes can build up, and you may end up in debt to the IRS if you’re not careful.  Take care of your tax debt by looking into tax debt relief so that you can continue to live debt-free as a young adult—and then do your best to avoid tax debt in the future.

One of the best ways to avoid tax debt is to work with a professional during the year, especially during filing season. Don’t be afraid to ask for tax help when you need it!

Avoid overspending on your credit card

One way that young people end up getting into debt is by using credit cards like expendable money. Maybe your parents used to pay your credit card payments, but now that you have control over your finances, consider keeping credit card usage down to the minimum. Whether you set it up to be used only for groceries or gas, try your best not to buy things you don’t have money for with your credit card.

Save money

Saving money can help ensure you have something should you need it. When emergencies happen, such as being laid off in a pandemic or getting into a car accident, you may find that you don’t have enough money to cover the costs of living or hospital bills, which could lead to finding yourself in debt. Saving money every month can help you build a buffer that will protect you during hard times.

Get a side hustle

If you find that you’re not making enough to make ends meet or to reach the financial goals you have in mind, consider working two jobs for a period of time. Youth is the perfect time to work hard towards goals in your future.

A side hustle can help you make the extra money you need to start saving, paying off debt, and building financial wealth. Whether it’s working as a server on the side of your nine-to-five job or driving for a rideshare company, the extra effort can pay off big time and help you pay off any debt you may already have.

Learn all you can about finances

We’re taught many things in school, but financial wisdom isn’t one of these things. It’s alright—you can teach yourself. From learning where to invest money to practicing habits for saving money and learning how to budget, if you want to make enough money to live comfortably throughout your life, your money habits should start as soon as possible.

Being financially savvy can help you avoid a lifetime of debt. Whether you hire a financial professional for advice or simply do your own research, learn all you can about the best ways to build financial wealth today.

In Conclusion

They say that wealth is built from your youth, which can be true when it comes to your money habits. Your 20s are the perfect time to avoid getting into debt or paying off any debt you may have, so you can start building the financial stability you want for your future.

5 Tips for Staying Safe in the Sun

In some places, we’re still enjoying the last days of summer before fall weather truly arrives. Regardless of the season, if there are sunny days, there should always be sun protection. Do you have tips and tricks for staying safe in the sun? If you don’t, here are a few of our recommendations:

Don’t forget the sunscreen

Did you know that the sun can speed up the effects of aging? Sunscreen can help postpone it. Not only is sunscreen ideal for looking youthful, but it also helps protect your skin from sun damage and blemishes. If you want to make sure your skin stays clear and protected, always carry sunscreen with you.

While you may put it on before you leave your home, don’t be afraid of applying it again as many times necessary since the effects only last for so long. You can find mini options of your favorite titanium dioxide sunscreen so that you always have it with you. Keep in mind that if you’re visiting the beach, you’ll want to use environmentally friendly sunscreen that won’t harm corals and ocean wildlife.

Start a collection of hats

You may not have been a hat girl before, but you can start being one now. If it means keeping your face shaded from the sun, you should consider the benefits of wearing hats throughout the summer.

From big, beautiful brims to dad hats, there are so many options out there. The best part is that there’s one perfect for every occasion. Hats can look good on all kinds of people, so if you’ve never been into wearing hats, consider starting the trend today. As long as they provide coverage for your face, your summertime hats can be any type of hat you wish to wear.

Find the shade

Do you have a picnic planned with friends? How about a game with friends at the park? Whatever the case, make sure to look for shade. While this won’t always be possible, ensuring this is a priority can significantly benefit your skin.

Use an umbrella

Whether you don’t want to mess up your hair or are looking for coverage, an umbrella is great for the rain and even sunny days. It shields your face from the sun and keeps you feeling cooler, regardless if you’re on a sandy beach or at the park.

Plus, it’s quite the posh look, especially when you use a chic, trendy umbrella for your sunny-day outings. From beach umbrellas for a visit to the seaside to handheld umbrellas for a stroll outside, don’t be afraid to use umbrellas to stay safe in the sun. Your skin’s health is worth it.

Avoid peak hours

If you really want to do your part to keep your skin away from the harmful rays of the sun, consider only doing your outdoor activities at dawn or dusk. Of course, this isn’t always possible, especially when planning fun with friends. However, try to avoid the hours of noon to four, when the sun is at its strongest.

Additionally, besides the sun not being the best for your skin, it can also affect your overall health if you’re outside on very hot days and not staying hydrated enough. Plan your outdoor activities for hours that are earlier or later, so you can also avoid sunstroke.

In Conclusion

Keep your skin looking healthy and free of sun damage by following these tips for safety in the sun. If you’re a sporty individual who loves being outdoors or want to enjoy activities in the sun, always make sure to keep yourself safe while outside. Your future self will thank you!

 

6 Tips to Prioritize Your Kid’s Health

A parent’s most important job is making sure that their kids stay healthy and happy. Children are vulnerable to physical and mental issues and need constant guidance to stay safe and content. Although it is a lot to juggle, watching your kids grow to be the healthiest versions of themselves is all the reward you need. For all of the great parents out there, here are six tips for prioritizing the health of your kids.

 

  1. Limit Junk Food

Do what you can to limit your children’s consumption of sugary treats and candy, as these foods are hard on the teeth and can lead to cavities and enamel decay. Too much sugar can also lead to energy spikes and crashes, sleep disturbances, and difficulty paying attention. We truly are what we eat, so as parents, it is absolutely critical that you foster your child’s development with the right foods.

  1. Read Bedtime Stories

Reading is an excellent activity for the brain and the imagination. Please do your part to foster your child’s learning by reading to them every night. For little kids, make nightly reading part of their bedtime routine. For older kids, encourage reading and trips to the library regularly. Giving your children access to written knowledge will help stimulate innovative thinking patterns, increase attention span, and promote creativity. Taking care of your kids’ health means taking care of their mental health. Reading is an affordable and easy way to do just that!

 

3. Encourage Oral Hygiene

Even the most hands-off parents know that when kids neglect the care of their teeth, it is only a matter of time before cavities start dropping like flies. Encourage your kids to practice healthy oral hygiene and make sure they understand that they should brush their teeth twice a day and use a kid-friendly mouth rinse. To keep your children’s teeth the best they can be, be mindful of how much braces cost. Many kids need braces after losing their baby teeth, so staying up to date on this information will help you financially prepare for what they may need down the road.

  1. Have Family Dinners

It’s not always possible to have family dinner every night, but at least once a week, make an effort to have a family dinner. Treat your family dinners as time to chat about how things are going. Keeping the line of communication open is very important to facilitate your child’s emotional growth. Be sure to inform your kids that you are always there for emotional support. Children need to feel their parents’ unconditional love to mature into stable, healthy adults.

 

  1. Serve Healthy Food

Your kids rely on you to feed them! Make healthy choices and serve healthy snacks. Send them to school with healthy meals instead of lunch money. Kids will have junk food from time to time, and that is more than okay if they are eating healthy meals that fuel their wellbeing most of the time. You control the groceries you buy and the meals you choose to serve.

 

  1. Orchestrate Regular Exercise

Kids, teens, and adults all need to get regular physical activity. Depending on your kids’ ages, interests, and activity levels, different forms of exercise may be more appropriate than others. Encourage nightly walks, sports, and recreational activities to keep your kids feeling fit.

The Bottom Line

You’ve got this, parents! Making sure that your kids stay healthy is about balance. Keeping track of how you facilitate mental, physical, and emotional enrichment in your home will provide your kids with the skills and support they need to mature into healthy adults.

5 Tips to Find Time to Exercise As a Busy Mom

As a mother, you know it’s difficult to find the time to do everything you want to do. One area that many moms find challenging to manage with young kids is exercise. It can be hard to fit in focused workouts or sports when you have little ones to raise.

How can you make time for yourself when you have so much to do already? These 5 tips below can help you find time and ways to get your exercise in, no matter what:

 

Start running

If your children are still young enough to be in a stroller, one of the easiest ways for you to get some exercise in is to invest in a running stroller that allows you to get some movement in.

Go ahead and get some running shoes, strap the child (or children) into their stroller seat belts, and do some laps around your neighborhood. Whether it’s 15 minutes or 40 minutes, you’ll be getting some exercise in, which can help elevate your mood and great for your health.

 

Practice yoga at home

Another easy option for exercise at home is to start practicing yoga in your living room or workout area. With a mat for you and a blankie for your little, as well as a laptop or TV, you can sign up to one of the many online yoga class subscriptions and practice your breathing and stretching, without having to leave the comfort of your home or work out childcare, just so you can get some exercise in.

Yoga is fabulous for both your body and mind. Make it a fun experience for everyone, allowing your children to join in on the yoga fun.

 

Do strength training while the kids do homework

Who says you can’t jump around like a crazy person while the children do their homework? There’s no mama rulebook that says you shouldn’t. Pull out some kettlebells for kettlebell swings, do some jumping jacks and pushups, and incorporate squats into your routine and while you keep an eye on your kids getting their homework done, you get to move your body and tone it up.

 

Consider a babysitter for daily workouts

If your child is still young but you want to make sure to get enough exercise daily, you could always look for a part-time babysitter on a childcare website so that every weekday, you can have some personal time to go to the gym or out for a hike.

While it is an investment to hire a babysitter, when it comes to your health and fitness, it could be the solution you’ve been looking for. Alternatively, if you and your partner have schedules that allow for it, consider choosing times for both of you to get a workout in every day while the other one is watching the kids.

Workout whenever, wherever

Whether it’s jumping on the trampoline with the kids to get some movement in (it’s a lot better than you would think) or it’s doing some crunches on a mat while dinner is cooking in the oven, sometimes finding time to exercise will look like taking advantage of free moments.

For example, if you can only find time to run while the kids are napping in the stroller, and you add on some squats and pullups while at home for a full-body workout, you’ll soon see your efforts will start showing up in your body.

In Conclusion

It’s certainly not easy to find time for your workouts as a busy mom, but it’s not impossible. Whether you get some hired help or partner up with your spouse to make it work, making time for exercise will be worth it!

 

5 Craft Projects to Do With Your Kids

Most of us have spent a lot of time with our children lately. From virtual learning to complete lockdowns, you likely hadn’t spent that much time with them since they were infants and toddlers.

 

Now, with summer in full swing, it’s not like you can head to the beach every day even though more and more parents are working from home. With so much time together, finding fun things to do with them can get harder and harder.

Take a look at these craft ideas we put together and you may just find a few that you and the kids can do together.

 

1. Fun With Clay

With a little oven baked clay, they can make change bowls, ashtrays, and more. For a nice flower bowl, have them form both a large flower and a smaller one, place the smaller one inside the larger one and press so that the bottoms stick together. Try adding some colorful plastic beads pressed into the sides and bottom and with a few minutes in the oven (per clay instructions), they’ll have a unique, colorful bowl they can actually use.

 

For even more control over the design and opening a whole new array of options, try using craft molds and silicone rubber.

 

2. Backyard Bowling

Sure, they’d probably love to stay inside and bake some cookies with you, it’s time to get them outside. Take 10 plastic bottles and have the children fill them with water (you can use food coloring to make them more fun). With either permanent markers or child-safe paint, have them number them 1 – 10 and you’re all set. For even more fun, instead of using a soccer or otherwise decent-sized ball, try using a watermelon. They’ll get a kick out of it.

 

3. Stitched Art

With some craft paper, scissors, yarn, and a small hole punch, they can make cool designs for their bedroom wall or a birthday card for someone special.

 

  1. Have them cut the desired shape out of craft paper (you may want to help them draw it in pencil first to get the best design).
  2. Use the hole punch to place small holes about half an inch apart along the edge of the design.
  3. Use yarn to “stitch” through the holes and tie the ends together on the underside.
  4. From there, they can color the pieces, add buttons, pipe cleaner, or other flare as desired.

 

4. A Fire Breathing Dragon

With a toilet paper roll, construction paper, furry pompoms, tissue paper, and crafting eyes, they can create a dragon that they can actually play with. You can check out the tutorial here.

5. Homemade Dreamcatchers 

You definitely won’t need to increase your net worth for this one. To create a homemade dreamcatcher, you’ll need:

 

  • Paper plates
  • Crayons
  • Scissors
  • Yarn
  • Small hole punch
  • Glue

As well as optional items such as:

 

  • Feathers
  • Glitter
  • Beads
  • Sequins

If they’re old enough, have them cut out the center of the paper plate and just  leave the outer ring. Next, with the hole punch, they need to go along the edge of the inside, spacing them about half an inch apart.

At this point, they can add color with the crayons, glitter, sequins, or whatever their little imaginations want. Next, they can weave yarn criss cross through the middle of the plate and add beads or whatever else they desire. From there, punch a hole on the outer edge (wherever they say the bottom is), and add a single piece of yarn. Tie a feather to the other end and voila, homemade dreamcatcher.

With a few inexpensive items and some ingenuity, you and the kids can have loads of fun with the crafting ideas above.

7 Ways to Prepare Your House for Summer

When the weather starts to warm up and the rain stops, you need to get your home ready for the summer. It’s important to make sure you prepare your house with the right window treatments, a working AC, and more to keep your family comfortable and your property in the best shape. Here are seven tips to help you get your home ready for summer this year.

1. Clean Gutters

During the fall and winter, a lot of leaves, branches and other debris tend to collect on your roof and in your gutters. Over time, clogged gutters can lead to damaged roofs and flooding. Now that you don’t have to worry about rain and falling leaves, make sure your gutters and downspouts are clean. You can install gutter guards to help keep leaves and debris out in the future.

2. Set Up Your Patio

Relaxing in the backyard is a great way to spend summer afternoons and evenings, especially if you’ve got a nice grilling setup and patio furniture for all your guests. If your patio is looking a little bare after winter passes, take some time to get it set up with furniture, a charcoal or gas grill, and a fire pit. You’ll love spending summer nights enjoying a drink in your backyard.

3. Insulate

Insulation is a big deal during the summer, especially if you live in a hot climate. The better your home is insulated, the less work your AC has to do to keep your home cool. Not only does this save you money on HVAC maintenance, but it also reduces your energy bill and helps your home stay cool. Consider upgrading to storm windows and doors and insulating your attic this summer.

4. HVAC Maintenance

Taking care of your HVAC system means having maintenance done at least once a year, although HVAC technicians recommend maintenance twice a year. Ideally, you should have your evaporator coil and other crucial parts of your AC unit checked in preparation for the summer and during fall. During this scheduled seasonal maintenance, a technician will inspect your HVAC system, clean it and fix any problems.

5. Landscaping

Considering how important your yard is during the summer, now is a good time to invest in landscaping. You can hire a landscaper to install retaining walls and create gardens in your yard, or you can simply create your own garden space and plant seeds. It’s also important to mow your lawn regularly during the summer, so now is a good time to invest in a lawnmower.

6. Add Light Colors

On the inside of your home, adding light colors is one of the best ways to introduce a summer feel. Light colors help your home feel more spacious and give it a natural feel. Plus, light natural wood furniture and brighter paint colors such as white look great in natural sunlight, which you’ll be getting plenty of during the summer.

7. Lighting

Now that summer has arrived, it’s time to change the way you think about lighting. It’s important to get as much natural sunlight in your home as possible, as this sunlight provides vitamin D that’s essential to your mood. Plus, natural light saves you money and just looks better than artificial alternatives. If you have curtains or blinds covering your windows, keep them open or cracked during the day. For night time, consider adding string lights to the yard to decorate for summer parties and give your space a soft glow.

These are just a few ideas you can implement, but how you go about making your home your summer haven is up to you.

5 Fun Ways to Celebrate Your Kid’s Birthday

Birthdays are exciting for everyone, but especially for kids. Most love to have the spotlight on them for the day, they love to eat cake and sweet treats you have baked, and open presents that were chosen specifically for them. And since their birthday only comes around once a year, it is important to make their special day as unique as you can. We have a few easy and fun ideas to help make their day extra special

1. Decorate their room

If your child is like most kids, you could have a dance party in their room while they sleep and they wouldn’t wake up. That makes it super easy to decorate their room while they sleep, making it so they will wake up to their room being covered in streamers, balloons, and birthday banners. But, if they don’t sleep as soundly as you would like them to, wait until they go to school, or send them on an errand with their siblings and decorate while they are away. This is an easy way to make their day a little more fun.

2. Have personalized cookies made

As a kid is there really anything better than a cookie with your face on it? No, we didn’t think so. Though most personalized cookies are the ones you get for corporate or business events, you can order personalized cookies with their face on it or with your well wishes, instead of the cookies logo that normally comes on a yummy treat. Your kiddo will feel extra special and won’t be able to wait to take a bite out of these delicious goodies. And their siblings might get a kick out of it, too.

3. Gather messages from their friends and family

We know that sometimes family and friends are all around the world and might not be able to celebrate with your kids in person. Instead of making this a negative thing, spin it into a positive. Gather notes, videos, voice memos, etc. to be able to show you kiddo on their birthday. If you happen to have family in a different country, maybe have them share what that country’s birthday customs are. This also makes for an easy way to educate your kid without them even realizing.

4. Have a “yes day”

Yes, most homes run the easiest (and best, of course) when an adult is in charge, but when it comes to the kiddos’ birthdays, it is time to relinquish some of that power and order, and let them call some of the shots. By turning their birthday into a “yes day,” they will get to pick the menu, activities, and outfits because you are going to say yes, no matter what. (It is of course a good idea to have some boundaries in place, though. Things like a budget, time limit, and a set geographic radius keep things in perspective and on track)

Take a lot of pictures

When you get caught up in the celebration it is easy to not want to be on your phone and taking pictures. And while we commend you for wanting birthdays to be a no phone zone, we also want you to be able to document the day to look back on. An easy remedy to this is dusting off that digital camera and documenting the day that way. And don’t forget to be in the pictures as well. When they reminisce in the future, they will want to see the people who made it all happen for them.

So, what are the big plans for your kiddo’s special day? Will you say yes, order up some special cookies, or decorate their room while they sleep? We know that whatever you choose to do they are sure to love it and everyone will have a great time. Good luck and enjoy.