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Happy HoliDeals with Amazon Daily Deals!

amazon daily deals

Did you know that Amazon has special sales going on every single day?! All you have to do is visit Amazon.com and click on Today’s Deals to see what’s on sale that day. The list of discounts goes on and on so every Tuesday we highlight some of the best Amazon buys. Today Amazon is starting their holiday sales and their Black Friday 2019 sales. You can find a lot of discounts on some great gift ideas. Snatch them up now and finish your holiday shopping early!

*The prices shown below are the sale prices listed at the time of posting.

Marinade Injector Syringe

turkey thanksgiving

 

Current Sale Price: $7.64
Originally: $16.89
You Save: $9.25! (55% off)

This plastic marinade injector syringe is from Ofargo, and comes with a free recipe e-book PDF upon purchasing. Use this syringe to up your meat cooking game and allow you to marinade better than you ever have before. It even comes with two different kinds of needles, one for finely ground sauces and another for liquid purees. The holidays are upon us and now more than ever our kitchens need to be prepared to create fantastic dishes for all our holiday meals.

Meat Thermometer

cooking thermometer

 

Current Sale Price: $16.95
Originally: $19.95
You Save: $3.00! (15% off)

Once you get a cooking thermometer for your kitchen you’ll wonder how you ever did without one. It’s useful for checking that your meats get thoroughly cooked. It only takes 2 to 4 seconds for it to read the temperature, it’s waterproof, and comes with an internal magnet so you can keep it on your fridge. The Kizen instant read meat thermometer can really help your Thanksgiving meal go much smoother.

Remote Control Car

gift idea for kids

 

Current Sale Price: $24.64
Originally: $59.99
You Save: $35.35! (59% off)

The battery operated Bifyton RC car has 360 degree tumble action so you can make your car do all kinds of awesome stunts! The remote control allows you to control your stunt car from up to 20 meters away and it comes with a rechargeable battery. This remote control car is a perfect gift idea for kids.

 

Beard Oil Conditioner

gift ideas for men

 

Current Sale Price: $15.19
Originally: $17.88
You Save: $2.69! (15%)

This 3 pack includes 3, 1 ounce bottles of 100% natural beard oil. The scents included are clary sage, cedar pine, and sandalwood. Viking Revolution knows that beards need a little TLC every once in awhile, that’s why they created this great gift box idea for the bearded men in your life.

 

Fitbit Fitness Smartwatch

fitbit sale

 

Current Sale Price: $149.95
Originally: $199.95
You Save: $50.00! (25% off)

The benefits of a Fitbit watch are seemingly endless. With a smart wristwatch you can better monitor your health, ask Alexa questions, listen to music, and so much more. You can save so much on this sleek smart watch by purchasing it today and use it yourself or wrap it up as a gift!

Amazon Basics Bedroom and Bathroom Essentials

house essentials

 

You Can Save Up to 34%!

Our homes are always in need of some basic essentials. Amazon basics can help you with that. Today Amazon basics are having a sale on all things bedroom and bathroom, from bed sheets, to bath towels. This is also a good gift idea if you have any newlyweds you need to get presents for.

Amazon Monthly Book Deals

Amazon is a wonderful place to get your winter reading fix. They have a countless number of deals on paperbacks and kindle books. Amazon also has sales on audiobooks. Keeping up with a healthy reading list doesn’t have to cost a lot with Amazon book deals.

Save on Audible Membership!

amazon kindle daily deal

 

Current Sale Price: $6.95 per month for the first 3 months
Originally: $14.95 per month (after 3 months returns to original price)
You Save: $8.00! (53% off) on your first 3 months of audible

One of Amazon’s ongoing holiday deals is a 3 month discount on an audible membership. With audible you can have access to a giant library of audiobooks. You can even give an audible membership as a gift to someone.

What You Did

by Claire McGowan

amazon daily book deals

 

Current Sale Price:$7.98 paperback
Originally:$15.95
You Save:$7.97! (50% off)

Mystery Thriller, Psychological Thriller

What You Did is a gripping tale of betrayal and mystery. During a college reunion with her friends, Ali’s husband is accused of assaulting one of her best friends. But as the story unfolds it becomes clear that her friend might not be telling the truth, and that something much bigger is going on.

Stillhouse Lake

by Rachel Caine

amazon black friday daily deals

 

Current Sale Price:$6.38 paperback
Originally:$15.95
You Save:$9.57! (60% off)

Psychological Thriller

Stillhouse Lake is about a girl named Gina Royal who has a calm, quiet life as a housewife with two kids. But everything changes when she finds out that her loving husband is actually a serial killer. Now Gina must remake herself in order to survive.

My Sister’s Grave

by Robert Dugoni

amazon kindle books daily deals

 

Current Sale Price: $6.38 paperback
Originally:$15.95
You Save: $9.57! (60% off)

Mystery Thriller

My Sister’s Grave is about a girl named Tracy whose sister was killed. A man named Edmund House went to prison for her sister’s murder, but Tracy believes the wrong man was put away for the crime. Follow her journey as she becomes a detective and figures out what really happened to her sister.

 

Holiday sales and Black Friday discounts are the best time to buy things we really need and gifts for those we love. Some people might even depend on buying certain items when they’re on sale. So when you find something you really need on sale, and payday is just a couple days too late, that can be really frustrating.

Luckily Check City can help you out with a quick and easy Personal Loan so that you can save money in the long term and take advantage of important deals regardless of when they happen.


READ MORE

Make clothes shopping not just easier, but cheaper too, by doing your clothes shopping online, “Shopping for Your Clothes Online.”

Get ahead on your Christmas shopping this year, “4 Reasons to Start Early Christmas Shopping.”

Learn how to get thrifty with all your gift shopping this season, “Thrifty Gift Shopping.”

Read all about the post Christmas online shopping addiction and how to you can save yourself from overbuying this year, “The Post-Christmas Online Shopping Addiction.”

Save on all your holiday shopping with these tips, “Saving while Online Shopping for the Holidays.”


How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

bed bugs

Nobody wants to deal with bed bugs. But if you are dealing with these pests, you’ll need to know the best ways to get rid of them.

What are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are a type of parasite. They live off of other living things by taking up residence in things like mattresses and sheets. Like mosquitos, lice, or ticks they bite and drink blood for their nutrients. Bed bugs are a small oval shape with a brown color.

They’re usually the size of any small bug, about the size of a thumb tack, but when their bellies are full of blood they can swell in size and become a redder hue. Thankfully these little demons don’t fly or jump the way some pests can. But they can crawl quickly, meaning they can still spread quickly throughout your house if you don’t tackle getting rid of them as soon as possible.

Bed Bug Bites vs Flea Bites

Since fleas and bed bugs are so similar, it can be easy to get them, and their bites, confused. Below are a few of the key differences between fleas and bed bugs so you can tell the difference.

Flea Bites

Fleas usually prefer to make their homes on animals, so if you have pets make sure to check their fur every so often with a flea comb to make sure they’re flea free. If humans get flea bites it’s usually because a pet they live or interact with has fleas, not because fleas have made you their home. You can also tell if your pet is affected by fleas if they start itching and biting themselves to try and relieve the itching.

Flea bites most commonly occur on the lower half of the body like on legs, feet, waists, and armpits. Their bite marks are red and blotchy like a rash. Like bed bugs, fleas cannot fly, but unlike bed bugs, fleas can jump.

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bug bites look more like mosquito bites than the rash bites that fleas make. Bed bug bites look like small, raised bumps and they often itch. They most commonly bite areas of the upper body like the hands, neck, and arms. Bed bugs are also a bit larger than fleas so they are easier to spot.

If you need some visual references for flea bites on humans, or some bed bug pictures, or some bed bug bites pictures, check out these websites:

How to Treat Bed Bug Bites

Like the common mosquito bite, bed bug bites will fade away in a week or two. To ease the itching you can use a topical itching cream, like corticosteroid cream. If you have a particularly strong allergic reaction to the bites you can take anti-inflammatories like Benadryl.

To effectively treat bed bug bites, do the following:

  1. First and foremost, DON’T itch them
  2. Then, wash the bites with soap and warm water to avoid infections
  3. Put anti-itch or calming cream on the infected area
  4. Wrap the infected spots with bandages to protect them and keep you from itching them

How to Get Rid of Bed Bug Bites Overnight:
First of all, the bed bug bites will go away much quicker if you don’t itch them, so the fastest way to get rid of them is to not itch them. Part of what makes the bite bumps is the swelling, so calming this swelling will help the bumps disappear faster too. Here are some other things you can do to keep yourself from itching them, and help the bites calm down:

  • Use anti-itch cream
  • Use calamine lotion
  • Take an oral antihistamine
  • Pain reliever
  • Wrap up the bitten areas with bandages or long sleeves
  • Wrap up your fingers or wear mittens or cloves so you can’t itch
  • Use an ice pack
  • Use a paste of baking soda and water
  • Apply calming essential oils like camphor or chamomile oil

How to Get Rid of Bed Bug Bite Scars:
If you scratch the bites too much you can open up your skin where the bite marks are and make scars. You treat bed bug bite scars the same way you would care for any scar. Below is a list of things you can use to try and get rid of or hide bed bug bite scars:

  • Vitamin E cream
  • Sunscreen will keep the blemishes from discoloring from the sun
  • Mederma scar gel
  • Aloe vera
  • Honey
  • Coconut oil
  • Apple cider vinegar

There are also a few treatments you can do like laser resurfacing in order to get rid of really bad scarring.

How to Check for Bed Bugs

bed bugs
 

The best way to check if you have bed bugs in your house is to remove the bed sheets and check under the mattress. Since bed bugs aren’t as small as fleas it can be easier to spot the bugs themselves in your mattress. But you can also look for the brown, rusty stains of dead bed bugs and feces on the mattress.

If you’re worried you might have bed bugs, but you aren’t sure, you can also have a professional exterminator come in for an inspection.

Common places where bed bugs can be found:
  • Mattresses
  • Bed frame
  • Box springs
  • Carpet
  • Curtains
  • Clothes
  • Furniture
  • Pillows
  • Blankets
  • Bed sheets
  • Stuffed animals
  • Cracks in places like the baseboards

You can also set up bed bug traps to see if you have any bed bugs in your house or near your bed.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Naturally

Not everyone is comfortable introducing harsh chemicals into their home, especially if they have kids or pets. Check out this website to learn what natural bed bug remedies do and don’t work. If you need to get rid of bed bugs, but you want to do it the natural way, here are some tips on the most effective home remedies to get rid of bed bugs:

Heat

Heat is one of the best weapons against bed bugs. You can use heat to kill bed bugs by washing and drying bedsheets and clothes on the hottest settings. It is most effective if you can use a hot temperature of 115 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
You can also use a clothes irons and steamers to iron sheets or steam your carpet and curtains.

Cold

You can also use extreme cold temperatures to freeze and kill bed bugs. You can do this by keeping infected items outside in temperatures 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for at least 4 days.

Vacuuming

Vacuuming also works to pick up bugs and get them out of your house. Just make sure you empty the vacuums dust bag outside of the house, in a trash bag that’s going to get far away from your house, so you they can’t escape back into your house after getting vacuumed up.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a kind of dust made of finely ground fossils that contain silica. It’s a common pesticide used to kill bed bugs, cockroaches, crickets, fleas, ticks, and spiders. This powder can generally be used inside and outside buildings, on farms, in gardens, and in pet kennels. Depending on the powder you might be able to even use diatomaceous earth on your pet directly.

Diatomaceous earth is a great substance to use to get rid of bed bugs because it isn’t poisonous and it’s been categorized as safe by the FDA. It can even be found in food, medicines, and toothpastes. Regardless of it’s safety, always read the labels and instructions before using any product to get rid of or prevent pests.

How does diatomaceous earth work?
Diatomaceous earth gets rid of pests like bed bugs by drying them out. The dust absorbs all the oils in the insects body and they in essence, suffocate on dust. You can even buy diatomaceous earth on amazon.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs for Good

prevent bed bugs
 
One of the best ways to get rid of bed bugs for good is to hire a professional exterminator to come in and treat your home. These are some of the traditional ways to get rid of bed bugs if you don’t mind involving some chemical warfare into the process. After killing as many of the bugs as possible with pesticides, you’ll still need to take care of some key parts of the house to really make sure all the bugs are gone.

How to get rid of bed bugs in a mattress

Remove or get rid of infected bed sheets and mattresses. You can also treat infected mattresses by dusting them with diatomaceous earth.

How to get rid of bed bugs in clothes

Put all your bed sheets through the wash. They key is to use the hottest settings on the washer and dryer. You can do the same with clothes, pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals, or you can put these items in airtight bags for several days to try and suffocate any bugs left in them. You can also put them in below-freezing temperatures like a shed outside in winter or a freezer to freeze whatever bugs are left.

How to get rid of bed bugs in couch

Vacuum the couches thoroughly, including the couch cushions.

How to get rid of bed bugs everywhere else

Bed bugs can also reside in the walls, floors, and areas around the bed. So vacuum all the floors, especially the carpets, emptying the vacuum’s dust bin and taking that trash out to remove any vacuumed bugs from your home.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs PERMANENTLY

These tips are for those in dire need of some real results. Maybe you’ve tried everything else and they just didn’t work. If so, you can bring out the big guns against your bed bug problem to make sure the problem is really gone.
You can use chemicals to ensure you’re using maximum power against killing every last bug. Here are a couple common pesticides you could use:

  • pyrethrins
  • pyrethroids
  • desiccants
  • biochemicals
  • pyrroles
  • neonicotinoids
  • insect growth regulators

Some of these chemicals you can use yourself, but the best thing to do if you want to implement these harsher tactics is to call in a specialist to treat your house with these chemicals for you.

How to Prevent Bed Bugs

Here are some tips on how to protect your home from bed bugs in the first place.

  • Get a mattress protector or furniture covers.
  • Spray bed bug repellent to kill them before they multiply.
  • Be careful about getting secondhand furniture and clothes. Check them for bugs before allowing it in your home.
  • Be careful at shared laundry facilities where you’ll be around the clothes and sheets of many other people.
  • Keep the house clean and clutter free so bed bugs don’t have great places to hide out and make their homes.
  • Use bed bug monitor traps that will show you as soon as bed bugs arrive.
  • Make sure your house is sealed up, especially along the baseboards where bed bugs can start to hide out in the cracks.
  • Be careful of public places like hotels

 
Pests are a pretty big nuisance, and small parasites can become a nightmare as they infest your home like a virus. But like the common cold, there are measures you can take to eradicate your home of bed bugs once and for all. If you need help paying for everything you might need to get rid of the bed bugs, stop by Check City and use a Personal Loan.



READ MORE
To read more about bed bugs, check out the following informative articles from WebMD and Entomology.

Learn more about taking care of pets in your home by reading, “How to Make Your Home Pet Friendly.”

Today’s Amazon Daily Deals!

amazon daily deals lightning deals

There are lots of great deals you can take advantage of every single day, with Amazon’s Daily Deals! You won’t believe some of the great things you can find. Every Tuesday we highlight some of our favorite Amazon Daily Deal buys. Here are some of our top picks from today:

*The prices shown below are the sale prices listed at the time of posting.

Ring Video Doorbell Pro

ring video doorbell

Current Sale Price: $149.00
Originally: $224.00
You Save: $75.00! (33% off)

Get a certified refurbished video doorbell pro for a great price! This video doorbell works with Alexa. With the Ring doorbell you can easily check your front door and keep an eye on your house, at any time of day or night. You can even speak to visitors at your doorstep through the ring doorbell, and it’ll send you alerts when it detects movement.
 

Echo Show

echo show video display

Current Sale Price: $64.99
Originally: $89.99
You Save: $25.00! (28% off)

The Echo Show is a compact smart display that works with your other Alexa devices. You can also get an adjustable stand to go along with it. The Echo Show is incredibly useful. With it you can watch the nursery to check on your sleeping baby, you can make video calls, and you can use it to listen to music and audio books.
 

Electric Kettle

electric kettle cordless

Current Sale Price: $29.99
Originally: $36.99
You Save: $7.00! (19% off)

This sleek looking Miroco electric kettle is a great staple to get for the oncoming winter months. It holds up to 1.5 liters, which can fill up to 8 glasses. It’s also 100% stainless steel with double walls so it’s safe to touch. This electric kettle also comes with overheat protection and auto shut-off so you won’t have any boiling accidents. But one of the most convenient features of this kettle is that it’s cordless! Use this electric kettle to brew all kinds of warm beverages and stay cozy this winter season.
 

YOSUDA Stationary Indoor Cycling Bike

indoor bike

Current Sale Price: $220.99
Originally: $259.99
You Save: $39.00! (15% off)

With winter coming around it can get harder to stay active. Not all of us have the resolve to keep jogging outside when the weather starts turning cold and snowy. But with an indoor bike you can keep up with your workouts from the cozy comfort of your own home. The YOSUDA stationary bike comes with an iPad mount, a comfortable seat cushion, and a water bottle holder, so you won’t want for anything as you meet your goals this year and stay active this winter.
 

Winix Air Purifier

air purifier

Current Sale Price: $99.99
Originally: $199.99
You Save: $100.00! (50% off)

Clean air is as important to our well being as eating healthy. Getting an air purifier for your room can be a great way to clean up the air you breath in your house every day. It even connects to WiFi and Alexa, so you can control the air purifier with your voice.



Sometimes deals and sales are the way that we get things we really need. You may especially depend on sales when you’re in college, or just starting out on your own, or in a new place. So when you find something you really need on sale, and payday is just a couple days too late, that can be really frustrating. Luckily Check City can help you out with a quick and easy Payday Loan so that you can take advantage of important deals regardless of when your payday comes.
 
Share with us what deals you snagged today by using the hashtags #amazondailydeals #checkcity
 
READ MORE
Make clothes shopping not just easier, but cheaper too, by doing your clothes shopping online, “Shopping for Your Clothes Online.”

Get ahead on your Christmas shopping this year, “4 Reasons to Start Early Christmas Shopping.”

Learn how to get thrifty with all your gift shopping this season, “Thrifty Gift Shopping.”

Read all about the post Christmas online shopping addiction and how to you can save yourself from overbuying this year, “The Post Christmas Online Shopping Addiction.”

Save on all your holiday shopping with these tips, “Saving while Online Shopping for the Holidays.”


Today’s Amazon Daily Deals!

amazon daily deals

There are lots of great deals you can take advantage of every single day, with Amazon’s Daily Deals! You won’t believe some of the great things you can find. Every Tuesday we highlight some of our favorite Amazon Daily Deal buys. Here are some of our top picks from today:

*The prices shown below are the sale prices listed at the time of posting.

Robot Vacuum Cleaner

 
robot vacuum
 

Current Sale Price: $95.93
Originally: $165.99
You Save: $70.06! (42% off)

Let’s be honest, everybody wants a robot vacuum cleaner. With a robot vacuum, you won’t have to vacuum your carpets or sweep your hard floors ever again! This Coredy brand vacuum even comes with a pet filter.

Echo Wall Clock

 
echo wall clock
 

Current Sale Price: $24.99
Originally: $29.99
You Save: $5.00! (17% off)

Yet another great Amazon device! Amazon Echo now has a sleek wall clock that’s compatible with Alexa. You can set timers using Alexa, and she’ll show you the timer on your wall clock, so you can now see how much time you have left instead of just waiting for Alexa to let you know the timer is done.

Weighted Blanket

 
weighted blanket
 

Current Sale Price: $47.92
Originally: $69.90
You Save: $21.98! (31% off)

Weighted blankets have been proven to help you sleep better and reduce anxiety. But all that extra weight can make these blankets cost a little more than the average blanket. If you’ve been wanting the calming help of a weighted blanket in your life, this deal is for you. It also comes with different colors and patterns to choose from, and weight options from 5lbs to 30lbs.

Portable LED Camping Lantern

 
camping lantern
 

Current Sale Price: $14.44

The Odoland portable LED camping lantern isn’t just a great light source, it can also easily hook onto the ceiling of your tent, and it has a built in fan to keep you cool when the wilderness nights are warm.

Amazon Cloud Security Camera

 
security camera
 

Current Sale Price: $89.99
Originally: $119.99
You Save: $30.00! (25% off)

Keep your home and loved ones safe and secure with the Amazon Security Camera. The Amazon Cloud Camera is a great way to always keep a good eye on your home. It comes with night vision and two-way audio.

Reusable Collapsible Straws

 
reusable straws
 

Current Sale Price: $13.99

You don’t have to be panicked about the planet to see the value of these travel friendly, compact straws. They can clip easily onto your bags and this pack comes with 2 straws, and a straw cleaner. Never be without a straw again while showing a little extra friendliness to the planet with these convenient collapsible straws.



Sometimes deals and sales are the way that we get things we really need. You may especially depend on sales when you’re in college, or just starting out on your own, or in a new place. So when you find something you really need on sale, and payday is just a couple days too late, that can be really frustrating. Luckily Check City can help you out with a quick and easy Payday Loan so that you can take advantage of important deals regardless of when your payday comes.
 
Share with us what deals you snagged today by using the hashtags #amazondailydeals #checkcity

How Much House Can I Afford?





Maybe you are a first-time home buyer and have no idea what you are doing, or maybe you’ve bought a home before, but this time you want to make sure you are being financially savvy in your decisions. Either way, there are so many things that go into buying a house that the overall process can be daunting. But by understanding how to budget for a home, and taking advantage of your local financial services, you can tackle the house-buying world and how it applies to you on an individual level.

The process for buying a house is not going to be the same for everyone. We all have different financial situations, incomes, salaries, bills, debts, expenses, and spending behaviors. We even all have different desires, wants, needs, and hobbies that go into how we spend our income and will therefore also affect our buying options when looking for a home. All of these variables should be carefully weighed and considered as you embark on your home-buying journey.

First let’s go over some key home-buying terms that you will want to be familiar with . . .

Definition of Key Terms

For an even bigger list of terms and definitions that you might need to know when buying a house, see the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Home Buyer’s Dictionary Page.

The Principal

The price of a home can also be referred to as the principal, especially by mortgage lenders. It refers to the base cost of the home, and does not include interest, fees, or closing costs. Many people use mortgages to pay for their home, meaning you’ll want to figure out how much mortgage you can afford when shopping home prices.

Down Payment

The down payment on a home is whatever the buyer can pay of the total price upfront. The less money put down in the beginning, the higher the interest rate on the mortgage will be, and the more the buyer will have to borrow from a lender. But the more you can put down in the beginning, the less you will have to borrow, and your interest rate will be lower as well. It is always advisable to pay as much for the house upfront as you can.

Homeowner’s Association Fees (HOA)

Some communities will be part of a Homeowner’s Association (HOA). Communities with an HOA are part of a planned community that often comes with communal benefits and amenities, like a pool, or snow ploughing. HOA’s also often come with certain rules for those who live in that community—rules about lawn upkeep and such—so make sure you understand the requirements and benefits of the HOA before committing to a house in their neighborhood.

Property Taxes

Owning a home and property will require you to pay property taxes each year. The percentage you pay in property taxes will depend on the location and value of your home. When looking in different locations for your home be sure to also look into what the property taxes are like in that area.

Mortgage

A mortgage is the loan and payment plan you go on with a lender to eventually pay off your home. Unless you can afford to pay the entire price of the home upfront (100% down payment), you’ll need to take out a mortgage with a lender to help eventually pay off your home through monthly mortgage payments instead of all at once.

Mortgages come with different time periods to pay back the loan. There are 15-year mortgages, 30-year mortgages, and a 5/1 Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM).

  • For a 15-year mortgage your payments are going to go up more and more each year and your payments are going to be higher in general. But you’ll pay less interest overall and pay off your mortgage quicker.
  • A 30-year mortgage is going to allow for smaller payments, but in the long run you will pay more in interest, and it will take longer for you to pay off your mortgage.
  • A 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage is another kind of 30-year mortgage, but your interest rate stays the same for the first five years of the loan. After that initial five years, your interest becomes subject to whatever market changes there are for interest rates.
Homeowner’s Insurance

Homeowner’s insurance is insurance for your home. It can protect you when disasters, natural or otherwise, affect your house. It can even cover some of the costs for damages caused by natural disasters or crime. It can also protect your possessions in these same scenarios and help you to replace whatever was lost or stolen. It is not illegal to not have homeowner’s insurance, but many lenders will require it. There are two kinds of homeowner’s insurance:

  • Cash-value coverage will help cover the costs of damages when they occur, but won’t usually be enough to rebuild your home should you need to.
  • Replacement-cost coverage is insurance that will cover the total cost of your house if you should ever need to rebuild it due to disasters. Most advisers will recommend you get this kind of homeowner’s insurance since it covers more.
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

PMI stands for Private Mortgage Insurance. It is a form of insurance that lenders use to reduce their risks when a borrower can’t afford a down payment of at least 20 percent. Your lender will require a PMI when they are lending you more than 80% of your home’s total value. PMI is also a very costly form of insurance, but there are ways to get rid of it later by refinancing.

Interest Rate

Interest rate is a percentage of money added to your loan as payment to the lenders for borrowing a home loan from them. The interest rate you get on your mortgage will be determined based on your credit history and score. Usually the interest rate will be included in your monthly mortgage payments.

Credit History

Your credit history comes from your credit report and shows your history of paying debts and bills. It is meant to show how often you are on time or late in payments and your overall level of responsibility with your finances. Your credit history and score are what lenders will look at when deciding the interest rate they will put on your mortgage.

Credit Score

Your credit score differs from your credit history in that it is an overall score calculated from your credit history to show how much of a credit risk you are for the lenders. Instead of looking at an entire credit report or history, lenders can simply look at this score to get a quick, overall idea of your credit’s well-being.

Gross Income

Gross income refers to your total income before taxes.

Net Income

Net income refers to your total income after taxes. It is also referred to as “take-home pay.”

Understanding Mortgages

When applying for a mortgage, there are four main factors listed below that lenders will consider and that will influence the kind of mortgage and interest rate you can get:

  • Your income
  • Demands on your income, like debts, monthly bills, loans, and other expenses
  • Your credit history
  • Your credit score
Types of Mortgage Lenders

There are also five general categories of lenders that you can get your mortgage from, and each one comes with its own pros and cons.

  • Federal government agency lenders
    • Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
    • US Department of Agriculture (USDA): These mortgages can be for homes in more rural areas. The USDA can also be used to rebuild and rehabilitate old properties that qualify.
    • Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): These mortgages are for veterans. You can even use them to make your home more accessible.
  • State government lenders
  • Nonprofit lenders
  • Local lenders, banks, and credit unions
  • Larger banks and lenders

The 5 Steps of Buying a Home

Step 1: Look at Your Credit Score

When starting the house hunt many people like to begin with the fun part by getting on Zillow and browsing for the perfect home. But you can’t figure out how much house you can afford on Zillow. If you are serious about buying a home, then you should look at your credit score before you start looking for a home. While looking at your credit score you will want to keep your eye out for the following:

  • See where your credit score is at—how good or bad it is.
  • Check your credit report for any errors and have them corrected.
    • Get on this now because if you need to correct your credit report, the changes will take some time, even months, to correct.
  • Look for ways you can better your credit score.
    • Figure out the reasons your credit score is lower than you want and develop plans to fix those issues or habits.
    • Paying down your general debt will also help your credit score.
Step 2: Do Calculations and Budgeting

The big question most people want to know when looking for a home is how much can I afford? There are many methods for figuring out your own budget for buying a home. Which method you choose will depend on what feels most comfortable for you. But in general, financial advisers will tell you to spend 2.5 to 5 times your annual salary on a home. Again, it is ultimately up to you where you decide to land in this range.
Method One: Based on Your Savings
People are generally advised to pay at least a 20% down payment. In order to figure out the amount of house you can afford based on what you have saved for a down payment, use the following equation:

Method Two: Based on Your Annual Income
If you want a quick estimate of the amount you can afford for a house, below is an easy calculation you can do based on your annual income.

Method Three: the 28/36 Rule
The 28/36 rule is a recommendation that your budget has no more than a 28% front-end ratio and a 36% back-end ratio. Lenders will look at both these ratios to decide your mortgage loan, so it is important to understand where you stand according to this ratio because this is how most lenders will decide what you can afford to borrow from them. When budgeting for a home, you can use this ratio to see if you meet these requirements and to see how financially ready you are to buy a home.

  • Front-end refers to your total housing payments (PITI) to income ratio.
  • Your total housing payments is not just referring to the Principal, but also the Interest, Taxes, and Insurance (hence, PITI). This front-end ratio means that you should not spend more than 28% of your monthly gross income on your total monthly mortgage payments.

  • Back-end refers to your total debt to income ratio (DTI).
  • This back-end ratio means that you should not spend more than 36% of your monthly gross income on debts. Debts include credit card payments, child support, auto loans, student loans, and any other debts you may have.

Dave Ramsey’s Advice

Dave Ramsey has influenced and guided a lot of people in their financial affairs with his knowledge. Below is some of his basic advice for buying a home:

  • Pay a 100% down payment in cash when you can.
  • Choose a 15-year mortgage over a 30-year mortgage.
  • Keep your mortgage payments (plus insurance and taxes) no more than 25% of your take-home pay (net income).
    So unlike the 28/36 rule, Dave Ramsey advises that your front-end ratio be no more than 25%, instead of 28 percent. He also advises that you use this percentage on your net income, or take-home pay, rather than your gross income, because this will better reflect the money actually going to your account after taxes.
What to Remember When Budgeting:

The Mortgage:
Just because a lender qualifies you for a certain amount that does not mean you should use it all. How much mortgage you can qualify for is very different from how much mortgage you should use. The maximum loan amount that your lender is willing to let you borrow, does not reflect your personal budget and what you actually want to be paying each month. This is why being able to do your own budgeting and calculations is important because then you can see and decide for yourself how much you are willing to borrow.
The Down Payment:
When preparing to buy a home, what you really want to be doing is preparing for the down payment. The higher a down payment you can afford the better.

Your down payment should be at least 20% of the total price of the house. But, you can find loans that accommodate lower down payments if that’s what you require:

  • Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration, the USDA, and the Department of Veterans Affairs are just a few options for low down payment mortgages.

Other Costs and Fees Associated with Buying a Home:

  • Closing costs and fees. Some examples of what may be included in the closing costs are appraisal fees, loan fees, attorney fees, and house inspection fees. Closing costs and fees will vary and depend on local tax laws and the cost of your home. If you want to estimate how much your closing costs might be, they generally range between 2 and 5% of the cost of your home.
  • Taxes, insurance, and HOA fees for certain neighborhoods.
  • Home maintenance, upgrades, and repairs: Homes need regular maintenance, remodeling, normal upkeep over the years, and repairs when emergencies and damages suddenly occur.
  • You’ll need to potentially buy appliances, furniture, and decorations.
  • You’ll be responsible for paying all your utilities, which can include, heat, electricity, water, sewage, trash removal, cable television, and telephone services.

Your Other Financial Goals:
Buying a home is a big financial goal and dream in life, but you probably have other financial hopes and dreams as well. Don’t forget to factor these in as you budget and look for a home. Some of these other goals may include general savings, saving for retirement, buying a new car, raising children, paying for their college, starting a business, vacations, trips, and any other hobbies, interests, or personal endeavors that may also require a place in your budget.
Know Yourself:
It is important to understand the kind of spender you are. This is another reason doing your own budget for your future house is a good idea, because then you can thoroughly be aware of your spending habits and therefore be more realistic when it comes to budgeting in a mortgage as well.

But you also need to be mindful of how you handle debt. For some people, being in a certain amount of debt can be stressful, while others don’t mind it so much. Be aware of whether having a larger mortgage on your hands is going to bother you or negatively impact your internal well-being. This will also factor into what you decide to do financially about budgeting for a mortgage.

You can also hire a personal financer to look over all these factors for you and take a more personal, detailed look into all of the many costs involved for you individually. Hiring a professional may be wise if you do not have the time or patience to look into these variables yourself. It is less wise to rely solely on a lender’s analysis because they will only look at income and credit history, and not consider your personal, bigger picture.

Step 3: Find Your Agent

Buyer’s Agent
A buyer’s agent is the kind of agent you want to be working with directly because they are meant to work with the buyer (you) and will thus work to get you the best price you can get.
Seller’s Agent
This is not who you want to be working with directly because they will be trying to get the best price for the seller. Though usually the buyer and seller agents will mediate offers and agreements and work alongside each other in that way.

Now it’s time for the fun part—the home search! After you’ve done all your budgeting and have all your ducks in a neat, planned-out row, you can begin to search for the home that fits your wants, needs, and budget!

Remember all the budgeting calculations you did above when you are filtering in your price range. It’s recommended to select a price range 10% above and below your calculations as a cushion when you are searching.

What to look for in location:

  • A healthy economy: low unemployment rates and good incomes
  • A good real estate market: look at whether the homes in the neighborhood are selling well, meaning they sell close to or above their asking price.
  • A healthy community: look for a range of ages in the residents and families nearby.
  • A good school district: even if you don’t have children, being in a good school district will help your home retain its value and make selling your home easier should you need to sell later down the road.
Step 5: Enter Your Contract and Close the Deal!

Once you’ve made your choice you can work with your agent to make an offer to the sellers. If all goes through, your agent will draw up the papers and officialize a closing date, which is usually 45 to 60 days after the offer was accepted by the sellers.

When entering into a housing contract you will first want to make sure you have the following common contingencies in your agreement. This means that your contract relies on these personal requirements being met first:

  • obtaining a mortgage
  • getting a home inspection

Buying a home is a big deal and naturally you want to be as knowledgeable and savvy about the basics as possible. By applying these basic rules you will know how to buy a home in the smartest way possible.


READ MORE
Visit the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for seminars and counseling about buying a home.


Visit the HUD’s common questions page for even more answers to your home-buying questions.


Use an online “How Much House Can I Afford” calculator to plug in your numbers and quickly see how much house you can afford.


Listen to NPR episodes about home-buying to learn more about the home-buying world.


FEATURE IMAGE BY BRENO ASSIS

How to Make Chores Fun for Kids!

kids-chores-fun

Too often chores for kids turn into a power struggle between parent and child. The parent has to constantly nag about chores while the child rebels against doing them, creating tension in the home.

This cycle of nagging and frustration surrounding chores isn’t healthy for anyone—parent or child. If everyone is left with a bad attitude, what have you really accomplished, even if the chore is done?

But not having your kids do chores isn’t a good option either. Chores help kids learn basic life skills and work ethic necessary to be functioning adults. Succeeding and failing at household chores is one of the first ways kids can grow their skills and confidence in their own abilities. So figuring out the key to making chores effective is actually bigger than simply keeping your house clean.

Chores Benefit Kids

For some parents having your kids do chores seems like a no brainer. But other parents may need some convincing. Kids can sometimes give such a hard time doing chores that it might not seem worth arguing. Kids also might not do the job very well and this can also lead parents to just want to do things themselves.

Parents aren’t just better at daily cleaning they’re usually faster and more efficient too. Other parents might not want to demand too much of their child and want their kid to just have fun and be a kid rather than having the responsibility of chores.

But for all these reasons there is a counter reason for why having your kids do chores is not only beneficial to you, but to your child as well. If you don’t have the patience or you don’t allow them to do chores than you are letting your kids miss out on a lot of benefits for themselves and their futures.

For children, everything is a learning experience and that includes chores. There are many things parents do to aid in the development of their children, like talking to them even when they can’t talk back, let alone understand you. Parent’s hold their child’s hands to help them walk even though the parent is really doing all the work. Parents must remember that doing chores is also teaching your children to do regular human tasks, just like you need to teach them to walk and to talk.

Chores are all about helping children eventually become self-sufficient. They need to walk on their own someday so we help them walk while they’re young and unable to do it well. They need to communicate by themselves someday so we talk to them and teach them words even when they still can’t understand us.

They also need to know how to take care of themselves and their living space otherwise this will be an area of struggle in their independent lives as adults. In fact, Professor Marty Rossmann, from the University of Minnesota, did a study where she found that if kids started doing household chores at around 3 to 4 years old, they were more likely to be successful adults when they reached their mid-20s.
Exterior Benefits
Exterior benefits are going to be the most obvious ones. The house will be cleaner which will be more enjoyable for everyone, and the workload won’t be all on the parents. By having your kids help out in any way, you reduce your own workload and your house will be cleaner with less effort on your part!
Interior Benefits
Having your kids do chores actually benefits them more than it benefits you. Below is a list of the many reasons why household chores are beneficial for the inner growth and development of your child.

Builds Life Skills

Doing chores and the family perspective behind doing them have a greater impact on a child’s success in life than parenting style, IQ, gender, or the type of task. The skills they gain from chores go far beyond the household, or their time living at home. These skills transfer to many more aspects of their life and will be the skills they use to have success in all aspect of adulthood.

Builds Confidence

A child begins to create their own mental image of themselves at home. Chores build a child’s confidence and positive self-image in many ways: By doing chores they learn they can be productive, successful, and accomplish tasks set before them. They learn that they can become competent at the things they work on and that they can contribute in meaningful ways as a valued member of a team (their family).

It also teaches them that they can have a level of control over maintaining their own environment. All of these things boost a growing person’s confidence, leading them to lead more confident and successful lives in the future.

Another way that chores build confidence in kids is through their failures. When kids are first learning to do chores they often fail. The first time a kid sweeps the floor they may miss a lot, or the way they fold clothes might not be as tidy if you just did it.

But if you see their failure and just do it for them, then you’ll teach them that they are failures who are so far from succeeding that they shouldn’t even try and someone more competent, like yourself, should just do it for them.

This is key for parents to remember because chores are not just so kids can help out around the house and alleviate the parent’s workload. Chores are also an integral part in a young person’s development and therefore has a learning curve.

Helps Them Practice Self-Care

kids-self-care
Caring for the space you live in is a big part of caring for yourself. Chores provide some key habits that help people maintain their mental and emotional health as well as outward hygiene. Living in a clean and organized environment is an important element in a person’s mental well-being, and by having your kids do chores you give them the power and know-how to create that healthy space for themselves.
Cleaning Their Own Room
Many children and teenagers struggle with keeping their own room clean. Since it’s their own space you may think it’s not a battle worth waging, but many times in life we end up sharing our personal space with others, like roommates, friends that come over, or a future partner.

Maintaining your own room is also part of personal grooming and hygiene. If you teach your kids now to keep their stuff together then other aspects of their life will be more put together as well.

A messy room also creates a stifling atmosphere. A lot of the angst you may be dealing with from your child may partly be because their personal space is messy. Cleaning their own room helps kids learn how to better take care of themselves.

Teaches Self-Motivation and Responsibility

If you persist, and start at a young age, you can teach your kids to eventually be self-motivated about getting their own chores done. You can also teach kids responsibility, a quality that will serve them well in all other parts of their lives. Giving them the chores also helps them practice being responsible for something. Being responsible and self-motivated are necessary traits for success later in life in their education and their jobs.

Social skills

Chores teach the value of working and cooperating with others. Not only do you learn to work well with others while doing chores, but you learn how to better communicate with others as well. They have to communicate when they need help or when they don’t know what to do next. You can also take the opportunity while cleaning together to just chat and enjoy some one-on-one time together.
fail-family-endure

It’s Ok to Fail

Chores offer a unique opportunity for kids to safely fail and try again at something. Much of life consists of trying, failing, and trying again, and chores are a great way to give kids this practice in a safe environment. With chores they can learn what it means to try again and again at something until they finally succeed.

Setting Up Your Family’s Chore System

There are many ways to set up a chore system. There are also thousands of chore chart templates and ideas online that you can work from. You can find all kinds of free chore charts online, and even free printable chore charts. Having special chore charts for kids can also make doing chores seem more like a fun game than a responsibility. There are point systems, reward systems, and chore assignments that rotate every week or every month.

Figuring out what works best with your family is probably going to include plenty of trial and error. Here are some suggestions that could help turn chores for kids into a bonding experience for you and your children and make managing chore assignments easier.

Cultivate the Right Perspective

Part of cultivating the right perspective around chores is not overwhelming them, letting them make choices, and not using chores as a form of punishment. Household tasks are a necessary part of everyday life, like eating and sleeping. They should be treated as a routine part of life for everyone and not as an extra burden being forced upon them.

Don’t Overwhelm Them

No one likes doing things they don’t feel capable of doing. As an adult it may be hard to understand, but for children something like cleaning their entire bedroom by themselves can seem like an impossibly giant task. A common problem between kids and their chores is getting them to do their chores in the first place. Getting overwhelmed and burnt out by the task is the primary thing keeping them from taking initiative with their chores.

A child’s workload is going to look different than an adult’s workload. Likewise, their workload is going to look different depending on their age. You might be able to easily spend an hour or two cleaning and organizing, but for a child that feels like a whole day and they become burnt out in the same way adults working overtime might feel burnt out. They have smaller bodies and their brains are still developing to withstand the mental fortitude needed to work and focus for that amount of time.

Try dividing the job up into smaller, defined tasks
If you just tell your child to clean their room they might more easily become overwhelmed and lose focus, leaving the job uncompleted. But if you divide the task of cleaning their room into smaller chunks they can more easily know how to tackle that job on their own. So instead of asking them to clean their room, have them go through a checklist of smaller tasks like,

  1. fold and put clothes away
  2. put toys in the toy bin
  3. make the bed

This may seem tedious to some adults but you have to remember the level of development you are working with. Children aren’t adults in smaller form, they are still growing in mental maturity and capacity and this fact carries over into their ability to do chores.

Think of it this way: in school you weren’t just told to write a 20 page paper. First you learned the alphabet, then you learned words, then sentences, then paragraphs, then you wrote a page, and from there you kept working up to writing larger and larger page assignments. Kids need this same principle of education in learning how to clean as well.

Let Them Make Choices

Involve your kids in deciding what chores they do. Another thing that makes it difficult for kids to get their chores done is feeling like they have no choice in the matter. No one likes being forced to work. As an adult you probably do chores because, at some level, you want to—whether you’ve grown to enjoy the work or because you want the results of the work.

Giving kids a sense of choice in their chores helps them feel more motivated to do them. Involving them in choosing their chores also helps them practice making decisions and coordinating workloads with others.

Don’t Use Chores as a Punishment

One way to make your kids hate chores is to use them as a punishment for bad behaviors. If they associate helping out around the house with punishment, then you’re quite possibly setting them up to be a slob for life.

Start Younger Than You Think

When kids are as young as 18 months they often naturally start wanting to help out around the house. This may seem very young but you should let them.

You might be tempted to scoot them away when they express interest in helping with something, because obviously they aren’t going to be very good at it. But if you take the time to include your kids in chores at a very young age, then they’ll be much more likely to have a good attitude about helping around the house as they get older.

Age Appropriate Chore Lists

Along with starting younger than you think with chores, make sure you are giving your kids age appropriate chores. It can help to have a chore list that you can work from to let you know what chores are accessible to which age groups. Below is a list of age appropriate chores that become doable for each age group:
Toddlers

  • Put their toys and books away
  • Help wipe up spills
  • Let them “play clean” beside you as you clean

Young Children

  • Make bed
  • Clean room
  • Put their things away
  • Fold laundry
  • Set the table
  • Help cook simple things
  • Feed pets

Older children

  • Clean room
  • Do laundry
  • Vacuum
  • Sweep
  • Mop
  • Dust
  • Empty trash
  • Wash dishes
  • Clean the bathroom

Teenagers

  • Babysit
  • Yard work
  • Do laundry
Schedule Chore Time

Designate a specific block of time when everyone in the house pitches in. If chores are part of a routine, and siblings and parents are all involved, then your children will need less reminders and less nagging. They’ll also feel more like a contributing member of the family, which can develop into a good motivating factor.

One fun way of doing this is to make a music playlist for chore time. You can pick a time each day where you do chores, like after dinner, then turn on your playlist and everyone works until the playlist is done.

“Gamify” Chores

The term “gamification” refers to turning a mundane task into a game. Household chores offer an incredible opportunity for gamification, and you and your children’s creativity is the only limiting factor.

You could turn cleaning time into a dance party, or have a race to see who gets done first. Another classic gamification technique is to create a “sticker chart,” but instead of a regular calendar sticker chart, turn it into a board game where their stickers lead to a winning destination.

Rewards for Chores?

The purpose of rewards for doing chores should be to teach them that cleaning has natural benefits, not necessarily that doing regular housework will earn them money. For example, once the kitchen is clean they can have dessert or watch their favorite show, or maybe once their room is clean they can have friends over.

Another reason to reward your kids for doing chores is to acknowledge the work they’ve done. Children want approval and appreciation and after chores is as good a time as any to give it. Just like with criticism, you don’t only want to hear from your boss about what you did poorly, you also want to know what you are doing right. Your kids need to hear that too, after all, rewarding success is more effective than only disciplining failures.

For younger kids you can teach them stuff while they clean, like count the toys as you put them away, or say the color of the book and put it on the shelf with similar colors.

The Parenting Press advises parents to not give allowance for chores because in real life you don’t get paid in money to do regular household work. Children need to learn to maintain their living space for that sake alone.

Conclusion

Parents want chores to be a positive part of their child’s life. You want to instill the right perception, facilitate their development and growth, and make chores a bonding experience. Keeping a tidy home should be something that everyone participates in and everyone enjoys doing. So stop nagging, and use chores to help bring your family closer together.


READ MORE
Check out Jessica Lahey’s book, the Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So their Children Can Succeed, to read more about how chores and failure can help your child grow.

How to Make Your Home Pet Friendly

In one of our past posts we discussed how you can budget for a new family pet. In today’s post we’ll discuss how you can make your home pet friendly in preparation for your new furry friends arrival.
Most American households include a beloved pet, but are we really considering their comfort and safety when we bring them home?

Sure we love them, play with them, feed them and so on, but what more can you do to ensure their happiness and wellbeing?

Examine the Problem

Every pet can be frustrating and messy at times, but it is important to examine your house and lifestyle before blaming your pet. Ask yourself, “Is this a pet problem or a people problem?”
For example, is your dog constantly getting into the bathroom garbage? It might seem as though your dog has a behavior problem, but might actually be a people problem. The solution could be as simple as closing the bathroom door when you’re not around. You could even try getting a garbage can with a lid. Changing your routine or placement of items is usually the easier fix!

Avoid Harmful Ingestion

Keep toxins and Poisons out of reach of your pet. This includes medications, household cleaners, and plants, but also food that may be hazardous to your pet. Animals are drawn to smells and can and will eat things that are bad for them.

Empty your garbage cans frequently and keep a tight lid over them; or conceal them where your pet can’t access them. It will save you from cleaning a big mess, but might also save their life.

Common poisons and hazards for dogs:

  • Chocolate
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Caffeine
  • Coffee
  • Nutmeg
  • Xylitol (commonly found in sugar-free chewing gum)
  • Alcohol
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Onions, garlic and chives

Common poisons and hazards for cats:

  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Xylitol (commonly found in sugar-free chewing gum)
  • Milk

These substances can cause diarrhea, liver failure, strokes and more in your pet, even in small doses.
If you think your pet may have ingested something poisonous call the ASPCA poison control center at 888- 426- 4435.

For a complete list of toxins refer to the ASPCA website.

Inspect Your Home

Just as you would baby- proof your home for an infant, you may need to pet- proof your house as well.
This may sound silly, but by crawling around your house on your pet’s eye level you will be able to spot hazards lurking behind furniture and even out in the open.

Is there anything they could get caught in, injured by or otherwise find trouble? You may need to cover a few outlets, shorten some blind cords, cover electrical cords, etc. It’s always a good idea to fix, remove, or cover anything that could harm your pet.

Dedicated Pet Area

Creating a comfortable place for your pet to relax and sleep is very important. Animals instinctually want a space that is warm, soft, and comforting.

A soft bed or blanket placed in a warm corner is the perfect place for your pet to relax. You can also add a toy or two to encourage them to play in this area as well. However, be cautious about choosing toys that are appropriate in size, strength, and material for your pet. Choosing a chew toy too small for your dog or cat could result in choking, injury, intestinal blockage or worse.

Make sure water is readily accessible in a safe location and that it is easy to drink from. Find a place to store their food, toys, and accessories so that you have control over your pet’s access.

This also applies to small animals such as birds, fish, and rodents. The area in which you place their cage is very important. Make sure to avoid drafts, extreme heat, fumes, high ledges, etc; anyplace that causes stress, breathing problems or extremes in temperature or a risk of falling.

Birds, rodents and other small pets like to be able to hide, so placing them in a corner rather than the middle of a room will cause them less stress. Avoiding windows is a good idea as well. Some animals may see outdoor animals as predators and will always be on guard. If appropriate for your pet, purchase a safe hiding toy to help them feel secure.

How do you ensure that your pets are safe and happy at home? Let us know in the comment section below.

DIY Home Security Ideas

There are many thousands of homeowners across the nation that want to make their home as secure as possible, but simply do not have the funds to afford expensive and lavish ways of securing their house. Such things as professionally installed and monitored security systems are nice, but their cost is seldom worth the reward especially when there are plenty of other ways in which a homeowner can make their home safe from would-be burglars by undertaking simple DIY improvements and inexpensive measures.

These home security improvements are both effective in keeping the bad guys at bay and saving a homeowner money in their home’s security costs. In fact, first and foremost, there are several strategies for making the home as safe as possible by simply changing personal habits, which will not cost a thing for the homeowner.

Totally Free Ways to Protect the Home

Some ways to change habits to add protection to the home include always remembering to lock doorways and windows, leave a light or two on while out of the house (make sure that the lights in the home are the energy efficient kind in order to save on electricity costs), and keep the outside of the home in good repair (those homes that look rundown are more likely to be targeted by criminals as it appears that the homeowner is rarely in the house).

In addition to the above changes to behavior that can keep a home safe, a homeowner can do even more to secure their home if they will keep their valuables out of clear sight from outside the home. Those homes with valuable possessions in clear view of the street (such as a television one can see through the window) are more likely to be targeted because the criminals know that they will be able to steal at least the one valuable item.

DIY Home Security Projects

After practicing safe home habits, a homeowner can do even more to protect their homes from criminals by undertaking a few of the following DIY home security projects. The first project that can be undertaken if not already equipped in the home is to install an extra bolt lock on all external doors and a bolt lock on the garage door.

Install Motion Sensors

Another effective and inexpensive home security measure that homeowners could implement themselves is to install motion sensor lights around the exterior of the home. Outside lights that are tripped by motion detectors are great deterrents to criminals because they increase the risk of being caught.

Other simple and quick DIY projects that can secure the home include placing a wooden dowel in the tracks of sliding doors and windows and planting thorny bushes beneath ground floor windows. Plants such as rose bushes are especially effective in thwarting would-be criminals due to their own self-defenses in the form of painful thorns.

With these few ideas a homeowner can safe and tightly secure their residence at little cost. And, with these added measures and others as suggested by the homeowner’s insurance company, a homeowner may even be able to receive discounts for home safety from their home insurance provider.

Furnishing a Home on a Budget

The Holidays are rapidly approaching and for many families that means that it’s their turn to host the annual family get together. The stress of having the entire family over to your house can often lead to thoughts of needing to redecorate but many families have found that furnishing or redesigning their homes can be an expensive endeavor. But the costs of furnishing or simply reforming a family’s home does not need to be overly exorbitant if the family will know how to furnish their home on a budget.

As most families know, keeping a budget is an integral part of their fiscal success, and the same principles of budgeting one’s money can be applied to furnishing a home. When budgeting, a family will look at what they can afford to spend of specific items as well as what items they need to buy first, such as food and rent or mortgage.

Set Priorities

In the same way, a family who is endeavoring to redesigned or furnish their home can decide what specific items they will want to spend money on first in order to accomplish their overarching goal of furnishing the home. For example, some items, like a refrigerator or a stove, will most likely need to take precedence over wall decorations or reupholstering an old chair.

These types of prioritizing decisions will get more difficult as items get closer together in relative importance, but before delving headlong into a full re furnish of the home, a family should remember their budgeting steps to create a list of prioritized projects. Once this is done, a family will be able to move forward with their work of furnishing the home with the assurance that they can do so with fiscal responsibility.

It Starts With Yard Sales

After the planning phase of furnishing a home, a family will need to know some practical tips and techniques on how they can cheaply but effectively furnish their home. And the first tip in furnishing a home with a tight budget (or even if a family simply wants to save money on furnishing their home) is to start hitting up yard sales.

Cheaper than most secondhand stores, a neighborhood yard sale is a common occurrence in towns across the nation. Mostly held on the weekends, yard sales can be an extremely viable and inexpensive way for a family to furnish their home.

A family who knows how to scan neighborhood yard sales for the items they have on their list of furnishing needs will be able to find the majority of items for cheap. Yard sales will often have a wide range of items and as such each individual yard sale can provide a viable treasure trove of usable items for the home.

Second Hand Stores

Coming in as a close second to yard sales in price are the items found in second hand stores. As was stated, a yard sale will most likely offer the same previously owned material that a second hand store would and for less money, but when yard sales fail to provide the chair, desk, sofa, or whichever piece of home furnishings a family needs, they might consider stopping by their local thrift shop.

Often times, a second hand store will have a wide variety of items available for purchase as the store will attract donations from a wide ranging population. This variety and at a low price can often give a family more options for the items they need to furnish their home.

Try Doing it Yourself

Other ways of saving money on furnishing the home include do it yourself projects and fixer uppers. Many people have found pleasure in working to create something for their home themselves or by refurbishing an older piece into something new that perfectly complements the arrangements of the home.

There are countless ideas for do it yourselfers around the home, but the most common include decorating, refurbishing, and reupholstering. Decorating the home is a critical part of furnishing a home for most families.

Simple decorating tips that can be done for less include projects like simple framing. Buying an inexpensive frame to turn an old letter, memorabilia, or appealing fabric squares into elegant and unique wall art is a simple way to decorate a home on a budget.

Likewise, a family can undertake projects to refinish old tables to become beautiful end tables, nightstands, or coffee tables. Old chairs or other furniture do not need to be thrown out when instead they can be reupholstered to look and feel brand new.

When families get creative with their needs for furnishing they can begin to save loads of money on furnishing or redesigning their homes.

Transforming a Rental Space into a Home

It is a feeling that many renters have felt after they have been renting homes for a majority of their lives. The feeling of living in a rental can sometimes make a person feel like they never have a true home at all.

A person may come home to their own stuff, such as their own television, their own furniture, and their own bed, but even then, if the renter has been renting for long then they may feel like the house itself really is not theirs. The ugly carpeting, dull light fixtures, and weird tile in the kitchen serve as constant reminders to some that their rental home or apartment houses their possessions but is not truly their home.

How Can You Make It Yours?

With feelings like these being common among long term renters, many have begun to ask how they can improve their rental space to be uniquely their own. The answer is that a person can accomplish the monumental task of making a rental their own by performing simple home improvement projects, decorating to one’s preferences, and making little changes here and there.

Get Permission First

But before one can head into such a major transformation of the rental home, they must first seek and gain permission from their land lord to make specific changes to the rental unit. While some changes, like the addition of furniture or free standing decorations, may not need to be clear by the land lord, other changes, like adding a coat of paint or hanging pictures on the walls, will need to be approved by the owner of the unit.

After gaining approval for specific projects, a renter can begin to make their rental unit their own by implementing a few strategies in every room of the house or apartment. These projects can be large or small, but all can be done with a budget in mind and at a relatively low cost.

Try Some Paint

One of the best and least expensive ways to transform a rental unit into feeling like a person’s true home is by applying a coat of paint to some walls. Choosing colors that match the desired feel of the room, a renter, again after getting permission from their land lord, can transform a drab rental space into their own home by applying just a few coats of paint onto the walls.

Painting the living room of a rental will immediately change the feel of the room and conform it to the desires of the renter. While adding paint may seem like a no no for many land lords, renters may be surprised at the number of land lords who would actually welcome a fresh coat of paint being applied in their units.

Beyond painting the walls of the living room or living spaces, a renter can cheaply and quickly change their rental space into a home by the addition of new furniture or decorations to the living area. New furniture, like a refurbished antique coffee or end table can bring a new feel to the living area and decorations can be assembled with relatively little costs.

Try Framing Things

A few simple decoration ideas for renters redesigning their living space on a budget include framing things that are not simple pictures. Items such as old memorabilia or retro artifacts placed behind a frame and hung on a wall can instantly bring the personalized feel of personality into one’s living area.

Once the living space has been revamped to reflect the style and preference of the renter, they can then change their focus to the kitchen in their rented home or apartment. Like the living area, the kitchen can be transformed from a drab rental-looking kitchen to a tailored area by simply improving or adding personalized touches here and there.

Rental units are often known for their drab, ugly, or even damaged flooring in the kitchen, and so to make the rental one’s own, the kitchen floor must first be tackled. The quick fix is a nice rug to simply hide the flooring underneath, but the permanent and more personal fix would be to get permission from the landlord to redo the flooring with easy to assemble flooring kits purchased at the hardware store.

After the flooring of the kitchen has been dealt with, a renter can further improve upon their kitchen by switching out the lighting fixtures to a more modern, or at least less run down, look. By making small and often relatively simple and inexpensive changes to their rental unit, a renter can change the mood in their house from a rented space to a true home.

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