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8 Tips to Get Your Budget on Track

 

Ways to Save Money with a Roommate

When you get your first apartment you may find that you want to get a roommate in order to save on expenses. Living in big cities is becoming more expensive each day, so getting a roommate is a great way to cut your part of the rent in half. There are more ways to save money than just on rent with a roommate, however. Here are some other money saving tips you and your roommate can apply to cuts down on costs.

Buy in Bulk

And investment in a membership at Sam’s Club or Costco can save a lot of money in the long run. You and any roommates can split costs by buying things like toilet paper, paper towels, coffee, and more in bulk. This allows you to build up supplies that will last for months because toilet paper never goes bad.

Use Natural Light

If you apartment has ample windows that allow for natural light, embrace it! Open up the curtains and save on electricity by taking advantage of natural light as much as you can. Natural light also promotes a more cheerful household. It can keep the place a little warmer in the winter, too, if you can get direct sunlight.

Share Cooking Duties

Eating out for every meal gets expensive. An easy way to save is to eat at home, and if you can share cooking duties with your roommate, even better. It helps build a sense of community with your roommate as well. You can be creative and try new recipes for each other or keep it simple with a few tested recipes that are easy to make.

Make Plans

Making a plan with your roommate is a great way to save money. Rather than going out for drinks at the last minute because you’ve got nothing better to do, make a plan to stay in for a group activity. If you make plans at the beginning of the week you can save money at the end because you already have something to do.

Make Coffee at Home

Many people love coffee, but getting one a day at your local coffee shop can get expensive after a while. If a coffee costs $3 and you get one a day that’s $21 a week. By making coffee at home you can save money and even get creative with different flavors.

Cut the Cable Cord

Many people are cutting cable these days. A streaming service like Netflix or Hulu is a much cheaper way to watch the show you want to watch. If you can convince your roommate to split the cost, even better.

These are just a few handy tips for saving money with a roommate. Perhaps the best way is to brainstorm with said roommate and come up with your own.

4 Tips for Cleaning Pet Hair from Carpeting

It’s the one thing that annoys pet owners the most: the fur that spreads on every piece of furniture, every inch of carpet, like a disease. Some people refrain from wearing dark clothes in general because their pet’s fur somehow lingers on clothing surfaces despite multiple tumbles in the dryer. What are pet owners to do? Luckily, these four easy tips can help you both prevent and clean pet hair, no matter your carpet.

Vacuuming is a given. Although you should at least vacuum your carpet three times a week to remove most pet hair, Home Guides provides a useful technique for gathering up all the hair into clumps, like leaves. To make vacuuming easier, they suggest, “raking your carpet with a rubber-bristled carpet rake collects the pet hair in clumps, so you can remove the hair by hand before vacuuming.” RugCare.com adds another step to this process: if you powder baking soda over your carpet before you vacuum, it can help loosen up the fur, making the cleaning process much easier.

Similarly, News Press Now explains that some pet owners purchase pet beds for the sole purpose of limiting pet fur to a certain section of the apartment. If you get your pet a large enough bed, or a flat pillow, all you’ll have to do is take it outside every once in a while and shake it out to prevent pet hair from spreading all over the carpet and furniture. Rugs can also act as a catch-all for pet fur. Carpet Keepers Inc points to this role when they write that if you place a rug along your pet’s high-traffic area, it can both catch whatever dirt is on its paws and also the fur that falls off it when it moves.

Just remember, rubbery tools like rubber rakes and gloves can help you collect pet fur from the carpet, and catch-alls like beds and rugs can help prevent fur from spreading. Although there are no perfect solutions to cleaning pet hair from carpeting, these four tips will make pet shedding somewhat beside the point, and the pet hair a little less annoying.

Eliminate the Waste: 5 Tips for Saving Money on Utilities

Written by Kris Lindahl REALTOR® CRS CLHMS
CEO/Owner The Kris Lindahl Team at Kris Lindahl Real Estate
2407 109th Ave NE Suite 110
Blaine, MN 55449
www.krislindahl.com
twitter.com/krislindahl
linkedin.com/in/krislindahl
www.minnesotacommercial.com

 

One can’t go wrong when taking steps to conserve energy use in their apartment home. Besides helping to save precious natural resources, residents can also save a good bit of money by making a few small changes in their units and in the way they live. These five useful tips for reducing utility use can ease one’s conscious as well as those monthly bills.

1.  Kitchen Energy Efficiency Tips

The use of ovens and dishwashers can make the kitchen one of the hottest rooms in the home. In warmer months, experts recommend using these devices in the evening time when it’s cooler to reduce the AC’s heat load. Furthermore, utility use can be further reduced by disabling the second rinse and heat cycles on the dishwasher and allowing them to air dry. Another way to keep the kitchen cool is to install small LED lights beneath counters to reduce use of heat producing and energy draining overhead lights.

2.  Smart Power Strips for Modern Households

In a gadget loving society, most households have numerous appliances, consoles and chargers plugged in at all times.  Whether they are being used or not, such juice drainers are called ‘energy vampires.’ However, today’s smart power strips are designed to save energy and money by shutting down energy flow. These modern accessories cost around $40, feature multiple outlets, provide surge protection and also power down connected devices when they aren’t in use.

3.  Water Wise Conservation Tips

Many apartment communities include water with rental rates as an amenity, so low-flow shower heads and toilets are likely already installed to minimize water use. However, some steps renters can take to further reduce water use and energy costs include:

  • Doing laundry in large loads and using cold water.
  • Running the dishwasher only when it’s full adjusting settings to shut off second rinse cycles and heat drying.
  • Keeping showers short or taking baths in lieu of showers to expend less water.
  • Collecting rainwater in buckets to use for watering plants. It’s free, and plants prefer it over tap water.

4.  Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Lighting

Traditional incandescent bulbs may provide ample lighting but are rather inefficient in a number of ways. They tend to burn rather hot and increase cooling costs. They also draw more energy than today’s modern options such as LEDs and compact fluorescent light bulbs that are far more efficient. Furthermore, energy-efficient options have a greater lifespan that incandescent bulbs, so renters can save even more over the long term. Changing the most commonly used five bulbs in the home can have a noticeable impact on utility bills whole reduceing one’s carbon footprint.

5.  Take Control of Heating and Cooling Costs

Depending on the age of the apartment building, there may be a traditional thermostat or a smart home thermostat installed. Regardless of the type, lowering the thermostat by one degree can reduce energy costs by 3 percent. However, energy rated smart thermostats can help renters save much more, as they can be controlled at will even while away from home. These are ideal for those away from home for several consecutive hours and want to reduce use but prefer to return to a cozy temperature.

At the end of the day, every small change made can add up to big savings. While upgrades are certainly helpful, habits can make a huge difference when they’re consistent. If you’re looking to help the environment or just want save a little bit more every month, these changes can get you headed in the right direction.

Tips for Living with a Roommate for the First TimeLiving with a roommate can be an eye-opening experience, especially if you’re accustomed to living in on your own. Yet, even if you roomed with a brother or sister, living with a complete stranger is a totally different experience. Conflicts can arise for, seemingly, arbitrary reasons. Sometimes unexamined habits, such as eating food in a certain area or leaving dirty dishes in the sink, may cause tension. A vital piece of advice: maintain open lines of communication and set clear expectations with your roommate from the very start. The following are a few boundaries you’ll want to discuss from the start to establish a shared understanding and maintain peace and harmony with your roommate.

Personal and public stuff.

This has to be clear: which stuff that you have in common areas are okay for common use and which stuff is only yours to use. Do you share your laptop and your books? What about pots and pans, utensils, knives? What about your shampoo and conditioner? Be clear about what you’re okay with sharing, and also have a clear understanding of what your roommate is willing to share with you.

Visiting hours.

Your apartment community may have their own timeline for this, but your roommate and you should also set expectations with respect to your own apartment.

Noise

Some like television, while others avoid it. Nevertheless, it’ll likely be on at some point, so make an arrangement as to what volume level is reasonable for the TV to be set at. Also, discuss music volume. Maybe certain times of the day are better than others.

Housekeeping schedule.

Make an arrangement on the everyday household tasks that will need to be completed, and set a schedule: Who deals with cleaning the floor, putting out the trash, loading and unloading the dishwasher? Will you take turns buying groceries? The significant thing is to be fair.

Lights out.

Different work and school schedules mean that you and your roommate might need to sleep or wake up at different times. Discuss expectations about when you both expect your sleeping, working, and studying schedules to be.

Bill payment.

Since you may have to pay for some bills such as water, electricity, in addition to cable and internet, be clear on how you’ll be sharing the responsibilities for the bills and use of these utilities. Also take notice of the items you’ll have to continually purchase. Have an agreement on how you’ll buy and use your bathroom and kitchen supplies and also food. You might want to buy your own or share the costs.

The best step toward living cohesively with a roommate is to set clear expectations and follow through on them. These expectations not only give you an idea as to what you have rights to in the apartment but also what you are responsible for. Follow the suggestions above and be flexible as new situations and issues arise.

8 Tips to Get Your Budget on TrackGetting back on track with your budget can be disheartening, if not a source of anxiety. How will you eat out four times a week if you’re putting all the money you make away for twenty years? Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Heed the following reasonable, simple steps to get back on track with your budget.

Set a Goal

Your goal must be realistic, measurable, achievable, and timely. Are you aiming to have just $50 at the end of every week? Want to save $100 for the holidays? Do you plan to move when the lease is up and hope to put money down on a house? Think about your future, what you’d like to achieve or obtain, and set a timespan in which you can reach your goal, and measure your progress as you go along.

Monitor What You’re Spending Monthly

Begin your budget by maintaining detailed records of your expenses for 30 days. Track every purchase down to the cent. This will help you win back control of your budget by knowing exactly where your paycheck is being spent, and it’ll provide a guide to set a realistic spending budget with. It’ll also give you indications where you can change your spending behavior.

Set a Spending Budget

You now know where all your money is going, so setting a realistic spending budget will be easier. You will have to make adjustments to understand what will work best for your way of life, so do not be afraid of change, yet also don’t be afraid of sacrificing immediate pleasure for long-term gain. You won’t have to cut out all the fun stuff, but sticking to your spending budget will assist you in reaching your goals.

Choose a Savings Account Thoughtfully

Savings accounts can differ greatly with regards to interest, fees, and minimum balance requirements, so do your homework and find the account that’s best suited for you.

Save Automatically

All of us have weak moments when we intend to put money into savings, but something comes up. Maybe that birthday you forgot about, or your car gets a flat tire. Avoid the situation three months from now when you look at your savings to discover you only have $10 in it by making your contributions automatic, establish direct deposit from your payroll and avoid a saving’s plan derailment. You may also have it automatically drafted from your bank account into your savings via  tools on your bank’s website.

Establish an Emergency Fund

What would you do if you lost your job or were in an accident causing extended hospitalization? Do you have enough money to get you through if have to take off work for a few months? While your savings account could be utilized for a significant purchase like a brand new car or a down payment on a brand new home, an emergency fund is an account you fund and don’t touch unless there’s an actual emergency. Financial experts say you should have four to seven months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund.

Be a Clever Shopper

Look for ways to save. Sign up for rewards or programs loyalty, shop at the warehouse and club stores, use coupons and plan your trips strategically to take advantage of the best offers. When shopping online utilize cost comparison websites.

Get App Savvy

You’ll find an application for almost everything. So look for applications that can help you be a better saver. There are budgeting applications, ones that assist you in finding the best local deals and applications which will help you to sell your old items to other people. Consider YNAB (You Need a Budget), although coming at a price of $50 a year, it connects to your bank account and updates your charges from your budget automatically, and it is totally customizable.

As you get your budget on track, don’t be discouraged by hiccups along the way. The great thing about a budget is it’s flexible, and you actually have built-in safeguards for emergencies and unexpected events. If you get anxious, just put more money toward those areas for a while. Getting back on track with your budget will save you time, money, and put you in the best position to succeed in the future.

7 Quick Ways to Conserve Energy and Save MoneyWith so many things to do in a day, the idea of having to worry about saving energy in addition to everything else just isn’t attractive. So what happens? Many people pay it no attention. Yet, energy conservation is important as it helps the environment. As much of our current energy sources are created from dirty sources like fossil fuels, daily energy use produces pollution. Saving energy reduces energy demand and therefore lowers the amount of pollution generated. To begin is really quite easy, just follow these 7 tips to get started!

  • Regularly inspect areas inside your house such as hoses, connectors, and taps to check for any leaks. Repair as needed. Particularly ensure you have no leaky faucets. Even a slow drip of warm water can add a great deal to your monthly energy bill.
  • Place open water containers outside and use them for a wide range of outdoor maintenance activities like watering plants, washing concrete surfaces, outdoor tools, and the like.
  • Take showers instead of baths. Not only will this use less warm water, which requires more energy, but less water generally. Secondly, take shorter showers, and utilize a low-flow shower head. Have a faucet aerator in each faucet to conserve water and heat and maintain high water pressure.
  • Wash garments and dishes with cold water whenever possible.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use, to reduce ghost power usage, also called standby power, that uses energy even when the appliance is not in use. One way to do this is to connect all appliances to an intelligent power strip. Then when you use a certain appliance just switch the strip on, and when you’re finished turn it off and don’t worry about it.
  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. They utilize 70-90% percent less electricity than incandescent light bulbs, last 10 to 25 times longer, and save $30 to $80 in power cost in their lifetime, according to the ENERGY STAR government site. Similarly, use products that have earned the ENERGY STAR certificates meeting strict energy efficiency recommendations.
  • Insulate your water heater to prevent any loss of heat. This may retain heat for a longer period of time for the water inside and reduce the amount spent on energy monthly. Insulate the connecting pipes as well to further prevent the loss of heat.

Natural Solutions for Cleaning Your KitchenMost of us want to make cleaning as painless and as inexpensive as possible. The kitchen particularly is a unique challenge due to the variety of cleaning demands.  Now you can have an easy day of cleaning without using toxic cleaners. Almost all of these guidelines use things you’ll find around your house. Expensive cleaners aren’t necessary in most cases. And the best part is, by using non-toxic cleaning supplies, you can also get the children involved!

The Stove Top – Clean up grease by throwing a little bit of cornstarch or baking soda on it, wiping it away after you clean up the rest of the kitchen. Auto wax will make the surface sleek, smooth, and simple to clean.

Oven and Microwave Cleaning – To clean the microwave, place a sponge soaked with white vinegar or lemon juice in the microwave, heating it for a couple of minutes. Don’t open the microwave for about five minutes. The stuck on food should slide off. The same procedure can be used on ovens except, without a sponge, using a shallow pan together with a few cups of white vinegar. Heat for five to ten minutes and allow the oven to cool for approximately half an hour. Food will slide right off.

Red Dye Spots – For red meals dye stains on counters, such as those left by drinks, use straight rubbing alcohol, enough to cover the stain. Leave it for a few minutes and wipe away. Use a sudsy cleaner on the counter after.

Tarnished Silverware – For tarnished silverware, heat 2 water cups and add 2 tbsp of baking soda. Put silverware on a sheet of aluminum foil in a pan, making sure the silverware is in contact on the foil. A combination of metal and baking soft drink will cause the tarnish to disappear.

Of course, there are many other tips and tricks for cleaning around the kitchen. Don’t be afraid to try new things, and share your solutions on Facebook!

How to Store PaintWe all know the situation. You buy a few gallons of paint to paint a room. You proceed to paint the room. And then you have a few gallons of paint left over. Where and how should you store it all?

Storage

The first thing you’ll want to do is seal the can of paint. Do this by wiping the edges of the lid, making sure no paint will stick between the lid and the can’s seal. Next you’ll want to press the lid down. Do this by either using a mallet to tap the lid down, or cover the lid with a piece of wood and tap the piece of wood with a hammer. Never hit the lid directly with something dense like a hammer, as this could cause bends and breaks in the lid, preventing a secure seal.

Next, store the paint cans in an environment not susceptible to extreme changes in heat. Cold air can cause latex paint to separate and heat can cause it dry out. If moisture is consistently present in the environment, elevate the paint cans to keep them dry.

Quick Test to Determine if Paint is Good after Storage

Reopening paint cans is an awful experience for most, especially if left to their own devices. You’ll definitely want to avoid using screwdrivers and hammers because if you bend the lid, you might not get a good seal in the future. Rather, purchase a paint can opener. Then reopening won’t be such a huge deal.

Lowe’s recommends the following, to test your paint.

If you have latex, smell it. If it emits a rancid odor, it’s bad. Secondly, if film is on the top, remove it. Stir the paint. Then test the paint by brushing it on newspaper to discover whether it is clumpy. If it is, then it’s bad.

If you have an oil-based paint, it is good for up to fifteen years so long as it hasn’t been exposed to extreme temperatures and was sealed adequately.

That’s it! It’s pretty simple. Follow these tips to know how to store paint and whether paint you’ve retrieved from storage is good or bad!

The Best Time To Rent A New ApartmentPeople move for many reasons: their apartment wasn’t what they expected, annual rate increases, or newfound desires to change scenery. Yet there are some who anticipate the move, and rent a new apartment at the optimal time. Notwithstanding the specials that come and go at every apartment community in any given season, there are actually two such times each year when it is best to look for new apartments.

According to Rent.com, the best time to look for a new apartment, if you want the most options, is from May to September. This is the time span in which most people move. Thus, more availabilities at more apartment communities. But if you’re looking to save money, the best time to rent a new apartment is from October to April. This is the time when most people are not moving, and, as a result. some apartment complexes may have more vacancies than they anticipated, and therefore rates will likely be lower to account for the deadened demand.

The best time to rent a new apartment depends in large part on the kind of apartment you want. If you’re looking for the most options, the mid-year is the best time to rent. But for those who want to save money, they’ll be wise to look in the offseason.

Conquer the Toxic Dust Hidden in Your HomeMany of us don’t need a substantial push to swap harmful cleaning chemicals for less intrusive alternatives. Who likes dry, bleach-stained calloused hands anyway? As the dangers of indoor dust are well known, it’s becoming apparent the invisible, long term effects of our daily cleaning habits, and lack thereof, can amount to terrifying heights of harm. A recent study that “…analysed 26 peer-reviewed papers, as well as one unpublished dataset, from 1999 onwards to examine the chemical make-up of indoor dust…” found nearly 90% of dust samples contained particles linked to cancer and infertility, as reported by The Guardian. These findings were due in no part to small sample size: “The studies covered a wide range of indoor environments, from homes to schools and gymnasiums across 14 states.”

With the satisfactory appearance of Clorox’s clean glaze over countertops and the refreshing scent of Febreze floating like a lazy cloud from one room to the next, just when our homes seem cleanest, we may actually be most vulnerable. Altering what you buy, from harsh chemical cleaners to safer alternatives, isn’t the only thing you can do to curb indoor pollution, and doesn’t account for much of the problem. Your clean home houses hidden hazards.

The problem of indoor pollutants may appear at first glance counterintuitive. How could vanquishing bacteria, viruses, and who-knows-what-else from dirty floors and countertops, bathrooms and kitchens, ultimately harm us? Your everyday cleaners aren’t particularly handy for the real problem. The issue is that some chemicals in our couches and mattresses, our vinyl flooring and carpeting, contain flame retardants, known to cause cancer, affecting the reproductive and nervous systems, and phthalates, found in personal care products and food packaging, which “have been linked to developmental problems in babies, hormone disruption, and are also thought to affect the reproductive system.”

These chemicals, especially when imprisoned in a house on lock-down for the winter, can accumulate and mingle with dust in your home. “The researchers highlighted 45 toxic chemicals in indoor dust, 10 of which were present in 90% or more of the dust samples – these included flame retardants, fragrances and phenols.” As The Guardian points out, these chemicals, though banned in some products, like bottles and diapers, may not be banned in others, like walls and flooring.

But this isn’t a matter to just throw up our hands over, declaring all proactivity hopeless and ineffective. Singla, from the Environmental Science and Technology journal, writes there are steps we can take to reduce exposure to this toxic dust. One key is, when you are performing regular cleaning duties like wiping off the counters or sweeping, don’t tackle these tasks with dry brooms or paper towels. Use damp mops and cloths to reduce levels of dust. Whereas merely dry materials might kick the dust back in the air, damp materials will cause the dust to clump and aggregate. Also, vacuum regularly, as the suction disposes of the toxic dust in its container. And, of course, activism, to demand accountability, is the surest way to reduce exposure to these chemicals.

Although the problem of indoor pollution is extremely concerning, it’s in your power to reduce exposure. Besides changing the way you clean your home, you can also purchase plants, which help reduce indoor pollution by cleaning the air you breathe. And don’t be afraid to open up your windows when the days are brilliant, and the soft breeze of spring warmly soothes the plants and animals, blooming and bustling outside, stirred by the chance to enter your home like an old, visiting friend.