Get Set For Winter With These Fall Home Projects

As sure as the leaves will fall from the trees, there will be projects and chores to do around the home during autumn months.fall-home-projects

It could be winterizing outdoor plumbing, or sealing cracks in driveways. Maybe it’s prepping the yard for cold weather.

If you haven’t already started a “to-do list”, here’s a little help:

  • Check your driveway for holes and cracks. If you find any, clean them out and plug the crevices with driveway filler, then apply a commercial sealant.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. This handy device allows you to automatically lower the household temperature when you’re away or asleep and boost it just before you get home or get up in the morning, thereby saving on heating bills.
  • Create an upward draft and redistribute warm air from the ceiling by reversing the direction of a ceiling fan. And if you use humidifiers in the fall and winter, clean the water tanks regularly to prevent bacteria and spores from growing in them.
  • Caulk around windows and door frames to prevent heat from escaping your home.This is another high-heating-bill buster, and reduces the risk of water getting into crevices and freezing, which could result in cracks and mold. You may also want to invest in new energy-efficient windows and doors if the ones in your house have seen better days.
  • Clean and repair, if needed, deck and porch furniture before storing it away for the winter. The same goes for barbeque equipment.
  • Get rid of blistering or peeling paint on exterior walls and sides. Left untreated, this can cause deterioration that results in expensive repairs later on.And consider applying a fresh coat of paint or sealer on any interior surface that could come in contact with snow, such as wood floors or stairs.
  • Winterize exterior plumbing such as faucets and sprinkler systems to prevent freezing and bursting.
  • Clear out gutters and downspouts of debris, such as leaves and sticks. This will help prevent ice dams from forming. And remember to repair any damaged joints and tighten brackets.
  • Have your home’s roof inspected for leaks or other damage and make necessary repairs. The last thing you want is to have snow seeping into your home through holes or cracks in the roof.
  • Aerate your lawn and garden beds, rake up leaves, and fertilize and winterize trees, shrubs and grass to prepare them for colder temperatures.
  • Prep your heating system in advance of use by having it checked by a licensed heating professional. Do you have a fireplace or wood stove? Inspect them, too, to ensure they’re ready to go when the cold weather sets in. This includes checking for creosote buildup caused by burning wood; clearing any chimney blockages (such as those caused by squirrel or bird nests); repairing faulty dampers, masonry or brickwork; and fixing or replacing damaged chimney caps.

Let Technology Help Track Down College Textbooks

As if college isn’t challenging enough, students are faced with the daunting task of finding textbooks that aren’t going to cost them an arm and a leg. Fortunately, technology is helping give them an upper hand.Depressed young student has lot to study in this september

Online websites offer various options, ranging from buying new, used or even renting, and selecting print, digital or audio forms of textbooks. Students typically can end up paying a fraction of the cost compared to getting books at the on-campus bookstore. Among the more popular sites are textbooks.comAs a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon!; chegg.comAs a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon!; ecampus.comAs a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon!; valorebooks.comAs a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon!; amazon.comAs a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon!; half.comAs a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon!(an eBay company).

In addition, there are search engines that allow you to compare book prices on different sites, such as bookfinder.comAs a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon! and campusbooks.comAs a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon!.

What’s more, free textbooks are available through university libraries, online book exchanges, and Project Gutenberg, the oldest digital library in the world that offers approximately 50,000 e-books. Note, however, that many free textbooks are limited to classic literature.

And then there’s always the old standby – forming a textbook-sharing group with other students, especially those who may be in the same classes you’re enrolled in. This may require studying together from time to time, but it could be a real cost-saver in the long run.

If you decide that online is the way to go, stop by the on-campus bookstore first and locate the books you’ll need. Then jot down the following information: author’s name, the book’s price, the name and volume/edition, and the book’s International Standard Book Number (ISBN), found on or near the barcode on the back of book. Use this information to locate books online.

Before making any textbook transaction, pay close attention to the site’s terms and conditions, such as return policies, money-back guarantee, and whether free shipping is offered both on purchases and returns (that is, unless, you’re buying or renting e-books.)

And compare the cost of buying new versus used, as well as renting. You may be surprised at the difference. If you decide to rent, remember to keep track of the book’s rental expiration date; otherwise you could end up inadvertently buying the book instead. Note: some colleges and universities offer book rental services, so don’t overlook this option.





Prepare Now For The Unexpected

“Save for a rainy day” has been a phrase that’s been around a long time. And it applies just as much now as it did years ago.emergencyfund

That’s because it’s always a good practice to set aside money for unforeseen circumstances that crop up in life. A rainy day fund provides for financial as well as mental peace of mind because you know the money’s there in time of need.

Whether it’s a loss of employment, a medical ailment, an unplanned home repair or some other emergency, having a monetary cushion in place can help overcome unexpected obstacles. Experts advise having three months of savings available for such circumstances.

But even so, a recent survey by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) revealed that only about 50 percent of Americans indicated they could have $2,000 available for an emergency in the next month. (FINRA is an independent, not-for-profit organization authorized by Congress to protect America’s investors by making sure the securities industry operates fairly and honestly.)

If you’re among those who don’t have a rainy day fund, it’s never too late to start one. Here are some ways to do that:

Get a handle on your monthly bills. Knowing where you money is going is the first step to figuring out what you can afford to set aside for a rainy day fund. If you find yourself struggling to find a few extra bucks to save each month, then consider cutting some expenses, such as going out to dinner two or three times a week or buying lunch every workday.

Save your change. At the end of each day, place the coins in a piggy bank or another container and watch the money add up right before your eyes. Better yet, set aside unspent dollar bills (or even 5 dollar bills!) to build up your kitty even faster.

Turn unwanted items into cash. It could be anything from pieces of furniture to outgrown clothing. Take it to a consignment shop, hold a yard sale, or sell it online.

Ditch a costly habit. It could be cigarettes, or compulsive online shopping. The savings you could reap could be staggering.

If you get a raise at work, don’t spend it. Put it in a rainy day fund instead. And if you pay off a long-standing bill such as a car loan, still set aside at least a portion of that money each month for the fund, too.

Even if it takes several months to accomplish your goal, it will be worth it in the long run when an emergency arises.

Check Out This Labor Day Quiz!

In the spirit of Labor Day, here’s a chance to put the “strongest muscle” in your body to work – the brain.labor-day

Take this true/false quiz to see how much you know about the end-of-summer holiday:

The first Labor Day parade in U.S. history was held September 5, 1882, by 10,000 workers in New York City.

True. Unions rose to prominence in the 18th century, and as they gained more strength and recognition, they started organizing rallies, strikes, and other activities. The New York City Parade was one of them.

Congress declared Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894.

True. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the declaration was prompted by developments surrounding the Pullman Palace Car Company. On May 11, 1894, company employees went on strike in Chicago to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives. Six weeks later, a boycott of all Pullman railway cars was called for by the American Railroad Union, which tied up railroad traffic around the country.

In response, the federal government ordered troops to Chicago, sparking riots that resulted in the deaths of more than 12 workers. To calm the nation and heal the strife with union workers, Congress passed an act in late June of that year making Labor Day a legal holiday. The first Monday in September was chosen as the official date for the annual celebration.

Massachusetts was the first state to make Labor Day a holiday.

False. It was actually Oregon that made that move in 1887.

Labor Day originated in Canada.

True. According to historians, Labor Day began in Toronto in 1872 as a demonstration demanding equal rights for workers. The movement quickly spread south to the United States.

The average American worker in the late 1800s put in 6-hour work days and only toiled for 4 days a week.

False. On the contrary, workers averaged 12-hour days and were on the job 7 days a week. What’s more, children as young as 5 to 6 years old worked in factories and mines.

The Adamms Family Act firmly established the 8-hour work day.

False. It was actually the Adamson Act in 1916 that became the first federal law to regulate hours of workers in private companies.

There are more Americans who are members of unions today than ever before.

False. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 14.8 million union workers in 2015. That compares to 17.7 union workers in 1983, which was the first year for which comparable data was available.

Labor Day is celebrated in much of the world on May 1.

True. More than 80 countries around the globe look on Labor Day as synonymous or linked with International Workers’ Day, which occurs on May 1.

Labor Day marks the official end of summer.

False. The first day of fall is the autumnal equinox, which is usually Sept. 21.

Labor Day is the unofficial end of hot dog season.

True. That’s according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, which says that between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Americans gulp down an incredible 7 billion hot dogs.

If you answered at least half of these correctly, treat yourself to a hot dog! And have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day holiday. 



Do Your Homework Before Buying A Vacation Home

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of looking for a vacation home to own. But don’t let all the excitement overtake your need to approach this purchase pragmatically.

There are a lot of things to consider before taking the plunge. Do you want access to the home year-round? Do you plan to rent the home to others? Will the home be large e

Beach cottagenough to accommodate guests as well as immediate family? How will a vacation home affect your taxes?

Let’s take a closer look at what needs to be weighed before sealing the deal on a vacation property:

Location, location, location! As with any property being eyed for purchase, where it’s located is a major consideration. If the home is intended to be used by family and friends on a regular basis, such as a beachfront house during the summer months, then you probably want a property that doesn’t require flying to every time you want to get away.

And if you’re looking to also rent the property, then you should think about its rental demand potential beyond one season a year. Other factors to consider from an investment perspective are the community’s overall economic health and growth projections, and the property’s appreciation potential.

Check it out before you buy. If possible, rent the property for one or two weeks on several occasions and at different times of the year. This gives you the opportunity to determine if the home is a “good fit” and will help you gauge the busier times of the season(s). Also, get to know the “locals” and whether you feel comfortable around them. This is especially important if you intend to eventually retire there.

Don’t overextend yourself. Stay within your budget when buying a second home. The last thing you want is to be stressed out over whether you can afford the home while you’re spending your vacation there. This means getting a handle on costs beyond the purchase price, such as property insurance, homeowner association fees if any, and routine maintenance costs.

Figure out the tax situation before buying. Property taxes on a vacation home typically are different than for a primary residence. For instance, they may be higher if the property is located in a resort area. And there may be tax consequences if you intend to rent the property to others.

Don’t lose sight of expenses when renting. Repairs are an inevitable part of renting a vacation home. A good rule of thumb is to presume repairs will be about 1.5 percent of a property’s value. That equates to about $3,000 in repair costs annually for a $200,000 house.

There’s definitely a lot to consider when buying a vacation home. But by doing your homework ahead of time, you’ll be able to truly sit back and relax in your personal getaway.

Prepare Yourself For Back To School Shopping

As the sands of summer slip away, back-to-school season looms just ahead. And that means it’s time to start shifting into shopping mode.

If the kids aren’t already bugging you for new clothes and backpacks and other school stuff, they will soon. The age-old question is – will you be prepared this time?school supplies_b5c

If you answered “yes,” then you get an “A.” If you hesitated, you obviously have some homework to do.

But don’t lose hope. Here are some “assignments” that can help ease the anxiety of back-to-school shopping:

Hold a “family meeting” to discuss what the kids need. Just be prepared to explain to your youngsters the difference between needs and wants and where you’re willing to compromise. Sometimes writing down what’s needed and what’s wanted provides a clearer picture when it comes time to making purchases.

With your list in hand, create a budget. You can then use it in two ways – as a guideline, or as spending plan that you intend to strictly stick to.

Take an inventory of what’s left over from the previous school year. Are the kids willing to re-use lunchboxes and backpacks? Are their school clothes still in good shape and do they fit? Are there pens and pencils and other supplies tucked away in a box somewhere? Just remember that the more you find, the less you’ll need to spend.

Search around for bargains, either online or the old-fashioned way of going into brick-and-mortar stores. While you’re at it, look for coupons. There are loads of them out there and they could save you big bucks depending on what you buy.

Don’t wait too long to start shopping. “The early bird gets the worm” appropriately applies here. Get to the deals before the other guy does; otherwise you could end up spending more than you really intended.

Buy generic instead of brand name if at all possible. The savings could be as much as 50 percent or, if you’re lucky, even more.

Round up family and friends and buy items in bulk. This is a great way to cut costs on such things as notepads and pens.

 Keep all your receipts. There’s always a chance you’ll have to return something and it’s a lot easier to do if you have receipt in hand. And familiarize yourself with the refund policies of stores and websites where you make purchases.

Some Ins and Outs of Student Loans

Are student loans the only way you can feasibly attend college? You’re not alone. Unfortunately, thousands of people have no choice but to borrow money to pay for their college education. But the good news is that there are a lot of loan options out there to help you obtain your degree.Loans

The trick is knowing what loan is right for you, and this requires doing a little homework. You really can’t afford to leave things to chance and grab the first loan offered to you, or you could end up regretting it down the road. A recent national study revealed that more than half of polled student loan holders said they would have done things differently when choosing their student loans if given the opportunity to make those decisions again.

To ensure you don’t regret your student loan choices, review these tips before you commit!

Check out the different types of loans available to you. For instance, there are various federal loans such as PLUS, Stafford, and Perkins loans, as well as private loans available through financial institutions like banks and credit unions. Each type of loan has different features and rules, so compare at least a few of them before deciding which way to go. You can find out what’s out there by doing an online search or using a student loan comparison tool like SimpleTuition . As a courtesy, you will be leaving and going to another website. We have approved this site as a reliable partner, but you will no longer be under the security policy of Come back soon!

Don’t get in over your head. In other words, don’t borrow more money than you need. Experts recommend that your loan payments shouldn’t exceed 8 percent of your salary, so before taking out a loan it’s a good idea to research an entry-level salary in the field you’re planning to get into. This way you’ll have at least some idea of what schools you can and can’t afford. If you still have a few years until college begins, it would be smart to start saving as much money as possible in order to reduce the amount you’ll need to borrow. There are many handy college saving calculators out there to help you plan.

Understand the terms of your loan. Know when you’ll be expected to begin making payments on your loan, and understand how frequently those payments will need to be made (usually monthly). It’s extremely important to keep in mind that you’ll be responsible for repaying the loan. Don’t lose sight of the fact that even if you don’t complete your education, or secure a job right after graduating, you’ll still be expected to pay your loan back.

Keep the paperwork. No matter how good your memory is, it’s nearly impossible to remember all the details surrounding a student loan. So keep all the documents you’re given throughout the loan application process, in case you need to refer to them later.

Know the importance of making your loan payments on time. You don’t want to end up ruining your credit by missing student loan payments. Doing so can make it extremely difficult (if not impossible) to purchase a car or home in the future. If you run into problems repaying your loan, contact the loan company immediately to discuss your payment options.

Stay in touch. With the loan company, that is. They’ll need to know if you change your address or name, or if you withdraw from school, transfer to another school, or drop below half-time status. Remember that it’s up to you to stay on top of your student loan payments!