Bring Some R&R Into Your Home

Your home is your oasis. A place to kick back and relax from your day. So, why not invest in some items that can boost the zen in your home? Check out the tips below to help you achieve ultimate bliss!

Introduce calming scents. A calming scent, like lavender, valerian, camomile, and bergamot, can do wonders for easing stress or anxiety. Find candles that incorporate these scents or purchase essential oils and diffusers, like this one from URPOWER that has over 44,000 5-star reviews on Amazon.

Drown out the noise. Having trouble sleeping due to distracting outside noises? A sound machine might be the solution. Like this one from Letsfit, most of them offer several sounds to choose from including natural noises, fan sound effects, and white noise.

Wake up more naturally. Studies have shown that waking up to natural light can allow you to wake with more energy and in a better mood. However, if you can’t wake to real sunlight, a wake-up light, like this one from Philips, can also get the job done. In addition to simulating the sunrise and sunset, it has natural wake-up sounds, FM radio, and tap snooze.

Get an at-home massage. Nothing feels better than a great massage. Bring that feeling home with a shoulder massager like this one from Naipo. Most massagers offer different modes and speeds for you to choose from depending on the area you are massaging or personal preference.

Whether you try one or more of these tips or find something else that works best for you, self care and relaxation is always a great investment!

Tips For Maximizing A Small Kitchen

Does your dream home come with a small kitchen? Not to fear! There are plenty of ways to get the most out of the tight space. You just have to get creative. Check out these tips!

Lighten up the area. Bright and light always opens up a space. Choose white or bright colors for the walls then pair that with unique overhead and under cabinet lighting. Don’t forget to open up any windows or glass doors to bring in natural light.

Get strategic with storage. Maximize the storage space you have by hanging items on the inside of lower cabinet doors or adding additional shelves to higher cabinets. Install a magnetic strip to a wall and use that to store your knives instead of the countertop or hang cutting boards and pots and pans from the wall or overhead.

Use your oven. Not one to make things in the oven often? Consider using it to store pots and pans. Then just remove the items when in use.

Purchase a mobile kitchen island. Need more chopping space? Consider purchasing a mobile island that can be moved into the kitchen while you’re cooking. Most islands come with drawers or cabinets for storing knives or spices. Then just move it out of the kitchen to the dining room when not in use.

Install additional shelving. Have an open wall that faces into the kitchen? Consider installing additional floating shelves for storage. Also, if you have a lot of space between the top of your cabinets and the ceiling, add a long shelf to store minimally used items.

Closing Costs 101

What are closing costs?

Closing costs are the fees for services required to finalize your mortgage. Typically, the buyer is responsible for paying these costs unless otherwise negotiated to have the seller contribute. Fees include (but certainly are not limited to) attorney, appraisal, inspection, government taxes, title insurance, home insurance, mortgage insurance, and property taxes.

How much are closing costs?

Closing costs usually total about 2 to 5 percent of the home’s purchase price, and they generally vary depending on the property purchased and state you reside in. Your lender will provide you with an estimate of your closing costs following your loan approval, and although that number can change slightly, your final costs should be similar.

How can you reduce closing costs?

Some of the fees that fall under your closing costs can be reduced by doing ample research on lenders at the beginning of the homebuying process. Then, compare any potential discounts or deals they offer before making your choice. Additionally, you can attempt to negotiate with the seller to cover part or all of your closing costs.

Can you avoid upfront closing costs?

If you think you will be unable to afford the closing costs upfront, you can opt to roll them into your loan. However, choosing this route often costs you more in the long run. At a minimum, you’ll have to pay interest on your closing costs, or depending on your lender, you may face a higher interest rate on your entire loan.

Moving On A Budget

Purchasing a new home is likely one of the largest financial investments you will make in your lifetime. And on top of the home cost itself, there are additional expenses that come along with this life milestone, like moving costs. Follow the below ideas for moving on a tight budget!

Compare DIY to professional moving services. Don’t instantly assume that moving yourself is going to be cheaper than hiring help. Collect three to four quotes from various moving companies and compare that to the cost of the truck, dollies, moving pads, and compensation for friends and family who help. If it nets out to be about the same or just slightly different, consider the stress professional help could eliminate.

Move in the off season. If you are flexible with your move at all, consider moving in the fall or winter. By scheduling your move in the off season, you could potential save up to 30 percent on hiring movers.

Don’t pay for boxes. Hunt your office for leftover boxes from deliveries or post on social media to see if any family members or friends have extras hanging around the house. You should also check behind stores like Walmart for any discarded boxes or ask a customer service member in the evenings once new inventory has been stocked.

Purge your home. Decrease the items you need to move by doing a full purge of your belongings. Move from room to room in your home and toss or donate anything that you haven’t used in a year. This will not only help make packing a breeze, but it eliminates unnecessary weight, which is generally used by movers to estimate cost.

How To Save Water (and Money!) At Home

As a homeowner, if you don’t maintain good water-saving habits, you could be sending more money than necessary straight down the drain every year. Start saving by trying out the tips below!

Replace the shower head. Daily showers account for a huge portion of water usage at home, especially if you have multiple people residing in the house. To help cut down on water used during each shower, swap out your normal shower head with a WaterSense-certified replacement that uses fewer gallons of water per minute. According to the EPA1, this can save a family of four up to 2,700 gallons of water a year.

Fix leaking faucets. According to Forbes2, a leaking faucet can result in up to 20 gallons of wasted water a day. To avoid the expense that comes with this waste, make it a habit to check your faucets regularly for leaks and repair them quickly. Most of the time, it’s a quick fix and can be done with a faucet repair kit purchased online or at a home improvement store.

Don’t hand wash dishes. In this day and age, most homes are equipped with water-efficient dishwashers. By running a mostly full or entirely full load in the dishwasher, you use 1/6 less water than if you hand wash your dishes.

Water your garden by hand. Using a hose to water your outdoor plants and garden can result in a lot of waste. Try opting for an old-fashioned watering can, allowing you to keep your yard alive and well while also controlling the amount of water used each time.

Build Your Ideal Home Office On A Budget

If you work from home full-time or even part-time, having a dedicated space in your home to sit down and focus is crucial. It should be a comfortable, organized space and everything you need should be easily accessible. And, luckily, creating a motivating workspace doesn’t have to be expensive.

The first step in creating the home office of your dreams is to select the right space or room. It’s most ideal to find a spot with natural light and possibly a nice view of the outdoors. Once you have this selected, consider adding a fresh coat of paint to set the tone for your workspace or select a bright, fun wallpaper print.

Next, it’s time to furniture shop! Measure your office area and find a desk that fits. To avoid overspending on this piece, think outside the box and look on Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, or Craigslist. Do you have room for a comfy chair or sitting bench? You may also want a floor or desk lamp, bookshelf, or side table to fill out the room. You can also find these for a reasonable price on these sites.

Once you have your furniture in place, hunt for organizational items like a drawer set if your desk doesn’t have one, desk organizer, file holder, pen holder, and more. Keeping your space clean and organized will help you stay motivated and focused. Then add some desk décor, plants, and wall art into the mix. All these items are fairly inexpensive and can be found at T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, or on Amazon.

Must-haves For Your First Home

You’ve just purchased your first home and it’s time to start filling it up. But, where to start? Below is a list of must-haves for each room in your home!

Living room. Aside from standard furniture, like a couch, chairs, coffee table, and television, there are a few other staples you should consider purchasing, such as a plush rug, floor lamp, TV stand with cupboards or drawers, and throw blankets.

Kitchen. On top of dishes, silverware, and glassware, don’t forget other kitchen essentials such as a can opener, bottle opener, toaster, strainer, oven mitts, baking sheet, measuring cups and spoons, and cooking utensils. Plus, it’s a good idea to stock up on basic seasonings, oil, and other commonly used condiments.

Bedroom. When you think of your bedroom, purchasing a bed frame, mattress, bedding, dresser, hangers, and bedside table are the first items that come to mind. In addition to those, you may want to consider picking up a table lamp, laundry hamper, wall or full-length mirror, wall or door hooks, and under bed storage bins.

Bathroom. A bath mat, shower curtain, shower liner, toothbrush holder, hand soap dispenser, plunger, and toilet brush are must-have items for each bathroom in your home.

Cleaning supplies. New home means new cleaning supplies. Start by purchasing dishwashing soap, laundry detergent, hand soap, disinfectant spray, glass cleaner, floor cleaner, mop, broom, and sponges.

Other. It’s always a good idea to keep a few maintenance and safety essentials on hand in your home. Some items to consider are a step ladder, small safe, first aid kit, batteries, flashlight, lighter, extension cord, toolbox, and duct tape.

How To Use Mirrors To Feng Shui Your Home

Feng shui is the practice of using spatial arrangement and orientation to create synergistic, harmonious surroundings in a room or home. Mirrors of many shapes and sizes are often used to achieve this because they help bring light and movement into space and move energy throughout a room. Here are some tips for placing mirrors in your home!

Add a mirror to your home’s entryway. Adding a mirror in your foyer is recommended by feng shui experts because it’s where energy flows into your home. Make sure to place it on a wall perpendicular to the door as opposed to directly across from it.

Place a mirror in your dining room. Experts recommend placing a mirror in your dining room to invite more wealth and abundance into your home.

Hang mirrors along your hallways, not at the end. If you’re hanging a mirror in your hallway, place it along the length of it. Placing a mirror at the end of a hallway is said to slow or stop the flow of energy throughout that area of your home.

Be careful when placing a mirror facing a window. In most cases, a mirror facing a window is a good practice as it brings nature and light inside. However, if there are any structures like electrical poles, wires, pipes, etc. outside the window, experts say that mirror placement can bring negative energy instead.

Keep mirrors out of the kitchen. In the feng shui practice, kitchens are considered areas of negative energy. By keeping mirrors out of this area, you avoid doubling that negative energy.

5 Harmful Homeowner Habits To Break

Being a homeowner is one of the biggest milestones in your life. You feel excited and proud to take care of your new house and truly turn it into a home for you and your family. To keep your house in the best shape possible, here are five bad homeowner habits to avoid.

Damaging doors. Slamming your doors can have a huge impact in the long run as it can slowly pull your doors out of alignment and potentially create gaps and cracks near your exterior doors, letting air seep in and boosting your utility bill.

Harmful humidity. Showers lasting over 10 to 12 minutes at high water temperatures can increase chances of mildew and mold growing in your bathroom. Over time, this can also cause the paint on your ceiling to bubble and peel from condensation.

Abusing appliances. Clean the lint tray in your dryer after every use, run the oven cleaning cycle at least once a month, and try to wipe down your stovetop and microwave down regularly to avoid grease and residue build up.

Soiling surfaces. After eating a meal, applying makeup, or working and playing outdoors, try to wash your hands before touching walls, cabinets, and doors. Plus, make it a house rule to remove shoes at the door to avoid tracking dirt onto carpets and rugs.

Punishing pipes. Although not the best of topics, a clog in your pipes or main drain can be a huge pain and costly to fix. Regularly clean hair out of your sink and shower drains and avoid flushing cleansing wipes, paper towels, or feminine products down the toilet.

Why You Should Invest In A Rental Property

Investing in real estate can be a great alternative to traditional investments and many owners choose to rent out their property. Here are some of the top benefits for getting into this line of business!

Increase over time. Money being put towards real estate investments has increased substantially over the past few years. This is due to an influx in demand of rental properties and an increase in rental rates. These continue to trend upwards, meaning your property’s value will continue to increase as well.

Security. Unlike investing in stocks, your investment growth is a lot steadier with a very minimal chance that you can lose it all overnight. Generally, experts can predict when the market will start to dip in advance, and you can adjust accordingly.

Create passive income. Investing in a rental property (or four!) can make you money while you sleep and the rent you collect can cover or exceed your mortgage payment and other expenses, allowing you to bring in extra cash flow.

Tax breaks. As a real estate investor, you can take advantage of several tax exemptions. Rental income is not subject to self-employment tax and government provides tax breaks on insurance, repairs, legal fees, and property taxes.

Inflation. Although normally a bad thing, people who own rental properties actually benefit from inflation because, as the cost of living increases, so does your income.

Flexibility to sell. Renting out a home allows the homeowner the opportunity to be selective about when and if they sell while the home is still appreciating. Once the market is in the right place and the lease is up, they can pull the trigger.