Home http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/3754/all en-US Best Money Tips: The Home Edition http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-the-home-edition <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-the-home-edition" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/fixing-door-89987115-small.jpg" alt="fixing door" title="fixing door" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some of the best articles around the web on everything related to your home!</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Home-Repairs-You-Can-Do-Yourself-31124855">7 Home Repairs You Can Do Yourself</a> &mdash; Chances are you don't need a professional to do caulking or fix a squeaky door in your home. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.fivecentnickel.com/2014/06/16/10-tips-most-first-time-home-buyers-dont-consider/">10 Tips Most First-Time Home Buyers Don't Consider</a> &mdash; Most first-time home buyers don't look beyond home staging or research grants or other forms of funding. [Five Cent Nickel]</p> <p><a href="http://lenpenzo.com/blog/id1317-19-tips-for-saving-a-bundle-of-money-on-home-appliances.html">19 Tips for Saving a Bundle of Money on Home Appliances</a> &mdash; If you want to save a bundle on home appliances, take advantage of price match guarantees or buy a floor model. [Len Penzo dot Com]</p> <p><a href="http://sustainablepersonalfinance.com/house-staging-tips/">34 House Staging Tips</a> &mdash; When you are trying to sell your home, keep the toilet seats down and make sure the windows are washed. [Sustainable Personal Finance]</p> <p><a href="http://www.thesimpledollar.com/seven-simple-tactics-we-use-to-keep-summer-energy-bills-low/">Seven Simple Tactics We Use to Keep Summer Energy Bills Low</a> &mdash; Using ambient lights and ceiling fans can help reduce your summer energy bill. [The Simple Dollar]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.freemoneyfinance.com/2006/08/save_money_by_p.html">Save Money by Planning Your Home Improvements in the Off Season</a> &mdash; If you plan on updating your home heating system, save money by updating it in the summer. [Free Money Finance]</p> <p><a href="http://www.thedebtprincess.com/2013/08/15/frugal-decorating-tips-for-decorating-on-a-dime/">Frugal Decorating: Tips for Decorating on a Dime</a> &mdash; Having patience when it comes to finding the right item for your home and shopping with a list can help keep your decorating costs low. [The Debt Princess]</p> <p><a href="http://moneysmartlife.com/when-does-it-make-sense-to-rent-a-home-instead-of-buy/">When Does It Make Sense to Rent a Home Instead of Buy?</a> &mdash; It may make more sense to rent a home if the mortgage that comes with buying a house isn't affordable. [Money Smart Life]</p> <p><a href="http://cashmoneylife.com/home-additions-that-increase-your-insurance-rates/">3 Home Additions That Will Raise Your Insurance Rates</a> &mdash; Adding on an additional room to your home will increase your insurance rates. [Cash Money Life]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/how-to-decorate-a-green-baby-nursery">How to Decorate a &quot;Green&quot; Baby Nursery</a> &mdash; To decorate a green baby nursery, opt for wood floors covered with rugs. [Parenting Squad]</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-the-home-edition" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: The Home Edition" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home Real Estate and Housing best money tips home housing Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:00:06 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1147492 at http://www.wisebread.com 17 DIY Projects to Make Your Home Look Amazing (and 3 You Shouldn't Try) http://www.wisebread.com/17-diy-projects-to-make-your-home-look-amazing-and-3-you-shouldnt-try <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/17-diy-projects-to-make-your-home-look-amazing-and-3-you-shouldnt-try" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-painting-86495282-small.jpg" alt="couple painting" title="couple painting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="145" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When my husband and I bought our first home, I was glued to all those television DIY shows. There were so many things we wanted to do to our starter space, and the Internet hadn't yet exploded with tutorials and inspiration boards. Now? Any and every project you could ever want to do can be found with a quick search. (Related: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-cheap-and-easy-fixes-that-make-your-house-look-amazing?ref=related">25 Cheap and Easy Fixes That Make Your House Look Great</a>)</p> <p>Here are some of the best home and decor improvements even novices can tackle.</p> <h2>1. Leather Refinishing</h2> <p>Have an old, worn leather couch smelling up the place? You can totally revitalize it on the cheap with these <a href="http://knoxvilleflowerpot.blogspot.com/2013/08/how-to-dye-or-stain-leather-furniture.html">easy instructions</a>. You'll need leather cleaner, a good quality dye, and some type of finish coat &mdash; but all the supplies should come in less than $100, depending on the size of your sofa.</p> <h2>2. Blinds Revival</h2> <p>I dream of gorgeous plantation shutters in my home. Thing is, I'm on a plastic blinds sort of budget, so I love this idea to dress them up <a href="http://www.home-dzine.co.za/crafts/craft-sprayblinds.htm">using spray paint</a>. The possibilities are endless! (Related: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/40-ways-to-use-spray-paint-for-cheap-and-easy-decorating?ref=related">40 Ways to Use Spray Paint for Cheap and Easy Decorating</a>)</p> <h2>3. Fireplace Makeover</h2> <p>Neutralize the dated aspects of your home with &mdash; again &mdash; our friend, spray paint. Those brassy accents disappear with a nice coat of black or, in for a more refined color, &quot;oil-rubbed bronze.&quot; With the fireplace, you'll want to choose a formula specifically <a href="http://www.creationsbykara.com/2011/06/fireplace-makeover-spray-paint-magic.html/">designed for high heat</a>.</p> <h2>4. Like-New Appliances</h2> <p>Our new home has a great, spacious kitchen, but the appliances don't match. Since they're all in good working order, we're considering <a href="http://cozycrookedcottage.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/diy-painted-refrigerator/">painting the refrigerator</a> versus buying a new one. You can use special appliance paint or kits, but the tutorial makes use of standard semi-gloss paint.</p> <h2>5. Light Fixture</h2> <p>Though I don't recommend doing your own electrical work, you can <a href="http://www.lowes.com/cd_Change+a+Light+Fixture_279093251_">replace ceiling light fixtures</a> without much trouble. Just be sure to turn out the power to the room you're working in and connect the wires according to your new light's instruction pamphlet.</p> <h2>6. Board and Batten</h2> <p>Adding architectural detail to a room is simple with this detailed <a href="http://www.makeit-loveit.com/2013/07/home-improvement-diy-board-and-batten.html">board and batten tutorial</a>. You need boards, construction adhesive, nails, and a few other supplies. If you aren't handy with a saw, you might even consider asking the folks at your local lumber supply to do the cuts for you at an extra charge to speed up the process.</p> <h2>7. Television Hide-and-Seek</h2> <p>I drool over media cabinets from those expensive home decor stores. Then I found this <a href="http://dixiedelights.blogspot.com/2013/01/honey-does-diy-flat-screen-tv-cabinet.html">smart solution</a> online &mdash; and I can't wait to get my hands on some 2x4s. This project isn't well detailed, but if you have a somewhat experienced woodworker in the family, the concept is easy to follow. For my &quot;doors&quot; I might use (or create) a piece of artwork that comes in two pieces.</p> <h2>8. Tile Re-Grouting</h2> <p>If you have a section &mdash; or entire room &mdash; of tile that looks dingy and old, consider whether the tile itself really needs fixing, or if you can just fix the grout. You can pick up the supplies to add some new life to those dirty grout lines for very little money &mdash; <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTddQ-4EVl8">here's how</a> you do it!</p> <h2>9. Rustic Accent Wall</h2> <p>When I came across this <a href="http://www.bowerpowerblog.com/2010/02/nursery-news-accent-wall/">cozy pallet wall</a>, my jaw literally dropped. It takes some skill, but once you hang the underlayment, it's mostly a puzzle of what pieces look good and where. The author installed it in her son's nursery, but I'd love to put one in my basement recreation room!</p> <h2>10. Custom Built-Ins</h2> <p>When I first came across these <a href="http://thriftydecorchick.blogspot.com/2013/07/dining-room-pretty-organization.html">dining room built-ins</a>, I knew they'd be perfect for almost any room in the house. The author gives <a href="http://thriftydecorchick.blogspot.com/2012/08/how-to-build-built-ins.html">step-by-step instructions</a> for how to select the right cabinets, cut the wood, paint for more artistic flair, etc. &mdash; just note that this project isn't done in a day. However, the time involved is worth it!</p> <h2>11. Smart Shelving</h2> <p>If you're looking to add some unique flair to a room, look outside the home decor department. This <a href="http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2013/02/nesting-ladder-display-makeover.html">ladder turned shelf</a> could hold anything from plants to books, and it's a great way to turn something old into something treasured. All you need are some planks of wood and wood glue! Leave your ladder unpainted for a most rustic look or use a bright color for some cheer. (Related: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-cheap-and-attractive-ideas-for-bookshelves?ref=related">18 Cheap and Attractive Ideas for Bookshelves</a>)</p> <h2>12. Shaker Cabinets</h2> <p>I'm hoping to complete this next project by the end of the summer. Trim out your plain kitchen cabinets <a href="http://www.beautifulmatters.com/2013/02/diy-inexpensive-cabinet-updates/">using yard sticks</a> (or standard trim) for that Shaker look. A little grain filler and paint, and your kitchen will look entirely different for pennies on the dollar.</p> <h2>13. Revived Tub</h2> <p>You can shine up your bathtub without replacing or covering it. Just follow these <a href="http://www.beautifulmatters.com/2013/01/diy-bathtub-refinishing/">simple instructions</a> that explain how everyday products and a tub refinishing kit can take your soaking place from freaky to fab in no time at all.</p> <h2>14. Plywood Planks</h2> <p>Looking for an inexpensive wood flooring solution? These <a href="http://littlegreennotebook.blogspot.com/2014/03/diy-wide-plank-floors-made-from-plywood.html">plywood plank floors</a> can be painted or stained and seem pretty darned easy to install. Just be sure to start with a solid, level subfloor and measure twice, cut once. This is another project where you can take advantage of low-cost cuts made at your hardware store.</p> <h2>15. Distressed Look</h2> <p>I'd file this one under <em>Proceed With Caution</em>, but if you like that distressed leather look, <a href="http://desertwillowlaneblog.blogspot.com/2013/07/distressing-new-leather-furniture-diy.html">this tutorial</a> is for you. Even a shiny, brand new piece can turn into that &quot;old favorite&quot; with some sandpaper, rubbing alcohol, a blow dryer, and a few rags.</p> <h2>16. Console Table</h2> <p>Sometimes the furniture you need can't be found at the store. Or maybe what you see in catalogs and online is outrageously expensive. Either way, this <a href="http://somethingisdone.com/diy-behind-the-sofa-table/">behind-the-sofa table</a> appears to be beginner-friendly. Just assemble a few 2x4s and 1x4s, and you're set to paint or stain it anyway you prefer.</p> <h2>17. Shutter Install</h2> <p>Plantation shutters are one of my favorite design elements because they are both beautiful and functional. They are also quite costly, so if you can order online at a discount and then <a href="http://foxhollowcottage.com/2014/04/easy-diy-plantation-shutter-installation.html">install them yourself</a>, it's worth your while.</p> <h2>And Three Things You Should Hire the Pros to Do</h2> <p>It's true that you can do a lot to improve your home and decor (and have a lot of fun doing it). However, it's also important to know and obey your limits, and we all have our limits. Here are a few projects you <em>shouldn't</em> tackle on your own.</p> <h3>Asbestos Removal</h3> <p>A lot of us have those 9x9 titles in our basements and kitchens, but if you suspect your flooring might contain asbestos, it's best to have it tested before doing any DIY demolition. When in good condition, asbestos tiles doesn't pose much threat. When damaged, the fibers become <a href="http://www2.epa.gov/asbestos/protect-your-family">airborne and crumble easily</a>, so it's best to leave the work to experts or leave it alone entirely.</p> <h3>Amateur Handyman</h3> <p>If your local municipality requires a permit for something &mdash; like <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/property/house-and-home/tradesmen/diy-electrical-work-an-experts-opinion-8548135.html">electrical work</a>, plumbing, or knocking down walls, etc. &mdash; you might not have the skills to tackle it on your own. Rather than search around for a quick fix, you'll probably save more money (and your health and safety) in the long run by calling in a professional.</p> <h3>Roofing Repairs</h3> <p>My neighbor recently tore off and re-installed roofing on his garage. A project lower to the ground might be okay, but if you're going to go on a super tall ladder, you should leave it to the professionals. That goes for anything up high, as falls from ladders sent <a href="http://health.yahoo.net/articles/emergency/do-it-yourself-projects-that-lead-to-the-most-er-visits">246,733 Americans</a> to hospital ERs back in 2009. Don't become a statistic!</p> <p><em>Have you tackled any DIY home projects lately? How'd it come out? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-diy-projects-to-make-your-home-look-amazing-and-3-you-shouldnt-try" class="sharethis-link" title="17 DIY Projects to Make Your Home Look Amazing (and 3 You Shouldn&#039;t Try) " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Home DIY home maintenance home projects Home repair Tue, 24 Jun 2014 17:00:05 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1146613 at http://www.wisebread.com 12 Ways to Make a Tiny Apartment Awesome http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-make-a-tiny-apartment-awesome <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-ways-to-make-a-tiny-apartment-awesome" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/7034137715_58fdc7b882_z.jpg" alt="small apartment" title="small apartment" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="170" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Small apartments have their perks: They're generally more affordable, easier to decorate, and easier to clean, just to name a few. The downside, of course, is that the cramped and limiting feeling of living in tiny apartment, often with only one bedroom and little room for hosting guests, can make you feel like your place just doesn't cut it.</p> <p>But what if you could lessen the cons and increase the pros of a smaller place? What if there were ways to make your tiny apartment a fun and amicable living environment? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-ways-to-live-large-in-a-small-space?ref=seealso">20 Ways to Live Large in a Small Space</a>)</p> <p>If you can see beyond the square footage and think outside of the box, there are plenty of things you can do to turn your apartment's size in your favor. You don't have wait until you can afford to upgrade either. Make the most of where you are right now with these 12 tips.</p> <h2>1. Install a Hanging Lamp Over the Dinner Table</h2> <p>Lighting is crucial indoors, regardless of the size of the room. If you've got a high ceiling lamp over the kitchen where you eat, replace it with <a href="http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/3c/86/46/3c864690bd899b17c8fe20e22e3a2ce1.jpg">something that hangs down</a> closer to the table. It'll make the lighting cozier and more intimate for when you don't want the entire room illuminated.</p> <h2>2. Repaint the Crown Moulding</h2> <p>Moulding (also called &quot;trim&quot;) is the baseboard around the top or bottom of the rooms in your home. They're a small feature, but can actually add a lot of character. If they've gotten old, faded, or dirty, cleaning and repainting them can add a lot of life to a room.</p> <h2>3. Screen Studio Apartment Sleeping Areas With Curtains</h2> <p>If you own a studio apartment where the bedroom and living area are one and the same, install a <a href="http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/dc/31/e3/dc31e371c68b5bc3d5b2eb171e9d1d86.jpg"> curtain that can be drawn</a> to give the sleeping area a little bit of privacy.</p> <h2>4. Accent a Primarily White Kitchen With Bright Colors</h2> <p>If you have a kitchen that's neutral in color, you can use drying towels, fruit bowls, and whatever else you can can find to sit on the counter as an accent. Go with <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Is7QM3EB6PI/U5Hahb7BGiI/AAAAAAAAWU4/SvlJ9CyYlbU/s1600/1336-koekken-funky-1.jpg">a gentle color scheme</a> and keep it consistent. You want something that brightens up the room while staying soft and easy on the eyes. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-make-the-most-of-a-tiny-kitchen?ref=seealso">7 Ways to Make the Most of a Small Kitchen</a>)</p> <h2>5. Add a Hammock Chair</h2> <p>You can buy hammocks that are designed to sit in and can function as an extra piece of furniture in your living area. Not only are they comfortable and trendy, but a <a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-fNALo_uPROc/U3oVjpfaRKI/AAAAAAAAWQs/V82E6VCv5BE/s1600/SFDC886D63151B8482C8B1B23584976F575_960x.jpg">hammock chair</a> will save you a lot of space.</p> <h2>6. Create Counter Space Over a Front Loading Washer and Dryer</h2> <p>If you really want to invest in a space-saving feature for your apartment, a front-loading <a href="http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/4c/f1/81/4cf1810b44c00cfae856968a08713dbc.jpg">washer and dryer with a countertop</a> is one of the best ways to do so. The countertop will need to be bought separately, but you won't have to spend much since you'll only need one piece.</p> <h2>7. Hang Plants</h2> <p>Smaller apartments are often in the city where you don't get to see much in the way of green plants. <a href="http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/19/e4/06/19e4067452531360742b18998d48cd81.jpg">Hanging some of your own plants</a> from the ceiling allows you to add greenery without using up counter space or creating the need for further organization.</p> <h2>8. Consider Boxed Shelving</h2> <p>If you have a lot of small odds and ends that need shelf space, a <a href="http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/4b/e9/dd/4be9ddb44e36c11810d42bfce2748642.jpg">boxed shelf</a> might be more functional. They're also fairly inexpensive and easy to put together or install.</p> <h2>9. Minimize Your Work Desk</h2> <p>These days, you don't need a cluttered desk to be productive. Stick with a laptop, notebook and one or two writing utensils to free up space.</p> <h2>10. Provide Mood Lighting in the Living Area</h2> <p>What a small space has going for it is coziness. You can take advantage of that by adding some small mood lighting. Generally the living area is the best place for this, since it's where people will spend the most time sitting and enjoying the atmosphere.</p> <h2>11. Go Small With the Entertainment Center</h2> <p>In a smaller apartment, a <a href="http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/37/e4/37/37e43700cbda3aa01317994b0ecac15a.jpg">minimal setup</a> for your entertainment center will save space and give the living area a more roomy feel.</p> <h2>12. Take Advantage of Corner Shelving</h2> <p>A <a href="http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/14/40/c4/1440c44fc51bb1e52f54f02bab1d053f.jpg">small corner shelf</a> is cheap to buy, easy to install, and saves you the floor space that a side table would take up. Consider this option in the bedroom to replace a side table or shelf and the kitchen if you need more counter room.</p> <h2>Adding Visual to Functional</h2> <p>A smaller apartment is almost always going to be more functional in terms of having everything you need close to you.</p> <p>The mistake most people make is to assume that because a place is small, it can't be visually appealing as well. Any kind of space, regardless of its size can be a visually fun and engaging atmosphere. You might need to dig a little deeper to tap into the interior designer in you, but the solutions are generally simple and minimal.</p> <p><em>What relatively simple improvements do you suggest to make a tiny apartment awesomer? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-make-a-tiny-apartment-awesome" class="sharethis-link" title="12 Ways to Make a Tiny Apartment Awesome" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home organization small apartments tiny houses Thu, 19 Jun 2014 21:00:03 +0000 Mikey Rox 1144496 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Ways Angie’s List Saves You Money http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-angie-s-list-saves-you-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-ways-angie-s-list-saves-you-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/6%20Ways%20Angie%27s%20List%20Saves%20Money.png" alt="angie&#039;s list" title="angie&#039;s list" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="129" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whether you've got a big home improvement project planned or you're just looking to get your A/C unit repaired, you'll need to know how and where to find a service provider that fits the bill and is worth the price.</p> <p>But how do you <em>know</em> that a deal really is a good deal? And how can you be <em>sure</em> that the repairman you're letting in to your house is legit? Enter <a href="http://www.dpbolvw.net/click-2822544-11800498?sid=bdt">Angie's List</a>.</p> <h3>What Is Angie's List?</h3> <p>Angie's List is a resource that compiles business information from services ranging from house cleaning to HVAC installation and everything in between. Angie's List users submit reviews and ratings to help each other out, plus the reviews and ratings are checked before going up to ensure they're legit. But it you probably want to know if it's worth the cost. Here are six ways Angie's List saves you money.</p> <h2>1. Angie's List Saves You Time</h2> <p>Time is money, people. Sure, if you want to find someone to fix your blinds, you could perform an Internet search for &quot;blind repair [your city]&quot; but then you'll need to do additional research &mdash; is this company legit? What kind of reviews are they getting? Are the <em>reviews</em> legit? What's their pricing? Do they have any coupons or deals?</p> <p>Angie's List compiles all of a company's information on one page, including contact information, trade license information, whether or not a company is bonded and/or insured, any current deals the company is offering, and lots more. Perform a search, check the ratings, pick a provider &mdash; done.</p> <h2>2. Angie's List Offers Daily Deals</h2> <p>For bargain-hunters like me, you'll be pleased to find that Angie's List has a Deals section in which select providers in your area offer packages available to purchase for a limited time. Angie's List reviews and ratings are included within the deal so you can see at a glance what others have said about the company.</p> <p>Here's an example: right now, I can spend $99 for a complete air duct system cleaning with unlimited vents (a $299 value). This is similar to a deal I might find on Groupon, but what makes me use Angie's List vs. Groupon is that I <em>know</em> this company will do a good job &mdash; they have an A rating from over 300 reviews.</p> <h2>3. Angie's List Makes Sure It's Done Right the First Time</h2> <p>Using a highly-rated provider helps ensure that a service will be performed properly the first time.</p> <p>From my own experience: I recently bought a chimney cleaning voucher for $79 from a daily deal website. After the man completed the job, my husband commented that our ShopVac probably could have done the same thing. Now we have to have it redone properly.</p> <h2>4. Angie's List Gives You Confidence</h2> <p>If you <em>know</em> that a company is licensed, insured and bonded, then you <em>know</em> that you (and your insurance company) won't be on the hook for a poor job that they do.</p> <p>There's a License Check tool on Angie's List that makes it easy for you to know who to call or where to search to verify information that a provider has given you. Since licensing procedures and qualifications vary widely by state and profession, it's important to do your due diligence to ensure that a company is legit.</p> <h2>5. Angie's List Rewards You</h2> <p>Since signing up, I've received several emails from Angie's List prompting to send me rewards &mdash; just two days ago I was sent a $20 Starbucks eGift for sharing my thoughts about two service providers of my choosing (easy!).</p> <p>They also have an AngieCash referral program in which you can earn $25 AngieCash for friends that you refer, and your friend will get $15 in AngieCash upon signing up (this may just be for a limited time). AngieCash can be redeemed in the AngieCash store for things like magazine subscriptions, e-gift cards, Vera Bradley totes, and more.</p> <h2>6. Angie's List Sends You Money-Saving Tips</h2> <p>In addition to ratings across all categories, you'll get monthly magazines sent to your home with helpful home saving tips. I thumbed through the magazine I received yesterday and found several useful home maintenance articles and tips to keep things running smoothly.</p> <p>If I've convinced you that yes, Angie's List will really save you money, <a href="http://www.dpbolvw.net/click-2822544-11800498?sid=bdt">sign up today</a>! </p> <p><em>Have you used Angie's List? I'd love to hear what your experience was like!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-angie-s-list-saves-you-money" class="sharethis-link" title="6 Ways Angie’s List Saves You Money " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-rocha">Carrie Rocha</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home Angie's List repairs Mon, 16 Jun 2014 15:04:18 +0000 Carrie Rocha 1142399 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Beat the High Cost of Air Conditioning http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-beat-the-high-cost-of-air-conditioning <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-beat-the-high-cost-of-air-conditioning" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/cooling-fan-177379970-small.jpg" alt="cooling fan" title="cooling fan" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some fantastic articles on beating the high cost of air conditioning, rules for buying a wedding gift, and what to do after a car accident.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/2014/05/30/21-ways-to-beat-the-high-cost-of-air-conditioning/">21 Ways to Beat the High Cost of Air Conditioning</a> &mdash; To beat the high cost of air conditioning, change AC filters monthly and insulate the attic. [Money Talks News]</p> <p><a href="http://kiplinger.com/article/spending/T050-C000-S002-rules-for-buying-a-wedding-gift.html">4 Rules for Buying a Wedding Gift</a> &mdash; If you receive a wedding invitation but can't go to the wedding, you are still expected to send a gift. [Kiplinger]</p> <p><a href="http://www.moneycrashers.com/what-to-do-after-car-accident/">What to Do After a Car Accident &mdash; Injuries, Damages and Insurance Claims</a> &mdash; After a car accident, treat law enforcement as an ally and take pictures. [Money Crashers]</p> <p><a href="http://www.narrowbridge.net/grocery-bill-500-per-month/">How My Family of Five Keeps Its Grocery Bill Under $500 Per Month</a> &mdash; Remembering that sales are your friends can help keep your grocery bill low. [NarrowBridge Finance]</p> <p><a href="http://www.thesimpledollar.com/building-a-better-day/">Building a Better Day</a> &mdash; It is important to spend more time actually doing things than just thinking about doing them. [The Simple Dollar]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://onecentatatime.com/8-low-cost-business-ideas-you-should-consider/">8 Low Cost Business Ideas You Should Consider</a> &mdash; If you want to start your own business, consider becoming an event planner or a tutor. [One Cent at a Time]</p> <p><a href="http://www.creditsesame.com/blog/money-the-uninvited-third-party/">Money, The Univited Third Party in Your Relationship</a> &mdash; It is important to talk about money with your significant other now rather than later. [Credit Sesame]</p> <p><a href="http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/guess-spend-gas.html">Stop Guessing About How Much You'll Spend on Gas</a> &mdash; My Trip Calculator can help you figure out how much you'll spend on gas. [Bargaineering]</p> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Lessons-Dad-Taught-Us-34880780">11 Important Life Lessons Dad Taught Us</a> &mdash; Did your dad teach you to manage your money and DIY? [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/what-every-parent-should-know-about-food-allergies">What Every Parent Should Know About Food Allergies</a> &mdash; When it comes to food allergies, know the difference between allergies and intolerance. [Parenting Squad]</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-beat-the-high-cost-of-air-conditioning" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: Beat the High Cost of Air Conditioning" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home air conditioning best money tips Mon, 02 Jun 2014 18:00:18 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1141279 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Things You're Paying Too Much for Around the House (And How to Pay Less) http://www.wisebread.com/9-things-youre-paying-too-much-for-around-the-house-and-how-to-pay-less <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-things-youre-paying-too-much-for-around-the-house-and-how-to-pay-less" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-shopping-156413605-small.jpg" alt="woman shopping" title="woman shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="189" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're looking to trim your monthly budget, a quick peek around the house might uncover several things that you're paying too much for. Some people complain that they never have cash. The problem, however, may not be too little cash &mdash; but rather not knowing the right ways to stretch their dollars. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/35-grocery-items-you-should-make-at-home-and-5-to-buy?ref=seealso">35 Grocery Items You Should Make at Home</a>)</p> <p>Whether you're looking to increase your disposable income or stay within budget, spending less on these nine things will keep cash in your bank account.</p> <h2>1. Medications</h2> <p>Over-the-counter and prescription medications provide relief from minor and major illnesses, but if you're buying brand name meds, you're probably spending more than necessary for treatment. The truth is, you can <a href="http://www.forbes.com/pictures/ehhh45glf/over-the-counter-medications/">save tremendously with a generic</a> or store-brand medication, as much as 40%. Generic meds include the same active ingredients, quality, and strength of brand names. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/market-clones-how-to-pay-drastically-less-for-pricey-products?ref=seealso">How to Pay Drastically Less for Pricey Products</a>)</p> <h2>2. Household Cleaners</h2> <p>There's really no need to have every type of cleaning product underneath your kitchen sink, especially when there are solutions that include multiple ingredients for multiple surfaces. Read the label on cleaning products and you might discover that a product designed for dusting can also be used to clean glass, thus eliminating the need to purchase a stockpile of products. You can also save money with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-clean-everything-with-just-3-all-natural-cleaners?ref=internal">homemade cleaners</a> using water, vinegar, and baking soda.</p> <h2>3. Bottled Water</h2> <p>It's convenient to grab bottled water from the fridge. And although the price per unit is relatively inexpensive if buying in bulk, it adds up quickly if you're buying several cases a month. However, you can save money by skipping disposable water bottles and using a basic pitcher-style water filter or a sink/faucet mount filtration system. In fact, &quot;a family of four can potentially <a href="http://home.howstuffworks.com/appliances/energy-efficient/save-money-with-water-filter1.htm">save $2,878.57</a> each year by switching from bottled water to a water filter.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-water-filters?ref=seealso">The 5 Best Water Filters</a>)</p> <h2>4. Cable Television</h2> <p>It's nice to have options when you're ready to relax with the remote control. But if you don't have much time for television, or if you only watch a few select programs, it doesn't make sense to pay a hundred bucks &mdash; or more! &mdash; each month for a top-notch cable package. You can save a nice chunk of change by downgrading to a package that matches your viewing needs, or ditching cable altogether and streaming your favorite television programs from Netflix or Hulu. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-everyone-can-cut-cable-and-still-watch-what-they-love-even-sportsfans">How Everyone Can Cut Cable and Still Watch the Shows They Love</a>)</p> <h2>5. Toothbrushes</h2> <p>With thousands of rotating motions per minute, there's no denying the benefits of an electronic toothbrush or its ability to reduce plaque and gingivitis. These toothbrushes essentially take the work out of brushing your teeth, but with a price tag as high as $100, not everyone can afford a fancy toothbrush.</p> <p>The good news is that you don't need a fancy, expensive toothbrush to keep your teeth healthy and clean. Your hand might not be able to mimic the rotation of an electronic brush, but if you're <a href="http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Oral-Hygiene/Brushing-and-Flossing/article/How-to-Brush.cvsp" style="text-decoration:none;">brushing properly</a>, using mouthwash, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist every six months, you can keep your mouth just as healthy with an old-fashioned toothbrush.</p> <h2>6. Pre-Packaged Foods</h2> <p>When you're busy and hungry, it's definitely easier to buy pre-packaged meals at the grocery store or purchase vegetables and fruits that are already chopped and sliced. However, this costly convenience adds to your grocery bill. Ready-to-eat meals can be as much as <a href="http://www.pocketyourdollars.com/2010/10/homemade-alternatives-to-pre-packaged-foods-lower-cost-and-healthier-too/">6 to 10 times more expensive</a> per serving than preparing the item. The trick to paying less is simple &mdash; plan ahead and purchase fresh ingredients to prepare meals yourself. This approach is not only cheaper, but healthier since you're able to control the sodium and portions of each meal.</p> <h2>7. Home Fragrances</h2> <p>&quot;Consumers <a href="http://www.forbes.com/pictures/ehhh45glf/room-fragrances-and-candles/">spend more than $5 billion</a> each year on room deodorizers, scented oils and candles,&quot; reports Forbes. This might be a small price to pay if you need to quickly eliminate a stale odor in your house before guests arrive. But rather than pay $15 for a fancy candle, open a window and allow fresh air inside, or give your place a thorough cleaning.</p> <h2>8. Shampoo</h2> <p>Paying $20 for a bottle of expensive shampoo won't necessarily result in cleaner hair, although your locks may smell amazingly fresh after each wash. If you're only concerned with cleanliness and couldn't care less about a lingering sweet scent, you're better off with a cheaper store shampoo, such as Suave or Garnier. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dryer-sheets-shampoo-and-15-other-everyday-things-you-can-make-at-home?ref=seealso">Dryer Sheets, Shampoo, and 15 Other Everyday Things&nbsp;You Can Make at Home</a>)</p> <h2>9. Non-Refillable Goop</h2> <p>Detergents, hand soaps, and cleaning products keep the home and body clean, but you're probably paying too much for these items if you buy a new bottle each time you run out. For a cheaper replacement, keep your original packaging or bottle and purchase refill packs. Since you're not purchasing a new dispenser, you'll save money in the long run.</p> <p><em>Do you have other items to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-things-youre-paying-too-much-for-around-the-house-and-how-to-pay-less" class="sharethis-link" title="9 Things You&#039;re Paying Too Much for Around the House (And How to Pay Less)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home Shopping home goods home supplies household supplies Mon, 02 Jun 2014 16:00:27 +0000 Mikey Rox 1141205 at http://www.wisebread.com 15 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill http://www.wisebread.com/15-easy-ways-to-lower-your-electric-bill <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-easy-ways-to-lower-your-electric-bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/piggy-bank-470351123.jpg" alt="piggy bank" title="piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My family is looking to move into a new house in the near future. With all the added rooms and exciting DIY projects on the horizon, I realize we'll also need to more carefully watch our utilities costs. More space equals more places to heat, plug in lamps, and otherwise use electricity. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-win-the-war-against-this-summers-electric-bill?ref=seealso">4 Ways to Win the War With Your Electric Bill This Summer</a>)</p> <p>Whether you live in a small studio apartment or a sprawling McMansion, there are some smart, easy ways you can cut down on your electric bill. And many of these tips are things you can implement today to garner savings immediately. As always, if you have more tips to share, please leave them in the comments!</p> <h2>1. Open and Close</h2> <p>For some of us, switching on lights is more habit than necessity. So, in the daylight, avoid using lamps and other illuminating devices. Instead, open blinds to let the sun flood in. On the other hand, you can keep a home considerably cooler on hot days by closing curtains. I know this from personal experience! Before hitting high on your AC unit, you might want to try this trick.</p> <h2>2. Set the Bar</h2> <p>Have you looked at your water heater lately? Chances are your temperature might be set above the energy efficient suggestion of <a href="http://www.treehugger.com/clean-water/does-turning-down-my-water-heater-really-make-a-difference.html">120 degrees</a> (or often marked &quot;warm&quot; or as a triangle on your heater's settings). If you need scalding hot water for tea or cooking, heat it on the stove.</p> <h2>3. Maintain It</h2> <p>Something as silly as a dirty furnace filter can cost you money when it comes to heating costs. The same goes with any other machine or component you must maintain. Plus, keeping your operations up-to-date is safer than neglecting them, and it may extend the life of the appliance &mdash; meaning even bigger savings. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-fridge-last-almost-forever-with-these-8-tips?ref=seealso)">Make Your Fridge Last Forever</a>)</p> <h2>4. Unplug Yourself</h2> <p>This tip is twofold: Unplug your electronics when they're not in use &mdash; including battery chargers and power adapters &mdash; they still suck power from outlets and power strips even when off. Better yet, truly unplug by heading outdoors to read a book or to exercise. Totally free!</p> <h2>5. Negotiate</h2> <p>Take stock of your bills from the past year and see if you can strike a deal with your provider(s). You may also explore spreading out your costs so they are the same each month versus fluctuating seasonally to help make your budget more predictable. Don't be shy to shop around if there's more than one electric provider in your area.</p> <h2>6. Shift Your Day</h2> <p>While you're at it, ask your provider if there are &quot;off peak&quot; or &quot;time-of-use&quot; rates or times of the day when electricity costs less. You can choose to do your laundry, blow-dry your hair, cook a great meal, wash your dishes, or do any other task at the cheaper rate.</p> <h2>7. Slow the Flow</h2> <p>I think we all remember the &quot;<a href="http://www.seinfeldscripts.com/TheShowerhead.htm">Seinfeld&quot; episode</a> with the superintendent switches out the showerheads to low flow. If you're really into pinching pennies, swapping yours out can mean <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ethicallivingblog/2008/mar/14/switchtolowflowshowerheads">less water to heat</a> over the course of your shower. Limiting yourself to a shorter shower, too, is another drop in the bucket.</p> <h2>8. Upgrade Your Thermostat</h2> <p>When we had to upgrade to a new furnace (ouch!), our contractor also updated us to a programmable thermostat. By setting designated temperatures for night and day, we have definitely saved money. Plus, now I don't have to remember to adjust the temperature every night before bed.</p> <h2>9. Survey Bulbs</h2> <p>By now I think most of us are familiar with compact fluorescent bulbs as a great alternative to conventional incandescents. But did you know there are other energy efficient options like LED? A little extra money up front can mean <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/certified-products/detail/light_bulbs">up to $40 to $135 per bulb</a> over a bulb's lifetime.</p> <h2>10. Put Your Laptop to Sleep</h2> <p>Enable your computer's energy savings features, they could save you upwards of <a href="http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/energy-efficient-computer-use">$30 each year</a> on electricity costs per computer. Sounds like an insignificant amount, but it's still your money and a super simple fix.</p> <h2>11. Put a Damper on Things</h2> <p>If your home features a fireplace, be sure to close the flue when its not in use. Otherwise the outdoor air, whether hot or cold, will infiltrate your home and suck energy (to adjust your home's temperature) along with it.</p> <h2>12. Fan Yourself</h2> <p>No matter the time of year, ceiling fans can be useful for inexpensive temperature control. In the summer, run them on low to keep air flow up and air-conditioning costs down. In the winter, use the switch to reverse the blades to draw warm air down into a room from the ceiling.</p> <h2>13. Cook Smart (I)</h2> <p>Use the correct sized burners when heating up a tea kettle or dinner on the stove. For example, using a &quot;six-inch pan on an eight-inch electric burner can waste <a href="http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/residential/appliances/ranges.html">more than 40%</a> of the heat produced.&quot;</p> <h2>14. Cook Smart (II)</h2> <p>While you're at it, resist the urge to check on baked goods by opening the door, which can drop the temperature by <a href="http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/residential/appliances/ranges.html">up to 25 degrees</a>. If you need to use your appliance's self-cleaning option, try planning it after cooking a meal to use less energy heating to the highest temperatures.</p> <h2>15. Switch It Off</h2> <p>And one of the simplest ways to save money on your electric bill is to always remember to turn off lights or other electronic devices when you're leaving a room. It sounds ridiculously easy, but it can take some getting used to for the whole family. You may wish to place a reminder note at each switch as a first step in the right direction.</p> <p><em>How do you conserve energy and keep your electric bill in check? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-easy-ways-to-lower-your-electric-bill" class="sharethis-link" title="15 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Home conservation electric bill saving energy utilities Tue, 27 May 2014 08:12:24 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1140317 at http://www.wisebread.com Protect Your Home and Family From Fire With These Easy Safety Basics http://www.wisebread.com/protect-your-home-and-family-from-fire-with-these-easy-safety-basics <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/protect-your-home-and-family-from-fire-with-these-easy-safety-basics" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bulb-77292958.jpg" alt="changing light bulb" title="changing light bulb" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Here is some good news: The number of deaths from fires has been steadily <a href="http://www.usfa.fema.gov/statistics/estimates/trend_overall.shtm">on the decline</a> since 2001. However, the risk of accidental death or injury from fires has not been eradicated. In 2010, for example, one person was <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/fire-prevention/fires-factsheet.html">injured in a fire every 30 minutes</a>, and another human being lost his or her life every 169 minutes. Yes, the risks are still out there, and most of them are in the home. That's why it's important for everyone, individuals and families alike, to tick off the boxes on the checklist below to ensure their home is risk free when it comes to accidental fires.</p> <h2>1. Use Appropriate Light Bulbs</h2> <p dir="ltr">The idea of being diligent when selecting light bulbs may seem silly to some, but a healthy number of accidental home fires are the direct result of using light bulbs with wattages incompatible with certain household sockets. That's why it's important to ensure the wattage of each light bulb used in a home is properly rated for the specific socket. Homeowners can also err on the side of caution and use 60-watt bulbs at all times.</p> <h2>2. Check Cords</h2> <p dir="ltr">Frayed or otherwise damaged cords can present a serious fire hazard in the home and therefore should be periodically checked to ensure they are in top condition with no exposed wiring. Also, it is crucial never to cover cords with rugs, carpets or tape, as this can cut off airflow to the wiring, which can lead to damage.</p> <h2>3. Position Home Appliances Correctly</h2> <p dir="ltr">This goes beyond the basic rule of keeping portable heaters at least three feet away from flammable objects. Even the cord of a toaster oven running near a stove can present a serious fire hazard. A good rule of thumb is to keep any appliance &mdash; plus its wiring &mdash; away from direct heat sources.</p> <h2>4. Look for Faulty Switches and Outlets</h2> <p dir="ltr">A dysfunctional outlet or switch is, unfortunately, one of the prime causes of accidental dwelling fires. The good news is there are easy ways to spot damage to a home outlet or light switch. Warning signs include:</p> <ul> <li>Outlets or switches that are hot or warm to the touch.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Humming or buzzing sounds emanating from the switch or socket.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Loose plugs.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">Homeowners should perform periodic checks of their switches and outlets to ensure safety and functionality.</p> <h2>5. Maintain Working Smoke Alarms</h2> <p dir="ltr">The tragedy is that so many of past years' accidental dwelling fires could have been prevented had homeowners simply installed working smoke alarms. As a standard, smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home as well as outside of sleeping areas. Also, residents should perform once-a-month checks on every smoke alarm in the home and change the batteries once a year.</p> <p dir="ltr">By following these simple guidelines, residents across the country should be able to maintain a home free of accidental dwelling fires and do their part to continue the decline of death and injury by fire.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Have you taken additional steps to protect your home and family from fire? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/protect-your-home-and-family-from-fire-with-these-easy-safety-basics" class="sharethis-link" title="Protect Your Home and Family From Fire With These Easy Safety Basics" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chris-mcmurphy">Chris McMurphy</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home fire home safety insurance safety Wed, 14 May 2014 08:12:22 +0000 Chris McMurphy 1139230 at http://www.wisebread.com 17 Cheap and Awesome Reusable Replacements for Disposable Products http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-and-awesome-reusable-replacements-for-disposable-products <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/17-cheap-and-awesome-reusable-replacements-for-disposable-products" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/groceries-450745419.jpg" alt="groceries" title="groceries" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The average person generates <a href="http://center.sustainability.duke.edu/resources/green-facts-consumers/how-much-do-we-waste-daily">4.3 pounds of waste</a> every day, and well over half of this waste (about 220 million tons) ends up in a landfill. Not only is this rate of trash production terrible for the planet, it wastes lots of your hard-earned money. While that single-use item or throw-away packaging feels convenient, disposable items are the same as throwing money in the trash. Save money, and be kind to the planet, by switching to one of these cost-effective reusable replacements instead. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/21-disposable-products-you-can-reuse?ref=seealso">21 Disposable Products You Can Reuse</a>)</p> <h2>1. Rechargeable Batteries</h2> <p>While rechargeable <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-long-lasting-aa-batteries">batteries</a> cost more initially, they can be reused hundreds of times and last for years, if used properly. At the end of their life cycle, rechargeable batteries can be recycled to keep toxic chemicals out of the landfill.</p> <h2>2. Water Bottles</h2> <p>Bottled water has to be the biggest scam ever. Despite what the industry says, <a href="http://www.banthebottle.net/articles/think-reusable-bottles-forget-plastic-bottled-water/">bottled water</a> isn't any cleaner or healthier than tap water. The production of one plastic bottle uses more water to produce than actually put into the bottle for drinking! Skip the scam and carry tap water in <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stuff-we-love-a-lifefactory-reusable-glass-water-bottle">a non-BPA water bottle</a> instead. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-eco-friendly-water-bottles">The Best Eco-Friendly Water Bottles</a>)</p> <h2>3. Diva Cup</h2> <p>Disposable pads and tampons aren't the only option. Ladies, if you'd like to save money and be kind to the planet during your time of the month, consider a reusable option like <a href="http://matadornetwork.com/goods/no-tampons-no-problem-alternative-products-for-female-travelers/">menstrual cups or washable pads</a>.</p> <h2>4. Glass Food Storage Containers</h2> <p>Plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and cheap plastic containers are all money in the trash. If you've got leftovers, or want to bring your lunch to work, store food in reusable glass containers instead (glass is better than plastic because it won't leach toxins into your food or retain food residue).</p> <h2>5. Cloth Shopping Bags</h2> <p>Those plastic bags they give you at the store aren't free. You pay for them in the form of increased food prices. They also take hundreds of years to break down in the landfill, often becoming microscopic plastic waste in the ocean. Buy or make your own cloth shopping bags, and you could receive a nice credit at the register. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-new-things-you-can-make-with-old-denim-jeans?ref=seealso">20 New Things You Can Make With Old Denim Jeans</a>)</p> <h2>6. DIY Swiffer Pads</h2> <p>If (like me) you've only got a small uncarpeted area, a full size mop and bucket are unnecessary. With a Swiffer you can give your kitchen and bathroom a quick once over without all the fuss. Instead of constantly buying disposable pads, make your own <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Swiffer-Mop-Pad-a-reusable-one!/">Swiffer pad</a> or buy a <a href="http://www.etsy.com/search_results.php?search_type=tag_title&amp;search_query=swiffer">washable one</a> on Etsy.</p> <h2>7. Safety Razor</h2> <p>Most of us shave at least one body part, and disposable razor heads are astronomically expensive. There are lots of <a href="http://www.care2.com/greenliving/6-greener-alternatives-to-disposable-razors.html">greener alternatives to disposable razors</a>, however, including some that can be sharpened repeatedly. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-money-on-shaving-with-these-razor-tricks?ref=seealso">Save Money On Shaving With These Razor Tricks</a>)</p> <h2>8. Cloth Napkins and Cleaning Wipes</h2> <p>Paper napkins, paper towels, tissues, and disposable cleaning wipes are convenient, but incredibly wasteful. Using washable cloth napkins and handkerchiefs, and turning <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-recycle-and-reuse-old-t-shirts">old t-shirts</a> into reusable cleaning cloths, will save heaps of money and drastically reduce your garbage production.</p> <h2>9. Permanent Coffee Filter</h2> <p>Still using bleached paper coffee filters to brew your morning java? Save lots of money with a permanent, reusable coffee filter instead. When dirty, simply run it through the dishwasher.</p> <h2>10. Diapers and Baby Wipes</h2> <p>Unlike disposable diapers, which cost a fortune, cloth diapers are softer, less-toxic, and result in zero landfill waste. Same thing goes for baby wipes. Consider using <a href="http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php">cloth diapers</a> and making your own reusable <a href="http://www.inhabitots.com/how-to-make-a-reusable-cloth-baby-wipe-kit/">cloth baby wipes kit</a>.</p> <h2>11. Dryer Balls</h2> <p>Fabric softener and dryer sheets are an expensive way to get the soft, clean-smelling clothes that you want. Save time, money, and energy with these <a href="http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/09/save-time-money-and-energy-make-your-own-wool-dryer-balls.html">DIY wool dryer balls</a> instead (tennis balls also work in a pinch, but they're loud).</p> <h2>12. Reusable Straws</h2> <p>Unless you're a baby (or have a physical condition that makes drinking difficult) I'm not really sure why you need a straw. Nevertheless, using a washable <a href="http://glassdharma.com/">glass</a> or <a href="http://www.reuseit.com/coffee-tea-and-drink-preparation/rsvp-international-stainless-steel-drinking-straws-wide-set-of-4.htm">metal straw</a> instead of the plastic ones drastically reduces waste.</p> <h2>13. Permanent Air Filter</h2> <p>To keep your home and car running efficiently, you need a clean air filter. Many people simply replace these disposable filters every few months, not realizing there are permanent alternatives.</p> <h2>14. Wrapping Paper</h2> <p>Paper wrappings and gift bags look good, but are often only used for minutes before being tossed in the trash. Save money and reduce paper waste with <a href="http://inhabitat.com/6-eco-friendly-gift-wrap-alternatives/">eco-friendly alternatives</a> like cloth gift bags and upcycled wrappings.</p> <h2>15. Paper Plates and Plastic Utensils</h2> <p>Whether you're planning a picnic (or simply packing a lunch) strive to use traditional metal cutlery that can be washed repeatedly. Really need a disposable option? Try compostable alternatives made from corn or bamboo.</p> <h2>16. Toothbrush</h2> <p>Toothbrush bristles wear out quickly, so to maintain a healthy smile, they've got to be replaced. This doesn't mean the entire toothbrush needs to end up in the trash, however. You can reduce 93% of toothbrush waste by using toothbrush handles with <a href="http://www.radiustoothbrush.com/sourcetoothbrush.aspx">replaceable heads</a>.</p> <h2>17. Vacuum Bags</h2> <p>Vacuums that require disposable bags are, well, vintage to say the least. Upgrade to a vacuum that features an easy-to-empty canister and washable air filter, and never waste money on vacuum bags again. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-robotic-vacuums?ref=seealso">The 5 Best Robotic Vacuums</a>)</p> <p><em>Anything I've missed? Use the reusable comments box below to share your favorite reusables!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-and-awesome-reusable-replacements-for-disposable-products" class="sharethis-link" title="17 Cheap and Awesome Reusable Replacements for Disposable Products" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beth-buczynski">Beth Buczynski</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Green Living Home green living recycle reuse Tue, 13 May 2014 08:24:22 +0000 Beth Buczynski 1138731 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Turn Your Black Thumb Green http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-turn-your-black-thumb-green <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-turn-your-black-thumb-green" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/garden-5247166-small.jpg" alt="garden" title="garden" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's that time of year again. Spring is&hellip; springing. If you live in a place with four seasons, like me, then the trees are starting to bud, the tulips and daffodils are blooming, and you're starting to think about adding to the natural beauty in your little corner of the world by planting something.</p> <p>And some of you are terrified.</p> <p>I know that feeling. I am a reformed plant killer. For years, I would start plants every spring only to forget them, neglect them, or watch them die in spite of my best efforts. I had almost given up on being able to have a beautiful garden.</p> <p>And then I started learning. Slowly but surely, by asking the right questions, I learned how to help my plants thrive and not die. Now, I am living proof that growing plants is a learned skill and that you can turn your black thumb green. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-veggies-to-plant-this-spring?ref=seealso">10 Easy Veggies to Plant This Spring</a>)</p> <h2>General Principles</h2> <p>Before I get into specific things you can do to give your plants a better chance at survival, there are a few principles that you should apply whenever you want to grow something.</p> <h3>Observe</h3> <p>Before you plant anything, before you even go to the store and decide what plants you want, decide where you want to plant and observe that area. How much light does it get? How much water? Is it within reach of your sprinklers, or would you have to water it by hand? Are you willing or able to commit to that?</p> <p>Giving yourself a couple of days to observe and think about where you want to plant will help you choose plants that are appropriate to the place and the amount of water the plant will get, which can make all the difference in the world.</p> <h3>Ask a Gardener</h3> <p>Do you know someone with a lovely garden? By all means, ask him or her for advice. But even if you don't know any experienced gardeners, ask someone at your local nursery.</p> <p>Be as specific as possible when you ask for advice on what to plant. Say something like, &quot;I want to plant in a container that will sit on my porch. It will have sun in the morning but not in the afternoon, and I will probably be able to water it 2-3 times per week.&quot;</p> <p>When you do this, an experienced gardener can usually give you a pretty good idea of what will thrive in your space... and what will not. Many new gardeners fail because they plant the wrong plants in a space. If your plant needs shade and lots of water, it will die if you plant it where it will get sun all day.</p> <p>In addition to some of this basic knowledge, many gardeners have location-specific knowledge about some plants. For instance, they may know that, while a particular plant usually needs a lot of sun, in your particular locale it should have shade in the afternoon because of excessive heat. This sort of knowledge can make or break your garden.</p> <h3>Accept Some Defeat</h3> <p>Everyone is going to kill some of their plants. Even experienced gardeners know that, sometimes, things just don't work. Maybe you got a damaged plant and didn't know it, or maybe another plant nearby simply takes over in early summer. Recognizing that there is a give and take in gardening can help you accept it when something doesn't work out the way you'd planned.</p> <h2>Tips and Tricks</h2> <p>While most plants just need to be planted in the right spot and then get the right amount of water and sun to thrive, there are some things you can do that might help your plants grow, or things you might want to do as a gardener that might seem trickier than they actually are. Here are some ideas for dealing with those things.</p> <h3>1. Water With Diet or Club Soda</h3> <p>Because of the nutrients in <a href="http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/using-soda-on-plants.htm">diet and/or club soda</a>, both can help you have greener and healthier plants. While you don't want to substitute for water entirely, adding these to your watering regimen can be good for your plants. Just don't water with sugared soda, as this is <em>not</em> helpful for plant health and growth.</p> <h3>2. Learn How to Grow From Cuttings</h3> <p>Save money by <a href="http://www.fiberfarm.com/2012/04/propagating-rosemary">propagating plants like rosemary and lavender</a> from cuttings. This is cheaper than buying the plants from the store and can be easy if you follow all of the directions. Be sure to use rooting hormone, as it makes the process faster and more likely to produce the plant you want.</p> <h3>3. Add Tea and Coffee Grounds to Your Soil</h3> <p>Some plants, like blueberries, azaleas, and rhododendrons, love acidic soil (this is information you can get from your experienced gardener!). If you're planting some of these, add a sprinkling of &frac14; inch of tea or coffee grounds to the soil each month, and its pH should stay on the acidic side.</p> <h3>4. Start Seedlings in Lemon Halves</h3> <p>If you live in a cooler climate, you may want to start some of your plants inside before it's warm enough to plant them outside. Halve a lemon, carve out the fruit, and poke a small hole in the bottom for drainage. Then, <a href="https://brightnest.com/posts/2x4-four-ways-to-use-fruit-rinds">plant your seed in the half lemon</a>. This adds to the nutrients your plant will get, and you can put the whole thing in the ground when you finally plant.</p> <h3>5. Use Some Plants to Shade Others</h3> <p>Growing vegetables can get tricky, because most vegetable gardens get more sun than some plants need. If you <a href="http://www.floridavegetablegarden.com/?attachment_id=403">grow climbing plants on a trellis</a> at an angle over some of these other plants, then you can achieve the part-shade necessary for optimal plant growth. You can put vegetables, like cucumbers, on the trellis, or you can grow something like morning glory to provide your shade.</p> <h3>6. Pluck the First Flowers</h3> <p>Plants need to devote themselves to growing solid roots before they focus on fruit. Thus, if you <a href="http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/tomato-growing-tips?page=0,1">pluck the first flowers on your vegetable plants</a>, they will have a better chance at getting the root system they need to support better fruit later on. This is particularly true for tomatoes, though it can be applied to any fruit-bearing plant.</p> <h3>7. Water in the Morning</h3> <p>Or at dusk. Just <a href="http://www.greenhousecatalog.com/natural-gardening">avoid watering in the heat of the day</a>. This saves water, but it also protects your plants from burning and helps them avoid excessive water loss from evaporation.</p> <h3>8. Use Packing Peanuts to Improve Drainage</h3> <p>When you're planting in a pot, it's important to have good drainage in place. Alternate <a href="http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20349692_20751980,00.html">layers of packing peanuts with layers of soil</a> to help achieve this goal. You can also use small rocks to achieve this, but packing peanuts have the added bonus of being light, making the pot easier to move.</p> <h3>9. Use Coffee Filters to Save Soil</h3> <p>You may have noticed that most pots for plants have small holes in the bottom. That's so any excess water can drain out. However, you can also lose soil this way. <a href="http://www.realsimple.com/new-uses-for-old-things/new-uses-gardening/print-index.html">Line the bottom of your pots with coffee filters</a> to avoid this problem.</p> <h3>10. Fertilize With Milk</h3> <p>Because of the amount of calcium it contains, as well as some other nutrients, <a href="http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/milk-fertilizer.htm">milk is a great fertilizer for most plants</a>. This is especially true if you're wanting to avoid commercial fertilizers. If you're concerned about antibiotics on your plants, be sure to buy organic milk!</p> <h3>11. Add Egg Shells</h3> <p><a href="http://girlonbikewrites.blogspot.com/2011/06/using-egg-shells-in-garden.html">Adding egg shell halves around your plants</a> can deter certain types of pests, and putting them in the bottom of a hole where you plant can help your plants get more calcium, which many plants need to grow and some need to help avoid certain types of rot. Experimenting with this can help you figure out which plants need extra help growing.</p> <h3>12. Make a Mini Greenhouse</h3> <p><a href="http://spoonful.com/crafts/spring-bottle">Use half a soda bottle</a> over a seedling to create the warmer environment your seed might need to sprout. This can help ensure that your summer garden is successful by giving your seeds a jump start at growth.</p> <h3>13. Regrow Green Onions</h3> <p>Even if you don't have time or space for a regular garden, or if you're still terrified of killing things, <a href="http://www.thekitchn.com/re-growing-green-onions-grow-your-scallions-back-on-your-windowsill-165274">try putting the bottom parts of used green onions in water on your window sill</a>. These tend to grow fast and can be planted outside, later, if you'd rather have them in dirt than water.</p> <p><em>Happy gardening! If you have any tips or tricks to add to the list, let me know.</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-turn-your-black-thumb-green" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Turn Your Black Thumb Green" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Green Living Home gardening gardens green thumb Mon, 12 May 2014 09:00:20 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1138730 at http://www.wisebread.com You're Washing Your Clothes Too Often! (What to Do Instead) http://www.wisebread.com/youre-washing-your-clothes-too-often-what-to-do-instead <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/youre-washing-your-clothes-too-often-what-to-do-instead" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/84521763.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When I was in middle school, I remember girls being horrified at the thought of wearing the same pair of jeans twice in a single week. Even worse, if your jeans hadn't been washed after just one wear, you obviously didn't have good hygiene habits. There are certainly times when I wish I was still a kid, but with regard to those ways of thinking &mdash; I'm so happy to have evolved. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/defensive-laundry-9-ways-to-help-your-clothes-last-longer?ref=seealso">Defensive Laundry to Help Your Clothes Last</a>)</p> <p>Not only is chronically over-washing clothing wasteful of precious resources, but it's also costly in a number of other ways. There's tons of detergent involved, utilities costs (water and electricity), time and energy, as well as the negative impact frequent washing has on the clothing itself. So, save yourself some money and lighten your load a bit, quite literally.</p> <p>Here are 10 ways to break out of the wash cycle.</p> <h2>1. Inspect Before Tossing</h2> <p>Before you mindlessly toss your clothes into the laundry basket at the end of the day, consider if they are truly soiled or not. Items like underwear and undershirts or exercise clothing will certainly need more washing than, say, a sweatshirt or jeans that have been layered or otherwise kept out of dirt's way. A lot of the clothes that are currently in our laundry baskets are &mdash; for all intents and purposes &mdash; clean. So, break the habit and learn the basics of <a href="https://shopping.yahoo.com/news/wash-handbook-000000296.html">how long certain items last</a> without a full wash.</p> <h2>2. Hang to Dry Breathe</h2> <p>It's OK to do a little sniff test to ensure your clothing is still somewhat fresh after a day of wear. What will keep items that way longer is picking them up off the floor and hanging on an open rack to let air circulate around and through the fibers. Plus, letting them linger on the floor only invites more dirt (or, if you have pets, worse!) and opportunity for wrinkles to develop.</p> <h2>3. Skip Washing Entirely</h2> <p>For those items that don't need immediate washing, push the envelope a bit. Tullia Jack, PhD student at RMIT University, challenged a group of 30 people to wear the same pair of jeans at least five days each week for a three-month period without washing them. They discovered that after all those wears, they &quot;<a href="http://theconversation.com/the-dirt-on-clothes-why-washing-less-is-more-sustainable-11531">weren&rsquo;t visibly dirty</a> and they didn't get smelly.&quot; Now, you don't need to go the whole three month challenge, but start with a week and work your way up to a month. You might surprise yourself!</p> <h2>4. Spot-Treat</h2> <p>And just because you're skipping the total washing experience doesn't mean you can't treat little stains that might plague your otherwise clean clothing. Martha Stewart has a rather elaborate guide for <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/265555/removing-stains-the-basics">removing stains from clothing</a>. Also check out our <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-effective-grease-and-oil-stain-removal-tips">14 Effective Grease and Oil Stain Removal Tips</a> and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/secret-homemade-stain-removers-that-kick-butt">6 Secret Homemade Stain Removers</a>.</p> <h2>5. Freshen and Press</h2> <p>For clothes that might get wrinkly with wear, simply hang as you would the others to air out. When it comes time to wear again, spritz with some <a href="http://theimperfectmarriage.weebly.com/14/post/2012/02/linen-and-ironing-spray.html">DIY linen and ironing spray</a> and iron out those kinks. Alternatively, you could spritz clothing until damp with a little spray (or just <a href="http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/hot-tip-no-iron-ironing-1-135847">plain tap water</a>) and hang to dry, which should loosen and smooth wrinkles.</p> <h2>6. Keep Up With Routine</h2> <p>For duds that require more frequent washing, be sure to keep up with your laundry habits. This method is a simple way to avoid re-washing items forgotten overnight in a machine (musty smell). Worse? I've had clean and dirty clothing get intermixed and not been able to discern between the two categories. Set designated laundry nights or days and try to get the job done in a couple hours versus spreading it over the course of a week. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-find-missing-socks?ref=seealso">Where to Find Missing Socks</a>)</p> <h2>7. Change Into Play Clothes</h2> <p>If you have kids (or act like one yourself), you may wish to save your more expensive items by changing into &quot;play&quot; or lounge clothing when you return home from the day's responsibilities. You don't need to wash these at-home clothes as often as you would the nicer items &mdash; just wash once or twice each week, depending on the level of soil.</p> <h2>8. Rinse Well</h2> <p>A trick my husband and I use for exercise clothing: If it's just a simple pair of shorts, a sports bra, or a tech t-shirt &mdash; take it in the shower with you after your workout. From there, rinse well with cool water. Then wring out and hang to dry. You can wear again for tomorrow's run!</p> <h2>9. Wear Protection</h2> <p>It's clear that keeping clothes cleaner from the start means washing less. You need not live in a bubble to do so, however. As an avid home cook, for example, I have several aprons in my collection to protect my clothing from the various spills, splatters, and stains I encounter on a daily basis. If you garden or do other messy activities on the regular, wear similar protective layers to keep your garments covered. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-tricks-to-keeping-your-kitchen-clean-while-you-cook?ref=seealso">Keep Your Kitchen Clean While You Cook</a>)</p> <h2>10. Choose Fabrics Wisely</h2> <p>Certain materials lend themselves to fewer washes better than others. If you'd like to do far less laundry, <a href="http://wptest.myshopify.com/pages/wool-science">wool clothing</a> might be a good option for you. The natural fibers resist stains, odors, wrinkles, and moisture. Wool even regulates body temperature so you're likely to sweat less and, in turn, not soil clothing as often. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-dont-need-to-clean?ref=seealso">You Don't Need to Clean Wool</a>)</p> <p><em>How often do you wash your clothing? Any tips to share for those of us looking to cut back?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youre-washing-your-clothes-too-often-what-to-do-instead" class="sharethis-link" title="You&#039;re Washing Your Clothes Too Often! (What to Do Instead)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Green Living Home clothes washing clothing conservation laundry Mon, 28 Apr 2014 09:36:10 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1136962 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Things That Are Raising Your Energy Bill http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-things-that-are-raising-your-energy-bill <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-things-that-are-raising-your-energy-bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/electric-meter-86525900.jpg" alt="electricity meter" title="electricity meter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some fantastic articles on things that are raising your energy bill, updating your kitchen on a budget, and vehicles with the longest lifespan.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/How-Lower-Electricity-Bill-24339814">8 Things That Are Raising Your Energy Bill</a> &mdash; Having a dirty air conditioner and relying on central heating are raising your energy bill. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="https://www.mint.com/blog/how-to/8-tips-for-updating-your-kitchen-on-a-budget-0414/">8 Tips for Updating Your Kitchen on a Budget</a> &mdash; Using credit card bonuses wisely can help you update your kitchen on a budget. [MintLife Blog]</p> <p><a href="http://www.fivecentnickel.com/2014/04/18/5-vehicles-with-the-longest-lifespans/">5 Vehicles With the Longest Lifespan</a> &mdash; Did you know Toyota 4Runners have one of the longest lifespans of cars available today? [Five Cent Nickel]</p> <p><a href="http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2014/04/22/more-on-how-to-stop-buying-clothes-you-never-wear-2/">More on how to stop buying clothes you'll never wear</a> &mdash; To stop buying clothes you'll never wear, dress for the life you live now. [Get Rich Slowly]</p> <p><a href="http://www.thesimpledollar.com/7-excuses-people-use-to-avoid-financial-responsibility-and-why-theyre-useless/">7 Excuses People Use to Avoid Financial Responsibility - And Why They're Useless</a> &mdash; Only living once and thinking you have plenty of time to take care of things are two useless excuses people use to avoid financial responsibility. [The Simple Dollar]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.doughroller.net/taxes/5-tax-moves-make-now-yes-tax-day/">5 Tax Moves to Make Now (Yes, After Tax Day)</a> &mdash; Now is a good time to re-evaluate work-based withholding. [Dough Roller]</p> <p><a href="http://www.threethriftyguys.com/2014/04/how-to-hedge-against-food-inflation/">How to Hedge against Food Inflation</a> &mdash; Price matching and stockpiling can help you hedge against food inflation. [Three Thrifty Guys]</p> <p><a href="http://www.mainstreet.com/article/career/employment/6-weird-jobs-pay-way-more-you-would-expect">6 Weird Jobs That Pay Way More Than You'd Expect</a> &mdash; Did you know home stagers can make up to $150 an hour? [MainStreet]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/5-apps-and-gadgets-for-making-the-most-of-smartphone-pictures-of-your-children">5 Apps and Gadgets for Making the Most of Smartphone Pictures of Your Children</a> &mdash; To make the most of smartphone pictures of your children, try Handy Photo or Fast Burst Camera. [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href="http://www.americandebtproject.com/2014/04/does-fast-paced-living-encourage-debt/">Does Fast-Paced Living Encourage Debt?</a> &mdash; Adjust to a fast-paced lifestyle by remembering to laugh. [American Debt Project]</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-things-that-are-raising-your-energy-bill" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: Things That Are Raising Your Energy Bill" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home best money tips energy bill home Fri, 25 Apr 2014 09:00:25 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1136707 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Cheap and Easy DIY Home Improvement Projects http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-cheap-and-easy-diy-home-improvement-projects <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-cheap-and-easy-diy-home-improvement-projects" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/home-repair-4857262-small.jpg" alt="home repair" title="home repair" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles on cheap and easy DIY home improvement projects, jobs to satisfy your wander lust, and putting your tax refund to work.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://livingonthecheap.com/10-cheap-easy-diy-home-improvement-projects/">10 cheap and easy D-I-Y home improvement projects</a> &mdash; Painting and replacing your shower head are just a couple cheap and easy DIY home improvement projects you can do! [Living on the Cheap]</p> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Jobs-Require-Travel-3204508">13 Jobs to Satisfy Your Wanderlust</a> &mdash; Sales jobs and travel industry jobs can satisfy your wanderlust.[PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.stretcher.com/stories/13/13apr15h.cfm">10 Ways to Put Your Tax Refund to Work</a> &mdash; To put your tax refund to work, invest in your health or buy an IRA. [TheDollarStretcher.com]</p> <p><a href="http://christianpf.com/6-things-you-can-buy-that-will-pay-for-themselves-in-a-year/">6 Things You Can Buy That Will Pay For Themselves In A Year</a> &mdash; A battery charger and a programmable thermostat are just a couple things you can buy that will pay for themselves in a year. [Christian PF]</p> <p><a href="http://financialhighway.com/get-best-gas-mileage-buck/">How to Get the Best Gas Mileage for Your Buck</a> &mdash; Avoiding aggressive driving and reducing your drag can get you better gas mileage. [Financial Highway]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.goodfinancialcents.com/irs-gifting-rules/">IRS Gifting Rules for 2014</a> &mdash; Did you know you can gift up to $14,000 to one person in a calendar year and not have to pay taxes on it? [Good Financial Cents]</p> <p><a href="http://www.narrowbridge.net/save-for-retirement-budget/">3 Simple Ways to Save for Retirement on a Budget</a> &mdash; Save for retirement by canceling your subscriptions. [NarrowBridge Finance]</p> <p><a href="http://cashmoneylife.com/your-second-car-should-be-a-beater-car/">Why Your Second Car Should Be a Beater Car</a> &mdash; Your second car should be a beater car so you pay less in insurance. [Cash Money Life]</p> <p><a href="http://moneysmartlife.com/make-most-underemployment/">How to Make the Most of Underemployment</a> &mdash; To make the most of underemployment, start a side-gig. [Money Smart Life]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/5-reasons-why-paternity-leave-is-crucial-for-fathers-and-families">5 Reasons Why Paternity Leave is Crucial for Fathers and Families</a> &mdash; Paternity leave gives fathers a chance to bond with the baby too. [Parenting Squad]</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-cheap-and-easy-diy-home-improvement-projects" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: Cheap and Easy DIY Home Improvement Projects" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home best money tips DIY home home improvement improvement Tue, 22 Apr 2014 09:00:20 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1136236 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Amazing DIY Lamps You Want in Your House http://www.wisebread.com/9-amazing-diy-lamps-you-want-in-your-house <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-amazing-diy-lamps-you-want-in-your-house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/lamp-471232235.jpg" alt="lamp" title="lamp" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A good lamp does more than just shed light. With the right size, shape, color, and texture a lamp can compliment your furnishings and demonstrate your sense of style. To paraphrase the immortal words of The Dude, it really ties the room together. But new lamps can be expensive, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-to-look-for-every-time-you-visit-a-thrift-store">thrift store</a> lamps, while affordable, can be hit or miss. Why not take matters into your own hands? We've rounded up nine amazing DIY lamps that can be made with simple materials, and customized to complement (or contrast!) your existing decor. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/30-awesome-decorating-hacks-anyone-can-do?ref=seealso">30 Awesome Decorating Hacks</a>)</p> <h2>1. Stacked Cookie Tin Lamp</h2> <p>Have you been the recipient of homemade treats in reusable tins? You could save them up for re-gifting during the holidays, or you could make this clever lamp. The creators of this <a href="http://www.diynetwork.com/decorating/how-to-make-a-floor-lamp-out-of-snack-tins/index.html">floor lamp</a> suggest painting the tins or covering them in a textured fabric for an even more unique look. Use a short stack to make it a table lamp! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/40-ways-to-use-spray-paint-for-cheap-and-easy-decorating?ref=seealso">40 Ways to Decorate With Spray Paint</a>)</p> <h2>2. Paper Gift Bow Pendant Lamp</h2> <p>Are the bows your favorite part of a wrapped gift? Then this <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Giant-Decorative-Bow-Paper-Pendant-Lamp/">bow lamp</a> might be the project for you. Fold your favorite colored paper into a unique shade for a pendant lamp.</p> <h2>3. Recycled CD Case Lamp</h2> <p>If you've long since switched to digital music, but aren't sure what to do with all of those plastic jewel cases, this is the perfect upcycling project. Turn them into a <a href="http://inhabitat.com/fathers-day-diy-gift-how-to-make-your-dad-a-recycled-cd-case-lamp/">one-of-a-kind desk lamp</a> that makes a perfect Father's Day gift. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/free-ways-to-celebrate-father-s-day?ref=seealso">Free Ways to Celebrate Father's Day</a>)</p> <h2>4. Designer Paper Yarn Lamp</h2> <p>Paper yarn? Yep it's a thing. Even better, it's a thing you can use to make <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Designer-Paper-Lamp/">pendant light shades</a> or regular lampshades. This version uses a 2-liter soda bottle as the form, but you could use anything &mdash; maybe even the lampshade you're replacing?</p> <h2>5. Enameled Colander Lamp</h2> <p>The perfect lamp for foodies, this idea turns an <a href="http://www.shelterness.com/diy-pendant-lamp-of-enameled-colander/">old colander</a> into a beautiful pendant light fixture. It also works with a large salad bowl! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-common-kitchen-cast-offs-you-can-repurpose-into-cool-new-things?ref=seealso">Kitchen Cast-Offs You Can Repurpose</a>)</p> <h2>6. Skyscraper Lamp</h2> <p>If you're looking for unique &quot;mood&quot; lighting, the geometric patterns created by this lamp made from <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Skyscraper-Lamp/">stacked wooden dowels</a> is quite pleasing.</p> <h2>7. Tin Can Lantern</h2> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-cheap-things-to-do-before-the-summer-is-gone">Summer</a> will soon be here, and that means lots of outdoor meals and relaxing on the patio. Add a magical flare to your next summer party with this lantern made from a <a href="http://inhabitat.com/how-to-recycle-a-tin-can-into-a-gorgeous-outdoor-lantern-for-summer-parties/">recycled tin can</a>.</p> <h2>8. Hanging Paper Orb Lamp</h2> <p>Made using decorative paper cupcake liners, these <a href="http://www.designsponge.com/2012/03/diy-project-sculptural-paper-orb-lights.html">paper orbs</a> is a textured twist on the classic paper globe lamp.</p> <h2>9. Stacked Book Table Lamp</h2> <p>This is the perfect project for someone who hates seeing old books end up in the wastebasket. Turn them into a delightful <a href="http://www.hgtv.com/accessories/stacked-books-table-lamp/index.html">vintage-looking table lamp</a> instead!</p> <p><em>Have you made any awesome DIY lamps we want in our house? Please share them in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-amazing-diy-lamps-you-want-in-your-house" class="sharethis-link" title="9 Amazing DIY Lamps You Want in Your House" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beth-buczynski">Beth Buczynski</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Home crafts DIY lamps lighting upcycle Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:24:21 +0000 Beth Buczynski 1135882 at http://www.wisebread.com 25 Cheap and Easy Fixes That Make Your House Look Amazing http://www.wisebread.com/25-cheap-and-easy-fixes-that-make-your-house-look-amazing <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/25-cheap-and-easy-fixes-that-make-your-house-look-amazing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/home-5268659-small.jpg" alt="home" title="home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I'm currently in the process of selling my house, and it's been quite an ordeal getting it up to snuff for listing. Over the six years my family has lived here, we've surely settled in. Things like dirty baseboards, slow draining tubs, and a rogue dead outlet didn't seem so horrible; we got used to all these little inconveniences because our minds were elsewhere. When it came time to fix everything, however, we were quite overwhelmed with our to-do list. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-cheap-ways-to-stage-your-home-in-a-buyers-market?ref=seealso">Cheap Ways to Stage Your Home</a>)</p> <p>Now that we've finished going through our house from head to toe, I can surely tell you &mdash; tiny changes add up to something big &mdash; mammoth, actually. And you don't need to put your house on the market to improve your habitat and your life. Even if you are living in your forever home, there are 25 super easy projects you can do inexpensively or even for free to really put some extra shine to your house that you didn't know you could get back!</p> <h2>1. Deep Clean</h2> <p>We all try to keep our homes tidy and clean, but when's the last time you lifted all your carpets and vacuumed the floor underneath them? What about scrubbing behind your toilet? Dusting off the blades of your ceiling fans and blinds? Think of all those dark corners and slowly chip away at dusting and scrubbing them. Once they're totally clean, it's amazing the difference you'll feel. I like to start with one room or floor at a time and plow right through. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-one-month-guide-to-spring-cleaning?ref=seealso">One-Month Guide to Spring Cleaning</a>)</p> <h2>2. Toss and Donate</h2> <p>Then comes clutter. Spring is a great time to go through your hoard and see what you want to keep, to toss, and to donate to local thrift shops and charities. I always start with my closet and then work my way through the rest of the house. Old pots and pans or anything I haven't actually used in the last six months are up for debate. I'd rather have open spaces than store stuff I may never use again anyway. If you are questioning if you should purge something, put it (and like-items) in a box to store in your basement or attic for three months. If you don't miss it, clear it out of your house.</p> <h2>3. Scrub Appliances</h2> <p>&quot;Our refrigerator isn't too bad,&quot; I told my husband. And then I moved the food around and saw lots of drips and spills that had hardened into quite a sticky mess. I took a couple hours one day and set the oven to self clean, took all the food out of the fridge and freezer and scrubbed it with an all-purpose cleaner, and then finished off with cleaning out the filter in the dishwasher. They're like new again! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-fridge-last-almost-forever-with-these-8-tips?ref=seealso">8 Tips to Make Your Fridge Last Forever</a>)</p> <h2>4. Rummage Through Your Pantry</h2> <p>While you're at it, go through your food to see what's stale, expired, or might be headed that way soon. You'd be surprised how much space you gain by taking stock, and you might actually find foods you didn't know you had. I have definitely saved some grocery dollars by using up ingredients instead of letting them go to waste in the back of a cabinet.</p> <h2>5. Oil Your Hinges</h2> <p>Open all your doors and hinges and spray a little WD-40 to get those suckers sliding quietly. If you don't feel like running to the store, you can also use three different <a href="http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-silence-16316">household items</a> &mdash; soap, petroleum jelly, and paraffin wax &mdash; for the same silencing effect.</p> <h2>6. Wipe Down Trim and Molding</h2> <p>I don't know about you, but I never wash my door jams or baseboards. I didn't think they were too dirty until I looked closer. Coffee splashes, fingerprints, dust, and other (toddler) messes were very apparent on ours, so a little elbow grease (and a few <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001339ZMW/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001339ZMW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">Magic Erasers</a>) got them bright white again.</p> <h2>7. Or Even Paint Them</h2> <p>Beyond the general cleaning, some of our molding was actually dinged up from years of moving furniture, accidental kicks and scrapes, and even damage from that time when we hung a doorway pull-up bar. I went to our local hardware store and got some paint samples to find a glossy off-white that matched closely and then got a sample size can of paint. I took an artist's paintbrush around and blended them back in again.</p> <h2>8. Safeguard</h2> <p>Take a tour of your home's fire alarms, extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors. If they need new batteries, get new batteries today. If they are expired, broken, or are missing entirely &mdash; buy new today. Safety is one area not to skimp on or leave until tomorrow.</p> <h2>9. Filter and Maintain</h2> <p>As a first-time homeowner, I didn't really know we needed to maintain our furnace every single year. Now, that's not a hard and fast rule, but it's certainly a good idea. At the very least, we put in a new filter each year and make sure to call in help if we suspect there might be an issue. Keeping a furnace, water heater, air conditioning unit, or whatever else in working order is much cheaper than buying a new one. All it takes is a quick call to make an appointment, and be sure to check websites of bigger companies for coupons.</p> <h2>10. Clean Windows</h2> <p>On the inside and out, our windows are exposed to a vast number of icky things. Whether it's handprints, dirt, bugs, or whatever else that's obscuring your view, all it takes is some glass cleaner and time to get them clear again. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-all-purpose-cleaners?ref=seealso">The Best All-Purpose Cleaners</a>)</p> <h2>11. Shine Up Floors</h2> <p>We have gorgeous wood floors that we clean with basic water and vinegar, but we called in the big guns with some store-bought <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005V9Z9NI/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B005V9Z9NI&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">Orange Glo cleaner</a> to get them gleaming. It's something I'd love to start doing once a month, as it helps condition the wood beyond my basic washing. One bottle was only about $6, but I think it will last four or five applications in our small home.</p> <h2>12. Freshen Linens</h2> <p>I'll just come out and admit that we don't make our beds every day. So, doing so has majorly changed how we feel upstairs. Beyond that, we try to change our sheets more frequently these days to keep everything fluffy and smelling great. Be sure to add towels, shower curtains, bath rugs, curtains, and any other cloth item to this list.</p> <h2>13. Caulk Around</h2> <p>Our bathroom caulking had seen better days. Instead of scrubbing the mold and mildew, we decided to start with a fresh application. It sounds more complicated than it actually is. Simply rip out, re-do, and let dry &mdash; <a href="http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-re-caulk-a-bathtub/index.html">here's how</a>.</p> <h2>14. Repurpose and Reimagine</h2> <p>Have a hall closet continually crammed with random junk? Follow the steps above to clean and perhaps clear out and then try to come up with a purpose for that space so it doesn't become a catch-all. We have a small closet near our kitchen that we hung some cheap shelving in and we now use as a pantry. It's actually &quot;supposed&quot; to be a coat closet, but that just didn't work for our family. Give spaces jobs to do, and you'll maximize your living spaces. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-declutter-and-keep-your-stuff-too?ref=seealso">How to Declutter and Keep Your Stuff Too</a>)</p> <h2>15. Focus on Window Treatments</h2> <p>I'm sure we all have a few curtain rods, panels, blinds we bought long ago but haven't yet taken the time to hang. Why not skip the sitcom tonight and take that half an hour and finish that project today? It's incredible how simple window treatments can change the feel (and function) of a whole room. Plus, you'll gain back some storage space.</p> <h2>16. Patch and Paint Walls</h2> <p>I love the deep grey color of our living and dining room walls. However, if you look closely, you'll see some thin spots where the light blue beneath is still peeking through. Beyond that, you can see some holes from where we moved artwork or other nailed or screwed in decorative items. A container of lightweight patching is only a few dollars (and some people just use toothpaste!). If you don't have leftover paint, just head to the store and get a sample sized can in a matching color.</p> <h2>17. De-Clog and Decide About Hiring a Plumber</h2> <p>There's a quick and easy way to determine if your slow-draining tub or sink is a plumbing issue or not: Buy a container of de-clogger and follow its instructions. If you get things moving again &mdash; great! If not, call in a professional. Letting clogs go untreated can cause bigger issues in the long run.</p> <h2>18. Rearrange Furniture</h2> <p>Staging is something I'm no good at, but it makes a huge difference in the flow and feel of a house's interior. Why wait for potential buyers to do something like this? Consider moving around your couches, tables, and chairs to a new style that works well for you. And feel free to change your floor plan a million times until you get it just right.</p> <h2>19. Shine Some Light</h2> <p>Check out all your light fixtures to see where new lightbulbs are needed. Consider investing a little extra money in the energy efficient compact varieties. Not only do they use less power, they also purportedly last longer &mdash; which I have learned from experience. We didn't replace our overhead light in our bedroom for several months. Ridiculous, but it made such a difference to get it working again. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-energy-efficient-light-bulbs?ref=seealso">Best Energy Efficient Light Bulbs</a>)</p> <h2>20. Match Your Outlet Plates</h2> <p>I surveyed our interior and discovered that most of our light switch and outlet plates didn't match. Now, this isn't an issue beyond surface aesthetics, but new plates need not be expensive. If you can, try to get consistency going in your house. It's a subtle detail, but every corner counts.</p> <h2>21. Head Outside</h2> <p>Taking care of our spaces isn't limited to the indoors, unfortunately. Look around your yard to find any debris. Rake up any leaves or brush away any dirt that's on your patios or decks. Consider planting a few low maintenance flowers or shrubs to spruce things up a bit. No need for heavy landscaping, which might just require more work to maintain.</p> <h2>22. Tackle Simple DIY</h2> <p>One of my favorite cheap projects is to use vinyl tile ($1 a square foot where we live) to refresh an old floor. Painting a room a new hue can have big impact, too. Hanging smart shelving is another project most novices can undertake in an afternoon. Make a list of items you'd like to undertake and be realistic about your expectations. For example, if you've never tried your hand at plumbing, you could cause more harm than good.</p> <h2>23. Hire Help for the Rest</h2> <p>Then make a list of things you <em>don't</em> have the ability to do (whether for time or safety reasons). We had a light switch that was giving us trouble and a toilet that was leaking and our fix wouldn't hold. Calling the neighborhood handyman once versus multiple times can actually save you money. Many charge a flat rate just to come to your home, so it's best to get your money's worth while you can!</p> <h2>24. Nest</h2> <p>Sometimes all you need for renewed pride in your house is something homey. Slap an inexpensive wreath on your front door or add a flag pole with a festive banner. Hang a picture. Get a couple new throw pillows or even a new rug. We waited to do these things until our house was listed, but once we did &mdash; we were surely sad we didn't do it sooner.</p> <h2>25. Live Like You're Listed</h2> <p>From there, it's just a matter of keeping things clean and tidy, which is much more difficult in practice than it sounds in theory. I suggest following the 5- or 10-minute rule. If you can pick up, clean, or fix something in less than 5 or 10 minutes, do it right away. You'll keep up your spaces easily this way. Leave bigger projects to the weekend, but make a running list so you don't forget anything.</p> <p><em>Anything I've missed? Please tell us in comments your best, low-effort, high-impact home care projects!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-cheap-and-easy-fixes-that-make-your-house-look-amazing" class="sharethis-link" title="25 Cheap and Easy Fixes That Make Your House Look Amazing" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home Real Estate and Housing home maintenance Home repair home sale Fri, 18 Apr 2014 08:48:21 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1135888 at http://www.wisebread.com