cleaning http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4019/all en-US 6 Smart Ways to Help Your Appliances Retain Their Value http://www.wisebread.com/6-smart-ways-to-help-your-appliances-retain-their-value <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-smart-ways-to-help-your-appliances-retain-their-value" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_food_fridge_76458411.jpg" alt="Woman finding smart ways to help appliances retain their value" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Unlike any car you buy, your home appliances can retain their value so long as you give them a little TLC. Maximize the life span and potential resale return of your washer, dryer, fridge, and more with some basic maintenance.</p> <h2>1. Give the Inside the What-For</h2> <p>Begin with a thorough clean of the inside of your fridge, microwave, stovetop, and dishwasher. Be sure to test all the buttons on your keypad control panels &mdash; even the ones you don't use every day. Check for deterioration in the rubber seals around your dishwasher &mdash; a minor crack can quickly lead to a flooded kitchen. (Or, YA know, when your husband puts laundry detergent in it because you ran out of dishwasher liquid.)</p> <p>Mike Clear, VP of operations at American Home Shield, a home warranty provider, offers a few more pro tips.</p> <p>&quot;Avoid using sopping wet sponges or rags to clean your appliances' keypad control panels,&quot; he says. &quot;You may be slowly damaging the control panels on your appliances during your routine cleaning which could eventually short-circuit the panel.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Work Your Way to the Basement</h2> <p>As temperatures heat up and A/C takes center stage, show your furnace and heating system some TLC in the offseason to be sure you're not left in the cold next winter.</p> <p>&quot;Keep the area around your air returns clean and unobstructed,&quot; Clear says. &quot;Extra dirt on your filter means the unit will have to work too hard and run longer, making it less cost-efficient and reducing its life span. Check to see if the cover near your furnace's filter is in place. If not, you could be risking fire and other safety hazards. Regular maintenance by a professional should be scheduled well before cold weather sets back in.&quot;</p> <p>That last point is important: Don't forgo regular maintenance. Even if you inspect your furnace and everything looks fine, leaving untreated problems to only get worse will only inconvenience you further when you need it most.</p> <h2>3. Mind the Hard-Water Buildup</h2> <p>Those who live in hard water areas (70% of Americans do) struggle with hard mineral scale buildup, which can shorten the life of appliances.</p> <p>Products like <a href="http://amzn.to/28PUBnx">Ionizer Armor</a> condition the water and reduce the amount of minerals that make their way into the appliances using magnet technology. Just snap it onto the water line and forget it &mdash;lest you want to live in a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s62KlfeLO_M">Zest commercial</a>.</p> <h2>4. Consider Your Appliances' Cosmetic Aesthetic</h2> <p>It's not just the moving parts that contribute to the resale value of your appliances &mdash; they have to look good inside and out.</p> <p>&quot;Periodically cleaning out the entire contents of a freezer/refrigerator and doing a deep clean keeps the appliance looking new and removes any remnant odors or stains,&quot; says Wes Taft, co-founder of moveCHECK, an app to make moves less stressful. &quot;The longer those sit, the harder they are to get rid of. An appliance with a stain or dull finish will linger in a potential buyer's mind as a concern when making an offer on the home or the appliance.&quot;</p> <p>So, yeah, it's time to ditch all those science experiments hiding behind the expired milk.</p> <h2>5. Keep the A/C Too Legit to Quit</h2> <p>During the warmer months, it's crucial that your air filter and A/C system are working properly. You know this homebody requires climate control!</p> <p>&quot;Check your air filters regularly,&quot; advises Clear. &quot;Cleaning or replacing your A/C system's air filter can help prevent damage, inefficiencies, and keeps your air clean. Schedule annual maintenance on your A/C now, so you can be sure your unit is in top shape before being put to the test with this summer's high temps.&quot;</p> <p>Try not to wait for the first heat wave or minor A/C hiccup. You'll be kicking yourself (and sweating) later if you put off A/C maintenance until after it breaks down.</p> <h2>6. Know When to Call a Professional</h2> <p>We're all about DIY here at Wise Bread, but if you're in over your head when trying to fix a broken appliance, don't be ashamed to call in a knowledgeable professional. Eating crow is much better than being electrocuted to death.</p> <p>&quot;Be mindful of what may seem like a quick DIY fix,&quot; says Clear. &quot;This can be especially disastrous when it comes to fixing large and expensive appliances and home systems. Leave it to the pros.&quot;</p> <p><em>What do you do to help your appliances retain their value? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-smart-ways-to-help-your-appliances-retain-their-value">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-long-these-6-appliances-should-last">This Is How Long These 6 Appliances Should Last</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-baking-soda-took-my-bathroom-from-yuck-to-yes">How Baking Soda Took My Bathroom from “Yuck” to Yes!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-our-61-best-home-improvement-hacks-ever">Flashback Friday: Our 61 Best Home Improvement Hacks Ever</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-money-and-declutter-by-selling-these-5-unlikely-treasures">Make Money and Declutter by Selling These 5 Unlikely Treasures</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/turn-off-your-air-conditioning">Turn Off Your Air Conditioning</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living air conditioning appliances cleaning furnace hard water home maintenance resale value Wed, 29 Jun 2016 10:00:06 +0000 Mikey Rox 1740459 at http://www.wisebread.com Make Money and Declutter by Selling These 5 Unlikely Treasures http://www.wisebread.com/make-money-and-declutter-by-selling-these-5-unlikely-treasures <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/make-money-and-declutter-by-selling-these-5-unlikely-treasures" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/three_coffee_mugs_75581393.jpg" alt="Making money and decluttering by selling unlikely treasures" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You may want to take one last peek through those boxes sitting in the garage before donating the contents to your local Goodwill. Turns out there are some surprising items in your home that others are willing to take off your hands for significant cash. Your junk being another person's treasure has never been truer. Here are the items worth knowing about.</p> <h2>1. Coffee Mugs</h2> <p>A couple years ago, I accidentally stumbled upon the underground world of coffee mug collectors. I was doing my annual eBay roundup of all the items in my home that I didn't use, and on a whim, I threw in two coffee mugs that I had no need for. I snapped some pictures, wrote a brief description, put up the eBay listings, and lo and behold, a bidding war erupted on the last day of both auctions. I ended up selling a House of Blues mug for $23 and a Starbucks mug for close to $28.</p> <p>I was so blown away with the success of my coffee mug auctions that I decided to do some research. I discovered that there are many eBay sellers who fervently search local thrift stores for coffee mugs that they can turn a quick profit on. Coffee mugs that sell really well include anything Disney, vintage restaurant mugs, Starbucks, vintage Pyrex, and mugs with famous people, places, and TV shows on them. Always search eBay &quot;completed listings&quot; to determine the value of coffee mugs. The <a href="http://anywhere.ebay.com/">eBay app</a> allows you to do this while you're in the thrift store to determine if you may have just found a hidden gem.</p> <h2>2. Name Brand Clothing</h2> <p>If you have a closet full of clothing you don't wear anymore, considering selling it rather than donating it. If it's a brand-name label, you have a much better chance of cashing in as buyers are more familiar with sizing and styles. Brands that sell well include American Eagle, Gap, Banana Republic, Land's End, Calvin Klein, Express, and Abercrombie &amp; Fitch. Consider sites like&nbsp;<a href="https://poshmark.com/">Poshmark</a>, which allow you to create a listing within 60 seconds and quickly have your unwanted clothing in front of a million prospective shoppers. Many Poshmark users have actually created a full-time income for themselves by selling thrift store finds.</p> <p>Perhaps the best way to sell clothing online is to utilize the power of eBay. Not only can you take advantage of their huge reach, but they make the transaction easy via their interface. Be sure to take good pictures of the item and write an honest description. I like to package the item and weigh it before creating the listing so I can charge accurate shipping fees.</p> <p>Also, because eBay users are searching for the exact item and size you're selling, be careful when creating auction lots with multiple clothing items. For example, if you're selling men's jeans and you have two pair size 34x34, and one pair in size 33x34, you'll have a tough time selling all three together in a lot, even if they all basically fit the same. You'll have much better success selling the 34x34 pairs together and the 33x34 separately.</p> <p>Also, don't forget about more traditional ways of selling clothing via a yard sale or at a community or church sale. While you might not get top dollar like you can online, you'll be able to unload a lot of inventory quickly.</p> <h2>3. Baby Gear and Clothing</h2> <p>Don't put your unused stroller, crib, or playpen in the attic. The same can be said for gently used baby clothing and gear. Because baby items are typically outgrown before they wear out, they make for terrific items to sell both online and at local baby shops. Brands that typically sell well include Baby Bjorn, Gymboree, Baby Gap, Hanna Andersson, Graco, Peg Perego, and Children's Place. For best results, sell clothing online via eBay and bundle items together to make complete outfits. They tend to sell really well this way, especially when you take good pictures and write a detailed description.</p> <p>When selling bulkier baby gear, you have two solid options. You can sell it on <a href="http://craigslist.org">Craigslist</a> if you're comfortable with the process, or you can opt for local retail shops like <a href="http://www.childrensorchard.com/">Children's Orchard</a>, <a href="http://www.onceuponachild.com/locations#us">Once Upon a Child</a>, or <a href="http://kidtokid.com/stores/">Kid to Kid</a>. Name brands in good to excellent condition have a premium and you can typically get a great deal if you're willing to accept store credit as payment. You can then use the proceeds to buy the sizes that your kids are currently wearing.</p> <h2>4. Past Amazon Purchases</h2> <p>Are you aware of a service from Amazon called <a href="http://amzn.to/1TYF2Ar">Amazon Trade-In</a>, which buys back your past purchases that you have no need for anymore? Once you're signed-in, Amazon will go back through your order history and tell you what they'll buy back, and for how much. I recently tested out the service and was happily surprised when I discovered they would buy back a rarely played Xbox game that we gave our son for Christmas. We bought it for $25 over six months ago, and they'll buy it back for $14. This buyback amount was 25% better that what our local GameStop would pay for it. The best part is Amazon uses prepaid shipping labels which allow you to ship the item back free of charge.</p> <p>Also, it's worth noting that items don't have to be purchased from Amazon to be eligible for a buyback. From the Amazon Trade-In homepage, click on &quot;Find More Items&quot; and simply enter the item you want to sell, and they'll give you a price quote. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-make-amazon-pay-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Ways to Make Amazon Pay YOU!</a>)</p> <h2>5. Old Smartphones</h2> <p>Depending on the age, condition, and demand for your old smartphone, you can make a pretty penny by selling it online. Rather than throwing your old smartphone in the desk drawer, sites like <a href="https://swappa.com/">Swappa</a> and <a href="https://www.gazelle.com/">Gazelle</a> are great options to consider. Both will happily take your phone, pay the shipping, and give you cold hard cash for your device. You can quickly get a free quote from them by answering a few questions about your smartphone. Do you have an old iPhone 5 (16GB) collecting dust? Swappa will buy it for $112. While devices can show normal signs of wear and tear, they must be fully functional and ready to activate to get top dollar. They'll take broken devices too, just don't expect a big payday.</p> <p>If you're the type of smartphone user who always needs the newest and greatest, consider selling your old smartphone to one of these sites before the new model is released. By doing so, you'll get top dollar as prices for last season's model plummet once the new model is released. Once you get word of the impending new model, start strategizing your sale and have a cheap smartphone at the ready as a backup during the transition period.</p> <p><em>What stuff laying around your home have you been able to sell for some extra money?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kyle-james">Kyle James</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-money-and-declutter-by-selling-these-5-unlikely-treasures">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-rid-of-all-your-crap">How to Get Rid of All Your Crap</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-objects-to-pawn">The 7 Best Objects to Pawn</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/hoopde-for-sale-starting-price-500-winning-bid-226521">Hoopde for sale. Starting price - $500. Winning bid - $226,521.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-awesome-art-of-getting-great-deals-online">The Awesome Art of Getting Great Deals Online</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-sell-your-crap-a-book-review-and-tips">How to Sell Your Crap: A Book Review and Tips</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Amazon baby gear cleaning clothes collectibles craigslist donating eBay goodwill selling Wed, 22 Jun 2016 10:00:10 +0000 Kyle James 1733678 at http://www.wisebread.com Ease Into Minimalism With Some Simple Steps http://www.wisebread.com/ease-into-minimalism-with-some-simple-steps <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ease-into-minimalism-with-some-simple-steps" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/family_minimalist_room_000074541869.jpg" alt="Family easing into minimalism with simple steps" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>On a theoretical level, the minimalist life sounds like a fantasy. No excessive &quot;stuff&quot; that requires maintenance, cleaning, upgrades, or insurance. A beautiful home, a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-a-capsule-wardrobe-actually-save-you-money">capsule wardrobe</a>, and effortless travel thanks to your exquisitely packed (and tastefully matching) cabin-only baggage.</p> <p>Then a quick scan of home brings you abruptly back to Earth. If the &quot;crap basket&quot; was designed for anyone, it was my family. You know the one &mdash; it lives on the stairs, or a dresser, accumulating detritus until someone blinks and trashes the lot. But in my case, simply getting to the trashcan requires you to pick your way through discarded Lego bricks, turn a blind eye to the dumped homework pages curling in the sun, and ignore (or marvel at) the variety of clothing that has been shed on the porch.</p> <p>Minimalists we are not. But I can dream of better days, and start to practice a little now. And even if you're not in such a crisis &mdash; wouldn't it be great if you could slim down your stuff without missing it?</p> <h2>Change Your Mindset</h2> <p>Without stating the obvious, it's a lot easier to be minimalist if you have less stuff to start off with. If you live in a house with kids who love brightly colored plastic, and a techie-geek early adopter, then this can be a challenge.</p> <p>But changing your thinking about acquiring stuff is a start. After all, how much of the stuff that came into your home in the last six months still gives you pleasure, and how much is a burden?</p> <p>Often we buy for the buzz, but that wears off, and can even lead to negative feelings as the ongoing cost of maintaining or upgrading &quot;toys&quot; becomes apparent. Even with purchases, which do not require ongoing attention, their attraction fades as we become used to them. Whereas we tend to tell the story of a vacation or experience over and over, the story of &quot;how I bought my Jimmy Choos&quot; doesn't work so well, and soon even the slightly scuffed and last-season shoes lose their appeal. Amit Kumar, co-author of a <a href="http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2013/01/feel-happier-talk-about-experiences-not-things">study on happiness</a>, eloquently said:</p> <p>&quot;A once-cherished Walkman is now obsolete, but, as Humphrey Bogart once told Ingrid Bergman, &quot;We'll always have Paris.&quot;&quot;</p> <p>Switch your mindset about buying new things &mdash; and if you're up to it, go one step further. What if you cashed in your clutter and made the money work for you instead? Take a quick spin on eBay, and reinvest the cash you earn in a shared experience instead of an upgraded gadget.</p> <h2>Slow Down Your Purchase Process</h2> <p>If you find yourself moving at lightning speed when the urge to splurge hits, then before you know it, you're weighed down with new purchases. Help yourself by slowing down the decision-making process.</p> <p>Some things you really need. Most things you simply want &mdash; but many of us don't even register the difference. We are trained to feel like a new purchase should be ours because we deserve it. Advertising makes consumption normal, whether or not we actually need to buy more stuff, and at a subconscious level we come to expect certain things. Maybe it's buying a new winter coat every season, even though the last one barely saw the light of day. Perhaps you find yourself drawn by an inexorable force to the new iPhone, despite there being little to pick it apart from the one in your pocket. Once you're on it, it's hard to backpedal &mdash; after all, you work hard for this, should you not allow yourself a little treat?</p> <p>Force time to think about the things you buy. One useful thought exercise can be to ask whether you would like the immediate purchase as much if you compare it to the potential lifetime return the cash could bring you. So, if you assume a modest 5% interest rate if you invested the money in your pocket, you could have the $1,000 bag today, or you could have the $1,000 pay you $50 every year of your life (and still have the capital there if you ever did decide the handbag was a life or death necessity). And if all else fails, encase your cards in ice and you're forced to wait until they defrost before you go on a spree.</p> <h2>Try Before You Buy</h2> <p>When it comes to avoiding the temptation to accumulate more stuff, there is some very old school, tried and tested advice. Shop online (with a plan), and don't hang out in malls, and you are well on the way.</p> <p>But the rise of the sharing economy is good news for wannabe minimalists. There are some gadgets, or hardware items, that we need once in awhile that can seem essential to every household &mdash; but now you can also consider whether you can borrow or rent things before leaping into a purchase.</p> <p>If you're considering a purchase, renting can be a great way to &quot;try before you buy,&quot; and you can even make the most of your own seldom used stuff by renting it out for a profit rather than having it sitting about ruining your minimalist ambitions.</p> <h2>Don't Organize</h2> <p>This might seem like counterintuitive advice if you want to live a sleek and simple life, but the worst thing you can do is organize. Step away from the additional shelving, and dump stuff instead!</p> <p>The very thought of trashing those keepsakes might have put you into a tailspin. That's normal &mdash; we all have a little bit of the hoarder inside.</p> <p>To make this work, you need a friend to supervise so you don't cop out &mdash; and a steely resolve. But removing the need to build yet more flat pack storage units is its own reward. If sentimental keepsakes are your downfall, digitize what you can, and go about writing your personal story in a way that honors memories without bogging you down. Through the process, you will identify what is actually meaningful to you, and what you can let go.</p> <p>If you're nervous about throwing away vital paperwork, like tax documents, check out <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/to-shred-or-not-to-shred-how-long-to-keep-your-tax-records">our guide on what to toss</a> &mdash; and get shredding. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-minimalist-can-you-really-be?ref=seealso">How Minimalist Can You Really Be?</a>)</p> <p>I have a long way to go before I can take any minimalist honors. For now, I will have to satisfy myself with having a clear path through the shoes, Wellington boots, skateboards, and soccer balls in the hallway. But I can dream, and with these small tweaks, I might just get there one day.</p> <p><em>What about you? Is your home organized minimalist chic, or crap magnet? Tell us in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/claire-millard">Claire Millard</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ease-into-minimalism-with-some-simple-steps">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-minimalist-can-you-really-be">How Minimalist Can You Really Be?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-a-deep-declutter-can-improve-your-life">12 Ways a Deep Declutter Can Improve Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-some-cash-with-these-6-clever-cleaning-hacks">Save Some Cash With These 6 Clever Cleaning Hacks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-your-home-cleaner-than-a-pro-can-and-save-big">Get Your Home Cleaner Than a Pro Can — And Save Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-baking-soda-took-my-bathroom-from-yuck-to-yes">How Baking Soda Took My Bathroom from “Yuck” to Yes!</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Home cleaning controlling temptation decluttering living simply minimalism organizing Fri, 27 May 2016 09:30:21 +0000 Claire Millard 1717322 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Smart Ways to Use Garage Space http://www.wisebread.com/6-smart-ways-to-use-garage-space <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-smart-ways-to-use-garage-space" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_happy_tool_shed_000075068057.jpg" alt="Man finding smart ways to use garage space" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My husband and I spent our spring break this year clearing out and cleaning our garage. It had been filled with remnants from our move (nearly two years ago), random junk, and even&hellip; garbage. Now? The space is nearly empty, all 600 glorious square feet of it. And I'm wondering what we can do with all this added square footage, since we don't necessarily need to shelter our vehicles from the elements year 'round. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-in-your-garage-that-have-serious-re-sale-value?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Things in Your Garage That Have Serious Re-Sale Value</a>)</p> <h2>Mudroom</h2> <p>Don't have much closet space indoors? Try&nbsp;<a href="http://sypsie.com/2015/11/11/one-room-challenge-week-6-garage-reveal/">making a mudroom</a> out of a portion of your garage to keep your stuff organized and tidy. All you really need to finish this project are some hooks for coats and bags, a bench for sitting, and maybe storage cubes for shoes and outdoor accessories. The rest is up to your budget and creativity.</p> <p>We turned a wall in our garage into a mudroom of sorts and decided to highlight the area by painting it an accent color. We then laid a rag rug down to cozy up the floor and protect feet from getting cold while getting shoes out of bins. I'd like to paint the door leading out there a funky color to make it even more fun. This project took us maybe an hour and cost just $50 for all supplies (we used what we had on hand).</p> <h2>Play Space</h2> <p>Or maybe you need more room for your kids and their toys to sprawl out. We've considered dedicating an area of the garage to play, especially since our backyard gets so much sun on hot summer afternoons. This&nbsp;<a href="http://s3-media4.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/5MR-QnUFmhdPVb-_-H9EHA/o.jpg">garage-to-playroom conversion</a> is pretty basic, but it gets the job done.</p> <p>Try installing a few toddler swings to a solid support beam. Place a picnic table or two around for a drawing surface or just eating lunch. Since you're in the garage, you can even experiment with messier toys, like a DIY sandbox or rice sensory bin that won't collect as many bugs as it would outdoors. To soften the concrete flooring, head to your local carpet outlet and purchase a large remnant piece.</p> <h2>Office or Studio</h2> <p>Need a place to work from home? Try converting your garage to a studio or office. This unique&nbsp;<a href="http://www.designsponge.com/2015/04/before-after-a-garage-becomes-a-beautiful-studio-space.html">before and after</a> will get you dreaming up the many possibilities. For example, there's so much paint can do to freshen up a dingy area and make it come alive and inspire. Simple white is a solid choice if you want a neutral backdrop and maximum light.</p> <p>At the same time, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Concrete floors can be as practical as they are easy to maintain. And exposed beams add architectural interest, so don't bother trying to cover them. Once you get the bones looking good, the rest will depend on the kind of work you do. Artists may like keeping the garage door open for extra light during work hours. A sturdy table may work well as a desk and meeting space. It's up to you!</p> <h2>Home Gym</h2> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-kStZFjlQi8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Some friends of mine recently took over one half of their garage to make an&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kStZFjlQi8">at-home gym</a> because they were frustrated with monthly membership rates. Their hard work paid off &mdash; big time. You can get fancy and do flooring and walls, etc. Or you can stick with what matters most: Clear out clutter and replace with weights, mats, and motivation posters.</p> <p>What you stock your gym with depends on the activities you do. To get a good variety of equipment (and mirrors, etc.) on the cheap, consider checking Facebook yard sale groups, Craigslist, and even making a call out to friends. We actually scored a cheap treadmill from our neighbors that had been collecting dust in their basement for a few years. All we had to do was ask.</p> <h2>Hybrid Room</h2> <p>Maybe you have multiple needs. In that case, try planning out your garage to meet them all. Carla at Small + Friendly divided her garage into&nbsp;<a href="http://www.smallfriendly.com/small-friendly/2015/10/epic-garage-transformation.html">four different zones</a>. There's a crafting/sewing station, a play wall, a laundry nook, and then some smart storage/mudroom area. Everyone in the house has someplace to spread out.</p> <p>I like this family's use of vertical storage to maximize how much stuff they could contain in each zone. It's full, but very well organized. Additionally, if your budget doesn't allow for flooring, make use of interlocking foam tiles anywhere kids might be playing on the ground for added comfort. Carla's husband even uses the tiles as a makeshift yoga mat for morning workouts.</p> <h2>Bedroom and Beyond</h2> <p>My jaw dropped when I came across this incredible&nbsp;<a href="http://www.today.com/home/see-dingy-garage-transform-coolest-bedroom-ever-t20836">garage-to-bedroom transformation</a>. For just $900, Brooke Frederick was able to totally clean out the space, give it a nice coat of bright paint, exterminate pests, and then furnish to her specifications. And if you don't have a hefty budget, that's all you really need to do to make a room out of your garage.</p> <p>Of course, this kind of frugal flip won't work for everyone. Moving your sleeping or living quarters to the garage is probably more appealing if your garage has plenty of windows. Also, Frederick notes there's no insulation in her new bedroom, so this idea works best if you live in a more moderate climate.</p> <h2>Things to Think About</h2> <ul> <li>If you do intend to use your space year-round, you'll want to insulate and drywall to keep the heat and cold out. Same goes for your garage door.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Adding a few windows can also help provide the area with natural light, but aren't a requirement if you budget doesn't allow.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You may need to enlist an experienced electrician to wire some outlets to your new room to get the power flowing if you plan to use computers, televisions, and other electronics.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>That all being said, major improvements may require a permit. Check with your local municipality for the rules that apply in your area.</li> </ul> <p><em>Do you use your garage for something other than parking cars? Tell us about it!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-smart-ways-to-use-garage-space">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-really-easy-ways-to-unclog-drains">10 Really Easy Ways to Unclog Drains</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-effective-grease-and-oil-stain-removal-tips">14 Effective Grease and Oil Stain Removal Tips</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-unexpected-uses-for-laundry-detergent">10 Unexpected Uses for Laundry Detergent</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-cleaning-rules-you-should-be-breaking">6 Cleaning Rules You Should Be Breaking</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cleaning-the-oil-stove">Cleaning the Oil Stove</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Home cleaning clutter extra space garage home gym home office remodeling reusing Wed, 04 May 2016 09:30:23 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1699778 at http://www.wisebread.com Get Your Home Cleaner Than a Pro Can — And Save Big http://www.wisebread.com/get-your-home-cleaner-than-a-pro-can-and-save-big <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/get-your-home-cleaner-than-a-pro-can-and-save-big" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_cleaning_house_000067964943.jpg" alt="Woman getting home cleaner than a pro and saving big" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Want to cut $200 or more from your budget this month? Consider parting ways your cleaning service. Sure, it's not the most glamorous task to take on yourself &mdash; but keeping your house sparkling clean doesn't have to be intimidating or even take too much time. In 2014, Angie's List polled its members and discovered that most were spending between&nbsp;<a href="https://www.angieslist.com/articles/how-much-does-it-cost-hire-house-cleaner.htm">$100 and $150</a> on bi-weekly house cleanings. Put that money back in your pocket with these tips.</p> <h2>Collect Your Tools</h2> <p>One of the most annoying things about cleaning your house yourself is having to round up all your equipment and cleaners. Make it easy by creating a bucket you can carry around you home and then store in one convenient place.</p> <p>What should go in the bucket?&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cleanmama.net/">Clean Mama</a> suggests items from the following categories:</p> <ul> <li>Dusting tools (feather duster, hand duster, ceiling fan duster, extender pole)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Window wipers (squeegee, etc.)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>General cleaning cloths (cotton, microfiber, and paper towels)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Cleaners (all-purpose, stainless, disinfectant, wipes, and scrub)</li> </ul> <h2>Simplify Your Routine</h2> <p>Better yet, save some cash you've been spending on cleaning supplies and make your own using natural ingredients. I clean my home using mostly&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-clean-everything-with-just-3-all-natural-cleaners">vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice</a> with a few drops of essential oil mixed in. If you make your own natural cleaning supplies, you'll need just one or two bottles to do the tasks of what used to take many more.</p> <p>And a good bar rag will outlast many paper towels as you make your way from room to room. When you're done, just toss it in the wash to reuse on your next deep clean. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-greener-cheaper-alternatives-to-paper-cleaning-products?ref=seealso">9 Greener, Cheaper Alternatives to Paper Cleaning Products</a>)</p> <h2>Make a List</h2> <p>To help yourself stay on task, it's helpful to create a checklist. What goes on your checklist will depend on your unique needs, so take some time to think about the areas that get the most dirt in your home. You can even distribute a list to family members and divvy up the tasks to make the cleaning go faster. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-things-in-your-house-youre-forgetting-to-clean?ref=seealso">9 Things in Your House You're Forgetting to Clean</a>)</p> <p>Of course you'll want to give your kitchen and bathrooms a good scrub. Your living areas and bedrooms will need to be tidied and get special attention too (don't forget to wash your pillows!). Otherwise, thinking of the rest might feel daunting. <a href="http://images.marthastewart.com/images/content/web/pdfs/2007Q2/la_0407_spring_cleaning.pdf">Martha Stewart</a> shares that the following areas should definitely get some attention:</p> <ul> <li>Walls and ceilings: Wipe them down to get rid of dust and grime, especially in kitchens.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Grout lines: Those pesky lines between your tiles can look amazing again with a little scrubbing and some sealer.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Carpets and rugs: Vacuum all of them. If you have the extra time, try periodically shampooing them. (Note: Rugs that don't have waterproof backings will need the help of a professional.)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Shelves and furniture: Dust every nook and cranny. A crevice tool is helpful here. And don't forget to dust the books while you're at it.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Cushions, etc.: Take upholstered furnishings outdoors to beat off dust. Vacuum the rest.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Wooden furniture: First wipe your wooden surfaces clean and then let dry. Apply wax to condition and buff once it dries.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Curtains, etc.: When's the last time you washed your drapes? If they're machine washable, stick them in your next load. Then dust and clean your blinds, interior shutters, or shades while you wait.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Window screens: Especially in the spring, it's good to give your screens some love. Take them out and wash with dish soap, rinse, and re-hang.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Floors: For vinyl or linoleum, you'll want to use a wax or other cleaning agent specifically made for those materials. Otherwise, the surface may lose shine over time.</li> </ul> <p>Bonus: Cleaning your home from top to bottom is also a great time to ensure fire safety. Check and replace batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.</p> <h2>Break It Up</h2> <p>Yes, it's more gratifying to have your entire house cleaned in one fell swoop. If you don't have that sort of time to devote, try breaking up the bigger parts over the course of a few days to a week. After doing an initial big clean, my family decided on a rough schedule to tackle tasks on the regular before things ever get too gunky.</p> <p>We clean the kitchen, tidy the living spaces, and clear out junk mail on the daily. We vacuum the floors and do the laundry and recycling every other day. Then once a week, the focus moves to the bathrooms, bedrooms, and trash collection. Things we do less often? Washing windows, deep cleaning floors, dusting everything, and wiping down furniture. Those tasks happen maybe once or twice a month. It's a system that works for us &mdash; and our house looks and feels fresh.</p> <p>How you break up everything will depend on what gets dirty the fastest and what's most important to you. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-cheap-and-easy-fixes-that-make-your-house-look-amazing?ref=seealso">25 Cheap and Easy Fixes That Make Your House Look Amazing</a>)</p> <h2>Move Things Around</h2> <p>Since a lot of these tips are general, I thought I'd share my biggest secret for getting your house as clean as the pros do. You need to move your stuff around and clean above, underneath, behind, etc. Dust and grime loves to accumulate in crevices and corners, so don't let it hide out for months or years at a time. The next time you set out to clean your spaces, pull that rug up and vacuum underneath or shift that love seat and find what's lurking in the darkness.</p> <p>Moving things around means moving your body, too. Stand on a chair or get on the floor to find those places you're missing, like the tops of your ceiling fan or your baseboards.</p> <p><em>Do you use a cleaning service? If you do it yourself, what's your biggest tip for getting your home sparkling clean on a budget?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-your-home-cleaner-than-a-pro-can-and-save-big">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ease-into-minimalism-with-some-simple-steps">Ease Into Minimalism With Some Simple Steps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-some-cash-with-these-6-clever-cleaning-hacks">Save Some Cash With These 6 Clever Cleaning Hacks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-common-weekend-money-traps-and-how-to-avoid-them">8 Common Weekend Money Traps (And How to Avoid Them)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-take-one-vacation-day-and-save-thousands">How to Take One Vacation Day and Save Thousands</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-personal-finance-skills-everyone-should-master">12 Personal Finance Skills Everyone Should Master</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Home budgeting cleaning house maid service tidying up Tue, 03 May 2016 09:00:10 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1698663 at http://www.wisebread.com How I Sold My House in 48 Hours http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-sold-my-house-in-48-hours <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-i-sold-my-house-in-48-hours" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000020578615.jpg" alt="Learning how to sell your house in 48 hours" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Selling your home can be a huge undertaking, and one that I was putting off for quite a while. Did I really want to sell my home? What if I didn't get my full asking price? I know I am not the only homeowner to worry about these issues right before they list their home for sale.</p> <p>You can imagine my surprise when my home had six viewings and three offers in less than 48 hours, even one offer at $2,000 over asking price without any cash back. It was easy to accept this offer, allowing me to sell my home in just two days.</p> <p>I didn't become a home-selling expert over the weekend, but there were five clear strategies I used that helped me sell my house faster.</p> <h2>Timing Is Important</h2> <p>My neighbor had a nicer and bigger floor plan than ours, but it took him several months to sell his house. Why did his house take so long to sell, even though we lived in the same desirable location and his house was equally as nice? He listed his house for sale right before Thanksgiving.</p> <p>Even if there are individuals who want to buy a home in the winter, their schedules (and agent's schedules) are most likely full due to all of the holiday busyness. At the end of the year, finances are tight and stress levels are already high.</p> <p>I listed my house in the middle of February, so still technically winter, but in my area, it already felt like spring. Also, many people had already filed their taxes and knew what their estimated refund was going to be. If you can list your home in spring, during or after of tax season, I think you will have a higher success rate of views and offers than any other season. Realtor.com agrees: &quot;Spring marks the beginning of the busiest home-selling and <a href="http://www.realtor.com/advice/is-spring-best-time-to-sell-a-house/">home-buying season</a> in most areas...with home buying peaking in June.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-reasons-your-home-isnt-selling?ref=seealso">7 Reasons Your Home Isn't Selling</a>)</p> <h2>Cut the Clutter</h2> <p>Since I have two young girls, I knew that I was going to have a hard time keeping the house ultra clean for showings. Since I was moving anyway, I decided to use the decluttering as preliminary packing. I ended up packing 10 boxes of items that I knew I would not need in the next month. As a result, I was able to keep the house tidy &mdash; even my biggest problem area, the office &mdash; and I had a jump start on packing when my house did sell.</p> <p>Potential homebuyers do not want to feel claustrophobic when they enter your home. They want to be able to envision the space as their own. So cut out all of the clutter in your office, on your kitchen and bathroom counters, and on the floor. Take down all of your personal photos and remove a piece of furniture from each room to make the space appear larger if you need to.</p> <h2>Neutralize the Decor</h2> <p>You might love the Italian decor in your kitchen, but a lot of buyers do not. When in doubt, go neutral. A brightly colored or odd-colored wall or set of cabinets is a quick turnoff to potential buyers. When I was looking for my new home, I can't tell you how many houses I quickly said no to because of a bright green wall or a full-sized mural. Considering that these houses sat on the market for several months, I know I am not the only buyer who felt that way.</p> <p>Yes, a wall color or cabinet color is a simple fix for potential buyers, but it would be even more beneficial for <em>you </em>to just fix the color. If one of your rooms is heavily themed, consider packing those items away before you list. It is not that your beach-themed bathroom is horrible, but it is hard to imagine a different decor style once a certain spot is heavily decorated in a certain theme.</p> <h2>Don't Forget to Use Your Nose</h2> <p>Have you ever walked into someone's home right after they made a smelly meal or maybe even got a good whiff of your own house when the garbage can was overflowing? The wrong smell can be overwhelming and leave a negative imprint on potential buyers. On the other hand, good smells can leave home shoppers with a positive outlook.</p> <p>I picked up three of the same vanilla candle and burned one in the kitchen and one in each bathroom. The smell was nice but not overwhelming. I suggest sticking with a warm vanilla scent or to bake a dessert before a showing. I know this might sound weird, but one house we looked at baked banana bread before we came. When we left the house, I think my husband, myself, and our agent thought even more highly of the house just because it smelled so good.</p> <p>You want appeal to as many senses as possible when showing your house. People might not credit the home's smell when they consider its positives, but the house will stick with them positively on a subconscious level because it appealed to their nose and eyes.</p> <h2>Light It Up</h2> <p>Finally, before taking photos or showing your home, open up all of the blinds and turn on all of the lights. Again, this appeals to potential buyers' senses. Looking at a dark house makes the space feel gloomier, dirtier, and just leaves a negative impression.</p> <p>Selling your house can be a lengthy process, but hopefully these five tricks will boost your showings and offers. Remember, exposure is extremely important too, so be sure your agent is listing your home on all of the popular realtor websites, their social media accounts, and even posting a virtual tour on YouTube. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-important-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-housing-market-in-2016?ref=seealso">6 Important Things You Need to Know About the Housing Market in 2016</a>)</p> <p><em>Have you had success with selling your home fast? What do you think was the driving factor for the fast sale?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-sold-my-house-in-48-hours">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-tourist-towns-that-are-actually-great-to-live-in">6 &quot;Tourist Towns&quot; That Are Actually Great to Live In</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-you-need-to-know-when-renting-to-own-a-home">5 Things You Need to Know When Renting-to-Own a Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-things-you-need-to-know-about-a-home-appraisal">9 Things You Need to Know About a Home Appraisal</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-sell-your-home-to-pay-down-debt">Should You Sell Your Home to Pay Down Debt?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-tips-for-getting-your-security-deposit-back">20 Tips for Getting Your Security Deposit Back</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing cleaning decorating tips housing market quick sale selling your house showing your house Mon, 11 Apr 2016 09:30:22 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1685085 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Smart Ways to Get Your Apartment Deposit Back http://www.wisebread.com/7-smart-ways-to-get-your-apartment-deposit-back <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-smart-ways-to-get-your-apartment-deposit-back" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_paperwork_000063885707.jpg" alt="Couple finding ways to get their apartment deposit back" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Forking over a security deposit, sometimes equivalent to one month's rent, is a necessary evil &mdash; especially when there's no guarantee you'll get it back. It's a considerable amount of money when you factor in that most apartment lease terms are relatively short (anywhere from three to 12 months), and you'll have to shell out yet another deposit for your next place.</p> <p>Also keep in mind that landlords can charge you for repairs that exceed your deposit amount. Therefore, it's important for you to know what the standard repairs are and learn your landlord's expectations for the condition of the apartment when you return the keys. And, get it in writing!</p> <p>Here are six ways to ensure you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-cheap-ways-to-make-your-apartment-awesome-without-losing-your-deposit" target="_blank">get your apartment deposit back</a>.</p> <h2>1. Talk to Your Landlord</h2> <p>The first thing you can do is have a conversation with your landlord. Do this early on &mdash; at the signing of your lease, if possible. Minor repairs should be expected, but clear up any other expectations. In most cases, things like carpeting is a standard replacement, but smaller landlords might want to abate the expense by taking carpet cleaning fees or replacement costs out of your deposit, where it will cost a lot more than if you were to do it yourself.</p> <h2>2. Clean the Unit</h2> <p>It's not only polite but common courtesy to leave the apartment in the same condition you found it. Be sure to clean and wipe down appliances, including the stove and refrigerator, and take out your trash.</p> <h2>3. Retouch</h2> <p>Don't leave structural damage, like large holes, destroyed tiles, and exposed fixtures. Small holes that are left behind after hanging curtains and pictures are okay and you shouldn't worry about those. They key is to get the apartment in as close condition as possible to how it was given to you.</p> <h2>4. Resolve Any Maintenance Issues</h2> <p>If something is broken in the apartment, have it fixed prior to your departure. For instance, although that leak under the sink that you failed to report wasn't your fault, it caused the cabinets to rot and now they need replacing. The landlord could charge you for this if it's not discovered until after you moved out.</p> <h2>5. Remove Any Add-Ons</h2> <p>If you've put up partitions or walls, even with the landlord's consent, have them removed even if you think it's an upgrade to the apartment (unless otherwise expressed). Your lease contract more than likely states that these types of structural changes will be removed at the tenant's expense.</p> <h2>6. Bring Back the Original Paint Color</h2> <p>If you're going to paint, be sure to change it back to the original paint color when you leave. If you do not, the landlord has the right to charge you for this. It will cost more than if you were to do it yourself or contract a painter. Also, ask what the original color is. It's very important that you don't have the walls painted <em>off-white</em> just because off-white paint is on sale, when in fact, the original color was <em>white</em>. Making that mistake once cost me $400 from my deposit.</p> <h2>7. Take Photos</h2> <p>Upon your departure, take photos to document the condition of the apartment. This is evidence against any future claims that there was significant damage to justify the withholding of a security deposit. And basically, when you leave, the apartment should be in move-in ready condition with the exception of needing a thorough cleaning.</p> <p><em>Have you ever lost part &mdash; or all &mdash; of your rental deposit?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/qiana-chavaia">Qiana Chavaia</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-smart-ways-to-get-your-apartment-deposit-back">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-landlords-cant-ask">10 Questions Landlords Can&#039;t Ask</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-moves-to-make-if-you-need-to-break-your-lease">8 Moves to Make If You Need to Break Your Lease</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-rent-an-apartment-with-bad-credit">7 Ways to Rent An Apartment With Bad Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-11-best-websites-for-renting-your-extra-space">The 11 Best Websites for Renting Your Extra Space</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-decide-how-much-rent-you-can-really-afford">The Simple Way to Decide How Much Rent You Can Really Afford</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing apartments cleaning landlords painting renting security deposits Thu, 31 Mar 2016 09:00:19 +0000 Qiana Chavaia 1672230 at http://www.wisebread.com Flashback Friday: The 82 Best Spring Cleaning Hacks We’ve Ever Shared http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-the-82-best-spring-cleaning-hacks-we-ve-ever-shared <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/flashback-friday-the-82-best-spring-cleaning-hacks-we-ve-ever-shared" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_spring_cleaning_000082590811.jpg" alt="Couple learning best spring cleaning hacks we&#039;ve ever shared" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Let's face it, chores as an adult are kind of awful &mdash; especially since you don't an extra $10 at the end of it, only extreme exhaustion and dirty hands. Since spring cleaning season has arrived, people everywhere are scanning their homes for stuff they can get rid of, and surfaces that could use a good scrubbin'. And tackling any major task can go from miserable to mildly pleasant as long as you have a plan &mdash; and lots of brilliant hacks to cut down on time and effort, of course!</p> <p>Here are the 82 best spring cleaning hacks we've ever shared.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/iStock_000022840623_Large.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-prepare-for-spring-cleaning">7 Ways to Prepare for Spring Cleaning</a> &mdash; The early bird gets the worm, right? It's true. Before you start spring cleaning, get prepared by making lists, playlists, and assembling your dust-destroying tool kit.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tasks-you-shouldnt-skip-during-spring-cleaning">8 Tasks You Shouldn't Skip During Spring Cleaning</a> &mdash; Once you start cleaning, you might be tempted to cut corners in order to get this madness over with ASAP. Just make sure you don't skip these areas of your home, as they often get neglected and are in dire need of some TLC.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-to-have-a-clean-place-without-cleaning">11 Ways to Have a Clean Place Without Cleaning</a> &mdash; Wait... cleaning without actually cleaning? Yes, please! These little life adjustments can make your house cleaner, which reduces the time you need to spend cleaning. You're welcome.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/3clean-465958469.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-clean-everything-with-just-3-all-natural-cleaners">How to Clean Everything With Just 3 All-Natural Cleaners</a> &mdash; So many cleaning products have harsh, toxic ingredients that might keep your belongings shiny, but are also destroying your skin and the environment. Go au naturel with your cleaners and you're basically saving the world.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-dont-need-to-clean">9 Things You Don't Need to Clean</a> &mdash; If nothing else, this list of things you don't need to clean will cheer you up when you've only completed less than half of the tidy tasks on your to-do list.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-cleaning-rules-you-should-be-breaking">6 Cleaning Rules You Should Be Breaking</a> &mdash; Believe it or not, some germs are good germs. Here are the cleaning myths that we've proudly busted. Be a rebel this year, and break these common cleaning rules.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/iStock_000011792733Small.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-tips-for-spring-cleaning-on-a-budget">6 Tips for Spring Cleaning on a Budget</a> &mdash; Buying all of those new sponges and anti-bacterial wipes can add up quickly. So here's how to keep your spring cleaning spending under control.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-things-in-your-house-youre-forgetting-to-clean">9 Things in Your House You're Forgetting to Clean</a> &mdash; Monsters who live under the bed like things clean, too! Don't skip these commonly forgotten areas when isolating dirty parts of the house.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-essential-tricks-for-quick-and-easy-cleaning">25 Essential Tricks for Quick and Easy Cleaning</a> &mdash; We're all extremely busy humans, so taking time out of our schedules to deep-clean the house seems bonkers and completely unreasonable. These tricks will help you get all of your cleaning done with time to spare!</p> <p><em>Do you have any stellar spring cleaning hacks? Share with us in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chrissa-hardy">Chrissa Hardy</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-the-82-best-spring-cleaning-hacks-we-ve-ever-shared">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-51-easy-ways-to-live-a-happier-life">Flashback Friday: 51 Easy Ways to Live a Happier Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-45-life-lessons-youd-give-to-your-younger-self">Flashback Friday: 45 Life Lessons You&#039;d Give to Your Younger Self</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-things-to-throw-out-today">25 Things to Throw Out Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-declutter-and-keep-your-stuff-too">This Is How You Declutter and Keep Your Stuff, Too</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-super-cool-ways-to-add-hidden-storage-to-your-home">10 Super-Cool Ways to Add Hidden Storage to Your Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Home Organization cleaning declutter fbf flashback friday life hacks organization spring cleaning Fri, 18 Mar 2016 11:00:08 +0000 Chrissa Hardy 1675255 at http://www.wisebread.com Can a Capsule Wardrobe Actually Save You Money? http://www.wisebread.com/can-a-capsule-wardrobe-actually-save-you-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-a-capsule-wardrobe-actually-save-you-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_clothes_closet_000024507503.jpg" alt="Woman learning if a capsule wardrobe can save her money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Capsule wardrobes have become something of a trend these days. Along with a general push to radically declutter <a href="http://amzn.to/1PIqmQH">Marie Kondo-style</a>, simplifying one's wardrobe seems to be an attractive lifestyle change. But can a capsule wardrobe save you money? Always one to try something new if it saves me a nickel or two, I set out to find out.</p> <p>A capsule wardrobe appealed to me for a variety of reasons:</p> <ul> <li>I didn't wear about three-quarters of my wardrobe. Some of the items I'd been keeping around included dresses that no longer fit, poor quality pieces that had become misshapen or worn out in the wash, and clothes that didn't match anything else.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>I was tired of spending time putting together the right outfit. I was longing for a wardrobe in which everything matched and I could easily throw on an outfit in the morning without thinking.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>I wanted to both save money, and get better value for my money. My current system of impulse buys meant I was spending money without a clear idea of where it was going. I wanted to set a clothing budget to track my spending, and a capsule wardrobe was the best way I could think of to do that easily.</li> </ul> <h2>1. The First Step: Purging and Evaluating</h2> <p>The first thing I did was purge. I took everything out of my closet and evaluated each piece of clothing. I kept only what still fit, what was in style (or a classic style) and in good condition, and that I really liked or loved. I let go of pieces that didn't fit, were out-of-date, and worn-out clothing that I hadn't worn in years.</p> <p>In the end, I ended up bagging two-thirds of my wardrobe to donate to my local Salvation Army. Getting rid of so many clothes might seem like a waste, but I hadn't worn those clothes in years, and this way, someone else could potentially get some good use out of them.</p> <p>Evaluating my wardrobe in this way also helped me to realize what articles of clothing <em>did</em> work for me, which would help me immensely in building my capsule wardrobe.</p> <h2>2. Building the Capsule Wardrobe</h2> <p>The concept of a capsule wardrobe entails limiting your wardrobe to a certain number of pieces per season (out-of-season clothes can be stored for another time, and this doesn't include workout clothes or special occasion clothes). After purging my closet, I already had 23 pieces that I wore frequently. This included pants, skirts, tops, sweaters, and cardigans. (I didn't include shoes or accessories.) This wardrobe was already working quite well for me, so I decided to allow myself to purchase only four more small items for the current spring season. These purchases were carefully considered and were calculated to fill holes in my current wardrobe. They were also planned to match with most of the other clothes in my capsule. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-essential-pieces-for-your-capsule-wardrobe">8 Essential Pieces for Your Capsule Wardrobe</a>)</p> <h2>3. Crunching the Hard Numbers</h2> <p>To see if having a capsule wardrobe could really make a difference in my finances, I started by adding up everything I had spent on clothes (not including shoes or accessories) in the three months before I started my capsule wardrobe. I'm naturally a frugal shopper, and I generally shop sales and clearance racks. Not including tax, I spent about $230.</p> <p>I was actually surprised that I spent so little! I guess I'm more frugal than I thought when it comes to clothes (that, or having a baby strapped to me tends to put a damper on shopping). Of that $230 of clothing, $60 worth of those clothes were wasted, because I either hated them after a week, or they were so low quality I was only able to wear them a few times before they looked worn out.</p> <p>Next, I set myself a budget for the next season. I already have some warmer weather clothing I can pull out for the spring capsule, so I only needed to buy a few more pieces. I gave myself a generous budget (for me, anyway) for the four pieces I wanted to buy, in order to ensure I got quality pieces that would last. My budget for the next three months was $95, and I gave myself an extra $30 buffer in case I needed to replace something. My next three months' clothing budget is $125. If I stick to it (aye, there's the rub), I'll be cutting my clothing expenditures by nearly half.</p> <p>Bottom line: If I can resist impulse buying for the next three months and truly stick to my carefully considered clothing choices, I'll have a better quality wardrobe in which almost everything can mix and match, for less money than I was spending on cheap impulsive purchases. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-high-cost-of-cheap-clothes">The High Cost of Cheap Clothes</a>)</p> <h2>4. Non-Monetary Gains</h2> <p>In addition to saving money, I've already noticed the following benefits of having a capsule wardrobe:</p> <ul> <li>Less time getting dressed in the morning.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Everything matches, so there's no need to think too hard about an outfit.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Less guilt about all the unworn clothing (or trying to fit into too-small clothing).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>No more cramming clothes into overstuffed dresser drawers.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>My wardrobe reflects &quot;me&quot; better, because it's made up of pieces I love.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Buying less gives me the freedom to splurge without guilt on fewer, higher-quality pieces.</li> </ul> <p>At this time in my life, I believe a capsule wardrobe will work really well. If you have a tendency to shop impulsively, a capsule wardrobe can help tremendously to simplify your purchases and to reduce spending. A month in, I don't feel limited by the capsule wardrobe &mdash; I'm not a huge fashionista anyway, so I don't feel the need to try on every trend, and being able to carefully consider what pieces I'm going to buy helps me to buy clothing that works better for me.</p> <p><em>Have you tried the capsule wardrobe trend? Did it help you to save money?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/camilla-cheung">Camilla Cheung</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-a-capsule-wardrobe-actually-save-you-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-keep-your-clothes-looking-new">10 Smart Ways to Keep Your Clothes Looking New</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-money-at-the-post-office">How to Save Money at the Post Office</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/easy-ways-to-save-on-7-everyday-buys">Easy Ways to Save on 7 Everyday Buys</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/16-ways-to-make-your-clothes-last-longer-without-spending-big">16 Ways to Make Your Clothes Last Longer Without Spending Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-buy-discounted-designer-clothing-online">Where to Buy Discounted Designer Clothing Online</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping budgeting capsule wardrobe cleaning clothes konmari marie kondo minimalism outfits Mon, 07 Mar 2016 10:30:21 +0000 Camilla Cheung 1666379 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Organize Your Paperwork in Just 10 Minutes a Week http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-organize-your-paperwork-in-just-10-minutes-a-week <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-organize-your-paperwork-in-just-10-minutes-a-week" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_writing_paperwork_000077386871.jpg" alt="Woman organizing her financial paperwork in 10 minutes a week" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I am an organization nerd. Not only does the thought of going to an office supply store make me giddy, but I have been known to spend a torrid Saturday night wantonly using my label maker on everything in the house.</p> <p>Despite these tidy living bona fides, for years my organizational downfall was financial paperwork.</p> <p>If you find yourself in a similar state of paperwork chaos, not to worry. You can tame the beast without having to sacrifice an entire week to the project. In fact, organizing your paperwork is a job you can handle in 10 minutes a week. Here&rsquo;s how:</p> <h2>1. Know What You Need</h2> <p>The first <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-stress-is-killing-your-finances">problem with financial paperwork</a> is the fact that it can be difficult to remember how much of it you need to keep. The specter of an IRS audit is enough to turn anyone into a paperwork hoarder, but keeping everything isn&rsquo;t helpful if you don&rsquo;t know how to find what you need.</p> <p>Before you get started, you need to know what to keep and what to toss.</p> <h3>The One-Year Rule</h3> <p>Most of your day-to-day financial paperwork, such as paycheck stubs, paid bills, bank records, and quarterly investment statements only need to hang around for a year at most. Once you&rsquo;ve received your W2 and annual statement, you can shred paycheck stubs and quarterly investment statements after making sure everything is accurate. Unless your bills and bank records are needed for tax purposes, they can also be shredded after one year.</p> <h3>The Three-Year Rule</h3> <p>You have probably heard that you need to keep all tax-related paperwork for seven years, but that is actually a longer period of time than what the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&amp;-Self-Employed/How-long-should-I-keep-records">IRS expects</a> of the average taxpayer. While you are stuck holding onto your annual tax returns indefinitely, the IRS doesn&rsquo;t expect you keep supporting documentation (like mutual fund reports or charitable gift receipts) for more than three years. What&rsquo;s special about the three-year mark? That&rsquo;s the number of years Uncle Sam has to initiate an audit for regular tax returns.</p> <p>Once you&rsquo;ve passed three years, you can shred the records, with a couple of exceptions: First, keep documentation showing the initial purchase price of any stocks or mutual funds you own, because you will need to determine your gains or losses when it comes time to sell. And second, hold onto house records for as long as you live there (or own the place).</p> <h3>The Seven-Year Rule</h3> <p>The IRS can initiate an audit within seven years for any taxpayers who filed a claim for a loss from worthless securities or a bad debt deduction. Taxpayers who don&rsquo;t include up to 25% of their reportable gross income (think servers or other employees who rely on cash tips) should hold onto their records for six years in case of an audit.</p> <h2>2. Start Sorting With Three Folders</h2> <p>Once you understand what can be kept and what can be chucked, it&rsquo;s time to start organizing. The key to 10-minute organizing is the <a href="http://thepeacefulmom.com/2015/03/10/organize-paperwork-fast-a-giveaway/">Quick Sort Method</a>, created by Kimberlee Stokes of The Peaceful Mom. You will need three empty manila folders, labeled NOW, 10 MINUTES A WEEK, and FILE. In addition, you want to warm up your shredder for all the items that don&rsquo;t go in any of these folders.</p> <p>Once you have the system in place, you can leave your three folders in a standing rack right by the trashcan or shredder and sort items the moment they come in the mail.</p> <h3>The NOW Folder</h3> <p>This is where you will put any items that need immediate attention, such as bills to pay, insurance paperwork, license renewals, and the like. When you finish sorting all of your paperwork during this first sort-and-purge stint, you will go through the NOW folder and take care of everything. This will likely take you longer than 10 minutes the first time, but it will set you up to make organizing your paperwork and paying your bills much simpler down the road.</p> <p>As you complete each item in the NOW folder, you can move that paper either to the FILE folder for future filing, or to the shredder. Once you have your system in place, you can put items directly in the NOW folder as you receive them, and take a minute or two each day to empty the folder.</p> <h3>The 10 MINUTES A WEEK Folder</h3> <p>This folder will house all of the items that require some sort of action on your part but don&rsquo;t need immediate attention. For instance, you might put subscription renewals, paperwork that requires input from other family members, items that have no specific deadline, and the like.</p> <p>Once you have taken care of the NOW items, the items in this folder will be the work that you do each week to stay on top of your paperwork and maintain your organized files.</p> <h3>The FILE Folder</h3> <p>Items that you need to file for the future will go into this folder. When you start using this system, the FILE folder will get pretty full, but eventually, you&rsquo;ll find that there is nothing left in the first two folders You will spend your 10 minutes each week filing from this folder.</p> <p>As for the filing, generally you will only need two systems: one for tax documents and one for general financial documents. These two systems do not need to be complex to be useful. Here is how to organize them both:</p> <h2>3. Organizing Tax Documents With Three Folders</h2> <p>Most taxpayers can easily organize their tax documents with three folders. You&rsquo;ll need one each for income, expenses and deductions, and investments.</p> <h3>Folder for Income</h3> <p>If you work a single traditional job and receive electronic paystubs, you may not even need an income folder. But this is essential for those with irregular income, freelancers, contractors, people holding multiple jobs, and anyone who receives income from investments. Having this folder in place will help you keep track of every single penny you earn.</p> <p>Not only should you deposit all paycheck stubs into this folder, but Dayana Yochim of The Motley Fool also recommends <a href="http://www.fool.com/personal-finance/taxes/get-organized-for-the-irs.aspx">recording your earned income</a> on a cover sheet in the folder, as well. This will give you method for checking the accuracy of official documents as they arrive.</p> <h3>Folder for Expenses and Deductions</h3> <p>If you&rsquo;re like most people, you probably throw your receipts, statements, and paid bills into a shoebox to sort through come tax time. It&rsquo;s much easier on your sanity to create an Expenses and Deductions folder with separate sections so you can be more organized throughout the year.</p> <p>For instance, this folder might include sections for business, charitable donations, childcare, and medical expenses. Separating out all of your receipts for expenses and deductions will save you from those horrible moments when you cannot recall why you held onto a particular receipt.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s also a good idea to file a list of common tax deductions in this folder so you can easily remember what you may claim what documents you need to save.</p> <h3>Folder for Investments</h3> <p>Your Investments folder is where you will store the following paperwork:</p> <ul> <li>Records proving your tax-deductible contributions to retirement accounts.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Notices of dividends, and capital gains and losses.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Distribution records you receive when you take money from investment accounts.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Annual statements.</li> </ul> <p>Generally, the IRS will not need all of this paperwork for next year&rsquo;s taxes, but you need this information on hand for future tax returns. For instance, if you sell an investment, you will need to be able to provide paperwork about that investment, and having it filed by year for future reference will make your life much easier.</p> <h3>Organize Tax Information by Year</h3> <p>Once you have filed your taxes each year, it&rsquo;s a good idea to then create a file folder labeled with the year, where you place everything from your three tax folders. Each year, you can also go through your four-year-old (or eight-year-old) tax file folder and purge the documents that you no longer need. Remember, you should keep the actual return for each year &mdash; it&rsquo;s only the supporting documents that can be shredded after the end of either three or seven years.</p> <h2>4. Organize General Financial Documents Alphabetically</h2> <p>For all of your general financial documents, the easiest filing system is the one recommended by David Allen in <a href="http://amzn.to/1QFBfpg">Getting Things Done</a> &mdash; file your paperwork alphabetically in hanging folders. It is much easier to find the specific paperwork you need if you know to look for a cable bill under C for Comcast, rather than trying to root through a huge folder labeled Utilities.</p> <h2>5. Maintaining Your Paperwork Organization</h2> <p>Organization is a process, not an event. Creating these folders will not actually help you end the paperwork pile-up if you can&rsquo;t maintain it. Here are two ways to make sure you keep up with your 10 minutes per week:</p> <h3>1. Put Documents Where You Naturally Store Them</h3> <p>We all have a tendency to let our paperwork pile up in a particular spot in our home, such as the kitchen counter or the coffee table. One of the problems with attempting to get organized is that we often try to rehome our paperwork in a &ldquo;better&rdquo; place than where things naturally gather, and so we spend an afternoon creating a paperwork station in the spare bedroom.</p> <p>But you&rsquo;re not going to schlep the mail upstairs every day after work, so don&rsquo;t expect a filing system to be sustainable up there. Create a system in the place where you naturally gravitate, because it is easier to maintain a habit that is based on the way you already use your space.</p> <h3>2. Schedule 10 Minutes of Organization Per Week</h3> <p>Organizing financial paperwork is an important but not urgent task, so you can easily fall into the &ldquo;I&rsquo;ll just do it later&rdquo; trap. The trick to keeping up with your organization is to schedule it the same way you would a meeting or conference call.</p> <p>Unless you schedule a specific time and protect it from other commitments, you&rsquo;re likely to lose momentum. Figure out when your 10 minutes will be spent, write it on your calendar, and keep the appointment with yourself. You&rsquo;ll be glad you did.</p> <p><em>How do you keep your important documents organized?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-organize-your-paperwork-in-just-10-minutes-a-week">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/to-shred-or-not-to-shred-how-long-to-keep-your-tax-records">To Shred or Not to Shred: How Long to Keep Your Tax Records</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-simple-ways-to-save-money-by-tracking-your-receipts">6 Simple Ways to Save Money by Tracking Your Receipts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/organizing-your-financial-paperwork">Organizing Your Financial Paperwork</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-things-to-throw-out-today">25 Things to Throw Out Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-things-in-your-house-youre-forgetting-to-clean">9 Things in Your House You&#039;re Forgetting to Clean</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Organization audit bills cleaning documents filing paperwork taxes Wed, 30 Dec 2015 14:00:03 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1626821 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Nasty Bathroom Items You Should Throw Out Now http://www.wisebread.com/7-nasty-bathroom-items-you-should-throw-out-now <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-nasty-bathroom-items-you-should-throw-out-now" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bath_rubber_ducky_000018204289.jpg" alt="Finding out which nasty bathroom items you should throw out" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your bathroom is a sacred place. It's also a very dirty place, with lots of tools and implements that are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-baking-soda-took-my-bathroom-from-yuck-to-yes">covered with grime</a>, but also really easy and cheap to replace. Look around and find these seven nasty bathroom items you should throw out now.</p> <h2>1. Toothbrush Holder (And Your Toothbrush!)</h2> <p>Odds are you haven't changed your toothbrush in more than the recommended three to four months, which is bad enough. But odds are you're even worse at cleaning or replacing the toothbrush holder! The kind that acts as a cup with holes on top are the grossest off all &mdash; they trap moldy water inside, letting bacteria festoon below.</p> <h2>2. Loofa Sponge</h2> <p>We use our loofahs for too long. You're cleaning your own dirty body with them, so of course they get filthy from soap scum, dead skin cells, and bacteria. Tip: have a newish sponge you want to keep a little longer? Lightly dampen the sponge and nuke it in the microwave for three to four minutes on high. It'll feel a little crispy to the touch for a bit, but it will have killed much of the burgeoning bacteria.</p> <h2>3. Bath Toys</h2> <p>Yes, those rubber duckies and squeezable action figures eventually will attract lots of black mold. And the little hole on the bottom of the toy? That means there is even more mold and mildew on the inside. Be sure to give your kids' bath toys a long disinfecting soak every week, and when they get those little black specs, just toss them and replace with new ones.</p> <h2>4. Shower Curtain Liner</h2> <p>It's easy to ignore the nasty, slimy film and the black mold forming around the bottom of your shower curtain liner. It's pretty simple: to go your local Bed Bath and Beyond or Target and grab a replacement! Add it to your rotating shopping list. Your life will be better (and cleaner) with a new one.</p> <h2>5. Disposable Razor</h2> <p>We all try to stretch the last disposable razor as long as we can. At this point, the razer is full of flecks of dead hair, mounds of dead skin cells, and bacteria. Even if you clean it up, why keep it? It's too dull to give you a close shave, so throw it away.</p> <h2>6. Toilet Brush</h2> <p>It's an item we'd all rather not think about, right? It's a gross implement used to swipe away at an even grosser fixture. Well, chances are you're not soaking your brush every month to kill extra bacteria and possible odors. And, since toilet brushes are fairly cheap, shoot for throwing yours away every year to avoid a case of the shudders next time you need to use it.</p> <h2>7. Bath Mat</h2> <p>This workhorse is full of filthy secrets. If yours is machine washable, make sure you're washing it every month. If it's not, toss it and get one that is. You'll thank yourself next time you drop a contact lens on the floor.</p> <p><em>What old grimey thing will you toss out next?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-meadows">Amanda Meadows</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-nasty-bathroom-items-you-should-throw-out-now">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-baking-soda-took-my-bathroom-from-yuck-to-yes">How Baking Soda Took My Bathroom from “Yuck” to Yes!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-the-courtesy-flush-dead">Is the courtesy flush dead?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-bathroom-hacks-you-cant-live-without">12 Bathroom Hacks You Can&#039;t Live Without!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-really-easy-ways-to-unclog-drains">10 Really Easy Ways to Unclog Drains</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-smart-ways-to-help-your-appliances-retain-their-value">6 Smart Ways to Help Your Appliances Retain Their Value</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living bathroom cleaning loofa shower toilet toothbrush Fri, 27 Nov 2015 12:01:43 +0000 Amanda Meadows 1616741 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Easy Ways to Keep Your Family Organized http://www.wisebread.com/8-easy-ways-to-keep-your-family-organized <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-easy-ways-to-keep-your-family-organized" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_marking_calendar_000065803191.jpg" alt="Woman finding easy ways to keep family organized" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Feeling frazzled? Me too! September means back to school and back to life without sunny summer vacations. Whether your kids are getting into their new routines or you could simply use more organization, we've found some great solutions for even the most chaotic homes. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-apps-every-dad-needs?ref=seealso">6 Apps Every Dad Needs</a>)</p> <h2>1. Command Center</h2> <p>Putting your calendar, bills, and all other important things in a central location is a good start. Check out this <a href="http://howtonestforless.com/2014/09/04/kitchen-command-center-2/">kitchen command center</a>. You'll want to get one of those white board calendars and several colors of markers. Assign each member of your family a color and fill in all the month's activities. The rest of it is up to you. Folders and binders for bills, lists, and other sheets are also helpful.</p> <h2>2. Paperwork Storage</h2> <p>And let's talk about all those papers for a minute. Kids get all sorts of permission slips, report cards, photos, and other sheets for school, dance, sports, and so on. Try this <a href="http://iheartorganizing.blogspot.com/2010/11/school-paperwork-storage.html">paperwork storage</a> idea that will ensure you won't lose a thing. Get one of those file boxes, hanging files, and some labels. You can organize by school year, month, or however makes the most sense to you.</p> <h2>3. Cubbies</h2> <p>My daughter's preschool has a whole wall of cubbies for coats, backpacks, boots, and all the stuff her classmates schlep to school. Bring this idea home by making cubbies to install in your entryway. If you search around, you'll find woodworking plans to build cubbies. You can even buy them at many stores. My suggestion? Repurpose a large thrifted shelf! This <a href="http://www.mycreativedays.com/lockers-made-from-old-bookshelf/">bookshelf turned locker</a> will hopefully spark your creativity.</p> <h2>4. Marvelous Mudroom</h2> <p>Don't have space in the house for cubbies? Carve out a spot in your garage for this awesome <a href="http://designdininganddiapers.com/2015/01/diy-garage-mudroom/">DIY mudroom</a>. Yours doesn't have to look just like the photo, but you'll want somewhere to hang your coats, another place for mittens and other accessories, a shoe rack of sorts, and maybe a large bucket for umbrellas and bigger items. Add a few framed photos for extra flair.</p> <h2>5. After-School Checklist</h2> <p>Give your child some responsibility with this <a href="http://www.prettyprovidence.com/school-checklist-kids-free-printable/">after-school checklist</a>. You can customize the sheet to list any tasks, chores, and other responsibilities unique to your family. Then frame it in a standard picture frame. Your kid can use a dry-erase marker to keep track of his or her progress. This idea would work great for adults too!</p> <h2>6. Junk Buckets</h2> <p>Finding odds and ends everywhere? I love these <a href="http://www.remarkablehome.net/2013/03/crap-buckets-for-all-crap-your-kids.html">junk buckets</a> for organization. They give you a beautiful way to collect all the, well, crap you find around your house. Get some plastic or metal buckets or bins, label them, and place them at the bottom of your stairway. Then take them upstairs each night before bed.</p> <h2>7. Cleaning Closet</h2> <p>Part of staying organized means keeping things tidy. Beef up your <a href="http://www.the36thavenue.com/cleaning-tips-diy-cleaning-closet/">cleaning closet</a> by getting some of those hanging organizers for your supplies like paper towels, window spray, antibacterial wipes, and more. You'll be able to fit so much more in even tiny closets this way. And if you have your kids help with chores, it'll be much easier for them to put everything back in place when they're done.</p> <h2>8. Simplified Life</h2> <p>If you've tried a lot of these ideas and still feel like life is crazy, try simplifying. Kate at <a href="http://www.housemixblog.com/2014/07/03/how-i-simplified-and-organized-my-house-room-by-room/">House Mix</a> went room by room in her entire house to find ways to cut back on clutter, save money, and maximize space. A lot of her efforts were trained on leaning out excess stuff that created mess and, therefore, sucked away time from more important stuff.</p> <p>Sound intimidating? Start small. I've found that even cutting down on the number of clothes in my closet has brought me greater peace on the daily. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-essential-pieces-for-your-capsule-wardrobe?ref=seealso">8 Essential Pieces for Your Capsule Wardrobe</a>)</p> <p><em>How do you keep your family organized and on task? Let us know in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-easy-ways-to-keep-your-family-organized">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-genius-ways-to-store-toys">10 Genius Ways to Store Toys</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-kids-eat-free-restaurants">Best Kids Eat Free Restaurants</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-bad-money-habits-youre-teaching-your-kids">4 Bad Money Habits You&#039;re Teaching Your Kids</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-things-to-throw-out-today">25 Things to Throw Out Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-things-in-your-house-youre-forgetting-to-clean">9 Things in Your House You&#039;re Forgetting to Clean</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Family Home Organization children cleaning kids removing clutter simple living Fri, 18 Sep 2015 15:00:23 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1561360 at http://www.wisebread.com The 7 Best Pieces of Homemaking Advice From Martha Stewart http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-pieces-of-homemaking-advice-from-martha-stewart <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-7-best-pieces-of-homemaking-advice-from-martha-stewart" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000018281549.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Martha Stewart's name is synonymous with clever tips and tricks. Even as time has advanced, her tips remain the gold standard of anything homemaking. Here's a collection of some of her most useful advice on anything from flavoring foods to cleaning your grungy down comforters. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-old-fashioned-skills-that-save-you-money?ref=seealso">7 Old Fashioned Skills That Save You Money</a>)</p> <h2>1. Hard Boiling Eggs</h2> <p>Eggs are inexpensive, portable protein bites that are nutritious and delicious to boot. I've used Martha's instructions on <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/354061/perfect-hard-boiled-eggs">how to hard boil eggs</a> many times with perfect results. Place a dozen eggs in a large saucepan and cover with an inch of cold water. Bring water to boil over medium heat, then cover and remove from the burner. After 12 minutes, transfer to a colander and soak in cool water to stop the cooking process. Eggs (in shells) stay good for three days, sometimes longer.</p> <h2>2. Preserving Herbs</h2> <p>Martha helps us save money by offering some tips on how to <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/247551/preserving-herbs">preserve summer herbs</a> for fall and winter enjoyment. There are several methods you can try, including wrapping herbs loosely in tulle fabric inside the fridge. In a couple of weeks, the herbs will dry out and can be packaged in a tin. Blanching and freezing is another great way to preserve and will also keep colors vibrant. Or you can blend a pint of olive oil with a bunch of blanched herbs before freezing into an ice tray for flavorful oil cubes. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/preserving-in-season-foods-for-off-season-feasts?ref=seealso">Preserving In-Season Foods for Off-Season Feasts</a>)</p> <h2>3. Creating a Cleaning Bucket</h2> <p>Save time on your chores by creating a <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/340652/spring-organizing-tips/@center/276989/organizing#234877">cleaning bucket</a> with all your supplies in one place. Martha suggests adding a glass cleaner, all-purpose spray, an assortment of scrub brushes, rubber gloves, and a few towels to your collection. My tip? Make your own <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-clean-everything-with-just-3-all-natural-cleaners">DIY cleaning supplies</a> and pick up the rest at your local dollar store.</p> <h2>4. Folding Fitted Sheets</h2> <p>Are your fitted sheets crumpled in the linen closet like mine? Martha shows us the right way to <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-a2FR1iwqg">fold these fitted sheets</a> to eliminate wrinkles. To start, hold the top two corners in each hand. Flip the right side over onto the left and shake the sheet to get everything lined up correctly on the bottom. Feel your way down the elastic to the next corner and flip it over the others. When you get the final corner squared away, you should be able to fold everything into a neat, flat package.</p> <h2>5. Cleaning Stainless Steel</h2> <p>I have a good collection of stainless steel pots and pans I love to use for the bulk of my cooking. Unfortunately, they're marked up from heat and hard water. Martha explains that the best way to get your stainless gleaming again is to rub them with a cloth <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/266191/cleaning-stainless-steel">soaked in white vinegar</a>. Wash after each use to prevent a film from forming. And never soak, as it will result in a pitted surface.</p> <h2>6. Laundering Down</h2> <p>With the cold weather season ahead of us, I'm getting ready to pull out our down comforters again. The thing is, I've never washed them &mdash; and they're getting funky. Martha shares that I don't need to take these things to a professional. Instead, I can <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/270108/laundering-down">launder my down</a> by using a mild, low-sudsing detergent in a front-load washer (I'll need a few quarters for the laundromat). To dry, just go through the spin cycle and then tumble on low.</p> <h2>7. Storing Fresh Greens</h2> <p>Fresh kale is one of my go-to snacks, but I feel like it goes bad the minute I stick it in the fridge. Martha offers a simple <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/973761/how-wash-and-store-greens#973761">wash and dry method</a> that will keep greens kicking longer. Just dunk them in cold water to loosen dirt and debris, dry in a salad spinner, wrap loosely in paper towels, and store in a plastic bag. It's as easy as that! (Related: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-fruits-and-veggies-that-stay-fresh-a-month-or-longer?ref=seealso">10 Fruits and Veggies that Stay Fresh a Month or Longer</a>)</p> <p><em>What's your favorite bit of homemaking advice from Martha Stewart?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-pieces-of-homemaking-advice-from-martha-stewart">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-spectacular-uses-for-that-lone-can-of-fruit">8 Spectacular Uses for that Lone Can of Fruit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-use-your-food-that-dont-involve-eating">4 Ways to Use Your Food That Don&#039;t Involve Eating</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-your-own-soda-tidy-a-room-in-three-minutes-cure-a-hangover-and-become-a-movie-extra-phew">How To Make Your Own Soda, Tidy A Room In Three Minutes, Cure A Hangover And Become A Movie Extra. Phew!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-alternative-ways-to-cook-outside">8 Alternative Ways to Cook Outside</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-diy-kitchen-skills-that-will-save-you-money">7 DIY Kitchen Skills That Will Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Food and Drink advice cleaning Cooking homemaking laundry martha stewart Mon, 24 Aug 2015 15:00:23 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1532873 at http://www.wisebread.com 13 Wonderful Household Uses for Essential Oils http://www.wisebread.com/13-wonderful-household-uses-for-essential-oils <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/13-wonderful-household-uses-for-essential-oils" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/essential_oils_000021273674.jpg" alt="Learning how to use essential oils at home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Essential oil use is on the rise in home care products on the market. If you look around the web, you&rsquo;ll also find recipes for putting oils in things like <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-unexpected-uses-for-laundry-detergent">laundry detergents</a>, candles, cleaners, and much more. What&rsquo;s not to like? They smell great. And many are antibacterial, which helps keep stuff clean and fresh. So we&rsquo;ve collected a solid list of ways even beginners can start using essential oils at home.</p> <p>(Note: You&rsquo;ll find a number of ideas for using oils online, and most are safe and effective. However, it&rsquo;s smart to follow some basic <a href="https://www.naha.org/explore-aromatherapy/safety">safety guidelines</a>. For example, use caution when putting oils on your skin &mdash; you should always dilute them with a carrier oil to avoid irritation. Keep solutions containing essential oils out of reach from kids and pets. And never ingest oils unless you&rsquo;re trained on their use.)</p> <h2>1. Cleaning Wipes</h2> <p>Stop tossing paper in the trash and try making these <a href="http://livesimply.me/2014/08/12/diy-cleaning-wipes-reusable-disinfecting/">disinfecting cleaning wipes</a>. Find an airtight glass jar and roll some clean washcloths inside. Then pour in a solution of water, white vinegar, and various essential oils.</p> <h2>2. All-Purpose Spray</h2> <p>Along these same lines, you can make a powerful <a href="http://homespunwithlove.blogspot.com/2013/08/homemade-bacteria-buster-countertop.html">all-purpose spray</a> to keep bacteria at bay on all your hard surfaces. Just fill a bottle with distilled water and put in 20 drops of essential oils. I&rsquo;d add a bit of vinegar for good measure. Try anything from cinnamon oil to eucalyptus oil to grapefruit oil.</p> <h2>3. Toilet Cleaner</h2> <p>Get your throne sparkling without all the harsh ingredients with this <a href="http://mymerrymessylife.com/2013/05/homemade-toilet-bowl-cleaner-recipe-non-toxic.html">DIY toilet bowl cleaner</a>. You&rsquo;ll combine castile soap with water, baking soda, and eight to 10 drops of essential oils. Use an old squirt bottle for the easiest dispensing.</p> <h2>4. Hand Sanitizer</h2> <p>Keep bacteria at bay with this handy <a href="http://livesimply.me/2014/09/17/diy-hand-sanitizer/">hand sanitizer</a>. You&rsquo;ll whip up a mix of aloe vera gel, witch hazel, vitamin E, and tea tree and lavender oils. Store in a travel-sized squeeze tube for washing on the go.</p> <h2>5. Car Freshener</h2> <p>Is your car smelling funky? Try this simple <a href="http://www.frugallyblonde.com/2015/04/diy-car-vent-air-freshener/">air freshener</a> idea that takes only minutes to make. You&rsquo;ll hot glue a piece of ribbon around a bobby pin. Then slip a tiny cotton ball soaked in essential oils in the loop you made. Clip onto your vent. Reuse again and again.</p> <h2>6. Fabric Spray</h2> <p>Or make your home smell sweet with this <a href="http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/07/homemade-fabric-refresher-thats-a-breeze-to-make.html">DIY Febreze spray</a>. The second recipe gives you a great fabric spray for use on clothing, curtains, couches, and whatever else needs freshening. Just combine alcohol, vinegar, and essential oils in a spray bottle and spritz.</p> <h2>7. Soy Candles</h2> <p>These scented <a href="http://www.swoonworthy.co.uk/2014/10/how-to-make-soy-wax-candles-with.html">soy candles</a> are a wonderful gift idea. First, find some creative containers (old mugs, cups, and bowls work beautifully). Then place a wick in the center before melting soy wax in a double boiler. Add essential oils, pour into your vessel, and let sit until cool. Consider using citronella oil if you&rsquo;re trying to ward off mosquitoes.</p> <h2>8. Hand Soap</h2> <p>We started making our own <a href="http://livesimply.me/2014/09/02/diy-homemade-liquid-hand-soap/">hand soap</a> years ago and haven&rsquo;t gone back to buying it at the store. Stir together some castile soap, water, vitamin E, almond oil, and tea tree and lavender essential oils. Then pour into a small glass container or &mdash; better yet &mdash; use a recycled hand soap dispenser.</p> <h2>9. Laundry Detergent</h2> <p>There are a lot of <a href="http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/DIY-Essential-Oil-Laundry-Detergent-35259295">laundry soap</a> recipes you can find online. Take your solution up a notch by adding essential oils. Simply add 30 drops of lavender to the soap, borax, washing soda, and water. The oil gives your clothing a pleasing scent and naturally fights offensive odors. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-diy-laundry-detergent-recipes?ref=seealso">5 DIY Laundry Detergent Recipes</a>)</p> <h2>10. Home Filter</h2> <p>Give your entire house a boost with essential oils in your <a href="http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/64648/chemical-free-air-freshener">furnace&rsquo;s air filter</a>. Choose your favorite scent or make a blend. Either way, just put on a few drops and lock your filter into place. Scent should last a few weeks.</p> <h2>11. Poo Spray</h2> <p>Have you seen those powerful (and expensive) bathroom sprays at the store? You can make your own <a href="http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2013/09/make-your-own-no-2-spray-for-the-bathroom-extra-strength-version.html">poo spray</a> with a few simple ingredients. Mix together lemongrass, grapefruit, and bergamot essential oils with water in a small spray bottle. Then use whenever you need to banish odors.</p> <h2>12. Carpet Freshener</h2> <p>Shake some homemade <a href="http://www.cleanmama.net/2013/05/diy-homemade-cleaners-carpet-freshener.html">carpet freshener</a> on your stinky floor. You only need two cups of baking soda and drops of any essential oils that strike your fancy. Sprinkle onto your carpet and let sit for around 15 minutes before vacuuming.</p> <h2>13. Floor Cleaner</h2> <p>Get your wood floors shining like new with the homemade <a href="http://www.mom4real.com/make-homemade-wood-floor-cleaner/">floor cleaner</a>. Fill a big jug with water, leaving room for 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup castile soap, and 30 drops of lemon essential oils. When you need to clean, combine a cup of this cleaner with one gallon of hot water.</p> <p><em>How do you use essential oils around your home?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-wonderful-household-uses-for-essential-oils">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/21-surprising-uses-for-vinegar">21 Surprising Uses for Vinegar</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-homemade-stain-removers-that-actually-work">5 Homemade Stain Removers That Actually Work</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-baking-soda-took-my-bathroom-from-yuck-to-yes">How Baking Soda Took My Bathroom from “Yuck” to Yes!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-cheap-ways-to-deter-garden-pests">8 Cheap Ways to Deter Garden Pests</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-eliminate-ants-without-an-exterminator">8 Ways to Eliminate Ants Without an Exterminator</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks DIY Green Living cleaning eco-friendly essential oils household Fri, 31 Jul 2015 15:00:20 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1500869 at http://www.wisebread.com 21 Surprising Uses for Vinegar http://www.wisebread.com/21-surprising-uses-for-vinegar <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/21-surprising-uses-for-vinegar" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/apple_cider_vinegar_000054736252.jpg" alt="Learning unexpected uses for vinegar" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As an Englishman, I spent most of my life knowing only one use for vinegar &mdash; well, malt vinegar to be precise &mdash; and that was as something to make my fish n' chips taste great. After I discovered the fine cuisines of Guam and the Philippines, I used white vinegar in my cooking. I also heard that vinegar was helpful with cleaning windows.</p> <p>However, when I started digging, I found hundreds of uses for vinegar. It has to be one of the most <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-unexpected-uses-for-sugar">versatile and useful</a> liquids on the planet, and it's also very affordable. Here are 21 of the more unusual uses I found for several types of vinegar. All hail its mighty properties!</p> <h2>1. Calm Your Sunburn</h2> <p>You can soothe sunburn with white distilled vinegar (WDV), particularly if you keep it in the fridge. It also has properties that can help stop, or minimize, the peeling and itching.</p> <h2>2. Revitalize Your Rugs</h2> <p>If they are looking grimy from a lot of foot traffic, don't immediately reach for the carpet cleaner. Instead, mix a cup of WDV with a gallon of warm water, and apply with a clean, soft push broom. It's also good for removing stains, if you use a more concentrated form of the solution, and add some table salt.</p> <h2>3. Bring Windshield Wipers Back to Life</h2> <p>If they are starting to streak and stick, don't replace them. Instead, soak a cloth with WDV and rub it back and forth along the rubber. You will be amazed at how much dirt is removed, and how well they clean after.</p> <h2>4. Boost Your Laundry</h2> <p>Adding a half-cup of WDV to your wash will not only make whites whiter, but it will remove any musty smells that clothing of fabric can acquire after a long time in storage. It will also reduce static cling in the dryer.</p> <h2>5. Conceal Scratches in Furniture</h2> <p>Simply mix some apple cider vinegar (ACV) with iodine to make a concoction that makes most scratches disappear. The darker the wood, the more iodine you should use. Experiment.</p> <h2>6. Kill Fruit Flies</h2> <p>Take a small saucer and pour in some ACV, then add a little dish soap to reduce the surface tension. The flies are attracted to the smell, but quickly drown in the vinegar bath. You may catch more bees with honey, but for flies? Use vinegar!</p> <h2>7. Minimize a Bruise</h2> <p>If you soak a paper towel with WDV and apply it to a freshly bumped area on your body, some believe it will reduce the intensity of the bruise, or even prevent it from appearing at all.</p> <h2>8. Keep a Clear Complexion</h2> <p>Actress Scarlett Johansson <a href="http://www.elleuk.com/beauty/exclusive-scarlett-johansson-talks-beauty-with-elle#image=1">washes her face with ACV</a>, and the results are quite impressive if it's all down to that. Of course, we don't know what else she applies. But what we do know is that ACV has antibacterial properties, cutting grease and killing bacteria.</p> <h2>9. Alleviate Athlete's Foot</h2> <p>That fungal infection is not pleasant, and can cause severe itchiness, dryness, blistering, and discomfort. Take nightly footbaths using one part WDV to two parts water and you should see a massive improvement.</p> <h2>10. Turn a Chicken Bone Into&hellip; Rubber!</h2> <p>Why you would ever need this is a head-scratcher, but it can be a lot of fun at parties. If you soak a chicken bone in WDV for at least a few days, it will become as soft and flexible as a rubber bone. But it's highly doubtful the dog will go near it...</p> <h2>11. Kill Weeds</h2> <p>If you don't like the idea of nasty chemicals around the home and garden (and who does?), then reach for the WDV. There are many variations of the way it should be <a href="http://www.garden-counselor-lawn-care.com/vinegar-weed-killer.html">prepared and diluted</a>, but whichever you choose, it will definitely get rid of those nasty weeds in your garden.</p> <h2>12. Soothe Aching Muscles</h2> <p>If you've been overdoing it at the gym, or in the yard, you will have sore muscles. This is due to a build-up of lactic acid, and ACV can draw out that lactic acid. Simply dip a rag into a mixture of ACV and water (about one part vinegar to four parts water) and apply to the areas that need the most attention. Or if you've got a few gallons lying around, prepare a bath of the stuff. You may need a shower after though!</p> <h2>13. Destroy Dandruff</h2> <p>Yes, it's pesky and embarrassing, but it can be eliminated with ACV. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle (you can find them for a buck or two at your local hardware store) and apply to your hair after the shampoo, and leave for about 10&ndash;15 minutes. Then, rinse out. Do this a few times a week, and dandruff will be history.</p> <h2>14. Keep Cut Flowers Fresh</h2> <p>Adding just a tablespoon of WDV to the water of your flowers will help them stay fresh for much longer.</p> <h2>15. Cat-Proof Your Home</h2> <p>Our feline friends really don't like the smell of vinegar, so pour some WDV in a spray bottle and treat areas that you want kitty to stay away from.</p> <h2>16. Clean Your Microwave Quickly</h2> <p>After a while, the inside of the microwave becomes covered in small pieces of food that explode out from the plates and bowls during the heating process. Further use of the microwave makes them tough to remove. So, bring vinegar in to the rescue. Fill a small bowl with equal parts water and WDV, and nuke it for about two to three minutes. You want it to be steaming inside there, which will loosen up the food for you. Then, dip a cloth into the hot vinegar mixture (make sure you don't burn yourself) and wipe away the food and grime.</p> <h2>17. Make Paint Brushes Good as New</h2> <p>Whether using paint brushes for art or interior decorating, it can be tough to get them really clean. Vinegar can help. Fill a large saucepan with WDV and put your brushes in it to soak for at least an hour, but no longer than two. Then, put the vinegar pot on the stove and bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 mins. Your brushes will be completely paint-free. Any residue can be cleaned away with soap and water.</p> <h2>18. Bring Old Socks Back From the Dead</h2> <p>We all have gym socks that look well-used, but they have life left in them. You can reinvigorate them with WDV. Fill a saucepan with water, and add one cup of vinegar, and bring it to a rolling boil. Then, drop in those stained socks. Leave overnight, then rinse with cold water in the morning. They will be white again.</p> <h2>19. Clean a Litter Box</h2> <p>The odor-banishing properties of WDV come in very handy here. By pouring a half-inch of vinegar in the bottom of the litter box you have just emptied, you can neutralize those smells. Then, rinse, pat dry, and add new litter. However, as we mentioned earlier, cats do not like that vinegar smell. So, make sure it is thoroughly cleaned and dry before adding new litter, or you could find your cat protesting in the worst way.</p> <h2>20. Soothe a Sore Throat</h2> <p>It seems odd to add something as harsh as vinegar to a sore throat remedy, but it works. Add a few tablespoons of ACV to a cup of hot water, and stir in a few tablespoons of honey to counteract the acidity. Sip the mixture and make that sore throat go away.</p> <h2>21. Say Goodbye to Rust</h2> <p>Instead of paying a lot of money for a CLR treatment, or other over-the-counter rust removers, use WDV instead. Pour the vinegar into a saucepan (the size will depend on the object from which you need to remove rust) and bring to a boil. Then, add in your rusty objects, and simmer for 10&ndash;20 mins. The rust will just fall off.</p> <p><em>Now, those are the 21 biggest uses I uncovered, but did I miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments section. </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/21-surprising-uses-for-vinegar">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-homemade-stain-removers-that-actually-work">5 Homemade Stain Removers That Actually Work</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-wonderful-household-uses-for-essential-oils">13 Wonderful Household Uses for Essential Oils</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-baking-soda-took-my-bathroom-from-yuck-to-yes">How Baking Soda Took My Bathroom from “Yuck” to Yes!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-cheap-ways-to-deter-garden-pests">8 Cheap Ways to Deter Garden Pests</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-eliminate-ants-without-an-exterminator">8 Ways to Eliminate Ants Without an Exterminator</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks DIY Green Living cleaning cool uses eco-friendly natural Vinegar Mon, 20 Jul 2015 15:00:09 +0000 Paul Michael 1481964 at http://www.wisebread.com