DIY en-US 13 DIY Clothing Projects for Men <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/13-diy-clothing-projects-for-men" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="sewing accessories" title="sewing accessories" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We've already covered <a href="">20 Simple and Stylish Clothing Projects for Women</a> and <a href="">Cute and Frugal Clothing You Can Make for Kids</a>. Though men's clothing projects are much harder to find online, they're well worth seeking out. Any time you can bring new life to the duds you already own, you're saving money.</p> <p>So check out these 13 cool projects for DIY men's clothing and accessories and feel free to add your own in the comments!</p> <h2>1. (Re)Dyed Jeans</h2> <p>Have a pair of faded denim jeans? This <a href="">smart tutorial</a> will show you how to refresh them for just $3. Grab a box of RIT dye at your local grocery or drugstore. You can go with traditional navy or blue, but there are a wide variety of colors from which to choose.</p> <h2>2. Cutoffs</h2> <p><iframe frameborder="0" width="605" height="340" src="//" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>If you have a comfy old pair of jeans, turn them into cool cutoffs with this <a href="">simple tutorial</a>. It's really as easy as cutting the jeans and cuffing them. The author also uses a standard razor to create a naturally distressed look.</p> <h2>3. Pocket T-Shirt</h2> <p><iframe frameborder="0" width="605" height="340" src="//" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>A printout pattern and piece of your favorite fabric jazzes up a plain t-shirt with a <a href="">new, useful pocket</a>. There's a bit of basic sewing involved, but it's nothing a novice can't handle.</p> <h2>4. Skinny Tie</h2> <p>Need a unique tie for a special occasion? Skip the store and try <a href="">making your own</a>. You'll need a vintage tie to act as your pattern, but once you get going &mdash; you'll want one in every color.</p> <h2>5. Bow Tie</h2> <p>That's right, you can also create your own <a href=";craft-15098">stylish bow tie</a> for special events or, well, just because. This tutorial requires some basic sewing, but you can use whatever fabric matches your theme. And making the bow tie might be easier than tying one!</p> <h2>6. Leather Belt</h2> <p>Create a custom <a href="">DIY Leather Belt</a> that will last you years and years. Find an old belt to serve as your pattern, as well as a long strip of leather, some hardware, and a few leather-working tools. You can dye it whatever color you like and then condition using olive oil.</p> <h2>7. Tank</h2> <p><iframe frameborder="0" width="605" height="340" src="//" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>All you need is an old t-shirt, a sharp pair of scissors, and a marker to make this casual <a href="">Tank Top</a>. This piece would be great to wear to the beach or at the gym for lifting weights. Plus, it's a good way to reuse an old shirt that might have pit stains!</p> <h2>8. Screen Print</h2> <p>This specific tutorial features a women's shirt, but the same <a href="">basic screen printing process</a> applies for men's (and kid's) shirts as well. Choose a design you wish to print and draw it onto freezer paper. Iron it onto your shirt on a flat surface. Then paint over the design using fabric paint and remove the freezer paper to let set.</p> <h2>9. Elbow Patches</h2> <p>Again, this <a href="">DIY Elbow Patch Sweater</a> tutorial features a women's shirt, but it's just as stylish for men. Plus, you can buy leather or fabric elbow patches if you want to skip the stitching for less than $10. Otherwise, you need an old sweater, iron-on adhesive fabric, and an iron.</p> <h2>10. Button Up Shirt</h2> <p>This manly sewing project creates a <a href="">button-up shirt</a> for a fraction of what it would cost at the store. You can use whatever fabric you might have on hand or choose something specific, but you'll need two yards in all. The pattern is free after you sign up for the blog's email list.</p> <h2>11. Card Holder</h2> <p>These awesome <a href="">leather card holders</a> come together quickly and require minimal stitching. You can also play with the pattern a bit to get the look you want. A great place to find leather in all textures and colors is on <a href="">Etsy</a>.</p> <h2>12. Paracord Bracelet</h2> <p>I see these <a href="">Paracord Bracelets</a> everywhere, and I never thought to make my own. Though the images might look tricky, you can click them for a closer view. It's a lot of figure eight weaving, but after a while, you should get the hang.</p> <h2>13. Hoodie</h2> <p>This <a href="">DIY Hoodie Project</a> surely requires some sewing skills. However, it doesn't look out of the realm of possibility. And the pattern is loose. You can use an old t-shirt &mdash; just make sure to leave a seam allowance.</p> <p><em>Alright you manly DIYers: what projects are you getting into?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="13 DIY Clothing Projects for Men" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Style clothing crafts men's clothing menswear sewing Fri, 19 Sep 2014 09:00:07 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1215197 at 12 Unique Ways to Use School Supplies <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-unique-ways-to-use-school-supplies" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="eraser stamp" title="eraser stamp" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I love finding dual purposes for everyday items. It's a sneaky way of getting more bang for my buck. And &mdash; chances are &mdash; if anyone in your family is in school, you have quite a collection of school and office supplies handy. (See also: <a href="">18 Awesome, Practically Free Upcycled Craft Projects</a>)</p> <p>Break out your pencil boxes and your craft paper and let's get started!</p> <h2>1. Pencil Eraser Designs</h2> <p>For a custom <a href="">stamped shirt</a>, use your eraser. Cut out a simple shape or design using freezer paper, place it on a clean cotton shirt, and then dip an unused pencil eraser in fabric paint and get creative.</p> <h2>2. Large Eraser Stamps</h2> <p>For those bigger erasers, carve out a design and make a <a href="">smart stamp</a> for personalizing stationery or just plain fun. Don't forget: If you're going to use lettering, you'll need to write it backwards to make sense once stamped.</p> <h2>3. Pencil Beads</h2> <p>For a cute back-to-school accessory, look no farther than your pencil box. Colored pencils make wonderful, <a href="">vibrant beads</a> that can be drilled for use in necklaces, bracelets, brooches, and more.</p> <h2>4. Mega-Crayons</h2> <p>Turn those old crayon bits into a <a href="">great gift or party favor</a>. Simply take off any leftover paper, place remnant into a silicone mold, and bake at around 200 degrees for just five minutes (baking time will vary depending on your oven). Let cool before packaging.</p> <h2>5. Paper Clip Ornaments</h2> <p>For a super frugal way to decorate your tree this year, try these <a href="">paper clip ornaments</a>. All you need are butterfly flips, a bit of ribbon, and pearl beads. Once you get the hang, you can make dozens an hour for stocking stuffers!</p> <h2>6. Post-It Planner</h2> <p>I'm a big fan of Post-It notes, and I love this idea to use those little squares in a big way. Turn yours into a <a href="">wall planning system</a> by arranging each square like a box on a calendar.</p> <h2>7. Three Ring Genius</h2> <p>Use a three ring binder to organize more than just class notes. You can use a variety of <a href="">plastic inserts and baggies</a> to hold your memory cards, jump drives, etc. I use a similar method to organize my coupons, store punch cards, gift cards, and more.</p> <h2>8. Upcycled Hooks</h2> <p>Or you can use that old binder's insides for a <a href="">quick hook system</a>. Once you get the metal out of the plastic cover, use screws to fasten the hooks to a wall or fence for instant hanging.</p> <h2>9. Rubber Band Remedy</h2> <p>Need to dry your makeup brushes? Try <a href="">tethering them to a towel rod</a> using rubber bands. No towel rod? Easy &mdash; just use a hanger for the same purpose.</p> <h2>10. Clipboard Decor</h2> <p>Arrange various sizes and styles of clipboards into a gorgeous wall of art with these <a href="">free printables</a>. You could also clip photos, your child's artwork, and even use this trick to organize an office the chic way with important documents and to-do lists.</p> <h2>11. Clip Cord Holder</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" src="//"></iframe></p> <p>If you've ever tried charging your devices at your desk, only to have all those cords fall straight to the floor &mdash; this trick is for you. Loop the end of your computer or phone charger cords through <a href="">binder clips</a> and clamp onto your table or desk to hold steady.</p> <h2>12. Sharpie China</h2> <p>To upgrade basic dinnerware into something beautiful, try <a href="">drawing geometric designs</a> with Sharpie markers. To set, just bake the dish for 30 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. This projects lets you freshen your kitchen for less or give great gifts on the cheap.</p> <p><em>How do you upcycle school and office supplies into cool tools and decor? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="12 Unique Ways to Use School Supplies" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY crafts recycle reuse school supplies upcycle Wed, 17 Sep 2014 17:00:06 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1211250 at 10 Things You Should Never Buy From Aldi <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-things-you-should-never-buy-from-aldi" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="ground beef shopping" title="ground beef shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I've been shopping at Aldi for our weekly groceries for over half a year. Along the way, I've picked up a few best practices. For example, buying for two or more weeks at a time saves us time and money on shelf-stable foods like tortillas, spaghetti, and canned goods. I love Aldi's selection of price-friendly cheeses, Greek yogurt, chocolate-hazelnut spread, and hummus, among many others. Plus, our local shop stocks its shelves on Sunday afternoons, so that's the time to go for the freshest food and the most selection. (See also: <a href="">6 Awesome Reasons to Shop At Aldi</a>)</p> <p>Of course, with all these tips for things to buy and ways to buy them, I've also discovered there are a few things &mdash; at least at my store &mdash; that are better purchased elsewhere Yes: There are plenty of foods that are great and price-competitive, but consider staying away from the following.</p> <h2>1. Certain Dairy</h2> <p>If you're trying to avoid food additives, your Aldi's almond milk, cottage cheese, and a few other dairy products might be suspect. These foods &mdash; at least in some markets &mdash; contain carrageenan, which is a thickener and stabilizer. There is some debate over whether carrageenan is a carcinogen, but it has been shown to cause some <a href="">inflammation in the digestive tract</a>. (You can also find this ingredient at most other grocery stores, so keep an eye out.)</p> <h2>2. Shredded Cheese</h2> <p>I love Aldi block cheese. It's economical and tasty. However, the shredded variety contains cornstarch to keep the shreds from sticking to one another in the bag, and I find that it burns quicker than other cheeses, especially under the broiler. And mine burned with an oily mess on top of it. Stick with block cheese and a grater for the best results.</p> <h2>3. Garlic</h2> <p>Maybe I've been spoiled by our gigantic, juicy CSA garlic, but Aldi's cloves just don't match up. They're tiny and difficult to both peel and cut. Since garlic isn't terribly expensive, when it's the off-season for produce, we tend to buy it at another store (when we pick up tofu and a few other ingredients Aldi stores don't carry).</p> <h2>4. Potatoes</h2> <p>I've given several varieties of potatoes a try, only to have them spoil within the week (one time, even in just a few days). Since I stored them like I have stored all other potatoes in the past, I cannot assume it was my own error. Potatoes should be hearty and last a good while. Thankfully, they are one of the more inexpensive buys at most stores &mdash; so, I grab a bag elsewhere.</p> <h2>5. Other Produce</h2> <p>On that same note, you must be stringent when choosing produce of all shapes and sizes. Depending on the time of week you shop, the food &mdash; like at any store &mdash; may have been freshly delivered or sitting there for days. Inspect each piece for signs of spoilage before bringing home. I once got a bad batch of onions, bananas, and green peppers that got soft and moldy the day after I stocked them in my fridge. (See also: <a href="">Fridge or Counter? Where to Store Fruit for Best Flavor</a>)</p> <h2>6. Chocolate Chips</h2> <p>While I absolutely adore the Moser Roth chocolate in the first aisle of the store, the chocolate chips in the baking section leave much to be desired with taste. If you want your chocolate chip cookies to taste out-of-this-world delicious, scrimp and save to get a bag of the quality stuff. Alternatively, I've made chocolate chunk cookies using the Moser Roth chocolate.</p> <h2>7. Packaged Cookie Dough</h2> <p>If you're planning to skip the from-scratch experience and lay out prepackaged cookie dough on a sheet to bake, just don't. Even following package directions, my refrigerated dough burned easily and still didn't cook the whole way through. To make matters worse, the flavor was definitely artificial.</p> <h2>8. Frozen Stir-Fry</h2> <p>I was incredibly excited to find brightly colored packs of frozen veggies with sauce for quick weeknight meals, only to become dismayed when I read the label on the back of the package. In Aldi's defense, I haven't closely inspected other frozen stir-fries before, but I found that the ingredients in the Fusia mix came from all over the place: China, Holland, Guatemala, Mexico, and the USA.</p> <h2>9. Ground Beef</h2> <p>As a vegetarian, I have not purchased meat products at Aldi. I did <a href="">a little research</a>, so I thought I'd share those results. You can actually find better prices on ground beef at a store like Walmart ($3.69/pound versus $2.66/pound) for similar-quality protein. (See also: <a href="">5 Frugal Lessons I Learned From Aldi</a>)</p> <h2>10. Non-Food Items</h2> <p>I've found many of the non-food items &mdash; from brand-name diapers to garbage bags and beyond &mdash; to not be price-competitive with other discount stores. If you can buy these same products at stores that also accept coupons or offer bulk discounts, go for it.</p> <p><em>We'd love to hear what foods and products you stay away from at Aldi. Please leave a note in the comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Things You Should Never Buy From Aldi" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY aldis discounts shopping what to buy Tue, 16 Sep 2014 11:00:06 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1210860 at The 6 Qualities All DIYers Have — Do You? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-6-qualities-all-diyers-have-do-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="home improvement" title="home improvement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Look closely and you'll find them. They tool around in old trucks with homemade campers, they create wild sculptures from scrap metal, they fix what's broken and improve what's not, and they putter contentedly in basements and garages deep into the night. These are the DIYers &mdash; the tinkerers, the eccentrics, the handymen and handywomen who ingeniously reclaim, remake, and recycle bits of our world every day. (See also: <a href="">Is DIY Home Renovating for You?</a>)</p> <p>Modest and a little magnetic, these folks would be last to sing their own praises, so I'll do it for them. I've known one or two in my day and they each seem to possess a special mix of characteristics that drives their passion and fuels their creativity.</p> <h2>1. Disregard for Convention</h2> <p>Like most things in life, the really interesting stuff happens a little off kilter. In the late 1970's my uncle Hank bought a battered hardware store delivery truck. His part-time pursuit for the next decade or so was transforming that rough set of wheels into a family camper. One weekend at a time he outfitted it with cabinets, a fold-down bed, and other essentials he crafted in his garage in rural Iowa. I loved seeing his progress every chance I got. I think I was as impressed with his disregard for convention as much as I was with his skill. Even as a child of eight or nine, I realized that his camper would be a lot like him &mdash; not so glossy, but gutsy and entirely unconventional.</p> <h2>2. Vision</h2> <p>Vision makes it all happen. It shapes what's around us and gives new use to the world's refuse. Vision helps us see what an item could be or how random cast-offs could come together in a new way. A dear friend of mine in Austin, Texas makes banjos from old wooden cigar boxes, elaborate tree sculptures from storm-fallen twigs and branches, and amazing desk lamps from salvaged plumbing pipe. His vision keeps him restless and destined to never be fully retired or ever bored. That's a wonderful thing.</p> <h2>3. Ingenuity</h2> <p>If vision is the &quot;what,&quot; then ingenuity is the &quot;how.&quot;</p> <p>DIYers know that for an idea to be successful, the final product has to work. And though their projects may not always be pretty by conventional standards, they're beautiful in their authenticity. When you look at something hand-crafted from a set of discarded or random parts, you're seeing not only the object, but the mental flexibility it took to conceive and build it. Like Hank's wild and wonderful makeshift camper, appreciation can't be separated from the inspiration.</p> <h2>4. Stubbornness</h2> <p>Some of the roads that tinkerers take aren't on any map. And when you're literally winging it, you have to accept a certain degree of failure without throwing your hands up and opting for a better-traveled route. Trial and error eventually give way to success, but not without patience and persistence (and maybe a few favorite swear words thrown in).</p> <h2>5. Self-Reliance</h2> <p>It almost goes without saying since self-reliance and the nature of DIY are so closely linked, but beyond just doing it yourself, tinkering, creating, building, and repairing is a solitary way of being. Buying may be social; shopping definitely is. But making can often be a maddening, isolating, and a wholly internal pursuit.</p> <h2>6. Love of Dirt</h2> <p>At the risk of over-generalizing, most of the diehard DIYers I know are a little rough around the edges. Their fingernails aren't always clean (in fact, sometimes they're chipped or one is missing altogether). If you run into them in the hardware store, they'll likely be covered in sawdust, have grease on their cheek, or be sporting a fresh bandage. Their commitment to their craft means they live with a bit of dirt, accept the occasional bump and bruise, and sometimes drop into bed completely un-showered and woefully un-flossed. It comes with the territory and if you're married to a DIYer, if your parent was one, if you're one &mdash; well then, you know exactly what I mean.</p> <p>One of the most encouraging signs of the last 10 or 15 years is the rise of the DIY movement. Every time I read about someone in a remote outpost doing their own thing &mdash; making furniture, salvaging crumbling barns, turning license plates into birdhouses, converting diesel engines to biofuel, or making jewelry from sea glass I think of my parent's generation when doing it yourself was the only way to get it done. For the love of art, for the love of craft, or out of necessity, DIYers today are channeling the very best of our past and quietly reviving a noble movement.</p> <p><em>Are you a tinkerer or do-it-yourselfer? What qualities are most important to your way of life?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The 6 Qualities All DIYers Have — Do You?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kentin Waits</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY makers making people tinkering Wed, 10 Sep 2014 17:00:06 +0000 Kentin Waits 1207218 at 10 Cheap Ways to Make Your Apartment Awesome (Without Losing Your Deposit) <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-cheap-ways-to-make-your-apartment-awesome-without-losing-your-deposit" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="apartment decoration" title="apartment decoration" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The white walls and boring fixtures of apartments are a thing of the past. You don't need to own your abode to make it totally your own. (See also: <a href="">12 Ways to Make a Tiny Apartment Awesome</a>)</p> <p>Check out these thrifty &mdash; but impactful &mdash; DIY ideas that will transform your space to home, all while ensuring you'll get that security deposit back.</p> <h2>1. Wow! Wallpaper</h2> <p>You can find temporary wallpaper rolls in a variety of <a href="">shades and prints</a> these days. Most brands are self adhesive for easy installation. To keep the cost low, consider papering a single accent wall versus an entire room. Think focal point by choosing the wall at the head of your bed, for example. A little will go a long way.</p> <h2>2. Brazen Backsplash</h2> <p>You can also use temporary wallpaper as a backsplash in your apartment's kitchen, but there's an even cheaper way to get a faux-tile look. Use contact paper! This <a href="">frugal project</a> cost only $13 and resulted in a stainless steel look that really brightened up the space. Simply cut contact paper into &quot;tiles&quot; and arrange in a pattern above your countertop. When it's time to move, just gently peel away from the wall.</p> <h2>3. Curtain Call</h2> <p>If you'd rather not stick something to the wall, consider adding some pizzaz with curtains on a tension rod. I used this technique in my <a href="">first home's kitchen</a> to hide an otherwise ugly closet door; you could use it wherever you want a little color or flair. Tension rods of all sizes cost under $10. If you don't have curtains, follow this <a href="">no-sew tutorial</a> to create some from fabric using hemming tape and an iron. (See also: <a href="">20 Unexpected Uses for Tension Rods</a>)</p> <h2>4. Bookworm Bounty</h2> <p>I recently browsed my decor inspiration board on Pinterest and discovered that many of my living room ideas incorporated the same element &mdash; bookshelves! You don't need built-ins to get this studious look, plus it's functional and perfect if you love reading. I love the idea of scouting out tall, <a href="">mismatched shelves</a> at thrift stores for a unique look.</p> <h2>5. Beautiful Boxes</h2> <p>You can also use boxy fruit crates to create custom <a href="">temporary shelving</a>! I envision countless possibilities for this easy DIY project. My favorite of the bunch is a makeshift entry area with a couple hooks and fruit crates to <a href="">wrangle shoes, boots</a>, and anything else you have around. And since they're not bolted down, you can change your configuration as often as you change your mind.</p> <h2>6. Great Divide</h2> <p>If you live in a free-form space, you might want to create some separation using room dividers that simulate walls. This basement redo utilizes an <a href="">old pair of shutters</a> painted in glossy green to create space. You can also use a pair of curtains to do the same trick by <a href="">hanging them</a> on steel wire cables in the area you want to section off. This trick is great for studio apartments, creating the illusion of a 1-bedroom at a fraction of the price it costs to rent one.</p> <h2>7. Big Impact</h2> <p>If you'd rather hang some artwork, check out engineer prints for black and white poster-sized art on the cheap. This <a href="">step-by-step tutorial</a> shows you how to take one of your own photos, add text, and get it printed for under $5. From there, you can purchase poster frames for $10 or less at stores like WalMart and Target. Consider grouping several large prints for bigger impact or browsing online for <a href="">free designs</a> to print.</p> <h2>8. Warm and Cozy</h2> <p>My favorite apartment trick for an instant homey feeling? A <a href="">faux fireplace</a>. I found one on Craigslist way back when, and it moved with me to five different apartments! A fake fireplace adds an amazing architectural focal point to your room, as well as a great place to focus your decorating efforts &mdash; especially for the holidays. And it's like any other piece of furniture that can be easily picked up and moved.</p> <h2>9. Clever Lights</h2> <p>Purchase a light kit from your home improvement store and a drum shade for a simple, DIY hanging light fixture. It requires very little installation and can be removed in a flash. You can get quite creative with the basic idea. For example, this blogger used a <a href="">wicker trash can</a> as a basic, ingenious pendant. This trick is particularly great if you need light over, say, your dining room table and don't want to go with more floor lamps.</p> <h2>10. Green Thumb</h2> <p>Plants can totally transform the feel of a space and even <a href="">improve air quality</a>. My mother-in-law has a beautiful collection of plants in her dining room, including a Rubber Tree, Jade plant, and some assorted ferns. Head to your local garden center and consult with the folks there to find a few plants that will bring the outdoors in and cozy up your apartment fast. Plus, many house plants can live for years and years with proper care.</p> <p><em>How do you dress up a drab apartment? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Cheap Ways to Make Your Apartment Awesome (Without Losing Your Deposit)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Home apartment cheap decor decorating Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:00:06 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1199024 at 7 Homemade Pet Products That Are Cheaper and Better Than Store Bought <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-homemade-pet-products-that-are-cheaper-and-better-than-store-bought" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="dog" title="dog" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We love our pets. So much so that in 2013, Americans spent a whopping <a href="">$55 billion</a> on their furry friends. Almost $14 billion of that went to pet supplies and over the counter (OTC) medicines. (See also: <a href="">10 DIY Dog Toys You Can Make For Pennies</a>)</p> <p>But here's the thing: While recently browsing my local pet supply stores, I found that quite a few of the products contained ingredients that are less than healthy for my dog and the price tag was often pretty steep. I decided to do some price and quality comparisons and found I could make the following products healthier and cheaper than comparable products I could buy at retailers:</p> <h2>1. Toys</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>There are dozens of DIY toy ideas online. My pup loves to solve puzzles, especially when treats are involved. These puzzle toys usually involve hiding a treat inside a compartment that my dog has to figure out how to open. <a href="">Nina Ottosson</a> has a great line of puzzle toys for dogs and I have a few of them that cost me about $40 each. But I could have made this <a href="">similar toy</a> for my pup using a muffin tin and tennis balls for $5, and he also would have had the tennis balls to bounce around the house!</p> <h2>2. Bedding</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Have you seen the price of dog beds lately? I recently went to my local Target to get my little guy a new cozy nap space, and small dog beds (of rather boring design and fairly low quality) cost about $25. Instead, I picked up a small vintage suitcase at my local thrift store that is in great shape and lined it with a plush towel and squishy pillow for less than $10. Try these inspiring <a href="">designs for suitcase pet bedding</a>.</p> <h2>3. Wet Wipes</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>In between his baths, I like to wipe down my pup with wet wipes, particularly after a long walk in the park or a stroll around the streets of New York. Most commercial wipes have chemicals in them that I'd rather not put on my pup's skin (particularly if he's likely to lick his paws!), so I looked into organic wipes that typically cost about $10. Instead, I followed Southern Wag's DIY recipe and made a better quality, healthier wipes for less than $3.</p> <h2>4. Shampoo</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>My dog has dry skin and it causes him to become very itchy and uncomfortable. My vet recommended a prescription shampoo that cost (brace yourself!) $21 for an 8 ounce bottle. However, I didn't want my little guy to be uncomfortable, so I bought it for him. Unfortunately it didn't do much good and it also had a medicine-like scent. I started poking around online and found this <a href="">recipe for dog shampoo</a> by Rebecca Dillon. Total cost for the same 8 ounces was $12, it worked like a charm, and it smelled so much better!</p> <h2>5. Treats</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Quite a few commercially-sold pet treat products are made in China and after <a href="">the contamination issues</a> earlier this year, I started to investigate other options I could make at home. I found a recipe for these <a href="">bacon bark sticks</a> that are a snap to make and cost only $3 for two dozen tasty treats.</p> <h2>6. Surface Cleaner</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Just like humans, pets get sick from time to time. I wanted a cleaner to clean up after my pet that is non-toxic and safe on home surfaces. I could buy <a href="">a cleaner by Method</a> for $4 per bottle. I found this <a href="">recipe for a petsafe surface cleaner</a> online that costs less than $1 to make from items I already have in my home and it did the trick!</p> <h2>7. Tummy Remedy</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Dogs have very acidic digestive systems. It's a holdover from their wolf ancestors who needed to break down the food they caught in the wild. The build-up of acid overnight caused my pup's tummy to often be upset first thing in the morning. My vet wanted to put him on an antacid medicine that would cost $10 month. While I would have been happy to spend that, I wanted to check out natural remedies that might help. After a little investigation, I discovered that a teaspoon of mashed sweet potato once a day calmed his stomach and eliminated the problem for a grand total of $1.50 per month at my local grocery store. I buy the sweet potatoes, boil them, and mash them myself.</p> <p>While I love to make DIY items as much as possible, there are some pet Items that I do buy commercially, and you should too. For example, flea and tick medicine are essential to your pet's health and to your home's health as well. Once you have a flea or tick issue in your home, it is very difficult to remedy. While I've tried all-natural flea and tick medicines for my dog, they've never worked that well, so I stick with commercial brands. I also have a professional groomer do his nail clipping and teeth brushing to ensure that they're done properly.</p> <p>Because you can't put a price on pup beauty.</p> <p><em>(Please note that you should never give human medicine to your pet; always consult your veterinarian before giving any medication to your pet.)</em></p> <p><em>Please share your favorite DIY pet products in the comments below!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="7 Homemade Pet Products That Are Cheaper and Better Than Store Bought" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Christa Avampato</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Lifestyle animals cats DIY dogs Homemade pet food pet supplies pets Fri, 22 Aug 2014 09:00:05 +0000 Christa Avampato 1190936 at The Only Fruits and Veggies Worth Growing Yourself <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-only-fruits-and-veggies-worth-growing-yourself" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="growing vegetables" title="growing vegetables" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="150" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Not everyone has a green thumb, and growing a garden can often be a tiring &mdash; and expensive &mdash; endeavor for anyone to tackle. While it can be easy to spend hundreds of dollars on seeds, plants, additives, and water, you can make gardening worth your investment by growing the fruits and veggies that cost the most in stores today.</p> <p>Starting a plant as a seed (for veggies) or a sapling (for a fruit tree) is the best way to realize savings, although it takes longer for your harvest to come, and there is more risk. Seed packets usually run no more than $2 a packet, even for heirloom varieties. (Heirloom is original, non-hybrid, non-GMO seed stock.) With between 20 and 100 seeds per packet, if even a handful of the seeds grow into fruit-producing adult plants, you've earned much of your investment back. (See also: <a href="">25 Simple Recipes for 25 Delicious Veggies</a>)</p> <p>Most gardeners hope to go far beyond &quot;breaking even,&quot; however. Considering that the recent California drought, rising gas prices, and overall food inflation will make fresh fruits and veggies even more expensive this year, it may be easier than ever to earn back what you spend on even the most modest garden.</p> <p>Here are my favorites for reaping what you sow.</p> <h2>Artichokes</h2> <p>These delicious veggies are actually cousins to the thistle, and preparing them for eating is a process way more complicated than growing them. Since they are also one of the most expensive items to buy in the store, however, any success you have in growing them will be much appreciated! They can be started from seed, shoots, or the cuttings of other adult artichokes; they do well in most any climate, and can be replanted new each year in those areas that are too cold to survive the winters.</p> <p><strong>Production Tip</strong>: Many people aren't sure <a href="">how to harvest them</a> once their artichokes are ready; by cutting them before they get too big, you can ensure energy is devoted to creating more &quot;fruits&quot; than flowers.</p> <h2>Brussels Sprouts</h2> <p>The hated Brussels sprout has become a popular choice of chefs across the country, and more people are creating delicious dishes with the veggie in their own kitchens. By growing your own, however, you can choose &mdash; among other things &mdash; how big, how tender, and how flavorful your sprout becomes. You can also grow hundreds for the price of a pound of store-bought. Starting from seed can be difficult, which is why many sprout lovers get plants from their nursery. Hot summers can kill these plants, so it is recommended to grow them for a &quot;fall garden&quot; when the chance of high temps has passed for the year.</p> <p><strong>Production Tip</strong>: Looking for the best flavor in your Brussels sprouts? Experts suggest is it a good idea to harvest <a href="">after the first mild frost</a> each fall. The cold weather give them a delicious note that you just can't buy in the store!</p> <h2>Tomatoes</h2> <p>You really have to have some bad luck to get nothing from a tomato plant. While veteran gardeners can take a packet of seeds and get a dozen or more healthy plants, you can expect to get amazing results from even one adult plant ready to transplant to your own garden. (See also: <a href="">What to Do With 100 Tomatoes</a>)</p> <p>Tomatoes all offer varying degrees of yield, but the cherry or grape tomato plants seem to give and give and give. Varieties such as Romas are great for cooking and making sauce, and with more meaty pulp than water and seeds, you can expect to get gallons of sauce from just one plant. Hard-core canners with a dozen or more plants can put up hundreds of jars of sauce at the end of the season, giving you a great return on your initial investment.</p> <p><strong>Production Tip</strong>: If you have too many green tomatoes at the end of a season, with no chance to ripen before frost, consider any one of these <a href="">delicious green tomato recipes</a>!</p> <h2>Zucchini</h2> <p>This very productive plant is the butt of many garden jokes, and people go quickly from appreciating their bounty to wondering &quot;what the heck can I do with all this zucchini?&quot; Luckily, this makes it a sure-fire way to get a little back on the light maintenance zucchini plants require. Whether you eat them small, sliced thin for stir-fry, or let them grow large and bake with them, there is a zucchini recipe guaranteed to help you use up your surplus. Since zucchini actually start best as seeds planted directly in the garden, their cost to get started is minimal, too!</p> <p><strong>Production Tip</strong>: If you grow tired of eating them yourself, here are some <a href="">unique ways to get rid of all that zucchini</a>.</p> <h2>Mint</h2> <p>While not exactly something to make much of a meal out of, the humble mint plant is a fantastic addition to any garden and one that will literally take over if you aren't careful.</p> <p>Mint comes in many varieties, including chocolate, pineapple, apple, and spearmint. Use it to make jellies, jams, teas, and salves. One small plant from your nursery usually runs no more than $4, and can quickly cover several square feet of raised bed within weeks of planting. (Plus, it comes back every year stronger than the previous year. You may find yourself digging much of it up to give away.)</p> <p><strong>Production Tip</strong>: Annoyed with how well your mint is doing? Consider pulling up all but a few plants each year and donating the surplus to the kitchen or garden of your favorite non-profit.</p> <h2>Kale</h2> <p>This salad must-have is nutritious and versatile. While it does best in cooler weather, once established, it can be kept in the shady part of a garden for almost the entire spring through fall time period. Cutting just the top leaves off when they are young can help keep the flavors mild and leaves tender, plus it will encourage growth. Started as seed, it's similar to lettuce or spinach, but is much more resistant to bugs, cold, and heat. Kale in the store can run $4 or more for a bag; having a single row in your garden can keep you in free salad for many months!</p> <p><strong>Production Tip</strong>: If you see your kale plants starting to get tough or &quot;prickly,&quot; it's time to start anew. Sow new seeds in between older plants and pull up the old plants when the new ones are producing. Rotating fresher stock every few weeks ensures you will always have the most tender leaves possible!</p> <h2>Other Smart Choices</h2> <p>Depending on your soil and growing season, there are a few other plants that tend to do well in most climate zones; squash, peppers, and radishes all grow well most years and either cost very little to start (like the radishes) or produce many fruits per plant (like the peppers and squash).</p> <p>As with any endeavor, it's best to plant no more than what you can reasonably maintain, care for, and harvest. Wasted produce does not count on the plus side of your ROI formula! It's also fun to factor in just how much you are earning back with your garden. Homegrown isn't just valued higher because it's fresh and free from strange growing and handling procedures. Food you grow yourself is tax-free, too! It takes far less effort to grow a tomato than to work to earn the money to buy that same tomato &mdash; after you pay income taxes, that is!</p> <p><em>What fruits and vegetables in your garden have given you the best ROI? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The Only Fruits and Veggies Worth Growing Yourself" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Food and Drink Green Living fresh food gardens homegrown vegetables Wed, 25 Jun 2014 17:00:05 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1149042 at 17 DIY Projects to Make Your Home Look Amazing (and 3 You Shouldn't Try) <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/17-diy-projects-to-make-your-home-look-amazing-and-3-you-shouldnt-try" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="couple painting" title="couple painting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="145" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When my husband and I bought our first home, I was glued to all those television DIY shows. There were so many things we wanted to do to our starter space, and the Internet hadn't yet exploded with tutorials and inspiration boards. Now? Any and every project you could ever want to do can be found with a quick search. (Related: <a href="">25 Cheap and Easy Fixes That Make Your House Look Great</a>)</p> <p>Here are some of the best home and decor improvements even novices can tackle.</p> <h2>1. Leather Refinishing</h2> <p>Have an old, worn leather couch smelling up the place? You can totally revitalize it on the cheap with these <a href="">easy instructions</a>. You'll need leather cleaner, a good quality dye, and some type of finish coat &mdash; but all the supplies should come in less than $100, depending on the size of your sofa.</p> <h2>2. Blinds Revival</h2> <p>I dream of gorgeous plantation shutters in my home. Thing is, I'm on a plastic blinds sort of budget, so I love this idea to dress them up <a href="">using spray paint</a>. The possibilities are endless! (Related: <a href="">40 Ways to Use Spray Paint for Cheap and Easy Decorating</a>)</p> <h2>3. Fireplace Makeover</h2> <p>Neutralize the dated aspects of your home with &mdash; again &mdash; our friend, spray paint. Those brassy accents disappear with a nice coat of black or, in for a more refined color, &quot;oil-rubbed bronze.&quot; With the fireplace, you'll want to choose a formula specifically <a href="">designed for high heat</a>.</p> <h2>4. Like-New Appliances</h2> <p>Our new home has a great, spacious kitchen, but the appliances don't match. Since they're all in good working order, we're considering <a href="">painting the refrigerator</a> versus buying a new one. You can use special appliance paint or kits, but the tutorial makes use of standard semi-gloss paint.</p> <h2>5. Light Fixture</h2> <p>Though I don't recommend doing your own electrical work, you can <a href="">replace ceiling light fixtures</a> without much trouble. Just be sure to turn out the power to the room you're working in and connect the wires according to your new light's instruction pamphlet.</p> <h2>6. Board and Batten</h2> <p>Adding architectural detail to a room is simple with this detailed <a href="">board and batten tutorial</a>. You need boards, construction adhesive, nails, and a few other supplies. If you aren't handy with a saw, you might even consider asking the folks at your local lumber supply to do the cuts for you at an extra charge to speed up the process.</p> <h2>7. Television Hide-and-Seek</h2> <p>I drool over media cabinets from those expensive home decor stores. Then I found this <a href="">smart solution</a> online &mdash; and I can't wait to get my hands on some 2x4s. This project isn't well detailed, but if you have a somewhat experienced woodworker in the family, the concept is easy to follow. For my &quot;doors&quot; I might use (or create) a piece of artwork that comes in two pieces.</p> <h2>8. Tile Re-Grouting</h2> <p>If you have a section &mdash; or entire room &mdash; of tile that looks dingy and old, consider whether the tile itself really needs fixing, or if you can just fix the grout. You can pick up the supplies to add some new life to those dirty grout lines for very little money &mdash; <a href="">here's how</a> you do it!</p> <h2>9. Rustic Accent Wall</h2> <p>When I came across this <a href="">cozy pallet wall</a>, my jaw literally dropped. It takes some skill, but once you hang the underlayment, it's mostly a puzzle of what pieces look good and where. The author installed it in her son's nursery, but I'd love to put one in my basement recreation room!</p> <h2>10. Custom Built-Ins</h2> <p>When I first came across these <a href="">dining room built-ins</a>, I knew they'd be perfect for almost any room in the house. The author gives <a href="">step-by-step instructions</a> for how to select the right cabinets, cut the wood, paint for more artistic flair, etc. &mdash; just note that this project isn't done in a day. However, the time involved is worth it!</p> <h2>11. Smart Shelving</h2> <p>If you're looking to add some unique flair to a room, look outside the home decor department. This <a href="">ladder turned shelf</a> could hold anything from plants to books, and it's a great way to turn something old into something treasured. All you need are some planks of wood and wood glue! Leave your ladder unpainted for a most rustic look or use a bright color for some cheer. (Related: <a href="">18 Cheap and Attractive Ideas for Bookshelves</a>)</p> <h2>12. Shaker Cabinets</h2> <p>I'm hoping to complete this next project by the end of the summer. Trim out your plain kitchen cabinets <a href="">using yard sticks</a> (or standard trim) for that Shaker look. A little grain filler and paint, and your kitchen will look entirely different for pennies on the dollar.</p> <h2>13. Revived Tub</h2> <p>You can shine up your bathtub without replacing or covering it. Just follow these <a href="">simple instructions</a> that explain how everyday products and a tub refinishing kit can take your soaking place from freaky to fab in no time at all.</p> <h2>14. Plywood Planks</h2> <p>Looking for an inexpensive wood flooring solution? These <a href="">plywood plank floors</a> can be painted or stained and seem pretty darned easy to install. Just be sure to start with a solid, level subfloor and measure twice, cut once. This is another project where you can take advantage of low-cost cuts made at your hardware store.</p> <h2>15. Distressed Look</h2> <p>I'd file this one under <em>Proceed With Caution</em>, but if you like that distressed leather look, <a href="">this tutorial</a> is for you. Even a shiny, brand new piece can turn into that &quot;old favorite&quot; with some sandpaper, rubbing alcohol, a blow dryer, and a few rags.</p> <h2>16. Console Table</h2> <p>Sometimes the furniture you need can't be found at the store. Or maybe what you see in catalogs and online is outrageously expensive. Either way, this <a href="">behind-the-sofa table</a> appears to be beginner-friendly. Just assemble a few 2x4s and 1x4s, and you're set to paint or stain it anyway you prefer.</p> <h2>17. Shutter Install</h2> <p>Plantation shutters are one of my favorite design elements because they are both beautiful and functional. They are also quite costly, so if you can order online at a discount and then <a href="">install them yourself</a>, it's worth your while.</p> <h2>And Three Things You Should Hire the Pros to Do</h2> <p>It's true that you can do a lot to improve your home and decor (and have a lot of fun doing it). However, it's also important to know and obey your limits, and we all have our limits. Here are a few projects you <em>shouldn't</em> tackle on your own.</p> <h3>Asbestos Removal</h3> <p>A lot of us have those 9x9 titles in our basements and kitchens, but if you suspect your flooring might contain asbestos, it's best to have it tested before doing any DIY demolition. When in good condition, asbestos tiles doesn't pose much threat. When damaged, the fibers become <a href="">airborne and crumble easily</a>, so it's best to leave the work to experts or leave it alone entirely.</p> <h3>Amateur Handyman</h3> <p>If your local municipality requires a permit for something &mdash; like <a href="">electrical work</a>, plumbing, or knocking down walls, etc. &mdash; you might not have the skills to tackle it on your own. Rather than search around for a quick fix, you'll probably save more money (and your health and safety) in the long run by calling in a professional.</p> <h3>Roofing Repairs</h3> <p>My neighbor recently tore off and re-installed roofing on his garage. A project lower to the ground might be okay, but if you're going to go on a super tall ladder, you should leave it to the professionals. That goes for anything up high, as falls from ladders sent <a href="">246,733 Americans</a> to hospital ERs back in 2009. Don't become a statistic!</p> <p><em>Have you tackled any DIY home projects lately? How'd it come out? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="17 DIY Projects to Make Your Home Look Amazing (and 3 You Shouldn&#039;t Try) " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Home DIY home maintenance home projects Home repair Tue, 24 Jun 2014 17:00:05 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1146613 at Make Your Computer Last (Almost) Forever With Some Simple Tricks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/make-your-computer-last-almost-forever-with-some-simple-tricks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="computer repair" title="computer repair" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There is a piece of electronics in my house that I couldn't do without. I need it for communication, research, entertainment, work, basic household functioning, our homeschool lessons, and to occasionally keep my kids' occupied while I make an important phone call or get dinner on the table. There's a good chance it is equally as important to you, too. (See also: <a href="">Why You Should Buy a Desktop Computer</a>)</p> <p>The computer has become one of our most needed and essential items in our homes and when it breaks or &mdash; even worse &mdash; dies for good, we are lost without it and forced into an expenditure that we may not be ready to make. Keeping your computer up and running for many years is vital for your productivity, your sanity, and your wallet.</p> <p>To keep it lasting forever, it is important to practice diligence with the protection, cleaning, maintenance, and care of your computer. Read on to learn all the ways you can do just that.</p> <h2>Protection</h2> <p>A good defense is the game to play when it comes to computer maintenance. Prevent problems from occurring in the first place with these protections in place.</p> <h3>Block Viruses</h3> <p>The first order of business upon opening your brand new computer is to install virus protection. An adequately protected computer will keep you from the loss of important files and personal data and will give you a smoothly functioning operating system. While a virus, malware, or spyware will probably not cause you the loss of your hard drive, it is best to have what is internally stored on your computer as safe as possible. Free virus protection can be downloaded from <a href="">Avast</a>, <a href="">AVG Free</a> or <a href="">Microsoft</a>.</p> <h3>Clear Space</h3> <p>While viruses, spyware, and malware can slow down your computer's system, files saved to the hard-drive can do the same thing. To keep you computer running smoothly, it is best to save files on an external hard-drive. These hard drives plug into your computer and are perfect for storing data that is taking up space within your computer. The more space available on your hard drive, the better it runs.</p> <h3>Safeguard Electronics</h3> <p>A rush of electrical current to your computer can burn the components and cause you to lose data, as well as the computer, so always plug it into a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=761520&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=AYHZC3PBOB73ZSM5">surge protector</a>.</p> <h2>Cleaning</h2> <p>Like your home, car, or anything else you value, computers should be cleaned regularly to keep them from working harder than they need to. This can be as simple as wiping down surfaces or as complicated as taking your PC tower apart to do some internal clean up.</p> <h3>Monitor</h3> <p>Cleaning the monitor is a quick task that should be done weekly or as needed to keep oils and debris from breaking down the components. Using a special monitor cleaning product is usually not necessary, and LifeHacker actually suggests that <a href="">plain water is the best solution</a>. Be sure to use a scratch-free cloth made from microfiber or a clean T-shirt and have your monitor powered down before cleaning. Directly spraying the monitor is not recommended.</p> <h3>Keyboard</h3> <p>A dirty keyboard isn't just a health hazard, it can result in stuck keys or or completely dead keyboard. By unplugging the keyboard and turning it upside down, you can free any particularly loose materials right away. Blowing compressed air into the keyboard will clean out any debris that may be sticking to the keys. If you have a particularly sticky key (or when cleaning your trackpad), dip a cotton swab into rubbing alcohol and clean the area gently.</p> <h3>Fan</h3> <p>It is also essential to clean dust that collects on the fan and any other small crevices. Dust collecting on the fan of your computer can cause it to overheat and burn up. Regular cleaning with compressed air will help keep your laptop or computer working for years to come. (Much of this can be done without opening anything, but if you live in a particularly dusty area, a <a href="">deep cleaning</a> may be necessary.)</p> <h2>Internal Maintenance</h2> <p>Keeping the internals operating efficiently does not require a lot of complicated hackery, just some basic maintenance, with software tools you probably already have.</p> <h3>Defragment</h3> <p>Much like regular cleaning, your computer needs regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly. Defragmenting should be done once a month to clean out your computer's temporary files. If you are running a newer version of Windows (7 or 8), defragmenting is done regularly by your computer. However, older versions of Windows and those people who have their computer turned off during the <a href="">scheduled defragmentation</a> (usually 2 a.m. on Wednesdays) will need to manually defragment their hard drives.</p> <h3>Clutter</h3> <p>Cleaning up a cluttered desk top can significantly increase PC speed, as well as dumping the Recycle Bin at least once a month. (Tools like <a href="">CCleaner</a> are free and can assist with some of these processes.)</p> <h3>Battery</h3> <p>If you haven't thought about your computer's battery lately, you should! The battery should be completely drained at least once a month and then be allowed to fully charge before being used again. This draining and recharging cycle keeps your battery fully operational. If you are using a laptop, it is also good to unplug it regularly and rely on the battery to keep it working.</p> <h2>Care</h2> <p>More than anything you can do for your computer, taking care with how you handle and use it is the most important. Computers are damaged and ruined beyond repair due to careless and uneducated users.</p> <h3>Keep Liquids Away</h3> <p>Most of us are guilty of doing this; when you work at your desk, you want a drink handy, whether it is your morning cup of coffee, water throughout the day, or a glass of wine as you wind down in the evening. However, that beverage could easily spill and ruin your computer. It's best to keep it out of reach of your computer or, at the very least, in something with a lid.</p> <h3>Ensure Proper Ventilation</h3> <p>If you own a laptop, it's nice to take it to the couch or into bed with you while you surf the internet. However, this seemingly normal task could be destroying your computer and it's motor. They need space underneath for air to flow through and a soft surface from a blanket or cushion could cause it to overheat. If you are going to be laying in bed, place a book or a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=490924011&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=QUBZ2KBXPNH3QK35">lap desk</a> under your laptop while you work. The best place for it, is on a hard surface with a cooling pad or fan underneath. This will protect it from overheating at all times.</p> <h3>Safely Transport</h3> <p>Transporting your laptop can also be the cause for irreparable damage. Whether you are carrying your laptop in your hand or in a bag, something can go wrong if you are not doing it properly. Laptops should always be turned off and carried with two hands when walking around, and the monitor should be down. (See also: <a href="">11 Cool Uses for a Tablet Computer</a>)</p> <p>When transporting it in a bag, it is important to have it inside a case. A neoprene case that slips snugly around the laptop will keep it from being broken if it bangs into something in your bag and prevent anything like food or sharp objects from getting into the ports on the side of the laptop.</p> <p>You should also consider unplugging the power cord from the unit when not charging or in use, the small hole (or &quot;jack&quot;) where the plug goes in can become loose over time, causing your laptop to be unable to be charged and resulting in a costly $75+ repair.</p> <h2>Upgrades</h2> <p>Most manufacturers will tell you that the average lifespan of a laptop is 2-3 years and a desktop computer 3-5 years, but this is typically due to newer technology being developed. If you keep your computer running smoothly and upgrade the operating system every few years, there is no reason it can not outlive what is &quot;average.&quot; In addition, it's possible to get more life for your gadget by upgrading the following:</p> <h3>RAM (memory)</h3> <p>One of the most effective ways to give new life to your computer, giving memory a boost can be a DIY project. <a href="">This classic article from PCWorld</a> still applies, and most upgrades can run between $40 to $200 with the cost of the memory product and any tools you'll need to perform the task.</p> <h3>Hard Drive</h3> <p>If you have a drive crash, or just feel like you would like a better brand/model, switching out your hard drive may be something you can do at home. It's <a href="">not a simple process</a>, but it definitely can be one of the best &quot;CPR&quot; procedures you can do for a PC or Mac.</p> <h3>Video Card</h3> <p>If you find your computer lagging a bit, or unable to play newer, faster games, you may simply find a new video card to be the fix you need. Cards range in price from $75 to $500, so do some research to buy the least costly solution for your PC or laptop.</p> <p>Proper protection, maintenance, cleaning, and care only take a few minutes each month to ensure a long lifespan for our most-essential of electronics.</p> <p><em>How do you keep your computer running smoothly? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Make Your Computer Last (Almost) Forever With Some Simple Tricks" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Technology computer care computer maintenance computers laptops Thu, 19 Jun 2014 13:00:03 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1145125 at The Manly Guide to Saving Money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-manly-guide-to-saving-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="pushups" title="pushups" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Gentlemen, it is well past time to reclaim the habits and skills that set us apart and define who we are. Put aside the smartphone and the take hold of your tool bag &mdash; there's work to do! (And ladies, feel free to ignore the bluster and pick up some tools, too. Anybody can do this stuff.) (See also: <a href="">10 Easy to Learn Skills That Will Save You Money</a>)</p> <h2>Fix Your Own Car</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" src="//" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Automobile repairs can be incredibly costly when you factor in parts and labor. Considering that many of us don't have a clue when looking under the hood, DIY repairs are not always practical or safe. However, there are a number of things that you can do to ensure your car is running optimally.</p> <p>By learning how to perform basic maintenance like <a href="">changing your oil</a>, <a href="">replacing the air filter</a>, and <a href="">rotating your tires</a>, you can expect benefits like better gas mileage, increased engine life, reduced emissions, and an overall smoother ride.</p> <h2>Maintain Your Body</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" src="//" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Between drumming up the motivation to drag yourself to the gym, the time it takes to get there, and the cost of membership, pumping iron or taking a spin class adds up to quite a bit of cash.</p> <p>The basic equipment necessary to <a href="">build a versatile home gymnasium</a> is fairly inexpensive and very effective. Depending on your fitness goals, you may be able to get the body you want by simply <a href="">using your own bodyweight</a>.</p> <p>Now that you have the equipment needed to sculpt your dream physique, heed the advice of some personal trainers that are happy to make house calls for the low, low price of free. YouTube is the home of professional <a href="">bodybuilders</a>, <a href="">yoga trainers</a>, <a href="">pilates instructors</a>, and <a href="">fitness gurus</a>, all of whom want to help you get in the best shape of your life.</p> <h2>Extend the Life of Your Razor</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" src="//" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Everyone knows that disposable razor cartridges are expensive but necessary&hellip; right? By adopting some simple habits, you can extend the life of your cartridge razor exponentially. (See also: <a href="">Save Money With a Classic Wet Shave</a>)</p> <p>First, ensure that your blades are dry. Water corrodes and causes imperfections in the blades, which dulls them. Next, <a href="">hone your blades</a> to smooth out the imperfections that develop over time. (See also: <a href="">Save Money on Shaving With These Razor Tricks</a>)</p> <p>Better yet, ditch your multi-blade razor altogether and <a href="">spring for a quality straight razor</a>. Not only is it infinitely cooler, but also allows a closer shave. Granted, practice is necessary to master the craft and shaving will take a little more time and concentration, but you'll save a small fortune by avoiding disposable cartridges.</p> <p>If scraping something against your face that has been used as murder weapon in movies like &quot;The Godfather&quot; and &quot;Gangs of New York&quot; isn't appealing, consider an old-timey <a href="">safety razor</a>. (See also: <a href="">Shave With a 100 Year Old Cutthroat Razor and Save</a>)</p> <p>And in case you were wondering, ladies, <a href="">straight razors aren't just for men</a>.</p> <h2>Cut Your Own Hair</h2> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" src="//" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Unless you plan to give yourself a buzz cut, cutting your own hair can seem like an arduous task for someone without formal training. The risk of botching the job and having to sport it in public may be a deterrent for some, but if you can muster the courage to start snipping, you'll find that it is actually quite easy to give yourself a trim.</p> <p>There are numerous how-to videos on YouTube for both <a href="">men</a> and <a href="">women</a>, and the tutorials range from the very simple to salon-level complexity. With a little determination and patience, you could add weeks to your professional cut.</p> <h2>Ride a Bicycle</h2> <p><h2ride your="" h2=""> </h2ride></p> <p><iframe width="605" height="340" frameborder="0" src="//" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>We all know that the more you drive your car, the more its value plummets. Unfortunately for most, owning a vehicle is a necessary evil. For those fortunate enough to live in close proximity to their place of employment and amenities, foregoing a car for a bicycle not only saves an incredible sum of money, but has numerous health and <a href="">environmental</a> benefits.</p> <p>You get all that without giving up your independence to slog it on public transport? Cycling is a no-brainer.</p> <p>These are just some of the many ways you can recover your autonomy and save in the process. As founding father Benjamin Franklin used to say, &quot;An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.&quot;</p> <p><em>How have you reclaimed your independence? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The Manly Guide to Saving Money" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ryan Lynch</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Lifestyle DIY frugality saving Wed, 18 Jun 2014 15:00:03 +0000 Ryan Lynch 1144615 at Should You Be Paying Someone Else to Do These 7 Common Chores? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/should-you-be-paying-someone-else-to-do-these-7-common-chores" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="tired cleaning" title="tired cleaning" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>DIY has been getting a lot of good press lately as we all process the lessons of the Great Recession and get more in-touch with our self-reliant selves. But is DIY always the smartest way to go? Considering money saved versus potential money-earned and other cost-benefit analyses, when is DIY a smart saving strategy, and when is it a waste of time? Here are seven typical DIY projects and approximate associated savings. (See also: <a href="">Why the Time-Value of Money Matters</a>)</p> <h2>1. Basic Auto Maintenance</h2> <p>You don't need to take a class in auto mechanics or invest in a pneumatic impact wrenches and a hydraulic car lift. But by checking fluids and tire pressure regularly, knowing how to replace an air filter or fuse, and learning a few other <a href="">DIY auto maintenance</a> skills, you can save some serious cash in the short- and long-term. Though car repair and maintenance costs differ based on the state you live in and the task, hourly rates of mechanics in the US range from $115.00 to $150.00.</p> <h2>2. Tax Preparation</h2> <p>One of the wonderful things about the Information Age is the access each of us has to software once reserved for the pros. This access comes in particularly handy at tax time when, if your tax situation isn't too complicated, you can complete and file a simple return online all with the help of intuitive software and easy-to-use programs &mdash; <a href="">sometimes even for free</a>.</p> <p>Like most things in life, the key to stress-free tax preparation is keeping meticulous records and carving out enough time to do it and do it right. Next year, crunch the numbers yourself and see if it makes sense to prepare and file your taxes on your own &mdash; especially considering that according to the National Society of Accountants, the <a href="">average cost</a> to file a federal return in 2013 was $261.00. (See also: <a href="">Turn Last Year's Taxes Into This Year's Financial Spring Cleaning</a>)</p> <h2>3. Yard Work</h2> <p>It's hard to convince most people of the joys and health benefits of yard work. Considering that the average cost of two hour's worth of lawn-mowing services in my part of the country can be as low as $11.85, I can see why many folks opt to skip this particular form of DIY in exchange for a little R&amp;R. This handy <a href="">ZIP Code based rate calculator</a> from Homewyse can help you see what the high and low lawn care rates are in your neck of the woods.</p> <p>Still committed to the idea of DIY lawn care? Relieve some of the drudgery by involving the whole family and sharing the work for a few hours a couple of days each week, then reward everyone with a movie and pizza afterward. Not so skilled at the finer points of lawn care? <a href="">Try this recipe</a> to turn that brown lawn into a carpet of green.</p> <h2>4. House Cleaning</h2> <p>House cleaning is a lot like yard work &mdash; it's easy to lean toward a non-DIY approach because of the sheer drudgery and time commitment involved. According to Angie's List, average <a href="">hourly rates for house cleaners</a> fall between $25.00-$35.00, though those numbers seem a bit high for many parts of the country. In this category, a clear cost-benefit analysis has to include factors like how much stress a dirty or disorganized environment causes you, any gains in productivity you'd achieve with this particular to-do off your list, and &mdash; since housecleaning doesn't pair well with multitasking &mdash; the amount of leisure time or productive time that's sacrificed with this activity.</p> <h2>5. Car Washing</h2> <p>My local touchless car wash has four pricing options: The &quot;deluxe&quot; option is $8.00, and it includes a wash, spot-free rinse, the application of some sort of wax protectant, and a blow dry at the very end. Options decrease in price and features from there, going as low as $5.00. Granted, I could save a buck or two by washing my car myself (the old bucket, sponge, and shammy method), but honestly either option seems better than paying for a full-service hand wash. An express hand wash at the location nearest to me is $31.00. With tip, that's four times more than the most expensive touchless option.</p> <p>The lesson here is this: There are varying degrees of DIY. Even when we resolve not pay someone else to our grunt-work, there's a range of what I call &quot;semi-DIY&quot; options that are still convenient and relatively quick.</p> <h2>6. Dining Out</h2> <p>Though we may not think of this way, every time we pull up to the drive-through window or sit down to order in a restaurant, we're outsourcing cooking and meal prep. With dining out, however, the costs are a bit more difficult to pin down; prices vary based on region, type of meal, service level, food choices, gratuity, and other add-ons.</p> <p>Still, it's important to think of the costs of restaurant meals holistically. What are the health consequences of not being able to control portion size or ingredients? What comparable dish could you make at home with minimal effort, tools, time, and money?</p> <p>For example, if dinner at your favorite restaurant costs $17.00, how much would it cost to create a similar meal at home and how might that meal be healthier? How many more meals would the ingredients produce? Would cooking be time lost, or is it something you enjoy and could pair with another activity? What's specifically is gained in buying prepared food and are those gains impossible to maintain if you cooked at home?</p> <p>If you'd like to try more DIY meals, start a collection of quick and simple recipes that you can make without dozens of ingredients and a kitchen full of specialized wonder-gadgets. If you have the time, make more than you need or make a few meals ahead and freeze the rest for quick and healthy solutions that keep you miles away from McCuisine. (See also: 2 <a href="">5 Healthy Recipes for Lazy People</a>)</p> <h2>7. Dry Cleaning</h2> <p>A dear friend of mine works in an office where business professional attire is the standard. And, though I have no firm numbers to prove it, her monthly dry-cleaning expenses must exceed my monthly cell phone bill. Still, she continues to buy clothing that can only be dry cleaned. Suits and formal wear aside, with all the advances in microfibers and washable wool, why are we still stuffing our closets with items that need to be carted off to a specialist to be properly cleaned?</p> <p>Okay, now I'll step off my soapbox and suggest a few DIY options and alternatives for some of those dry-clean only items. Hand-washing in cold water and air-drying, using an at-home dry-cleaning kit, or freshening up clothes with a good steam ironing can keep you out of the dry-cleaners or at least make your visit far less frequent. <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=home%20dry%20cleaning%20kit&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Ahome%20dry%20cleaning%20kit&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Daps&amp;linkId=TKFMPSEZT6TTEV5T">At-home dry cleaning kits</a> run about $10.00. Though the effectiveness and number of treatments vary by brand, success with these kits usually depends on thorough pre-treating with water or stain-remover.</p> <p>Of course, the response I often hear against the idea of DIY goes something like this: &quot;If I earn $45.00 an hour, I actually <em>save</em> money by hiring a lower-wage worker to take care of certain tasks and using the spare time to earn more money or recharge.&quot; And that's a completely fair conclusion. The key is understanding what the real savings are when we choose to complete a task ourselves or hire it done.</p> <p><em>Are you a committed DIYer? What tasks would you gladly pay someone else to do if the costs and benefits supported it?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Should You Be Paying Someone Else to Do These 7 Common Chores?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kentin Waits</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Lifestyle car maintenance cost cutting house cleaning yard work Thu, 05 Jun 2014 21:00:33 +0000 Kentin Waits 1141612 at 31 Reasons Why I'm in Love With Thrift Shopping (and You Should Be Too) <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/31-reasons-why-im-in-love-with-thrift-shopping-and-you-should-be-too" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="shopping" title="shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I realize I'm a strange animal. My palms tingle a little bit when I approach a thrift store. All my senses sharpen. The rest of the world fades into watercolor tones and muffled sounds. I can park, grab my wallet, hop out, and lock my car in a single fluid Matrix-inspired movement. Once inside, I can size up a thrift store in seconds: Who's the serious competition and who's just browsing? Is the store too organized or wonderfully chaotic? What's newly-stocked, and what's stale? (See also: <a href="">The 5 Best Deals in Every Thrift Store</a>)</p> <p>I've been a die-hard thrifter since I was 13 years old, and now, as I approach the midpoint of my 40's, my love affair with thrifting has only deepened. If you're a serious second-hand shopper, you may recognize many of your own motivations in the list that follows. And if you've never tried thrifting, consider all these reasons to fall madly in love with it.</p> <p>1. Where else can the average person go on a <a href="">real-life treasure hunt</a>? (I'll save you the click: Man finds copy of an 1823 print of the Declaration of Independence, worth almost $500k, in a thrift store!)</p> <p>2. Saving 75% on retail is just like getting a 75% return on your money.</p> <p>3. Used items are tried and true and (usually) come without surprises.</p> <p>4. Those second-hand jeans are already broken-in.</p> <p>5. Shop for good! Your purchases often help fund charitable causes.</p> <p>6. Thrifting is recycling at its most basic and beneficial level.</p> <p>7. There are all different <a href="">kinds of thrift stores</a>, and they tend to have the widest, wildest, most unpredictable inventory in the business.</p> <p>8. Because retail prices hurt!</p> <p>9. If older means made better, thrift stores have all the good stuff!</p> <p>10. Thrift stores are the perfect places to find an expensive weekend project.</p> <p>11. You can furnish a dorm room or college apartment on a shoestring.</p> <p>12. Thrift stores are windows into our culture &mdash; mix shopping with sociology.</p> <p>13. Thrifting keeps your kids out of the mall (and that's always a good thing).</p> <p>14. You can never have too many copies of &quot;<a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0060724277&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=VDNXEFPAVT543SRT">I'm OK, You're OK</a>.&quot;</p> <p>15. Sometimes, thrifting <a href="">pays off big</a>. (Again, saving you a click: North Carolina woman buys abstract painting worth $20k for $9.99.)</p> <p>16. Missing an obscure piece of your grandmother's china? Be patient; you'll eventually find it at a thrift store.</p> <p>17. Retail emporiums are homogenous. Thrifting lets you find something that no one else has.</p> <p>18. When you're thrifting, you're not directly increasing the industrial demand for more.</p> <p>19. You can brag about how much you saved.</p> <p>20. Because new books cost at least $14.99.</p> <p>21. Thrift stores are a picker's paradise. Vintage clothes and other items can be flipped for profit.</p> <p>22. Shopping second hand sets a great example for your kids. The value of thrift, creative reuse, and community support are noble lessons!</p> <p>23. Everything is prewashed and preshrunk. When a piece of <a href="">thrift store clothing</a> fits you in the dressing room, you know it'll fit when you get it home.</p> <p>24. Thrifting can be just a little competitive (in a good way). The friendly rivalry between serious thrifters produces more admiration than envy.</p> <p>25. Every day is new. Inventory turns over so quickly in some markets that you seldom see the same stuff twice.</p> <p>26. Thrift stores are time capsules into pop culture history. Teach your kids about <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0002DB5N6&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=R352XG4BCCHR6Q2O">ALF</a>, Rubik's Cube, Etch A Sketch, lava lamps, and Milli Vanilli.</p> <p>27. You can find items that have long since gone out of production. From out-of-print books to jeans with the perfect cut, thrift stores let us rediscover some of our favorite things.</p> <p>28. Because thrifting isn't just about finding old stuff; there are new items too!</p> <p>29. Because your depression-era parents or grandparents would be proud.</p> <p>30. Thrifting is arguably the most local and sustainable form of commerce.</p> <p>31. Thrift stores are the perfect places to find <a href="">back-to-school bargains</a>.</p> <p>There you have it, my belated valentine to thrift-shopping. Of course there are many more reasons to love this half-sport half-science. What are some of yours?</p> <p><em>Are you an avid thrift shopper? Why do you love it? What's been your best find to date? Please share a comment below (even a recycled one)!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="31 Reasons Why I&#039;m in Love With Thrift Shopping (and You Should Be Too)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kentin Waits</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Lifestyle Shopping bargains thrift stores thrifting Tue, 03 Jun 2014 18:01:08 +0000 Kentin Waits 1141160 at WATCH: 7 DIY Fails That Will Inspire You to Call an Expert <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/watch-7-diy-fails-that-will-inspire-you-to-call-an-expert" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="demolition" title="demolition" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>What makes a project a good Do-it-yourself candidate? Low-risk, for one: <a href="">making a collage</a> isn&rsquo;t going to implode your roof, and <a href="">cutting up your old denim</a> to make a quilt isn&rsquo;t going to result in a trip to the emergency room. (Unless of course you forget to take the jeans off before starting&hellip;)</p> <p>But some home projects just <a href="">shouldn&rsquo;t be attempted</a> by anyone other than a professional. Don&rsquo;t believe it? Just watch these crazy DIY fails.</p> <p>1. Starting with the most obvious potential no-no: demolition. If it involves knocking out support beams, call a contractor and avoid demolishing yourself.</p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" src="//"></iframe></p> <p>2. If a tree falls on an ill-advised DIY project, does 911 hear it?</p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" src="//" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>3. And for exhibit B that massive trees (especially those next to your lovely house) should be cut down by an expert:</p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" src="//" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>4. Think interior construction is safe? Then check out the results of poor bathroom design in possibly the scariest video yet.</p> <p><iframe width="480" height="360" frameborder="0" src="//" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>5. What&rsquo;s worse, not being able to reach the toilet paper, or this painful home improvement fail?</p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" src="//" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>6. Contractors aren&rsquo;t the only pros you should consider calling for home jobs. Furniture movers can be a solid call too, just ask the guy in this video, as soon as he digs himself out&hellip;</p> <p><iframe width="480" height="360" frameborder="0" src="//" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>7. And finally, a fail for possibly the simplest task in home maintenance as a reminder that anything can be risky when done carelessly. How many dumb DIYers does it take to screw in a lightbulb anyway?</p> <p><iframe width="480" height="360" frameborder="0" src="//" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="WATCH: 7 DIY Fails That Will Inspire You to Call an Expert" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Joe Epstein</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY General Tips Real Estate and Housing DIY Home repair Mon, 19 May 2014 15:04:32 +0000 Joe Epstein 1139271 at 10 Easy to Learn Skills That Will Save You Money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-easy-to-learn-skills-that-will-save-you-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="haircut" title="haircut" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>That Double Mocha Coconut Latte Colossus sprinkled with chocolate &mdash; and you don't think you can make this at home yourself? And save yourself a few bucks in the process?</p> <p>Probably you can, but let's start with something that doesn't require an espresso machine. Here are some skills you can learn quickly that will help you save some big bucks in the long run.</p> <h2>1. Change Your Car's Oil</h2> <p>Cars have become increasingly complicated in the past 20 years. What's under the hood now resembles a small nuclear power plant. But <a href="">changing the oil</a> has not changed one iota. Usually the lowest component of the engine has a threaded plug you remove to let the oil out. You need a pan to catch the oil and a cheap specialty wrench to remove the oil filter. Refilling takes knowing the car's oil capacity and the ability to pour liquid into a funnel. That costs $15 to $40 around most of the country and takes less than a half hour. Three or more oil changes a year times 10 years, you save up to $1,200 in a decade at the cost of 15 hours of work.</p> <h2>2. Sew a Button</h2> <p>Button-down shirts cost $30 to $100 and up. Pants cost roughly the same. To <a href="">sew a button</a> and save an unnecessary throw-away, you need to learn how to thread a needle, tie a knot in the thread, and stick the needle through cloth. A button might take a total klutz 15 minutes or so, and it's a skill that almost teaches itself. If all else fails, trial and error costs nothing more than a little thread, 15 minutes and a few of those small, round bandaids. Piece of cake.</p> <h2>3. Give a Haircut</h2> <p>What does a trip to the hair stylist cost these days? Scissors, some forgiveness, practice or even just knowing how to change the depth setting on <a href="">some electric clippers</a>, and you can pretty much <a href="">cut your hair yourself</a>. (Just watch the ears, please.) That will save you an average of $25 per trim or $75 to $100 per year.</p> <h2>4. Make a Sandwich (Or Learn to Cook)</h2> <p>Americans spend an average of $936 per year or $18 per week on lunches bought in restaurants, a survey released in September 2013 by Visa said. So imagine what you could save just learning how to make one new interesting sandwich that would prompt you to cut that expenditure in half? Need some ideas? How about <a href="">a different sandwich every day</a>?</p> <p>In addition, a consumer survey by AlixPartners, released in March said that 57% of American eat dinner in restaurants once a week, spending an average of $13.55 per meal or $704.60 per year. It's not free to eat at home, but you could still save plenty if you do. (See also: <a href="">Cooking for Beginners</a>)</p> <h2>5. Dog Grooming</h2> <p>You pay what to have someone shampoo your dog and give it a fluffy brushing? Anyone with bored kids at home and a dog that needs a bath is blowing an opportunity and money, too, by taking the dog to the mall to see a canine stylist. (And while we're on the subject, learning to clean a dog's teeth is not beyond the realm of possibilities, either.)</p> <h2>6. Read a Contract</h2> <p>True story: When I bought a house, I went to a seminar on &quot;How To Buy A House,&quot; at a local bank and for a half an hour listened to a realtor tell the audience that it was seven steps past impossible to think about buying a home without a realtor. What do they do that is that hard? First, they are more impartial than the buyer or the seller, so they are useful as cool, calm, and collected brokers, but beyond that, here is their biggest skill: They know how to read. Well, it turns out the contract was in English, go figure, and I saved $6,000 by reading it myself, showing, in the end, one small paragraph that I didn't understand to a lawyer, and he gave me some advice on that, for free, because he was a friend and he owed me one.</p> <h2>7. Learn a Little Plumbing</h2> <p>Open the back of a toilet and a wondrous world of simple tinkering awaits you. Most of them have those float-arm things or one of those trip lever things &mdash; it really isn't rocket science to figure this out. Fixing a toilet is kind of like playing the game &quot;Mousetrap,&quot; but partly submerged in water. Meanwhile, your local hardware store sells a trip lever for under $12, while &quot;I've never seen a plumber under $80 per hour,&quot; a response on Yahoo! Answers says.</p> <p>The situation gets more absurd when you call a plumber to fix a leaky sink, which requires replacing a rubber gasket that used to cost pennies. Yes, you usually need one of those wrenchy-thingies, but that doesn't sound too difficult to operate. (See also: <a href="">Easy Plumbing Repairs That Don't Require a Plumber</a>)</p> <h2>8. Design a Website</h2> <p>A plausible online story says that a small business in New York gave three Web development companies the same set of criteria and came up with bids of<a href=""> $2,800, $5,500 and $13,000</a> from the companies to do the work. And the same work can be done for free with one of the simpler web design programs, like <a href="">PageBreeze</a>, <a href="">KompoZer</a>, <a href="">WordPress</a>, and the like. Yes, not long ago it took a pro to code a website together, but nowadays if you can use Microsoft Office it is likely you can learn to create a website.</p> <h2>9. Negotiate</h2> <p>&quot;How to negotiate&quot; tapes and tutorials are easy to find and the outcome may be securing a bigger raise then you might have otherwise gotten or getting a better starting salary. Negotiating well can also save you hundreds of dollars on your next car and thousands of dollars on your next house. Some people have fair luck negotiating lower fees from doctors or for services around the house. When you learn a specific approach to negotiating, you might also try to negotiate in situations you might not have done so in the past, because you have a system that could boost your confidence. (See also: <a href="">How to Negotiate With Confidence</a>)</p> <h2>10. Tax Preparation</h2> <p>The National Society of Accountants did a survey in 2013 and found the average <a href="">cost for tax preparation was just under $200</a> and the average return for taxpayers was about $260. Do you see the problem here? Of course, complicated business taxes are generally best handled by professionals, but it is possible to learn how to fill out your income tax return if it fairly straight forward, rather than giving most of your return to the a tax service &mdash; especially when there is so much help online for getting it done yourself.</p> <p><em>Any easy to learn, money saving skills I've overlooked? Please share in comments &mdash; it's easy!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Easy to Learn Skills That Will Save You Money" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Anthony Hall</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY DIY money saving skills Wed, 14 May 2014 09:00:27 +0000 Anthony Hall 1139225 at 9 Amazing DIY Lamps You Want in Your House <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-amazing-diy-lamps-you-want-in-your-house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="lamp" title="lamp" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A good lamp does more than just shed light. With the right size, shape, color, and texture a lamp can compliment your furnishings and demonstrate your sense of style. To paraphrase the immortal words of The Dude, it really ties the room together. But new lamps can be expensive, and <a href="">thrift store</a> lamps, while affordable, can be hit or miss. Why not take matters into your own hands? We've rounded up nine amazing DIY lamps that can be made with simple materials, and customized to complement (or contrast!) your existing decor. (See also: <a href="">30 Awesome Decorating Hacks</a>)</p> <h2>1. Stacked Cookie Tin Lamp</h2> <p>Have you been the recipient of homemade treats in reusable tins? You could save them up for re-gifting during the holidays, or you could make this clever lamp. The creators of this <a href="">floor lamp</a> suggest painting the tins or covering them in a textured fabric for an even more unique look. Use a short stack to make it a table lamp! (See also: <a href="">40 Ways to Decorate With Spray Paint</a>)</p> <h2>2. Paper Gift Bow Pendant Lamp</h2> <p>Are the bows your favorite part of a wrapped gift? Then this <a href="">bow lamp</a> might be the project for you. Fold your favorite colored paper into a unique shade for a pendant lamp.</p> <h2>3. Recycled CD Case Lamp</h2> <p>If you've long since switched to digital music, but aren't sure what to do with all of those plastic jewel cases, this is the perfect upcycling project. Turn them into a <a href="">one-of-a-kind desk lamp</a> that makes a perfect Father's Day gift. (See also: <a href="">Free Ways to Celebrate Father's Day</a>)</p> <h2>4. Designer Paper Yarn Lamp</h2> <p>Paper yarn? Yep it's a thing. Even better, it's a thing you can use to make <a href="">pendant light shades</a> or regular lampshades. This version uses a 2-liter soda bottle as the form, but you could use anything &mdash; maybe even the lampshade you're replacing?</p> <h2>5. Enameled Colander Lamp</h2> <p>The perfect lamp for foodies, this idea turns an <a href="">old colander</a> into a beautiful pendant light fixture. It also works with a large salad bowl! (See also: <a href="">Kitchen Cast-Offs You Can Repurpose</a>)</p> <h2>6. Skyscraper Lamp</h2> <p>If you're looking for unique &quot;mood&quot; lighting, the geometric patterns created by this lamp made from <a href="">stacked wooden dowels</a> is quite pleasing.</p> <h2>7. Tin Can Lantern</h2> <p><a href="">Summer</a> will soon be here, and that means lots of outdoor meals and relaxing on the patio. Add a magical flare to your next summer party with this lantern made from a <a href="">recycled tin can</a>.</p> <h2>8. Hanging Paper Orb Lamp</h2> <p>Made using decorative paper cupcake liners, these <a href="">paper orbs</a> is a textured twist on the classic paper globe lamp.</p> <h2>9. Stacked Book Table Lamp</h2> <p>This is the perfect project for someone who hates seeing old books end up in the wastebasket. Turn them into a delightful <a href="">vintage-looking table lamp</a> instead!</p> <p><em>Have you made any awesome DIY lamps we want in our house? Please share them in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="9 Amazing DIY Lamps You Want in Your House" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Beth Buczynski</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Home crafts DIY lamps lighting upcycle Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:24:21 +0000 Beth Buczynski 1135882 at