Have you ever noticed that your big life decisions leave you to figure it out for yourself, while the little stuff--toasters and power tools, for example--come with pages and pages of instruction? If you're thinking it's time to buy your first home, but you feel like you need a "Homebuyer's Guide for Dummies" to figure out how, you're not alone. There are so many facets to home buying that it's easy to get overwhelmed, but once you break down the process into the basic components it's a lot easier to digest--like any journey, you take it one step at the time.
Topics: My House & Home
In a perfect world, sensitive data would remain private. You wouldn't have to worry that your private data would end up spread across the internet or stolen by hackers. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world--and it's critical that you know how to protect yourself as much as possible. The 2017 Equifax credit breach, for example, impacted more than 145 million individuals. Target's 2013 data breach impacted more than 41 million consumers, ultimately costing target more than $18 million. Do you know how to keep yourself safe in this fast-paced society? There are several things you need to know about data and credit breaches--and how you can keep yourself safe.
1. Handle Your Shopping Correctly
Credit cards often get a bad reputation in today's society. People avoid credit cards because of the potential to go into debt--but they forget about the potential advantages offered by those cards. If you're trying to protect your credit and your finances, consider shopping with a credit card instead of using cash or your debit card. Credit cards send clear, easy to track statements that you can check every month to ensure that there are no unfamiliar purchases. Credit cards also offer higher levels of protection against unauthorized purchases than your debit card company, which means that if someone does manage to access your private information, you can get your money back as soon as possible.
Topics: Safety & Security
Ahh spring.... This long, cold, wet winter is finally over--at least according to the calendar--and it's time to act on some of those Houzz and Pinterest-inspired home improvement projects you've been mulling over on those cold winter nights. Spring is springing, so now is the time to finalize your home improvement plans--decide what you're going to do, figure out the budget, and line up the contractors. Once the ground thaws out and it's warm enough to actually get outside, getting on a good contractor's schedule is a challenge--start interviewing as soon as you finish this article.
Topics: My House & Home
Creating a budget can be daunting to some, especially if finances are tight. And while it might seem initially scary to set limits on yourself and impose new rules, it does not have to be. If set up correctly, budgets can be freeing, believe it or not. They give you a better perspective on your spending habits, what to improve, and which areas of life you can allocate more money. And once you get into the habit of sticking to a budget, it gets easier and easier. Here are some ways to start:
The methods used to scam the general public out of their money are becoming more elaborate than ever. Advanced technology makes these methods look legitimate and familiar to the unsuspecting eye. As a result, credit card and debit fraud continues to be on the rise. The use of technology in our daily lives won't be going anywhere anytime soon, so it's important to know what steps to take to keep your money safe. Read these five essential steps of how to recognize credit and debit card fraud and the essential steps to avoid becoming a victim!
Going on a beautiful vacation doesn't have to cost a fortune. There are neat ways to save hundreds or even thousands on vacation expenses. One idea is to travel off-season. The benefit is that it costs less for airfares, destinations, and some hotels during times when tourism isn't so heavy. Another thing you can do is check out cities near your hometown. Some of those cities might cost less than the popular tourist cities, and they are just as fun. Here are additional ways to enjoy your vacation affordably.
Curb appeal: it's one of the most important attributes of your home. If you're planning to sell in the near future, you want to give potential buyers a great opinion of your home from the moment they pull up at the curb. If you aren't, you still want to raise that important curb appeal and make your visitors feel welcome as they fall in love with your home. These strategies will make raising your curb appeal easy.
1. Add a Pop of Color
Spring is an amazing time of year to add curb appeal to your home because it's simpler than ever. Visit a local nursery and choose flowers that you fall in love with. Annuals will be there for years to come! Tidy your flowerbeds or put in pretty beds around walkways or near the house. If you don't have space for beds, consider putting pots on your porch or near your front door.
Smart home technology is everywhere--and it offers a number of key advantages to many people. As you make decisions about what you want for your home, have you considered the benefits of smart home technology? Consider these key suggestions that could improve your life and make your home more comfortable than ever.
1. Video Doorbells
Whether you're home or not, it's always good to know who's at the door when they come knocking. Video doorbells connect directly to your phone, allowing you to see exactly who's at the door. If you aren't home, you can let delivery people know where to leave packages; if you are, you can let your visitor know it will be just another minute before you can come to the door. With your video doorbell, you'll always know who has come to visit.
With many Americans finding their 2018 income tax refunds a mere shadow of what they had been, now is the time to review your credit report to ensure it's in good shape--without that annual windfall to take care of old bills, you've got to be more strategic in how you manage your debt. Worse, if you owe any taxes for last year, it's imperative that you get your finances back on track so your borrowing power is strong.
Topics: My Finances