Ready To Go Rustic?

Rustic and farmhouse interior design are still in, and it isn’t going anywhere any time soon! If you’re ready to hop on board this trend, try introducing some of these favorite ideas into a room in your home. Take a look below!

Exposed wood. Whether you implement this in a small way, such as a coffee table, headboard, or chair, or go big with your remodel and add wooden beams or create a plank accent wall, exposed wood is essential to a rustic-style room. Make sure to combine various wood grains, colors, and finishes to add more depth and texture.

Fur. Whether you opt for real or faux, fur can be a unique feature piece and can bring together the room. Try a cowhide, bear, or sheepskin rug or purchase a fur throw for a couch or chair.

Accent materials. Incorporate iron or stone accents in furniture and décor, such as bar stools, coffee tables, overhead lighting, chandeliers, fireplaces, mantels, shelving, candleholders, and more.

Warm lighting. To give the room a cozy, relaxing feel, lean towards warm, yellow lightbulbs instead of LEDs or pick out some unique Edison bulbs for exposed lamps and decorative overhead lighting.

Small details. The magic is in the small details. Paint wood panels white or gray and letter your favorite saying on top. Purchase wooden picture frames, farmhouse signs, terracotta pots, wood slices, and mason jars and arrange them around the room.

Bold patterns. Mismatched quilts, layered rag rugs, and check-print chairs or blankets are great additions to any rustic room.

How To Save Money While Landscaping

Revamping your landscaping can be a huge undertaking. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money. So how can you give the exterior of your home a facelift without breaking the bank or taking out a second mortgage. There a many ways to cut costs on landscaping, including some of tips below!

Select perennial plants. Choosing perennial plants over annuals can help reduce both cost and time. These plants continue to bloom year over year with less upkeep so you won’t have to set aside more money for new plants and spend time replanting in the coming years.

Shop at the end of the season. Shop for plants, accessories, mulch, containers, and more towards the end of fall for the best savings. Most garden centers and nurseries are looking to clear out plants and tools before winter so you may be able to save up to 50 percent.

Creatively source materials. Often extra materials can be found at construction sites or other landscapers may be giving them away for discounted prices or even free on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Make sure you look around before paying full price for rocks, wood, gravel, and more.

Use a mix of materials. Building surfaces like pathways or patios can often carry a large price tag for both materials and installation. To reduce costs, consider mixing materials, such as gravel with pavers or concrete with cut stone, to create a unique surface for less.

Keep up maintenance. Taking care of your yard throughout the year can save you from high-cost repairs in the future. Make sure to weed regularly, reduce standing water, keep patios and pathways clean, and paint peeling fences.

Prepping To Buy Your First Home

One of the biggest milestones you will reach in your life will be deciding to become a homeowner. But before you take the leap, make sure you set yourself up for easy transaction and a good homebuying experience. Check out the tips below to ensure it!

Do your research. Familiarizing yourself with the home buying process before beginning your house hunt and finding a knowledgeable, experienced agent to represent you can make all the difference in securing your dream house and paying the best price for it.

Pay off other debts. Before you take on such a big, expensive purchase like buying a home, dedicate yourself to paying off your student loans, car loans, and credit card debt. Not only will this allow you to live more comfortably while you’re in your new home but it will allow you to be a better candidate for a home loan.

Save for the down payment. The majority of home buyers don’t pay in cash for their home, but the more you are able to put down, the better financial position you will be in. Create a budget early on, stick to it, and start saving well before you start seriously looking for your home. This will also help you determine the price range to search in.

Be patient. If this is your first home purchase, the process can feel intimidating and overwhelming and you may feel like you’ll never find a home that meets your wish list and is in your price range. But don’t lose hope. Stay patient and trust the process and your agent.

How To Get Ready For Retirement

For most people, retirement feels like a long way off. But, if you don’t start preparing as early as possible, you may find yourself in a place of financial insecurity when the time does come. To avoid this, consider implementing the following tips.

Calculate your target savings. In general, it’s recommended that you save between 10 to 15 percent of your income for retirement. However, you can always use an online savings calculator to determine the amount you need to save for your specific needs and goals.

Contribute to your employer’s retirement savings plan. Does your job offer a 401(k), traditional IRA, or Roth IRA? Sign up and start saving as soon as they allow you to. It’s recommended to set up automatic paycheck deductions and, once the money is in your retirement fund, don’t touch it.

Take advantage of employee benefits. Many employers offer matching which generally requires you contribute a certain percentage of each paycheck and your company will then contribute a matching amount with funds of their own. They might also offer health savings or flexible savings account. By contributing to these accounts, you reduce your amount of taxable income, allowing you to save more money.

Pay off your debts. Start by paying off any high-interest credit card debt first. Then look at other debts, such as student loans and car payments, and make a plan for paying those off incrementally.

Reduce daily spending. Although this feels like a no-brainer, spending your money thoughtfully now can make a big impact later. Seek out areas of your life where you can cut costs and stick to a budget.

Prep Your Pets For The Big Move

Your moving day is set and it’s time to start preparing. As you’re making your lists and checking them twice, don’t forget to factor in your furry friends. Here are some tips for making sure the process goes smoothly.

Medical records. When moving to a different city or state, one of the main things you need to take into consideration is finding a new veterinarian that is the right fit for you and your pet. If you have family or friends in the area ask for recommendations or do your own research by reading reviews and news articles. Once you find one, contact your current vet to initiate a transfer of medical records. Then schedule a “get to know you” appointment shortly after your move.

Transportation. Whether it’s a short drive or a long plane ride, you pet will likely need to be put into a carrier. For most pets, this is a foreign concept and they require time to get comfortable with it. Start acclimating your pet as early as possible and use comfort items like treats and favorite toys and blankets to make the experience a positive one for your pet.

Acclimation. Pad your moving schedule with ample time to get your dog or cat acclimated to their new home. While the movers are still hard at work, keep them safely away from foot traffic to reduce stress. Once they’ve left, make sure to clear anything that could be dangerous and block off areas as necessary then let them free to get a lay of the land on their own.

Top Tips For Disinfecting Your Home

In the current world we live in, it’s incredibly important to put a focus on finding strategies to keep ourselves and our families safe and healthy. Although our homes should be our safe place, germs and bacteria can be carried in daily. Here are a few tips to rid your home of those contaminants.

Clean regularly touched surfaces. Although washing your hands regularly is a great habit, there is still a chance germs can be transferred to surfaces. Disinfect areas that are touched regularly, like handles, light switches, tables, and countertops, with a microfiber cloth dipped in hot water and all-purpose cleaner.

Wash dishes the right way. If you use a dishwasher, make sure the water temperature is set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and use detergent that lists chlorine bleach as an ingredient.

Disinfect soft surfaces in the living room. Although disinfecting tables, light switches, and lamps is a great starting place, be sure to focus on pillows, couches, and chairs too. Purchase a disinfecting spray that is meant for fabrics to kill lingering bacteria and read and follow the instructions carefully to ensure it is effective.

Don’t forget your devices. Sanitizing TV remotes, video game controllers, computer keyboards and mice, and cell phones is crucial. Use disinfecting wipes to carefully sanitize all surfaces and buttons or, if you don’t have wipes, spray disinfectant on a paper towel then wipe the device.

Properly sanitize your laundry. One of the easiest ways bacteria travels into the home is on clothing. Set your washing machine either to the sanitize setting, or if not applicable, the warmest water temperature and use a laundry sanitizer.

Boost Your Internet Speeds

Nothing is more irritating than carefully selecting the perfect amount of bandwidth for you and your family just to experience spotty and oftentimes slow internet speeds while at home. And now more than ever, it is crucial that you have a reliable connection while many of us are working and studying at home. Check out the tips below to boosting those speeds.

Place your router in a central, open location. Your connection speed can be affected by distance, so if possible, place your router in an open area between the rooms you use your Wi-Fi most, such as the living room and office.

Avoid obstacles and interference. Top internet providers recommend placing the router off the floor above furniture and away from brick or concrete walls that can block or slow the internet from being transmitted properly. Additionally, other electronics like baby monitors, microwaves, and cordless phones can interfere with the connection.

Look into a wireless range extender. Have you noticed that your far guest room is a Wi-Fi dead spot? Although an extender won’t boost the speed of your internet overall, it will help increase the signal in the room it is placed in, extending the connection’s reach. Upgrade your router and firmware. If the router you own or rent is outdated, it is possible that is the reason your bandwidth is not reaching its full potential. It’s recommended that you upgrade every three or four years to make sure it can support the latest Wi-Fi standards. Plus, many of the new routers allow data to transmit over two radio frequencies, giving you two WiFi networks.

Is Downsizing Right For You?

Downsizing your home is not just for empty-nesters. There are numerous reasons and situations where this path could be the right one for you and your family!

Minimizing

Owning a large home and property comes with a large responsibility like multiple rooms and floors a large yard, and maybe features like a deck or pool. There is a lot of upkeep and cleaning that is required to keep a home looking and functioning at best. One common reason homeowners are looking to downsize is to reduce the time, energy, and money spent on those activities, leaving them with more to do the things they enjoy with the ones they love.

Saving Funds

When downsizing to a smaller home, you allow for an increase in your monthly budget. Not only does your mortgage and maintenance cost less, but so does your utility bills, insurance, property taxes, interest payments, and furnishings. This is a great option for those who want to put their children through college, save for retirement, or pay off existing debts, such as credit cards or car payments.

New Adventures

Whether you are single, parents whose kids have flown the coop, retirees, or an adventurous family, downsizing your home could allow you to seek new experiences. Take that long-term trip you’ve always wanted to go on. Buy a second home for the family. Or purchase that boat, RV, snowmobile, or ATV.

Reasons To Maintain A Phone-free Bedroom

In this day and age, our smartphones have become just another limb, permanently fixed to our bodies. So, the idea of keeping phones out of the bedroom seems like such a foreign concept. However, here are 5 reasons you should give it a try!

Minimize temptation. Even if you think you have strong self-control, with your phone within arm’s length, you are much more tempted to play that additional game of solitaire or scroll Twitter for just another 15 minutes. This results in staying up later and later, which can readjust your internal clock, making it harder to fall asleep.

Ease your brain. Whether you’re scrolling social media, texting your significant other, replying to emails, or skimming the news, you are using and stimulating your brain. When you finally do put down the phone, your brain is still on overdrive. Try reading a book, meditating, or doing yoga instead to put your brain in a relaxed state.

Lessen disturbed sleep. One of the most common phone activities before bed is checking social media, however, a study published in the journal of Sleep1 found that using social media within 30 minutes of going to bed has been independently associated with disturbed sleep.

Limit LED screens in bed. Blue-light emitting devices, such as phones, can trick your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, slowing the production of melatonin which helps regulate sleep.

Reduce disruptions to your sleep. With your phone out of the bedroom, you eliminate the chances of that ding or buzz waking you in the middle of the night and disrupting your important REM sleep.

Value-boosting Renovations For Your Home

Buying a home is likely one of the largest purchases you will make in your lifetime. So why not maintain and grow that investment so if or when you decide to sell, you can reap maximum return? Below are a few value-boosting ideas to get you started.

Change your color scheme. Never overlook what a fresh coat of paint can do for a home, plus it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to give it a whole new look and feel before putting it on the market. You can commit to doing the job yourself or splurge just a little bit more to hire a professional.

Update your landscaping. Curb appeal is incredibly important in capturing potential buyers’ attention, so investing in your landscaping should be at the top of your list. On top of regular fertilizing and weed control consider planting a variety of plants against the house or along your driveway, mixing heights and colors. Add a focal point by creating a stone walkway or installing fountains or trellis.

Give your kitchen a facelift. To give your kitchen a more modern feel, you don’t always have to shell out the big bucks. Start by switching out your main light fixtures and sanding and repainting existing cabinets. Add a unique, eye-catching backsplash or, if you’re ready to spend a bit more, replace the countertops with granite or marble.

Increase energy efficiency. Updating your home to save energy makes it more appealing to buyers in today’s market. Use CFL light bulbs in all light fixtures, install a programmable thermostat, and find and seal cracks and leaks.