Consumer Real Estate News


    • How to Extend the Life of Your Carpet

      18 February 2020

      Whether you adore your new carpet or can't afford to replace it every few years, below are a handful of ways to extend the life of your carpet—even if you have kids and pets.

      1. Lay down a rug in high traffic spots.  It may seem weird to lay a rug over your carpet, but in places that see a ton of foot traffic—like by the bed, couch or doorways—adding an extra layer of protection in the form of a rug or mat can seriously prolong your carpet's life.

      2. Vacuum frequently. Make sure you vacuum once a week to pull up damaging dirt and dander that can wear down your carpet overtime.

      3.  Take off your shoes. By enforcing a "no shoes inside" policy in your home, you will reduce the amount of dirt that gets tracked in. Add a shoe rack by the front door to help make it easy.

      4. Act fast with spills. If you get a splash or spill on your carpet, tackle it immediately, but don't rub it in. Instead, use a spray bottle to mist a bit of water onto the stain and then blot it up gently with a towel as many times as needed. If it needs more work, create a solution that is 1:1 white vinegar and water and repeat the process.5. Deep clean. Once a year, deep clean your carpet with a professional carpet cleaning device. Often, you can rent out these cleaners, or hire someone to do it for you.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Alternative Ways to Fund a College Education

      18 February 2020

      The average student loan debt for a college graduate in 2016 was $37,172, according to Forbes. That’s a lot of debt to be saddled with when starting a career. However, you can help your children avoid student loan debt by looking into some alternatives:

      Save Early
      This takes years of forethought, but it can be one of the best ways to pay a large chunk of college expenses. Start contributing to a 529 college savings plan as soon as your child is born. Put in only $100 a month from birth and a high school graduate will have about $40,000—enough money to fund two years of going to a public college. If your child is working part-time or during the summer, they can also contribute to the fund.

      Payment Plans
      Many colleges offer monthly installment plans that stretch out payments over the course of a year or several years instead of requiring a lump sum before classes start. Payment plans can include four years of tuition, and some can be paid years in advance at current prices. Some college costs aren’t included in payment plans, such as room and board, books, supplies, and personal items.

      Recruitment Scholarships
      If your child has been accepted to a college that they're overqualified for from an admissions perspective, they may be eligible for a recruitment scholarship from the school. These are used to recruit students who stand out the most in their applicant pool.

      Advanced High School Courses
      Some college credits can be earned in high school by taking Advanced Placement classes. Students can graduate from college a semester early or even sooner, saving you money.

      Community College
      Spending the first two years at a community college can save them a lot of money on education. They can also live at home to save money. If doing this, your kids will have to check with their academic advisor at the community college to ensure they're taking the right classes to transfer to a four-year college. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting money on classes that won’t count toward their degree.

      Employer Assistance
      Your employer may offer scholarships for your children. If your child is working part-time while attending college, their employer may also offer a tuition reimbursement program that will pay a large part of the college bill.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Budget-Friendly Tricks for Updating Your Older Home

      18 February 2020

      When it comes to updating an older home, you can make big style statements on a small budget, experienced decorators say.

      “Start with a pop of color,” Keysha Jillian, owner of Jillian’s Designs in Tampa, Fla. told Reader's Digest in an interview. “Paint the front door—and the shutters, if you have them. If your mailbox sits out front, paint it, too. You’ll protect them from the elements and create a fresh, new look for the cost of a gallon or two of paint.”

      Indoors, Jillian recommends a few of these small, but mighty, do-overs:

      Toss out your throw pillows. Replace them with fuller, crisper new ones, mixing and matching colors and textures to add a fresh breath to your living space and bring your color scheme together.

      Add an area rug. An area rug can transform any room, grounding furniture groupings and adding interest and definition to your living space.

      Change out the hall light. Make a statement in your entry way with a chandelier or other contemporary ceiling fixture that brightens the space and welcomes guests with a flourish. (Adding table or floor lights may help your living space look larger.)

      Add artwork and accessories. Stroll through stores like HomeGoods, Target or Tuesday Morning to find framed artwork and a few accessories to coordinate with your new throw pillows. It can bring a room together and add a fresh, new look without replacing older furniture.

      Replace the light switch plates. Switch out those old, faded plastic switch plates for brushed nickel or other designs for as little as $5 per plate.

      Throw on a backsplash. It can jazz up an old kitchen or bathroom instantly without breaking the bank. For as little as $10 per foot in most big box stores, you can find a choice of DIY designs, including mesh backing for easier installation. If that sounds too intimidating, consider creating an accent wall behind the sink with a contrasting and bright colored paint.Install closet organizers. Most older homes come with small closets. Maximize the space with inexpensive closet organizers available at most big box stores.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Time-Saving Kitchen Shortcuts That Don’t Sacrifice Quality

      17 February 2020

      (Family Features)--If coordinating schedules to gather the family around the dinner table is a victory in its own right, finding enough time to prepare a well-rounded, flavorful meal may just be a medal-worthy accomplishment.

      Whether a weeknight dinner or special occasion, you can shave precious minutes off your kitchen work and dedicate more moments to doing the things you love with these time-saving ideas that don’t sacrifice quality.

      Plan Meals Ahead of Time
      Organizing your thoughts and scouring the kitchen for ingredients can take as much time as preparing the meal itself. Instead of wondering what you’ll make and whether you have what you need to make it, take time to plan meals a week ahead whenever possible. Think through a complete menu, including main dishes and sides, and take inventory of the pantry and refrigerator so you can build an efficient grocery list. 

      Use Ingredients in Multiple Recipes
      When planning and shopping for your weekly meals, consider which ingredients you may be able to repurpose. Not only does using ingredients across multiple dishes help minimize waste, it cuts down on prep time. If you’ll be using chopped onion in multiple recipes, go ahead and chop enough for every meal and save the unused portions in the refrigerator or freezer.

      Turn to Your Pantry for Simple Sides
      Flavorful side dishes can be surprisingly simple. For example, Idahoan helps you put real mashed potatoes on the table in just 5 minutes. They start with 100% real Idaho potatoes from local growers then wash, peel, boil and mash them like you would at home. After cooking each batch, they simply fresh-dry the mashed potatoes so they’re ready for you to prepare at home.

      Make Larger Portions

      Cooking once and eating twice (or more) is an easy equation for saving time. Intentionally making more than you need ensures fuss-free lunches or plenty of leftovers you can heat up quickly for nights when the family is running in different directions.

      Pre-Cook Proteins
      For many meals, the main dish protein takes the longest to prepare. If you can carve out some time over the weekend or one night a week, multitask and make several batches of proteins to use later in the week. Cooking the proteins concurrently lets you pack multiple days of preparation time into a single super-sized session.

      Use Time-Saving Tools
      Traditional methods have their time and place, but a weekday dinner isn’t it. Rely on tools to get the job done faster, like a slow cooker that works hard all day so you can enjoy its labor when you return home or a food processor that takes the effort out of slicing and dicing.

      Find more ideas to put meals on the table quickly at Idahoan.com.

      Time-Saving Upgrades for Delicious Sides
      Mashed potatoes are a crowd-pleasing dish that can be incorporated in a wide range of menus. While they can often be time-consuming, an option like Idahoan can help you put real mashed potatoes on the table in just 5 minutes because they take the time to create mashed potatoes from scratch so you don’t have to. This allows you to embrace the staple side dish’s versatility by freeing up time for you to incorporate simple twists like these.

      Mix it up with all the fixings. From vegetables like corn or caramelized onions to classic garnishes like chopped fresh herbs, you can mix and match toppings for a new take on a loaded smashed sensation.

      Embrace Tex-Mex flair. Create your own version of ethnic favorites like traditional Mexican papas. Add lightly sauteed red and green peppers, green onion, green chilis and shredded cheese for a Tex-Mex potato dish perfect for pairing with tacos or enchiladas.

      Get garlicky. Add minced garlic and grated Parmesan cheese for a savory burst of flavor that complements the traditional potato taste.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • A 2020 Guide to Energy Efficiency

      17 February 2020

      Thanks to advancements in technology, the average American home uses 30 percent less energy today than it did in 1970 - and, according to one survey, 76 percent of consumers plan to do something to make their home more energy efficient in the next three years.

      Those are encouraging statistics. For consumers motivated by utility cost savings and preservation of our fragile environment, here are eight ways to go greener in 2020:

      Replace Light Bulbs
      Halogen bulbs, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), and light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs) use anywhere from 25-80 percent less electricity and last three to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs.

      Save on Heating
      Save 10 percent or more on heating and cooling costs by lowering your thermostat by three to five degrees and having your air ducts tested for leaks. See additional savings by reducing the temperature on your water heater and laundering clothes in cold water.

      Replace Disposables
      Wherever possible, replace disposable products (food storage products, ink cartridges, coffee filters, furnace filters and more) with reusable ones. 

      Be a Star
      When replacing appliances, choose those with the Energy Star label. Energy Star clothes washers, for example, use approximately 40 percent less water and 25 percent less energy than other models. 

      Fill It Up
      Wash only full loads of laundry and dishes.

      Turn It Off
      Unplug TVs and computers when not in use, turn off the lights when you leave a room and air-dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle.

      Insulate the Attic
      Up to a quarter of your home’s heat is lost through the roof as warm air rises and older properties that already have insulation in place may not have the recommended levels.

      Shorten Your Shower
      Or at least get a water-efficient shower head, which will cut down on the amount of hot water you use, but will still feel like a strong shower.

      Consider Solar
      Unlike gas and coal, solar energy is renewable, clean and sustainable. The cost of going solar goes down each year and some states offer solar incentives. Shop and Eat Mindfully - Shop farmer’s markets for locally grown produce. Plan meatless meals or plant-based alternatives at least once a week. Steer away from genetically engineered foods and toward non-GMO food products, which are safer, tastier and more nutritious.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.