Tuesday, August 30, 2016

It's high time to upgrade your faucets and toilets

When considering your home's plumbing, you might be thinking of that old adage "why fix something if it ain't broke?" But did you know that old and inefficient plumbing might actually mean that you are literally pouring your money down the drain every month? A call to your plumber might really save you money in the end if you upgrade the plumbing in your home.

When were your current plumbing fixtures installed? Did they come with the house when you bought it? Old toilets use up a lot of water with each flush, which is bad for both the environment and for your wallet. Are you putting off having that leaky faucet repaired because you just don't want to spend the money right now? The average faucet leak can waste hundreds of gallons of water per year. If it's a hot water faucet that's leaking, you are losing money both with the wasted water and with the wasted electricity or gas that is heating that water.

Or what if your problem is slow drains? You might decide to take the easy step of pouring liquid corrosives down the drain to clear out the blockage. This is actually a bad idea. The corrosive chemicals in drain cleaner will harm your sewer pipes, perhaps necessitating an extremely expensive repair in the future. In addition, the environmental impact of pouring such chemicals down the drain and into the water supply can have serious ramifications for the future of our planet.

If you've been putting off plumbing repairs or upgrades, you really might want to consider having a professional technician visit your home. Plumbers can let you know if repairs are needed or if there are upgrades available to your current plumbing that can actually save you money. There are many options, such as low flow or dual flush toilets that can help you stop wasting water and upgrade your home.

Having your new toilet installed by a plumber will ensure that your system is up to code and works efficiently and properly. A plumber can also help you to repair your leaky faucets, or assist you by installing water saving devices such as low flow faucets or aerators on your sinks. They can also help by providing professional sewer cleaning that will fix your slow drains without causing serious corrosion to the pipes in your home and damage to the environment.

These days, everyone is looking to save money where they can. By having a professional plumber inspect your pipes and see what upgrades and repairs can be done in your home, you can save yourself money on wasted water and utility bills. In addition you'll be adding to the value of one of your most important investments, your home.

Long term real estate investment success doesn't come from a recipe

When you read something here or there that you've not known of before, how do you process it? Do you review how the new info might have helped you years ago? Or maybe it would've easily helped you avoid a mistake you made years ago - one that put you on a financial treadmill to nowhere 'til you caught up. Thing is, the information age is a lethal double-edged sword. View it as a good news/bad news joke.

The good news is that you have all that info and those tons of data points at your fingertips. The bad news? See the good news..

As the title to this post suggests, success doesn't come from set recipes. We're not baking cookies from a prepackaged batch of cookie dough, when all that's required is slapping the dough down onto the baking pan, and turningthe oven on, per printed instructions. Investing requires different ingredients for different investors, even though their most important goal - retirement - may be the same as millions of others. What passes for real analysis, not to mention strategy(s) is often nothingmore than over simplified formulas applied to broadly described circumstances, which are then recognized by thousands of people who think the various strategies/recipes/formulas apply to them. Again, we're not baking cookies here. We're investing to create the most important thing there is as we grow older - after health and family - retirement income.

What happens is that a particular strategy is put forth as superior. Any strategy, when assessed in a vacuum, can deliver damaging results when applied in the rough 'n tumble of real life. Even if any particular strategy delivers positive results, so what? Could they have been better if using a competing approach? Are there distasteful long term consequences of which you're currently unaware? How would you know?

And there's the rub.

The decisions you as an investor made yesterday, make today, and will make five years from now - on what strategy(s) to employ - will literally make the difference in the quality and quantity of your income at retirement. But again, the real fly in the ointment is the reality that what worked in San Diego in 2000, would be a wish for a financial coma today. What proves wildly effective for Fred, would be foolish for Abby, even though on the surface they appear to be two peas in a financial pod. In fact, what made sense five years ago, might be the last thing to do now. There are too many crucially important factors involved in the decision making process as it relates to investment strategy to approach it as merely the catalyst to a simple recipe.

It's almost never about the 'best' strategy.

Earlier this month my 'CEO' and his wife were in town for my benefit. The Boss and I took them out to dinner to say thanks. The chef at this place is well known not only for how fantastic her meals taste, but also for the many awards she's won for excellence. From the appetizer to the main course, who knows how many cooking 'strategies' she brought into play, many in a wonderfully synergistic fashion. I won't bore you with all the details - OK maybe a quick summary. Duck nachos isn't on the menu as it once was, but if you ask for them, they'll make it. Awesome. Then there was the porterhouse pork steak with a sinfully good reduction sauce. How many different strategies must it have taken to produce those nachos alone? Was the steak prepared using the same strategies utilized in making the sauce?

The Take-Away

Regardless of what you've read and heard, a single strategy is not going to produce the retirement you want. Even those making use of more than one strategy will generally fall short. What produces magnificently abundant retirements is Strategic Synergism - the blending of multiple strategies, often completely unrelated to each other, in ways that ultimately enhance your final results. When an investor realizes the hugely superior results obtained when combining multiple strategies synergistically, a whole new menu of possibilities opens up. Everyone agrees that cash flow at retirement is the goal. It's how you get there, and how much after tax cash flow your specific Plan generates.

Sadly, the vast majority of Americans are creating what I've come to call a 'FastFood' retirement. Fast food is fun every now and then, but we all know what happens long term if you live on it. Strategic Synergism works in the kitchen, and it works when investing for retirement.

Author: Jeff Brown

Jeff's Website: http://www.bawldguy.com

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Buying a fixer-upper? How to make the most of your remodel

With current home prices and interest rates, it's a great time to be in the market for a fixer-upper. By buying a house that needs some work, you can achieve your dream home for less than you would probably pay for a move-in-ready abode.

To ensure you're making the most of your investment, however, it pays to take a look at your credit before you buy and begin your remodel. You'll not only need credit to cover the purchase price of the house, but you'll need it for renovation expenses as well.

The first step you should take in your bid to buy a fixer-upper is to check your credit report and score. Websites like www.creditreport.com can help you understand your credit. Understanding your credit will help you know whether or not you can afford to buy a house that needs work and if you'll be able to pay for the needed renovations.

You should also carefully research what your options are for financing your remodel. Learn what your options are, from traditional fixed mortgages to home equity lines of credit, and decide before you buy which type of financing will be best for you. Getting a handle on your financing before you buy can help ensure you stay on budget when you're in the middle of renovations.

When you've got a clear picture of your credit status and financing options, you can start looking at fixer-uppers. When you find a good prospect, have your remodeling contractor walk through the house with you so he can give you a rough estimate of what needs to be done and how much the work will cost.

If you're buying a house that's in basically good condition but just looks dated, you'll have to make some decisions about where to invest your money. Focus on improvements that will not only look good, but will also enhance the value of your home. Resources like Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value report can give you a good idea of how much of your original investment you'll recoup on different remodeling projects at the time of resale.

Once you've signed all the paperwork and the house is yours, it's time to get to work. If you're handy, you may be able to save money by doing some of the renovation work yourself. Projects like painting, adding crown molding and even putting down new flooring are well within the skills of most do-it-yourselfers. More complex projects like drywall, plumbing or electrical work may be best left to professionals.

Whether you do the work yourself, or hire contractors, you'll need to carefully manage all aspects of the renovation to ensure your remodel stays on budget. The excitement of remodeling a house into your dream home can make it easy to get carried away on spending. Keep in mind that remodeling estimates are just that - an estimate. The final tab is rarely exactly what your contractor predicted it would be. Build in at least 10 percent extra to cover emergency overruns, and avoid making any unnecessary changes to the plans while the project is underway.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Is a surveillance camera right for you?

Many people turn to surveillance cameras as a way to make their home and office more secure. There are so many different types of security measures on offer, however, that it can be hard to know which is the right type of equipment for your needs. This article explores the different security measures and tools available and what the advantages and disadvantages of each of them are.

CCTV cameras can be attached to the outside of the building, can be placed over the door step, can be placed inside or can be entirely hidden from view. There are even dummy cameras available that provide a good deterrent aspect but don't actually incur any additional cost of filming. All cameras that can be seen work well as a deterrent. A burglar is far less likely to break into a home when there is the chance they will shown doing so on video surveillance footage. CCTV cameras don't necessarily sound an alarm however if security is breached in some way. In this respect they may be able to film a crime being committed but they won't necessarily be able to put a stop to it. Having the footage available however does mean there is more chance of getting your things back if they have been stolen.

Burglar alarms are another way that people add security to their homes. These have a large number of problems however. First of all burglaries are usually very quick and the perpetrator can be long gone by the time the police or a security firm have arrived on the scene. Secondly the alarm can in some cases be stopped by simply locating the control panel and breaking it. Cats and other animals can also sometimes trip the alarm when they jump through an open window, which can cause problems for everyone.

The ideal solution is to have both surveillance monitoring of some kind as well as a motion sensor, this way you get the best of all worlds. If this stretches the budget too far however then it is better to simply go with some kind of camera equipment. This provides the best value for money in terms of security. In the past it was just the wealthiest members of society who were able to afford security equipment such as cameras, but these days the prices have come right down and now everyone can benefit. Nanny cameras and hidden indoor cameras are another very popular type of security surveillance. Camouflaged cameras can allow you to see things that you would otherwise not be privy to. Parents like to be able to check their nannies are caring for their children well, employers like to be able to check everything is just as it should be in the workplace.

Another scenario in which hidden cameras are ideal is for the use of gathering evidence. If you are being targeted or victimized, having hard evidence to show the police can mean something can be done. Without the proof however the police may be hesitant to take any real action. There is no doubt that cameras are a valuable and versatile security tool. Surveillance can assist in a number of different ways to keep everyone safe and free from harm. If you are unsure of what type you need the first step is to define what exactly you want the security camera for and then decide how much you are willing to spend.

When you search online you will find a host of companies offering surveillance camera equipment and monitoring devices. Make sure you buy from a reputable company with a good website. There is more choice online than in high street shops so it is best to buy your equipment here. From a wildlife camera to tracking devices, go online to find out what is available and get the best prices.

by: Kathryn Dawson


Family-friendly tips to save energy at home.

Saving money and reducing your home's energy usage are a priority for many homeowners these days. Some energy-saving actions such as switching off lights when leaving a room and turning off the water while brushing your teeth or washing your hands are simple and cost effective.

This summer, try a few of the following energy saving tips to save your family some money while keeping the environment in mind:

* Only run dishwashers, washing machines and clothing dryers when they are full. Running two half-loads uses double the amount of water, and only half the clothes get cleaned.

* Wash your clothes with cold water. Washing laundry with hot water means the heater has to run, accounting for up to 80 percent of the energy used per wash load, according to the Alliance to Save Energy. If a household switched to cold-water washing for a year, enough energy would be saved to watch TV for 1,363 hours or charge an iPhone 4S 30,861 times. So by switching to cold water washing, you can cut down on household energy use and save money while doing something good for the environment. On a larger scale, if everyone in the United States switched to cold-water washing, the energy saved could power the streetlights of New York City for 71 years. Tide Coldwater detergent is specially formulated to provide a deep clean in cold water conditions while helping families save up to 50 percent of energy per wash cycle.

* Keep cool this summer by closing curtains to block out the hot sun during the day. Blocking the sun will help protect your flooring and furniture from fading due to UV rays. Also try setting your thermostat a few degrees warmer. Run ceiling and standing fans to keep the air circulating to help family members stay comfortable. If nobody is home during the day, turn your air conditioner off, and have it timed to restart when family members return.

* When shopping for new appliances like a refrigerator, stove and oven, dishwasher, washer or dryer, look for models with an ENERGY STAR label. Adding just one of these energy-efficient appliances to your home can help you live a more energy-conscious life.

* Evaluate your light bulbs. Technology has improved light bulbs so more energy is used toward making light, not heat. Finding the appropriate bulb for each socket in your home can save your family between $50 and $100 a year, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.

With just a few simple lifestyle changes, your family can make your home more energy and save you money. Get your family started today with these quick energy savings tips and watch the savings add up.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Eight easy ways to organize - and maximize - a small bath

(BPT) - The bath serves a variety of uses, from a functional room to a serene sanctuary, a storage facility to a salon. And, whether you enjoy it yourself or share with the family, every bathroom is in need of one major thing - organization. To help keep your bath feeling more serene and less insane, follow these eight ideas to help improve your organization, maximize space and even add a bit of style.

1.Supersize your shower. You don't need to remodel - or even use a tool - to increase the size of your shower space. Simply swap your straight shower rod with a curved version. Moen offers a variety of curved shower rod options, including a new Tension Curved Shower Rod that adds up to 5 1/2 inches of elbow room without using any elbow grease for installation. The no-tool, no-drill feature makes it ideal for showers featuring ceramic tile. For more space and functionality, Moen's Double Curved Shower Rod adds up to 7 inches of elbow room, with two rods to hang multiple shower curtains or towels.

2.Take back the tub. From shampoo and shower gel, duckies and boats, the bathtub often needs to store a variety of items. While shower caddies or shelves are great solutions, you can also make your own. Reuse your straight shower rod - but install it across the back wall of the tub. Next, use shower rod hooks to hang a variety of plastic baskets, creating instant storage for each member of the family.

3. Maximize with dual-function. Dual-function products are perfect for smaller baths, since they offer added benefits without taking up more space. Update your current toilet paper holder, towel bars and in-shower shelves with newer versions that integrate grab bars. Moen offers stylish grab bars that feature paper holders, towel bars and two shelf designs - all in a variety of finishes to help you update these bathroom basics while adding storage, safety and style.

4. Clean closets. If you have a closet in your bathroom, fully utilize its storage potential. Use labeled - and preferably see-through - bins on the floor and for higher-up shelves to keep smaller items neat, organized and easily accessible. Designate the middle shelves for frequently used linens. Finally, the inside of the closet door can be a potential location for added storage space. Hang a shoe rack and you'll instantly have a dozen pouches to hold smaller items.

5. Hidden helpers. While space underneath the vanity offers room for storage, this area is a glutton for disorganization. Remove everything and toss any items you don't need. Next, use baskets or bins to create places for everything. Don't forget that the back of the doors can also be added locations to install hooks or shelves

6. Shelves for storage. Don't limit the vertical surfaces of your bathroom for mirrors and decor (especially if you don't have a closet) - try installing wall shelves. Choose from a variety of options - from smaller, decorative shelves that can hold perfume and toiletries - to larger hotel shelves that provide the perfect storage location for towels.-

7. Get hooked. It's one of the major pet peeves in the bathroom: towels and clothes on the floor. Solve this problem by installing robe hooks. They are inexpensive, easy to install and come in a variety of styles and finishes to match your bathroom. If you share your bath with children, be sure to install a few lower on the wall, within reach of little hands.

8. Hotel inspiration. The next time you're staying in a hotel, take note of the amenities offered - and incorporate them into your bathroom for added functionality and organization. Did you love using the wall-mounted, magnifying mirror? Enjoy the convenience of storing the hair dryer on the wall? These same bath accessories are available for your home - so install and enjoy.

With a few simple projects, your bathroom can achieve maximum organization, use of space and style. For more information on Moen bathroom accessories, visit www.moen.com.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Ideas for flooring in your home

Your home is your paradise and if you are planning to renovate your home, go for the changes that are not only eye-catching but also comfortable for you and your family. If you are going to change the flooring in your home, here are some tips for flooring the different parts of your house.

Bedroom flooring:

There are plenty options when it comes to flooring in your bedroom. Being the most private and personalized part of your home, your bedroom is the place which grabs a big part of your budget whenever you are remodeling. You can use carpet, tile, hardwood, bamboo, cork or laminate. Play with different materials in different rooms. You can opt for striped light and dark shades in your boy's room so that if your son is going to create mess, which is unavoidable, the flooring can withstand the burden. Also the flooring can bear heavy traffic of the folks coming in the bedroom. For more powerful scratch and water resistant flooring you can choose laminate.

Living room flooring:

It is the most used area and withstands most of the traffic coming in and out of the house. It is highly recommended that the flooring should be strong enough that it can endure all such amendments done with your furniture or to the increasing and decreasing ratio of visitors. For this purpose you can opt for hardwood flooring. Being classy and sophisticated in look it is the perfect choice for your living room whenever you are remodeling your home.

Kitchen flooring:

Design the floor of your kitchen in such a way that it not only looks pretty but also gives a practical impression. You can choose from vinyl, tile, natural stone, wood, cork or laminate. A floor covering that is water resistant and durable such as tile is a best choice to protect against potential water damage. Make sure when you choose your floor to order a little extra of the product in the event that you drop something like a pot on your floor. If the flooring material is damaged, you will be sure to have enough to repair the floor because often floor manufacturers have high turnover of their products to insure a continual buying cycle. Most flooring contractors add 5-10% additional square footage of the flooring product to their purchase order to insure they have enough for the project and to provide the client with a little extra flooring for future use.

by: Builder Brian