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But make a list and check it twice



You can build your real estate portfolio starting with your own house.

The holidays are a great time to create your list of wants-and-needs for a new home.
While you are at it, also ask yourself a question: Should you rent out your existing house instead of selling?

Recent news shows that buying is cheaper than renting. When you turn that around it means rents are up for property owners. And you could be one.

A study by shows that, in 100 of the largest metropolitan areas, buying a home is cheaper than renting. Averaging all areas, buying a home is nearly 35 percent cheaper than renting.

In some areas, there is a dramatic difference. In New Orleans, buying is 52 percent cheaper than renting.

The study took into consideration down payment, taxes, insurance, and utilities. It assumed that the buyer would live in the home for seven years.

That’s good news for potential buyers. But it is also good news for property owners who want to lease their homes.

If you have a personal mortgage and have lived in your home, you can rent it out without getting another mortgage. This is important because investment mortgages have higher interest rates and down payments ranging up to 25 percent. Conclusion: If you want to build a real estate portfolio, it is less expensive to live in a home and then rent it out instead of buying a home as an investment property.

One potential stumbling block here is that you have to qualify for another mortgage. Lenders will consider your debt-to-income ratio and another mortgage could pose a problem. One possible way to overcome this is to establish a lease before you go to the lender.

According to Zillow, lenders will want to see you have some property management experience before they count the lease as income.

You might want to consider a professional leasing service for your property to find qualified renters.

However, if you do qualify for a second mortgage, you will have some tax advantages related to depreciation and the deduction of maintenance expenses, and the deduction of your mortgage interest.

Beyond that, it is a matter of homework. Consider whether your home is rentable in your area. Larger homes might not be marketable.

Look into rental rates in the area.

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What should you do if your child has behavioral problems?



Is your child failing to respect class rules or acting in a disruptive or violent way? If so, you may not know what to do. Here’s how you can find a solution to this type of problem.

Uncover the source
If your child is acting in an inappropriate manner, it’s important to understand why. Try to determine if the behavioral issue is occurring only at school or if it’s happening at home too. Understanding when and where the behavior is exhibited could provide insight into the situation.

Children may act out for a variety of reasons. In some cases, it’s because their social needs aren’t being met. In others, it’s that the child finds the learning objectives difficult to meet. Tensions at home can also make it difficult for children to manage their emotions. Alternatively, bullying may be the culprit.

Work with specialists
The right professional can help root out the cause of your child’s behavioral issues. This includes:

• Audiologists
• Special educators
• Doctors
• Optometrists
• Speech and language therapists
• Psychoeducators
• Psychologists

These experts are especially helpful if your child’s issues are linked to mental health problems, learning impediments, vision problems or dyslexia. Health-care workers and trained educators can provide your child with a treatment plan. With professional help and a bit of effort, you’re likely to see an improvement.

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3 great reasons to finish your basement



Are you wondering whether to invest time and money into finishing your basement? Here are three good reasons to go for it.

1. To lower your heating and cooling bills
An unfinished basement is often uninsulated, making the rest of your house more difficult to heat and cool. Since a key step to finishing a basement involves insulating the walls and floor, a positive side effect of undertaking this project is having a comfortable temperature throughout your home.

2. To expand your living space

Whether you want to make a playroom for the kids, an office for you, or a home theater for the whole family, the basement is the perfect location. If space allows for it, you can also convert it into a small apartment, which might be ideal for your adult children or elderly family members.

3. To add value to your property
If you decide to sell your home, a finished basement typically provides a 50 to 75 percent return on investment. In addition to the increase in value, your property will likely be more attractive to potential buyers.

Keep in mind that renovating a basement may not be as expensive as you think. This is because you can choose different materials than those used in the rest of your home. In fact, the same hardwood flooring that’s ideal for a living room is a terrible option for a basement due to the higher risk of moisture problems.

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How to label your child’s school supplies



At school, children need to keep track of a multitude of supplies including binders, pencils, notebooks, erasers, and more. All of these things need to be marked with their name, otherwise, they could get lost or stolen. Here are two tools you can use to label school supplies.

Permanent markers
In most cases, fine-point permanent markers work best for identifying school supplies. They’re great for writing directly on a wide range of surfaces and textiles. For wooden pencils, use a utility knife to scratch off the paint and expose the wood, which will take the marker’s ink much better. For clothing, write names or initials on the care label. Always make sure to let the ink dry before using an item. Retouch as needed.

Adhesive labels

Buy labels of different sizes. If you buy blank ones, you’ll need to write your child’s name on them before affixing them to an object. If you have a lot of things to label, or if your handwriting isn’t as clear as you’d like, you can use a printer or label maker. For clothing, consider using iron-on labels or ones designed to stick to the fabric.

Alternatively, you can buy special labels made for identifying school supplies. Consider shopping for labels with your child and getting them to choose a type they like.

Don’t write your child’s full name on the outside of their backpack or lunchbox. A stranger could approach them and gain their trust by using their name.

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Back-to-school safety guidelines



With the school year approaching, it’s a good idea to review key health and safety information with your children. Here’s a brief guideline.

Walking to school
Children should be careful to follow these rules when walking to and from school:

• Remain on the sidewalk or shoulder of the road

• Opt to cross at intersections with a crossing guard
• Use crosswalks
• Look both ways before crossing the street
• Respect traffic lights
• Don’t take detours or shortcuts

Taking the bus to school
Talk to your children about these safety rules for using the school bus:

• Don’t cross the street in front of or behind the bus while it’s moving
• Hold the railing when getting on and off the bus
• Sit down right away
• Wait for the bus to stop before getting up
• Don’t stand or roughhouse on the bus

Health considerations
Here are some health topics and associated advice that families with school-age children should keep in mind:

• Lice. To reduce the risk of getting head lice, children should avoid sharing hats, scarves, hair accessories, brushes, and combs. Kids with long hair should keep it tied in a ponytail or braid.

• Colds and flu. If your child has a fever, cold, or any other contagious illness, keep them home.

• Food safety. Avoid sending your kids to school with food that contains common allergens such as peanuts. In fact, many schools ban these sorts of products, so make sure to find out what the rules are.

• Allergies. If your children have food allergies, make sure they know how to avoid the specific allergens. If necessary, they should carry an epinephrine injector and be familiar with how to use it. Also, be sure to inform the school if your kids have allergies.

Have a safe and healthy school year.

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How to choose the right air conditioner



If you need to buy a new air conditioning system, you have a number of options. Here are a few tips to help you decide how to best cool your home.

Determine your needs
The appropriate system for your home will largely depend on the type of dwelling you live in. If you have a house, you might want to invest in central air conditioning or a geothermal pump. If you own a unit in a multi-family building, consider installing a wall-mounted system. If you’re a tenant, opt for a portable air conditioner. Regardless of your choice, make sure the system you select adheres to building rules and municipal noise control regulations.

Establish a budget

In addition to calculating the short-term costs of purchasing and installing an air conditioning system, you should consider the associated long-term expenses. This includes the amount for all maintenance tasks and potential repairs. Determine an acceptable price range based on your current financial situation. If you need to make significant renovations to install a central system, look into available financing options.

Evaluate power requirements
The ideal cooling capacity for your air conditioner (measured in British thermal units or BTUs) will depend on the size of your dwelling, the quality of the building’s insulation, and the number of rooms and stories you want to cool. While you want a unit that’s powerful enough to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout your home, an oversized model tends to operate in short bursts and consume excess energy.

Consider location
You should determine in advance where your air conditioner will be installed, especially if you live in an apartment with limited space to accommodate a bulky unit. If you’d prefer to only cool certain rooms throughout the day, a portable model on wheels may be a convenient choice. If your home faces south or a majority of its windows are on the south side, your air conditioning system will need to work harder. However, blinds or thick curtains can help block the sun and thereby reduce your cooling costs.

Once you’ve selected an air conditioner, hire a professional to install it and make sure it works.

Regardless of the type of air conditioning system you need, look for a model with Energy Star certification. This will guarantee that the unit is energy efficient.

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What to do if you have a gap in your CV



There are many legitimate reasons to have a gap in your CV. But whether it was to recover from an illness, travel the world, or take care of your newborn, recruiters are unlikely to ignore the interlude. However, it won’t necessarily prevent you from getting a job. Here’s how to deal with a gap in your CV.

Be subtle
Avoid justifying an employment gap on your CV. The only reason to call attention to one is if doing so allows you to highlight relevant skills acquired during that time, such as through volunteer work. Remember, you have limited space to outline your qualifications on a CV so pertinent job experience should take priority.

Be honest

Never modify the start and end dates of your employment to eliminate a gap. However, if you were absent from the workforce for just a few months, you can choose to only indicate the years during which you held each position. Preferably, you should draw attention away from any gaps by making sure your CV thoroughly demonstrates your qualifications, skills, and attributes.

Be positive
Eventually, you’ll have to justify why there’s a gap in your CV. Make sure your explanation puts the situation in a good light. Emphasize that it was an opportunity for personal growth and assert that it won’t hinder your ability to carry out future responsibilities.

If you think an absence from the workforce will severely affect your candidacy, you can briefly justify it in a cover letter. Otherwise, wait to discuss it during an interview since it’ll likely be easier to explain in person.

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