Money and Personal Finance Tips
Simple way to build credit
Using a credit card responsibly over time can improve credit. But if you have bad credit or no credit history, you can’t get a card. Enter the secured credit card. With a secured card, you make a deposit to the credit card company and that deposit becomes your credit line. Then, you can use the card to buy an item every month and then pay off the item each month. This way, you build a history of paying for what you buy. That’s good credit. In some cases, credit card companies will eventually upgrade a secured card to an unsecured card.
Secured cards are different from pre-paid debit cards. Debit cards are not reported to the credit bureaus, so they do nothing for your credit.
Sears warranties still valid
Now that Sears has officially entered bankruptcy court, consumers that purchased the company’s Kenmore brand of appliances in recent years are left wondering if their warranties will be lost, according to CNBC. Fortunately, in an official statement, representatives have said that all guarantees, warranties, and protection agreements will be honored as usual and their PartsDirect site is still open for business. In fact, when major companies go out of business, consumer warranties aren’t usually impacted because most states mandate they be backed by outside insurance companies so that some amount of coverage can be guaranteed.
Easy trick to limit shopping
According to Consumer Reports, using credit cards will increase the amount of money you spend on a purchase because it makes the purchase less painful and speeds up the shopping process.
One way to slow things down is to create a buffer between the buying impulse and the checkout button. You can do this by simply removing saved credit card information from web browsers and online stores such as Amazon, according to The Simple Dollar. Actually having to take the card out of a wallet and type the information creates a powerful disincentive to purchase.
4 tips for tidying your home
Have you carefully sorted your belongings down to the essentials, but your home is still a mess? Don’t worry! Here are a few tips to help you tidy up.
1. Take advantage of space. Go around your home and look for unused spaces underneath staircases and beds, over cupboards, and behind doors. Make the most of this space with hooks, shelves, and storage bins.
2. Store seasonal items. For instance, put your camping gear and Christmas decorations in marked bins or bags and store them in your basement or shed. Make sure these items are easily accessible when you need them.
3. Keep frequently used items at hand. It doesn’t make sense to stow away items you use several times a day or week. Instead, place them within easy reach or on attractive displays. Keep rarely used products out of sight un¬less they’re particularly decorative.
4. Invest in multifunctional furniture. Convertible furniture, multi-purpose shelving, and storage benches or ottomans are perfect for stowing away things in style. Visit your local stores to explore your options.
Consult a specialist in your area for personalized advice on organizing your home.
Looking for great deals on great stuff? Try estate sales
If you’re an antique lover, a bargain hunter looking to upgrade your home, or just interested in unique finds, an estate sale might be a great way to spend a Saturday.
For the uninitiated, an estate sale is the sale or auction of the contents of a house — usually to liquidate the belongings of a recently deceased person. Just about everything is for sale — furnishings, home decor, appliances, artwork, and more.
- To find nearby estate sales, visit online estate sales like estatesales.net, check websites for estate sale companies to see if they advertise any upcoming events, and check the local newspaper. Word of mouth might also help you find great estate sales, too.
- Before you go, think about what your house can reasonably fit — if you’re in the market for a new-to-you washing machine, you’ll be pretty annoyed if you bring an estate sale bargain home to find out that it doesn’t fit.
- Estate sales are competitive, so arrive early to get in line and make sure you have the first pick of the best items. It also might pay to be around at the end of the day, when liquidators often bundle items together at deep discounts for quick sales.
- If you’re in the market for antiques, make sure you can tell a real item from a fake one — you’ll be disappointed if you get home and realize that you overpaid for a fake.
- Test all electronics before you buy them. There are no refunds in estate sales, so that broken-down stand mixer will be yours forever.
- Make sure you bring multiple payment methods. Family-run sales may be cash-only, while professional estate sale companies can usually take cards.
- Bring a car that’s big enough to take your new treasures home — estate sales don’t offer delivery.
- Be respectful of the home — someone’s beloved relative or spouse may have passed away recently, so don’t trespass on off-limits areas, use the home’s bathrooms, or bring small children who require a lot of supervision.
Replace worn bicycle parts each spring
Early spring is a good time to replace bike parts that may be worn out so you can start the new season with critical components in top-notch shape. Here are six things you should do now.
Your tires: The knobs on mountain bike tires lose their edges, which reduces traction. Road bike tires, especially rear tires, lose their crown, making them feel clunky when transitioning in and out of corners. All tires age. Rubber gets harder.
The chain: Measure the chain stretch to determine whether your chain needs to be replaced, or alternatively, you can make the replacement part of your annual routine. An old chain is more prone to breakage, shifts poorly, and accelerates wear on the bike’s chain rings.
Check the cables: Cables are the wire cores, and housings are the outer covers through which the cables run. Your first indication of failing cables may be a “snap” followed by a loss of tracking or shifting.
Brake pads: Rim brake pads harden over time, diminishing braking efficiency. They also pick up bits of grit that grind against the rims. Disc brake pads pick up junk, which can gouge rotors.
Replacement pads come in many styles, including those for severe conditions and for specific types of rims, such as ceramic-coated and carbon fiber.
Cleats: Worn cleats are difficult to clip in and out and may release unexpectedly. New ones should be installed early in the season when your daily mileage is low.
4 foolproof vegetables for first-time gardeners
Gardening can seem intimidating for first-timers. Here are a handful of vegetables you can easily grow without much experience.
1. Carrots are hardy and grow well in cool conditions. They can be harvested in late July for baby carrots or after the first frost for large, sweet-tasting ones. Orange varieties are the most reliable growers.
2. Lettuce tolerates shade better than other vegetables and grows fast. You can enjoy a weekly harvest all summer long when sown in succession. Plenty of varieties exist, including romaine, iceberg, butterhead, and Batavia.
3. Radishes grow fast and tolerate cool weather. These low-maintenance plants can be grown in small gardens, making great gap fillers. As a bonus, their strong odor tends to deter pests.
4. Bush beans germinate quickly and aren’t susceptible to many diseases. Moreover, a small patch of bush beans can yield an impressive amount of produce — up to one pound per plant! Bush beans also return nitrogen to the soil to keep your garden healthy.
Pick up the seeds you need at your local nursery or garden center.
Expert tips for starting seedlings indoors
To ensure a productive harvest, gardeners in northern climates must start certain vegetable seedlings indoors four to eight weeks before the last frost. Here are a few tips for getting a head start on your garden.
• Buy seeds from a reputable seller
• Use a specialized seed-starting mix
• Purchase or reuse containers with proper drainage
• Plant seeds at the depth listed on the seed packet
• Prepare for some losses and plant more seeds than you need
• Water frequently but sparingly to keep the soil moist but not water-logged
• Use heat mats and tray covers to speed up germination
• Place sprouted seedlings in a sunny location or under grow lights
• Promptly transplant seedlings that outgrow their original pots
• Once the seedlings are big enough, gradually introduce them to outdoor temperatures to get them ready for transplanting
Growing plants from seed take time and dedication but are extremely rewarding.
4 steps to help you choose the right camp
Although there are still a few months left in the school year, it’s time to start thinking about where to send your child to camp on summer break. Follow these steps to choose a camp to make your child’s summer enjoyable and memorable.
1. Determine your needs
Would you prefer to enroll your child in a day or summer camp? Does your child need to be dropped only off for a few days, or must they be there for most of the summer? These two questions will help you narrow down the list of potential camps.
2. Talk to your child
Your child knows best what they want. For example, ask your child what activities they’d like to try this summer, like cooking, archery, and science experiments. The activities offered can vary greatly from camp to camp.
3. Narrow down your options
Research and identify camps that meet your needs and will appeal to your kids. Rule out camps that are too far away or don’t fit your budget. Don’t hesitate to contact the organizers for more information.
4. Ask your child to make the final decision
Unless only one camp meets your requirements and matches your child’s interests, make a list of possible choices. Invite your kid to make the final decision.
Don’t wait until the last minute to register your child for a camp. Spots fill up fast!
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