New Year, New finances
Were you better off last year than this year? If the answer is No, or you don’t know the answer, you’ve got some work to do.
A study by Princeton Research Associates shows that, for all income levels below $100,000, people with a written financial plan report twice as much savings and investments as those without a plan.
Here’s how to make yours:
1. Find where you are now:
– What is your net worth (what you own less how much you owe)?
– How much debt do you have? Take a brave look at debt and interest rates.
– What are your financial goals, and how can you reach them?
2. Lower your interest rates.
If your job is secure and you are in good health, it could be wise to take a home equity loan at a lower interest rate to pay off high-interest consumer credit accounts. Though rising, equity loan rates are still less than credit cards.
3. Blast your debt.
Don’t charge anything. Talk to a credit counseling agency if you can’t pay all your unsecured debts in three to five years.
4. Check your progress.
You will be encouraged to see your total debt reduced each month.
5. Track daily expenses.
Monitor every penny you spend for 60 days. You are sure to find items you don’t really want or need.
6. Plan for disaster.
Check your home, auto, and health insurance to ensure adequate coverage.
Put money into an account for emergencies. Aim for three months of living expenses, but save what you can.
7. Avoid temptation.
Stick to your plan, not your pal’s vacation schedule.
Spring cleaning: 5 fabric care tips
While spring cleaning your home, don’t forget about textiles. Here are a few tips for cleaning your quilts, bedspreads, curtains, cushions, duvet covers, and more.
1. Before putting any textiles in the washing machine, shake out all the dust and debris or vacuum them. This will make cleaning more effective.
2. Metal accessories such as zippers can damage delicate fabrics. Don’t take any chances! Wash your delicates in a separate load. Also, place particularly fragile fabrics, like lace, in a mesh laundry bag.
3. Use a mild detergent, and don’t use bleach which can discolor your fabrics.
4. Wash your fabrics in cold water on the delicate or normal cycle. Follow the care instructions on the label whenever possible.
5. The drying method you use depends on the fabric type. You can generally use the dryer for heavy-duty textiles. However, hang other materials to air dry before steaming or ironing them.
If you have any items with special cleaning needs, bring them to your local dry cleaner.
March 19-25: National Poison Prevention Week – Steps to take when poisoning is suspected
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has this important information for you.
If you suspect a child or adult has ingested poison, remain calm first.
- Call 911 if the victim has collapsed. If the victim is not breathing, call 911, then give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
- If the victim is awake and alert, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. It is open 24/7.
- Be prepared to give the victim’s age and approximate weight.
- Describe the substance. Read from the container if available.
- Never make the victim vomit unless instructed to do so by Poison Control.
- Give your address and phone number. Stay on the phone for instructions from the emergency operator. The specialist may need to call you back.
- Medicines: Turn on a light when you give or take medicines. Read medication directions. Keep medicines in their original bottles. Store them in a safe place where they can’t be reached by children or teenagers.
- Household cleaners and chemicals: Keep chemicals, cleaners, and beauty products in their original containers. Always read the label before using it.
- Never mix cleaning products together. Doing so could produce toxic gases. Wear clothing that covers the skin when you spray pesticides or other chemicals.
- Open the windows and use a fan when using chemicals in the house.
Protecting young children
- Keep drugs and chemicals in childproof cabinets that children can’t reach.
- Don’t take medicine in front of children since they often try to copy adults. When giving children medication, never call it “candy.”
- Caution guests are not to leave drugs where children can find them. Don’t leave your own next dose on the counter.
Barkitecture is the new big thing for pets
Pets have pawsitively taken over the hearts of Americans, with more people owning pets and making special accommodations for them.
Since 2017, cat ownership is up about 13 percent and dog ownership up about 6 percent, with about 12 percent more people rescuing dogs and cats from shelters, according to the Humane Society.
With all the new pet owners, there’s a lot more fussing over the good boys than ever, with a new trend in homes to reflect it: Barkitecture.
Catios: Custom-protected indoor and outdoor play areas for cats.
Some are simple. On Etsy, for example, for under $100, you can find cardboard boxes customized with holes for nosy cats to crawl in, out, and around or hide and nap.
Other catios go big. These screened-in custom-made outdoor play areas have in-and-out cat doors, high and low shelves for lounging, spy posts, hiding places, climbing poles, walking ramps, scratching poles, paw-friendly portholes, food, and litter stations, and swinging toys. You can buy whole kits or just parts.
Built-in showers: Raised shower platforms that make it easy to give Fido a bath are increasingly popular in new home construction.
Recessed feeding stations: These built-in feeding stations are open recessed areas that are raised to the dog drinking level and set flush with the cabinets. A big benefit: No more tripping over dog water bowls.
Dog furniture: Comfy dog furniture, such as sofas to warm the short-haired pooch and cooling net cots for the thick-haired dog. There is also a trend toward dog houses under human platform beds.
Dog pools: Small cooling pools in various shapes and depths.
Of course, fancy pet things don’t replace what a pet needs most: Your time. That’s really what makes a pet’s life rich.
Women’s fashion – 4 trends to watch in spring 2023
Spring is the perfect time to embrace new styles. Do you need some inspiration to put together outfits that express your personality? Check out what’s making a buzz in women’s fashion in 2023.
1. Oversized blazers. Wearing a stylish blazer can instantly make you feel powerful and confident — even more so if oversized. Pair your oversized blazer with well-fitting jeans or dress pants this spring for a stylish outfit that commands respect.
2. Baggy jeans. Wide-legged, baggy jeans are “in” this spring. They’re the opposite of skinny jeans, which have reigned supreme for many years. Comfortable and practical, baggy jeans are the ultimate in casual chic.
3. Long skirts. Cool spring temperatures mean that miniskirts must wait! As you wait for the mercury to rise, stock up on extra-long, ankle-length, and floor-length dresses – but watch your step!
4. Leather jackets. You can’t go wrong with a rugged leather jacket in a tasteful cut. Classic black is a safe bet, but why not try burgundy for something more daring?
Ready to shop for a new spring ensemble? Lace-up some comfortable shoes and visit your local clothing shops for fashion gems.
How to paint upholstery
Do you have an old chair or couch lying around with outdated upholstery? Don’t throw it away! Paint it instead. Here’s a short guide on how to give your furniture a new life.
Choose the right paint
Although you can purchase fabric paint specifically designed for painting furniture, latex, and acrylic paint also work. However, you must use a fabric or textile medium. Use a ratio of one part paint, one part fabric medium, and two parts water.
Prepare the fabric
Vacuum all the nooks and crannies in the furniture to eliminate dust and debris. Spot clean stains with water and a little dish detergent and let dry. Then, tape around the chair or sofa legs, including decorative accents you don’t want to cover in paint.
Next, use a spray bottle to wet the fabric. It doesn’t need to be soaking wet, just damp. That’ll help the first coat of paint soak into the fabric.
Apply the paint
Use a wide paintbrush or sprayer to apply the first coat of paint while the fabric is still damp. Use a smaller paintbrush to reach areas where the fabric folds. Let dry completely. Once dry, sand the fabric with extra fine sandpaper to keep it soft to the touch.
Repeat this process as many times as necessary. The number of coats required depends on your paint color and fabric. Smooth cotton or poly blends are the easiest to paint, while textured and woven fabrics are more challenging.
Visit a home improvement store and speak with a paint specialist for tips on how to get the best results.
5 easy-to-grow annuals
Looking for showy, brightly colored flowers to give your flowerbeds new life this summer? Look no further than these five easy-to-grow annuals.
1. Wax begonias do well in various conditions and don’t need much to thrive. They bloom from late spring through late fall.
2. Canna lilies are tropical-looking annuals. These low-maintenance beauties come in a wide range of sizes — from dwarf varieties to ones that grow up to eight feet tall.
3. Zinnias come in various striking shades. They take about four to seven days to germinate and 50 to 55 days to bloom.
4. Cleomes, also called spider flowers, are fast-growing annuals. These stunners grow six feet tall and are great as a backdrop in borders.
5. Rudbeckia, commonly called black-eyed Susans, are bright-yellow daisy-like flowers that provide a pop of color in late summer.
Visit your local garden store to purchase seeds and get started.
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