If you want to start saving but aren’t sure where to begin, then an automated plan might be what you need. Here’s why.
It makes saving easier
Saving small sums is easier than trying to put large chunks of money aside. You can start with a manageable amount like $50 a month, and then increase it as your situation allows. You can also reduce the amount if you need to.
It enforces good habits
By arranging for a pre-determined portion of your income to be deposited into a savings account, you’re creating a habit. And if you automate these payments, you won’t be tempted to spend the money you intend to save. In addition, many such accounts impose penalties for withdrawals or prevent them altogether. Even if you’re tempted to dip into your savings, you won’t be able to unless you jump through a few hoops first.
You can benefit from compound interest
Aside from your regular savings account, you should also put a portion of your money into an investment portfolio. This allows you to benefit from receiving compound interest. Your investment’s interests are periodically added to the invested capital, meaning that they’ll start accumulating interest as well. For instance, at an average yield of three percent, saving $150 a month for five years will net you $700 in compound interest.
To learn more about automated savings plans, talk to a representative at your bank or a financial planner.
How to choose living room furniture
Whether you want to spruce up your living room or completely remodel it, choosing new furniture can be a challenge. Here are some tips that can help.
Identify your needs
Consider how your space will be used. If you watch a lot of TV or enjoy frequent movie nights, opt for a comfortable couch with enough space for the whole family. For avid gamers, an entertainment unit with shelves to store consoles and controllers is a practical purchase. A coffee table that can be adjusted to various heights is a great solution if you tend to eat your meals in the living room.
Additionally, a sofa bed is a versatile choice if you need your living room to double as an occasional guest room. You should also determine how much storage you’ll need to ensure the space is functional and free of clutter.
Assess the space
Measure the dimensions of your living room before you go shopping to make sure you choose pieces that fit. If you want to maximize the space’s potential, sketch out a few different floor plans. Keep in mind the location of windows, doorways, baseboard heaters, and floor vents when you design the layout. You should also take note of whether direct sunlight will create glare on the TV screen or potentially fade furniture fabric.
Establish a budget
Evaluate your financial situation and inquire about financing options for big-ticket items. Once you know how much you can afford to spend, decide on a budget, and stick to it. Keep in mind, however, that while quality pieces are more expensive, they’ll also last a lot longer. It may be worth shelling out a bit more for furniture if it’s well-made.
Settle on a style
When buying new furniture for your living room, it’s best to choose pieces with colors and textures that complement one another. Additionally, deciding on a design style will help guide your choices and allow you to successfully pair wood, metal, and glass pieces. From the whimsy of Bohemian chic to the crisp simplicity of Scandinavian, there’s a wide range of styles to select from. Choose the one you love and pick your items accordingly.
Test each piece
Before you purchase a sofa or chair, try out the floor model to make sure it’s comfortable. If you find a few items you like in the same store, ask if they can be placed side by side so you can see how they look together. You should also bring along paint chips, swatches, and photos to help you find furniture that matches what you already have.
To simplify your search for living room furniture and help you create a cohesive space, consider hiring a professional interior designer.
4 tips for a successful Fourth of July barbecue
The Fourth of July is an ideal occasion to host a backyard barbecue. Here are four tips to ensure the day is a success.
1. Start planning early
Hosting a barbecue isn’t complicated, but waiting until the last minute to get organized can be stressful. A to-do list will ensure you don’t forget to pick up ice for the drink cooler or top up on fuel for the grill. If guests are bringing side dishes, preemptive planning can help you avoid ending up with four macaroni salads.
2. Get creative with colors
3. Keep the menu simple
Set out chips and dip for guests to snack on before you fire up the barbecue. Complement the traditional meat options with grilled asparagus, corn on the cob, or vegetable skewers. Remember, simple doesn’t have to mean boring. You can make the meal interactive with a build-your-own burger, nacho, or sundae bar.
4. Remember to relax
Independence Day is about spending time with loved ones and creating memories. Don’t hesitate to delegate tasks by assigning someone to the grill or asking guests to contribute a salad or dessert. Once everyone has a plate full of food, be sure to raise a glass to family and country.
Ideally, your barbecue should start in the early afternoon so you and your guests can make the most of a sunny day and still have time to go watch a fireworks display in the evening.
3 considerations when choosing a floating floor
Floating floors have become increasingly popular in recent years thanks to their durability and improved quality. Most of all, people appreciate how easy they are to install. Since the planks attach to each other instead of the subfloor, they’re also easy to replace. Here are three things to consider when choosing a floating floor.
1. The material
The most popular type of floating floor is laminate, which is an affordable option that can withstand a lot of abuse. How¬ever, you can also find planks made of vinyl, engineered wood, and other materials like cork.
The material you choose will depend on your budget, where you’re planning to install it, and the amount of traffic you expect in the area.
2. The quality
Well-made floating floors lock together easily and seamlessly, while some lower-end materials may not connect properly.
If you opt for laminate that mimics the look of wood, make sure there’s enough variety in the pattern for it to appear natural.
3. The thickness
Thicker floating floorboards aren’t necessarily a higher quality product. However, they’re easier to install, more resistant to damage, and the best choice if your subfloor isn’t perfectly flat.
Before you install your floating floor, you’ll need to lay down a sheet of foam underlay. A must for any floating floor, this layer acts as a moisture barrier, helps correct minor imperfections in the subfloor, and adds a bit of cushioning under the planks. Be sure to remove any baseboards or trim from the wall prior to installation, and pull up the old flooring if necessary.
How to maintain an organic lawn
If you want to grow an organic lawn, the first step is to stop treating it with chemicals. Instead, use natural products like chicken manure and corn gluten to nourish your grass and make it more resistant to pests. Furthermore, organic lawns require a bit of upkeep. Here’s what’s involved.
In the spring
If you live in a region that has cold winters, you should prepare your lawn for the growing season as soon as the ground thaws.
Start by removing any dead grass and aerating the lawn with a mechanical aerator. Once this is done, cover the surface with a mixture of black soil and compost.
Additionally, remember to test the soil’s acidity level and add lime or wood ash if necessary.
In the summer
To keep your lawn healthy, maintain a grass height of about three inches. You can leave the clippings on the lawn to act as a natural fertilizer.
You should also periodically check the soil’s acidity and treat any imbalances.
Finally, to make your lawn healthier and more resistant to disease and infestation, be sure to plant several kinds of grass and plants.
How to make your home more energy efficient
The amount of energy your household consumes can have a significant impact on your heating and cooling costs. Here are a few ways you can make your home more energy-efficient.
Replace doors and windows
If they aren’t well insulated, doors and windows can be a significant source of energy loss in your home. To maximize thermal insulation, upgrade to Energy Star certified models. Keep in mind that even the most energy-efficient options must be properly installed to provide optimal results.
Seal air leaks
Reducing the amount of air that leaks in and out of your home will make it more energy-efficient. Use caulk to seal windows, doors, vents, and places where plumbing or wiring comes through a wall. Don’t forget to have the foundation, roof, and exterior corners inspected for cracks and other types of damage.
Keep in mind that some projects are best left to the professionals. This will ensure your updates are done properly and safely. If you want to start with a smaller job, replace your halogen lightbulbs with LED versions, and consider installing a smart thermostat.
Don’t forget to take advantage of government incentive programs, such as tax credits and rebates, to help offset the cost of making energy-efficient improvements and using renewable energy technologies in your home.
How to grow food in a desert climate
Under the right conditions, fruits and vegetables can thrive in the desert. Here are a few things to consider if you want your vegetable garden to flourish in a hot, arid environment.
Test the soil for nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Although it depends on what you’re growing, vegetables generally require a significant amount of each nutrient. You may also need to adjust the pH level since arid soil tends to be very alkaline.
In a desert climate, plants need to be watered at least twice a day to prevent them from drying out. Alternatively, you can set up an inexpensive drip irrigation system.
If you’re interested in cultivating a garden that requires minimal irrigation, you can still grow food. The prickly pear cactus, for example, is entirely edible. Once the spines are removed, you can cut the pads into strips and add them to a salad or cook them with other vegetables. The plant also produces a red-fleshed fruit that’s considered a delicacy.
What to grow
Here are a few food-producing plants that can thrive in the desert:
• String beans
• Hot peppers