Apartment Cleaning: Free Downloadable Chore Wheel

One of the most difficult situations roommates face is deciding who will take care of what chores. Obviously each roommate is in charge of keeping his or her bedroom and bathroom clean, but what about common areas? Who does the dishes and who vacuums?

Before you and your roommate resort to fisticuffs over who will take out the trash, consider an easier, more peaceful solution: A chore wheel. This simple DIY project will take you less than 10 minutes to create, and when it’s done, you’ll have an easy way to divide up household chores. You and your roommate(s) will trade off tasks so everyone does their part and no one is stuck with the chore they hate for very long.

Ready to ditch the pigsty? Download and assemble our free chore wheel to restore order to your apartment.

What you’ll need:

  • Chore wheel templates (download links are below)
  • Cardboard
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Permanent marker
  • Hole punch
  • Paper fastener

free downloadable chore wheelfree downloadable chore wheel

Step 1: Download one of the following chore wheel templates, depending on how many people live in your apartment.

  • Two people: If your household consists of you and just one roommate, download this template. Your wheel will contain either six or eight chores – your choice.
  • Three people: If your household is you and two roommates, download this template. Your wheel will contain six chores.
  • Four people: If your household is you and three roommates, download this template. Your wheel will contain eight chores.

Step 2: Print out the chore wheel template you downloaded. You don’t have to print in color, but doing so will make your chore wheel a lot prettier.

Step 3: Cut out each circle.

free downloadable chore wheelfree downloadable chore wheel

Step 4: Glue each circle to a piece of cardboard.

free downloadable chore wheelfree downloadable chore wheel

Step 5: Cut the cardboard to match the circle. Now you should have two circles with cardboard backing.

free downloadable chore wheelfree downloadable chore wheel

Step 6: On the bigger circle, write your name and the names of your roommate(s) in each section. On the smaller circle, assign each section to a different household chore. You might label it like this:

free downloadable chore wheelfree downloadable chore wheel

The exact labels are up to you, and they depend on what sorts of cleaning your apartment needs. For example, if your apartment has stairs, you might put “vacuum stairs” in one section, but if not, you might use that section for “dust bookshelves” or something else.

Try to keep big chores on opposite sides of the chore wheel. For example, doing the dishes can be a big task, but taking out the trash only takes a few minutes. Try to make sure each roommate will take on a similar workload each week.

Step 7: When both circles are labeled, punch a hole in the center of each one. You can use a hole punch, or bore a hole in each circle with the pointy end of a sharp knife. (Just remember to place a cutting board underneath, and be careful!)

Step 8: Push the paper fastener through the hole to join the two circles together.

Your chore wheel is complete! To use it, just twist the top wheel so certain sections line up with each roommate’s name. That person will be in charge of those chores for the amount of time you choose together. For example, this week Courtney will be in charge of taking out the trash, vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom, while Betty will clean the kitchen, dust and pick up the living room.

free downloadable chore wheelfree downloadable chore wheel

You can switch it up every week, every other week, or as often as you like. Now responsibilities are reversed.

free downloadable chore wheelfree downloadable chore wheel

You could also move the top wheel one wedge at a time instead of flipping it 180 degrees. You and your roommate(s) can decide what works best for your household.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Living Large in a Small Space

Squeezing your life into a tiny apartment, home, or condo can be a challenge, but you don’t have to sacrifice style or live knee-high in a sea of clutter. No matter how small, a space can be enjoyable and feel spacious with just the right touch. Here are some ways five tips on how to maximize your space, making it feel like home:

Downsize

You don’t have to get rid of everything but going through the process of downsizing can ease the clutter by getting rid of things you don’t really need. You probably did this before moving into your new space, but if you’ve had some time to accumulate more stuff, you may need to revisit it.

Brighten the atmosphere

Choose a crisp, light color scheme for things like curtains, sofa, and throw rugs to make the room feel bigger, brighter and comfy. Avoid darker tones that make a space appear uninviting and small.

Lots of natural light in a space can make it seem larger, too. Changing window treatments, if possible, or simply opening blinds and curtains during the day can make any room more pleasant.

Mirror appeal

Take a page out of restaurant strategy and try hanging up a few mirrors. It gives the illusion of feeling like you’re in a much larger and lighter space, and sometimes the illusion is all you need to feel better.

Style with function

With little space, you can’t give over space to something with just one function. A table with storage underneath or a desk that pulls out from the wall gives you effectively more space to work with. If you’re in a one-bedroom apartment, or even a studio, opting for a sofa bed can be a smart choice if you host guests from out of town. This takes away the need for an extra room and bed, while still being practical for everyday use.

Curtain call

Hang your curtains higher (the higher the better) to give the appearance of higher ceilings. You can also let in more light and make windows look wider by extending a curtain rod by four inches or more on either side of the windows. This will not only give the illusion of more square footage, but allows more light to enter too!

Shelve it

Getting clutter off of the floor can make any space seem bigger. If you’re letting items collect, trying various shelving. For a sleek, modern look, try floating shelves — this helps reduce the mess and keeps things simple. Hang them on your walls for a fashionable look that also leaves you plenty of floor real estate.

Curtain call

Getting clutter off the floor can make any space seem bigger. For a sleek, modern look, try floating shelves — this helps reduce the mess and keeps things simple. Hang them on your walls for a fashionable look that also leaves you plenty of floor real estate. If that’s enough, you might need to get more creative.

Be clever about storage

You still need places to stick your stuff, and a little creativity can get you a lot more space. If your bed frame is off the ground, you can put some boxes and other storage containers underneath it – the same goes for any other furniture with space under it. When you run out of that space, look to hooks and racks that go on the back of your doors. These are especially helpful in closets, where you can get shoe hangers to held more than just shoes, or bathrooms, where you can store what doesn’t fit in your drawers or cabinets. Still not enough space? Some cleverly placed peg boards can convert wall space to storage space, as well as keeping commonly used things in easy reach.

With these tips, take a look around your space and see how you can update! Have more tips to share based on your personal experience? Share in the comments below!

Photo by Stephen Crowley on Unsplash

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Source: apartmentguide.com

How Transferring a Balance Affects Your Credit Score

[DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

If you’re feeling weighed down by several credit card balances, credit card debt consolidation could provide some serious relief from your financial woes.

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Here’s how credit card consolidation works: You first decide if you want to take out a new loan, open a new credit card, or enroll in a debt management plan (more on that later). Whichever option you choose, you will use it to pay off your multiple balances.

Then you’ll only have one monthly payment: the loan, the credit card, or the debt management plan. Not only does that simplify your debt payments, but it can also help you save money by making you pay only one interest rate, rather than several.

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if you find an error, dispute it.

You can get your free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies — TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. And, Credit.com’s free credit report summary can help you understand what’s inside your credit report. It also provides you with a free credit score.

Once you know where your credit stands, you’ll have most of the information you’ll need to help you decide what credit card debt consolidation plan will work best for you.

2. Get to Know Your Options

There are several safe and smart ways to consolidate credit card debt, so you’ll want to research them before deciding what’s best for you. Some strategies will be more affordable than others, and your credit card consolidation choices may be limited by your credit standing.

Debt Consolidation Credit Cards

If you have good credit, look for a credit card with a low-interest rate. You can transfer high-interest rate credit card balances to a single card with a lower APR and save money on monthly finance charges as you pay down your debt.

For consumers with good credit, there are several credit card balance transfer, and low-interest rate credit card offers available. You may even qualify for a card with a 0% rate for 12 or 18 months.

Personal Debt Consolidation Loans

Personal loans charge simple interest (as opposed to credit cards, which often have variable rates and sometimes have different rates for a credit card balance transfer and purchases on the same card) and they typically have a loan repayment term of three to five years. By consolidating your credit card debt into a personal loan, you’ll have a definite plan for paying off your old card debt.

You may be able to consolidate your debt with a personal loan from your bank or credit union. But, before applying, be sure to ask about the lender’s credit requirements. Keep in mind that you’ll need excellent credit to qualify for the lowest interest rate on a personal loan.

Be sure to check out any potential online lenders with the Better Business Bureau before applying for a debt consolidation loan online. And you can verify if a lender is registered to do business in your state by contacting your state Attorney General’s office or your state’s Department of Banking or Financial Regulation.

Beware of any lender that promises to offer you a loan regardless of your credit. It’s also a good idea to stay clear of websites and lenders that charge you big upfront fees for a debt consolidation loan.

Debt Management

If you’re making little to no progress repaying or transferring balances or consider yourself to have a severe debt problem, then you may want to reach out to a reputable credit counseling agency or debt consolidation company. They can talk to you about a  debt management plan and other credit resources that may be available to you as a consumer to help pay off your debt.

With a debt management plan, you make one monthly payment to a credit counseling agency, and the agency pays each of your credit card lenders. A lender may lower the interest rate on your credit card balance when you participate in a debt management plan. Debt management plans typically last three to five years.

3. Do the Math

Credit card debt consolidation may save you money, but it’s often not free. Credit cards may have a balance transfer fee, so you’ll want to make sure that cost doesn’t outweigh the potential benefit of getting a lower interest rate on your debt.

Promotional interest rates expire — like 12 months of a 0% APR on a balance transfer card — so make sure you can repay your debt within that time frame. Otherwise you may not be saving any money at all.

The same goes for debt consolidation loans. Ask about any loan origination fees, and make sure the loan payment amount is something that easily fits into your budget. Failing to pay a personal loan as agreed will hurt your credit, so stay on top of your loan payments and work to build up a solid payment history.

No matter what credit card consolidation options you’re considering, be sure to ask about any fees you may have to pay and factor those numbers into your decision.

4. Don’t Forget About Your Credit Scores

Credit card consolidation can affect your credit in many ways, depending on which strategy you choose. For example, if you’re consolidating multiple balances onto one credit card, you’ll want to avoid maxing out that card’s credit limit because that will hurt your credit utilization rate (how much debt you’re carrying compared to your total credit limit).

You also may not want to close your old credit cards, as this can potentially ding your credit scores as well. By keeping your old credit cards open, you will not lower your credit utilization. Your credit utilization counts toward 30% of your credit score, and that’s why it’s important to keep that ratio low — under 30% and, optimally, less than 10% of your credit limits, overall and on individual cards.

Keep in mind a debt management plan may have a negative impact on your credit during the course of the program because your creditors will close or suspend your accounts while in the program, and this can affect your credit utilization.

Therefore, make sure you are ready to live credit card free for a while. (Not every creditor has to participate, so you may be able to keep a credit card out of the debt management plan if you need it to remain open for travel or business purposes, for example.)

Once you complete your plan, some of your creditors may re-establish your credit based on your new, debt-free status and the on-time payment history you established through the course of the debt management plan.

Other ways credit card consolidation can hurt your credit include applying for a new line of credit which will result in a hard inquiry on your credit report, adding a new credit account that can lower the average age of your credit history, and getting a new personal loan. All of these things will show that you have a high level of outstanding debt (your scores should improve as your remaining balance shrinks from where it started).

There are credit score perks, too. Adding a personal loan to your credit history can improve your mix of accounts (it’s good to have a combination of installment and revolving credit, like credit cards).

And if you make your credit card or loan payments as agreed, you’ll establish a positive payment history, which affects your credit scores more than anything else. (Payment history accounts for 35% of traditional credit scoring models.)

5. Commit to the Plan

Transferring credit card balances, paying off credit cards with a personal loan, or enrolling in a debt management plan are only the beginning steps of credit card debt consolidation.

For it to truly help you get out of debt, you have to stick to the plan, whether that’s paying off your credit card balance within a 12-month promotional financing period or making sure you make payments as agreed for the entire five-year loan term.

Throughout the process, you can keep tabs on how your credit card consolidation plan is affecting your credit by reviewing your free annual credit reports and viewing your free credit score on Credit.com

Lucy Lazarony contributed to this article.

Source: credit.com

Interview with a Car Broker

Buying a car with bad credit is possible—it’s just going to cost you. You’ll probably have a higher interest rate and require a bigger down payment, and you may have a much smaller selection to choose from than someone with a better credit history.

Here’s how to go about buying a car with bad credit and what you’ll need to be aware of to avoid being overcharged.

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1. Check Your Credit
2. Improve Your Score
3. Fix Credit Errors
4. Know What You Can Pay
5. Make a Bigger Down Payment
6. Get a Shorter Loan
7. Work with a Bad Credit Car Dealer
8. Get Preapproved
9. Get a Co-signer
10. Comparison Shop
11. Read the Fine Print
12. Refinance

Buying a Car With Bad Credit

If you have poor or bad credit, buying a vehicle requires some common steps that people with good credit don’t necessarily need to worry about. Consider taking these steps when buying a car with bad credit.

1. Check Your Credit

If your credit is poor, you may be stuck paying a higher interest rate until you can improve your credit scores. Your credit score is a huge factor when it comes to the interest rate and credit financing you will receive for your auto loan—or if you’ll be approved at all. You’ll want to go into this process knowing what your score is and what your options are.

Check your credit from all three major credit bureaus several months before you begin your car shopping journey so you have time to rebuild your credit if possible. Track your credit history to determine the areas where you can most improve before applying for a car loan.

2. Improve Your Score

There is no official minimum credit score you need to buy a car, but a higher score will open up more options and better rates. According to Experian, the average credit score for used car purchases at the end of 2018 was 659.

If your score is below 660, look for ways to improve your score before applying for a car loan. Your free Credit Report Card from Credit.com will help you determine the most efficient ways to improve your score: paying off debt, clearing up errors or taking care of old collection accounts could bump you over that coveted 700 threshold. Delaying the car finance process to improve your poor credit score and rebuild your credit can save you money in the long run.

3. Fix Credit Errors

If you find mistakes on your credit reports, fixing those errors could bring your score up quite a bit. If possible, give yourself at least 30 days to dispute credit report mistakes before you start car shopping and looking for an auto finance company or submit a loan application. If you think this is your best option, you can try DIY credit repair, or work with a credit repair service such as those from Lexington Law.

4. Know What You Can Pay

Whether or not you’re able to improve your credit score, you should know what you can afford to pay before you start shopping—and stay committed to your budget. Auto loan calculators are helpful tools to use when you are trying to determine how much car you can afford. These calculators can also provide you with an estimate of what you will be paying for the entire term of the auto loan, interest included.

〉 Try it now: Auto Loan Calculator

5. Make a Bigger Down Payment

If your score is still on the low side and you don’t have more time to rebuild your credit before purchasing a car, be prepared to put a large chunk of money down. If you’re able to put down more money, you can borrow less money—which will usually mean more savings overall. How much you have to put down on a car with bad credit depends on how low your score is (and why) as well as the price of the car and the dealer you’re working with. In general, at least $1,000 or 10% of the purchase price is recommended.

If you’re unable to put any money down, your options will be severely limited. You may be able to buy a car from a private seller who is willing to take payments, but this scenario is unlikely.

6. Get a Shorter Loan

Longer loans are generally considered a higher risk: there’s more time for you to potentially default on the loan, so the interest rates tend to be higher. The monthly payments will be higher for shorter loans, however, so make sure you are able to fit this into your budget with some room to spare.

7. Work with a Bad Credit Car Dealer

If you need a car now and have a credit score that falls below the 600 range, you may need to go to bad credit car dealerships that specialize in no-credit or poor-credit buyers. These dealerships will work with your credit history to get approval, but interest rates will likely be high and terms may be unfavorable.

8. Get Preapproved

Getting preapproval for auto financing from a bank or credit union could better prepare you for the car shopping process. This preapproval process analyzes your income, expenses, credit score and credit report and determines if you qualify for an auto loan from the lender and how much the lender would be willing to lend. Submitting your paperwork early and learning what obstacles you face could spare you a lot of headaches later when going through the loan approval process.

9. Get a Co-signer

If you have a poor credit score, it may be helpful to get a co-signer for your loan application. Not all lenders offer this option, so consider this carefully before moving forward.

10. Comparison Shop

Always shop around for your loan. You never know what options are available until you look. Look for the best possible terms and make sure that you can actually afford the payments so you don’t end up negatively affecting your credit even more. It’s also a good idea to compare rates from other lenders like banks or credit unions before settling on a loan straight from the dealership.

11. Read the Fine Print

The fine print can make a big difference in the overall purchase price of the vehicle, especially if your credit means a high interest rate. Make sure there’s no prepayment penalty so you’re not fined for paying off a loan quicker than agreed, and avoid pricey add-ons that increase the sales price.

12. Refinance

Auto loan refinancing could help lower your auto loan rates and your monthly payment, which could end up saving you hundreds over the life of the loan. For loan refinancing, you typically want a strong history of making on-time payments for at least 12 months. However, keep in mind that the loan refinancing will also take your credit history and current credit scores into account as well. So, as always, continue working diligently to improve and rebuild your credit rating.

Key Takeaways

Whether or not you can get a car loan with bad credit depends on many factors. If you follow these tips, you may be able to get an auto loan and save money even with poor credit scores.

You can view your credit score and get an easy-to-understand Credit Report Card for free at Credit.com or via the mobile app for iPhone and Android. Start by taking a look at what factors are having the most impact on your scores and credit rating so you know what to address first.

Source: credit.com

Car payment too high

Buying a car with bad credit is possible—it’s just going to cost you. You’ll probably have a higher interest rate and require a bigger down payment, and you may have a much smaller selection to choose from than someone with a better credit history.

Here’s how to go about buying a car with bad credit and what you’ll need to be aware of to avoid being overcharged.

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1. Check Your Credit
2. Improve Your Score
3. Fix Credit Errors
4. Know What You Can Pay
5. Make a Bigger Down Payment
6. Get a Shorter Loan
7. Work with a Bad Credit Car Dealer
8. Get Preapproved
9. Get a Co-signer
10. Comparison Shop
11. Read the Fine Print
12. Refinance

Buying a Car With Bad Credit

If you have poor or bad credit, buying a vehicle requires some common steps that people with good credit don’t necessarily need to worry about. Consider taking these steps when buying a car with bad credit.

1. Check Your Credit

If your credit is poor, you may be stuck paying a higher interest rate until you can improve your credit scores. Your credit score is a huge factor when it comes to the interest rate and credit financing you will receive for your auto loan—or if you’ll be approved at all. You’ll want to go into this process knowing what your score is and what your options are.

Check your credit from all three major credit bureaus several months before you begin your car shopping journey so you have time to rebuild your credit if possible. Track your credit history to determine the areas where you can most improve before applying for a car loan.

2. Improve Your Score

There is no official minimum credit score you need to buy a car, but a higher score will open up more options and better rates. According to Experian, the average credit score for used car purchases at the end of 2018 was 659.

If your score is below 660, look for ways to improve your score before applying for a car loan. Your free Credit Report Card from Credit.com will help you determine the most efficient ways to improve your score: paying off debt, clearing up errors or taking care of old collection accounts could bump you over that coveted 700 threshold. Delaying the car finance process to improve your poor credit score and rebuild your credit can save you money in the long run.

3. Fix Credit Errors

If you find mistakes on your credit reports, fixing those errors could bring your score up quite a bit. If possible, give yourself at least 30 days to dispute credit report mistakes before you start car shopping and looking for an auto finance company or submit a loan application. If you think this is your best option, you can try DIY credit repair, or work with a credit repair service such as those from Lexington Law.

4. Know What You Can Pay

Whether or not you’re able to improve your credit score, you should know what you can afford to pay before you start shopping—and stay committed to your budget. Auto loan calculators are helpful tools to use when you are trying to determine how much car you can afford. These calculators can also provide you with an estimate of what you will be paying for the entire term of the auto loan, interest included.

〉 Try it now: Auto Loan Calculator

5. Make a Bigger Down Payment

If your score is still on the low side and you don’t have more time to rebuild your credit before purchasing a car, be prepared to put a large chunk of money down. If you’re able to put down more money, you can borrow less money—which will usually mean more savings overall. How much you have to put down on a car with bad credit depends on how low your score is (and why) as well as the price of the car and the dealer you’re working with. In general, at least $1,000 or 10% of the purchase price is recommended.

If you’re unable to put any money down, your options will be severely limited. You may be able to buy a car from a private seller who is willing to take payments, but this scenario is unlikely.

6. Get a Shorter Loan

Longer loans are generally considered a higher risk: there’s more time for you to potentially default on the loan, so the interest rates tend to be higher. The monthly payments will be higher for shorter loans, however, so make sure you are able to fit this into your budget with some room to spare.

7. Work with a Bad Credit Car Dealer

If you need a car now and have a credit score that falls below the 600 range, you may need to go to bad credit car dealerships that specialize in no-credit or poor-credit buyers. These dealerships will work with your credit history to get approval, but interest rates will likely be high and terms may be unfavorable.

8. Get Preapproved

Getting preapproval for auto financing from a bank or credit union could better prepare you for the car shopping process. This preapproval process analyzes your income, expenses, credit score and credit report and determines if you qualify for an auto loan from the lender and how much the lender would be willing to lend. Submitting your paperwork early and learning what obstacles you face could spare you a lot of headaches later when going through the loan approval process.

9. Get a Co-signer

If you have a poor credit score, it may be helpful to get a co-signer for your loan application. Not all lenders offer this option, so consider this carefully before moving forward.

10. Comparison Shop

Always shop around for your loan. You never know what options are available until you look. Look for the best possible terms and make sure that you can actually afford the payments so you don’t end up negatively affecting your credit even more. It’s also a good idea to compare rates from other lenders like banks or credit unions before settling on a loan straight from the dealership.

11. Read the Fine Print

The fine print can make a big difference in the overall purchase price of the vehicle, especially if your credit means a high interest rate. Make sure there’s no prepayment penalty so you’re not fined for paying off a loan quicker than agreed, and avoid pricey add-ons that increase the sales price.

12. Refinance

Auto loan refinancing could help lower your auto loan rates and your monthly payment, which could end up saving you hundreds over the life of the loan. For loan refinancing, you typically want a strong history of making on-time payments for at least 12 months. However, keep in mind that the loan refinancing will also take your credit history and current credit scores into account as well. So, as always, continue working diligently to improve and rebuild your credit rating.

Key Takeaways

Whether or not you can get a car loan with bad credit depends on many factors. If you follow these tips, you may be able to get an auto loan and save money even with poor credit scores.

You can view your credit score and get an easy-to-understand Credit Report Card for free at Credit.com or via the mobile app for iPhone and Android. Start by taking a look at what factors are having the most impact on your scores and credit rating so you know what to address first.

Source: credit.com

Here’s How to Upcycle Clothes and Revamp Your Wardrobe

A woman cuts into clothing with bags of clothing behind her in trash bags.

Halima Garrett has made wrap pants out of a vintage skirt and estate sale fabric. She became interested in upcycling due to her large collection of vintage clothing she’s collected over the years. Photo courtesy of Halima Garrett

Have you ever stared into the depths of your closet and thought: “I have absolutely nothing to wear?”

If your normal inclination is to dejectedly sift through what you already have, it turns out that there is a better way  — and it doesn’t involve buying anything new. Enter the world of upcycling.

Here’s how to upcycle clothing and give yourself a whole new(ish) wardrobe.

First, What is Upcycling?

The term ‘upcycling’ comes from the idea of recycling an old item, but with a twist. Upcycling is not just reusing something, but tweaking that item to make it better than before.

An upcycled garment often bears little resemblance to its former state. Take Colorado-based designer Maggie Henricks of Create Good Company. She crafts boyfriend skirts out of men’s dress shirts. With patterns ranging from plaid and polka dots to bright Hawaiian florals, Henricks’ designs make for an interesting cross between masculine and feminine fashion norms.

Halima Garrett, who runs Thread of Habit out of New Jersey, got into upcycling by way of her love of vintage clothing. Garrett had amassed so much clothing over the years that she simply didn’t know what to do with it all. Finally, she decided the best option was to rework some pieces.

Even though she calls her sewing skills “basic,” Garrett was able to make wrap pants out of a vintage skirt and estate sale fabric. In fact, her website boasts an entire lingerie collection — each reworked piece contains at least one vintage lingerie item.

A woman creates a new outfit out of an old skirt and an old purple shirt.
Garrett combined fabric from two old pieces of clothing to create the outfit on the right. Photo courtesy of Halima Garrett

Here’s the best part about upcycling: your clothing will be one of a kind. And if you want to give a friend an inexpensive gift that they’ll cherish, upcycling an item for them is a great idea. You don’t even need to have a sewing machine, and all of these DIY projects can be done from your own home. There’s an exclusivity to it that might be enough to make even the least sewing-inclined person want to upcycle clothing.

For those of us who don’t want to sell our upcycled clothes but do want to wear them, Garrett and Henricks have some tips and tricks to take your grandmother’s nightgown — or whatever you want to redo — from frumpy to fancy.

1. Know What to Salvage and What to Cut Up.

If you’re working with vintage clothing or just old clothes in your closet, Garrett advises assessing what you’re cutting up before you take the scissors to your favorite jeans.

If an item has stains on the armpit or a hole that’s too big to mend, by all means, cut.

But if you’ve rescued a pre-1970s item from Goodwill’s bins and you want to preserve its original quality, it may be better to choose a different item to upcycle. The same goes for an item with sentimental value. Ask your mom — and yourself — before you cut up her old wedding dress.

2. Start Simple.

Garrett has proven that it’s possible to upcycle old clothes without the skills of an advanced seamstress. The easiest way to dip your toes into upcycled clothing is by starting small. Try cutting a pair of pants into shorts or cutting a long-sleeve shirt into a short-sleeve T-shirt.

3. Use Your Wardrobe as Inspiration.

Is there something in your closet that you absolutely love? Would you love to replicate it? That’s a great place to start when upcycling. Use the garment you love as a model for how you want another item to fit. Or if you like the color combination of an outfit, consider using that combination in an upcycled piece. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Another way to reimagine what you already have is looking at what something could be if it were a different type of garment. Do you love the fabric of a dress but hate the fit? Make it into a two-piece set with a tank top and skirt. Are you sick of your old jeans but they still fit well? Try sewing on a patch of fabric to the knee.

4. Look at Your Old Clothes as Parts of a Whole, not as a Single Garment.

Henricks always thinks of any item as different pieces of fabric rather than a shirt, a skirt or a dress. That helps her to get inspiration.

Measuring the size of your garment can help to think of a way to creatively rework it. And if you don’t have enough to make something new out of one piece, think about combining multiple into one.

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“It’s important to think away from what it is now,” says Henricks, “and focus more on the fabric and patterns that you have available in the material.”

5. Youtube Tutorials are Your Friend.

Youtube videos are usually the best place to start for any technical skill. Garrett recommends searching for tutorials on “no-sew upcycle” or “minimal sewing upcycle.”

The fact that videos under that designation exist shows that no-sewing upcycling is possible. Three of Garrett’s favorites are Angelina of BlueprintDIY, Mimi G Style and Shania O. Mason.

6. When Looking for Guidance, Be as Specific as Possible.

When looking at the piece you want to remake, think about what it is specifically that you want to change. Do you want to make the top or pants tighter? Do you want to put slits in a dress?

Once you have a tentative visual in mind, that makes it easier to search online for guidance. You can then find a specific tutorial in line with the exact alterations you want to make.

7. When You Find Your Niche, Stick With it.

Have success reworking one item? You don’t necessarily have to branch out. Stay there and see what else you can do within that framework.

Henricks is focused on the men’s dress shirts arena. And she has found inventive ways to upcycle different aspects: not only does she make boyfriend skirts from the shirts, but she also makes dog collars from the shirt collars and crop tops. She is a great example that finding your fashion lane and sticking to it can yield some of the most inventive and creative ideas.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

4 Credit Cards That Can Help You Save for a Car

According to Kelley Blue Book, the average price for a light vehicle in the United States was almost $38,000 in March 2020. Of course, the sticker price will depend on whether you want a small economy car, a luxury midsize sedan, an SUV or something in between. But the total you pay for a vehicle also depends on a number of other factors if you’re taking out a car loan.

Get the 4-1-1 on financing a car so you can make the best decision for your next vehicle purchase.

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Decide Whether to Finance a Car

Whether or not you should finance your next vehicle purchase is a personal decision. Most people finance because they don’t have an extra $20,000 to $50,000 they want to part with. But if you have the cash, paying for the car outright is the most economical way to purchase it.

For most people, deciding whether to finance a car comes down to a few considerations:

  • Do you need the vehicle enough to warrant making a monthly payment on it for several years?
  • Does the monthly payment work within your personal budget?
  • Is the deal, including the interest rate, appropriate?

Factors to Consider When Financing a Car

Obviously, the first thing to consider is whether you can afford the vehicle. But to understand that, you need to consider a few factors.

  • Total purchase price. Total purchase price is the biggest impact on how much you’ll pay for the car. It includes the price of the car plus any add-ons that you’re financing. Depending on the state and your own preferences, that might include extra options on the vehicle, taxes and other fees and warranty coverage.
  • Interest rate, or APR. The interest rate is typically the second biggest factor in how much you’ll pay overall for a car you finance. APR sounds complex, but the most important thing is that the higher it is, the more you pay over time. Consider a $30,000 car loan for five years with an interest rate of 6%—you pay a total of $34,799 for the vehicle. That same loan with a rate of 9% means you pay $37,365 for the car.
  • The terms. A loan term refers to the length of time you have to pay off the loan. The longer you extend terms, the less your monthly payment is. But the faster you pay off the loan, the less interest you pay overall. Edmunds notes that the current average for car loans is 72 months, or six years, but it recommends no more than five years for those who can make the payments work.

It’s important to consider the practical side of your vehicle purchase. If you take out a car loan for eight years, is your car going to still be in good working order by the time you get to the last few years? If you’re not careful, you could be making a large monthly payment while you’re also paying for car repairs on an older car.

Buying a Car with No Credit

You can buy a car anytime if you have the cash for the purchase. If you have no credit or bad credit, your options for financing a car might be limited. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get a car loan without credit.

Many banks and lenders are willing to work with people with limited credit histories. Your interest rate will likely be higher than someone with excellent credit can command, though. And you might be limited on how much you can borrow, so you probably shouldn’t start looking at luxury SUVs. One tip for increasing your chances is to put as much cash down as you can when you buy the car.

If you can’t get a car loan on your own, you might consider a cosigner. There are pros and cons to asking someone else to sign on your loan, but it can get you into the credit game when the door is otherwise barred.

Personal Loans v. Car Loans: Which One Is Better?

Many people wonder if they should use a personal loan to buy a car or if there is really any difference between these types of financing. While technically a car loan is a loan you take out personally, it’s not the same thing as a personal loan.

Personal loans are usually unsecured loans offered over relatively short-term periods. The funds you get from a personal loan can typically be used for a variety of purposes and, in some cases, that might include buying a car. There are some great reasons to use a personal loan to buy a car:

  • If you’re buying a car from a private seller, a personal loan can hasten the process.
  • Traditional auto loans typically require full coverage insurance for the vehicle. A personal loan and liability insurance may be less expensive.
  • Lenders typically aren’t interested in financing cars that aren’t in driving shape, so if you’re buying a project car to work on in your garage during your downtime, a personal loan may be the better option.

But personal loans aren’t necessarily tied to the car like an auto loan is. That means the lender doesn’t necessarily have the ability to repossess the car if you stop paying the loan. Since that increases the risk for the lender, they may charge a higher interest rate on the loan than you’d find with a traditional auto loan. Personal loans typically have shorter terms and lower limits than auto loans as well, potentially making it more difficult for you to afford a car using a personal loan.

Steps You Should Follow When Financing a Car

Before you jump in and apply for that car loan, review these six steps you should take first.

1. Check your credit to understand whether you are likely to be approved for a loan. Your credit also plays a huge role in your interest rate. If your credit is too low and your interest rate would be prohibitively high, it might be better to wait until you can build or repair your credit before you get an auto loan. Sign up for ExtraCredit to see 28 of your FICO scores from all three credit bureaus.

2. Research auto loan options to find the ones that are right for you. Avoid applying too many times, as these hard inquiries can drag your credit score down with hard inquiries. The average auto loan interest rate is 27% on 60-month loans (as of April 13, 2020).

3. Get your trade-in appraised. The dealership might give you money toward your trade-in. That reduces the price of the car you purchase, which reduces how much you need to borrow. A few thousand dollars can mean a more affordable loan or even the difference between being approved or not.

4. Get prequalified for a loan online. While most dealers will help you apply for a loan, you’re in a better buying position if you walk into the dealership with funding ready to go. Plus, if you’re prequalified, you have a good idea what you can get approved for, so there are fewer surprises.

5. Buy from a trusted dealer. Unfortunately, there are dealerships and other sellers that prey on people who need a car badly. They may charge high interest or sell you a car that’s not worth the money you pay. No matter your financial situation, always try to work with a dealership that you can trust.

6. Talk to your car insurance company. Different cars will carry different car insurance premiums. Make a call to your insurance company prior to the sale to discuss potential rate changes so you’re not surprised by a higher premium after the fact.

Next to buying a home, buying a car is one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll make in your life, and you’ll likely do it more than once. Make sure you understand the ins and outs of financing a car before you start the process.

Source: credit.com

How Much is Your FICO Score Costing You on Your Car? (Infographic)

A FICO credit score is a credit score developed by FICO, a company that specializes in what’s known as “predictive analytics,” which means they take information and analyze it to predict what’s likely to happen.

In the case of credit scores, FICO looks at a range of credit information and uses that to create scores that help lenders predict consumer behavior, such as how likely someone is to pay their bills on time (or not), or whether they are able to handle a larger credit line.

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Scores developed by FICO can also be used to forecast which accounts are most likely to end up included in bankruptcy, or which ones will be most profitable. And credit-based insurance scores, which they also create, are used to help insurance companies identify which customers are least likely to file claims.

What Does FICO Stand For?

The name FICO comes from the company’s original name, the Fair Isaac Co. It was often shortened to FICO and finally became the company’s official name several years ago.

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To create credit scores, they use information provided by one of the three major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. But FICO itself is not a credit reporting agency.

Though a FICO credit score is the most widely used among lenders, there are other scores lenders can choose from, such as the VantageScore, which is becoming more widely used.

What is the FICO Score Range?

There are actually dozens of FICO scores, with each version serving a different purpose (more on that later). Generally, the FICO score range is 300 to 850, with the higher number representing less risk to the lender or insurer.

What Is a Good FICO Score?

Consumers with excellent FICO scores (usually around 760 fico score range or higher, though every lender has different standards) are likely to get the best rates when they borrow, as well as the best discounts on insurance.

What Goes Into FICO Scores?

Five main factors go into FICO scores, and they each have a different effect on your score. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Payment history (35% of the FICO score)
  • Debt/amounts owed (30%)
  • Age of credit history (15%)
  • New credit/inquiries (10%)
  • Mix of accounts/types of credit (10%)

All these factors are considered in other credit score models, so it’s safe to say that if you have a good FICO score, you likely have a strong score with other models as well. However, for some people, the weight of these categories can vary.

For example, people who haven’t been using credit for very long will be factored differently than those with a longer credit history, according to FICO. So, the importance of any one of these factors depends on the overall information in your credit report.

That’s why it’s a good idea to not get too hung up on the specific number of your credit score. Instead, focus on what areas of your credit are strong and which ones you might want to work on to better achieve a good FICO score.

What’s Not in My FICO Score?

While FICO considers a wide range of information to come up with your credit scores, there is a lot of information that is not used. According to FICO, the scores do not consider anything that isn’t on your credit report, which includes your race, religion, national origin, sex, marital status and age.

Here are some other things that FICO says it does not factor into its scores:

  • Participation in a credit counseling program
  • Employment information, including your salary, occupation, title, employer, date employed or employment history
  • Where you live
  • The interest rates on your credit accounts
  • “Soft” inquiries (requests for your credit report), which include requests you make to see your own credit reports or scores
  • Any information that has not been proven to be predictive of future credit performance

Is There Just One FICO Score?

FICO has dozens of credit score models. Some are specific to what the consumer is applying for. For example, if you’re applying for an auto loan, your potential creditor may use a FICO score formula that gives significant weight to your history of making auto loan payments. Other models are customized for FICO’s clients.

Additionally, FICO updates its general formulas from time to time, with the most recent being the FICO 9 rollout in 2014. Paid collection accounts are not factored into FICO 9 scores, and unpaid medical collections have less of a negative impact on credit scores, compared to other credit scoring models and previous FICO algorithms.

A Few More Facts About FICO Scores

A lesser-known fact about FICO scores is that some people don’t have them at all. To generate a credit score, a consumer must have a certain amount of available information. For example, to generate FICO scores, the consumer should have at least one account that has been open for six or more months and at least one account that has been reported to the credit reporting agencies over the last six months.

Did you know that it is also possible to achieve a perfect FICO score? The best FICO score a consumer can have is an 850, and that number has been reached by only about 0.5% of consumers that practiced better credit behavior.

Paying all your bills on time, not carrying your credit card balances month to month, and not opening multiple accounts are all good behaviors to follow to help you reach your FICO score goals of 850.

Each of the three major credit bureaus will generate their own FICO scores. It is recommended that you look at each credit report from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion because the FICO score for each may slightly vary. You may also find that there is more than one FICO score available from each reporting agency.

FICO SBSS

FICO scores are not just for individuals either. Small businesses also have their own FICO scores, and these scores are what banks and other financial institutions use to help determine if they should lend to a business or not.

The FICO SBSS is the small business FICO Score (FICO Small Business Scoring Service) and counts as one of three main business credit scores. These FICO scores range from 0 to 300 and like regular FICO scores, the higher the sbss score, the better.

To calculate a FICO SBSS, the personal and business credit history is considered alongside other financial information such as payment history to vendors and suppliers. These scores can then be used to prescreen or determine loan terms and credit amounts that could reach more than one million dollars.

If a small business would like to improve their FICO score, then they should take a closer look at their personal credit history while they take positive steps to begin to build business credit.

FICO Score Versus VantageScore

Like FICO scores, VantageScores are also utilized by all three of the major credit reporting agencies. The VantageScore credit score is another scoring model that was actually developed by TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.

While both scoring models use much of the same information to calculate scores, FICO bases their model off the reports from the three credit bureaus to come up with one formula. They both use a scoring model with scores ranging between 300 and 850.

VantageScore is most often used if the individual does not have an adequate credit history while FICO is used if there is a history of at least six months or more. VantageScore credit scores are given to people who don’t qualify to receive a FICO credit score due to the short or nonexistent credit history.

In addition to a FICO score and VantageScore, you can also find a TransRisk Score. This score is also a three-digit number on a scoring model of 300 to 850. The TransRisk Score, however, is found with information on a TransUnion credit report and is not often used by lenders.

How to Get Your Credit Score

With a free Credit.com account, you get a free credit score. This is not a trial offer, there is nothing to cancel, and you won’t be asked for your credit card information.

You can also purchase a FICO score online, and some credit card companies also provide free credit scores with an account or on your regular statement.

Source: credit.com

4 Tips Before You Buy Your Teenager a Car

Roughly 26% of car buyers feel that they overpaid for their vehicle, according to a 2014 survey from TrueCar, Inc. That same survey admittedly also found consumers believe car dealers make about five times more profit on the sale of a new car than they actually do — but whether you truly paid too much for your now-old ride or you simply think you did, there are ways to save the next time you hit up a car dealership. For starters, the rates on auto loans are largely driven by your credit, so simply bolstering your credit score can potentially save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. Plus, it never hurts to comparison shop and negotiate when it comes to auto loans and the actual vehicle itself — you may be missing out on savings by doing one and not the other.

But First… How Much Car Can You Afford?

According to Credit.com contributor and car insurance comparison company TheZebra, automotive experts generally suggest auto loans not exceed 10% (if it’s just the loan) to 20% (if it’s the loan and related expenses like car insurance) of your gross monthly income. Of course, that’s a broad rule and every potential car owner is going to have to take a long, hard long at their finances and current debt levels to decide what they can, in fact, afford. Following these three simple cost-cutting steps can help you save big on your auto loan and next car purchase.

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1. Do a Credit Check

Not checking your credit before you start shopping for a car is a huge mistake. Because your auto loan rates are directly tied to your credit scores, even a small inaccuracy on your credit report could cost you. Before you start shopping for your dream car, take an hour to check all three of your credit reports and credit scores online. You need to check with all three major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — because you don’t know which one a lender will use for your application. If you have a credit score above 750, you can probably qualify for the best rates available and negotiate an excellent deal on your car. If your credit score is lower, see if you can give it a boost before you apply for a loan.

You can view two of your credit scores, along with your free credit report snapshot on Credit.com. The snapshot will pinpoint what your specific area of opportunities are and what steps you can take to improve. However, as a general rule of thumb, you can raise your credit score by disputing errors on your credit report, paying down high credit card debts and limiting new credit applications.

2. Shop Online

Unless you have a credit score in the 800s and can qualify for a 0% auto loan offer, you are probably not going to get the best deal on a loan from the dealership. Auto loan rates and fees offered by online auto lenders are usually a lot lower than the rates offered by dealership financing programs. Plus, you can shop and compare rates online without causing damaging inquiries to your credit report (provided you’re not formally applying for every offer you see). Most online lenders have calculators or rate guides that show you what rate you could receive based upon your credit score. (Note: Be sure to vet any lender, whether online or within a dealership, before taking them up on an offer.)

With many online loans, you fill out the application and receive an approval by email within a few hours. Then the lender mails you a check that is ready to be made out to the person or business selling the car. If you end up not buying a car or not using the loan, you toss the check (shredding it first, of course). Plus, the check from the lender usually specifies a certain price range (for example, $9,000-$10,000). This leaves you with some room for negotiating a lower price with the seller even after you have received your loan approval. Speaking of which …

3. Negotiate the Price

Many people may wind up overpaying for a car simply to avoid negotiating the price of a car with a salesperson. Luckily, the Internet makes negotiating with car dealers a whole lot easier. Before you start shopping, look up the listed price, invoice and MSRP of the car you want through an unbiased site like Kelley Blue Book and request free price quotes online. Armed with these facts, you’ll have an advantage over the salesperson when you start the negotiations. You should be able to save a couple hundred dollars, if not a few thousands, by negotiating with the car salesperson before you decide to buy.

Proving It

You may be thinking: This is all fine and dandy, but does it really add up to $3,000 in savings? Let’s crunch the numbers using this auto loan calculator.

According to data from Experian, the average interest rate on a new car loan for prime customers as of the last quarter of 2015 was 3.55%. The average rates on a new car for non-prime customers and subprime customers during that timeframe were 6.24% and 10.36%, respectively.

So, let’s say you wanted to buy a $16,000 car and had $1,000 saved for a down payment. If you chose a loan repayment period of 60 months, had a non-prime credit score (think just below 700), and got a loan through a dealership, you could receive about a 6.3% annual percentage rate (APR).

  • Dealership option: $292 a month – $17,525 total costs

However, if you checked your credit reports and scores before you applied and found a way to boost your score to prime (think around 750), your interest rate from the dealership could drop to about 3.5%.

  • Improved score: $273 a month – $16,373 total costs

You would have already saved $1,152 dollars, just by checking your credit reports! That’s a pretty good return on your investment. Next, you might be able to reduce your rate even more by shopping for a loan online with your new credit score of 750. Let’s suppose, for argument sake, you qualify for a 2.7% APR (the average interest rate for super-prime customers during the last quarter of 2015, according to Experian).

  • Online loan: $268 a month – $16,052 total costs

You would have saved almost $1,473 by working on your loan options using Step 1 and 2. Finally, if you went to negotiate with the salesperson you could probably make a deal with the seller to reduce the price of the car down to $14,000. In this case, you would only have to borrow $13,000 with your 2.7% APR loan from an online lender.

  • Negotiated deal: $232 a month – $13,912 total costs

Your total savings from following these three simple steps would equal $3,613 over the life of your auto loan!

Source: credit.com

Cleaning Tools You’ll Need for Your Apartment

Whether you’re in your first apartment or someone else used to buy the stuff to keep your place clean, there’s a number of cleaning tools you’ll need for cleaning your apartment.

Here’s a shopping list of must-haves and tips on how to clean an apartment.

Basic cleaning tools everyone should have

First, let’s tackle the items you’ll need in your closet or under the sink, the “tools” required to clean an apartment. Most of these items are reusable so it may be worthwhile to spend a little more for higher quality products.

  • Scrubby sponges (choose one color for surfaces and another for dishes, don’t mix them up)
  • Dish Scrubber with built-in soap holder (an alternative to the scrubby sponge for dishes)
  • Mop (the self-wringing kind or a Swiffer-type is easy to use, the choice will depend on your flooring)
  • Bucket or small plastic tub (for mopping)
  • Rubber gloves (trust us, you’ll want to wear them for certain tasks)
  • Broom (choose the angled kind)
  • Dustpan (some dustpans come with a small attached hand broom, which is a nice bonus)
  • Dust rag (you could cut up an old T-shirt for this)
  • Large scrub brush (you’ll need this for tubs and floors)
  • Small scrub brush (you’ll need this for corners and around faucets)
  • Toilet brush (some come with a decorative holder which hides the brush, a nice buy)
  • Plunger (one of these might come with your apartment, so store it near the toilet for emergency situations)
  • Trash cans (it’s extra nice to have a foot pedal one in the kitchen)
  • Vacuum cleaner (warning: used vacuums can contain fleas)
  • Optional item: blind/fan cleaner

Cleaning products you’ll need to buy and replace

You’ll find a wide variety of cleaning products at any grocery store, dollar store or drug store. And most of them last a really long time.

Also, note that you can substitute the brands below with other products, including those that might be more environmentally-friendly. (Use the brand name to find the right section of the cleaning aisle!)

  • Paper towels
  • Garbage bags
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dryer sheets
  • Spot removal (for laundry)
  • Dishwashing soap (for hand-washing dishes, choose a kind that’s easy on the skin)
  • Dishwasher soap (for the machine)
  • Soft-Scrub (this product has a little grit in it, and cleans stubborn stains from sinks and other surfaces)
  • Endust (for dusting wooden furniture and décor)
  • Tilex mildew root penetrator (for dirty grout in the kitchen and bathroom, or any tiled room)
  • Pine-Sol (which you add to water) or Swiffer products (mop product depends on your flooring)
  • Bleach (you’ll need to use this with caution, but when added to warm water, can erase stains)
  • Glass cleaner (like Windex) for mirrors and windows
  • Febreze or air freshener (it’s nice to keep this in your bathrooms)
  • Stainless polish (for stainless appliances and trash cans)
  • Stove-top cleaner (if you have a glass-top stove)
  • Oven cleaner
  • Hand cleanser (dish-washing soap can be harsh on the skin; some are designed for double-duty)
  • Lint removal roller (if you have pets, use this to pick up fur from fabric-covered furniture, linens)
  • Optional item: Shelf liner
  • Optional item: Poison Ivy Soap by Burt’s Bees is good to have on hand if you love nature

Natural cleaning products

Many cleaning supplies contain dangerous chemicals that can irritate the eyes or throat, or cause headaches and other health problems. According to the American Lung Association, some products release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can produce dangerous pollutants indoors and be especially harmful to your health.

You can purchase all-natural soaps and cleaning products or make your own citrus vinegar cleaning spray or other non-toxic products. For some other ideas, here are green tips for a naturally clean kitchen.

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How often to clean your apartment

How often should you tackle the various tasks to keep your home clean and healthy? The following are some general recommendations. But, for roommate harmony, it would be a good idea to look at these suggestions together, tweak them for your own reality, and make sure your hopes or expectations are in line with each other. Dividing up chores with your roommates is a critical part of learning to live well with others.

Bathroom

Clean your toilet (don’t forget to lift the seat) twice a week or more often, if needed. Clean your tub and shower walls, sink areas and the floor weekly.

Kitchen

Clean surfaces after each meal prep. Sweep the floor daily. Clean sink at least once a week. Mop floors weekly. Deep-clean refrigerator surfaces twice a year, or immediately after a spill. Clean stainless surfaces, as needed.

Oven

How often you should clean your oven depends on how often you use it. For avid cooks and bakers, you should scrub it once every three months. If you rarely use it, cleaning it about once or twice a year should suffice. If you use a microwave oven regularly, you should clean it at least once a week.

Dusting

Dust twice a month, or more often, if you have dust allergies.

Floors

Vacuum any carpeting weekly or more often if you have pets. Mop floors at least twice a month. Having an entrance rug to scrape shoes on will cut down on the dirt.

Furnishings

Use a lint roller often if you have pets on the furniture, otherwise, as needed.

Windows

Wash windows as needed or every month or two. Use a glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth to wipe away dust or grime on the window panes. Vinyl or metal blinds collect dust and should be dusted with a damp cloth. Curtains should be vacuumed at least once a month.

Make cleaning a priority

To stay organized, keep a list of needed cleaning supplies on your refrigerator or an app on your cell phone. Clean a little each day to keep from being overwhelmed. Relax, make a game of it, turn on some music and have fun!

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Source: apartmentguide.com