4 Proactive Tips to Keep Your Family and Apartment Safe From Fire

Everyone wants to turn up the heat and stay warm in their apartment during the frigid days of winter, the early mornings of spring or the cold fall evenings. While the toasty heat feels great, it’s essential to stay safe and avoid a fire in your apartment.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, how we heat our living spaces is largely to blame for the many fires that take place each year. In 2018, there were 86,500 fires in apartment buildings alone in the United States.

Heating your small space is a must, but the right safety precautions have to be in place to avoid a potentially life-threatening catastrophe. Below, we outline a room-by-room guide stating the main causes of apartment fires and how you can prevent one from setting your humble abode ablaze. We’ll also talk about landlord and renter rights and responsibilities when it comes to fire safety.

Fire safety guide

Within minutes, a small fire can spread and grow into a deadly fire. But with a few steps, you can protect yourself, your family, your apartment and your belongings.

First, closely inspect your home to eliminate potential hazards.

Then, use these fire prevention tips and strategies to safeguard your home.

family with firefamily with fire

Overall fire safety tips

  • Protect your appliances and your home by using surge protectors
  • Don’t overload circuits or extension cords
  • Check electrical cords for appliances. Cords that are frayed or cracked are potential fire hazards. Unplug the cord immediately and replace it.
  • Don’t run cords underneath rugs or between rooms
  • Never place portable space heaters near flammable materials, such as drapery or bedding
  • Turn off space heaters when leaving the room or going to bed
  • Don’t smoke in bed or leave burning cigarettes unattended
  • Keep lighters and matches out of reach of children
  • Don’t leave candles or incense unattended, and place these items away from drapes, curtains or other flammable materials
  • Don’t store flammable materials, such as gasoline cans or a propane tank, in your apartment

Kitchen safety

Lots of cooking and baking takes place during the cold winter months when the desire for warm, home-cooked meals is at its peak. Don’t deny yourself a hearty feast, just be mindful of how you go about it.

  • Remember to never leave food unattended on a stove
  • Keep potholders and towels away from the cooking area
  • Avoid wearing loose-fitting sleeves when cooking
  • Always set a reminder to turn the stove and oven off when you’re finished cooking
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of an accidental cooking fire

Laundry room safety

If your laundry room is located in your own apartment, follow these safety guidelines. If your laundry room is a communal space, check with your landlord to ensure proper safety measures are in place.

  • If possible, have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional
  • Avoid using a dryer without a lint filter
  • Clean the lint filter before or after each load of laundry, and remove lint that has collected around the drum of your dryer
  • Check to make sure the right plug and outlet are used, and make sure the machine is connected properly
  • If you leave home or go to bed, turn the dryer off

While a fire can start in any room in your apartment, these are the most common areas for household fires to start. By following these guidelines, you’re helping to decrease the chance of starting a fire in your home.

firefighter with firefirefighter with fire

Taking additional safety measures

In addition to practicing safe habits in each room, you’ll want to ensure you have the proper safety precautions in place. These safety measures can help reduce the risk of a fire and keep everyone safe.

1. Install smoke alarms

Make sure there’s a properly functioning smoke alarm installed in your apartment. To be extra cautious, install a smoke alarm outside of each sleeping area. These alarms can be battery-operated or electrically hardwired in your home.

For renters who have hearing problems, use alarms that include flashing strobe lights and vibration. Test smoke alarms once a month, and replace batteries once a year. An easy reminder is to change the batteries when the clocks spring forward.

2. Place heaters strategically

Fire-related home incidents caused by heating mechanisms largely take place during the winter. As long as you’re using extra measures to heat your apartment, you’re at risk. When using a portable space heater, keep these tips in mind.

  • Anything that can melt or burn should be at least three feet away from the heater
  • Never leave these small heaters on all day or night, even when you go to sleep
  • Children and pets should not be allowed in the same area where portable space heaters are in use
  • Follow your space heater’s directions exactly if you’re unsure of its proper operation

3. Be careful with candles

Although they’re not the most effective heating choice, candles are often used to set a soothing atmosphere. They also come in handy when power has been lost. But they’re also known to start fires, particularly when left unattended.

  • Blow out candles before going to sleep and any time you leave your apartment
  • Keep candles at least one foot away from any other objects
  • Always use candle holders and make sure that the surface is flat and away from an edge where it may tip over
  • Never use candles if an oxygen tank is in use
  • Opt for flashlights instead of candles in case of a power outage

4. Plan an escape route

Though your apartment may be prepared, accidents do occur. Plan an escape route, and if you have roommates, plan for a safe place to meet outside. Have at least two escape routes planned in case one is blocked. If you live in a high-rise or on an upper-level floor, consider purchasing an escape ladder in case the stairs and entryways are blocked.

fire escape routefire escape route

Additional fire prevention tips

In general, you should be prepared for a fire emergency at all times. It may not happen in your unit, but it could take place right next door. It’s also smart to know what responsibilities and obligations are on the landlord and the renter. We’ve outlined some general information below:

Know the landlord’s responsibilities

In most cases, the landlord should make sure the rental property is in a habitable condition (fit to live and free from hazards) and provide for the necessary maintenance and repairs. Federal and local laws mention the following landlord responsibilities:

  • Complying with federal, state and local building codes
  • Repairing structural components like the fireplace, chimney, electrical cables and the plumbing system
  • Providing defect-free heating and cooling facilities
  • Promptly responding to repair and maintenance requests
  • Conducting regular fire safety checks

Remember, landlords have the legal duty to adhere to fire safety regulations or risk being penalized by the housing authorities. Knowing the landlord’s safety obligations towards keeping your rented home safe will help protect you from fatal fire accidents.

Know your duties as a renter

Though it’s the landlord’s duty to provide for the tenant’s safety and property maintenance, you’re required to act responsibly when residing in the apartment. The landlord is not responsible for damage caused due to the negligence of you, your family, guests or pets.

If you identify any potential fire hazard, it’s your duty to inform the landlord, enabling them to take timely action. Remember, your landlord can only repair something if they know what’s broken or defective. For instance, though landlords are liable to fit smoke alarms in the apartment, it’s your duty to inspect them on a weekly basis.

The National Fire Alarm Code (NFPA 72) requires smoke alarms to be replaced at least once every 10 years. Be aware of the expiration date of the smoke alarms installed in your apartment and talk to your landlord to get the expired ones replaced. Check for missing or disconnected alarms, dead batteries or low-battery chirps and replace them immediately.

Similarly, fireplaces and chimneys require regular maintenance. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, chimney fires are life-threatening and can severely damage the building structure. Make sure your landlord gets the apartment’s chimney and fireplace cleaned and repaired on a regular basis by hiring a reputed chimney cleaning service provider. Also, installing carbon monoxide detectors is a must for rooms with a wood fire.

Finally, when the landlord sends workers to fix the issue, it’s your duty to be responsive and flexible in allowing access to the maintenance staff.

Report all issues in writing

As a tenant, it’s your responsibility to report damages and defects to the landlord in writing or through email. When requesting repairs or maintenance, it’s a good idea to include a brief summary and an image of the problem.

For instance, if your grievance is about the mounting creosote deposits in your chimney flue, include an image showing this in your email, enabling your landlord to hire a chimney cleaning service immediately.

Further, keep records of all the formal complaints you make in this regard. These include documents, such as photographs of the damage, copies of the letters and emails, receipts of repairs undertaken by you, testimonials from professionals who you have hired for repair services, bills of lodging you had to shift into due to the property being uninhabitable and the apartment’s inventory report.

The above-mentioned details will prove to be useful evidence in case of a court proceeding against your landlord.

Be prepared for the worst-case scenario

Although the Landlord and Tenant Act governs the rental agreements for residential properties, each U.S. state has its own landlord-tenant laws with many of the statutes being similar. All landlords are required to comply with federal and state landlord-tenant laws.

If your landlord refuses to make the necessary home repairs and maintenance for fire safety or the problem violates the state’s building and health codes, contact your local housing authority to learn about your state laws and report the issue.

For instance, if your landlord refuses to install a smoke alarm in the rental property, you can ask the local housing authority to take a look at your apartment’s fire safety. The authority will assess the situation and issue a notice to the landlord to install a smoke alarm. If the landlord fails to fix the problem even after receiving the notice, they’ll be penalized by the authorities. Meanwhile, you can make the necessary repairs and deduct the amount from the rent check.

You can also withhold the rent until the corrective measures are taken. Housing authorities in a few states encourage tenants to transfer the rent to an escrow account that will be released once the landlord undertakes the repair and maintenance.

Lastly, if the problem is preventing you from living comfortably in the apartment, you may move out and cancel the rental agreement. You’ll need to present evidence that the property was uninhabitable due to the landlord’s negligence and you vacated the premises in a reasonable time.

Keeping the community safe

Given the high incidences of home fires in the U.S., tenants and landlords should work hand-in-hand to reduce the risk of fire hazards in rented apartments. If you’re planning to shift into or are already living in a rented property, you should be aware of your safety rights and the landlord’s responsibilities. The information shared in this post will serve as an effective guide towards protecting you from fire accidents in your newly-rented apartment.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Coronavirus in Your Apartment Community: How To Stay Safe

Learn how Apartment Guide is responding to coronavirus and taking steps to help renters and property managers during this challenging time.


There has been a flood of information online about how to keep yourself safe from being exposed to or contracting novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as it spreads across the world and the nation.

Preventing coronavirus in your apartment

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has offered a number of reference articles and official statements on how to best protect yourself and your family.

But for apartment dwellers, those with common spaces, mailbox clusters, lobbies, trash chutes and a plethora of door handles, keeping safe and practicing prevention habits is a bit more difficult. From your own personal hygiene to how to manage your apartment to what to expect from your landlord, here are all the tips, suggestions and instructions straight from the CDC just for renters and apartment tenants.

1. Wash your hands often

Wash your hands after you touch another person or a common surface. Wash your hands before and after you touch or prepare food. Wash your hands after using the restroom. Wash your hands after you cough, sneeze or blow your nose. Wash your hands when you get home from being out.

Wash by covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. When you wash, rub with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Experts have recommended singing “Happy Birthday” twice. If you’re tired of that, try other songs with 20-second choruses like:

  • “Take on Me” by A-ha
  • “Jolene” by Dolly Parton
  • “Raspberry Beret” by Prince
  • “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo
  • “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees (like that CPR scene from “The Office”)

If soap and water are not available, disinfect your hands by utilizing a 60 to 95 percent alcohol hand sanitizer and following the listed instructions.

washing handswashing hands

2. Avoid close contact with people who are sick

This seems obvious. But since you never know who is sick, minimize contact in general, as well. Spread out on the bus or subway or in line. Touch elbows instead of shaking hands or fist-bumping, or politely decline to touch at all. Try to avoid touching common surfaces others touch in public places and in your apartment building or common areas as best you can. Don’t share food or drinks.

3. Avoid touching your face

No matter how hard you try, you’re going to touch unsanitary surfaces or people. To prevent infecting yourself, do your best to refrain from touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as these are the main entry points for disease.

4. Cover your mouth

If you must cough or sneeze, cover your mouth with a tissue, then throw the tissue into a trash can that has a closed cover. The same goes for blowing your nose. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve like you’re doing “The Dab,” not into your hands.

5. Wear a face mask

The CDC is now encouraging people to wear face masks when they go into public areas. Since everyone is home right now, you should treat all common spaces in your apartment complex as a public place. If you can’t find a face mask, consider DIYing a no-sew face mask with items you might already have in your apartment.

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6. Clean and disinfect

Keep your apartment neat, clean and organized to maintain a healthy environment. Clean regularly and sanitize often using items like Lysol spray and Clorox wipes on “high touch” surfaces including countertops, tabletops, doorknobs, nightstands, bathroom fixtures, toilets, refrigerator handles, kitchen faucets, light switches, TV remotes, cell phones, computer keyboards and tablets.

7. Stock up but don’t hoard

While unlikely, it’s possible you may wind up quarantined in your apartment, or even just sick and self-quarantining. For that scenario, which shouldn’t last longer than two weeks, you should stock up (but not hoard) a few basic items:

  • Non-perishable items like canned meat, fish, beans, soups, broths and stews, fruits and vegetables, and canned or powdered milk
  • Ready to serve items like peanut butter, jelly, crackers, nuts, trail mix, dried fruits and granola bars
  • Baby food and pet food
  • Bottled water, fruit juices and fluids like Pedialyte or Gatorade
  • Toothpaste, toilet paper, tissues, feminine supplies, diapers, laundry detergent and disinfectant
  • Hand sanitizer that’s minimum 60 percent alcohol, over-the-counter cold and flu medicines and any refills of prescriptions

flu maskflu mask

Coronavirus protection in your apartment building or community

When you live in a public space like an apartment building or complex, protections from coronavirus become more communal. Precautions are no different than the CDC encourages you to take in your own home, but the difference is you don’t have control of everything that happens.

If you’re concerned about your management’s preparation for coronavirus prevention, sit down with your landlord or property manager and find out if they’re following CDC guidelines. Here are some suggestions for protections they can take based on CDC recommendations.

1. Make hand sanitizer available everywhere

You don’t have sinks to wash in all over your lobby or common areas, so your building should provide hand sanitizer everywhere — at the front desk, at the gym, by the mailboxes — and encourage residents, staff and visitors to use it often.

2. Clean a lot

Just like in your apartment, high-traffic surfaces in common areas should be cleaned and sanitized, and it should be repeated multiple times a day. The staff should be instructed to disinfect commonly-touched surfaces in places like the front desk, lobby restroom, mailroom, game rooms, elevators, door handles and delivery areas. All deliveries should be left in the lobby for pickup and not taken to apartments.

3. Close the garbage

All trash cans, both outdoor plastic garbage cans and lobby wastebaskets, ought to have working lids which should be kept closed. No one wants to, or should be forced to, pick up used tissues that have fallen on the ground.

4. Don’t come in if you’re sick

Apartment management should implement flexible sick leave policies and make sure all workers and staff know that their jobs are safe and they won’t be docked pay for staying home if they’re sick. Sick employees will only spread infections to residents. Ask management to ensure all contractors are following the same policies.

5. Be transparent and communicative

All employees, residents and visitors should be encouraged to alert property management if they believe they might have contracted coronavirus, especially if they have used common areas. That way, other residents and staff can be notified and take appropriate precautions.

sick personsick person

If you’re sick or feel like you’re getting sick

Even with all of the precautions, there is still a chance you’ll contract the disease. Follow these steps the moment you begin to feel sick, even if it just feels like a cold.

1. Stay home

Unless it’s to see your doctor or go to the hospital, stay in your apartment and don’t go out. Don’t go to work, school or to public areas. Try to avoid public transportation, taxicabs or rideshares. Not only will you not infect others, the more you stay at home and rest, the faster you’ll recover. Utilize food and personal item delivery if necessary.

2. Separate yourself from others at home

As best you can, stay in a designated sick room and keep away from other people. Eat separately from others. If your apartment has more than one, designate a bathroom just for you. Avoid touching pets, as well. If you must feed or clean up after a pet, wash your hands before and after as detailed above.

3. Don’t share household or personal items

Set aside drinking glasses, plates, silverware, sheets and blankets, towels and toiletries for your use and your use only. Clean them thoroughly with soap and water after every single use.

4. Wear a face mask

While it’s only a recommendation for everyone to wear a mask, people who are already sick (or people caring for those that are) need to wear one around other people (or pets) or if they go to the doctor.

5. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands

See above for details.

6. Clean and disinfect even more

Sanitize your apartment as explained above, but do it every day.

7. Call before going to the doctor

Keep an eye on your symptoms and seek medical attention if needed. Give them a heads up before you go to allow them to take precautions to keep others visiting their office from being infected or exposed. If you suspect you only have a cold or flu, consider a virtual doctor’s visit. If you must call 9-1-1, inform them of your symptoms before they arrive, as well.

Additional sources:

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Source: apartmentguide.com

20 Things We Did to Pay off $78K of Student Loan Debt

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.

My husband Travis and I paid off $78,000 of debt in less than two years.

We paid off $53,000 alone in ONE YEAR!

Today I’m sharing 20 ways you can change things up, save money, etc, for how to pay off student loans faster… and what I would change if I had a do-over.

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How to Pay off Student Loan Debt

Let’s start with some baseline facts. Throughout our debt payoff, our combined income was roughly $88K meaning we lived off $35K and put 60% of our income towards loans.

While we put $53K toward debt the first year we only put $25 toward it the second. That’s because we also bought a house around six months before we became debt-free. It’s not the order I’d recommend doing things but we were forced out of our rental and decided we’d rather put off our debt-free scream a few months than wait another year to buy.

Now for the hard truth: It was really easy signing for these loans but it was not easy paying them off.

Over $12,000 of my personal income alone was from side jobs and I (no lie) contracted shingles early on in the process from how stressed I was about the task at hand.

What’s also true, aside from the discipline it took to turn down trips to Disney and dinners out, is that I had a great year. I had fun, went out, and we even took a vacation. Even though sometimes I felt deprived in the moment, looking back I wasn’t deprived at all. Every “no” made me a stronger person.

There are countless stories on the Internet about how people paid off massive amounts of debt in short amounts of time and they mostly say the same thing. So I wanted to give you something a little different and tell you what I think are the 20 most important things we did to tackle this big problem as quickly as possible.

1. Determine Your “Why”

This is the first and most important step we took. We decided we want to travel and buy a home big enough to foster children (one of my side jobs was at a foster group home.) Every time it got hard I reminded myself of why we’re doing this and it influenced every financial decision I made. You’re gonna need this one to succeed.

2. Have Clarity

You can’t finish a race if the route’s not laid out. The next thing we did was take inventory of our debt, savings, income, recurring bills, etc. to have a clear picture of our financial situation. Some couples don’t combine their finances, for us it was necessary to be transparent with each other since his earned income would be paying off my loans and vice versa.

3. Make a Budget

You’re gonna need a specialized budget. It’s 100% necessary to have a written budget before every month begins. We do ours in EveryDollar, it’s the easiest user interface I’ve worked with. We’ve never made a perfect budget, we’re always tweaking throughout the month but we always spend less than we bring in. We’re able to meet and exceed our loan payment every month because of the budget.

4. Change How You Shop

I traded Publix for Aldi, Target for Walmart, and the mall for Goodwill. Some changes were better than others (LOVE Aldi, hate Walmart) but it’s all for the sake of saving money.

While getting out of debt we committed to not paying full price for anything. I sit in my car or stand in line looking for coupons before I make a purchase. Here are some of the ways I save on full-priced items

  • Groupon and LivingSocial for deals on activities.
  • Shopping through Rakuten when making any purchases online will get you cash-back from virtually any retailer. (I never get a Groupon without getting Rakuten cash back!)
  • Use Blink to save on prescriptions.
  • EyeBuyDirect to save on prescription eyewear.
  • Energy saving methods like buying low-flow showerheads to reduce our utility bill or using wind power through Arcadia (it doesn’t save me money but it’s better for the environment!
  • Sites like Restaurant.com for dining deals.
  • ThredUp for nice secondhand clothing at steep discounts from retail.
  • I take advantage of free trials at gyms.
  • Apps like ibotta to save at grocery stores and other big box retailers.

5. Pick Up Extra Jobs

There are only so many things you can cut out of your life but there’s virtually no limit to the amount of money you can bring in. We started with hourly side jobs and since starting this blog I’ve had opportunities to freelance that have given me much more flexibility with my time.

You have to start somewhere and I am convinced bringing in extra income is the key to paying off large amounts of debt fast. If you can’t work any extra then negotiate a raise or find a higher paying job. This is that vital of a step.

I’ve laid out some 21 ways to make extra money and if you’re interested in blogging you can start here or check out my post about how to start and monetize a blog in any niche.

6. Drive Old Cars

We both drive Toyota Corollas and will drive them until we need something bigger. IMO, you don’t deserve a new car if you’re in debt, you don’t even deserve a nice used car. I don’t care how shiny it is.

You need something to get you back and forth from your 2 jobs and when you can pay cash for an upgrade then you deserve whatever you can afford.

7. Buy Used or Find Free

I don’t buy new clothes anymore and half of our furniture we got for free next to dumpsters and repainted. New doesn’t always mean better. We’ve saved a lot of money this year by not falling into that trap.

8. Meal Plan

I’m so passionate about this I wrote a book on it.

Meal planning is essential to saving money on food. I worked in restaurants during college and they did inventory every week and planned specials around it to minimize food waste and save money. So I do the same in my kitchen. I plan meals around what I have and the grocery budget has become the one section I never exceed because of it.

If you need help:

  • Making a simple DIY meal plan
  • Buying less and saving money at the grocery store
  • Preparing food once you plan it
  • And reducing the food waste in your house

Then check out my book Meal Planning on a Budget (It’s available on Amazon!)

If you’re bad at doing stuff like this or don’t have a lot of time, Cook Smarts is the meal planning I recommend. It’s the best value out there and I always say work smarter, not harder.

9. Celebrate Milestones!

Every time we pay off a loan or hit a milestone we have a little celebration. It’s usually dinner out (using Groupon or Restaurant.com) or a glass of whiskey and a movie on Netflix. If you have big loans that don’t have little milestones, make your own. $3K and $5K increments are a good start.

10. Sell Stuff

We didn’t have any big things to sell but we got a few nice appliances from our wedding so we sold the old stuff and made enough for gas for the month. We regularly sell clothes at Plato’s Closet and random stuff on OfferUp or Facebook Marketplace.

11. Find Cheap Housing

We own our house now but living in something small and cheap was clutch while we were paying off debt. You get smaller utility bills and have less room to buy “stuff” for. We live in a growing city in a pretty nice neighborhood and I’ve kept no secret that we paid $800 for a 1/1 in a duplex.

As the housing market rises so do rent prices so you have to get creative while looking. My husband went for runs in different neighborhoods and found it on one of those. It wasn’t listed. We also negotiated adding water & sewage into the rent.

12. Stop Eating Out Alone

We still eat out, even when we don’t have a gift card, but we stopped grabbing food out of laziness. I used to get tacos every Wednesday after work (not on Tuesday? Gasp.) and grits on Saturday before I went in.

For millennials, eating out is part of our culture, it unites us, but these taco and grits trips weren’t bringing me closer to anything but my fork. So now I only eat out if it’s with friends or my husband.

13. Visualize

We had a 4 ft paper thermometer on our wall (next to our thermostat, lol) that we fill in after we’ve made our loan payment for the month. I used to just watch numbers get smaller in all my accounts but with this corny visualization trick, It’s been fun to see that red bar go up and the white space above it get smaller and smaller.

I made a free printable debt thermometer for you here if you want to try it!

14. Give

Seems a little counter-intuitive doesn’t it? We could be making an extra $500 payment on our loan, shave a month or two off our total repayment. Only 67% of households give to charity & religious organizations.

It’s over half but Americans still get a D in social justice. It’s important to me to give what we can now so in the future giving more will be a natural progression.

15. Chill Out

Where all my Type A brothers and sisters at!? Let me hear you say “Ahhh. Omg. This is too much. I’m freaking out…” I used to live somewhere on that level.

It’s gotten a lot better since my Shingles outbreak (at the ripe age of 26) but I still have to remind myself to just go with the flow. Whatever happens, will happen and it’ll all work out in the end.

16. Unfollow Your Friends on Social Media

Confession: I unfollowed two of my best friends on Instagram and I didn’t tell them. I love them but they’re always traveling to cool places, eating great food, buying new stuff, and I just couldn’t handle it.

In no way has it affected our relationship (it’s probably improved it) and I can scroll a little safer now.

Also Read: Why Unfollowing my Friends Helped my Finances

17. No-Spend Challenges

I’ve done a few no-spend challenges and they’ve all taught me more about my spending habits. I still bought groceries and went out to eat but I didn’t buy any personal non-necessities. The beauty of a no-spend challenge is that it can look different for everyone and you’re guaranteed to save money for as long as you do it.

If you want to learn how to do a no-spend challenge that transforms your habits and causes you to spend more intentionally you can check out my other book on Amazon, The No-Spend Challenge Guide. (#shamelessplugs)

18. Check Your Bills

Whenever it’s time to renew or we see an ad for a good offer (on something we already pay for) we call to negotiate a better deal. It’s unfortunate that companies take advantage of their customers like they do but that’s how it is and it’s on us to keep our necessities affordable.

19. Ditch Cable

We never signed up so this one is a no-brainer. I don’t care how much you love sports or how many kids you need to keep occupied. There are cheaper, if not free, ways to do it than cable. Try Fire TV Stick or Roku to fill your cable sized void.

Our friend knows our budget is tight while paying off debt so she let us use her Netflix account for free. You never know, maybe one of your friends will do the same while you’re getting your finances together.  And football isn’t going anywhere.

20. Stop Investing

I wouldn’t stop for more than a year or two but it motivated us to go that much faster. I know we missed out on future compound interest but the fire it lit under us helped pay way less in interest.

And now we max out a 401k, two Roth IRA’s, and an HSA. Which is way more effective than just $50 or $100 a month toward these accounts.

If you want to pay off your loans fast, then pile on the money you would be investing to your loan. And remember it’s not forever.

You Can Pay off Student Loan Debt!

So what would I do differently? I would’ve chilled out a little more but that’s really it. I’m proud of how flexible we were able to be and still stay motivated to get the job done so quickly. But there are still things I missed out on that I wish I would’ve spent the money and done.

Whew! That’s a lot, right? Don’t expect to start all these at the same time. We worked up to doing all these things. Start with the first four and work your way down, you’ll be surprised at how naturally they all come over time.

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<img data-attachment-id="3993" data-permalink="https://www.modernfrugality.com/20-things-pay-off-53k-student-loan-debt/20-things-we-did-to-pay-off-78k-2/" data-orig-file="https://i1.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/20-things-we-did-to-pay-off-78k.jpg?fit=1000%2C1500&ssl=1" data-orig-size="1000,1500" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta=""aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"1"" data-image-title="The tips and trick a couple used to pay off $53,000 in student loan debt in 1 year." data-image-description="

Are you tired of drowning in your student loan debt? Here are 20 tips and tricks one couple used to pay off $53,000 in student loans in 1 year. #payoffdebtquickly #Payingoffstudentloans #howtogetoutofdebtfast #studentloantips #payingoffstudentloans

” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/20-things-we-did-to-pay-off-78k.jpg?fit=200%2C300&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/20-things-we-did-to-pay-off-78k-of-student-loan-debt-1.jpg” loading=”lazy” data-pin-description=”Are you tired of drowning in your student loan debt? Here are 20 tips and tricks one couple used to pay off $53,000 in student loans in 1 year. #payoffdebtquickly #Payingoffstudentloans #howtogetoutofdebtfast #studentloantips #payingoffstudentloans” data-pin-title=”The tips and trick a couple used to pay off $53,000 in student loan debt in 1 year.” src=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/20-things-we-did-to-pay-off-78k-of-student-loan-debt-1.jpg” alt class=”wp-image-3993″ width=”265″ height=”398″ srcset=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/20-things-we-did-to-pay-off-78k-of-student-loan-debt-6.jpg 1000w, https://i1.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/20-things-we-did-to-pay-off-78k.jpg?resize=200%2C300&ssl=1 200w, https://i1.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/20-things-we-did-to-pay-off-78k.jpg?resize=400%2C600&ssl=1 400w, https://i1.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/20-things-we-did-to-pay-off-78k.jpg?resize=768%2C1152&ssl=1 768w” sizes=”(max-width: 265px) 100vw, 265px”>

<img data-attachment-id="2438" data-permalink="https://www.modernfrugality.com/20-things-pay-off-53k-student-loan-debt/1-22/" data-orig-file="https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/1-1.png?fit=735%2C1102&ssl=1" data-orig-size="735,1102" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta=""aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"" data-image-title="20 Tips to Help you Kick Your Student Loans to the Curb for Good" data-image-description="

Are you ready to pay off your student loans and be done with them? Here are 20 things a couple did to pay off their massive student loan debt in 2 years. #studentloantips #moneysavingtips #howtogetoutofdebt #gettingoutofdebt #howtogetoutofdebtfast

” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/1-1.png?fit=200%2C300&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/1-1.png?fit=400%2C600&ssl=1″ loading=”lazy” data-pin-description=”Are you tired of drowning in your student loan debt? Here are 20 tips and tricks one couple used to pay off $53,000 in student loans in 1 year. #payoffdebtquickly #Payingoffstudentloans #howtogetoutofdebtfast #studentloantips #payingoffstudentloans” data-pin-title=”The tips and trick a couple used to pay off $53,000 in student loan debt in 1 year.” src=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/20-things-we-did-to-pay-off-78k-of-student-loan-debt.png” alt=”We paid off $78K of debt in 23 months by doing these things.” class=”wp-image-2438″ width=”238″ height=”357″ srcset=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/20-things-we-did-to-pay-off-78k-of-student-loan-debt-1.png 400w, https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/1-1.png?resize=200%2C300&ssl=1 200w, https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/1-1.png?w=735&ssl=1 735w” sizes=”(max-width: 238px) 100vw, 238px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>

<img data-attachment-id="4245" data-permalink="https://www.modernfrugality.com/20-things-pay-off-53k-student-loan-debt/20-tips-to-help-you-kick-your-student-loans-to-the-curb-for-good/" data-orig-file="https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/20-tips-to-help-you-kick-your-student-loans-to-the-curb-for-good.jpg?fit=1000%2C1500&ssl=1" data-orig-size="1000,1500" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta=""aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"1"" data-image-title="20 Tips to Help you Kick Your Student Loans to the Curb for Good" data-image-description="

Are you ready to pay off your student loans and be done with them? Here are 20 things a couple did to pay off their massive student loan debt in 2 years. #studentloantips #moneysavingtips #howtogetoutofdebt #gettingoutofdebt #howtogetoutofdebtfast

” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/20-tips-to-help-you-kick-your-student-loans-to-the-curb-for-good.jpg?fit=200%2C300&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/20-things-we-did-to-pay-off-78k-of-student-loan-debt-2.jpg” loading=”lazy” data-pin-description=”Are you tired of drowning in your student loan debt? Here are 20 tips and tricks one couple used to pay off $53,000 in student loans in 1 year. #payoffdebtquickly #Payingoffstudentloans #howtogetoutofdebtfast #studentloantips #payingoffstudentloans” data-pin-title=”The tips and trick a couple used to pay off $53,000 in student loan debt in 1 year.” src=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/20-things-we-did-to-pay-off-78k-of-student-loan-debt-2.jpg” alt class=”wp-image-4245″ width=”312″ height=”468″ srcset=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/20-things-we-did-to-pay-off-78k-of-student-loan-debt-7.jpg 1000w, https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/20-tips-to-help-you-kick-your-student-loans-to-the-curb-for-good.jpg?resize=200%2C300&ssl=1 200w, https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/20-tips-to-help-you-kick-your-student-loans-to-the-curb-for-good.jpg?resize=400%2C600&ssl=1 400w, https://i0.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/20-tips-to-help-you-kick-your-student-loans-to-the-curb-for-good.jpg?resize=768%2C1152&ssl=1 768w” sizes=”(max-width: 312px) 100vw, 312px”>

<img data-attachment-id="4284" data-permalink="https://www.modernfrugality.com/how-to-find-what-you-value-to-make-smarter-spending-decisions/mf-the-secret-to-paying-off-debt-fast-78k-in-2-years/" data-orig-file="https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/MF-The-Secret-to-Paying-off-Debt-Fast-78k-in-2-Years.jpg?fit=700%2C1350&ssl=1" data-orig-size="700,1350" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta=""aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"1"" data-image-title="The Secret to Paying off Debt Fast!- $78k in 2 Years!" data-image-description="

Do you want to figure out how to FINALLY pay off your debt? Here is the secret to paying off debt fast. #payingoffdebtfast #payingoffdebtquickly #howtopayoffdebtfast #howtopayoffdebtquickly #studentloantips #moneytipsformillennials #moneyhacks #debthacks #gettingoutofdebt #howtogetoutofdebt #payingoffstudentloans, howtogetoutofdebtfast

” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/MF-The-Secret-to-Paying-off-Debt-Fast-78k-in-2-Years.jpg?fit=156%2C300&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/MF-The-Secret-to-Paying-off-Debt-Fast-78k-in-2-Years.jpg?fit=311%2C600&ssl=1″ loading=”lazy” data-pin-title=”The Secret to Paying off Debt Fast!- $78k in 2 Years!” data-pin-description=”Do you want to figure out how to FINALLY pay off your debt? Here is the secret to paying off debt fast. #payingoffdebtfast #payingoffdebtquickly #howtopayoffdebtfast #howtopayoffdebtquickly #studentloantips #moneytipsformillennials #moneyhacks #debthacks #gettingoutofdebt #howtogetoutofdebt #payingoffstudentloans, howtogetoutofdebtfast” src=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/20-things-we-did-to-pay-off-78k-of-student-loan-debt-3.jpg” alt class=”wp-image-4284″ width=”251″ height=”484″ srcset=”http://www.hanovermortgages.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/20-things-we-did-to-pay-off-78k-of-student-loan-debt-8.jpg 311w, https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/MF-The-Secret-to-Paying-off-Debt-Fast-78k-in-2-Years.jpg?resize=156%2C300&ssl=1 156w, https://i2.wp.com/www.modernfrugality.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/MF-The-Secret-to-Paying-off-Debt-Fast-78k-in-2-Years.jpg?w=700&ssl=1 700w” sizes=”(max-width: 251px) 100vw, 251px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>

Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.

Source: modernfrugality.com

Managing Your Tax Return (What You Should be Using it For)

Spending Your Tax ReturnWhen people receive their tax returns, they are quick to spend this money on frivolous purchases that may bring them temporary joy. Even though people know there are ways to spend their tax return responsibly, the temptation to splurge on things they don’t need is too strong.

Ultimately, you can spend your tax return on whatever you want, but you should really consider what you should be using it for.

Pay Down Debts

Between student, home, and auto loan and credit card debt, people can easily find themselves owing thousands of dollars. Consumers often have no choice but to pay down their debts little by little over time, but if it is possible to make an extra payment or two using your tax refund, the debt can be repaid much faster.

Keep in mind that it would be most helpful to pay down your debts based on interest. High-interest rates should take priority since they are the most expensive. If you pay them down sooner, you will save money because you can shorten the repayment period and pay less interest.

Start or Add to an Emergency Fund

How prepared are you for the unexpected? If your car needed a major repair tomorrow, would you have the money to cover the cost? When emergencies happen people need to be prepared if they don’t want to take a big financial hit.

Emergency funds are designed to cover the cost of the unexpected. If you don’t have an emergency fund, use your tax refund to start one. And if you already have one, add to your fund. If and when something happens, you don’t have to stress about how this unexpected expense will set you back because you’ll have a financial safety net in place. 

Retirement Savings

The traditional age of retirement is 65, although some people may choose to retire earlier than that.  Your retirement may not be in the near future, but it is never too early to start saving for this phase of your life.

Just because you are retired, doesn’t mean you won’t have expenses. Between rent or mortgage payments, gas, food, utilities, and other monthly expenses, you will need to have a lot saved up since you will no longer be working. The money you save over the years will add up, so allocating some of the funds you receive from your tax return for your retirement savings will only help future you.

Home Improvements

Homeowners are responsible for their own home maintenance and improvements. It is a well-known fact that maintaining a home can be costly. Landscaping your front yard, insulating your attic or remodeling your kitchen may all be on your list of things to do, but with the cost of these home improvements being high, you haven’t been able to afford either.

Your tax return, regardless of how small or large it is, can be used to create the home you deserve. Even if you can’t tackle all of your projects at once, getting one done is better than none. Additionally, consider using the money to start a home improvement fund that can be used specifically for any home expenses you may have in the future.

Donate

Not everyone considers how they can help someone else. And when they do, they may focus on material items, such as clothes and shoes, but if there is an organization that you would like to support, why not make a monetary donation? You’ll feel good about having helped those in need, but another bonus to donating is that depending on the donation, it is tax-deductible.   

People view their tax return as free money that they can throw away. If there is work that needs to be done to improve your life or financial health, this money shouldn’t be wasted. When you receive your tax return, consider the many responsible ways to use this money that can positively impact your life.

Unhappy with your credit score or financial situation? Give Credit Absolute a call today for a free consultation!

Source: creditabsolute.com

Credit Card Interest Calculator

  • Credit Card Debt

On this page you can find a credit card interest calculator. We’ve also included some information about card interest to better assist you.

How to Calculate Credit Card Interest

To calculate how much credit card interest you’ll pay without using our credit card interest calculator, follow these three simple steps.

Change the Annual to the Daily

The APR, or Annual Percentage Rate, describes how much money you will pay every year. Credit card suppliers are required by law to disclose this rate as it allows consumers to compare. However, they often charge on a periodic basis, such as every day or month.

To calculate this rate, you simply need to divide the APR by 365. For example, let’s assume the rate is 20%. 0.20 ÷ 365 = 0.00054%.

Figure Out Your Daily Balance

The next step is to use the figure above and multiply it with your average daily balance. Assuming that balance is $1,000 and the APR is 20%, that creates a total of $0.54. 

Multiply by Billing Period

If there are 30 days in your billing period, as is often the case, then the next step is to multiply the total ($0.54) by 30, which gives you a total of $16.2.

You also have to factor in compound interest, which is where it gets a little more complicated. Simply put, compounding is when interest is added to your unpaid balance, which basically means you’re paying interest on interest.

How Are Interest Rates Set?

Interest rates can be standard, which means they apply the same for every applicant, or user-specific, which means they will be higher for those with a bad credit score and lower for those with a good one. Generally speaking, the better your credit is, the lower the APR will be.

It’s important, however, that you shop around. Credit card companies are there to make a profit and the higher the rate is, the higher their profit will be. Don’t assume that they are offering you the best rate that you can get and see what their competitors have to offer before you agree to anything. 

Will I Always Pay Credit Card Interest?

Credit card interest is only charged on the balance that you don’t pay. For example, let’s imagine that you have a credit limit of $10,000 and a billing cycle of 30 days. If you spend $5,000 during that cycle and then repay $5,000 at the end, you won’t be charged a cent in interest.

If, however, you leave this amount until the following cycle then you will be charged interest for that billing period. It’s also worth noting that interest rates are different depending on whether you’re withdrawing cash, making a purchase, or initiating a balance transfer. There are also fees and charges that may still be applicable even if you pay off your balance every month.

If you don’t clear your balance every month and instead try to put as much money down as you can, you should consider paying two or three times a month instead. This will reduce your average daily balance, which in turn will reduce the interest that you pay. Instead of repaying $1,500 every 30 days, consider repaying $500 every 10 days.

Are Reward Cards Better?

Generally speaking, reward cards have higher interest rates than standard credit cards. They entice you in with offers of cashback and airmiles, only to trap you with a high APR that can be difficult to escape from. These cards do serve a purpose for consumers who clear their balances every month, but if you’re planning on using that credit over the long-term, you should avoid these cards.

The card that is best for you will depend entirely on your current and future financial situation. If you spend big and clear balances, reward cards are fantastic; if you’re looking to move debt, balance transfer cards are better; if your goal is to accumulate debt, ignore the perks and focus on the lowest APR.

I Paid My Balance, so Why Was I Charged Interest?

This can happen for a few different reasons. It may be that the interest accumulated during a previous month but more often than not it’s because of cash withdrawals. When you withdraw cash from an ATM using a credit card you are charged a fee that can range from 2% to 5%. You are also charged interest on that withdrawal and this interest is often charged from the very first day.

If you were charged a cash withdrawal fee and interest without actually withdrawing any cash, it could be the result of a “cash-like” transaction. These transactions occur just like any other, only your provider registers them as cash withdrawals, which means they charge fees and interest.

The following transactions may be recorded as cash transactions and charged fees and interest:

  • Gambling Transactions: Gambling is becoming more common and widespread in the United States, which means more consumers will be stung by cash withdrawal fees. Any time you purchase casino chips or lottery tickets, it may be recorded as a cash advance. This may even apply to food and drink purchased at a casino.
  • Gift Cards and Money Orders: Credit card providers consider these products as “cash like”, because they can be used to make purchases in place of cash.
  • Foreign Currency: If you can, use cash or debt to purchase foreign currency as you may be stung with additional fees if you use a credit card. The same applies when you purchase traveler’s checks using your credit card.

Credit Card Checks: Many providers send consumers checks they can use to withdraw cash from their credit card. It may be tempting to use these in times of need, but unless you want to be hit with high feeds, you should abstain.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

How to Deodorize a Room: Natural Recipes For A Fresh Smelling Home

Have you ever forgotten to take the trash out before vacation? You come home to a house ridden with a very unappealing smell. Even when the garbage is disposed of, the odor can linger for days.

While it can be tempting to spray down the home with a store-bought air freshener, these contain chemicals that are harmful to human health. Over 20 percent of the general U.S. population have reported having adverse health effects from air fresheners.

To help you get rid of common household smells in a safe way, we’ve created a guide on how to deodorize a room. It includes a natural DIY room deodorizer recipe and 7 hacks for getting rid of specific home odors. Read through to find what household items you can use to rid these unwanted smells.

How to make a basic DIY room deodorizer

illustration of DIY room deodorizerillustration of DIY room deodorizer

To create a natural air freshener that isn’t harmful to your health, you only need four items. Make this spray and use it when an unwanted smell comes into your apartment.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ tablespoons baking soda
  • 3 cups water
  • 30-40 drops of essential oil
  • Misting spray bottle

Instructions

Step 1: Add 30-40 drops of your preferred essential oil with the baking soda. Stir until it’s completely mixed together.

Step 2: Pour this baking soda and essential oil combination in a spray bottle.

Step 3: Add the three cups of water to the bottle. Shake to mix.

Step 4: Spray the area on the light misting setting.

This natural DIY home deodorizer can be personalized with any scent. Each essential oil has its own unique properties, so be sure to pick one that fits the space you are using the cleaner in. For example, a scent that promotes slumber is better for the bedroom than the kitchen.

Why does baking soda work to deodorize a room?

Many room deodorizing recipes, including the one above, call for baking soda. Why is this? Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate has a low pH level. Most bad odors have a high pH level, meaning they are acidic. By adding baking soda to the environment, you are neutralizing the area, causing the odor to fade.

Illustration of baking soda to deodorize a roomIllustration of baking soda to deodorize a room

Essential oils to add to each room

When making this DIY room deodorizer, you can choose your preferred natural scent to use. If you aren’t sure what will smell best, here are some essential oil suggestions for each room.

Living room

illustration of vanilla and cinnamon essential oilsillustration of vanilla and cinnamon essential oils

The living room is an area you’ll be hosting people as well as relaxing. Depending on the tone you are trying to set, vanilla or cinnamon essential oil could be a good fit. Vanilla is known to improve relaxation and create a tranquil environment. If you want to relax after a long day in your sparkling-clean living room, vanilla is the right choice for you. For those who are having friends over for a book club or social event, cinnamon might be a better fit. The scent of cinnamon boosts memory and increases alertness.

Kitchen

Illustration of citrus and peppermint essential oilsIllustration of citrus and peppermint essential oils

Make the kitchen a productive place by using a citrus or peppermint essential oil when scenting your DIY deodorizer. If you have a long afternoon of meal prepping ahead, citrus is known to boost energy and improve your mood. For the non-chefs who can get frustrated in the kitchen, a peppermint scent will alleviate stress and reduce irritability.

Bedroom

illustration of lavender and chamomile essential oilsillustration of lavender and chamomile essential oils

A restful space, the bedroom can benefit from lavender or chamomile essential oils. These calming scents both reduce anxiety. Lavender also promotes relaxation which can help you fall asleep. Chamomile can improve your mood, great for those who wake up on the wrong side of the bed.

Other rooms

Illustration of tea tree and eucalyptus essential oilsIllustration of tea tree and eucalyptus essential oils

If you have a laundry room, playroom or any other room that needs to be deodorized, you might consider tea tree or eucalyptus oils. These natural smells each have their own unique properties. Tea tree oil has antifungal benefits and is an immune booster. Eucalyptus essential oil is cleansing and known to lift moods. Both will help keep your space clean.

7 common household smells and how to rid them

Whether your home is new to you or you’ve lived in it for multiple years, you’ve probably come across one of these common household smells. We explain why they happen and how to rid them from your home. In addition, we suggest an essential oil that you can use to keep the space smelling fresh.

1. Stale air

illustration of essential oil being dripped on light bulbillustration of essential oil being dripped on light bulb

Stale air is a smell that’s hard to describe, but easy to identify. It’s usually caused when the indoor air begins to feel stuffy or humid due to a lack of fresh air. If the weather is nice, you can rid this smell by opening the windows and letting fresh air in. However, if it’s too hot or too cold out, this might not be an option.

In that case, you can create your own stale air deodorizer by cutting lemons in half and placing them throughout the home. Another quick solution is to rub a little vanilla essential oil on the outside of your light bulbs. Be sure to do this when the light is off. Once you turn the light on, it will heat up and start smelling sweet.

2. Carpet smells

illustration of vacuumillustration of vacuum

Whether you are moving into a new apartment with carpet or you spilled something on your rug that has caused a stench, this absorbent flooring is prone to smell.

To get rid of carpet smells, baking soda is your friend. Sprinkle baking soda on the entire carpet and let it sit for a few hours. Then vacuum it up. The baking soda should soak up any bad smells. It’s best to do this when you are out of the house for a period of time. The baking soda doesn’t have any chemicals, but it can leave a mess if people in your house walk through it.

3. Fridge odors

illustration of fridge with baking soda insideillustration of fridge with baking soda inside

Does your fridge smell even after you clean out your leftovers? This is because the plastic in the refrigerator absorbs odors. Even if you’ve scrubbed out every crumb and spill, the plastic might still stink.

To prevent or mute this odor, try putting a box of baking soda in the fridge. Baking soda will absorb these smells and leave your fridge smelling clean after just a couple of days. Another alternative to this is leaving coffee grounds in a container in your fridge. Similar to baking soda, coffee grounds can absorb odors and leave your fridge smelling like a freshly brewed cup of joe.

4. Garbage disposal stink

illustration of garbage disposal being cleaned with iceillustration of garbage disposal being cleaned with ice

If you go to wash dishes and notice there is an odor coming from your drain, it could be your garbage disposal. It’s easy for food to get caught in hard-to-reach places, preventing it from being washed down the drain.

Some people put citrus peels down their garbage disposal to mask this odor, but this doesn’t clean the food that is causing this smell. To clean, place a handful of ice in your sink drain. Then pour a cup of salt on top. Run the water and turn on the garbage disposal. The ice and salt will slowly drain into the garbage disposal, cleaning it and sharpening the blades.

5. Mold or mildew

illustration of a bowl of charcoal to absorb smellsillustration of a bowl of charcoal to absorb smells

Mold and mildew can leave a musty smell in your home. If you have a serious mold issue, it’s important to have a professional take care of it. Mold is known to cause many respiratory issues.

If the smell of mold persists, you can use an odor absorber to dull the scent. Baking soda, charcoal and kitty litter are all items that can soak up any moisture in the air and get rid of the smell. Place one of these in a bowl near the musty smell. Be sure it’s out of reach of small children or pets.

6. Washing machine smells

Illustration of essential oils being used in washing machineIllustration of essential oils being used in washing machine

Your washing machine is meant to make your clothes fresh and clean, but what do you do when it begins to have a mildewy or sour scent? Washers are prone to a build-up of soap, dirt or hair. Over time, this can lead to an unnatural moldy stink.

To clean, begin by getting rid of any debris that’s caught in the gasket, or rubber liner, of your machine. Wipe this rim down with a mixture of vinegar and tea tree essential oil. This is an antifungal formula that will clean off any leftover dirt. Then use this same mixture, measuring two cups of white vinegar and 20 drops of tea tree essential oil into the liquid tray. Run on a hot cycle or cleaning cycle. When done, wipe the interior with a microfiber cloth.

You can prevent some of this build-up by leaving the lid open after each wash cycle. This will allow your washer to dry out completely. It’s also helpful to use the correct amount of detergent. Creating too many suds can leave a leftover residue that dirt clings to.

7. Skunk stench

illustration of skunk and vinegar solutionillustration of skunk and vinegar solution

If your clothes or your pet has been skunked, the attacker will leave a pungent smell that can last for weeks. This stink can easily be transferred to the house.

For houses that smell like skunk inside (but not outside), open the windows and turn on the fan. Heat up a tray of vinegar on the stove on low heat. This should overpower the skunk smell.

If the smell is on your pet, The Humane Society suggests mixing together a quart of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, a quarter cup of baking soda and a teaspoon of dish soap. Use a pair of gloves and wash your pet with this mixture. Be sure to avoid their eyes and don’t store this mixture, it has the potential to explode in a bottle.

List of essential oils for different roomsList of essential oils for different rooms

Keep your apartment fresh

Regular cleaning will keep your home clean and free of these unwanted smells. For more home hacks like these, check out our cleaning and maintenance advice page.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Debt to Income Ratio Calculator

  • Get Out of Debt

Your Debt to Income Ratio (DTI) is a basic calculation used to express affordability. You can use a DTI calculator to find your own ratio. 

How to Calculate Your Debt to Income Ratio

Your DTI is calculated by combining all of your debt repayments and subtracting them from your total income, before expressing the calculation as a percentage. Use your gross monthly income and include rent/mortgage payments in your total outgoings.

As an example, if you earn $5,000 a month but pay $500 in rent, $250 in credit card payments and $250 in personal loan payments, then your ratio is 20%. This is considered low. However, if your income is just $2,500 and you have the same outgoings, then that ratio becomes 40%, which is considered high enough to cause financial stress.

How Important is It?

Lenders use the Debt to Income Ratio to estimate a borrower’s ability to make repayments. If we use the above calculation as an example, you have just $1,500 leftover every month after rent and minimum payments. If we add food, travel costs, and other essentials to the mix, that could drop as low as $500. 

That will be a huge red flag to a lender, who will seriously doubt your ability to make future repayments. A DTI above 40% will also impact your chances of getting a mortgage, with many lenders refusing to lend to anyone above 43%.

There are still personal loans available to consumers with a high DTI, but in these cases, they are supplied with a view to consolidation. The same goes for student loan refinancing.

How Your DTI Affects You

Your DTI does not directly affect your credit score, because the credit bureaus do not display your income or factor it into the equation. However, they do calculate something known as credit utilization, which works in a similar way.

Credit utilization is a comparison of the amount of credit that you have available versus the amount of credit that you use. A high score shows lenders you’re desperate to take what you can get and are more prone to maxing out credit cards; a low score suggests the opposite, hinting at more responsibility.

Credit utilization should be kept below 30%. This means you should avoid borrowing more than $3,000 on a $10,000 line of credit. Credit utilization accounts for 30% of your credit score and is a key factor in calculating your score, so it’s worth paying attention to.

One of the easiest ways to improve your credit utilization is to increase your current credit. Contact providers and ask them for a higher limit. This will increase the amount of available credit without increasing the used credit. 

How to Improve your Debt to Income Ratio

We’re stating the obvious here, but there are two ways to improve your Debt to Income Ratio, you can either earn more, or pay less. The former is easier said than done, but there are more options for the latter:

  • Pay more than the minimum – it may seem counterintuitive and won’t do you any favors in the short-term, but in the long-run it will clear more of the principal, lower the interest rate, and improve your rating.
  • Use windfalls and savings to clear debt – that vacation in the sun may seem like a great idea, but a few years’ peace of mind and easier access to credit and a mortgage is better than sunburn and beachside cocktails.
  • Avoid acquiring new debt – avoid taking any new credit, even if you qualify for it.
  • Keep an eye on your DTI to monitor your progress – it helps to know how fast you are progressing. You can use our Debt to Income Ratio calculator for this.

DTI and Credit

To give you an idea of how much your DTI affects your finances, here is a rough guide based on percentages acquired through our Debt to Income Ratio calculator:

  • DTI Score up to 15%: A low and favorable score, but as with all forms of debt, it’s worth monitoring your situation to ensure it remains that way.
  • DTI Score Between 15% and 25%: A ratio considered relatively safe and low. You shouldn’t have any issues.
  • DTI Score Between 25% and 40%: At this point things begin to look ominous, but it’s still salvageable. You will be offered higher rates when applying for new credit and should seek help via debt management. 
  • DTI Score Over 40%: Look into debt settlement, management or counseling. You are on the verge of being rejected for mortgages and will struggle to get loans and new lines of credit.
  • DTI Score Over 50%: You may qualify for some consolidation loans or refinancing options, but this is a severe state and requires immediate attention.

DTI Isn’t Everything

It’s important to remember that your Debt to Income Ratio score is just a rough calculation of affordability. It is used by lenders to determine whether you can afford to meet repayments, but it’s not the only thing they consider, nor is it the most important.

It’s not uncommon to have a high income and a fantastic credit score as well as a DTI of between 30% and 40%. In such cases, everything discussed on this page, including your score in our Debt to Income Ratio calculator, may seem a little strange. In such cases, just remember that the DTI is there for your benefit as well as the benefit of lenders. It’s a small red flag telling you that you should look into fixing your debt before acquiring any more credit or making any big financial decisions. 

It goes without saying that you can’t remain financially secure for long if more than a third of your income is spent on minimum payments, especially if you don’t own your own home and have any savings. 

Source: pocketyourdollars.com