The Latest Smart Home Tech to Add to your Home

Living in a smart house used to only exist in sci-fi movies. Fast forward to today and connected homes and smart gadgets are quickly becoming the norm. Smart home tech has transformed every aspect of home life, from security and basic kitchen tasks to how a house is built. It’s making our lives more comfortable, economical, convenient, and safe.

If you haven’t upgraded your home with the latest tech there are many ways to start. If your needs are relatively simple, there are affordable options that can bring about convenience, however, if you want to go all out you can create a fully connected and modern space. So, check out the latest top smart home tech products that you can add to your home today.

Smart Home Living Room

Smart Home Living Room

Voice Technology

Voice assistants

“Hey Alexa, play my workout playlist.” While voice assistants have been around since the early 2010s, it has taken us a while to get comfortable talking to devices. Today’s most popular commands include asking voice assistants to play music, answer a question, turn on the lights, provide the weather, and set reminders, alarms, and timers. As artificial intelligence (AI) advances, virtual assistants will become more personalized towards individuals. New features such as voice detection can recognize who is talking and create a unique, tailored experience, like calling you by a nickname or providing music recommendations that fit your style. 

Smart Home Tech on a shelf

Smart Home Tech on a shelf

Home Security 

Video doorbells, cameras, and alarm systems 

We have all heard stories about porch pirates stealing packages. One of the biggest smart home tech trends is investing in video doorbells, security cameras, and alarm systems. Grouped together, a standardized smart home security system may be one of the best investments you can make to protect your family and your home. Video doorbells and home security cameras now have live views and voice capabilities that allow users to see and speak to people at the door from virtually anywhere. Motion sensors can detect and record activity that can trigger an alarm or phone notification and alert authorities. Installing these can provide that added sense of security knowing that your home is being monitored 24/7. 

Fingerprint and facial recognition door locks

Installing fingerprint or facial recognition locks can change your life, especially if you always misplace your spare key. Biometric technology and Bluetooth have already made their way into phones and tablets, but they are now starting to become more common in door locks. With just a glance or fingerprint scan, a lock can recognize a person by targeting facial features or fingerprint patterns to detect whether they are welcome or not. Not at home or lost your key? This technology can also be synced with a phone app or Bluetooth so that owners can remotely lock and unlock a door at the touch of a button. 

Indoor drones

Imagine your own personal security guard patrolling the halls while you are not at home. While this might not be common today, drone innovation has made strides within the home security space. Unlike traditional video cameras, drones provide better ground activity and can cover more areas. While you are away, automated drone technology will fly inside your home monitoring different rooms and areas. Take it a step further, users can create map paths for the drone to follow.

New Smart Door Lock Tech

New Smart Door Lock Tech

Sustainable Smart Home Tech

Solar panels 

Using solar panels for on-site energy generation has become a popular alternative to traditional electricity, especially in cities that get a lot of sun year-round like Miami, FL. Now, architects and designers are finding unique ways to incorporate solar panels into the design of a home, not just on the roof. Solar panels can be used in different ways that can save homeowners hundreds of dollars per month such as heating water, providing energy, and charging electric vehicles. They are also likely to enhance your home’s value, and depending on where you live, you can even earn tax credits and rebates.

Living plant walls

Plants are a fun way to bring color and life into your home. Living walls also known as green walls, can be a great way to style plain backdrops to create a striking focal point in your home. Besides design, living walls serve multiple sustainability purposes. They can be used to improve air quality as a natural air pollutant filter, serve as a noise buffer, and create added insulation during the winter months. Living walls can also be configured to filter out water from sinks, showers, and appliances. Water is redirected to the top of the wall, filters and irrigates plants, and is treated for reuse, creating the ultimate smart home tech piece for the environment. 

Solar Panels on Roof of Home

Solar Panels on Roof of Home

Home Fixtures

Human-centric lighting 

Light bulbs are a great entry-point into smart home tech. Connected to a smart device, lightbulbs can help you look like you are home when on vacation, change colors based on mood, save on energy consumption, and conveniently turn off all the lights with a single voice command. Using smart home lights throughout your house can also drastically upgrade the look and feel of a room or outdoor space. Consider adding smart light bulbs to your kitchen, bedrooms, and even driveway to adjust hue and brightness based on what you might be feeling.

Programmable thermostats 

Many people are not aware of how much a thermostat impacts the household budget. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating and cooling costs accounts for half of the average home utility bill. Smart thermostats seek to tackle this problem. Within one week of installation, smart thermostats can learn schedules to modify temperatures based on household activities. They can also track daily and monthly usage to get a sense of where heat and air are being directed to and adjust temperatures accordingly based on the season. 

Smart Home Thermostat Tech

Smart Home Thermostat Tech

In the Kitchen 

Kitchen appliances

For those who love to cook, consider adding smart appliances into your kitchen. Modern-day fridges can take phone calls, link to television, save energy, and provide recipes. However, new fridge tech has not stopped there. If you are out and about at the grocery store and want to check what needs to be replaced, some fridges allow you to access built-in cameras via your smartphone to see what’s inside your fridge no matter where you may be. Smart ovens are also starting to incorporate phone connectivity. People can preheat their oven on the way home, adjust timers remotely, and have notifications sent via text message when food is done cooking.

Kitchen counters and workspaces

Ditch the granite countertops and go with a smart work surface. One of the latest technologies in kitchen countertops includes a sink that can disappear and reappear with a single wave of the hand. Smart home tech also seeks to tackle problems such as food consumption. Kitchen scales are being embedded into the stone that can allow sensors to measure and weigh ingredients. With the data, a mobile app can provide curated recipes with the goal of preparing delicious meals without food waste.

Smart Home Kitchen

Smart Home Kitchen

Spa Bathrooms

Smart showers & chromatherapy bathtubs

The perfect shower concert just got easier. A fun way to spruce up your bathroom time is by installing a Bluetooth speaker showerhead. These speakers easily connect to your phone to blast your favorite tunes while taking a shower. For something more sophisticated, showers are starting to double as steam rooms by trapping vaporous steam to elicit pore opening moisture. If you’re looking to relax after a long day at work, Chromatherapy, or color therapy bathtubs, can help put your mind and body at ease by using colored lights to elicit feelings. 

Touchless toilets and digital bidets

The toilet is one of the most germ-ridden locations in your home. Highly advanced toilets seek to keep things clean and comfortable by integrating features such as self-opening and closing lids, heated seats, deodorizing systems, and temperature-controlled water. For freshening up, digital bidets also can be automated for hands-free operation. Two self-sterilizing nozzles spray gently aerated spritzes of water which can be adjusted for temperature, pressure, and spray width. They even come with an air dryer and deodorizer. 

Smart Home Tech Bathroom

Smart Home Tech Bathroom

Making a Smart Home Gym

Touchscreen fitness mirrors

Smart home tech is bringing the gym to you. Touchscreen, wall-mounted fitness mirrors are the latest craze in home gym technology. If you are missing the instruction and motivation of an in-person trainer, simply turn on the screen and let an AI trainer provide guided workouts and fitness programs that fit your liking. New tech also includes virtual spotters, sensors to monitor every rep, and measuring your progress in real-time. Remote group training has also become more popular, and groups can virtually work out together from the comfort of their home while still keeping the workout, music, and atmosphere people love about a local gym.

Workout equipment

If curating your workout is your thing, there are many products to help you keep track of your fitness goals. Smart dumbbells and kettlebells can automatically change weights up to 42lbs and track reps from the touch of a button. These are perfect for smaller home gym owners looking to get in simple workouts such as shoulder presses and deadlifts. Punching bags with smart technology are a great way to blow off some steam. These punching bags come equipped with trackers that you wrap around your hand to track punch speed and the number of punches via an app. This is perfect for the person who loves a quick and specific workout. Stationary Bikes are a great way to get in that much-needed cardio, the newest technology offers pre-recorded classes that sync to the mechanics of the bike to automatically adjust resistance and incline as well as the ability to sync to smartwatches. 

Gym Equipment

Gym Equipment

Redfin is not affiliated with nor endorses or guarantees any of the products or services mentioned.

Source: redfin.com

Smart Living: The Latest Smart Home Tech to Add to Your Home

Living in a smart house used to only exist in sci-fi movies. Fast forward to today and connected homes and smart gadgets are quickly becoming the norm. Smart home tech has transformed every aspect of home life, from security and basic kitchen tasks to how a house is built. It’s making our lives more comfortable, economical, convenient, and safe.

If you haven’t upgraded your home with the latest tech there are many ways to start. If your needs are relatively simple, there are affordable options that can bring about convenience, however, if you want to go all out you can create a fully connected and modern space. So, check out the latest top smart home tech products that you can add to your home today.

Smart Home Living Room

Smart Home Living Room

Voice Technology

Voice assistants

“Hey Alexa, play my workout playlist.” While voice assistants have been around since the early 2010s, it has taken us a while to get comfortable talking to devices. Today’s most popular commands include asking voice assistants to play music, answer a question, turn on the lights, provide the weather, and set reminders, alarms, and timers. As artificial intelligence (AI) advances, virtual assistants will become more personalized towards individuals. New features such as voice detection can recognize who is talking and create a unique, tailored experience, like calling you by a nickname or providing music recommendations that fit your style. 

Smart Home Tech on a shelf

Smart Home Tech on a shelf

Home Security 

Video doorbells, cameras, and alarm systems 

We have all heard stories about porch pirates stealing packages. One of the biggest smart home tech trends is investing in video doorbells, security cameras, and alarm systems. Grouped together, a standardized smart home security system may be one of the best investments you can make to protect your family and your home. Video doorbells and home security cameras now have live views and voice capabilities that allow users to see and speak to people at the door from virtually anywhere. Motion sensors can detect and record activity that can trigger an alarm or phone notification and alert authorities. Installing these can provide that added sense of security knowing that your home is being monitored 24/7. 

Fingerprint and facial recognition door locks

Installing fingerprint or facial recognition locks can change your life, especially if you always misplace your spare key. Biometric technology and Bluetooth have already made their way into phones and tablets, but they are now starting to become more common in door locks. With just a glance or fingerprint scan, a lock can recognize a person by targeting facial features or fingerprint patterns to detect whether they are welcome or not. Not at home or lost your key? This technology can also be synced with a phone app or Bluetooth so that owners can remotely lock and unlock a door at the touch of a button. 

Indoor drones

Imagine your own personal security guard patrolling the halls while you are not at home. While this might not be common today, drone innovation has made strides within the home security space. Unlike traditional video cameras, drones provide better ground activity and can cover more areas. While you are away, automated drone technology will fly inside your home monitoring different rooms and areas. Take it a step further, users can create map paths for the drone to follow.

New Smart Door Lock Tech

New Smart Door Lock Tech

Sustainable Smart Home Tech

Solar panels 

Using solar panels for on-site energy generation has become a popular alternative to traditional electricity, especially in cities that get a lot of sun year-round like Miami, FL. Now, architects and designers are finding unique ways to incorporate solar panels into the design of a home, not just on the roof. Solar panels can be used in different ways that can save homeowners hundreds of dollars per month such as heating water, providing energy, and charging electric vehicles. They are also likely to enhance your home’s value, and depending on where you live, you can even earn tax credits and rebates.

Living plant walls

Plants are a fun way to bring color and life into your home. Living walls also known as green walls, can be a great way to style plain backdrops to create a striking focal point in your home. Besides design, living walls serve multiple sustainability purposes. They can be used to improve air quality as a natural air pollutant filter, serve as a noise buffer, and create added insulation during the winter months. Living walls can also be configured to filter out water from sinks, showers, and appliances. Water is redirected to the top of the wall, filters and irrigates plants, and is treated for reuse, creating the ultimate smart home tech piece for the environment. 

Solar Panels on Roof of Home

Solar Panels on Roof of Home

Home Fixtures

Human-centric lighting 

Light bulbs are a great entry-point into smart home tech. Connected to a smart device, lightbulbs can help you look like you are home when on vacation, change colors based on mood, save on energy consumption, and conveniently turn off all the lights with a single voice command. Using smart home lights throughout your house can also drastically upgrade the look and feel of a room or outdoor space. Consider adding smart light bulbs to your kitchen, bedrooms, and even driveway to adjust hue and brightness based on what you might be feeling.

Programmable thermostats 

Many people are not aware of how much a thermostat impacts the household budget. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating and cooling costs accounts for half of the average home utility bill. Smart thermostats seek to tackle this problem. Within one week of installation, smart thermostats can learn schedules to modify temperatures based on household activities. They can also track daily and monthly usage to get a sense of where heat and air are being directed to and adjust temperatures accordingly based on the season. 

Smart Home Thermostat Tech

Smart Home Thermostat Tech

In the Kitchen 

Kitchen appliances

For those who love to cook, consider adding smart appliances into your kitchen. Modern-day fridges can take phone calls, link to television, save energy, and provide recipes. However, new fridge tech has not stopped there. If you are out and about at the grocery store and want to check what needs to be replaced, some fridges allow you to access built-in cameras via your smartphone to see what’s inside your fridge no matter where you may be. Smart ovens are also starting to incorporate phone connectivity. People can preheat their oven on the way home, adjust timers remotely, and have notifications sent via text message when food is done cooking.

Kitchen counters and workspaces

Ditch the granite countertops and go with a smart work surface. One of the latest technologies in kitchen countertops includes a sink that can disappear and reappear with a single wave of the hand. Smart home tech also seeks to tackle problems such as food consumption. Kitchen scales are being embedded into the stone that can allow sensors to measure and weigh ingredients. With the data, a mobile app can provide curated recipes with the goal of preparing delicious meals without food waste.

Smart Home Kitchen

Smart Home Kitchen

Spa Bathrooms

Smart showers & chromatherapy bathtubs

The perfect shower concert just got easier. A fun way to spruce up your bathroom time is by installing a Bluetooth speaker showerhead. These speakers easily connect to your phone to blast your favorite tunes while taking a shower. For something more sophisticated, showers are starting to double as steam rooms by trapping vaporous steam to elicit pore opening moisture. If you’re looking to relax after a long day at work, Chromatherapy, or color therapy bathtubs, can help put your mind and body at ease by using colored lights to elicit feelings. 

Touchless toilets and digital bidets

The toilet is one of the most germ-ridden locations in your home. Highly advanced toilets seek to keep things clean and comfortable by integrating features such as self-opening and closing lids, heated seats, deodorizing systems, and temperature-controlled water. For freshening up, digital bidets also can be automated for hands-free operation. Two self-sterilizing nozzles spray gently aerated spritzes of water which can be adjusted for temperature, pressure, and spray width. They even come with an air dryer and deodorizer. 

Smart Home Tech Bathroom

Smart Home Tech Bathroom

Making a Smart Home Gym

Touchscreen fitness mirrors

Smart home tech is bringing the gym to you. Touchscreen, wall-mounted fitness mirrors are the latest craze in home gym technology. If you are missing the instruction and motivation of an in-person trainer, simply turn on the screen and let an AI trainer provide guided workouts and fitness programs that fit your liking. New tech also includes virtual spotters, sensors to monitor every rep, and measuring your progress in real-time. Remote group training has also become more popular, and groups can virtually work out together from the comfort of their home while still keeping the workout, music, and atmosphere people love about a local gym.

Workout equipment

If curating your workout is your thing, there are many products to help you keep track of your fitness goals. Smart dumbbells and kettlebells can automatically change weights up to 42lbs and track reps from the touch of a button. These are perfect for smaller home gym owners looking to get in simple workouts such as shoulder presses and deadlifts. Punching bags with smart technology are a great way to blow off some steam. These punching bags come equipped with trackers that you wrap around your hand to track punch speed and the number of punches via an app. This is perfect for the person who loves a quick and specific workout. Stationary Bikes are a great way to get in that much-needed cardio, the newest technology offers pre-recorded classes that sync to the mechanics of the bike to automatically adjust resistance and incline as well as the ability to sync to smartwatches. 

Gym Equipment

Gym Equipment

Redfin is not affiliated with nor endorses or guarantees any of the products or services mentioned.

Source: redfin.com

Things to Consider When Moving From a House to an Apartment

Moving from a house to an apartment has its perks and its challenges – and planning your move strategically can help with the latter! Whether you’re looking for a fresh start in a new town or moving cross-country for school, there are several things to consider as you downsize to an apartment.

1. Measure your new space.

That plush, overstuffed couch may look incredible in your house’s open-concept living room. However, it might be a bit overwhelming in a smaller apartment. The same goes for your six-person dining table and king size bed.

Don’t spend time or money (or elbow grease!) lugging your furniture to a new apartment only to discover it won’t fit in the door! If you’ve already picked out your specific apartment, you’ll be able to get exact measurements of each room you’ll be furnishing. Use those measurements or your apartment’s floor plan to figure out what can stay and what needs to go.

Haven’t selected your apartment yet and not sure how to downsize? You can still start determining which furnishings need to go. For example, if you know you’ll be searching for a one-bedroom apartment, you can probably get rid of your guest room and home office furniture.

2. Ditch the (unnecessary) past.

Aside from losing the excess or oversized furniture, you’ll likely have plenty of belongings to sort through as well. The beautiful thing about apartment living is that you won’t need everything you needed in a house. Appliances are provided, so don’t worry about transporting your stove. Lawn care is officially a thing of the past, so you can get rid of your gardening and landscaping tools. One downside of moving from a house to an apartment is that you’ll likely lose some storage space. However, this makes your move a perfect opportunity to declutter, donate, and sell stuff you won’t need.

3. Look into storage units.

If you’ve got things that won’t quite fit in your new apartment, but you can’t fathom getting rid of them, check out your local storage options. You can use a storage unit for keeping the things you only use sporadically, like a camping tent, seasonal décor, family heirlooms, and so on. This is also the perfect option for someone moving into a temporary apartment, who needs to stash their extra things for the time being.

4. Consider “double duty” furniture.

When downsizing to an apartment, it’s wise to be savvy with your furnishings. For example, buying a pullout couch can instantly turn your living room into a makeshift guest room. Opting for a storage ottoman instead of a coffee table can offer extra functionality. In an apartment, multi-tasking furniture like futons, modular couches, and expandable dining tables can help you make the most out of every square foot.

If you’re just testing the apartment life, you don’t need to spend a fortune on new, “multi-tasking” furniture. Avoid the upfront costs and hassle of furnishing a new space by renting furniture with CORT. When you shop at CORT, you don’t have to empty your life-savings to furnish an apartment for a one-year lease!

5. Embrace everything apartment living has to offer!

One beautiful thing about moving from a house to an apartment is the ability to take advantage of the amenities of the property. For example, an on-site gym means you can cancel your pricey gym memberships and sell your home gym equipment. Additionally, some apartment complexes offer free internet and cable, giving you one less bill to pay. There are plenty of things to look forward to when moving to an apartment!

Considering a grander life in a smaller space? Make sure you’re happy with your new home’s amenities, neighborhood, and square footage. Find your next place on Apartment Search and downsize to the perfect apartment.

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Woman drinking bottled water
sirtravelalot / Shutterstock.com

There’s a trick that dieters know: Cut calories in places where you’re unlikely to even notice them. Less sugar in your coffee, less butter on your toast, or replace colas with water. That same trick works for budgeters.

If you save money in small ways without feeling the pinch, you’re inclined to keep it up.

And there’s no better time to begin implementing some of these savings tactics than at the beginning of a new year. Savings may be small at first, but over 12 months, they add up, leading to a nice nest egg when December comes around again.

Following is a look at some of those items you can easily cut out to keep more cash in the bank.

1. Gym membership

Teen girl working out in the gym
Rob Marmion / Shutterstock.com

During the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve all learned that working out in a gym — which on its face seems like a good thing — comes with a few risks. Not only is it difficult to remain socially distanced, but you are in an atmosphere where people are breathing hard and potentially spreading germs.

That means now might be the perfect time to give up your gym membership and find other ways to stay fit. Maybe working out at home, with inexpensive weights or yoga DVDs, is a cheaper (and safer) option.

Or, if you dream of pro-style gym equipment at home, check for-sale sites such as Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. You may find that other exercisers have abandoned their fitness plans and are trying to sell (or give away) the very equipment you pay to use at the gym.

2. Warehouse club membership

Costco deals
Tooykrub / Shutterstock.com

Warehouse clubs are so tempting, and at various times in your life, they may make sense. If you regularly throw massive parties, then buying ketchup by the gallon might be saving you big bucks.

But many people acquire a Costco or similar warehouse store membership and never use it, thus handing over money and not enjoying a benefit. If you’re one of those people, it may be time to cancel this membership and move on. Plus, there are ways to shop at Costco without being a member.

3. Bottled water

Patramansky Oleg / Shutterstock.com

Sometimes I buy bottled water, and I always hear my late dad’s voice in my head, asking me, “Why are you paying for something you can get at home?”

Dad grew up in the Great Depression, and he was always amused at the many ways people found to squander hard-earned money. The craze for bottled water came after his time, but I can assure you he’d have keeled over from thirst before he paid a company for something that came out of the tap.

That’s a bit extreme, but Dad had a point. Carry a good-quality, leakproof reusable water bottle with you whenever possible, and you can usually find a place to refill it at no charge.

4. Rental car insurance

Rental Car
Dima Sidelnikov / Shutterstock.com

Driving a rental car often means you’re on strange streets and freeways, heading to places where you don’t regularly go. Accidents can happen. So, when you pick up the rental car, should you spring for the extra insurance that the clerk will try and sell you?

First of all, that “insurance” isn’t really insurance — it’s a collision damage waiver. Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson says he personally doesn’t buy it, and if you have adequate insurance on your car at home, you likely don’t need it. But you may need to research the coverage you have before you decide. Stacy explains in detail in this story.

In addition, your credit card also may already have you covered.

5. Gift wrap

Pressmaster / Shutterstock.com

The biggest gift-wrap season of the year just ended. Did you find yourself spending money on gift wrap paper, bows and tags? In 2021, give yourself all that cash back. People still will enjoy your thoughtful presents, and I can assure you that almost no one will miss the fancy wrapping paper.

You can wrap gifts in plenty of creative, no-cost items, from newspaper to magazine pages and even old maps and wallpaper. (I used a roll of unneeded shelf contact paper this holiday season — it had the bonus of a neat blue-and-tan pattern that definitely stood out among all the red wrap and green wrap.)

Check out our article listing seven creative ways to get gift wrap free.

6. Magazine subscriptions

Shutterstock.com / Shutterstock.com

From Vogue to National Geographic, magazines offer a form of storytelling that can’t be replicated. However, you may not realize that there might be ways to read the latest issues for free.

You almost certainly know that your public library subscribes to dozens of magazines, from the mainstream (like Entertainment Weekly) to the obscure (School Library Journal, for instance).

You can read the print editions, too, of course, but the library may also allow you to download e-versions. Get to know your library’s website to find out.

And, do you subscribe to Amazon Prime or Apple News+? If you do, free online magazines are a perk of your subscription.

Here are four ways to read magazines for free or cheap.

7. Auto-club membership

Jack Frog / Shutterstock.com

A membership in AAA, formerly known as the American Automobile Association, can be a lifesaver for some drivers. Need a tow in the middle of nowhere? Pulling out that AAA card and calling for help can feel like a huge relief.

But there may be other ways you can enjoy those benefits offered by AAA. Your car insurance may include free tows under certain circumstances. When I bought a new Honda Accord, it came with three years of 24-hour emergency service. You may have a similar deal with your car.

AAA has other benefits. I appreciate their hotel and travel discounts, and I travel enough to make that worth my membership. Take a look at your own needs and at other organizations you may belong to that might offer similar deals. AARP, for example, has travel discounts.

8. Cable TV

Unhappy woman watching TV
Nicoleta Ionescu / Shutterstock.com

Cable TV is beginning to flicker out in many households. There are so many streaming services and other ways to get video entertainment that a $100-plus monthly cable bill with channels you neither asked for nor watch might be something you can ditch. I had cable for years, and I assure you, I never intentionally turned on the Golf Channel.

Many viewers have held off on cutting the cable for one reason: live TV programming. That’s become easier to get these days. With live streaming TV, you may be able to ditch cable and save money.

Several services are likely to be more affordable than your current cable choice. They include:

9. Late fees

Woman budgeting
Damir Khabirov / Shutterstock.com

Few things are more frustrating than being slapped with a late fee on a monthly utility bill you simply forgot to pay. Yet, it’s so easy to misplace or forget about a particular bill, whether it’s sent to you via regular U.S. mail or you’re notified via email.

Solve the problem by pulling together all your monthly recurring charges and putting them on autopay.

You’re still going to have to pay attention to bills on which the amount due changes each month. But after I received a threatening letter once about a forgotten bill just as we were heading out of town, I jumped on the auto-pay bandwagon and haven’t regretted it.

10. Streaming services

A happy woman smiles and holds a remote control while watching TV
Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley / Shutterstock.com

Yes, I just suggested that streaming services might be cheaper than cable. That may be true, but be judicious about which streaming services you are paying for.

Do your research and know which shows your family considers worth shelling out for. HBO has its own eclectic lineup, as do Hulu, British-themed services like Acorn TV and BritBox, Apple TV+ and many more. You may enjoy more than one service and still beat the cost of cable, but you probably don’t want all of them. Cut out the ones that don’t earn their keep.

11. Checked bags

LightField Studios / Shutterstock.com

Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson lists baggage fees on his list of most annoying fees, and he suggests some ways to avoid them.

One top tip is simply to avoid airlines with the worst fees, especially those that charge for carry-on bags. If you travel often on the same airline, a branded credit card with that airline may offer you free bags in addition to helping you pile up miles to exchange for free flights.

12. Food delivery

Food delivery man
Yuriy Golub / Shutterstock.com

It’s easy to understand why so many tired, hungry Americans fall back on food-delivery services. That’s especially true during the pandemic, when we try to bring our favorite restaurants to our homes rather than risking infection at the restaurant itself.

Multi-restaurant delivery apps such as Uber Eats, Postmates, DoorDash and Grubhub make it easy to essentially enjoy the charms of hotel room service in your home.

But chew on this: Delivery fees and driver tips can really add up. So, maybe your family can cut back on or eliminate food delivery fees. Make a New Year’s resolution to cook at home as much as you can, which is healthier and cheaper anyway.

13. New books

Woman browsing used books
Minerva Studio / Shutterstock.com

I’m a devoted reader and also an author, so there’s no way I’ll tell you to never buy a brand-new book. My favorite Christmas presents are always new-to-me books.

But I also love saving money, and getting free books helps me save my money for buying new ones. My library has a program called Peak Picks, where the hottest new titles (always checked out in the online system) are displayed on tables in the library. That’s right, you have to physically mosey on into your branch. Some of my librarian friends in other cities say they have similar programs.

If you want e-books, here are “11 Sites That Offer Free E-Books.”

14. Landline phones

evkaz / Shutterstock.com

In this era of ubiquitous cellphones, are you still clinging to a landline? Rethink whether that’s really a necessity. It could be when cell reception in some areas can still be iffy, or if you have children who are occasionally home alone without a mobile phone.

But many reasons once touted by landline lovers are no longer valid. We detail a number of them in this article, “5 Reasons You Should Stop Paying for a Landline.” Two that may be especially relevant: Cell plans often offer free international calls, and many smartphones screen your calls better than the ye olde answering machine.

15. Brand-name products

Song_about_summer / Shutterstock.com

One of the greatest marketing tricks ever is convincing shoppers to buy a product simply because of the advertised brand name on the label. This is obvious at warehouse stores like Costco, where the company’s Kirkland paper products are stacked next to more colorfully wrapped famous brands.

The paper towels and bathroom tissue look the same, but the Kirkland prices are almost always cheaper. Ignore brand names where you can, and you’ll almost always save big. (Here are my eight favorite products at Costco.)

16. Manicures

margostock / Shutterstock.com

Manicures and pedicures are a luxury that some people just will never give up. It’s good to have such little rewards in life. But if mani-pedis are constantly snipping away at your budget, think about nailing some savings by splurging less frequently.

A good-quality manicure kit can be had inexpensively. And YouTube is full of tutorials on how to do your nails yourself, safely and beautifully.

17. Smoking

triocean / Shutterstock.com

No butts about it: If you smoke, you’ve likely tried to quit and come up against that wall of cravings.

In this tech age, an app might help. Non-smoking apps include MyQuit Coach and QuitNow! A benefit to quitting apps: Most provide an updated tally of how much money you’ve saved, and some translate that into the hours of life they say you’ve regained.

18. Cleaning products

Woman cleaning
Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley / Shutterstock.com

Everyone (except Pig-Pen from “Peanuts”) has to clean, but buying brand-name cleaning sprays and wipes isn’t cheap.

Let’s come clean: The do-it-yourself route for cleaning products is much easier than you may think. You can save thousands of dollars on cleaning products. This story tells how to make a four-ingredient dishwasher-detergent option, and includes plenty of ways to use baking soda and vinegar as cleaning products.

You can even make your own cleaning wipes, which can come in handy during pandemic-related shortages at your local store.

19. Car washes

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Sometimes, a professional car wash is the way to go. If your toddler gets sick in her car seat, or the pitcher of Kool-Aid you were bringing to the beach sloshes all over the floor, take it to the pros.

But for regular cleaning, you may save big by just washing your car in your own driveway. These tips from the car-repair chain Meineke make it clear just how simple a home car wash can be. You might even find a neighborhood teen to do it for half the price of a fancy drive-thru wash.

20. Paper towels

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I’ll likely never give up paper towels entirely. With pets and kids, they’re just too handy, and a roll stashed in my car trunk has saved me in many sticky situations.

But when you’re at home, using cloth rags instead is like having eternally reusable paper towels, saving you big. Learn how to make one roll of paper towels last a whole year.

21. Premium gas

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Even though electric vehicles are becoming more widely available, many of us have a car that requires gasoline. But be careful at the pump.

If your car doesn’t require premium gas, choosing that option is just pouring money down the drain with no benefit to your vehicle.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

How Equipment Financing for Businesses Works

How Equipment Financing for Businesses Works – SmartAsset

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Financing the purchase of essential equipment lets businesses preserve cash for working capital, hiring staff, expanding marketing efforts or other purposes. Equipment financing can be done with term loans, SBA-backed loans, lines of credit and credit cards. Equipment loans are generally easier to get than other forms of financing and may require no down payment, since the loan will be secured by the equipment being purchased. If you’re not sure which option to take, consider talking to a financial advisor experienced in this area.

Many sorts of businesses use financing to acquire a variety of equipment types. Construction companies finance the purchase of bulldozers and cranes, restaurants finance refrigerators and ovens, fitness centers finance workout machines and computers to run their offices, to name a few.

Loans may be any amount up to the value of the equipment, with 100% loan-to-value financing, although 20% down payments could be required. Interest rates range from under 5% to more than 30%, with repayment terms extending 10 years or more, up to the useful life of the equipment. Approval for an equipment financing request often depends on the business credit score, size of the down payment and the existence of a business plan documenting cash flow projections adequate to repay the borrowed sum

Types of Equipment Financing

Businesses obtain equipment financing from a number of sources, including traditional banks large and small, online lenders, SBA-affiliated lenders and credit cards.

Term loans. Local and national banks and online lenders make equipment loans of one to 10 years in length for up to 100% of the equipment value, at interest rates ranging from 4% to 25%. Banks favor loans to established businesses with good credit scores and well-documented repayment plans. Online lenders have more flexible guidelines but also may charge higher rates and fees.

Small Business Administration 504 loans. These government-guaranteed loans are made by nonprofit Certified Development Company (CDC) lenders certified by the SBA. Known as 504 loans, they can only be for up to 40% of the cost of acquiring fixed assets, and require 10% down by the borrower, with a private lender providing the remaining 40%.

Lines of credit. Revolving lines of credit arranged through banks or online lenders can be set up in advance and used to purchase equipment as needed. Borrowers only pay for funds they have actually borrowed through the line of credit, and monthly payments may vary with changes in the balance owed. Lines of credit usually don’t require collateral or down payments but have higher interest rates than loans.

Credit cards. Business credit cards are easy to get as long as a business has a good credit score and some operating history. The application process is simple and funds are available immediately upon approval. Some other loans may take days or weeks before funding. However, the amount that can be tapped with a credit card is limited and rates and fees are higher than alternatives.

Equipment Leasing

Businesses that lack the credit score, operating history or down payment needed to qualify for a loan or other purchase financing can acquire equipment by leasing it. Leasing requires no down payment and approval is much easier to get than when requesting a loan. Monthly lease payments may be less than a loan payment would be, freeing up additional cash. And when the lease term is up, the business can return the equipment without owing any more.

The downside of leasing is that it ultimately can cost more than buying. While monthly lease payments could be lower than loan payments, the total of lease payments may be more than the amount of all the loan payments. Also, while there is no down payment, the business won’t own the equipment at the end of the lease.

The Bottom Line

Equipment financing gives businesses access to essential machinery, fixtures, furniture and other assets without the need to devote large sums of cash to outright purchase. Equipment loans are available from a variety of sources, including government-guaranteed loans, and are generally easier to get than other forms of financing. Be sure to avoid taking out equipment loans with terms that exceed the useful life of the asset. Otherwise, you risk being on the hook to make payments on a piece of equipment that has already been retired or scrapped. With this in mind, leasing may be a better option than buying for equipment that quickly becomes obsolete.

Tips for Small Businesses   

  • Before signing a loan or arranging for another way to finance an equipment purchase, consider talking it over with an experienced financial advisor. Finding the right financial advisor who fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors who will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • How you finance equipment can affect your taxes. Tax rules for independent contractors differ from what a traditional employee experiences, but they’re not overly complicated. Getting familiar with the basics can make filing your taxes as an independent contractor easier to navigate.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Weerasaksaeku, ©iStock.com/zaemiel, ©iStock.com/ewg3D

Mark Henricks Mark Henricks has reported on personal finance, investing, retirement, entrepreneurship and other topics for more than 30 years. His freelance byline has appeared on CNBC.com and in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and other leading publications. Mark has written books including, “Not Just A Living: The Complete Guide to Creating a Business That Gives You A Life.” His favorite reporting is the kind that helps ordinary people increase their personal wealth and life satisfaction. A graduate of the University of Texas journalism program, he lives in Austin, Texas. In his spare time he enjoys reading, volunteering, performing in an acoustic music duo, whitewater kayaking, wilderness backpacking and competing in triathlons.
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