4 Side Hustles You Can Do While Working Full Time

From selling unwanted items online to launching a blog, there are side hustles you can start today.

A side hustle may just sound like extra work. Like coming home from your 9-to-5 job only to work another one (goodbye, free time). But a side hustle that generates income beyond your primary job doesn’t have to be a drain on your energy or time.

It’s easier than ever to find ways to make money on the side of your day job. As the side hustlers below show, it can be as easy as digging out forgotten treasures from the back of your closet.

Whether you’re looking to leverage a side gig to more quickly build wealth, or you’ve set out to increase your emergency fund or save for a specific financial goal, consider these four side hustles you can start today:

1. Sell unwanted items online

If you’re considering ways to make money side hustling, look no further than your own home. Chances are you have items lying around that you don’t actually use—books, toys, kitchen gadgets, exercise equipment, tech accessories, you name it—that sounded like a good idea at one point but are now just collecting dust. Selling unwanted items online is one of the easiest side hustles you can do while working full time.

Selling things you no longer want or need is a great side hustle you can start today.

“You can really sell anything on Craigslist and Kijiji. If it’s still in decent shape, there’s a buyer out there for items you’re no longer using,” says Tom Drake, founder of MapleMoney and no stranger to selling items online in his spare time.

Drake and his wife declutter their home and sell unwanted items online as often as they can. A recent focus was video games: Drake says he sold about $2,000 worth of video games that were sitting in his garage for over a decade. Based on his calculations, he expects to sell about $10,000 worth of unwanted items in 2018.

If you’re thinking about posting items online as a way to make money on the side, Drake says it’s easy to start. Listing items doesn’t take long, though he suggests taking a decent photo and writing a detailed description to make the item easier to find in search results and more likely to sell in a timely fashion.

PriceCharting, which documents prices for every video game ever made, to check value.

Outside of video games, Drake says you can find clothing at thrift stores, then list it for 30 to 50 percent off retail price to make a sale. For collectible items like coins, you can Google the item and add the term “price guide” to the search query. This type of information could come in handy as you build out your pricing structure. Don’t forget to explore e-commerce sites to gauge market rates for items.

3. Start an online store

Briana Ford is a search engine marketing campaign manager for a marketing company based in Dallas. Her way to make money side hustling is through three stores she runs on Shopify, an online e-commerce platform. She generates about $1,000 to $3,000 in total revenue each month.

Her stores Ciao Toots and Karma Outfitters sell phone covers and graphic tees, respectively. Her most popular store, PinLivingColor, sells ’90s memorabilia. She creates the designs through Printful, a printing service through Shopify, and uploads the photos to her store. When someone buys, say, a cell phone case, Printful prints the design on a case and sends it off to the customer. She took a weekend each to start her stores.

“We live in a day and age where you can literally have an idea in the morning and have your business launched in the evening. There is an audience and a customer for almost anything,” she says.

She also helps fellow African Americans start their own stores as a consultant via Startup Noire.

4. Launch a blog

Eric Rosenberg, founder of Personal Profitability, has tried side hustles from web coding to organizing flash mobs. He found a winning side hustle you can do while working full time with his blog.

Blogging is a great way to make money on the side.

“Personal Profitability led to freelance opportunities and eventually a full-time job. But it all started with weekends and evenings,” Rosenberg says.

He has tracked his online earnings publicly since 2012, when the blog earned him about $700 a month. In 2017 he had a six-figure business. Most of his income comes from writing services and website support, with some affiliate income, Rosenberg says.

Blogging is one of the side hustles you can start today, and it doesn’t necessarily cost much to get up and running. However, as the online income reports on Rosenberg’s blog show, it does require patience to make it really pay off.

Ways to make money side hustling: The possibilities are endless

These are just a few of the possibilities available to you as you explore ways to make money on the side of your primary career. As you compare the various side hustles you can start today, consider activities, skills or experiences that you’re passionate about. Enjoying and finding value in your side hustle may make the extra income and increased earning potential even more rewarding.

Source: discover.com

Food Storage Tricks for a Small Apartment Kitchen

Living in an apartment has its pros and cons. Even though many people enjoy renting their apartment, it can also come with a few challenges. Most renters would agree they have limited space for their belongings, especially if you live in a studio or one-bedroom. In places like your kitchen, you’ll never run out of things to organize, but how do you handle everything in a tiny room?

Check out these easy food storage tricks for a small apartment kitchen any renter can use. You don’t need to screw holes in your wall to hang things or potentially damage the drywall for more space. With a little creativity, you’ll find a spot for everything, and your kitchen will look organized and clean.

1. Get wire shelf racks for cabinets

Apartment cabinets are notorious for being small. You might not be able to stack more than a few plates or bowls at a time, especially side by side. This places limits on the number of pantry goods you can stock alongside your dishes.

Don’t worry about leaving clean dishes on the counter when there are wire shelf racks for sale. These racks stand alone, so they don’t require any installation. Get them in any color you like and use them in every cabinet to double the storage space instantly — freeing up room for all the rice, canned tomatoes and broth you desire.

2. Invest in containers

Food storage containersFood storage containers

Over the last few years, celebrities and popular Pinterest bloggers have posted pictures of their pantries filled with clear plastic containers. It’s both a clever food storage trick and a trendy design touch — the perfect solution for renters who want their small kitchens to be stylish and functional.

They’re usually sleek and airtight, making them ideal for combining boxes of noodles, cereal or bags of flour. Find a few containers for the food you keep in your pantry and use them to minimize how many boxes and bags take up extra space.

3. Use freezer bags intelligently

Bulk food purchasing is a great way to reduce grocery spending and stay stocked up. Unfortunately, freezer space can be limited in an undersized fridge. Here are a few tricks for frozen food storage.

When you buy a large pack of ground beef or chicken thighs, you can make them last longer by freezing them. The problem is that styrofoam and plastic containers are bulky. Take the meat out, section it into usable portions and seal it in freezer bags, removing the air to condense the volume.

Are you a fan of boxed freezer goods, like pizzas, ice cream bars and burritos? Take items out of their boxy packaging and keep them in freezer bags instead. This allows you to store smaller items with less air and cardboard taking up space. If you’re worried about freezer burn, wrap these items again in plastic wrap.

Finally, keep soupy leftovers in easy-to-manage flat layers. You can lay a flat, sealed bag on a cookie sheet, and wait patiently for it to harden. Your stews will no longer create misshapen lumps that need to be maneuvered into whatever space is available.

4. Hang temporary hooks

Command hooks help people who need storage solutions without causing permanent installation damage. Press them on the inside of your cabinet or pantry doors to hang your cooking utensils and bags of food, then store the rest for other hanging needs around the apartment.

5. Use more drawer dividers

kitchen drawer dividerskitchen drawer dividers

Kitchen drawers get messy when you toss in whatever you can find. Even if you keep everything in the drawer, it doesn’t have to stay a mess. You can find and use extra drawer dividers to organize everything from silverware to measuring cups.

Use some of the dividers to combine pens, bread bag ties and bag clips, which often get lost in the back under mail and instruction manuals.

6. Store things above cabinets

Don’t forget that you can always use the space above your cabinets as storage, too. If your cabinets don’t extend to the ceiling, it’s available space waiting to help. Dutch ovens, small appliances and any other kitchen supplies you don’t use every day can make a home up there.

Just be aware that they may collect more dust and require a quick wash before you bake with them again.

7. Label everything you buy

Americans are notorious for food waste, throwing away 165 billion worth of food each year. If you’re someone who stores leftovers and never eats them — or has no idea what’s sitting in the back of your cabinets — labeling can help organize food and remind you when it’s time to dive into your stored meals.

One label maker will go a long way in organizing your kitchen and other rooms in your apartment. Create labels for expiration dates so that you can toss out what’s expired instead of leaving it in your pantry or fridge. You can also label foods with what recipes they go with, so you always know what you can make and when you should throw food away.

Clever food storage ideas for small apartments

Before you can organize your kitchen, you’ll need to start spring cleaning to get rid of everything you don’t need. Organize whatever’s left with tricks like drawer dividers, wire shelf racks and command hooks. You’ll find the techniques that work best in your apartment, depending on the shape and size of your kitchen.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Throw a Baby Shower On a Budget

With some creativity and help from friends, it’s easy to plan a baby shower on a budget that’s right for you.

If you’re at a stage in life when many of your friends are having children, or if you’re about to become a grandparent several times over, you could find yourself thrust into planning more than one baby shower. These soirees can get pricey if you don’t keep budget in mind from the moment you accept the role as host.

Fortunately, most baby showers are not expected to look like the over-the-top celebrity events that dominate news headlines. But you’ll still need to handle food, decorations and party favors, as well as finding a location to hold the event.

It is possible to plan a baby shower on a budget while still creating a beautiful and memorable event for the parents-to-be and their loved ones.

Here are four tips for budget baby showers that will be sure to impress your guests:

1. Set clear expectations

Latoya Scott shares money-saving tips on her personal finance blog Life and a Budget. She’s thrown four baby showers, two she volunteered for and two she was asked to plan. She’s never spent more than $200 on a baby shower.

If you're wondering how to throw a baby shower on a budget, start by talking with the mom-to-be.

Her number one tip before you begin to plan a baby shower on a budget is to set clear expectations with everyone involved.

“Most of the time, I’ve volunteered to host the shower because I love doing them,” she says. “In those cases, I ask a lot of questions about things they like and let them know upfront that I consider it to be fun trying to incorporate as many of their wishes and likes on a budget.”

When it came to the showers she was asked to plan, she wasn’t shy about telling the mothers-to-be that she needed to check her budget first to make sure she could afford to throw the parties. She returned to both with her $200 price point and asked if that was okay.

“Out of those two showers, one person agreed and the other person actually found someone who was willing to help me, and I didn’t mind at all,” she says.

2. Ask for help

Scott’s second piece of advice for those strategizing on how to throw a baby shower on a budget: Enlist your friends. That could mean setting up a co-hosting arrangement or assigning your friends different tasks.

“While I may handle the food, another friend may be completely responsible for games,” Scott says. “Another friend may handle gifts, and sometimes another will handle decor.”

Enlist the help of friends when you're trying to plan a baby shower on a budget.

Scott also suggests giving everyone involved a spending cap to ensure that you plan a baby shower on a budget. How she handles the spending cap depends on the group of friends involved, she says. Some friends use their money to cover their contribution, while others hand Scott cash to cover their share of logistics and let her plan away.

The exception is often food, since it’s usually more expensive than other ingredients to hosting a baby shower. In that case, Scott either has everyone pitch in for the cost of food or assigns the food to two different people instead of just one.

As for a location, Scott gets creative to plan a baby shower on a budget.

“I’ve been able to host showers at places for free because someone I knew lived in an apartment complex and I asked if they could use the apartment clubhouse,” she says.

She suggests local parks and recreation centers could also help plan a baby shower on a budget. Meeting rooms can often be rented for a flat fee or a three- to four-hour window, Scott says. If a few friends pitch in to cover that cost, that brings your personal expenses down.

3. Get creative with decor

Rather than buying disposable shower decorations, think long term for a tip for budget baby showers. That’s what Colleen Coughlin recommends. She is a clothing designer and founder of The Full Edit, a professional styling and organization company.

Coughlin recently planned a baby shower on a budget for a close friend and spent a whopping $0 on decorations. She made some of the decorations herself with materials she gathered from her clients. For example, she cut the letters for “BABY” out of a discarded silver sun protector for a car. Coughlin has also reused items from baby showers she has attended when she was determining how to throw a baby shower on a budget.

“I went to a baby shower shortly before organizing one where they were going to throw away all the decorations,” she says. “Since I knew I would be throwing a shower myself, I asked if I could take the decorations.”

One of Coughlin’s top tips for budget baby showers is to consider decorations that are gender neutral and can be reused, like those featuring orange, yellow and white. Coughlin suggests making a bunting banner out of bed sheets or old pillow cases you no longer use, then pinning or taping the bunting to the wall to decorate your hosting space.

4. Look around your house for party favors

When it comes to how to throw a baby shower on a budget, Coughlin could easily take home a gold medal. In addition to spending nothing on decorations for the baby shower she hosted, Coughlin also spent $0 on party favors for guests.

“You’d be surprised how many shower gifts are in your house already,” she says. “I gave away beauty products, plants and a Coach purse from a ‘The Full Edit’ client that I already had laying around. They loved it!”

For a party favor tip for budget baby showers, Coughlin points out that if you order makeup from certain companies, you may already have a collection of beauty samples you can use as party favors. If you happen to attend industry events for work, you may be able to use samples from swag bags as party favors. Coughlin is also not opposed to re-gifting items you don’t want to help plan a baby shower on a budget (exhibit A: that candle your distant cousin gave you for Christmas).

Plan a baby shower on a budget

As you can see from these tips for budget baby showers, with some creative thinking and a little help from friends, you and your loved ones can celebrate the miracle of life without going broke.

Source: discover.com

What Do HOA Fees Cover: Homeowners Association Expenses Explained

What is an HOA?

Are you confused about the meaning of an HOA? HOA is short for a homeowners association. Lots of people ask real estate agents how an HOA works and what purpose does it serve. Once they understand the purpose of a homeowners association they ask what the HOA fees cover.

An HOA is a group or organization in a neighborhood that makes and enforces rules and regulations for homes or condos for the benefit of its owners.

Buyers who purchase within an HOA become members and must pay association dues, known as HOA fees.

Before buying into an HOA, it is vital to understand the rules and regulations. You may find that some of the rules are not what you’ve been accustomed to. In fact, if the rules and regulations are overbearing, you could find yourself in the position of not wanting to live within the neighborhood.

On the other hand, you may love the thought of having guidance and uniformity. Some of the biggest advantages of living in an HOA are preserving and upkeep of the homeowners association’s homes and neighborhood.

One of the most common questions home buyers have is what do the HOA fees cover? Let’s take a deep dive into what you need to know about homeowners association expenses.

HOA Fees
How Do HOA Fees Work?

What Are HOA Fees?

Homeowners association fees are paid to maintain the common areas and shared spaces in your home and neighborhood. Being part of a homeowners association makes it a lot simpler to live in than having a home where you are responsible for all the maintenance.

So, if you have an expensive emergency in your house, you have to find the money to fix it. Where in the HOA, expenses are shared amongst everyone in the community.

An elected committee governs the HOA fees in your neighborhood. All of the expenses should be approved by those who reside within the community.

In larger HOAs, there is often a paid office team organizing contractors and paying bills. Other HOAs can be staffed by using outside contractors. Sometimes this can be a problem when work is not completed satisfactorily.

HOA costs depend on the neighborhood and type of project. It is not uncommon for HOA fees to range anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to $1000 in some luxurious settings.

Homeowners association fees are influenced heavily by what kind of perks are offered for living within the community. For example, neighborhoods that offer community pools, gyms, and tennis courts, naturally would cost more to maintain and operate.

However, a lower-cost townhouse without a pool, gym, or other amenities could be far less expensive. Costs can be as low as $100 per month in some locations around the country.

HOA expenses in a high-end city center may include concierge, spa, and gym, making them much more expensive to live in. You could potentially see fees as high as $3-$4 thousand per month. Think of the rich and famous.

How Are HOA Expenses Distributed?

If you live in an HOA within a condo or townhome complex, you may have underground parking, with a car space allocated to every apartment in the building. Part of the maintenance with this living style is security, as we all feel safer in a secure building.

Rubbish collection is another cost, as rubbish has to be taken down to the basement and removed from the building. Companies are often hired to fill this role.

The pool must be maintained, the ground manicured, plants pruned, and the gym equipment is cleaned. While these perks are probably the reasons you bought in, the cost can be a bit high for some retirees. Perks such as these are often standard in retirement communities. It is often a significant reason seniors downsize into a neighborhood that has an HOA.

Do Homeowners HOA Fees Go Up?

Of course, everything rises with inflation, and there will always be new projects or remedial work to be carried out on the homes and neighborhood.

Some HOAs schedule increments annually, so if you are preparing a five-year budget, you may want to factor in the cost. Doing so will be helpful to work out what your expenses will be projected at in the future.

It will be vital before buying to take a look at the homeowners association bylaws, rules, and regs, along with the latest financial state. You should make sure to have a contingency for document review in your offer.

What If You Can’t Pay The HOA Fees?

You can be fined or taken to court, and a lien could be placed on your property. It can also be embarrassing not to pay because, in committee meetings, they often have nonpaying homes as agenda items and discuss strategies to recover the funds.

HOA expenses are very much worth paying, as in most cases, you do get your money’s worth. Because there is power in numbers, you often get better value for money with more people paying to get the best deal for your HOA.

Before you move into a condo, townhouse, or home, check how your HOA fees will be apportioned, and make sure no special assessments are pending.

Special assessments would mean that you will have to come up with an extra lump sum to fix an unexpected expense. Nobody likes financial surprises, so it is essential to research any significant expenditures on the horizon.

How Do I Choose The Right HOA Neighborhood?

Form a working relationship with a high-profile local agent. Once they know what you are looking for, they will help you to find your perfect HOA.

The best buyer’s agents will know most communities in the town or area. Real Estate agents have their ears to the ground and often hear positive or negative things about a particular neighborhood and the accompanying homeowners association.

Moving into an HOA is a terrific idea when it is a well-oiled machine. Living within a homeowners association can make your life more simple, especially from a maintenance standpoint. If you’re the kind of person, who travels a lot, it really makes a lot of sense.

First-time home buyers who do business travel could find living in an HOA to be the perfect situation.

Final Thoughts on HOAs

In the area you are planning to live in, there hopefully will be a wide range of suitable HOAs to choose from. As long as you pick an HOA neighborhood that does not have strange bylaws or overbearing rules, you’ll probably enjoy the living situation.

The key is doing the proper due diligence. Without that, you could make a bad mistake that you’ll regret. Take the time and do the proper research. Hopefully, you have found this guide to HOAs to be useful. You should now know a bit more about what HOA fees cover.

Source: realtybiznews.com

Depleted savings, ruined credit: What happens when all the rent comes due?

Millions of Americans unable to pay their rent during the pandemic face a snowballing financial burden that threatens to deplete their savings, ruin their credit and drive them from their homes.

A patchwork of government action is protecting many of the most financially strapped tenants for now. But it could take these renters — especially low-income ones — years to recover, even as the rest of the economy begins to rebound.

“Even if they say we can pay [missed rent] back in two or three years — that’s money we don’t have,” said Kelly Wise, a 32-year-old resident of L.A.’s Westlake neighborhood. After losing jobs selling merchandise at concerts and cutting fabric for Hollywood sets, she is more than $10,000 behind on rent.

Debt threatens to hit renters in several ways. Some have kept up with their rent payments but have turned to credit cards and high-interest loans. Others owe mounting bills directly to landlords that must be paid back when eviction moratoriums expire, opening the possibility — if the debt goes unpaid — for evictions and court orders for back rent. That could erode credit scores and lead to wage garnishments and more.

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“We are setting up millions of people for long-term harm and a cycle of economic and housing instability,” said Emily Benfer, chair of the American Bar Assn.’s COVID-19 Task Force Committee on eviction.

Renters across the nation are dipping into 401(k)s, taking on higher-interest debt, and scrambling for risky, essential-worker jobs to pay the rent. Research from Moody’s Analytics and the Urban Institute estimates 9.4 million U.S. renter households owed an average of $5,586 in back rent, utilities and related late fees as of January, for a total burden of $52.6 billion.

Other estimates show a smaller but still significant amount of rent debt. The full scope of the problem isn’t clear because the situation is fluid, and estimates so far are based on surveys and models, rather than hard data.

“[Bad] debt affects your credit score, and credit scores affect everything in your life,” said Yuval Yossefy, a manager at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, a nonprofit law firm.

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Federal, state and local officials are grappling with how best to help people stay afloat — including keeping them housed — amid job losses, slashed incomes and pervasive disease. A second year of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought little reprieve, with new variants of the coronavirus threatening to accelerate the virus’ spread and cause longer disruptions to the economy and everyday life.

States are planning to get federal aid funds, which have begun to flow, into the hands of landlords to reduce the debt load on tenants. California, where median rent is 50% higher than in the nation at large, has passed what state leaders characterize as the strongest statewide measures to address the crisis, providing a potential model for how states could distribute rent funds.

The California measures, approved by the Legislature last week, extend a statewide moratorium on evictions for people with pandemic hardships through June. Significantly, they bar landlords from using rent debt accrued between March 2020 and June of this year to deny future housing — a nod to fears that unpaid rent may affect people’s housing for years to come.

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And to protect the most vulnerable, they establish a program that uses federal stimulus money to encourage landlords to forgive debt accrued by low-income tenants over the span of a year: April 2020 to March of this year.

Whether California landlords opt in, exactly how the program will be implemented, and if it will make a significant difference for those most in debt are still open questions. Nonprofit groups that work with low-income renters say the measures could be hard to enforce and, in terms of altogether forgiving some debt, rely precariously on optional landlord participation.

Eviction and debt can make it difficult to find new housing, take out loans, get some types of jobs or budget for necessities like food. In California, where rent was unaffordable for most tenants to begin with, the debt pile-on compounds a long-brewing problem.

Illustration: a man and a woman weighed down by balls and chains representing their debt.

Eviction and debt can make it difficult to find new housing, take out loans and get some types of jobs.

(Nicole Vas / Los Angeles Times)

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“A family that makes less than $30,000 a year, they are going to be on the verge of homelessness for the next 10 to 15 years because of this huge debt,” said Ana Grande, associate executive director of the nonprofit Bresee Foundation in Los Angeles, which provides assistance to low-income families.

Making matters worse: Studies show those with debt are least likely to afford it — even if they regain their old incomes. Compared with all L.A. County renters, households that earned less than $25,000 in 2019 were more than twice as likely as all renters to not pay their rent during the pandemic, according to a joint USC-UCLA survey. Households that earned between $25,000 and $50,000 were the second most common group to report not paying.

Nonpayment was also highest among Latino and Black Americans who, compared with white Americans, have been hit harder by the health and economic effects of the virus. They are also less likely to have family who can lend financial help given the country’s long-running racial wealth gap.

An eviction ‘changes the trajectory of a life’

Across the country, a series of problems can unfurl from a single eviction.

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Some landlords refuse to take tenants with an eviction on their record, while those who do are likely to charge more, fail to keep up their properties and have units located in dangerous neighborhoods, according to housing attorneys and other experts.

Studies have found people who are evicted are more likely to experience depression and to die of any cause. People move far from their support networks, or miss work while trying to find new housing and lose their jobs. Kids fall behind at school.

“An eviction is not a single event in a person’s life,” Benfer said. “It actually changes the trajectory of a life, because it has such catastrophic implications for fiscal and mental health.”

In a pandemic, experts say an eviction is particularly dangerous, leading a person to double up with friends and family in crowded housing situations that accelerate the virus’ spread.

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Absent an eviction on a person’s record, debt and poor credit scores can impede the ability to find housing, often leaving people to live in lower-quality conditions, said Ariel Nelson, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center.

Poor credit scores also limit the ability to take out car, home and other loans at reasonable interest rates, putting homeownership further out of reach.

Past-due debts on a credit report may lead some employers to turn down a candidate for jobs that involve handling money, such as a bank teller or a cashier at a restaurant, said Bruce McClary, spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

If debts continue to go unpaid, creditors can garnish wages, though restrictions exist on how much disposable income creditors can take.

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To preempt this, people might dip into savings or cut back on food. They may take out the only loans available to them: sky-high-interest products that critics say are nearly impossible to pay back.

Some tenants have already headed down the debt spiral. The USC-UCLA study found 8.5% of surveyed tenants paid some rent with a credit card in July, compared with 3% normally. Nearly 8% used a payday or other emergency loan.

An out-of-work graduate student in Lakewood told The Times she requested and got a budget increase for her student loan to pay rent, adding to her total student loan load. A laid-off worker in the concert industry said they used a 401(k) loan. Some people interviewed said they had already dipped into their savings.

Lamonte Goode, a 44-year-old dancer, says he may tap his savings to begin paying the roughly $10,000 in back rent he owes. With COVID-19 restrictions halting TV shows and theater performances, Goode said he hadn’t found steady work since March and was looking for a job outside his field to pay bills. Unemployment hasn’t been enough to cover expenses, including the $1,800-a-month rent on his one-bedroom in West Hollywood, he said.

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Asked if he thought he would be able to repay the debt, Goode said he didn’t know and that he was trying hard to come up with the money. He also raised the question: Should the burden fall on him? “I am not the reason COVID is happening. Yet I still have to pay the debt for something I am not in control over.”

“The fact that someone lost their job and couldn’t keep up on rent is a very unique and extreme circumstance and does not and should not have a bearing on their creditworthiness for this next almost-decade,” said Nisha Kashyap, a staff attorney at the pro bono law firm Public Counsel, citing how long bad debts typically stay on a credit report.

“This is a global pandemic that came out of nowhere.”

Sid Lakireddy of the California Rental Housing Assn., which represents landlords in the state, says he believes fears of mass evictions and long-term harm to credit are overblown. Most landlords would rather work with their tenants on repayment plans than fight in court over an eviction or debt, he said, particularly since vacancies have risen in many cities. “The last thing we want is to put a good tenant out on the street.”

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The federal government and state and local officials say they are trying to help both tenants and small landlords, who are also struggling.

Then-President Trump signed a bipartisan stimulus bill in December that approved $25 billion in rent and utility relief funds nationwide. President Biden extended the national eviction moratorium for people with pandemic hardships until the end of March, though critics say that ban is weak.

The new California law is stronger and contains provisions to reduce the likelihood that pandemic debt will have wide ripple effects.

Under the law, landlords cannot sell or assign any rent debt accrued during the pandemic until July 2021.

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Russ Heimerich, a spokesman for the state’s Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, said the law goes even further for low-income tenants with pandemic hardships: It forever bars landlords from selling rent debt accrued through June.

That would prevent a primary way credit scores could take a hit, since it’s usually debt collectors rather than landlords who report to the credit bureaus, said Nelson, the attorney. Heimerich said the law also included several incentives for landlords to participate in the rent relief program for low-income tenants, and that making it mandatory would have been legally impractical.

Still, critics of the law say it relies too much on tenants knowing their rights and having the means to exercise them, putting the least-resourced in a weak position to benefit.

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Some tenants have already been evicted, said Stephano Medina, an attorney with the Eviction Defense Network, during a recent news conference held online by tenant advocates on their concerns about the law. Moratoriums don’t stop landlords from filing cases, and tenants sometimes don’t realize they need to show up in court to defend themselves, Medina said.

One part of the law that is likely to be particularly hard to enforce is a clause that prohibits landlords from denying housing based on rent debt accrued during the pandemic, said Leah Simon-Weisberg, legal director with Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, an organizing group that advocates for low-income households. Prospective landlords often screen tenant candidates through their former landlords, allowing them to learn of debts they aren’t supposed to base decisions on.

It’s also unclear how many landlords will participate in the state’s rent relief program, which will pay landlords 80% of what they are owed if they forgive the remaining 20%. Lakireddy said that’s a good deal, and many landlords are likely to accept it.

California’s rent-control laws may complicate the landlord’s decision, said Tina Rosales, a lobbyist with the Western Center on Law and Poverty. Under state law, landlords can charge as much as they can get for a rent-controlled unit once it becomes vacant. So it could be more lucrative to pursue an eventual eviction and not forgive debts if a tenant is paying significantly below market rates.

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“It has the potential for landlords to pick and choose which tenants they will participate in the program with,” Rosales said, potentially affecting the most vulnerable.

Another outstanding question is how far California’s rental relief funds will go, given the range of estimates of how much rent people owe. Some tenants, for example, might miss out on debt forgiveness — not because their landlord won’t participate but because the pool of money runs out.

For many who can’t work from home, the cost of staying housed becomes a choice between incurring debt or accepting the risk of contracting COVID-19 on the job.

One family’s hard choices

The Buenos, a family of five in Los Angeles’ Koreatown neighborhood, were like many of the country’s hardworking households. Fernando prepped fish for a sushi chain. His wife, Maribel, cooked at a downtown L.A. brunch spot.

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Maria, 23, the eldest of three sisters, worked at a big-box retailer and helped out with the family bills. She set a goal to own her own home by 30.

The Buenos are now scattered. A promotion sent Maria’s father to New Jersey before the pandemic, but his hours were soon cut as lockdowns were put in place. Her mother lost her job and moved across the country with her youngest daughter to join Fernando.

At home in Koreatown, the bills fell on Maria, who stayed behind with her 18-year-old sister, Pamela. Their parents send money, but even coupled with Maria’s $20-an-hour wage, it’s not enough to cover the $2,500 in monthly rent. She exhausted her $3,000 in savings and is still $15,000 behind on rent.

Maria worries about how she’ll protect her younger sister and keep both of them from becoming homeless.

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James Engel, a principal with the company that manages Bueno’s building, said the company planned to work with residents on multiyear repayment plans when rent protections expire, rather than pursue evictions and collections. He wouldn’t comment on individual tenants’ cases.

Maria says she doesn’t want to risk having the debt over her head and is looking for a second job during the pandemic.

The possibility of getting sick is a sacrifice she’s willing to make.

Source: latimes.com

Turn Your Quarantine Clutter Into Money

I placed more online orders than I can count in 2020. And I justified all of them.

My front porch was filled with boxes containing all sorts of things: furniture (I needed to redecorate), paper towels (I needed to stock up), crafts (I needed activities), board games (more activities) and a treadmill (I needed exercise).

But if I’m being honest, I bought a little too much.

Take a look around your place. If your quarantine habits were even a tiny bit like mine, you could turn that clutter into money. Here’s how.

Too much stuff? Sell it

Perhaps you purchased more than you ended up using, like board games or video games. Or maybe you bought new products to replace old items and were left with a drawer of discarded technology.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf, co-host of the “Today’s Homeowner” TV show and host of the “Checking In With Chelsea” web series, says she made over $1,000 selling things online during the last six months of 2020 through Facebook Marketplace, an outlet for buying and selling locally.

You can, too. Look online for this or another marketplace that suits your needs. For example, Facebook Marketplace caters to local transactions, while other sites focus on product categories like tech or apparel. Read the directions to see how the site works and check for customer reviews or a Better Business Bureau accreditation before committing. Make an account, then get to work.

You can sell almost anything online — technology, furniture, clothing, video games and toys, to name a few.

Here are Wolf’s keys to making things sell:

  • Presentation. “You want the item you’re selling to be the focal point of your photo,” Wolf says. Clean it first, then take flattering photos in natural sunlight, preferably near a window. Get multiple angles.

  • Price. Consider what someone might pay for the item, then price it slightly lower to make it move. You can also check listings posted by other users to determine the going rate.

  • Particulars. Spell out everything in the description, including the brand and any imperfections. A more detailed listing means less back and forth with potential buyers. As the saying goes, “Time is money,” Wolf says.

Too much work? Consign

Depending on which site you use, you’ll have to write listings, package your items and send them either directly to the buyer or to the platform you used to make the sale. In some cases, you can deliver in person.

To save time and effort, take your stuff to a local consignment store instead. You’ll likely make less, but the store does the selling for you. Expect to pocket half of the selling price, Wolf says.

Other options? Give things away to family and friends. Donate to a local charity. And throw away items that have absolutely no use.

Too many temptations? Scale back

Once you’ve sold and donated what you can, fight the urge to impulse shop again. Keeping up your current habits could get you right back to where you started. One way to avoid that? Save first and buy later.

This approach is the exact opposite of putting something on a credit card and paying it off after the fact, says Pam Horack, a certified financial planner and the owner of Pathfinder Planning LLC, based in Lake Wylie, South Carolina.

Save money and wait to place an order until you can afford it in full. Horack says her family has a designated clothing account. When someone needs a new pair of shoes, the money comes from what they’ve set aside.

You can do the same with a general spending account. “If you don’t have money in that account, then you can’t buy it,” Horack says. “That needs to be your rule.”

There are also ways to stay busy without spending much, if any, money. Here are some of Horack’s ideas: Redecorate your house by moving around your furniture. Spend time outdoors. Finish up projects around the house. You’ll spend less and accumulate less stuff.

Too expensive? Buy used

But you can’t stop shopping altogether. For things you absolutely need, consider buying on the same websites you used to make extra money.

When you list products, you won’t sell them for as much as you originally paid for them. That means you can purchase things at a significant discount, too.

Consumers have been buying and selling used during the pandemic, according to Sara Beane, media relations specialist at technology marketplace Swappa. “Everybody is kind of strapped during this unprecedented time,” Beane says.

For example, the site saw a rush on laptops around back-to-school season.

Search used marketplaces by model and condition of the item. You’ll find many price points to fit your budget.

But before you hit the “buy” button, do some organizing, Wolf says.

“If you have so much stuff that you can’t see what you have, then you’re going to buy more than you need.”

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.

Source: nerdwallet.com

15 Simple Ideas to Make a House a Home – Redfin

Your house should make you feel welcomed as soon as you step through the door, but this feeling isn’t something that always happens on its own. Once the movers have left, and the chaos of moving has calmed down, it’s time to start focusing on putting down roots in your new space to help make your new house a home.

There are many ways to invoke the cozy, warm feeling that makes a house a home without a complete remodel or shopping spree. So, whether you just moved into your new home in Boston, MA, or need to personalize your studio in Albany, NY, here are 15 simple ideas you can use so your house can start feeling like a proper home.

Entryway

Entryway

1) Create an inviting entryway 

The front door and entryway can set the mood of your entire home. After all, it’s the first thing you see when you and your guests first step into your space. Make your front entrance more inviting by keeping it clear of leaves and debris and accessorize with a welcome mat and a few potted plants. Adding a bench or a clothes rack will also help keep your entryway neat and tidy, plus it makes a great first impression. Equally, painting the front door can give your house a fresh, new look in one afternoon. Feel free to choose a fun, contrasting color that aligns with your style.

2) Make your home more zen

Turning your house into a home starts with ensuring that you feel instantly at peace when you enter a room. But if you’re having difficulty feeling relaxed, there may be particular reasons why. If the sight of a messy, disorganized room is causing you stress, you might want to start decluttering and letting go of items that don’t bring you joy. Choosing random decor items to fill up empty spaces in your home can make a space feel cramped, and can add too many contrasts between your wall colors or furnishings. When choosing decor, artwork, or pictures, be sure to pick items that have special meaning to you. By identifying the areas in your home causing you stress, you can begin making your home a more zen space.

Brightly lit kitchen

Brightly lit kitchen

3) Improve your living space with home upgrades

Upgrading spaces in your home can go a long way in making you feel more settled. Bathrooms and kitchens are high-traffic areas in a home, so prioritizing home upgrades in these areas can ensure that you’re tackling the places that make the biggest impact. Installing new appliances can give your kitchen a facelift, but if you’re working with a smaller budget, select the most outdated or worn-looking one and replace it. Likewise, swapping out an old showerhead with one that has better water pressure can instantly elevate space and improve the quality of life in your home.

4) Use cozy area rugs to help make a house feel like home

An area rug can instantly warm up a space and make it more inviting. Area rugs can help ground furniture, and an artistically designed rug can also add more interest to a space. When selecting a rug, take the room’s size and arrangement into account. Ensure all of your furniture is on the area rug or at least touching a portion of the rug to give the space a cohesive look.

5) Dressing up empty walls with artwork

Blank walls can add an unfinished element to your house, preventing your house from feeling truly lived in. Displaying your favorite pieces of art can act as the finishing element to pull a space together and make a house a home. And the best part is that it’s a budget-friendly way to complete a room. When selecting your artwork, keep the room’s function, size, and decor style in mind. After that, you have the freedom to choose artwork that you love and will be happily displayed in your home.

For living rooms and areas where guests spend the most time, choose a large-scale piece as a focal point or incorporate multiple art pieces into a gallery wall. Pieces with soothing, cool-toned colors and abstract prints are great additions for areas for relaxation like a den or bedroom.

Dining area

Dining area

6) Bring nature inside with indoor plants

Indoor plants don’t just add a pop of greenery to a space, they can also breathe life into a dull room. Houseplants help us feel more relaxed and can even improve our home’s indoor air quality. They come in various shapes, colors, and sizes, so if you live in a shady studio in Portland, OR with only a few windows, or a home with lots of natural light in Seattle, Washington, you can still find ways to incorporate plants into your decor.  

For home offices or areas with low light in your home, stick to low-maintenance plants like lucky bamboo or succulents. These plants are compact enough to keep on a desk or side table and thrive in shaded areas. To add drama to larger rooms, such as living or dining rooms, money trees or fiddle leaf figs are great statement plant options. Plus, the right planter can add another design element to your home.

7) Keep the clutter to a minimum

Identifying the key areas in your space that you’ll keep tidy will make life in your home more pleasant. It’s easy to believe in the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality when decluttering, but actively keeping your living area clean will allow you to fully relax in your space without being constantly stressed by the sight of messy areas. Instead of stowing items that are no longer used in designated “junk drawers,” take the time to go through and pick out items that no longer have sentimental value, use, or have similar functions to items you already have. And if the thought of decluttering your home is too daunting, consider hiring a professional organizing service to help you get your space in order.

8) Add scented candles or diffusers

A house filled with inviting smells can instantly make a house feel like home. With various candles, diffusers, and scent plug-ins available on the market, there’s no shortage of ways to make your home smell good. Choose your favorite and fill your home with the aroma of sweet vanilla, sharp citrus, or fresh linens in minutes. For more natural smelling scents, you can opt for essential oils, such as lavender or jasmine, which comes with the benefits of being natural stress relievers.

Layer lighting

Layer lighting

9) Make a house a home by layering the lighting

Lighting plays a significant role in affecting a room’s mood and is an essential design element when making a house feel like a home. If your house feels dark and cramped, you can switch up your lighting by adding and layering light sources to make it feel more warm and welcoming. While brighter lights are needed to illuminate kitchens and workspaces, using fluorescent overhead lighting in living rooms or dens can make the space appear harsh. Instead, opt for ambient light sources that use mellower, warmer lighting. Wall sconces, table, or floor lamps are excellent ambient lighting sources that can cast a warm, cozy glow on any room. 

10) Frame your windows with curtains

Window curtains are great accent pieces in a room. Replacing them is an easy way to switch up the room’s look and add a lived-in look to any space in one easy step. Personalize your windows by adding new window dressings to instantly warm up your home and showcase your style. Not only does adding beautiful curtains or shades improve your home’s appearance, they can also decorate blank walls, separate a room into sections, or even create fun little reading nooks in children’s bedrooms.

11) Showcase family mementos or antiques

Make your house feel like home by incorporating sentimental pieces in your decor, such as family mementos or antiques, to personalize your space. As you plan the display locations for your keepsakes, group related items together to help create a cohesive look in your home design. Items such as wedding photos, important documents, or certificates can be grouped in a gallery wall, while trophies or souvenirs can be displayed on a shelf together.

When displaying sentimental photos, pick frames that can protect the paper from damage or fading from ultraviolet (UV) rays over time. If you’re planning on including antiques or other precious items as decor, consider purchasing shadow boxes or display cases for them. Cases will protect the objects from harm and prevent dust or grime from settling on the fragile objects.

Dining room

Dining room

12) Freshen up your home with a coat of paint

Painting your walls can give your space an instant facelift and can go a long way in refreshing a home. Plus, it’s a great way to customize your home and make it your own. If you’re not ready to undertake an entire painting project, you can pick smaller areas in your home, like a bedroom or powder room. You can even opt to paint a few accent walls throughout your home to warm up the space and give it pops of color.

Living room bookshelf

Living room bookshelf

13) Personalize your shelves with books

A stack of well-loved paperbacks or a decorative coffee table book is a great way to bring personal touches into your home. Books are an easy and budget-friendly way to embellish your decor and can be used as statement accessories to pull a space together. And, the sight of a filled bookshelf can instantly give a room a homey feel. If you have an extensive book collection, use a blank wall in your home to create a book wall by displaying them in a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf. You can also choose books with decorative covers or colorful spines to brighten up your decor.

Bedroom

Bedroom

14) Add warmth with comfy bedding

The right bedding can instantly make your room look decorated and homey if you can’t decorate the whole room right away. If your room has a bold paint color, using neutral-colored bedding can add texture while also creating depth and interest to your space. Alternatively, if your room has a neutral color palette, you can play around with different colors or patterns in your bedding.

When creating the ultimate comfy bedroom, one can’t forget the textiles to transform a bare bedroom. Adorning your bedroom with soft throws- chenille or faux fur are great options – and fluffy pillows can instantly add a cozy touch to any space, making your bedroom feel more welcoming.

15) Finally, make a house a home by setting up a hobby area

Whether your hobby is painting, reading, or even solving puzzles, make room for it. Dedicating a space in your home, like a nook or bonus room, for your hobbies will not only make it easier to do what you love, but it allows your personality and interests to shine throughout your home. Not to mention, having an area to yourself can allow you to concentrate on doing what you love all while making your house feel more like a home. 

Source: redfin.com

15 Simple Ideas to Make a House a Home

Your house should make you feel welcomed as soon as you step through the door, but this feeling isn’t something that always happens on its own. Once the movers have left, and the chaos of moving has calmed down, it’s time to start focusing on putting down roots in your new space to help make your new house a home.

There are many ways to invoke the cozy, warm feeling that makes a house a home without a complete remodel or shopping spree. So, whether you just moved into your new home in Boston, MA, or need to personalize your studio in Albany, NY, here are 15 simple ideas you can use so your house can start feeling like a proper home.

Entryway

Entryway

1) Create an inviting entryway 

The front door and entryway can set the mood of your entire home. After all, it’s the first thing you see when you and your guests first step into your space. Make your front entrance more inviting by keeping it clear of leaves and debris and accessorize with a welcome mat and a few potted plants. Adding a bench or a clothes rack will also help keep your entryway neat and tidy, plus it makes a great first impression. Equally, painting the front door can give your house a fresh, new look in one afternoon. Feel free to choose a fun, contrasting color that aligns with your style.

2) Make your home more zen

Turning your house into a home starts with ensuring that you feel instantly at peace when you enter a room. But if you’re having difficulty feeling relaxed, there may be particular reasons why. If the sight of a messy, disorganized room is causing you stress, you might want to start decluttering and letting go of items that don’t bring you joy. Choosing random decor items to fill up empty spaces in your home can make a space feel cramped, and can add too many contrasts between your wall colors or furnishings. When choosing decor, artwork, or pictures, be sure to pick items that have special meaning to you. By identifying the areas in your home causing you stress, you can begin making your home a more zen space.

Brightly lit kitchen

Brightly lit kitchen

3) Improve your living space with home upgrades

Upgrading spaces in your home can go a long way in making you feel more settled. Bathrooms and kitchens are high-traffic areas in a home, so prioritizing home upgrades in these areas can ensure that you’re tackling the places that make the biggest impact. Installing new appliances can give your kitchen a facelift, but if you’re working with a smaller budget, select the most outdated or worn-looking one and replace it. Likewise, swapping out an old showerhead with one that has better water pressure can instantly elevate space and improve the quality of life in your home.

4) Use cozy area rugs to help make a house feel like home

An area rug can instantly warm up a space and make it more inviting. Area rugs can help ground furniture, and an artistically designed rug can also add more interest to a space. When selecting a rug, take the room’s size and arrangement into account. Ensure all of your furniture is on the area rug or at least touching a portion of the rug to give the space a cohesive look.

5) Dressing up empty walls with artwork

Blank walls can add an unfinished element to your house, preventing your house from feeling truly lived in. Displaying your favorite pieces of art can act as the finishing element to pull a space together and make a house a home. And the best part is that it’s a budget-friendly way to complete a room. When selecting your artwork, keep the room’s function, size, and decor style in mind. After that, you have the freedom to choose artwork that you love and will be happily displayed in your home.

For living rooms and areas where guests spend the most time, choose a large-scale piece as a focal point or incorporate multiple art pieces into a gallery wall. Pieces with soothing, cool-toned colors and abstract prints are great additions for areas for relaxation like a den or bedroom.

Dining area

Dining area

6) Bring nature inside with indoor plants

Indoor plants don’t just add a pop of greenery to a space, they can also breathe life into a dull room. Houseplants help us feel more relaxed and can even improve our home’s indoor air quality. They come in various shapes, colors, and sizes, so if you live in a shady studio in Portland, OR with only a few windows, or a home with lots of natural light in Seattle, Washington, you can still find ways to incorporate plants into your decor.  

For home offices or areas with low light in your home, stick to low-maintenance plants like lucky bamboo or succulents. These plants are compact enough to keep on a desk or side table and thrive in shaded areas. To add drama to larger rooms, such as living or dining rooms, money trees or fiddle leaf figs are great statement plant options. Plus, the right planter can add another design element to your home.

7) Keep the clutter to a minimum

Identifying the key areas in your space that you’ll keep tidy will make life in your home more pleasant. It’s easy to believe in the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality when decluttering, but actively keeping your living area clean will allow you to fully relax in your space without being constantly stressed by the sight of messy areas. Instead of stowing items that are no longer used in designated “junk drawers,” take the time to go through and pick out items that no longer have sentimental value, use, or have similar functions to items you already have. And if the thought of decluttering your home is too daunting, consider hiring a professional organizing service to help you get your space in order.

8) Add scented candles or diffusers

A house filled with inviting smells can instantly make a house feel like home. With various candles, diffusers, and scent plug-ins available on the market, there’s no shortage of ways to make your home smell good. Choose your favorite and fill your home with the aroma of sweet vanilla, sharp citrus, or fresh linens in minutes. For more natural smelling scents, you can opt for essential oils, such as lavender or jasmine, which comes with the benefits of being natural stress relievers.

Layer lighting

Layer lighting

9) Make a house a home by layering the lighting

Lighting plays a significant role in affecting a room’s mood and is an essential design element when making a house feel like a home. If your house feels dark and cramped, you can switch up your lighting by adding and layering light sources to make it feel more warm and welcoming. While brighter lights are needed to illuminate kitchens and workspaces, using fluorescent overhead lighting in living rooms or dens can make the space appear harsh. Instead, opt for ambient light sources that use mellower, warmer lighting. Wall sconces, table, or floor lamps are excellent ambient lighting sources that can cast a warm, cozy glow on any room. 

10) Frame your windows with curtains

Window curtains are great accent pieces in a room. Replacing them is an easy way to switch up the room’s look and add a lived-in look to any space in one easy step. Personalize your windows by adding new window dressings to instantly warm up your home and showcase your style. Not only does adding beautiful curtains or shades improve your home’s appearance, they can also decorate blank walls, separate a room into sections, or even create fun little reading nooks in children’s bedrooms.

11) Showcase family mementos or antiques

Make your house feel like home by incorporating sentimental pieces in your decor, such as family mementos or antiques, to personalize your space. As you plan the display locations for your keepsakes, group related items together to help create a cohesive look in your home design. Items such as wedding photos, important documents, or certificates can be grouped in a gallery wall, while trophies or souvenirs can be displayed on a shelf together.

When displaying sentimental photos, pick frames that can protect the paper from damage or fading from ultraviolet (UV) rays over time. If you’re planning on including antiques or other precious items as decor, consider purchasing shadow boxes or display cases for them. Cases will protect the objects from harm and prevent dust or grime from settling on the fragile objects.

Dining room

Dining room

12) Freshen up your home with a coat of paint

Painting your walls can give your space an instant facelift and can go a long way in refreshing a home. Plus, it’s a great way to customize your home and make it your own. If you’re not ready to undertake an entire painting project, you can pick smaller areas in your home, like a bedroom or powder room. You can even opt to paint a few accent walls throughout your home to warm up the space and give it pops of color.

Living room bookshelf

Living room bookshelf

13) Personalize your shelves with books

A stack of well-loved paperbacks or a decorative coffee table book is a great way to bring personal touches into your home. Books are an easy and budget-friendly way to embellish your decor and can be used as statement accessories to pull a space together. And, the sight of a filled bookshelf can instantly give a room a homey feel. If you have an extensive book collection, use a blank wall in your home to create a book wall by displaying them in a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf. You can also choose books with decorative covers or colorful spines to brighten up your decor.

Bedroom

Bedroom

14) Add warmth with comfy bedding

The right bedding can instantly make your room look decorated and homey if you can’t decorate the whole room right away. If your room has a bold paint color, using neutral-colored bedding can add texture while also creating depth and interest to your space. Alternatively, if your room has a neutral color palette, you can play around with different colors or patterns in your bedding.

When creating the ultimate comfy bedroom, one can’t forget the textiles to transform a bare bedroom. Adorning your bedroom with soft throws- chenille or faux fur are great options – and fluffy pillows can instantly add a cozy touch to any space, making your bedroom feel more welcoming.

15) Finally, make a house a home by setting up a hobby area

Whether your hobby is painting, reading, or even solving puzzles, make room for it. Dedicating a space in your home, like a nook or bonus room, for your hobbies will not only make it easier to do what you love, but it allows your personality and interests to shine throughout your home. Not to mention, having an area to yourself can allow you to concentrate on doing what you love all while making your house feel more like a home. 

Source: redfin.com