Do you ever feel that a second opinion on what to dump would seriously help your decluttering efforts? Well, we’ve got words of wisdom from the Clutter Police to guide your toss-it-out efforts.
Read on for the gospel on what to get rid of, and when!
Clothes and shoes you haven’t touched in two years Opinion is divided whether the threshold here should be one year or 18 months. But the fact is that some winters aren’t as cold as others, or certain springs as wet, so a true cycle to test whether or not you’re done with an item is two years. After that time, your excuses have run out: you have to admit that, acts of nature and fashion aside, it’s time to throw away the albatross in question. Now find a good consignment shop to make some money on that past fashion, or donate what you just can’t sell.
Paper, paper and more of it If there’s a single type of item gumming up our homes and lives, it’s paper. Why not get rid of old magazines that you’ve been swearing you’ll cut articles from for years, and shred financial records and receipts past their required “keep date”? Go through your kids’ art work and select just a few favorites you can’t part with – then get rid of the rest to make room for their next great creations.
Books you will never read This one can be tricky for those of us who hate, on principle, to part with a book we were once sure would be great. Start by purging college novels and texts you haven’t looked at since your school years. Now remove any book you bought in the last three years that you pass over every time you go to reach for your next read. Be brave! And keep in mind that many book stores carry used inventory and will take books for store credit, if not cash.
Old vitamins, medicines and makeup We all have shelf and drawer clutter that we just stop seeing after a while. Go through old items you store away like medicine bottles and makeup, checking for expiration dates. For makeup, two years is a reasonable throw-away date for most items. (Mascara has the shortest lifespan, at three months.)
Project paraphernalia Whether you’ve been an aspiring beader or have a dozen “fix-it” items in your closet, it may be time to say goodbye to good intentions that just aren’t going to bear creative fruit. If you have a craft that you’ve neglected for several years or just never picked up, pass on the supplies to someone in your family who will really use them, or donate it all to a senior facility to people who will appreciate the gift.
These areas are just a few that will benefit from your courageous clutter management efforts. Go forth into your apartment, find the areas that are clogging up, and get rid of what’s not being used. Before long, you’ll channel the Clutter Police as you confidently throw away whatever’s been weighing you down!
Micro weddings have become ultrachic in the time of coronavirus. These smaller weddings allow you and your future spouse to exchange your vows, enter into a legal relationship and get access to each other’s health insurance all while living through these socially-distanced times.
What Are Micro Weddings?
A micro wedding is generally a wedding with less than 50 guests. In the before times, micro weddings were often a cost-cutting measure as the most effective way to cut your budget is to cut your guest list.
When you cut your guest list, you’re cutting down on the amount of space you’ll need at the venue. Simultaneously, you’re cutting down on the costs of food, alcohol and favors.
During the time of Coronavirus, micro weddings are helpful to your health as well as your wallet. You may even want or be required to cut your guest list further than the normal standard of 50 guests.
Planning a Micro Wedding
When you’re planning a micro wedding the first thing you’ll want to start with is your guest list. You may only want your closest friends and family there for your big day. Or, in this time of pandemic, you may only want it to be the two of you and the officiant. In some states, you can even eliminate the officiant via a self-uniting marriage.
Whether you have a handful of guests or just the couple at your micro wedding, venues and vendors across the wedding industry have many ways to help you share your big day while saving money.
Get Creative with the Venue
Because you have a smaller guest list, your venue doesn’t need to be nearly as large. Your favorite art gallery might be renting out space, or you might be able to book a private room at your favorite restaurant. If a venue had a minimum guest count prior to 2020, those minimums have likely been reduced or eliminated altogether.
If you are absolutely set on having a larger wedding despite the pandemic, you could book your local park or another outdoor venue to make the event safer. Be sure to remind your guests that they still need to wear masks and observe the 6-foot rule even though the event will be taking place outside.
You may have a bit of pent up wanderlust, dreaming of a destination wedding. Destination weddings are usually micro weddings. Because you or your guests will have to pay for extra expenses like hotel rooms and travel costs, the number of people who can attend usually becomes inherently smaller.
There are certainly some Caribbean destinations that are allowing Americans to visit during the pandemic, and some of the resorts are offering great deals. But despite more and more Americans getting vaccinated, many people are still avoiding air travel. Be prepared for some guests to decline your invitation if air travel is involved.
Instead of air travel, you can either commit to a long road trip through locales where the infection rate is low, or pick a venue within convenient driving distance. Traveling in your car with other members of your bubble is a far safer way to get from point A to point B.
Remember that even if you’re fully vaccinated, there is still potential for you to spread the virus to your guests, your hosts and anyone else you may come into contact with. The more the virus spreads, the more likely it is to harm the unvaccinated, even if those unvaccinated people aren’t in your immediate circle.
Allowing the virus to spread like this also provides it with increased opportunities to mutate into vaccine-resistant variants, which could force us all into lockdown again until boosters for new strains are available.
Invest in Quality Videography
Maybe you never dreamt of having a micro wedding. You might even be upset that you can’t have a huge party with your family and friends.
One way to help soften the blow of having a micro wedding during the pandemic is to share your big day with quality videography. You can either livestream your ceremony or hire a videographer to document the celebration.
Because business has been slower and videography has new importance during the pandemic, some venues and videographers are offering discounts on these services.
The mere fact that you’re feeding less people at your micro wedding means you can spend less on your wedding cake and any catering your micro wedding may require.
During the pandemic, some bakeries, restaurants and caterers are offering curbside tastings to ensure everyone’s safety.
Drive-By Wedding Visits
Maybe in normal times, your sister would have been your matron of honor, but she has a disabled child who is high-risk. Even though you are both vaccinated, her child is not. She can’t risk exposing herself to even asymptomatic cases of the virus as she could unknowingly pass them on to her child.
You still want her to be a part of your big day. If she lives within driving distance, you could schedule a drive-by visit prior to the micro wedding ceremony. Either she and hers could drive by your place, where you’d be on display in your gown or tux, or you could drive by her place, stepping just outside the car to show her how good you look while keeping a masked distance of well over six feet.
It’s not the same. It’s still incredibly sad that she can’t be there, and you might even want to consider postponing your wedding until she can attend. But if the show must go on, these drive-by visits can still provide you both with a special memory from your special day.
Include Remote Readings
If you’re having a Zoom micro wedding, even those who cannot attend can participate in your ceremony. In the case of your sister, she may perform a reading or conduct a prayer through the screen. You can customize your ceremony any way you see fit, using your creativity and the power of the internet to make your micro wedding all that much bigger.
Micro Wedding Ideas for a Smaller Guest List
When planning a micro wedding, you may find that you have a bit of a budget surplus because of these cut costs. Both the budget surplus and the fact that you’ll have far fewer guests at your wedding allow you to get creative and a little more personal with the finer details of micro wedding planning.
The following are a few favor ideas you might consider for your micro wedding, depending on your budget and your wedding’s theme. The dollar signs are meant to show you the relative expense but the exact dollar amount of each is based on your own budget.
Masks. ($-$$) Masks can be custom-printed with names and wedding date, nodding to the extraordinary times we’re all living in while giving your guests a functional gift they’ll be able to use in their day-to-day lives. You may even want to make these favors available to guests upon arrival rather than at the end of the celebration. That way if anyone forgot to bring their mask, they’ll literally be covered.
Hand sanitizer. ($) You can find plenty of beautiful yet affordable options for custom-printed hand sanitizer right now. Instead of the “Germ-X” label, your label will include your names, the wedding date and perhaps some adorable quote about love. This is another good favor to make available to your guests upon arrival.
Fauci-approved smooches. ($) Want to DIY your micro wedding favors? One cute idea is to get a glass jar, fill it with Hershey Kisses, and affix a label that reads “Social Distance Kisses.”
Flip flops. ($-$$) If you plan on driving to the beach for your destination wedding, flip flops can make a great wedding favor. If guests forget about the sand and wear fancy shoes to your celebration, they’ll appreciate the option to switch to beach-friendly attire upon arrival. Because your guest count is small, you can ask each guest for their shoe size beforehand so everyone is accurately accounted for. You can also go the extra mile and order custom flip flops with your names and wedding date printed on them.
Custom luggage tags. ($$$) This option is a little more expensive, but if you find yourself with extra padding in your wedding budget you may decide they’re worth it. Luggage tags can serve as a token of hope that life will go back to normal soon and we won’t have to stress as heavily should we have to get on a plane and traipse through the airport.
Similarly, because micro weddings have so few people in attendance, you can use creative ideas for a non-traditional guest book. Your guest book can then be integrated in your day-to-day married life.
Here are some ideas that can be customized to any micro wedding budget:
Picture frame. ($-$$$) When you get your wedding pictures back from the photographer, there’s likely to be one photo that just blows you away. Before the wedding, purchase a frame where you can display that much-anticipated picture. Buy a frame with a removable mat. Then, you can have your guests sign the mat in lieu of a guestbook on your wedding day. Their well-wishes can be displayed in your home alongside your favorite wedding photo.
Ornaments. ($-$$$) Have you ever known someone who has a tradition of picking up a Christmas ornament on every vacation? Their tree then reminds them of all the journeys they’ve enjoyed. You can do a similar thing for your wedding day — especially if you have a small guest list. Instead of a guestbook, provide ornaments and paint pens coordinated with your wedding colors. Each guest will sign one. Every year, you can display your wedding-day memories on your tree, remembering those who were there with you.
Tiles or stepping stones. ($-$$$) Are you and your soon-to-be spouse remodeling? Or doing some landscaping work? If so, you can integrate your wedding day into your design plans. For instance, if you’re doing interior repairs and plan to lay tile, you can put out some tiles at your micro wedding in lieu of a guest book. Each guest would then sign one, and you could integrate your guest book into your home. If you’re doing outside work, you could have each guest sign a wet stepping stone, even adding their handprint if they want to. You can then integrate these stepping stones into your garden.
Things are a lot more hopeful right now with somewhat improved vaccine distribution, but there are still so many unknowns. As you plan your micro wedding during uncertain times, you might want to familiarize yourself with some Corona-era additions to the wedding stationary world:
Change-the-date announcements. Change-the-date cards are now incredibly common for wedding postponements. Just like wedding invitations, these cards range from cute and witty all the way to incredibly formal. You can look for a template that matches the tone of your wedding day.
Virtual wedding invitations. Maybe you’re doing your part by giving the virus as few opportunities to mutate as possible. That’s why you’re doing a Zoom micro wedding with just the two of you plus your officiant. Paper invitations to your wedding are still a beautiful touch, but the most convenient way to invite your guests to livestream the event is through a virtual invitation. With virtual invitations, your guests will have access to a clickable link where they can participate in your ceremony live.
Elopement announcements. Whether you elope or simply choose not to announce to anyone but your micro wedding guests that you’re getting married, after-the-fact wedding announcements are a good way to include family and friends. Prior to the pandemic, these were commonly used for elopements, so you can find plenty of templates online even if they predate 2020. But you can also find pandemic-specific announcements whether you eloped or did, indeed, plan and have a few guests. Ideally, this announcement will contain a link to a wedding website where friends and family can view either pictures or video of your celebration after the fact.
It can be hard to break it to family or friends that they are either not invited or are uninvited to your wedding. But you are not the only one going through this situation. The silver lining is that because so many couples have faced the same circumstances, there are plenty of templates online and professionals who have worded the same sentiment for numerous clients. You don’t have to stress about the wording on your own.
Brynne Conroy is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. She blogs at Femme Frugality.
Data, facts, and figures may convince people you have the right answer. But sometimes the real challenge is creating a connection that inspires someone to collaborate with or support you. Telling a great story at the right moment may be exactly the tool you need. Learn how to choose your moment and craft that winning story.
May 3, 2021
Airbnb that I’ve always loved. When they first launched their home-renting service in 2008, they struggled to attract customers. In 2013, the co-founders decided what they needed was a story. They wanted to do more than win minds with logic, facts, and figures; they also wanted to win hearts. They needed prospective renters and property owners to feel something that would compel them to engage with the service.
Airbnb wanted to do more than win minds with logic, facts, and figures; they also wanted to win hearts.
The company shifted its focus from highlighting facts—like the practicality of renting rooms or homes instead of hotels—to telling stories about the power of belonging.
“Belong anywhere” became the official tagline of Airbnb and led to the creation of their new logo and brand story. Their focus now was on helping people to feel at home wherever they were. Customers began sharing their own stories of belonging. Suddenly, business was booming.
Telling great stories—investing in winning hearts as well as minds—isn’t just for brands. As this Inc. article claims, storytelling is one of the most critical business skills we all need today:
Stories help us understand the world, find our place in it, and even convince others to buy into our ideas and products. … Your stories make you relatable. They show people why something is important rather than telling them.
The two questions we all need to answer are:
How do you choose the right moment for a story?
How do you craft and deliver that story for impact?
When do you tell a story?
As this Harvard Business Review piece explains:
The art of persuading by winning hearts is about connecting people emotionally to your idea or position.
Sometimes we do want to lead with rational logic and facts. Need to make a data-driven decision on which marketing campaign delivered the best results? Hard data is your friend. But in other moments when your objective is different, a story—a way to connect with someone’s emotions—may be just the thing.
Here, HBR continues, are some of the moments best suited to heart versus mind-winning:
Introducing a new idea and trying to pique interest
Gaining support for a decision that’s already been made
Raising the bar on performance or commitment
Leading a team that is struggling with discord or conflict
Aligning with creative colleagues, like those in design or marketing
The common thread pulling through these examples is the need for support, allyship, or buy-in. When you need someone to want to do the thing, that’s when a story comes in handy.
When you need someone to want to do the thing, that’s when a story comes in handy.
So I’d like you to take a look at your calendar. What’s upcoming for you? Do you have a pitch meeting with a client? Are you grabbing virtual coffee with a mentor? Will you need support or collaboration from a colleague in a different department?
Have your facts ready. But find a spot for telling a great story. And then follow these steps to craft one.
How do you tell a story?
1. Be a story collector
Telling great stories begins with having great stories on hand.
When I’m talking to a new client, I have to prove myself. They want to see my track record of success, and I have the stats and metrics to show it. But I also need them to want to work with me. I’m not a vendor, I’m a partner, and I need to build trust and connection.
So in early meetings, I lean into my arsenal of stories, mostly about my kids. I keep a collection of those on hand for a few reasons.
First, kids are relatable. Many of my clients have their own. If not, they have nieces, nephews, cousins, and siblings, which helps my stories resonate.
Second, kid stories let me be authentic. I love my kids, and that shows through in my stories, which makes me seem more real.
Third, kid stories are a safe way for me to be vulnerable; to show moments in which I’ve screwed up and can laugh at myself.
Being able to laugh at myself is one thing, but I don’t want to try to impress a client by talking about a professional failure. That’s being a little too vulnerable. Instead, I’ll highlight a mistake that taught me a valuable lesson that ultimately made me better at what I do.
So now it’s your turn. Where will you start to dig for stories that show a softer side of you? Maybe it’s sports, or travel, or cars. Just pick a lane and start building your collection.
2. Establish a story structure
Once you have your source content, it’s time to start crafting the story.
The stories you tell will help others connect with you and want to be part of your success.
While there’s no one right way to tell a story, this Forbes piece offers a simple outline of the key elements to focus on:
Clear moral or purpose. What’s the reason you’re telling this story, to this audience, at this time?
Personal connection. Does the story involve you, or someone you feel connected to?
Detailed characters and imagery. Does the story have enough visual description that we can see what you’re seeing?
Conflict, vulnerability, or achievement. Can we see what you’re learning or how you’re growing?
Play around with these elements, and then try to craft a narrative that brings them all to life. The stories you tell will help others connect with you and want to be part of your success.
3. Practice your story
A skilled storyteller makes it look incredibly easy and natural. But have you ever been caught in someone’s story during this moment?
“So, it was last Wednesday. No, actually, I think it was Thursday. No, wait! It was Wednesday because I remember it was raining. But hold on—first I have to tell you what happened on Monday or this won’t make sense.”
Listening to disjointed stories like these can be painful. Does it matter whether it was Wednesday or Thursday? Nope. Are we going to be able to make sense of—and, more importantly, connect with—a story where the teller has to repeatedly backtrack to fill in gaps? Probably not.
You want to practice and refine your stories so that you subject your listeners only to the details that matter and that move the narrative forward.
You want to practice and refine your stories so that you subject your listeners only to the details that matter and that move the narrative forward. Scrub the rest.
Tell your stories to people you trust and watch their reactions. Where do they laugh or gasp or nod? Which moments tend to make their eyes glaze over?
As Ira Glass, a master storyteller and host of the This American Life podcast, once famously said:
Good storytelling includes, among other things, having the courage to cut the crap. Not enough gets said about the importance of abandoning crap.
Pay attention and refine your technique as you go.
4. Connect your story to a purpose
A well-crafted and delivered story can be charming. Good stories create connection and inspire support. But all-charm-and-no-purpose will leave your audience confused and frustrated.
So once your story has reached its conclusion, be sure your point is abundantly clear so you don’t leave your audience thinking “So what?”
Your story’s conclusion has to deliver an insight that links to the moment.
When I tell a story about one of my daughters there is always some levity, something the audience can relate to. But ultimately, its conclusion has to deliver an insight that links to the moment.
I tell one story about the headache-inducing outfits my older daughter used to wear to preschool every day. I describe the cornucopia of neons and zippers and feathers, and I see people visualizing the hilarious horror right along with me.
It always wins a laugh. But then I get to the point: It’s important, in business and in life, to find safe spaces in which to test and experiment and learn by trying. I want clients to know this is part of my mindset, that I encourage experimentation in safe spaces, and facilitate learning as we go. The story, when I make that connection clear, helps position me as a partner who also knows how to laugh.
So now it’s your turn. Go try this out, and when you see that first spark of connection, tell me the story of how it went.
About the Author
Rachel Cooke is a leadership and workplace expert who holds her M.A. in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. Founder of Lead Above Noise, she has been named a top 100 Leadership Speaker by Inc. Magazine and has been featured in Fast Company, The Huffington Post, and many more.
Teacher Appreciation Week, which is the first week of May, is kind of like National Ice Cream Month in July. We should show our gratitude for teachers — and love of ice cream — all year round, not just at a designated time on the calendar.
In the year of virtual classrooms and so many other challenges it’s definitely time for teacher appreciation gifts this week or on the last day of school.
Teacher gifts are usually just small tokens to represent big thanks. Giving a thoughtful gift, however, enhances their value. The Penny Hoarder asked several educators to help create a list of teacher-approved gift ideas.
“The best are the notes from the kids. Honestly, those are the things that you save in your desk drawer,” said Kate Brown who teaches middle school English in Charlotte, N.C.
If you really want to thrill a teacher, suggest your child and several other students write a thank you speech or toast. This was one of the favorite gifts ever for Kathleen Tobin, who teaches high school journalism and multimedia in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“All the seniors got together and wrote a speech thanking me and saying what they had learned for me,” she said. “The seniors each took a part and came up to the microphone and they gave me flowers.”
A thoughtful note or words were the most common response when teachers were asked to name their favorite teacher gift. What they universally don’t love getting: a coffee mug.
Consider these gift ideas for a favorite teacher to go along with a nice note.
20 Teacher Gifts To Buy or Make for Under $10
1. Gift Card for Coffee or Cheap Eats.
A $10 gift card goes a long way at Starbucks, Chic-fil-A or McDonald’s. (A gift card for $10 to a pricey shop or restaurant isn’t a great gift if teachers have to spend more of their own money to use it.)
2. Gift Card for Rare Indulgences.
A $10 gift card won’t buy a week’s worth of groceries at Whole Foods or a local gourmet market (not even close). But it will buy a decadent dessert, pricey body wash or other splurge your teacher might not otherwise treat herself to. A gift certificate to a local bakery is a great option, as well.
“That’s all I ever want and the kids know it,” Tobin said. At the end of that speech in fact, her students threw four bags of Hershey Kisses and miniature Dove bars to her.
4. Baking Kit.
Buy a new set of measuring spoons and a measuring cup from a dollar store. Add a bottle of vanilla extract and pack them together in a pretty gift bag. Include a copy of your favorite cookie recipe if you like. (Get bags and tissue paper for any teacher gift from a dollar store.)
5. Nailed it.
A fun teacher gift is a cute bag with two bottles of nail polish and an emery board. What a nice treat for summer feet.
6. Christmas Ornaments.
“I have so many ornaments on my tree that students have given me over the years. I really do think of each one when I decorate my tree,” said Penny Manning, who teaches fourth grade in Kinston, N.C. “Some are homemade and some maybe they got on a trip or something.” No worries that it’s May. Christmas is always just around the corner.
7. Custom Tote Bag.
The youngest students can make handprints with fabric paint, then Mom or Dad can write “Best Teacher Hands Down,” with a Sharpie. If the handprints are horizontal, they can be turned into fish by adding eyes, bubbles and waves of water. Older children can decorate the bag with a pattern or picture painted or drawn with Sharpies.
8. Custom Note Cards.
A custom set of stationery designed by a student makes for a unique gift. Fold eight pieces of plain, white printer paper in half and the young artist can draw a picture on the front of each. Add eight standard envelopes (the cards can be folded again to fit) and eight stamps.
9. Dog Treats.
These make great teacher gifts. Buy a box of treats or make your own, then put them in a plastic bag and tie a ribbon around it.
10. Human Treats.
Homemade cookies, cakes and pies are always yummy. You can think beyond sweets and make a quiche, soup, spaghetti sauce, pineapple salsa or whatever is your specialty.
11. Emergency Kit.
“One time a student made me the cutest emergency kit,” said Robin Clemmons, who was a preschool teacher in St. Petersburg, Fla. “It was a gift bag with Advil, a Tide to Go stick, chocolate, soda and chips. That was one of the most unique teacher gifts.”
12. A plant.
A little bit of green brightens any at-school or virtual classroom. You can buy a succulent, spider plant, one-pint Santiago Palm or flowering bulbs for $5 to $10.
13. Reusable Cutlery.
“One student gave me reusable travel silverware in this little container. It was a thoughtful gift,” said Clemmons. “Teachers bring their lunch too.” Keep scrolling past the pricey sets on Amazon.com and there are several kits for under $10.
14. School Supplies.
Many teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies such as art materials and teaching aids. Several educators we interviewed said a gift certificate to a school supply store is a perfect gift.
15. Combine Forces.
If two or three families plan something together they can go in on a group gift, such as a gift certificate for a nice dinner out.
16. Tea time.
A box of tea bags, from the grocery store or a local shop is nice. Add a little pot of honey and a pack of colorful cocktail napkins from a discount store.
Many cities have a local soap store selling homemade soaps in a wide range of colors, scents and ingredients. Your kid’s teacher will love a colorful bar with the image of a sunshine, heart, fish or you-name-it embedded in the middle.
18. Memory plate.
Have your student (or you if their handwriting is still emerging) use colorful Sharpies to write experiences the class shared on a plastic dinner plate. Draw a little heart, flower, or circle between each word or phrase. Memories can include titles of books the teacher read aloud, the class pet’s name, a field trip destination, a play conducted, a rainy day game played indoors, a math exercise, or a song the class often sang.
19. Fortune Cookies.
Ask for a few extra fortune cookies when you pick up Chinese food as well as one of the iconic takeout boxes. Place the cookies in the box with a note about how “fortunate” you are to have such a great teacher. Students can decorate the box with a drawing, glitter or a magazine photo collage.
20. Trader Joe’s Candle.
“One year a student gave me a candle from Trader Joe’s. It was in this cute tin and smelled fabulous,” said Robin Tuverson, who teaches sixth grade in Los Angeles. “I had no idea they sell candles and now that’s the only place I buy them. They are just $4. I always think of that student when I get one.” The soy wax candles burn for 20 hours and come in flavors like watermelon mint, strawberry basil, and pineapple cilantro.
21. Class Memory Book
If your child’s school has a Facebook page or you have taken pictures at events throughout the year of the class (not just your little darling), you can get actual photos printed and compile them into an album with funny comments from young students. Ask other parents to solicit answers from their child to questions such as: What you think Mrs. Teacher dreams about at night? What is Mr. Teacher’s favorite food? What’s the most interesting thing you learned this year? Why do you think it’s important to go to school? And for a big laugh: How old is your teacher?
Katherine Snow Smith is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.
From its year-round sunshine to its annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival, there are tons of reasons to love living in Tampa. However, apartments in some neighborhoods don’t come cheap.
Fortunately, you don’t need to live in the Big Guava to enjoy everything it has to offer. There are lots of cities near Tampa that provide easy access to all the region’s amenities and attractions while maintaining a unique charm of their own.
So, before you commit to leasing an apartment in Tampa, you might want to consider these 10 alternative towns instead, all within 50 miles of downtown:
Distance from downtown Tampa: 9.6 miles
One-bedroom average rent: $1,075 (down 14.1 percent since last year)
Two-bedroom average rent: $1,101 (down 25.6 percent since last year)
For renters who want to enjoy the Tampa lifestyle and save some money in the process, Temple Terrace is the perfect option.
This affordable town is just a hop, skip and a jump from Tampa. In normal traffic, you can get from your front door to the Amalie Arena or the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in around 20 minutes.
Of course, residents don’t have to leave Temple Terrace to find things to do. This Hillsborough County city features tons of amenities, including the Claw (an 18-hole golf course) and Temple Crest Park.
Temple Terrace is also an ideal spot for college students in need of an off-campus apartment. The University of South Florida is just a few minutes away by car, bike or bus.
Find apartments for rent in Temple Terrace Buy a house in Temple Terrace
Photo source: City of Largo / Facebook
Distance from downtown Tampa: 22.9 miles
One-bedroom average rent: $1,222 (up 5.6 percent since last year)
Two-bedroom average rent: $1,409 (down 4.6 percent since last year)
Largo is the third-largest city in Pinellas County, which means endless amenities and attractions for the whole family. History buffs will enjoy the Pinellas County Heritage Village, naturists will appreciate John S. Taylor Park and everyone will have fun at the Highland Family Aquatic Center.
If you have kids (or are planning to start a family in the near future), you will also be excited to know that Largo is close to some excellent elementary schools. Curtis Fundamental Elementary School and Pasadena Fundamental Elementary School both receive 10/10 grades from Great Schools.
Should you choose to move to Largo, you will also be just a short drive away from some of the nation’s best beaches including Indian Rocks Beach and Belleair Beach.
Find apartments for rent in Largo Buy a house in Largo
Distance from downtown Tampa: 23.0 miles
One-bedroom average rent: $1,295 (up 1.4 percent since last year)
Two-bedroom average rent: $1,550 (up 4.9 percent since last year)
No list of cities near Tampa would be complete without mentioning Clearwater.
This coastal burg is one of the best places to live in the Tampa Bay area. Its picturesque beaches and trendy bars offer renters a uniquely fun and relaxed lifestyle.
This Pinellas County city is also an ideal spot for young professionals. Companies like Tech Data, BayCare Health System and the Suncoast Hospice Foundation have sizable footprints in the area and are always searching for new talent.
Clearwater is the most walkable city on this list. So, if you enjoy taking a stroll with your family in the evenings — it may just be the ideal place for you to rent your next apartment.
Find apartments for rent in Clearwater Buy a house in Clearwater
Distance from downtown Tampa: 24.0 miles
One-bedroom average rent: $1,235 (down 1.2 percent since last year)
Two-bedroom average rent: $1,466 (down 2.3 percent since last year)
Renters who want to move to Pinellas County, but would prefer somewhere a little quieter than Clearwater or Largo, are sure to love Palm Harbor. This town is almost entirely residential, save for a few charming golf courses.
The real beauty of this city is its location. A short drive can get you to a wide variety of stunning parks, beaches and recreation areas. And just 30 minutes in the car will get you to Tampa International Airport and Raymond James Stadium.
If you decide to move to this quaint burg, you can’t miss the Taste of Palm Harbor festival in October. This annual event offers you the chance to try a plethora of delicious foods and drinks made by dozens of local eateries.
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Photo source: City of Plant City / Facebook
Distance from downtown Tampa: 24.6 miles
One-bedroom average rent: $913 (up 6.1 percent since last year)
Two-bedroom average rent: $1,160 (up 9.5 percent since last year)
Plant City is just off Interstate 4, which makes it a breeze to get from this small town to the heart of downtown Tampa. For most residents, this drive should take no more than 30 to 40 minutes.
Convenient commuting isn’t the only reason to live in Plant City, though. This historic burg also offers a large number of breweries, bars and restaurants. It is even home to the Keel and Curley Winery.
However, without question, the Florida Strawberry Festival is the main attraction in Plant City. This annual event lasts 11 days and features scores of rides, art exhibits and dining options.
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Photo source: City of Tarpon Springs, FL City Hall / Facebook
Distance from downtown Tampa: 28.0 miles
One-bedroom average rent: $931 (up 2.6 percent since last year)
Two-bedroom average rent: $1,087 (up 3.5 percent since last year)
Tarpon Springs might be home to just 25,577 residents, but it boasts the highest percentage of Greek Americans of any city in the United States. As such, this picturesque town’s culture is quite similar to that of a small village in Greece.
Each year, Tarpon Springs hosts an Epiphany celebration in which kids go diving for a cross, and the local priest blesses the waters and the boats. The event attracts visitors from throughout the United States and abroad.
Of course, you don’t have to enjoy Greek culture to love living in Tarpon Springs. The city also features lots of parks, bars and recreation areas.
Find apartments for rent in Tarpon Springs Buy a house in Tarpon Springs
Distance from downtown Tampa: 35.5 miles
One-bedroom average rent: $1,138 (up 10.1 percent since last year)
Two-bedroom average rent: $1,328 (up 1.9 percent since last year)
Lakeland is the largest city in Polk County. It is best known for its abundance of quaint antique shops and early 20th-century architecture. These features give it a look and feel that is unlike that of any other city in Florida.
This unique locale is perfect for families. It offers tons of recreation areas as well as some of the best schools in the area. Lincoln Avenue Academy is particularly popular with local parents.
Because it is on Interstate 4, Lakeland residents also enjoy easy commuting in and out of Tampa. In normal traffic, the journey takes around 45 minutes.
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Photo source: City of Dade City, FL / Facebook
Distance from downtown Tampa: 38.4 miles
One-bedroom average rent: $1,147 (up 6.0 percent since last year)
Two-bedroom average rent: $1,308 (up 3.7 percent since last year)
Dade City is the county seat of Pasco County. By population, it is the smallest town on this list. As a result, it is also one of the quietest and most family-friendly.
Though Florida is generally quite flat, Dade City features a collection of rolling hills that offer residents some stunning views from their apartment balconies.
Like most cities near Tampa, Dade City offers an abundance of green space for renters to enjoy. Dade City Dog Park is especially popular with people who want to help their canine companions make new friends.
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Distance from downtown Tampa: 45.6 miles
One-bedroom average rent: $1,331 (up 8.7 percent since last year)
Two-bedroom average rent: $1,573 (up 10.5 percent since last year)
At just 14.18 square miles, Bradenton is the smallest city on this list. However, it packs a lot of amenities into its limited space. This Manatee County town offers residents a baseball stadium, a science and nature museum and a performing arts center.
There are lots of job opportunities in Bradenton, especially in the healthcare sector. Companies like HCA Healthcare, HealthMarkets and Universal Health Services have offices in the region and regularly hire new employees.
Should you decide to rent an apartment in Bradenton, you will also have beaches like Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island just a stone’s throw from your front door.
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Distance from downtown Tampa: 47 miles
One-bedroom average rent: $904 (up 1.0 percent since last year)
Two-bedroom average rent: $1,359 (up 45.0 percent since last year)
Spring Hill is undoubtedly one of the most affordable cities near Tampa. With one-bedroom units averaging $904 per month in this Hernando County town, you’ll have a tough time finding better value for money anywhere in Central Florida.
Its low cost of living isn’t the only thing that brings renters to Spring Hill, though. This charming city features a wildlife sanctuary, an adventure park and a country club. It is also just a short drive to the world-renowned Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.
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Make one of these cities near Tampa your next home
Don’t delay. Find your home in one of these cities near Tampa with Apartment Guide today.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments in April 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.
To put it simply: knowing how to take pictures of items to sell online has almost as much of an impact on your success as the actual object. It’s the presentation, the first way a shopper sees your product.
Before Christine Soojung Han of Vintage Sooj even shoots a photograph, she asks herself some philosophical questions. What is she trying to achieve with this photograph? What is she hoping to emulate or what kind of mood does she want to evoke? In essence, what story is she telling with the photograph.
Lighting was the first piece of advice that Chen offered. Finding the right place in your home is a matter of finding south-facing windows and, ideally, more than one window. You want to have lots of natural light. How the light comes through your window will change by season and time of day.
Pro Advice on How to Take Pictures of Items to Sell Online
Han found natural light to be too fickle. She started out with simply soft sunlight, but that was too dependent on the weather. So she bought soft boxes for light and studio lighting for about 0 and that upgraded her lighting set-up.
1. Decide What Style Photography You Want
Chen would post as many photos as possible if she could, but social media sites limit how many photos a seller can post. Chen’s adage is: take as many photos as possible. More photos offer more details and more chances for someone to fall in love with your item.
2. Find the Right Background. Be Consistent.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
You don’t have to have fancy equipment to start: smartphone cameras work fine.
When Han first started, she used props in some of her photos, like pampas grass or a stool. She found the props to be distracting, so now she models the clothes in most of her photos and adds accessories to the outfits. She doesn’t want to take attention away from the product itself.
But don’t worry, we’re about to let you in on some tips to make bank on. We consulted with the pros so you don’t have to do all of that legwork. Instead, let two eCommerce gurus guide you through the art of putting your best foot forward — photographically speaking, that is.
For Chen, staging is pivotal to creating a lived-in scene with her furniture. The important thing with staging is to strike a balance between domestic beauty and distraction. Chen suggests simple objects like a round mirror or a couple of white or black-covered books. She always likes to have vases on hand to hold flowers cut from her garden.
With clothing, much of that comes down to style: do you want something moodier with shadow or do you want crisp and clean images? Is this a stylized portrait or is this simply about the clothes? Researching and having a style of image in mind that you want to achieve makes it easier from the outset.
3. Lighting Matters
Elizabeth Djinis is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. Source: thepennyhoarder.com
Chen takes photos to show how deep a dresser drawer is or what the top surface looks like. She shares photos of the furniture legs and hardware, because that can make a difference to a buyer and is often another aspect of her design. If she can add a video, she does. A video gives people the sense of the full scope of an item and what it looks like in natural daylight.
4. Stage Your Photograph
Chen echoes the same premise for furniture.
When it comes to furniture product photos, Chen says, capturing the details is key. What makes your piece special? Take a photo of that. Examples of Chen’s clean photo styling can be studied on Instagram.
5. Capture the Details of Your Items
Chen calls taking a good photo “50% of the work.” She recently bought a dresser online for . Although Chen usually sands, paints and refurbishes the furniture she sells, this piece was in such good shape that she did nothing to it. She took some well-lit and aesthetically appealing photos and sold it for 5. She made almost 0 off of the dresser with little additional work.
Both Han and Chen say photos have made a difference in attracting buyers. Han will often reshoot a piece that hasn’t sold after some time. She might try different lighting or a different background to highlight the piece. Once she posts that new photo, she can usually sell the item right away.
6. Edit Your Photos
Often, entrepreneurs who start an online business aren’t photographers. Sometimes, they don’t even have a background in a creative industry and it’s unlikely they will have camera equipment beyond their smartphones. They’re passionate about their businesses selling vintage clothing or refurbishing vintage furniture, but they’re self-taught. For many, the internet has been their teacher.
7. Use Multiple Photos
Chen doesn’t like to use artificial lighting, because she finds it changes the color of the furniture in photos.
Photos Make a Difference
The axiom “photo, photo, photo” may be to online selling what “location, location, location” is to real estate.
“You see people use printed backgrounds or landscapes, but I think, no matter what you decide to use, it shouldn’t be distracting, because you want the attention to be on the clothing,” Han said.
Both Han and Sara Chen of the upcycled furniture company Sara Chen Design suggest keeping the background clean and neutral. Chen uses white walls as her backdrop, but in the last year, she has spruced it up by adding board and batten wood paneling to her staging wall. Chen has a space in her house specifically designated for staging, a luxury not everyone has.
Han, who started her business in a tiny apartment, began taking photos with a bedsheet as her background. That got tedious because she had to steam the wrinkles out each time. Now, she uses color paper backdrops that she bought cheaply from a photographer who was looking to downsize equipment. Examples of Han’s backgrounds can be studied on Etsy. Scroll through the pages to see where she used bedsheets. <!–
Aesthetically oriented social media sites like Instagram show images in a grid pattern, so it’s important to have a background that you can replicate each time. If you’re at a friend’s house when inspiration strikes, consider whether you’ll be able to return to their house each time to shoot a new product. The answer is probably not. Get the Penny Hoarder Daily Chen’s photos might sound perfect from the first take. But there is a lot of work involved. Part of that is in the editing. Chen uses the Adobe Lightroom editor as her image editing app. She finds the platform easy to use. In editing, Chen can adjust the lighting and the effects to make it look just as it does in real life, rather than to make it look better or more beautiful.
“Photos make such a big difference,” Chen said. “You need to take time to take better photos if you want to sell for more money.”
The enchanting city of Boston is a beacon of history and culture. From the Freedom Trail to the thriving Financial District, the many charms of this city attract hopeful renters from across the globe. But one look at the average rent prices in Boston may leave you searching for less expensive relocation options.
Whether you are cost-conscious or prefer to live away from the big city vibe, rest assured that there are plenty of cities near Boston where you can still enjoy the best of this world-renowned region.
Here are 10 wonderful cities near Boston with access to the metropolis and unique charms of their own.
Distance from downtown Boston: 9.9 miles
One-bedroom average rent: $2,641 (down 9.6 percent since last year)
Two-bedroom average rent: $3,453 (down 11.8 percent since last year)
Newton is a quintessential New England town with 13 unique neighborhoods, charmingly called Newton’s “13 villages.” The communities offer something for every taste — from Chestnut Hill with its farmlands and chestnut trees to the prosperous business district of West Newton.
West Newton claims a convenient stop on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Commuter Rail, allowing Newton residents to bypass some truly awful Boston traffic and arrive in Back Bay in under 20 minutes.
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Distance from downtown Boston: 20 miles
One-bedroom average rent: $1,856 (up 5.8 percent since last year)
Two-bedroom average rent: $2,725 (down 0.3 percent since last year)
The city of Concord is a fascinating mix of early-American history and modern natural wonders. The Concord Museum captures the uniqueness of the town since its incorporation in 1635, including Concord’s essential role in the American Revolutionary War. Historic houses in Concord display a charming style of architecture unique to New England.
The Walden Pond State Reservation offers locals and tourists a great place to hit the trails and go for a swim at lake beaches.
Outdoor adventures in Concord pair well with an inspiring visit to Thoreau House, the site of the transcendentalist poet’s home, and the legendary Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
Find apartments for rent in Concord Buy a house in Concord
Distance from downtown Boston: 21 miles
One-bedroom average rent: $2,118 (down 5.8 percent since last year)
Two-bedroom average rent: $2,606 (down 5.7 percent since last year)
Natick is known for its Natick Town Center, a charming downtown with historic brick buildings and a cozy atmosphere. Residents enjoy many benefits, including access to a Community Center, the Sassamon Trace Golf Course and Memorial Beach.
On the opposite side of the town exists an entirely different scene with the massive Natick Mall. This shopping center draws in both business and excitement as the largest mall in Massachusetts.
Residents have the best of both worlds, with lovely farmlands in the eastern parts of Natick and the liveliness of the commercial area to the northwest.
Find apartments for rent in Natick Buy a house in Natick
Distance from downtown Boston: 22.2 miles
One-bedroom average rent: $2,444 (up 0.5 percent since last year)
Two-bedroom average rent: $3,049 (up 9.5 percent since last year)
Best known for being the home of the Salem Witch Trials, Salem is rich in history.
The downtown and harbor areas comprise a wide web of streets offering countless shops, restaurants and museums. For a change of theme, visitors can explore worldwide art and culture on display at the Peabody Essex Museum and the historic House of the Seven Gables.
While the height of Salem’s excitement peaks in the month-long celebrations in October, locals enjoy year-round nightlife and a vibrant party scene.
A change of pace is easy to find with the numerous seaside beaches and the expansive nature preservatory at Salem Woods.
Find apartments for rent in Salem Buy a house in Salem
Distance from downtown Boston: 22.7 miles
One-bedroom average rent: $1,876 (down 7.7 percent since last year)
Two-bedroom average rent: $2,357 (down 15.2 percent since last year)
Framingham is a commercial hub that acts as a midway point between Boston in the east and mini-metropolis Worcester farther to the west. In addition to its strategic location, Framingham residents enjoy in-town attractions such as the Garden in the Woods and Jack’s Abbey brewery.
Framingham has several residential neighborhoods and is a popular town for city commuters as the MBTA Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail offers a comfortable ride to both Boston and Worcester.
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Photo source: Boxborough, MA / Facebook
Distance from downtown Boston: 29 miles
One-bedroom average rent: $1,806 (down 17.8 percent since last year)
Two-bedroom average rent: $1,868 (down 21.6 percent since last year)
The cozy town of Boxborough is ideal for those wishing to partake in the joys of countryside life while keeping the conveniences of the big city within distance.
Locals here enjoy charming estates, lush greenery and a close-knit community. For schooling and other purposes, this town is often combined with nearby Acton as the Acton-Boxborough area.
Nature lovers enjoy the numerous Boxborough farms selling locally-grown produce. A breath of the wild is always at hand for residents who have access to in-town parks such as Flerra Meadows and the nearby Wachusett Mountain with its hiking trails and ski slopes.
Find apartments for Boxborough Buy a house in Boxborough
Distance from downtown Boston: 30.1 miles
One-bedroom average rent: $2,144 (up 0.9 percent since last year)
Two-bedroom average rent: $3,067 (down 5.3 percent since last year)
Written officially as “Foxborough,” locals refer to this town as “Foxboro” and the “Home of the New England Patriots.” The stunning Gillette Stadium here is the base of Massachusetts’ most beloved football team. During a game, locals across Massachusetts know to give Foxboro a wide berth as the traffic is as legendary as the team playing.
Luckily, Foxboro locals don’t have to leave town to have a great time. The expansive Patriot Place shopping plaza surrounding the stadium offers thrills such as an escape room and a themed cafe.
Fans of nature aren’t left out here — the Nature Trail and Cranberry Bog, as well as the numerous bucolic farms and scenic landscape nearby, offer much to explore.
Find apartments for rent in Foxboro Buy a house in Foxboro
Distance from downtown Boston: 32.3 miles
One-bedroom average rent: $1,878 (up 1.1 percent since last year)
Two-bedroom average rent: $2,211 (up 1.5 percent since last year)
A college town with a youthful vibe and lively downtown, Bridgewater is home to Bridgewater State University and boasts the high energy and hip scene of an international campus.
Bridgewater and neighboring towns East Bridgewater and West Bridgewater are great midway points between Boston and Cape Cod.
Residents can take the MBTA Commuter Rail from Bridgewater Station to reach the big city in under an hour or enjoy a scenic drive over the Bourne Bridge to bask on the Cape beaches.
Find apartments for rent in Bridgewater Buy a house in Bridgewater
Distance from downtown Boston: 36.2 miles
One-bedroom average rent: N/A
Two-bedroom average rent: $1,760 (0.0 percent change since last year)
Located on Cape Ann, Gloucester is a dream come true for those who want to live by the sea. This peninsula paradise has beaches on two sides and is right next to the famous town of Rockport. Locals enjoy fresh seafood and an artsy scene — many creative souls appreciate the breathtaking scenery these towns have to offer.
Keep in mind that summer is the high season for coastal towns like Gloucester, and many of the beachy parts of Cape Ann cater to tourists and elderly snowbirds. While Gloucester is not as touristy as Rockport, year-round residents here should expect the liveliness of summer and a much quieter reprieve in winter.
Find apartments for rent in Gloucester Buy a house in Gloucester
Distance from downtown Boston: 39.8 miles
One-bedroom average rent: $2,151 (up 2.8 percent since last year)
Two-bedroom average rent: $2,700 (up 4.5 percent since last year)
Often referred to as “America’s hometown,” Plymouth, founded by the Pilgrims in 1620, offers rich history alongside spectacular views of the ocean. The Mayflower II is on display in the downtown memorial park, not far from the monument protecting Plymouth Rock.
Enthusiasts of early American history will enjoy exploring the world-renowned Plimouth Plantation, where Plymouth residents enjoy a steep discount.
Locals and tourists alike love strolling downtown Plymouth with its waterfront shops and a picturesque harbor. Outside of the main commercial areas, scenic cranberry bogs and numerous nature parks dot the landscape.
Business picks up around Thanksgiving time, but unlike many other coastal parts of Massachusetts that host seasonal residents, Plymouth enjoys a steady population year-round.
Find apartments for rent in Plymouth Buy a house in Plymouth
Make one of these cities near Boston your home city
Between a prosperous city life and oceanside charms, it is no wonder that Boston and its surrounding area have some of the most sought-after real estate in the country. Whether you want to bask in the rich history of the region or live an idyllic life by the sea, you can find your ideal place in one of these great cities near Boston.
Properties are in high demand, and space is exclusive, so start looking for your new home today.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments in April 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.
Let’s start off by saying that if your in-laws give ample notice before they step on your welcome mat, you’re in pretty good shape. In many families, in-laws are notorious for popping up at a moment’s notice, but that’s another topic for another day.
It doesn’t matter if your mother-in-law (MIL) and father-in-law (FIL) are arriving in two hours or two days, you surely want to do all you can to make sure your apartment is as presentable as possible. Do you worry about what your spouse’s mother will say if the cleanliness of your space isn’t up to her standards? Does she have the audacity to conduct a sneaky dust test with her fingertip as she slyly strolls through the apartment?
We understand that your place might never be spotless from top to bottom. And honestly, who has time for that? But if you’re focused on doing at least a little tidying up before the ‘rents make their debut, here are some crafty and creative ways to quickly get your pad in better shape.
Focus on surfaces that tend to gather a lot of dust and fingerprints – TVs, computer screens, table tops, toilets, and mirrors. Grab a cleaning towel, spritz it with your favorite all-purpose cleaner – a really good smelling one – and do a lap or two around your apartment wiping down every surface within reach.
Sink full of dishes? Either wash them quickly or load them into the dishwasher. Those who don’t own a dishwasher (or even if they do and it’s already full) sometimes resort to stashing dirty dishes in the oven. Odd choice, but this should be your last option only if you know for sure there are no plans for a home-cooked meal. Just know that if MIL decides to test your baking skills on a whim, the jig’s up. If you do end up giving in to this last minute trick, don’t forget to return the dishes to their rightful location once the in-laws have left the building.
Scented candles will be a savior. The earlier you light them up, the better. No scents on deck? Here’s an easy alternative: boil a small pot of water and add slices of lemon or lime. No fresh citrus on hand? Sprinkle in some cinnamon or nutmeg. Learn how to make do with what you have!
No time to get all your odds and ends completely out of sight? Group like items together. Random pens all over the apartment will appear disorderly, so gather them in a row on a side table instead. You can do the same by neatly stacking or lining up items like shoes, books, magazines, bathroom products, pencils, crayons, etc.
Is one of your bedrooms just a complete disaster? Close the door and forbid anyone to enter. If the door locks, even better.
Throw junk mail in the trash. Any other mail should go into a junk drawer, assuming there’s room.
Will the in-laws be making their debut at night? Light dimmers will work wonders to keep your mess from taking center stage. Not only will it hide your mess, but it’ll set a calming ambiance.
No time to sweep, mop and vacuum? Vacuums actually work pretty great on hard surfaces too, not just carpet. Just test out a small area first to make sure it doesn’t scratch your hardwood, tile or another solid surface.
Grab a grocery or trash bag and take a lap around the apartment gathering items that need to be trashed.
You can also use this bag trick to gather items for certain rooms. So if the living room is littered with items that belong in the home office, collect them in the bag and place the bag in the office to organize later.
If the visit is really last minute, grab a basket or bag, gather everything that’s out of place and place the basket in an inconspicuous area like the laundry room, utility closet, bathtub or on top of the fridge.
Got pets? Give every sofa and chair a quick brush to get rid of pesky hairs.
Empty the trash. This goes for the kitchen, bathroom and wherever else a waste bin might be located. Essential oils, carpet freshener, and cinnamon all are great for making an empty trash can smell good.
Are the in-laws already en route? Power up iTunes, cue up your favorite three to five songs and press play. Vow to have your apartment looking new and improved by the time the playlist ends. You will also work up a good sweat, so pat yourself on the back for mastering the art of multitasking!
If time runs out and you’re still not finished cleaning, strategically place the vacuum cleaner in the middle of the living room or hallway. Then declare, “Oh, you just caught me in the middle of cleaning up!” This message will convey that you acknowledge the mess and you’re tending to it. Hey, a little white lie never hurt anyone.
Does this list sound exhausting or even unrealistic? Here’s a radical idea: don’t clean at all. Welcome your in-laws with open arms. But if you see them giving your space a major side eye, politely let them know that you are a busy person and, on any given day, this is what your apartment looks like. Let us know how that goes.
As parents, it can be overwhelming to think about everything we need to teach our kids — whether it’s showing them how to cross the street safely, introducing them to the alphabet or teaching them to ride a bike.
But unfortunately, money still seems to be a taboo educational topic — even among families.
A survey conducted by The Penny Hoarder found that among those who didn’t talk about money management at home, almost a third earn less than $50,000. But for those who did talk about money, just 18% earn less than $50,000 a year.
And 40% of people who did not discuss finances growing up currently have no savings at all. That figure drops by more than half among those who did receive early financial education at home.
And unfortunately, kids often don’t get to learn money management topics in school, either. Only 21 states require personal finance education in order to graduate high school, according to the Council for Economic Education.
That leaves it up to parents when it comes to teaching kids about money. Discovering how much you know about money — you can test your own knowledge with this handy financial literacy quiz — is an important first step.
But don’t put off teaching your child about finances until you think you have all the answers.
Fortunately, even if you aren’t a financial whiz, we’re here to help so you can look like the expert — at least in your kids’ eyes.
5 Ways to Teach Kids About Money
Teaching your kids about money lessons is essential for raising adults who are comfortable talking about and handling their money
By following these tips, you can create a solid financial foundation for your kids (and you might learn a thing or two along the way).
1. Talk About Family Finances
We’re not suggesting that you study your financial spreadsheets with your kids for a family fun night, but your children can’t get comfortable talking about money until they know you’re comfortable talking about it.
By setting up a consistent family budget meeting — you don’t have to call it that if the b-word scares/bores everyone — your gang can get in the habit of discussing topics like how much money it takes to keep your household functioning and why it’s important to plan for big purchases.
If kids get the opportunity to give their input — and no, they don’t get the deciding vote, even if they outnumber you — it will empower them to take responsibility for how the household spends its money.
It can start with something simple like: We have $50 extra spending money this month. Would you rather go to a drive-in theater or save the money so that next month we could go on a camping trip?
2. Show Them Why Saving Pays
Your child’s method of saving will evolve as they get older, but teaching the basic value of setting aside money will help them avoid the temptation to make an impulse buy each time they have money in their hands.
Use Real Dollars and Coins
Using physical cash and coins is great for helping younger children understand the concept, as it allows them to see how their nickels and dimes (and dollars) can really add up.
You can start out by teaching kids to budget their money — consider using one piggy bank for savings, another for spending and a third for giving.
Open a Bank Account
When they’re ready, you can take the next step by opening a bank account for your child. Many banks have accounts specifically for minors if their parents also bank there, which can help your children save on fees that banks may charge for regular accounts.
If your child values something more than money — like screen time — use that to help reinforce the savings concept. Give them an “allowance” of minutes that they can work to earn more of.
By bringing them along to a physical location to open their bank account, you’ll help your kids become more comfortable dealing with financial tools and institutions. That way, banks won’t seem as intimidating when your kids open their own accounts as adults.
Teach Them About Compound Interest
Additionally, use their savings accounts as an opportunity to teach kids about compound interest — a basic financial concept that explains how your money can grow by earning interest on the interest.
If the numbers on the account don’t pile up fast enough to impart the lesson (or you need a little more help understanding the concept), check out this video about how compound interest works — it uses candy to teach the concept in a much more appetizing way.
3. Let Them Learn the Value of Their Money
Getting your children to value their money can give them a head start on money management skills.
It starts with understanding where the money comes from (the ATM doesn’t count).
Whether you pay them an allowance, they receive money as gifts from relatives or they’re making their own money (yes, even a lemonade stand business counts), your children will better understand how much a dollar is worth if they learn how to budget their money early on.
If you have a teen who’s thinking about bigger purchases like a car or college tuition, let them use their summer break to make extra money — check out these ideas for jobs for teens.
Accounting for each dollar allows a child to learn decision-making skills that will prepare them for later in life when they’re parcelling out their paycheck.
Ask them questions like: Is it worth doing an extra chore to have their pick in the candy aisle at the grocery store? By giving them the power to make that decision, your children will be able to apply the same money concepts when deciding as an adult whether it’s worth working an extra shift to buy those new shoes or taking on a side gig to pay to build an emergency fund.
4. Don’t Let Investing Be Only for the Rich
Your kids don’t need to become the next Warren Buffett to learn the value of investing. And they don’t need to be rich to start (and neither do you).
No matter what their age, kids can learn about growing wealth by investing a small portion of their money. We recommend starting with a very small amount since there is, of course, a risk that their investment could lose value. It’s a tough lesson, but one that’s easier to accept if your child lost a week’s allowance rather than a lifetime savings.
And investing doesn’t require a large cash outlay to start, especially if you work with a brokerage that allows you to open a custodial account and invest in fractional shares.
For just a few dollars, your kids can pick a couple of companies that make their favorite toys or movies, then check the stock price each week to see how their investment is faring.
If your family is the competitive type, let every member invest in a different stock and see whose stock grew the most at the end of a year.
5. Don’t Make Debt a Four-Letter Word
You want to protect your kids from all the bad things, so if you don’t talk about debt, they won’t end up in it, right?
Maybe. But probably not. Giving them the tools to understand debt is a better way to avoid bad debt and responsibly handle the good debt that they’ll face in their lifetime.
Differentiate Good Debt vs. Bad Debt
So how can you teach kids the difference between bad and good debt? Remember these two factors:
What’s the interest rate?
What’s the value of the item they’re going into debt for?
As a general rule, if you’re borrowing money at a higher rate than you can earn by investing, that’s bad. The S&P 500 has a historical average annual rate of 7%, so that’s typically the benchmark experts use for deciding how much of a return you could expert on an investment.
For example, if a credit card charges 18% interest, you can’t reasonably expect to get those kinds of returns on investments, so that’s a bad debt. However, if you get a mortgage with a 3% interest rate, there’s a good chance you could invest that money and make more in interest.
It’s also important to teach kids that bad debt vs. good debt involves the types of things and events that they’d want to use the credit for. Borrowing money to buy a candy bar? Bad debt. Borrowing money to invest in a mower so you can start making money cutting the neighbor’s lawns? Good debt (since they’ll in theory be using that borrowed money to make more money).
Get Real About Student Loans
One of the biggest decisions kids will have to make early on in regards to debt is whether to take out student loans. Start talking to your teens early about how student loan debt could affect their lives after college.
Although it can be a very personal decision, encourage them to consider the costs and benefits of student loan debt. For instance, is the private, out-of-state school with the gorgeous campus worth the debt burden if they’re getting an education degree?
If the plan is for your teenagers to cover the cost of tuition themselves, help them discover the different options for paying for college — besides their parents and student loans.
Teaching your kids early about how to use debt and credit lines responsibly — perhaps by adding them as an authorized user — will let them see the benefits of building a solid financial foundation.
And if all this is a little much for your youngest kids to understand, you can introduce this money lesson with one of these debt free charts.
Start by deciding on a bigger purchase your child wants but doesn’t have enough cash for yet — but small enough that they can “pay it off” in a few weeks or months. Each time they make a “payment” to you, they can color in another section of the chart.
By the end, they’ll have a better understanding of what it means to pay off debt, and you’ll have another piece of art to hang on the refrigerator. Win-win.
TIffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder. Dana Sitar contributed to this post.
Permanent life insurance policies—like universal,variable and whole life—offer more than a death benefit. Some include cash value, which is a pool of money you can use while still alive.
If you’ve had a policy for years, the cash value could be considerable. “The accumulation could be more than you put in, and this opens up all kinds of options,” says Jonathan Howard, a certified financial planner with SeaCure Advisors in Lexington, Ky.
The cash value in permanent life insurance is your money, to be tapped as needed, but your options for doing so will depend on the type of policy and the carrier. Before doing anything, ask the insurer how much you can safely withdraw per year based on the cash value balance and policy terms. If you withdraw too much too early, the policy’s cash value could run out, forcing you to start paying more in premiums or have the coverage lapse.
If you no longer need coverage, it might be tempting to stop the policy and cash out all at once, but consider the tax ramifications, says Luke Chapman, a partner with Precision Wealth Partners in New Castle, Del. Any cash value growth above what you paid in premiums is taxed as ordinary income when withdrawn. For example, if you paid in $20,000, have $100,000 in cash value and withdraw the difference, the $80,000 of growth is taxable.
There are better ways to put that cash value to work that won’t ramp up your tax bill.
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Live Off of It
A more tax-effective option is to withdraw only what you need each year. Howard recommends keeping some money for an emergency fund, perhaps 12 months of expenses, with the rest used to supplement your retirement income. Withdrawals draw down the tax-free premium payments first; taxes are owed only after you start withdrawing the gains.
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You can also tap the cash value through a policy loan. You won’t owe taxes for withdrawing gains this way. Plus, you’ll have the option to repay the money, whereas you can’t reverse withdrawals. If the money is not repaid, the death benefit will cover the loan balance when you pass away.
The insurer will charge interest for the loan. “The interest rate is determined by the policy contract and is carrier specific,” says Howard. “It’s typically 4% to 8% a year.” Policy loan rates don’t usually change with market conditions, he says, so don’t expect a deal today just because overall interest rates are low. Your remaining cash value can be used to pay the interest.
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Exchange It for an Annuity
The IRS lets you swap your permanent life insurance for an annuity through a 1035 exchange, which is a tax-free transfer of one contract for another. This move can generate more retirement income. “Let’s say the max payout stream from a cash value insurance policy is $10,000 a year. Converting to an annuity might generate $12,500,” Chapman says. An annuity could also guarantee the payments will last your entire life, but you will be canceling your life insurance policy, a move that can’t be reversed.
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Convert to a New Policy to Pay for Long-Term Care
If you’d like coverage for long-term care, consider converting your life insurance into another policy with a long-term care rider (if yours doesn’t have it already). You keep your life insurance, but part of the death benefit can be used to pay for long-term care expenses.
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Use It as Collateral
The cash value is an asset that increases your chances of qualifying for a loan or mortgage from a lender. It can even serve as the loan’s collateral, but Chapman warns to structure the deal carefully, as there can be tax consequences. Always ask an insurance expert before using cash value this way.
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Tap It to Pay for the Policy
The cash value can also be used to cover your life insurance premiums.
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Leave It Alone
You aren’t forced to do anything with your cash value. Left alone, the cash value will continue to accumulate, leaving a larger inheritance for your heirs, as withdrawals and loans reduce the final death benefit.