5 Mortgage REITs for Yield-Hungry Investors

In the search for rich dividend yields, mortgage REITs (mREITs) are in a class all their own. 

These are companies are structured as real estate investment trusts (REITs), but they own interest-bearing assets like mortgages and mortgage-backed securities rather than physical real estate.

One of the biggest reasons to own mortgage REITs is their exceptional yields, currently averaging around 8% to 9%, according to Nareit – the leading global producer on REIT investment research – more than four times the yield available on the S&P 500. These outsized yields are enticing, but investors should approach these stocks with caution and hold them only as one part of a larger, more diversified portfolio. 

One reason for this is their sensitivity to changes in interest rates. When interest rates rise, mortgage REIT earnings generally decline. The Federal Reserve is signaling plans for multiple rate hikes in 2022 that could create headwinds for these stocks.   

And increasing interest rates hurt mREITs because these businesses borrow money to fund their operations. Their borrowing costs rise with interest rates, but the interest payments they collect from mortgages remain the same, causing profit margins to compress. Some of this risk can be managed with hedging tools, but mortgage REITs can’t eliminate interest-rate risk altogether.  

Another caveat is that mortgage REITs frequently cut dividends when times are tough. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, 30 of this sector’s 40 companies either cut or suspended dividends. On the flip side, dividends were quickly restored in 2021, with 20 mREITs raising dividends.

We searched the mortgage REIT universe for stocks whose dividends appear safe this year.

Read on as we explore five of the best mREITs for 2022. A few of these REITs are reducing interest-rate risk via acquisitions or an unusual lending focus, while others have strong balance sheets or outstanding track records for raising dividends. And all of them offer exceptional yields for investors.

Data is as of Jan. 12. Dividend yields are calculated by annualizing the most recent payout and dividing by the share price. Stocks are listed in order of lowest to highest dividend yield.

1 of 5

Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital

green investing conceptgreen investing concept
  • Market value: $4.1 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.9%

Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital (HASI, $48.56) is a bit of an oddball for a mortgage REIT in that it specializes in clean energy and infrastructure rather than pure real estate. Specifically, the real estate investment trust invests in wind, solar, storage, energy efficiency and environmental remediation projects – making it not only one of the best mREITs, but also one of the best green energy stocks to own.

Its loan portfolio encompasses 260 projects and is valued at $3.2 billion. In addition to its own loans, Hannon Armstrong manages roughly $8 billion of other assets, mainly for public sector clients.   

This mREIT boasts a $3 billion pipeline and is ideally positioned to capture some portion of the spending from the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that was passed by Congress in late 2021.  

Over the last three years, Hannon Armstrong has generated 7% annual earnings per share (EPS) gains and 1% yearly dividend growth. Over the next three years, HASI is targeting accelerated gains of 7% to 10% yearly earnings per share growth and 3% to 5% in dividend hikes. Future earnings growth should be enhanced by the firm’s prudent 1.6 times debt-to-equity ratio.

Hannon Armstrong produced exceptional September-quarter results, showing 45% year-over-year loan portfolio growth and a 14% increase in distributable earnings per share. 

Analysts expect earnings of $1.83 per share this year and $1.91 per share next year – more than enough to cover the REIT’s $1.40 per share annual dividend.

HASI is well-liked by Wall Street analysts, with five of the six that are tracking the stock calling it a Buy or Strong Buy. 

2 of 5

Starwood Property Trust

little red house surrounded by little white houseslittle red house surrounded by little white houses
  • Market value: $7.7 billion
  • Dividend yield: 7.6%

Starwood Property Trust (STWD, $25.44) has a $21 billion loan portfolio, making it the largest mortgage REIT in the U.S. The company is affiliated with Starwood Capital Group, one of the world’s biggest private investment firms. 

STWD is considered a mortgage real estate investment trust, but it operates more like a hybrid by owning physical properties as well as mortgages and real estate securities. Its portfolio comprises 61% commercial loans, but the REIT also has sizable footholds in residential loans (11%), properties (12%) and infrastructure lending (9%), a relatively new focus for the company.

The mREIT benefits from access to the databases of Starwood Capital Group, which makes over $100 billion in real estate transactions annually and has a portfolio consisting of 96% floating-rate debt. This high percentage of floating-rate debt and unusually short loan durations – averaging just 3.3 years – minimizes Starwood’s risk from rising interest rates. 

STWD is also one of the nation’s largest servicers of commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) loans; sizable, reliable loan servicing fees help mitigate risk if loan credit quality deteriorates.

Starwood Property Trust closed $3.8 billion of new loans during the September quarter and generated distributable earnings of 52 cents per share – up sequentially from June and slightly above analysts’ consensus estimate. After the September quarter closed, the mREIT booked a huge $1.1 billion gain on the sale of a 20% stake in an affordable housing real estate portfolio.   

The company has made 12 consecutive years of quarterly dividend payments, and unlike many other mortgage REITs, held its ground in 2020 by maintaining an unchanged dividend.

Of the seven Wall Street pros following STWD, one says it’s a Strong Buy, five call it a Buy and just one says Hold. Adding fuel to the bullish fire, CNBC analyst Jon Najarian recently tapped Starwood as one of his top stocks to watch, given its impressive 7.6% dividend yield.

3 of 5

Arbor Realty Trust

mortgage-backed securities conceptmortgage-backed securities concept
  • Market value: $2.8 billion
  • Dividend yield: 7.7%

Arbor Realty Trust (ABR, $18.70) stands out as one of the best mREITS given its six straight quarters of dividend hikes and a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 18% for dividend growth over the past five years. 

What’s more, Arbor Realty Trust has delivered 10 straight years of dividend growth while maintaining the industry’s lowest dividend payout rate.

This mortgage REIT is able to steadily grow dividends thanks to the diversity of its operating platform, which generates income from agency and non-agency loans, physical real estate (including rentals) and servicing fees.

Agency loan originations and the servicing portfolio have grown at a 16% CAGR over five years. And during the first nine months of 2021, Arbor Realty Trust set a new record with balance sheet loan originations, coming in at $7.2 billion – 2.5 times its previous record. Loan volume rose 45% over its previous record to total $13.2 billion over the nine-month period.

While September EPS declined year-over-year due to a reduced contribution from equity affiliates, earnings for the first nine months of the year were up 164% from the year prior to $1.56 per share.

Arbor Realty Trust earns Buy ratings from two of the three Wall Street analysts following the stock, and Zacks Research recently named ABR one of its top income picks for 2022. 

Valued at only 10 times forward earnings – which is 15.4% below industry peers – ABR shares appear bargain-priced at the moment.   

4 of 5

MFA Financial

person looking for business loan on laptopperson looking for business loan on laptop
  • Market value: $2.1 billion
  • Dividend yield: 8.2%

MFA Financial (MFA, $4.68) just closed an impactful acquisition that reduces its exposure to interest-rate changes and accelerates loan growth. This REIT was already hedging its bets by investing in both agency and non-agency mortgage securities. 

Agency securities are guaranteed by the U.S. government and tend to be safer, lower-yielding and more sensitive to interest rates than non-agency securities. By combining these in one portfolio, MFA Financial generates nice returns while reducing the impact of changes in interest rates and prepayments on the portfolio. 

Through the July acquisition of Lima One, MFA Financial becomes a major player in business purpose lending (BPL), an attractive niche comprised of fix-and-flip, construction, multi-family and single-family rental loans. 

An aging U.S. housing stock is creating demand for real estate renovations and causing BPL to soar. BPL loans are good quality and high-yielding, but difficult to source in the marketplace. With the purchase of Lima One, MFA Financial gains a $1.1 billion BPL loan-servicing portfolio and an established national franchise for originating these types of loans. 

Lima One’s impact was apparent in MFA Financial’s September-quarter results. The REIT originated $2.0 billion of loans, the highest quarterly total on record, and grew its portfolio by $1.5 billion after runoff. 

Net interest income increased 15% on a sequential basis, and gains recorded on the Lima One purchase contributed 10 cents to the mREIT’s earnings of 28 cents per share. MFA Financial also took advantage of the strong housing market to sell 151 properties, booking a $7.3 million gain on the sale. MFA’s book value – the difference between the total value of a company’s assets and its outstanding liabilities – rose 4% sequentially to $4.82 per share, a modest 3% premium to its current share price.

Raymond James analyst Stephen Laws upgraded MFA to Outperform from Market Perform – the equivalents of Buy and Hold, respectively – in December. He thinks the Lima One acquisition will accelerate loan growth and reduce the mortgage REIT’s borrowing costs.

MFA Financial has a 22-year track record of paying dividends. While payments were reduced in 2020, the REIT recently signaled improving prospects with a 10% dividend hike in late 2021.

5 of 5

Broadmark Realty Capital

real estate contract with keys and penreal estate contract with keys and pen
  • Market value: $1.3 billion
  • Dividend yield: 8.6%

Broadmark Realty Capital (BRMK, $9.77) is unusual for its zero-debt balance sheet, robust loan origination volume and sizable monthly dividends. This mortgage REIT provides short to mid-term loans for commercial construction and real estate development that are less interest-rate sensitive. As such, BRMK is a solid play on America’s housing boom.  

Lending activities focus on states with favorable demographics and lending laws. Plus, 60% of its business comes from repeat customers, ensuring low loan acquisition costs.

Broadmark Realty Capital achieved record loan origination volume of $337 million during the September quarter, roughly twice prior-year levels and up 68% sequentially. The overall portfolio grew to $1.5 billion. Broadmark Realty Capital also originated its first loans in Nevada and Minnesota, with expansion into additional states planned during the December quarter. 

Despite rising revenues and distributable EPS, Broadmark Realty’s results came in slightly below analyst estimates and its share price declined in reaction. However, this price slip may present an opportunity to pick up one of the best mREITs at a discount. At present, BRMK shares trade at just 12.7 times forward earnings and 1.1 times book value – the latter of which is a 15% discount to industry peers.

The mortgage REIT cut its dividend in 2020, but continued to make monthly payments to shareholders. And in 2021, it raised its dividend 17% in early 2021. While dividend payout currently exceeds 100% of fiscal 2021 earnings, analysts are forecasting a 17% rise in fiscal 2022, which would comfortably cover the current 84 cents per share annual dividend.     

Source: kiplinger.com

Check Your Chase Cards For Spend Bonuses (1/15-3/31)

The Offer

Chase Bonus checker link

  • Chase is offering various cardholders spend bonuses from January 15 through March 31. Sample offers:
    • Get 5x points per $1 on up to $1,500 in purchases at Grocery Stores, Restaurants, and Amazon.com
    • Get $50 cash back when you make 15 purchases each month from January through March 2022 with your Card. (Each purchase must be at least $2 to qualify.)
    • Some people are getting 5x back on Groceries on their Freedom card on $200 spend. That stacks nicely with the 5x Q1 2022 Grocery category and also – if you’re new – the 5x Grocery cardmember signup bonus for a whopping 13x.

Our Verdict

We’re seeing reports of offers on Freedom-line cards, as well as Southwest, Hyatt, and Disney cards. Worth checking all your Chase cards since there are likely other cards seeing offers.

Hat tip to ITS_A FIRE sale and mikep4

Source: doctorofcredit.com

11 Super-Simple Ways to Build Wealth in 2022

A wealthy couple
Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com

To paraphrase William Shakespeare, some people are born wealthy and others achieve wealth. If you weren’t lucky enough to be in the first group, then it’s time to get going on your self-made fortune.

Think that can’t happen? You’re wrong. Pathways to wealth are everywhere. Why shouldn’t you take them?

Some of these smart choices will save you money upfront. Next, use that money to make more money through strategies like fractional investing and online wealth management.

Want to put yourself on the road to riches? These tactics can help.

1. Used Chevy or new Mercedes?

Save $100 a month, earn 1% on it and after 20 years you’ll have $26,545. Enough for a used Chevy.

Boost that percentage to 15%, and you’ll end up with $124,569 after 20 years. That’s nearly $100,000 more: enough for a new Mercedes.

Of course, earning 15% isn’t easy (the stock market’s average return is about 10%) and never guaranteed, but here’s something that is guaranteed: You won’t be earning big returns at the bank.

If you want to super-charge your savings, you’ve got to invest.

Plenty of people grow up thinking that “investing” is something only rich people do. Not so! You can start your investing journey with as little as $1, without paying a dime in fees, thanks to an investing app called Public.

With the Public app, you take part in “fractional investing,” which means buying little slivers of companies, funds or crypto assets. Take your choice from among thousands of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and stocks.

Start by signing up and telling the app what investing experience (if any) you have and what your investing goals are. According to Public, 90% of users are in it for the long haul.

There’s no charge to join, although you’re allowed to leave tips on transactions. And again: You can start with as little as $1. What else can you get for a buck these days? Even dollar stores are raising their prices!

Download the app now, and take the first step toward getting rich instead of just getting by.

2. Chop your car insurance bill by $700 a year

Auto insurance is a must. You know what isn’t a must? Paying too much for coverage.

People who switch to Progressive for their auto insurance can save up to $700 – not just initially, but every year. Imagine what you could do with an extra $700 in your budget.

Emergency fund? Extra payment against your mortgage? Retirement planning? It’s your call. Point is, those are dollars that are now working for you instead of for someone else.

Incidentally, a cheaper premium doesn’t mean you’re cheaping out on protection. Progressive is known for its strong coverage. Request your free quote now and see how much you can save this year, and every year.

3. Let mortgage savings put your kids through college

If you’re currently paying about 4% on your mortgage, refinancing could lower your rate to as low as 2.376%.

Not much of a difference, right?

Well, if your mortgage is $300,000, that lower rate would mean paying about $94,000 less in interest over the life of the loan. That’s enough to put your kids through college, start your own business or retire earlier.

Maybe you know the savings would be significant, but haven’t refinanced yet because it seems so complicated. It isn’t. A direct lender called Better will make it child’s play.

The simplifying starts with a near-instant rate quote, and continues through the refinancing process. Better doesn’t charge origination fees or lender fees, and you can get a mortgage interest rate lock if you like.

Millions of homeowners around the country are saving every month because they refinanced. But the experts are saying these low rates won’t last. It’s do-it-or-lose-it time.

Get your new, personalized rate today, and make strides toward a better tomorrow.

4. Stop worrying about expensive household breakdowns

For most of us, our home is our most valuable asset. We put a lot of money down to buy it and pay a lot of money each month to keep it. Sometimes we’re stretched pretty thin financially, so when things break down it can be tough to cover the fixes.

The heating/cooling system grinds to a halt. A major appliance gives up the ghost. And why are the lights flickering — could it be the electrical panel?

What you need is a full-time maintenance person.

The next best thing? A home warranty from America’s 1st Choice Home Club. You can choose from among several coverage plans that cover issues with appliances, plumbing, heating, electrical systems and more. You can use your own technician or let America’s 1st Choice send someone over.

A breakdown happens in the middle of the night? Doesn’t matter. The in-house service team is available 24/7.

All this starting for as little as $390 a year.

Homeownership is great. But when things go wrong — and they will! — we can no longer call the landlord. We are the landlord, and we might go into debt just to keep things running smoothly.

Stop worrying about household breakdowns, and the high costs that come with them. Get a free quote in 30 seconds.

5. Get paid to watch videos and take surveys

Think of all the time you spend waiting somewhere. Waiting for the spin cycle in the laundromat. Waiting at the auto shop until the mechanic can give you an estimate. Waiting for your kid’s sports practice to be over. Waiting in an exam room for the doctor, who’s running 20 minutes late.

You could spend that time watching funny cat videos — or you could use that time to make some money. Our friends at InboxDollars can help you with the latter.

InboxDollars is a rewards site that pays you actual cash to watch videos and take surveys. Seriously: Why not use your downtime to make money?

Those aren’t the only ways to earn money with InboxDollars, however. You can also do some online shopping, click on daily emails, scan your grocery receipts into the “Magic Receipts” function, complete special offers (especially those for things you’d planned to buy anyway), play games and even help others by making donations to various causes.

From now on, get paid for waiting. It takes seconds to sign up, and you’ll get a $5 welcome bonus just for joining.

6. Find cheaper homeowners insurance in 60 seconds

Again, our homes are usually our most valuable asset. It’s essential to make sure they’re protected in the event of an emergency. But how do you know whether you’re overpaying for homeowners insurance?

Simple: You ask Lemonade for an estimate. It takes only a few seconds to find out whether you could be keeping more of your hard-earned money each month. Lemonade’s coverage starts from just $25 a month.

Homeowners insurance isn’t just about fixing things up after a fire, though. The dog bit the mailman? Lemonade can help with legal and medical payments.

A thief steals your stuff? Lemonade has your back, even if the theft happened away from home.

Your home rendered unlivable due to that fire? A homeowners insurance policy through Lemonade will cover expenses until you can get back into your home sweet home.

Why overpay with your current carrier? Find cheaper home insurance in seconds.

7. Add $1.7 million extra to your retirement

A recent Vanguard study indicated that a self-managed $500,000 investment would grow into $1.69 million in 25 years, on average. Sounds pretty good, huh?

However, with professional help, that same $500,000 would have turned into $3.4 million. In other words, a quality financial adviser could double your retirement nest egg!

At least talk to a pro, especially when finding one is free and easy. SmartAsset is a free service that will match you with a qualified money manager who can help you put your money where it will do you the most good.

Bank interest rates don’t beat inflation, so the value of your savings erodes over time. Stocks and other investments have historically beaten inflation, but a lack of knowledge and experience leaves you vulnerable to dodgy advice or financial scams.

SmartAsset will put you in touch with up to three local, experienced professionals, all of whom are fiduciaries, meaning they’re required to put your best interests over their own. They can give you a clear picture of where you are now, and help you develop the right plan for the long term.

Since the first appointment is often free, what have you got to lose? If you’re ready to at least consider a local adviser, check it out.

8. Protect your wealth with a gold IRA

Not everyone is comfortable with traditional retirement investments. Some people are opting for a “gold IRA,” which is just what it sounds like: gold, gold and more gold. This can be bullion (coins or bars) only, or also include gold stocks, ETFs and mutual funds. Gold is one of the few commodities that the Internal Revenue Service approves as an IRA investment. It’s a finite resource, rather than one that can be controlled by governments or banks.

Sound intriguing? Time to educate yourself, with help from American Hartford Gold.

This family-owned company can help you set up a gold IRA that meets all IRS standards. Chief among them: The gold must be kept at an approved depository. (No, you can’t bury it in your backyard.)

There may be less than 20 years’ worth of mineable gold remaining in the ground. As the saying goes about real estate, they ain’t making any more of it. Demand for gold is rising all over the world, especially in the electronics industry, so your IRA has a great chance to increase its value until you’re ready to retire.

American Hartford Gold has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and a 5-star rating with TrustPilot. Get your free investors kit now.

9. Diversify your portfolio with art collected by billionaires

Billionaires didn’t become billionaires by making bad investment choices. And billionaires have been collecting art for generations; for example, the Rockefellers amassed a collection that sold for an eye-popping $835 million in 2017.

But it isn’t just the ultra-rich who can invest in art by Banksy, Warhol and Picasso. With a new investing app called Masterworks, you can invest in iconic artworks as well – right alongside deep-pocketed folks like Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Jeff Bezos.

Blue-chip art outpaced the S&P 500 from 1995-2021, which is impressive considering that historic bull run we’re now witnessing. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that art is “among the hottest markets on Earth.”

Art also has one of the lowest correlations to stocks that you can find. In other words, art’s value doesn’t have anything to do with the stock market’s wild swings, which makes it a good hedge.

Masterworks is an invitation-only art investment platform. So if you want to invest like a billionaire, request your invitation to join here.

10. Borrow $50,000 to erase your debt

Ever feel like you’ll never get out from under your credit card debt? Consumer debt is way too easy to get into, yet sometimes feels impossible to escape. You pay as much as you can each month, but the high interest rate just keeps piling on the dollars.

AmOne is a free service that matches people like you with loan providers. When you fill out one simple form online, AmOne finds lenders who want to fund your loan of up to $50,000.

Once you’ve been approved and agree on the terms, it can take as little as 24 hours to get the cash. Use the money to erase all your debt at once, then pay back the personal loan at a lower interest rate than those credit cards were charging you.

The service does only a “soft” credit pull, rather than have you going directly to lenders and getting “hard” credit pulls that affect your credit score. And speaking of your credit score: You don’t need an “excellent” rating to be considered, since AmOne’s lending partners are willing to work with people of varying credit ratings.

AmOne has a 4.7-star rating (out of 5) on TrustPilot. It’s free to check your rate online, and it literally takes just one minute.

11. Pay no interest until 2023 with a better card

Another way to deal with high credit card balances? Get another credit card. Specifically, get a 0% APR card, transfer those balances and get charged no interest while you’re paying down the debt.

There’s another good reason to get a 0% APR card: to get free financing on a big-ticket item.

Suppose your HVAC system goes out or your car needs a few thousand bucks’ worth of repairs. Rather than deplete your emergency fund, pay with that new 0% APR card to give yourself some breathing room while you pay it off.

How much breathing room? Anywhere from 15 to 21 months, depending on the card you choose.

You’ll need a plan to go along with that new card: no more using the other cards with unnecessary splurges while you pay off the 0% APR card. It doesn’t make sense to run up more debt while you’re paying off old debt.

But with a 0% card, you’ll pay no interest. Think of all the interest you’d been paying, and what those dollars could have done for your long-term financial security. With a 0% APR card, you won’t have to waste any more of your hard-earned dollars on interest.

Compare these top cards and discover the best one for you.

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

Source: moneytalksnews.com

Feng Shui in Your Apartment: Simple Design Techniques to Bring Happiness Into Your Home

Feng Shui for apartments is not only about arranging furniture but bringing happiness and balance to your life.

Have you ever walked into someone’s home and felt like the space had really good energy? They arranged everything with a natural, intuitive flow and it just seemed to fit well together? That person probably designed their living spaces using Feng Shui principles.

What is Feng Shui?

Originating from ancient China, Feng Shui is the practice of arranging living spaces to create a balance between the space and its user. By directing energy or chi, it’s said to bring happiness, health and harmony.

Besides these benefits, many practitioners enjoy incorporating Feng Shui into the design and layout of their homes because of its aesthetic appeal. And you don’t need to have a giant house or lots of space to use Feng Shui. You can practice Feng Shui in apartments, as well, where it’s especially beneficial.

Apartments are typically smaller than houses, with less space. So, balancing the space and making the most of it is especially important. Curious about how you can use Feng Shui for apartments? Here are some tips for Feng Shui for apartments that will bring balance and harmony to your space.

Translated, Feng and Shui mean wind-water. This ties into Feng Shui’s connection to Taoism, a system of belief from ancient China centered around humans and nature living in balance together. Inspired by a historic text called the Book of Burial, Feng Shui was originally used to orient graves and tombs to align with energy forces and be auspiciously placed. But over time, its uses have evolved and changed, especially as Western cultures embrace the ideology.

The elements of feng shui and the Bagua map

The elements of feng shui and the Bagua map

Elements of Feng Shui

There are several different elements to the practice of Feng Shui. The first is about bringing Earth’s five main elements into your space.

1. The big 5

These, of course, are fire, earth, wood, metal and water. Each represents different values or qualities you’d like to incorporate into your home. For example, the earth is about being grounded in areas of life like relationships, while water’s flexibility and shifting qualities tie into career goals.

The principle is to have these five interconnected elements equally balanced throughout your apartment. However, you can also pick and choose what areas of your life you wish to improve and focus your energy on bringing those elements into your design and therefore, your life.

2. The Bagua map

Meaning “eight” in Chinese, the Bagua map refers to eight different areas essential to building a well-balanced life. These include knowledge, family and health. At the heart of the Bagua is you, the ninth element that draws everything together.

The Bagua map charts the flow of energy around your home and acts as a blueprint of the strength of each area. To have a perfectly balanced home, you want equal attention paid to all areas. As you learn more about Feng Shui, you’ll discover which parts of your home tie to which values. Placing certain types of crystals in different areas can also attract desired qualities.

3. The commanding position

The commanding position is one of the elements of Feng Shui that allows it to fit so well with interior design. It’s where you want to spend most of your time when you’re in a specific room. It’s the furthest spot in a room from the door and located on a diagonal.

Once you’ve found the commanding position in a room, that’s where you’ll place the most important furniture or item of the room. If it’s your bedroom, that would be your bed. Whatever item or piece of furniture you place in the commanding position, it should not be directly in line with the door.

Use the commanding position to place furniture

Use the commanding position to place furniture

How to add Feng Shui to your apartment

One of the best aspects of practicing the art of Feng Shui is that it’s not one size fits all. Whether your apartment is big or small, these Feng Shui design ideas can transform each space and bring balance, positive chi and happiness to your life and apartment.

Bedroom

The bedroom is one of the most important rooms in your apartment. It’s where you start and end your day, so it’s a space for rest and centering yourself. It’s also a space for connecting with your partner physically and emotionally. So, you want to set the space up with the embodiment of all your goals.

  • Place your bed in the commanding position. Once again, this means it’s as far as possible from the door and place it on a diagonal.
  • If you don’t have a headboard for your bed, get one. Headboards represent support and are essential for bringing good energy into your bedroom.
  • Decorate in pairs. That means having two nightstands, one for each side of the bed. If you have lamps, get a matching pair. This creates symmetry and balance.
  • Avoid having furniture with sharp corners, large paintings and mirrors.
  • Decorate the room in muted, neutral tones like creams, off-whites and warm brown shades to promote relaxation.
  • Use warm lighting, nothing harsh and artificial-looking.
  • Keep electronics and work-related items to a minimum to both keep the space visually clean and also give your mind a break from screens.
  • Sorry plant parents, but try to keep plant life out of the bedroom. This is because plants have strong growth or yang energy, which offsets the peaceful atmosphere you’re trying to cultivate.
  • Reduce clutter and keep places like bookshelves and dressers clean and organized.

By keeping these clean and minimal, you’ll have excellent Feng Shui in the bedroom.

Living room

While the living room is not one of the most important rooms in your apartment in regards to Feng Shui, you still shouldn’t neglect it. The living room is where you gather with friends and family, nurturing the relationships and partnerships aspects of your life. Therefore, the living room needs to be a welcoming, well-balanced place.

  • Usually, larger pieces of furniture like sofas, couches and chairs act as the center focal point of a living room. Depending on your specific taste, think about where you spend most of your time when in the living room and then move that piece of furniture into the commanding position.
  • In many modern households, the living room is often arranged around the television. But don’t put the TV in the commanding position, as it distracts you from quality time with yourself or others. Place the TV in an accessible but not central position, like mounted on a wall where everyone can see it but it’s not the main focus.
  • Living rooms are great places to have lots of plants, inviting growth into the space.
  • Enhance the connection to nature and the outside world by inviting in lots of light and fresh air. Nine is a very lucky number in Feng Shui, so opening windows for nine minutes will allow stale, bad energy and air to leave while welcoming in fresh chi.
  • Declutter the space of excess, unnecessary furniture and décor to allow for good energy flow.
  • Similar to other rooms, be mindful of the colors you’re using in the space and what kind of energy they’ll attract or qualities they represent. This handy guide offers a great run-down of what different colors mean in Feng Shui and how to utilize them.

Make this space more about connection and nature, and you’ll be well on your way to good Feng Shui.

Kitchen

The kitchen is another key place for Feng Shui for apartments. It’s the place where you nourish yourself and attend to your health and well-being. Therefore, it’s crucial to invite good energy, happiness and success into this area.

  • The stove is a very important object in Feng Shui. Just as your bed and desk represent different values, qualities and areas of life, the stove represents nourishment, resourcefulness, prosperity and wealth. Be sure to place your stove in the commanding position of the kitchen.
  • Decorate with either white colors for cleanliness or dark, earthy colors and wood elements like cabinets or décor. Wood represents growth and development, while earthy tones are for stability.
  • If you can, have as many burners as possible on your stove. Burners represent opportunities for wealth and success in your career, so the more burners you have, the more chances to invite financial and career success into your life.
  • Keep the space clean, organized and free of clutter. This is especially true for the stove and fridge, as they’re the most important Feng Shui objects in your kitchen.

Just as the kitchen is where you feed your body, it can also feed your soul.

Home office

Your home office is ideally where you’ll get your work done and keep your affairs in order. So, you want the space to keep you focused, motivated and inspired.

  • Place your desk, which represents your career and work goals, into the commanding position.
  • Situate your office layout along the northern wall of the room. In Feng Shui, the north connects your success in your career and work.
  • Arrange your office to prevent furniture or objects from blocking the paths around the room. Objects that are restricting the flow of movement and just seem “in the way” can represent feeling blocked at work or that you place obstacles in your own way. Try to create an open floor plan to free your mind and workspace.
  • Using the Bagua mapping techniques, find out where the fame and wealth areas are around your office. Place objects tied to these areas, like plants for growth in wealth, to activate and attract more of these qualities into your work life.
  • You can also overlay a Bagua map onto your desk itself to identify problem areas and reorganize them accordingly, like adding a bonsai tree or small water feature.
  • As with all other rooms, keep your home office clutter-free, clean and organized. Messy spaces can get in the way of the positive energy you want entering your life and home.

Adding these elements into your home office will give you a calm and peaceful place to stay productive.

Use the 5 elements in your decor.

Use the 5 elements in your decor.

Key principles for Feng Shui for apartments

Even if you’re not able to utilize all the above design suggestions in your apartment, here are some key take-aways that will still help bring good chi into your apartment:

1. Avoid clutter

Overcrowded, cluttered rooms block the flow of chi, so it’s important to keep your spaces clean and organized. Eliminate extra furniture and furnishings. If you want to get rid of unnecessary clutter but are unsure where to start, follow the teachings of organization guru Marie Kondo.

2. Utilize the command position

Your bed, stove and desk are some of the most important Feng Shui objects in your apartment, so if you can place those in command positions, you’ll still be setting yourself up for success.

3. Incorporate balance in your apartment layout and design

Feng Shui stresses the importance of symmetry and balance in organizing your home to mirror those effects in your life. So, try to keep your spaces balanced in terms of where you place furniture and objects

4. Bring nature in

Connect to the outside world with fresh air and sunshine and use all five elements in your apartment.

Use Feng Shui to balance your life

Once you understand the principles and techniques of Feng Shui, they’re easy to incorporate in apartments of all sizes. Mastering the art of Feng Shui for apartments will not only make your living spaces feel and look better, but it will help direct positive energy into your life and set you up for success in all areas of your personal and professional life.

Source: rent.com

12 Best Hotel Booking Apps of 2021 – Get Cheap Deals on Rooms

@media (max-width: 1200px) body .novashare-buttons.novashare-inline .novashare-button-icon width: 100%; .novashare-inline .novashare-button .novashare-button-block background: #000000; .novashare-inline .novashare-button .novashare-border border-color: #000000; .novashare-inline .novashare-button .novashare-inverse color: #000000;


Additional Resources

My family and I recently stayed in a two-bedroom apartment for the same cost as cramming into a dull corporate hotel room. I don’t have an in with the owner or know someone who knows someone. I just used a booking app. 

A hotel booking app can help save you time, hassle, and money when planning your next trip. And these hotel booking apps could help you find a deal just as good as the one they found me.

Best Independent Hotel Booking Apps

Independent apps aren’t affiliated with a specific hotel brand. They aggregate options across a range of hotel chains and independent lodging to provide you with an abundance of choices and travel deals. To get the best deals, download the heavy hitters and check them all before you book.

1. Booking.com

Arguably the most popular website for reserving accommodations, Booking.com has a robust, easy-to-use app that deserves a spot on your smartphone. One of the best things about this app is the sheer number of options it offers, including accommodations in off-the-beaten-path locations around the world.

If you’re traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language, the app makes it easy to view the address of your hotel in the local language. If you need to show a taxi or rideshare driver where you’re headed, you can simply pull it up in the app and point.

Finally, the interface makes it easy to see all past, current, and future trips, and it highlights any loyalty discounts you’re eligible for at properties across the globe.

But you can book more than just hotel stays. The app searches for private vacation rentals like those listed on Airbnb and Vrbo. It also displays the hotel’s or host’s cancellation policy, noting the date range for free cancellation. 

2. Hotels.com

Another major search engine in the online booking space, Hotels.com includes hundreds of thousands of properties in more than 200 countries and territories. 

Hotels.com’s best perk is the free night you get for every 10 nights you book through it. But you have to use the app to book your reward night at no charge. If you use the website, it costs $5. 

The app also lets you view or modify current reservations and view your reward progress toward free nights.

3. Priceline

Priceline rose to fame for its name-your-own-price feature. While it phased out that feature starting in 2016, Priceline replaced it with two new features called Pricebreakers and Express Deals. 

Pricebreakers show you a price quote and the names of three hotels in your destination city, and you book without knowing which hotel you’ll land. You get a deal in exchange for flexibility. 

Express Deals also involves a bit of dice-rolling. They quote you a price, the approximate location, the hotel star rating, and the hotel amenities and bed size. You also see three possible hotels on a map, one of which is the real one. 

With a bit of online detective work, you can often sleuth out which hotel they’ve quoted you. But even if you can’t, the deal you get may still be worth it.

The only drawback is that there’s no free cancellation when you book through these programs.

Or you can use Priceline’s more common features, such as booking hotels, flights, rental cars, and even cruises at retail pricing. It includes exclusive deals and promotions on hotels you can’t get on the website. 

Priceline also now offers a loyalty program called Priceline VIP. Once you complete two trips with Priceline, you start seeing discounts up to 50% on over 15,000 properties on their platform. 

After five completed trips, you reach VIP Gold and start seeing discounts on over 30,000 properties. And at 25 completed trips, the number of discounted properties rises to 45,000. 

4. Expedia

If you enjoy playing the travel rewards game and want to see just how steeply discounted a rate you can find, Expedia is the app for you. It often features exclusive app-only deals. Plus, you get double rewards points on everything you book through the app. 

Like other hotel booking apps, Expedia hosts a wealth of hotel reviews from real guests to help you find the best stay.

You can also use the app to book other Expedia services, like flights, car rentals, tickets, and tours. Expedia offers mobile-only discounts of up to 30% on hotels and says you can save an additional estimated 43% when bundling a hotel with your flight.

Plus, the app alerts you about important travel information like flight updates, delays, and gate changes before it causes a problem.   

Expedia also offers a convenient buy-now, pay-later service for hotel deals so you can pay at the hotel rather than upfront. 

5. HotelsCombined

HotelsCombined sets itself apart from the rest in a few ways. It offers tons of pictures of potential hotels, which appeals to people who want to know exactly what they’re getting into when booking a room. 

It also has a price alert feature that lets you sign up for an email notification when a room you’re interested in drops in price by 10% or more. If you can plan ahead to get the specific hotel you want, this feature can help you score a great deal.

HotelsCombined also offers a best-price guarantee. If you find a better deal elsewhere within 24 hours of booking, HotelsCombined matches it and refunds you the difference. 

The app also says it can unlock “secret deals” exclusive to users. Try it to see how much it can actually save you. You can always invoke their best-price guarantee if you spot a better deal later. 

6. Travelocity

The Travelocity app does everything you’d expect. You can book flights, hotels, and rental cars and bundle them for discounts. You can also browse and search activities to fill out your trip. 

Beyond hotels, the app also includes private vacation rentals like you’d find on Airbnb. That helps you find the best accommodation at the lowest price regardless of the property type.

Travelocity offers free cancellation on most hotel bookings. You can even filter search results to list only hotels that let you reserve now and pay later. 

Travelocity offers its own price guarantee. It not only matches the better offer but gives you a $50 coupon toward your next booking. But the window only lasts 24 hours after booking. 

In addition to their price guarantee, Travelocity guarantees excellent and timely customer service. That includes 24-hour customer service through email, phone, chat, and social media channels. 


Best Hotel Booking Apps for Last-Minute Deals

Most hotels have loads of unused rooms that go unused on a given night. And some apps take advantage of that by offering these vacant rooms for far less than their list price. 

If you enjoy the thrill of a last-minute hotel search or need a place to stay in a strange city on the fly, these apps have you covered.

7. HotelTonight

Perhaps your Airbnb host cancels your reservation the day of your arrival or you miss your flight and the first available connection isn’t until the next day. With HotelTonight on your phone, you can book a hotel reservation for the same evening or up to seven days in advance.

HotelTonight aggregates a city’s empty hotel rooms in one place, and you can book one for up to 50% off the full price. The app’s express deals go live at noon each day, and in some cities, you could have thousands of hotel rooms to choose from across multiple price points. 

The app is user-friendly and has a tiered loyalty program called HT Perks, which can net you even better rates the more loyalty credits you accrue. Even better, those loyalty points never expire.

8. One Night

If flying by the seat of your pants when you travel sounds appealing, One Night is the app for you. You can only book a reservation after noon for the same night in a select number of cities, usually at an enticing discount to sweeten the deal. 

Once you book a night, you can extend your accommodations for up to seven days.

The thing that sets One Night apart from other last-minute booking apps is that when you select your hotel, the app gives you hour-by-hour suggestions for fun things to do in your destination city. If you like to travel like a local, this is the app for you.


Best Hotel Chain Apps

If you take advantage of travel loyalty programs, it’s smart to have the app of your preferred hotel on your smartphone. With these iOS and Android apps, you can skip the line, choose your room, and unlock other member perks with ease.

9. Marriott

Marriott boasts more than 6,700 hotels in 130 countries. That means Marriott group owns 1 in 15 hotel rooms in the world. So you definitely won’t be starved for choices if you book accommodations on the Marriott app.

Once you book, you can request upgrades and late checkouts right from your phone. You can also request extras for your room, like a hair dryer or extra towels. 

If you frequently stay at any of Marriott’s 30 brands of hotel properties, join Marriott’s Bonvoy rewards program and keep this app on your phone. The app’s Eat Around Town feature lets you link a credit card and pay for meals directly, earning up to six Marriott points per dollar spent. 

Marriott Bonvoy also keeps you posted about hotel promotions all over the world, helping you save money wherever you visit.

10. Hilton Honors

If you’re a Hilton Honors devotee, you’ll love the app feature that everyone raves about: getting to choose your exact room ahead of time. 

At many hotels, you can see a map of the property and pick the room you want via the app. That’s especially popular with travelers who have a particular preference, such as a high floor with a view or distance from the elevator, or those who want to be near a specific amenity like the pool or fitness center.

The app also has a digital key feature that lets you use your smartphone to unlock the door to your room at select properties. Finally, being able to check out of your room at the end of your stay via the app means you won’t be stuck in line at the front desk during checkout.

The Hilton Honors app particularly helps you manage and optimize your Hilton rewards, finding exclusive promotions and stretching your reward points further.

11. Hyatt

Hyatt’s mobile app is called World of Hyatt after their rewards program. 

Through the app, you can stream personal entertainment content through the TV in your room with Chromecast, unlock your door with your phone, and contact the hotel directly in real time through a chat function both before and during your stay. Best of all, you can skip the front desk check-in entirely.

You can also view your progress toward rewards, tap into exclusive promotions, and see any points you’ve earned with previous stays at a Hyatt property.

12. IHG

Shorthand for InterContinental Hotels Group, IHG has almost 6,000 hotels worldwide. 

Its app encourages customers to book travel directly with the chain instead of using a third-party site. It does so by offering a member-exclusive rate with savings of 3% on average if you book directly.

The app also features special rewards offers and discounts and lets you view your points balance toward a free or discounted stay. 

In addition to a user-friendly interface, the app has a travel tools section with neighborhood guides and maps. Finally, it offers a white noise feature in case you don’t sleep well in hotels.


Final Word

If you enjoy hunting for the best hotel deal to save money on vacation or racking up loyalty points you can trade for free nights and other perks, it pays to download the best travel apps to your smartphone. 

From skipping the line at check-in to finding the lowest hotel prices to simply being able to view the property beforehand, using hotel booking apps is an easy, free way to be a savvy traveler.

.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_849c26-f2 .kb-table-of-content-wrappadding:30px 30px 30px 30px;background-color:#f9fafa;border-color:#cacaca;border-width:1px 1px 1px 1px;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_849c26-f2 .kb-table-of-contents-titlefont-size:14px;line-height:18px;letter-spacing:0.06px;font-family:-apple-system,BlinkMacSystemFont,”Segoe UI”,Roboto,Oxygen-Sans,Ubuntu,Cantarell,”Helvetica Neue”,sans-serif, “Apple Color Emoji”, “Segoe UI Emoji”, “Segoe UI Symbol”;font-weight:inherit;text-transform:uppercase;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_849c26-f2 .kb-table-of-content-wrap .kb-table-of-content-listcolor:#001c29;font-size:14px;line-height:21px;letter-spacing:0.01px;font-family:-apple-system,BlinkMacSystemFont,”Segoe UI”,Roboto,Oxygen-Sans,Ubuntu,Cantarell,”Helvetica Neue”,sans-serif, “Apple Color Emoji”, “Segoe UI Emoji”, “Segoe UI Symbol”;font-weight:inherit;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_849c26-f2 .kb-table-of-content-wrap .kb-table-of-content-list .kb-table-of-contents__entry:hovercolor:#16928d;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_849c26-f2 .kb-table-of-content-list limargin-bottom:7px;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_849c26-f2 .kb-table-of-content-list li .kb-table-of-contents-list-submargin-top:7px;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_849c26-f2 .kb-toggle-icon-style-basiccircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:after, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_849c26-f2 .kb-toggle-icon-style-basiccircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:before, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_849c26-f2 .kb-toggle-icon-style-arrowcircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:after, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_849c26-f2 .kb-toggle-icon-style-arrowcircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:before, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_849c26-f2 .kb-toggle-icon-style-xclosecircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:after, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_849c26-f2 .kb-toggle-icon-style-xclosecircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:beforebackground-color:#f9fafa;

G. Brian Davis is a real estate investor, personal finance writer, and travel addict mildly obsessed with FIRE. He spends nine months of the year in Abu Dhabi, and splits the rest of the year between his hometown of Baltimore and traveling the world.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Hazard Insurance vs. Homeowners Insurance

If you’re a soon-to-be homeowner, your lender might mention that you’re required to purchase hazard insurance. You may be wondering, ‘is hazard insurance the same as homeowners insurance?’ In fact, hazard insurance is a part of your standard homeowner’s insurance policy.

Let’s look at the ins and outs of hazard insurance, including what it covers and what it doesn’t, and how much you can expect to pay for it.

Is Hazard Insurance the Same as Homeowners Insurance?

A common misconception is that hazard insurance is the same as homeowners insurance when, in fact, it’s a part of it. That’s because people sometimes refer to homeowners insurance as hazard insurance. You can think of it as a piece of fruit in a fruit and cheese basket — not the entire kit and caboodle.

Hazard insurance typically refers to the protection of the structure of your home and additional structures on the property (like a shed, deck or detached garage), whereas homeowners insurance as a whole also includes coverage for liability, additional living expenses, and personal belongings.

Recommended: Homeowners Insurance Coverage Options to Know

What Is Hazard Insurance?

Hazard insurance is part of homeowners insurance, and it typically covers the structure or dwelling, but not liability, personal belongings, or additional living expenses. Because it’s a part of a standard homeowners insurance policy, it cannot be purchased as a standalone policy. Rather, it’s folded into your homeowners insurance.

Hazard is oftentimes confused with catastrophic insurance, which is a standalone policy that covers against perils that aren’t included in a standard homeowners insurance policy, such as floods, earthquakes, and terrorist attacks.

What Does Hazard Insurance Cover?

Should there be damage to the actual structure of your home, the hazard insurance portion of your homeowners’ insurance policy will offer a payout. This usually includes damage or destruction to the actual building of your home from natural events, such as extreme weather or a natural disaster.

However, what specifically hazard insurance covers will depend on whether it’s a named perils or an open perils policy. Read on for more details on what those entail.

Named Perils

Named perils essentially means events, incidences, or risks that are “named” or “listed” under your plan as covered. In other words, if it’s not listed, then it’s not covered.

A named perils policy typically protects against 16 specific types of perils, including:

•  Windstorms or hail

•  Fire or lightning

•  Explosions

•  Riots or civil disruption

•  Smoke

•  Theft

•  Falling objects

•  Vandalism or malicious mischief

•  Damage caused by vehicles

•  Damage caused by aircraft

•  Damage from ice, snow or sleet

•  Volcanic eruption

•  Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from HVAC, a plumbing issue, a household appliance or a sprinkler system

•  Accidental cracking, tearing apart, burning or bulging of HVAC or a fire-protective system

•  Freezing of HVAC or a household appliance

•  Accidental damage from electrical current that is artificially generated

A homeowners insurance policy that is a named perils insurance policy is usually less expensive than an open perils policy.

Open Perils

While a named perils policy will only cover what’s listed in your policy, an open perils policy will provide coverage unless something is specifically excluded and noted as such in your policy.

Typical exclusions under an open perils policy include:

•  War

•  Nuclear hazard

•  Water damage from a sewer backup

•  Damage from pets

•  Power failure

•  Mold or fungus

•  Damage due to an infestation of animals or insects

•  Negligence and general wear and tear

•  Smog, rust or corrosion

An open perils policy tends to be for newer homes or homes in low-risk areas. Additionally, because an open perils homeowners insurance policy tends to be more comprehensive, they typically cost more compared to a named perils policy.

What Isn’t Covered by Hazard Insurance?

Now that we’ve looked at what hazard insurance may cover, here’s what typically isn’t covered.

Flood Coverage

Flood coverage isn’t part of a standard homeowners insurance policy, so you’ll need to take out a separate policy if you want it. In fact, if you live in an area that’s a designated high-risk flood zone, you may be required to take out flood insurance.

The cost of the policy generally hinges on how much of a risk your home is, which factors in your location, and the age of your home.

Earthquake Coverage

Earthquake coverage is another item that hazard insurance doesn’t offer, so if you live in an area that’s subject to earthquakes, you may want to get an earthquake insurance policy. This can either be tacked on to an existing policy as a rider or purchased separately.

When you purchase earthquake coverage, your home is usually protected against cracking and shaking that can damage or destroy buildings and personal possessions. But if there’s water or fire damage because of an earthquake, then that generally would be taken care of by a standard homeowners insurance policy.

How Much Does Hazard Insurance Cost?

As hazard insurance is part of a standard homeowners insurance policy, you won’t need to pay anything extra. According to the most recent data from the Insurance Information Institute (III), the average cost of a homeowners policy in the U.S. is $1,249.

Keep in mind that the cost can vary depending on a host of factors: the location of the home, the cost to rebuild, the size and structure of your home, your age, your credit score, your deductible and the type of policy and amount of coverage you desire.

Do You Need Hazard Insurance?

In short, yes. As you will need homeowners insurance if you are taking out a mortgage on your home, and hazard insurance is folded into homeowners insurance, then you’ll need hazard insurance.

When shopping around for hazard insurance, think about what is required by your mortgage lender, and what coverage amount would be suitable for your home and situation. Play around with different deductibles and coverage amounts to see how they would impact your premium, and don’t forget that discounts can also lower the cost of your insurance.

The Takeaway

Hazard insurance and homeowners insurance aren’t the same thing. Rather, hazard insurance refers specifically to coverage for the structure of your home and is an element of homeowners insurance. What your hazard insurance policy will cover depends on whether you have a named or open perils policy, though it generally won’t extend to damage from earthquakes or floods.

If you’re taking out a mortgage on your home, you’re generally required to get homeowners insurance — and, by extension, hazard insurance. SoFi has teamed up with Lemonade to make it easy to get homeowners insurance. Simply chat with Lemonade’s A.I. bot to get an insurance plan crafted for you, and then Lemonade will send a quote to your lender.

Check your price on homeowners insurance today.

Photo credit: iStock/MicroStockHub


External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SoFi offers customers the opportunity to reach the following Insurance Agents:

Home & Renters: Lemonade Insurance Agency (LIA) is acting as the agent of Lemonade Insurance Company in selling this insurance policy, in which it receives compensation based on the premiums for the insurance policies it sells.

SOPT1121016

Source: sofi.com

Make Money With Online Sales and Declutter on the Way

Quick Navigation

2021 was year two of the pandemic, and chances are most of us spent a lot of time at home realizing just how much stuff we have on our hands.

When you find yourself faced with clutter, there’s one good solution: try to sell it! What looks old, used or out of style to you may be a prized possession to someone else.

But entering the world of online sales can be overwhelming, to say the least. In 2021, we shared some of the best tips for selling everything from books and clothes to gift cards and photos online.

9 Ways to Make Money With Online Sales

To make it easy for you as the year comes to a close, here’s a roundup of our 2021 posts about making money from online sales after clearing out your closets and cabinets.

1. Know Where to Sell Online

Half the battle of selling something online is knowing how and where to sell it. Is your item highly visual? Does it tend to have a community that goes along with it, like vintage furniture? If you answer yes, then Instagram might be your best bet.

If you’re trying to sell goods to a wide variety of people from across the globe, sites like Amazon and eBay, which do have certain seller fees, can probably offer the largest reach.

If you’re just wanting to get rid of a few items from your garage, try a local site like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. These sites even allow for local pick-up, which may make your life easier and take two hassles away from you — you’ll get rid of the item and won’t have to do any of the heavy lifting.

We rounded up some great tips about how to sell online both globally and locally.

2. Master the Online Marketplace

There are some simple rules you should keep in mind when creating your listings. A quick summary:

  • Use a simple name for your item so it shows up in a search — for instance “table” instead of “dropleaf” or “grill” instead of the brand name.
  • Remember to always include relevant information up front — you don’t want to get bombarded with questions about something you could have put in the item description.
  • Know that selling something online usually requires maintenance. You’ll have to watch for messages from interested buyers.
  • Don’t set prices too high.

Read more in our roundup about selling used goods online.

3. Make Your Items Look Great

The easiest — and perhaps most pivotal — way to make your items stand out online is through good photography. The opposite is just as true. How many of us have watched our items go unsold and wondered whether a photo crowded with other objects in dim lighting may have been the culprit?

Read pro tips about how to take pictures of items to sell, collected from online sellers who have honed their photography practices over the years. Here’s an overview of what they say:

  • Find a clean background.
  • Prioritize natural lighting over artificial.
  • Stage the photograph thoughtfully, using props that work with what you’re trying to sell.
  • Take multiple photos to find the best shot — don’t just shoot one and call it a day.

4. Create a Thoughtful Customer Experience

If you’re running an online boutique rather than simply selling one-off items online, you may want to think about how you present your objects to buyers.

Crafting dynamic packaging and interactive experiences with every item can go a long way toward creating a repeat customer.

Read these online retail packaging tips from experts to learn how everything from confetti to free logo stickers can create brand loyalty and keep people coming back for more.

A woman sits on her couch with clothes covering her whole body.
Getty Images

5. Offload Your Closet Items

It can feel daunting to go through your closet and pick out the pieces you’re ready to part with — are we ever really ready? Worse yet, the act of taking photos, selecting prices and waiting for someone to bite on your old clothes can be anxiety-inducing.

But there are ways to do it successfully.

Start with knowing which site to use. Are you more of a Poshmark person or a ThredUP gal? Is Tradesy the right option for you? Do you plan to upcycle clothes before putting them up for sale?

Read our piece about how to sell clothes online to figure out how to get the best buck for your clothes.

6. Overflowing Bookshelves? Time to Sell

We’ve all seen the $1 pile at a used bookstore. Perhaps you think your old books will be relegated to that status, making it almost impossible to even break even on the sale.

But if you know where to see your books online, that may not be the case.

There are Amazon and Etsy, yes, but have you ever heard of AbeBooks and Decluttr? Read our roundup of places where you can sell used books online along with great tips that will help you clear some space on those shelves.

7. Sell Your Photographs

Those casual iPhone photos you’ve collected? You can put them to good use.

If you’ve gotten compliments on your artsy Instagrams or feel you’re a budding photographer, it might be time to try to make some money off of those talents.

The question is where to sell and how each site works. For instance, would you rather earn a certain percentage of royalties or pay the site for a listing?

We collected tips to help you sell photos online and pick the option that’s right for you.

8. Get Rid of Those Old Gift Cards — For Cash!

We never thought we’d say it, but there can be such a thing as too many gift cards.

Sometimes you just don’t have the time or ability to spend them all. So why not get money back for them and let someone else have all the fun? We listed the easiest ways to sell gift cards. Turns out there are plenty of apps designated for just that.

9. Consult Nextdoor for a Second Opinion

Nextdoor can be a dumpster fire of a site, but it can also come in handy when you suspect that you’re paying too much for something or not getting paid enough for an item you’re trying to sell.

Polling your neighbors on Nextdoor — literally the people who live in close geographic proximity to you — is a good way to get a sense of the general temperature. Byt asking for some Nextdoor reviews, you just might end up saving money!

Writer Elizabeth Djinis is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder, often writing about selling goods online through social platforms. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Smithsonian Magazine and the Tampa Bay Times.

<!–

–>



Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How We Learned to Save Money on Home Entertainment in 2021

Although the pandemic lockdowns of 2020 loosened up in 2021, many of us still found ourselves spending a lot of time at home.

With the novelty of Zoom happy hours and virtual events fading, we reverted back to some classic ways to unwind at the end of the day — vegging out in front of the TV and curling up with a good book.

And we found ways to save money while doing so!

6 Ways to Save Money on Home Entertainment

Whether you’re a big bookworm, love to watch live sports or can’t get enough of your reality TV shows, there are ways for everyone to cut costs.

1. Download Free TV Apps

With the plethora of streaming options available now, there’s no reason to be stuck paying a pricey cable bill. While many streaming services do charge their own subscription fees, there are some TV apps that are completely free.

Download these free TV apps if you want to keep your costs at $0. You may not get access to the latest shows airing, but there are offerings for movie lovers, kids, gamers, anime fans and those who enjoy classic TV shows.

2. Ditch Cable for Streaming Services

Cutting the cord is a great way to cut down on monthly expenses, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up the perks of viewing live shows and programs.

These streaming options allow you to watch live TV starting at about $35 a month. Many also offer DVR capabilities, just like cable companies do, so you can record episodes if you aren’t able to watch them when they air.

3. Watch NFL Games Without Cable

If you’re a sports fan, you might be holding onto cable so that you’re able to catch all the games of the season. However, there are many ways to watch NFL games without an expensive cable package.

You can stream games from the NFL Network or purchase the NFL Game Pass or NFL Sunday Ticket — plus there are several streaming services starting at $5 a month that’ll let you catch football games

4. The Great Debate: Fire Stick vs. Roku

For those switching from cable to streaming for the first time, one of the questions you’ll have is which platform you should use to stream content.

Amazon Fire Stick and Roku are two very popular options. In this article, we break down the highlights of both platforms so you can choose what’s best for you.

5. Score Cheap Audiobooks

Reading an interesting book is a great way to pass the time. Audiobooks are even better because you can essentially have the book read to you while you’re driving, out for a jog, doing chores around the house or whatever.

These nine options for finding affordable audiobooks let you build out your private (virtual) library without having to drop $25 for each hardcover book.

6. Discover Free Library Apps

Public libraries offer a wealth of resources, but you don’t have to get in your car and drive to your nearest branch to benefit from it all.

Free library apps like Hoopla, OverDrive and more let you access books, movies, music and online training programs at no cost. And there’ll be no one to tell you “shhhh” if you talk too loudly while deciding what to check out first.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

<!–

–>



Source: thepennyhoarder.com