Clutter vs. Hoarding: When to Worry About Your Roommate

Living styles can vary greatly from one person to the next, especially when it comes to cleaning and tidiness. Many times it is beneficial to discuss these traits before moving in with a roommate — if you’re a self-described “neat freak,” you might find it easier if your cohabitant is on the more organized side of things as well. That’s not to say that clean and messy roommates can’t successfully live together.

Maybe your roommate is just messy, a sentimental collector or a little bit of a packrat. If this is the case, there are plenty of ways to work through your differences and find a way to live peacefully together. But when is your roommate’s mess potentially the sign of hoarding?

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Messy and disorganized

If you’re noticing more mess than usual or if it seems like your roommate is struggling to keep up with normal housework, it might be a sign that something else is going on in their life that is causing stress or taking all of their attention.

Stress and other bigger issues going on outside your home can often disrupt normal patterns, with cleaning and organization falling to the bottom of the priority list.

If personal items are stacking up on tables and counters, more than a day of dirty dishes are piling up in the sink or you notice some extra loads of unwashed laundry from your roommate, you probably don’t have anything to worry about.

The mess (and maybe a slight smell) might be a nuisance, but try to check in with your roommate to see if anything has changed recently that might be causing them to neglect their housework.

If they are apologetic or willing to cooperate with your requests, you’re good to go.

When it becomes hoarding

There are a few red flags that are cause for concern — especially if you notice multiple signs or extreme conditions.

  • Overwhelming smells or visible mold, mildew or pests
  • Rooms or common areas become difficult to navigate
  • Unnecessary items rapidly accumulating in outdoor or garage areas
  • Denying access to certain rooms or areas
  • Vehicle full of personal belongings and other items
  • Unwilling to cooperate with cleanup requests or giving constant justifications for the mess

Noticing any one of these signs doesn’t necessarily mean your roommate is struggling with hoarding, but they are usually good indications that the problem is heading in that direction.

Knowing some of the warning signs can help you come up with an action plan before the situation gets out of control.

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How to handle hoarding

If you do suspect your roommate is struggling with hoarding tendencies, it’s important not to make quick judgments.

Someone unorganized, messy or has trouble letting go of extra personal belongings may get overwhelmed or stressed about something going on in their lives, but individuals struggling with hoarding might be dealing with a bigger mental health issue, finding it difficult to make changes or set limits without help.

A little empathy and patience can go a long way in getting cooperation from a messy roommate.

Try to find out the root cause of the problem and see if you can offer your roommate any support. Let them know that the clutter is beginning to affect you. See if you can agree on a cleaning schedule and set other expectations that you can both agree to.

Find a starting point that focuses on immediate items related to your health and safety including issues like addressing any mold or mildew. Focus on common areas since that is a shared space between the two of you. Suggest beginning with less daunting tasks like removing and emptying all garbage or organizing entryways and walkways.

If your roommate is seriously struggling with hoarding, don’t be afraid to ask for outside help. Your landlord is a good place to start. They may have suggestions or even be able to point out cleanliness clauses written into your lease agreement.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Make Money Renting Equipment and Doing Maintenance Jobs

Not everyone owns a power washer, paint sprayer, chainsaw, backpack leaf blower, multipurpose steam cleaner or cordless wet/dry vacuum for auto detailing. But those who do own these tools can use them to make extra money.

It can be well worth investing in certain small power tools that most people don’t own to develop a side gig.

For example, Popular Mechanics ranked its top three power washers, ranging in price from $159 to $529. HomeAdvisor, a website that helps homeowners find home improvement professionals, estimates the typical power washing job for a house with siding is $220 to $380 and $130 to $220 for a driveway. Thumbtack, another website that connects clients with service providers, suggests paying 16 cents to 22 cents per square foot of power washing.

So the money earned on just two power washing jobs would easily recoup the cost of buying even the more expensive power washer.

It’s easy to spread the word on social media or flyers on windshields about your services, whether chain saw cutting and debris removal after a big storm takes down trees or steam cleaning furniture and rugs before the holidays.

Each city or county has their own regulations on what services require a license, business registration fee or insurance. Even if it costs a couple hundred dollars to file the correct paperwork, that cost can be recouped within a few jobs.

Rob Littke, a contractor who does large and small projects for clients, offered a few tips for folks considering purchasing expensive tools. Here’s his advice.

How to Make Money Renting Equipment and Doing Small Maintenance Jobs

Rent Before You Buy

Littke suggests renting any tool before buying it so you can figure out which brands and designs work best for you. Home Depot has a wide selection of tools for rent. A cordless paint sprayer costs $27 for four hours or $38 for the day, while a pressure washer is $63 for four hours or $76 per day.

If you are doing a project for yourself or selling your services, Littke suggests renting tools instead of buying them unless you know you’ll use them regularly.

“When you rent a tool they are always in good shape, clean and ready to use. No hoses are broken, nothing needs to be replaced or refilled,” he said. “You never get to a job site and find out it doesn’t work.”

Also, some tools don’t perform well if they aren’t used frequently.

“There’s nothing worse for a paint sprayer than not using it,” he said, explaining there are pumps and rubber seals that can get stuck if they are left dormant.

“I sold my paint sprayer because I was never using it,” he added. (FYI: Littke prefers brushes and rollers because sprayers require so much preparation covering furniture, floors, doors and windows.)

Find Good Deals on Tools

Home Depot’s tool rental department is also a great place to buy tools. They sell them after being rented a few years.

“I bought a chainsaw there for about $100 that would have been more than $300 new. And since they use the same tools, they stock all the parts to fix them,” he said.

Facebook Marketplace is another good resource for used tools. “I can’t tell you how many people run out and buy a $700 tile saw to tile one bathroom, then they use it once and never again,” Littke said. After a couple years of that tile saw taking up room in the garage, it ends up on Facebook Marketplace for $300 or $400.

Harbor Freight is a chain of more than 1,100 stores across the country that sell 7,000 different tools and accessories for up to 80 percent less than the price of competing products. It buys direct from the factories that supply better-known brands and is able to pass savings along to customers, according to its website. Littke said he has saved hundreds of dollars there for tools that are the same high quality as name brand equipment. He buys the extended warranty for an extra $7, and if something breaks or simply wears out over time, they replace it with a new one.

Buy a Truck, Drive it for Money

If you need to buy a used vehicle for your own use, it makes sense to get a truck because it gives you the ability to use it to make extra money.

Many people need to move just one piece of furniture across town or throw an old mattress away at the town dump. It’s not worth hiring a moving company, and renting a truck from Home Depot is often more trouble and money than finding someone who owns a truck.

Weston Willingham, a senior at the University of Florida, made hundreds of dollars using his $6,000 2005 Dodge Ram 1500 throughout high school.

“My mom is a Realtor, so she always knew people who needed something moved,” he said. “Then I think people started saying: ‘Call Weston. He has a truck. He can help you.’ I was also an extra set of hands.”

Along with the space of a truck, Willingham showed up ready to lift and load as well.

He didn’t set prices, but asked customers to pay what they felt comfortable with. He made at least $40 per job and often more than $100.

“I was lucky because I was in high school and I could be flexible. Sometimes people would call me saying: “Hey I’m going to need you here right now and I will pay you well enough you will want to drop whatever you are doing and help out,” Willingham recalled.

Katherine Snow Smith is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Full House? Maximize Your Space With These Tips

Make a call to 1-800-Got Junk? Their minimum fee is 9 to remove and dispose of about as much stuff as fits in a pickup truck. There are also local, independent junk removal companies that offer competitive pricing. Or haul it away yourself, donating the usable items to your favorite charity for resale.
“The VIGDA corner room divider can be easily assembled following the provided instructions,” an Ikea spokeswoman said. The VIGDA consists of a track that is attached to the ceiling, with curtains that hang to the floor. It costs while Ikea drapes start at .99 a set.
“He literally took a flat king sheet and drilled screws through it into one corner of the living room,” his mother, Alyssa Brown said. “He made this little triangular room of his own.”

A completes his work from an office set up in his closet at home as his kids spend time in his room beside him. This photo illustrates one way to maximize small spaces: put your office in your closet.
Getty Images

5 Tips for How to Maximize Your Space 

I considered adding air conditioning to the garage, which had two big windows, but that was way too expensive. I thought about converting the dining room to their room, but there would be no way to get to the kitchen without going through it.

1. A cleaned-out closet becomes an office nook 

When I got divorced several years ago, we sold our four-bedroom home and I rented a two-bedroom house in a great neighborhood with a lot of character and big yard. With two daughters away at college and a high-school-aged son rotating between his dad and me, I really didn’t need more than two bedrooms.

  • Remove all the shelving, except for perhaps the top shelf for storage.
  • Have your child pick out a color and paint the inside together.
  • Measure the width and depth of the closet then get a piece of scrap countertop or plywood cut at Lowe’s, Home Depot or an independent cabinet and kitchen shop. This could cost $50 to $100 depending on the size and material.
  • Nail wooden slats or 2-by-4s around the perimeter of your closet about 30 inches above the floor.
  • Place the desktop on the supports.
  • Add a bulletin board, plastic file holders, stapler and a cup for markers and pencils. Let your child decorate his or her “classroom” with a few photos or printouts of their favorite heroes and heroines.

2. Got Junk? Then you probably have space.

I put my dresser in the dining room, and my clothes in the hall closet. For a summer when the girls were home, I slept on the sofa in the living room or on a pull-out in the screened porch.

Pro Tip
If you are feeling crowded in your home and considering buying something bigger, it’s scary these days to see how much just a little more space will cost. The median sales price of a home was up 17% for the four weeks ending April 11 compared to the same period in 2020, according to Redfin, the nationwide real estate brokerage.

Katherine Snow Smith is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

3. A sheet and a drill can create a room

But disappointed would-be homebuyers feeling priced out of the market can make simple changes where they currently live to maximize space and feel less cramped.
“The BEKANT screen provides privacy and absorbs sound to create division within the room,” she added. It costs 9 and is 59 inches high and 32 inches wide.
Here are some ways to create new spaces in your existing house or condo and enjoy it more while waiting for prices to drop. Who knows, you may decide there’s no place like home.
Is it time to pare down your belongings? Use these tips on how to minimize your stuff.

IKEA has organizational devices for small spaces such as the VIDGA, which is a curtain-like room divider and a BEKANT, which is a narrow standing desk.
IKEA has organizational products for small spaces, such as the VIDGA, left, which is a curtain room divider and a BEKANT, right, which is a screen that divides a room, gives privacy and reduces sound. Photo courtesy of IKEA

4. Ikea to the rescue

If a closet or a spare bedroom is packed to the brim with a broken vacuum cleaner or rusty exercise bike covered in old clothes, getting rid of all that offers more space for humans.
The rest of the house was decorated with my stuff, but they still had a room of their own and a place they felt was theirs.
“The MICKE Corner Workstation can be placed anywhere in the room. With shelving and a magnetic board, you can organize this workstation in your own unique way,” the Ikea representative said. It costs 9, and can be placed so that it creates two walls against a corner with a small opening to “get in” to the desk-and-shelf unit.
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Ikea has several products from to 9 that can create partitions or turn a corner into an office or bedroom.

5. Rethink and Reconfigure 

Here are some ways to maximize space and carve out individual rooms for a lot less than adding on or leasing a bigger apartment.
Ultimately, I made the master bedroom their room. I slept in it 90% of the time since they weren’t home often, but it was filled with all their “stuff” and their clothes.
But I struggled with my daughters having to move out of the house where they grew up and all their “stuff” being packed away in boxes in the attic. (“Stuff” defined: photos, embroidered pillows, framed record albums, twinkling lights, artwork, music boxes, stuffed animals, an old bubble gum machine, etc. It’s the “stuff” that makes a room, your room.)
This “corner room” could also house a play space, Lego table or easel in a living room or kitchen, offering privacy to a child and keeping toys out of sight in the main room.
The sheet supplied one wall, and the existing walls completed the rest of his triangular space that had enough room for a comfy chair, end table and a fan. The fan helped drown out the noise of the rest of the three-bedroom apartment. He used earphones when playing his XBox to contain his noise.
A screened porch, sunroom or dining room may be put to better use as a bedroom or classroom when everyone is home. Eat in the kitchen or at a coffee table, and make that dining room into one or even two rooms for sleeping, schooling or working.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
When Beau Brown was a high school senior during the first year of the pandemic, he did school at home alongside his two siblings and his parents, who were working at home. Feeling cramped, he found a way to carve out a little space for himself.  But his easy fix could create a beloved hideaway for a kid for any age. <!–

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Shelving units can be secured on one end to a wall and stick out into a room to divide it into two spaces. One KALLAX shelving system is almost five feet high and three feet wide for . Two of these would make a good-sized wall down the middle of your kids’ shared bedroom, or section off a corner of the living room for an office.

13 Ways a Food Vacuum Sealer Can Save You Money on Groceries

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. Virtually no market has been left untouched, and that’s especially true of Americans’ grocery shopping and food-related habits.

People are eating at home more often and even baking their own bread. And food preservation systems like vacuum sealers are surging in popularity, according to The Business of Business magazine. It makes sense. With all the stocking up we have to do to limit the number of grocery trips we take, we now need a way to keep all our spoils from spoiling.

With an initial investment of between $20 and $100 or more, depending on type and quality, plus the cost of vacuum-seal bags or storage containers, it costs a little to get started. But ultimately, they can save you much more money in the long run.

Ways a Vacuum Sealer Can Save You Money

One of the selling points of vacuum sealing is that it can help you save money. But can it really save you enough to justify its expense? That depends on what you’re currently doing to save on food and other goods. But if any of these cost-cutting measures would help, the vacuum sealer is probably worth much more than its weight in gold.

1. Eliminate Food Waste

Food waste is a significant problem in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans discard between 30% and 40% of their food.

A separate 2020 study published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics (and covered by Forbes) backed that up, finding that the average household wasted 31.9%. Those researchers estimated this waste to cost the average household $1,866 per year. A family that can cut food waste in half can save nearly $1,000 per year.

And a vacuum sealer can help you do that. For example, you can buy a large package of meat, cook half of it, and vacuum-seal the rest for later in the week.

You can do something similar with other foods, like fresh fruit and vegetables or cheese. Use only the amount you need, then seal the rest for later, and you’ll finally manage to get through every last bite before it goes bad. But wrap cheese in parchment or wax paper before sealing it to absorb the cheese’s natural moisture (which can cause it to deteriorate) and prevent sticking.

For foods you plan to reach for frequently, such as cheese and fruit, use a plastic vacuum-seal container or reusable plastic bag with a handheld model. For foods you plan to use all at once, such as meat, you can use a traditional countertop model with bag rolls, which allow you to create custom-size bags.

2. Buy in Bulk

If you’ve ever been to a warehouse store like Costco, you’re familiar with the absolutely massive packages of food they sell. Buying meat in 20-pound bulk packages can be cheaper than buying it in a grocery store, but what family can eat 20 pounds of beef before it goes bad?

There are just some things you shouldn’t buy in bulk if you can’t eat them quickly enough. But a vacuum sealer changes the game by extending the shelf life of what you buy.

Using a countertop sealer and custom bags from rolls, you can seal and store many kinds of food long term if you follow the best method for each.

  • Meat. Seal meat in meal-size portions. According to United Kingdom vacuum-sealer company Grutto, vacuum-sealed meat lasts up to two weeks in the refrigerator and between two and three years in the freezer. According to FoodSafety.gov, that’s double to triple the time compared to storing without the seal. How long a specific meat lasts depends on the variety. But in general, discard any meat that smells off, has undergone a color change, or feels slimy or sticky.
  • Beans. According to USA Emergency Supply, dry beans can stay good for up to 10 years at room temperature. If you vacuum-seal the beans, which reduces the amount of moisture that can reach them, that can extend their shelf by another 10 years.
  • Rice. White rice has a long shelf life, but brown rice can go bad within six months at room temperature. According to USA Emergency Supply, vacuum-sealing brown rice can extend its life to as long as two years and extend white rice’s shelf life to a full decade.
  • Flours and Meals. Flour usually has a shelf life of about a year, but USA Emergency Supply notes that vacuum-sealing it can make it last for up to five years at room temperature. To seal flour, place it in your freezer for four days to a week to kill any insects or bugs in it. Then, place the flour in a brown paper bag. Label the bag if desired and fold the top over, but don’t roll it down (air must be able to escape). Place the paper bag in a vacuum-seal bag and seal it. Wrapping it in a paper bag first prevents flour from getting sucked into the sealer. Note that the vacuum-sealing process compresses your flour, so this method is best used by those who measure their flour by weight (ounces or grams) rather than volume (cups). You can use the same approach to seal other dry powdered or ground goods, such as cornmeal, corn flour, or breadcrumbs.
  • Cheese. Wrap your cheese in some parchment or wax paper to absorb its natural moisture before sealing. According to online cheese seller Cheesy Place, this storage method can extend cheese’s freshness by months or longer. However, soft cheeses don’t tend to freeze well.

Before you run out and stock up on everything on this list, note that you’re only saving money if you’re getting a good deal on things you’d buy and use anyway.

3. DIY Dump Recipes

Cooking after a long workday is a daunting task. Sometimes, all you want is something simple with as little prep work as possible.

On days when chopping, slicing, and cutting sounds like a colossal chore, dump recipes can help you put a home-cooked meal on the table with minimal effort. All you have to do is dump the ingredients into a casserole dish or slow cooker or scatter them on a sheet pan, no other prep required.

With a vacuum sealer, you can make DIY dump-meal packets and toss them in the fridge or freezer until you need them.

4. Batch Cooking

Mornings can be chaotic, especially if multiple people are trying to get out of the house. But taking some time to batch-cook ensures you have a filling breakfast that doesn’t involve golden arches, even when you’re short on time.

Batch cooking involves spending a day or two, usually over the weekend, whipping up large batches of food for the week or month ahead. And a vacuum sealer makes your batch-cooked food last even longer.

For example, spend a Saturday putting together some vacuum-sealed breakfast pouches with nuke-and-go meals like breakfast burritos, pancakes, or mini-quiches for days when time just isn’t on your side. Just pre-freeze anything that might squash when sealed, such as rolls. You can then store them in either the freezer or fridge.

And batch cooking isn’t just suitable for breakfast foods.

At lunch, being limited to an hour-long break makes it tough to avoid popping out for fast food every day. But things like hand pies, soup, chili, and stir-fries all keep well in a vacuum-sealed packet. Freeze hand pies before sealing to keep them from squashing. For liquids like soups and chilies, pour the contents into a regular zip-close bag and freeze them flat. Then remove them from the zip-close bag, and vacuum-seal them, placing them back in the freezer for long-term storage or in the fridge for use that week.

If you store them in the freezer, transfer them to the refrigerator the night before. By the time lunch rolls around the next day, they should be mostly defrosted, and a microwave can finish the job.

You can even use a vacuum sealer to batch-cook weeknight freezer meals for evenings when cooking just isn’t an option. Batch-cook large quantities of dishes like lasagna, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, or meatballs for spaghetti or subs, and vacuum-seal them in meal-size portions.

For lasagna, meatloaf, and mashed potatoes, pre-freeze them in smaller containers before removing them to a vacuum-sealer bag.

5. Long-Term Leftovers

Cooking large meals means having leftovers. But it can get boring to eat the same thing repeatedly, especially if you make a considerable amount.

Having a vacuum sealer means you can seal and store these leftovers for weeks or months instead of days like you can in the refrigerator.

You can also freeze leftovers into homemade TV dinners. For example, instead of freezing a leftover half of meatloaf, quart of mashed potatoes, and leftover veggies separately, put enough of each for one person into several vacuum-seal storage containers. All you have to do when you want something easy to eat is take it out of the freezer and reheat. They’re perfect for lunches or hectic school nights when you’re eating dinner solo.

6. Buy Food in Season

If you visit the grocery store, you can buy many fruits and vegetables year-round, but you may notice the price and quality of some foods varies throughout the year. Even though modern supply chains mean you can buy most food items any time of year, fruits and veggies are seasonal products.

With a vacuum sealer, you can buy food while it’s in season — or pick it from your own garden — when it’s at its cheapest and freshest. When you seal it, you preserve its freshness and quality.

Before vacuum-sealing vegetables, blanch them by boiling them for a few minutes, then dropping them into an ice bath. Dry them thoroughly, and place them in a vacuum-seal bag. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, blanching helps preserve the veggies’ flavor, color, and texture.

According to Food Vac Bags, sealed and frozen vegetables stay fresh for two or three years in the freezer compared to the normal eight to 12 months the National Center for Food Preservation says vegetables can stay frozen without vacuum sealing.

To vacuum-seal fresh fruit, start by cutting (if necessary) and freezing the fruit on a flat baking sheet. That prevents it from getting squashed during the sealing process. Place the frozen fruit into bags (preferably in single-use serving sizes) and seal. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, sealed frozen fruit can stay good for up to 12 months. And according to VacMaster, sealed fruit stays fresh for up to two weeks in the fridge.

7. Store Herbs & Spices

Dried herbs and spices have a long shelf life, but they tend to lose their flavor relatively quickly. If you compare the smell and taste of a new spice jar with one that’s a year or two old, you’ll notice the difference.

People use some spices frequently throughout the year, but others are more seasonal. For example, cloves are a popular component in wintery dishes but may not appear as often during other seasons.

Vacuum-sealing spices can help preserve their freshness longer. If you notice you haven’t used certain spices for a while, place them in a small paper bag with the top folded or a plastic zip-close bag with a couple of small holes in it, then place that bag in a larger vacuum-seal bag. Pre-bagging prevents the spice from getting sucked into the vacuum, which could damage the machine. You can unseal them when you need them and don’t have to worry about them losing flavor over time.

You can also use a vacuum sealer to preserve fresh herbs as an alternative to store-bought dried ones. First, blanch the herbs by dropping them into a pot of boiling water for a few seconds, then immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water. That helps them stay fresh for even longer in a vacuum-sealed packet. Just make sure you let the herbs dry completely before sealing them.

Note that herbs might not look nice after vacuum sealing, so they won’t be good garnishes. Vacuum-sealing just preserves their flavor. According to FoodSaver, frozen, vacuum-sealed herbs can stay fresh for months.

8. Save Space in Your Kitchen

Vacuum-sealing eliminates a lot of bulk. That can save you space in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, meaning you can worry less about space.

For example, vacuum-sealed meats, like ground beef, can have a much slimmer profile than meat packaged in the Styrofoam trays from the grocery store. Repackaging them in your own vacuum-seal bags also lets you control the quantity and shape of each chub.

If you like soup and chili, you can vacuum-seal loads of it without taking up too much room. To save space, spoon it into a zip-close bag, seal it carefully, and place it on a flat surface, like a baking sheet, to freeze. You can then remove the frozen meal from the zip-close bag and seal it in a custom bag. That gives you a flat package that’s easy to store in the freezer, either by stacking multiple bags or storing them straight up and down, like a file folder. The flat freezing method also makes it defrost quickly.

Sealing things like beans or grains lets you customize the way you store your dry goods. Some of these products come in awkward packages that are floppy and cumbersome in tight storage spaces. Vacuum-sealing pulls out all the air, creating a sturdy package that doesn’t shift as you search for other goods. Use reusable bags with a handheld sealer so you can grab what you need and reseal. Or you can use a vacuum-seal canister for even greater stability.

You can also seal bags of frozen vegetables or fruits in a single layer to reduce the amount of space they take up in your freezer. That makes it easier to keep them out of the way until you need them. You can also try sealing vegetables in smaller servings so you can use them in a meal without having to reseal what you don’t need.

9. Marinate Faster

Marinating meat or vegetables before cooking adds flavor. But marinating takes precious time. Many recipes call for placing food in the marinade hours before you cook — or even the night before — hardly ideal for on-the-go parents or professionals.

Vacuum-sealing the food in plastic bags can help you marinate it much faster. Make your marinade and pour it over the food into a custom bag made from a bag roll, then vacuum-seal it. With this method, marination takes only half an hour, though you can leave it longer if you want more flavor or tenderness.

When marinating, avoid letting liquid get into your vacuum sealer. A popular strategy is the paper towel method. Just put a paper towel between the food and the top of the bag. The towel catches liquid before it gets sucked into the vacuum sealer. As an alternative to paper products, you can use cheesecloth or something similar.

10. Sous Vide Cooking

Sous vide cooking relies on cooking food sealed in glass jars or plastic bags in a water bath at a precisely regulated temperature. You can use a sous vide cooker without a vacuum sealer, but vacuum-sealing yields the best results.

Using a sous vide cooker makes it easy to cook meat to the exact doneness you desire. Since you can set the temperature of the water bath precisely, the food never heats above a set temperature. That means getting the perfect level of doneness every time you cook with no risk of going over. If you like, you can even give it a quick sear on high heat after it’s done.

That’s fantastic news for those pricey steaks you splurged on. But it can also save you money by letting you buy cheaper cuts of meat. According to Serious Eats, sous vide’s low and slow cooking with consistent temperatures tenderizes the meat.

Sous vide machines are perfect for summer cooking since they don’t heat your home the way ovens do. Plus, you can keep the sous vide running while you’re not home.

You can use it to cook almost anything that benefits from cooking at precise temperatures, such as eggs or meat.

And with sous vide, you can cook your sides along with your mains. For example, toss some sliced potatoes, smashed garlic, milk, and butter for mashed potatoes into one vacuum-seal pack and some broccoli, olive oil, salt, and pepper into another and cook those along with a salmon steak or pork roast.

You can even sous vide foods straight from the freezer.

11. Waterproof Your Valuables & Emergency Supplies

If you’re planning a trip to the beach, expecting a large storm, or simply want to keep your valuables safe, you can use your vacuum sealer to waterproof them.

For example, you can seal things like important documents, your kids’ priceless artwork, and comic books or magazines. But be careful, as the vacuum could transfer the ink to other surfaces, make pages stick together, and crimp the edges. Instead, place them between cardboard sheets to prevent damage, then slide them into a custom-size bag from a roll and use the seal-only function. To ensure they’re also protected from fire, place them inside a fire-resistant envelope before sealing.

Vacuum-sealing is also a safe and efficient way to store emergency supplies like matches, candles, batteries, and flashlights. If a storm knocks out your power or damages your home, you’ll have dry equipment you can use while you wait for help. You can also seal away some cash so you have emergency funds to use during a disaster, when credit card networks may be down.

12. Camping & Hiking

Packing for a hike or family camping trip can be challenging, especially if you plan to stay overnight. You can only fit so much in your backpack without it becoming overly bulky, and you want to minimize weight as much as possible.

The vacuum-pack method works best for consumables or things you can otherwise leave on the trail or at the campsite unless you want to use reusable bags and pack a handheld sealer in your backpack.

A vacuum sealer draws the air from your provisions’ packaging, making it easier to carry more supplies. As a bonus, it weatherproofs the things in your bag so you can keep essentials like food and clothing dry, even if you’re hiking or camping in the rain. And it’s cheaper than buying larger bags or more expensive waterproofing equipment.

13. Save Storage Space in Every Room

The kitchen isn’t the only place storage space is at a premium. Vacuum sealers can help you pack away things you don’t use frequently and reduce the amount of space they take up.

If you want to vacuum-seal bulky items, like comforters and winter coats, you must buy special bags that work with your vacuum cleaner. But you can use your regular countertop kitchen vacuum sealer for smaller items.

For example, you can use a vacuum sealer to store seasonal items, like heavy winter socks, mittens and gloves, and scarves, until it gets cold again. You can just put the bags at the bottom of your sock drawer, where they take up a fraction of the space.

You can also use a sealer to seal things for backup or long-term storage, such as old baby clothing you plan to reuse for your next child or extra tea towels, handkerchiefs, or bulk-purchased cotton balls to protect them from water damage and pests, even if you store them in the garage.


Types of Vacuum Sealers

Before you buy a vacuum sealer, it’s crucial you understand the pros and cons of the different types of sealers and the kinds of containers they work with.

  • Countertop. Traditional countertop vacuum sealers are the most versatile. But they need space on your countertop, at least temporarily, which is a negative if countertop or storage space is already at a premium. Countertop sealers are designed to work with bag rolls, which allow you to create custom-size bags. But most also work with generic sealable containers and reusable bags via a hose you can attach to the unit. Countertop vacuum sealers tend to have the most efficient seal of the three when used with the bag rolls. But if you need to access something frequently, such as cheese or snacks, you have to create and seal a new bag each time. And they’re clunky to use with containers and bags if you don’t plan to keep it on your counter. Countertop sealers usually cost between $25 and $50 for a cheaper model, such as the NutriChef, up to $200 or more for a high-end model like the FoodSaver V4840.
  • Handheld. Smaller handheld vacuum sealers don’t take up much space. However, they only work with specially designed boxes or bags that are more expensive than generic vacuum-seal bag rolls. Handheld sealers often run between $20 for a budget unit and $30 for a more powerful sealer like the MXBold. That said, they’re not as powerful as countertop models, and some air will eventually get into the package after you seal it due to points of entry and escape in the sealing hole and zipper. That makes them best for short-term sealing or foods you reach for frequently.
  • Specialized Vacuum Sealers. There are a lot of specialized sealers that are designed to fit different needs. One example of this is the Vacuvita, which starts at $300. It sits on your countertop full time and is intended for frequent sealing and unsealing. It’s also more suitable for things like bread and chips, which a traditional sealer would crush. But it doesn’t lend itself to long-term storage. Then there are chamber vacuum sealers, like the VacMaster chamber sealer. They’re expensive but highly efficient and quieter than many other sealers. They’re great for people who want to customize how they seal food or who have lots of things to seal at once. It can also vacuum-seal liquid like marinades and soups for long-term storage. Chamber sealers are often commercial equipment, but there are comparatively less expensive prosumer (professional-consumer) models for home use.

The solution you seek may rely on having more than one kind of sealer. But you’ll most certainly need more than one type of storage solution. And there are several types to choose from.

  • Bag Rolls. Traditional countertop vacuum sealers work with special bag rolls, which are customizable. They’re essentially long tubes of plastic. You use the vacuum sealer’s seal function to melt the plastic together on one open end of the bag, cut the bag to the size you want, and fill it. Then you use the vacuum-and-seal function to pull out the air and seal the remaining open end. They’re also relatively inexpensive. However, you can’t reuse them, which means you need to restock regularly. These are optimum for long-term storage because they have the best seal and lose less vacuum over time than any other storage method.
  • Reusable Bags. Reusable bags are a fixed size and more expensive than bag rolls. But you can use them more than once, which can save you money in the long run. They’re suitable for foods you plan to use often because you can reseal them rather than discard them and start over like you have to do with bags from rolls. But they aren’t as impervious as the custom bags. The sealing hole and zipper are potential points of air introduction, and they can lose vacuum over time, meaning they’re not ideal for long-term storage. They can be a pain to clean and fully dry, and it’s best to avoid using them for things like raw meat or foods that can stain, such as tomato sauce.
  • Specialized Mason Jar Lids. You can buy special vacuum-seal Mason jar lids to seal jarred foods. For long-term storage, these are best for staples like cereal and dry goods. Vacuum-sealing with them isn’t meant to take the place of proper canning techniques. But they’re fine for short-term storage of things like soup and chili.
  • Plastic Storage Containers. For leftovers and meal prep, you can’t beat vacuum-seal storage containers. They’re expensive but reusable. But over time, these containers’ seals may weaken, especially if the initial seal isn’t good or there’s too much moisture in the container.

Just ensure whatever container you buy works with your sealer model.


Final Word

Vacuum sealers are useful kitchen gadgets that can help you save space and money. However, they’re not one-size-fits-all. You may even need a couple of different types of vacuum sealers to meet your needs.

For example, a countertop model that works with bag rolls can help you vacuum-seal foods for long-term storage. But you’ll probably prefer to keep a handheld model for everyday use, like storing leftovers in the fridge or sealing cheese or deli meat for lunches.

With vacuum sealers, the possibilities are endless. You can vacuum-seal almost anything, so you might find new and interesting ways to save space and safely store things throughout your home.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Stay-at-Home Parents — Make Extra Money Without Joining an MLM

A free app called Fetch Rewards will reward you with gift cards just for buying toilet paper and more than 250 other items at the grocery store (Hopefully something your picky eater will eat).
Ready to stop worrying about money?
InboxDollars won’t make you rich, but it’s possible to get up to 5 per month watching these videos. It’s already paid its users more than million.
If you have skills and experience from before parenthood, you can look for online and remote freelance gigs at some of the top freelancing websites.
You know the closet I’m talking about. The one with clothes and toys your kids outgrew last year, mystery boxes from the last time you moved and didn’t unpack, and other miscellaneous junk you obviously don’t use.

1. Take Advantage of Nap Time and Earn $225 Watching Videos

Diapers are expensive. If you added up all the dirty nappies your kid went through this year… well, don’t. It’s a lot. Better not to think about it.
You could also take a free online contact-tracing course from John Hopkins University, then find contact-tracing jobs. These types of jobs are flexible and can earn you upwards of /hour. Plus, you’d be playing a meaningful role in the reopening of our economy.
Money doesn’t just fall out of the sky — which is too bad. But it can fall out of your budget, if you know where to look.
Side-gigging is a hard juggling act for stay-at-home parents, which is why those multi-level marketing companies can be so tempting — but don’t feel pressured to do it. They can be a dangerous investment, if you’re not high enough on the corporate food chain.
Get the Penny Hoarder Daily

2. Get Cash Back With Every Grocery Haul

When was the last time you looked at your car insurance payment? You should shop your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money.
We work the longest hours, don’t get an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan and definitely don’t receive paid vacation. The perks are great — getting to spend all this time with our kids, and our uniform is much more comfortable — but boy, would it be nice to see a few dollars for the work we put in.
A website called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. One minute, you might watch someone bake brownies and the next, you might get the latest updates on Kardashian drama.
It’s time to let go. Sell it! Whether it’s through a garage sale, Facebook Marketplace, or an app like Letgo, get rid of it all and get some of your money back.

3. Is Your Kid Still in Diapers? Get Rewarded For Your Loyalty

Speaking from experience, being a stay-at-home parent is the most underpaid job in the world.
So, what kind of side gig can parents have? Driving or food shopping apps aren’t always feasible with little ones at home. It has to be something you can do from home and that works around your family’s schedule.
You can download the free Fetch Rewards app here to start getting free gift cards. Over a million people already have, so they must be onto something…

4. Find Extra Money That’s Already in Your Budget

Grocery shopping when you have kids is an adventure. If you managed to get to checkout with everything you need — despite your toddler’s meltdown in the frozen aisle — you should have something to show for it.
Thankfully, some of the brands you use most offer loyalty programs to help offset the cost (and keep you coming back). For example, the Pampers Club app gives you cash back and points for each diaper or wipes code you scan.
Here are some of the easiest ways for stay-at-home parents to make a little extra money — without joining an MLM.

If we told you that you could get free money just for watching videos on your computer while your kid soonzed, you’d probably laugh. It’s too good to be true, right? But we’re serious.
A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.

5. Embrace the Minimalist Movement and Clean Out Your Closet

Yup. That could be 0 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.
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It’ll feel like a breath of fresh air to unload so much stuff, and you could be a few hundred bucks richer. Win-win.

6. If You Have the Time, Get a Side Gig

It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll immediately earn a bonus to get you started.
All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward. Brands pay InboxDollars to get these videos in front of viewers, and it passes a cut onto you.
Here’s how it works: After you’ve downloaded the app, just take a picture of your receipt showing you purchased an item from one of the brands listed in Fetch. For your efforts, you’ll earn gift cards to places like Amazon or Walmart.
Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of 0 a year. <!–

–>


Unfortunately, it feels like social media is telling stay-at-home parents the only way we can make extra money these days is through a buy-in-required, set-your-own-hours, be-your-own-boss type of job. Yep. We’ve all gotten those DMs from long-lost friends asking us to join their multi-level marketing company.

The Best Parks and Green Spaces in Philadelphia

From the moment William Penn, founder of the Colony of Pennsylvania, set aside Philadelphia’s Five Great Public Squares as part of his “Greene Countrie Towne” city plan, Philadelphia has been recognized for its amazing public green spaces and parks, large and small, urban and woodsy. Nearly every neighborhood contains an inviting, safe, inspiring public space. But what are some of the best?

Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park PhiladelphiaFairmount Park Philadelphia
Fairmount Park

Every discussion of Philadelphia parks must start with Fairmount Park, the largest space within the world’s largest urban park system.

Stretching from the Strawberry Mansion to the Spring Garden neighborhoods, the East Park half of Fairmount Park lies on the Schuylkill River’s east bank. This side features scenic running and biking trails that wind past historic sites such as The Philadelphia Museum of Art and Boathouse Row, with its famous light display, large plateaus near Brewerytown, which include the Sedgley Woods Disc Golf Course and Strawberry Green Driving Range and the vast Fairmount Park Athletic Field, where you can hop into a pickup hoops game or join an organized sports league. For a quieter outing, the recently renovated East Park Reservoir is one of the best bird-watching enclaves in the city.

Across the river, though still in Fairmount Park, the West Park runs from the Wynnefield neighborhood down to Mantua. Here you can take the kids to the first-in-the-nation Philadelphia Zoo, the Please Touch Museum or the John B. Kelly Pool right next door.

For a more adult excursion, take in a concert and an amazing view at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts or fling a Frisbee at the Edgely Ultimate Fields. In the winter, Philadelphians of all ages take to Belmont Plateau for the city’s best sledding hills.

Wooded parks

Wissahickon Valley ParkWissahickon Valley Park
Wissahickon Valley Park

For everything Fairmount Park has to offer, other city parks boast their own perks. The expansive Wissahickon Valley Park extends from Chestnut Hill through East Falls in North Philly. There you’ll find people on mountain bikes and on foot traveling the winding gravel paths of forested Forbidden Drive, youngsters learning while having fun at the Wissahickon Environmental Center Tree House and anglers casting into the trout-stocked Wissahickon Creek.

Running from Bustleton to the Delaware River in Northeast Philly’s Holmesburg section, Pennypack Park is a 1,300-acre wooded creekside hiking and biking oasis that provides nature programs at Pennypack Environmental Center, a full working farmstead with cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens at Friends of Fox Chase Farm, and King’s Highway Bridge, the oldest in-use stone bridge in America.

In extreme South Philly, you’ll find Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, adjacent to the professional sports complex, which contains a full 18-hole golf course, a nationally-celebrated skateboard park and the Meadow Lake Gazebo, long a popular spot for wedding photos.

The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, a little farther south in Eastwick next to the Philadelphia International Airport, is a top hiking, canoeing and fishing spot within a stunning environmentally-protected tidal marsh.

Urban parks

Spruce Street Harbor ParkSpruce Street Harbor Park
Spruce Street Harbor Park
Photo courtesy of Anastasia Navickas

If you prefer parks that feel part of the city rather than those that feel like you left the city, Philadelphia won’t disappoint.

Atop the Circa Centre South Garage in University City is Cira Green, a new rooftop greenspace boasting seasonal coffee carts, summer movies and some of the best views of downtown.

Named by Jetsetter Magazine as one of the “World’s Best Urban Beaches,” Spruce Street Harbor Park at Penn’s Landing is an eclectic recreational sanctuary along the Delaware River with seasonal food and beer trucks, a riverside boardwalk and a cluster of more than 50 cozy hammocks, which hang under spectacular LED lights strung amongst the trees.

From biking to basketball to bird-watching, Philadelphia’s city parks and green spaces offer unlimited means of escape from the bustle of urban life.

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How I Flip Garage Sale Items On eBay As A Side Hustle

Hello! Please enjoy this article from a reader, Rush Walters, on how he flips garage sale and auction items on eBay as a side hustle to make extra income.

Depending on who you ask, there are pros and cons to being a high school teacher. One con: income, One pro: having summers off.How I Flip Garage Sale Items On eBay As A Side Hustle

How I Flip Garage Sale Items On eBay As A Side Hustle

Both my wife and I are teachers in a small mid-Missouri town. During my first year (2015) as a high school teacher and head boy’s tennis coach I was making a whopping $38,000 a year.

Needless to say, the budget was tight some months.

When I got married in 2018, I thought a second income would be very helpful, but a second salary would not come until 2019. Long story short, my wife is from Bolivia and was not able to legally work for a year until she received her permanent residency status (green card).

Two people living off of one middle-class paycheck, let alone a teacher’s paycheck, was challenging. Thankfully my wife and I were decent at budgeting, and have been using a successful budgeting process since we have been married, but I’ll save that story for another day.

Financially we were fine, but what about the fun money? What about going out to eat with friends during the weekends? What about going to the movies? What about my “want” purchases?

This is when the idea of flipping items on eBay from garage sales & auctions came into full effect.

At the time, I heard about one of my coworkers making a significant amount of money from flipping sports memorabilia on the side. I thought to myself, “I could do that, I don’t have much of a sports background, but I do have an eBay account and I have been to garage sales before.”

So I began waking up Saturday mornings at 6am, grabbing my coffee thermos, heading to the local gas station to purchase the local newspaper, and marking up the classifieds with my pen.

(Sifting through the junk at garage sales to find the gold!)

Sifting through the junk at garage sales to find the gold!

I would circle all of the sales that started that day only. Forget the 2-day garage sales that started the day before. I am not saying that you cannot find anything of value at these sales, but everything has already been picked through and all the good stuff has been bought. 

Flipping items on eBay quickly became my side hustle! Starting out I sought some advice from my coworker I mentioned earlier.

I mean this guy is really into it, he would travel on the weekends to trade shows in other states and if he was going solo he would sleep in his car to save money. He is frugal, well some people like to call it “cheap,” haha.

Along with advice from him, I honestly learned a lot through experience. Trials & Tribulations. From a good flip I gained money and joy, from a bad flip I learned a lesson. Throughout this process I also learned about the value of my time.

Is it worth spending half a day at auction just for one item that may bring me $20?

I am going to share with you my step by step process for beginners flipping items on eBay. I have made mistakes and I have enjoyed successes, but most importantly is that I learned from my experiences. Experience is one of the best teachers you can find.

Related content:

How I make extra money reselling items on eBay.

Step 1: Mining for Diamonds

You will be mining for the “diamond(s) in the ruff” as they say.

There are three specific tools you will need before you hit the ground running. Let’s start with the most obvious: cash money. Make an effort to go to the bank the day before you go garage saling.

In the morning when I would buy the newspaper at the gas station, I would ask the register if they could change a $20, but I quickly found out that changing a $20 at the local gas station isn’t always reliable. Some gas stations have enough one dollars bills to spare, some do not. That being said, I have done it many times, but sometimes I am only able to get 10 or 15 one dollar bills at a time.

This limits my bartering power. You are not going to be able to go to the bank in the morning because they are closed and ATMs do not output dollar amounts in increments of 1.

My top tip for cash is to always carry $1 bills on you. Reason being, when you barter you will need to have the ability to pay any amount, not just increments of $5. I try to carry twenty one $1 bills on me at all times when I’m garage saling. If you make a purchase that you have larger bills for, use your large bills. Only use your dollar bills when needed.

Tool #2 is the newspaper. Always buy your local newspaper the day of the sale. Your local gas stations should always have a copy. As soon as you get in your car, pull out the classifieds portion of the paper, throw the rest in your backseat, pull out your pen and start circling all the garage sales that open for the first time that morning. Make a mental note of the times, obviously you want to go to the earliest ones first. Don’t spend forever doing this, you are on a schedule!

Have a game plan, you know the town you live in, take the most strategic route you can. Do not go all the way out to the East side of town then turn right around to go all the way to the West side of town. Go to the East side and hit up all the sales along the way. There isn’t a specific game plan that I can give you for what sales to hit first, only some pointers.

Obviously hit the first ones that are open first. Hit the ones that are in the same vicinity. Hit what you are looking for. I personally like to flip old video games for a number of reasons, so if I see a listing mentioning video games, I will put that sale on the top of my list. The final thing you need to consider is the type of garage sale listing. Here are the top 3 listings you need to know:

Moving Sales – The name the game is in the title: “moving.” These sellers are motivated to move and get rid of their items. Sure, getting some extra money is a plus, but they just want to get rid of items so they can move without having to worry about them. They are motivated to sell and are very open to deals.

Estate Sales – The best of the best in my opinion. These sellers are not moving, but they want to get rid of everything. I would argue that they are more motivated to sell compared to anyone else because they are just cleaning the estate of everything, sometimes for any price.

The normal “Garage Sale” – The most common sale, these sellers are more motivated to make money rather than to get rid of items. They are the hardest to barter with, but have some of the most valued items because they are priced to sell.

(Online Garage Sale Ad from my local newspaper)

Online Garage Sale Ad from my local newspaper

All in all, you can probably find deals at any of these sales, the title of them only helps me prioritize which one I am going to first. If both a garage sale and estate sale begins at 7am you better be dang sure that I am going to the estate sale first.

Some local newspapers have a digital version of the classifieds listed as well as a paper copy. The only benefit I’ve found to this compared to the paper copy is that it helps me make my decision on whether or not I want to go garage selling the next day. Typically my paper posts the day-of classifieds for Saturday online starting at midnight, which makes sense. You will have to do your own research if your paper offers this.

So if I see that the online classifieds are only listing two garage sales for the next morning, chances are I will not go unless the listing description is promising/convincing.

Also, people do post ads on Facebook and they should be considered, but I have found that if it is on Facebook it will be listed in the paper too, at least if it’s worth going to.

As soon as you’re done marking up the classifieds and establishing your game plan, head to your first sale, it never hurts to be early. I am going to repeat this, it never hurts to be early. I stress this because although the listing may say that they open at 7am, I have seen them open at 6:50am. Yes 10mins. makes a difference! A 10min window could be your chance to cash in on a great deal or could be a missed opportunity to cash in on a great deal if you show up at 7:00am. If you are there before it opens, no worries, wait in your car until they open. Yes I know I know, it may seem creepy to wait in your car outside their house but hey it will not be creepy when you’re walking away with great items to flip.

Always make every effort to be first.

You need to be the first person at the sale so that you are the first person to see what they have to offer and the first person to land the best deal. People are vultures out there, they want the best meat first and do not care who is in the way.

Last but not least, you will need your smartphone charged and the eBay app up and running. On the app you are able to conduct a search for previously sold items. This tool is your key for finding the current values of items. This tool is great because it is always updated and always accurate.

You find the “Sold Items” button under the filter when searching for a specific item, as shown in the picture below.

Left image: “Sold Items” button              Right image: Sold Items Search Results

Once you have learned more about what sells and what does not, you can move quicker.

Again you are on a schedule, I am not saying you need to run from sale to sale, but if you don’t find any deals at one you are wasting your time just walking around.

Your time could be spent better at another sale, where you could be beating someone else to the punch.

Step 2: Bartering

Here comes the pivotal point. When to say yes, when to say no, what price to ask?

When bartering for objects in the $20 and under range, I most often start by offering half of what they are asking. Example: the item is priced at $10 so I will offer $5. Now I know that 8 out of 10 times I am probably not going to get the item for half off, but it’s a starting point to get the item for at least 25% off the original price. So why do I shoot for half off you might ask?

There is a good chance that they are going to counter your original offer, therefore if you start your offer at 25% off the original price they could counter with 10% off the original price. The seller, as well as the buyer, wants to get that satisfied feeling. You as the buyer are satisfied with getting a deal whereas the seller is still happy with making money although it might be a little lower than what they were asking.

You also need to take in mind that most garage sellers are not out there to make money for a living. Their purpose is to get rid of items they do not want anymore and it is a bonus if they are able to get cash in return, it’s not like they are running a pop-up business. Most of the time they are more motivated to get rid of items compared to just making money.

When you are bartering you also need to establish your stopping point. What is too expensive for you?

The lower the price you purchase your item for, the larger window of opportunity you have to make money. This decision all depends on how much you want to make. The details are in the margins, if you see a video game that sold on eBay for $15 and you bought it for $5 that’s a decent amount of profit.

You tripled your money.

When you look up an item on eBay  you need to be as specific as possible, so your search results are as accurate as possible. If you cannot find an exact copy of the item that was sold, find the most closely related item and use it to set your standard for the value of an item and establish what you are willing to pay for it.

Do not get caught up in the excitement of the deal. Yes it’s exciting and yes it’s enjoyable to have success flipping products, but do not let it cloud your judgement or your knowledge. I am going to be honest, money does not care about your feelings.

Stay focused, get what you set out to get for the right price.

When I run into an item that I am still learning about I always ask myself is it worth the risk of X amount of dollars?

Are you comfortable with potentially losing X amount of dollars?

Risk is always involved.

I can remember when I purchased some collectible Harley-Davidson Steins. I did not know too much about them, I saw what they sold for on eBay and then decided to take a risk. The seller gave me a price that I was comfortable with so I purchased two of them. I broke positive, but only made a few bucks for a good amount of work. I am glad I did not lose money, but I lost my time.

My time is valuable and so is yours.

Behind every flip, there is a lesson to be learned.

Before we get into the final step, I am going to share with you lessons I have learned from my faults and successes.

Lessons to be learned

After dropping my wife off at the airport in the city, I figured I might as well hit up some auctions on my way back home.

At the time, I had been to auctions before so I knew the routine, but I had never been to an auction with the goal in mind to flip items. I had a few successful garage sale flips under my belt so I figured auctions are the next level in my side hustle pursuit.

I saw this collection of old American coins, mostly Kennedy half dollars and some steel pennies that were made during the war due to the shortage of copper.

I did the math, if I sold 50 of them at $5 a pop I would make $250 so I’d be comfortable with spending $200 for the lot. I remember that I liked that fact the coins are a small item so they would be easy to mail. I also liked that it was a collection therefore I could build my inventory without having to go to multiple garage sales to keep my eBay listings updated. I bought the coins, but I had to bid against others which drove up the price and my valuation was wrong 😬.

I did not know much about coin collecting and on top of my little knowledge of the items, I did not have good cell phone service in the building so I could not follow my rule of valuing items on eBay.

I knew that there was a market for collectible coins, but I did not take into consideration the specifics of coin collections. Collecting coins and currency is a whole other ball game. Let alone the quality certifications behind them.

Let’s just say I was in the negative on this flip. I believe I sold around $50 – $70 of the around $200 I spent on them. I also bought a collection of lighters that day for around $90 and sold them for around $20 – $30.

Sad day.

On the flip side of things my first big sell was a fishing lure. I bought a small tackle box of fishing lures and gear for $15 at a local garage sale.

When I was evaluating the price of the lures on eBay I was confident that I could make my money back and I was comfortable with risking $15. I had trouble choosing a listing price for the lures, I just did not know what to start them at.

Let me remind you that this was when I was first starting out. I asked my coworker what he thought, he suggested that I start auctioning them at 99 cents. So that’s what I did. That way I could see if they are worth anything and learn from my first attempt at selling lures.

Certain Fishing lures are very collectible.

I sold one for $100!!

This was my first big sale and I was ecstatic! I caught the eBay fever!

My first big flip: collectable fishing lure

My first big flip: collectable fishing lure

Step 3: Quality eBay Listings

I am not going to go through how to list an item step by step by step, but I am going to discuss my top recommendations when listing an item.

The reasoning I’m not going to go through it step by step is because eBay does a great job at outlining what is required for item listings.

I am going to give you what you need to take your listings from a default basic level to a high quality level.

By now if you were using the “sold items” feature on eBay during step 1, you should already have the eBay app installed on your phone. To list items you need to make a free account on eBay. The company does a great job and gives you a straightforward process for setting up an account.

I don’t have much complaints to say about the app, it provides an easy and understandable process for listing items.

Starting out, I would recommend that you focus on the “auction” listing more than anything else. You have the potential to make money and you can learn how expensive people value your specific item.

When you set up a “buy it now” listing, you set a constant price that won’t change.

Whereas buyers in auctions determine the final price; the sky’s the limit.

Another beautiful aspect that auctions offer is that they drive competition! Think about it, say you’re missing the last few presidents in your campaign button collection and president #3 is up for auction. President #3 is hard to come by so you know that you’re going to do whatever it takes to obtain his button……so is the next guy…..and the next guy…..and the next guy.

That means one thing for you: $$$$$$. I think you get the picture.

I believe this is what happened with my $100 fishing lures. Two guys were going at it, to add to their collection.

Now this doesn’t happen with all items, not all items are a part of a collection. The principle of supply and demand rings true and through auctions you are able to witness this process as a seller.

Let’s get into pricing.

Always start your auction at a price below what the previous item sold for. This may seem like common sense, but I have seen plenty of auction listings starting at the price they are valued at. Let me remind you that they have zero bids!

I wonder why. 😐

My rule of thumb is that the lower the starting price, compared to what it is valued at, the higher attention your listing is going to attract.

With a low starting point, potential buyers are going to see it as a deal to be made! I typically start the listing from $10 to sometimes $20 below what it is valued at. Also do not forget to take into account eBay’s 10% listing sellers fee. For most items eBay only takes 10% of your sold price. Here is a detailed list of eBay’s fees.

Once you have an idea for a ballpark price, you are going to want to take quality pictures of your product.

Display:

  • the back
  • the front
  • the sides, and
  • a bird’s eye view

Display every picture necessary to give potential buyers a full understanding of your item.

Once your pictures are uploaded you need to complete the description of the item, this is often overlooked/partially completed.

Now do not over do it, but your item’s description needs to be specific.

Example, if I am selling a video game that I have never tested on a console and the case is missing the original manual I would put the following in the description:“Untested and missing manual as seen in pictures.”

By saying this, it both informs your buyer and covers your butt. I have had it happen to me a few times where a buyer will purchase a produce that has a defect, that I mentioned in the description and showed pictures of 🙃, complaining that it is broken or not what they originally purchased. I then reference my original posting and they can’t win the argument. I will not refund them their purchase because they did not read the description.

What about reviews from the buyer!?!

If a buyer who is in the wrong attempts to give you a bad review, you can call eBay’s customer service, explain the situation, and ask for it to be taken down. Of course eBay must agree that you are in the right, but if you are right they will back you up.

1 point eBay, 0 points grumpy buyer.

Last tip on listing an item: shipping.

When starting out, always have the buyer pay for shipping. Ebay has a good system in place that calculates how much it will cost per person based upon their location.

All you have to do is enter the item’s weight and dimensions of the box/package that you plan to ship it in. When filling out the shipping portion of your listing, be sure that everything is correct otherwise you will be charged for extra shipping if your items actually cost more than you anticipated.

This is a lesson that I had to learn more than once.

Conclusion

  1. Establish your game plan for garage selling. Know where and how to mine for gold.
  2. Barter like it’s nobody’s business! The lower the price the greater the window of opportunity you have to make money.
  3. Simply follow directions when creating a listing, be thorough with your pictures and description.

Finally and most importantly, learn as you go.

After you do your research and read up on how to flip items on eBay, you need to try it! Experience is one of the best teachers.

I have experienced bad flips and good flips.

The path to success is not perfect otherwise everybody would be doing it.

Author bio: Rush is a Mid-Missouri high school engineering teacher and tennis coach. He and his wife Mia have no kids, only a smart Bernese Mountain dog named Zion. Along with teaching, he runs one blog; Clim & Joe’s. He enjoys exploring, cooking, board games, and time spent with his wife and family. 

Are you interested in flipping items for resale? What questions do you have for Rush?

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Source: makingsenseofcents.com

What Is A Conventional Home Loan?

Nothing compares to scrolling through listings until you find the home with the perfect garden, garage, and floors. Then comes the less fun part: figuring out how to finance your home purchase.

For the vast majority of people, acquiring a new home means taking out a mortgage, a loan for the part of the house cost that isn’t covered by the down payment.

U.S. homeownership hovers near 66%, and millennials continue to be the biggest share of buyers. What kind of loan do most go for? The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. But conventional loan requirements vary, and some may find that a government-sponsored loan is a better fit.

Let’s take a closer look at conventional loan requirements and the difference between FHA and conventional loans.

Conventional Mortgages Explained

Conventional mortgages are insured by private lenders, not a government agency, and are the most common type of home loan.

Then there are government-guaranteed home loans. FHA loans are more commonly used than VA loans (for service members, veterans, and eligible surviving spouses) and USDA loans (rural housing). Government loans are often easier to qualify for.

Taking out a conventional home loan means that you are making an agreement with a lender to pay back what you borrowed, with interest.

And unlike with an FHA loan, the government does not offer any assurances to the lender that you will pay back that loan. That’s why lenders look at things like your credit score and down payment when deciding whether to offer you a conventional mortgage and at what rate.

See how SoFi can help make your
dream home a reality.

Two Main Types of Conventional Loans

Fixed Rate

A conventional loan with a fixed interest rate is one in which the rate won’t change over the life of the loan. If you have a “fully amortized conventional loan,” your monthly principal and interest payment will stay the same each month.

Although fixed-rate loans can provide predictability when it comes to payments, they may initially have higher interest rates than adjustable-rate mortgages.

Fixed-rate conventional loans can be a great option for homebuyers during periods of low rates because they can lock in a rate and it won’t rise, even decades from now.

Adjustable Rate

Adjustable-rate mortgages have the same interest rate for a set period of time, and then the rate will adjust for the rest of the loan term.

The major upside to choosing an ARM is that the initial rate is usually set below prevailing interest rates and remains constant for six months to 10 years.

A 7/6 ARM of 30 years will have a fixed rate for the first seven years, and then the rate will adjust once every six months over the remaining 23 years. A 5/1 ARM will have a fixed rate for five years, followed by a variable rate that adjusts every year.

An ARM may be a good option if you’re not planning on staying in the home long term. The downside, of course, is that if you are, your interest rate could end up higher than you want it to be.

Most adjustable-rate conventional mortgages have limits on how much the interest rate can increase over time. These caps protect a borrower from facing an unexpectedly steep rate hike.

Conventional Home Loan Requirements

Conventional mortgage requirements vary by lender, but almost all private lenders will require you to have a cash down payment, a good credit score, and sufficient income to make the monthly payments.

Many lenders that offer conventional loans require that you have enough cash to make a decent down payment. Even if you can manage it, is 20% down always best? It might be more beneficial to put down less than 20% on your dream house.

You’ll also need to demonstrate a good credit history. For example, you’ll want to show that you make loan payments on time every month.

Each conventional loan lender sets its own requirements when it comes to credit scores, but generally, the higher your credit score, the easier it will be to secure a conventional mortgage at a competitive interest rate.

Most lenders will require you to show that you have a sufficient monthly income to meet the mortgage payments. They will also require information about your employment and bank accounts.

How Do FHA and Conventional Loans Differ?

One of the main differences between FHA loans and conventional loans is that the latter are not insured by a federal agency.

FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, so lenders take on less risk. If a borrower defaults, the FHA will help the lender recoup some of the lost costs.

FHA loans are easier to qualify for, and are geared toward lower- and middle-income homebuyers. They require at least 3.5% down.

Additionally, the loans are limited to a certain amount of money, depending on the geographic location of the house you’re buying. The lender administering the FHA loan can impose its own requirements as well.

An FHA loan can be a good option for a buyer with a lower credit score, but it also will require a more rigorous home appraisal and possibly a longer approval process than a conventional loan.

Conventional loans require private mortgage insurance if the down payment is less than 20%, but PMI will automatically terminate when the loan balance reaches 78% of the original value of the mortgaged property, unless the borrower asked to stop paying PMI once the balance reached 80% of the original property value.

FHA loans require mortgage insurance, no matter the down payment amount, and it cannot be canceled unless you refinance into a conventional loan.

The Takeaway

A conventional home loan and FHA loan differ in key ways, such as credit score requirements. If you’re ready to make your dream house a reality, you’ll want to size up your eligibility and your mortgage options.

SoFi offers fixed-rate home loans with as little as 5% down and terms of 10, 15, 20, and 30 years.

It takes just two minutes to get prequalified online.



SoFi Home Loans
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. SoFi Home Loans are not available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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.

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Source: sofi.com

How to Get a TV for Cheap – 7 Ways to Get Deals on a New Television

TVs and many other electronics are interesting because as quality has steadily improved over the years, prices have dropped. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price index for TVs decreased by 94% between 1997 and 2015.

In other words, TVs become more affordable every year despite continuous upgrades and new features.

However, if you’re buying a new TV, you still need to be somewhat price-conscious. The latest plasma or LCD TV models still set you back several hundred dollars or more. Like other major purchases, it’s important to ensure you buy the right TV that has the right balance between price and features.

Thankfully, there are several ways to get the best deal on a new TV to help keep costs down. As long as you give yourself enough time to shop and keep these strategies in mind, your next TV upgrade shouldn’t drain your wallet.

The Best Ways to Save Money on a New TV

Buying a new TV isn’t going to be cheap. Ultimately, screen size, features, and brand influence prices the most. If you’re set on a specific size and type of TV, your savings will only go so far.

However, there’s no reason to pay full price for a new TV, regardless of the size and type you buy. Implement one or more of the following money-saving tips the next time you decide to upgrade your TV to keep more money in your wallet.

1. Shop Online

It might seem daunting to buy a new TV online. After all, you probably want to see it in person to help visualize what it would look like in your home.

However, one of the easiest ways to save on a new TV is to buy online. Shopping online saves time, and if you use shopping browser extensions, it’s easy to comparison shop to ensure you’re getting the lowest possible price.

For example, extensions like PriceBlink tracks product prices across thousands of retailers. If you’re shopping for a new TV, PriceBlink notifies you if there’s a better deal on a different website for instant savings.

To take your savings further, use extensions like Capital One Shopping and Honey. Both extensions automatically apply coupon codes at checkout to help you save money.

Plus, you can earn free gift cards with both extensions for shopping at specific retail partners. If you’re buying a high-ticket item like a TV, a single coupon code can go a long way in your efforts to save money.

Finally, online tech deal sites are also worth checking to find low prices on TVs and other electronics. For example, websites like Newegg and SlickDeals often have TV discounts that can shave off a significant portion of your price tag.

Buying a new TV online is also less stressful if you do your research. Room size matters for screen size, so measure the area you plan to set up your TV to gauge if you’re buying the right size. TV buying guides can also help you decide on your screen size based on how far away your seating is from the TV and how crowded the room is.

Finally, read reviews for any TV you’re considering. If you’re concerned, you can also check out the TV you’re considering in-store before placing your order online.


2. Use a Cash-Back Credit Card

Buying a new TV is a considerable expense. Additionally, if your new TV purchase is part of a home improvement project or move, you probably have other major expenses alongside your new tech.

Using a cash-back credit card for everyday purchases is a savvy move. However, for large expenses, credit cards are even more lucrative.

Plus, credit cards often have introductory bonuses if you spend a certain amount of money within the first few months of becoming a cardholder. If you take advantage of a bonus while TV shopping, you’re making the most of your money.

Several popular cash-back credit cards worth considering include:

  • Chase Freedom Unlimited: No annual fee; earn $200 when you spend $500 within the first three months; 5% cash back at grocery stores; unlimited 1.5% on most other purchases; up to $500 in purchase protection for 120 days. Read our Chase Freedom Unlimited review for more information.
  • U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card: No annual fee; earn $150 when you spend $500 within the first three months; 5% cash back up to $2,000 on two categories of your choice, which can include electronics; 1% to 2% cash back on everything else. Read our U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card review for more information.
  • Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi: Requires a Costco membership; 4% cash back on first $7,000 in eligible gas purchases; unlimited 3% cash back on travel and restaurant spending, unlimited 2% cash back on Costco purchases; unlimited 1% cash back on everything else; purchase protection against loss or damage for up to 90 to 120 days. Read our Costco Anywhere Visa Card review for more information.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is ideal if you want to take advantage of an easy $200 sign-up bonus. However, depending on how expensive your new TV is, 5% cash back from the U.S. Bank Cash+ card and sign-up bonus might earn more.

Finally, shopping at Costco to save money is already a smart move; if you do electronics shopping at Costco, sweeten the deal by signing up for their Anywhere Visa card to earn 2% cash back.


3. Tread Carefully with Extended Warranties

Extended warranties are protection plans you can purchase to cover damage and defects. You commonly find extended warranty plans for consumer electronics, vehicles, mobile phones, and even home warranty plans.

On paper, extended warranties might seem like they’re worth it. After all, if you buy a new TV or other expensive product, your first instinct is to insure yourself against damage and disappointment down the line.

However, according to Consumer Reports, extended warranties for electronics are almost never worth the cost. We tend to overestimate the likelihood our tech products will fail, and there are several other considerations to keep in mind:

  • Manufacturer Warranties. Tech products usually have some form of manufacturer warranty to protect against defects. Most warranties last for 90 days, which might suffice for protecting your purchase against defects and damage.
  • Store Policies. Big box retailers generally have lenient return policies that cover product malfunctions or defects. Some stores even let you return products without any real reason, provided they aren’t damaged. For example, Walmart lets you return TVs within 30 days and provides a refund for damaged or defective products. Therefore, extended warranties aren’t needed to protect yourself against out-of-the-box defects.
  • Term Length. Companies sell extended warranties to profit, which isn’t in customers’ best interests. Many extended warranty plans last one to two years, but the bulk of technical issues you encounter will probably occur long after this time frame. In other words, extended warranties on electronics is buying protection for the least risky period of ownership.

If you want to maximize your savings when buying a new TV, you should almost always skip the warranty.


4. Consider Older Models

Like most tech products, TVs improve every year with the release of new models. Resolutions of 4K become 8K, screen sizes get larger, and picture quality sharpens. For true technophiles and cinema lovers, the latest models are undeniably a cause for excitement.

However, part of TV shopping involves considering the diminishing returns on your spending. Do you really need the latest TV model, largest screen, and sharpest resolution that’s on the market? Depending on your room, viewing habits, and budget, buying an older TV model is often how you get the most value.

Even buying a year-old model can make a significant difference on price. Plus, modern TVs have come a long way compared to their heavy, clunky predecessors. Smart TVs that are a few years old still work with streaming services and devices.

Until a truly revolutionary line of TVs release, slightly older models will suffice for most viewers — and can save you hundreds of dollars.


5. Shop at The Right Time

For major purchases, timing sometimes means a significant difference in savings. Retailers price products differently based on demand and season, and TVs are no different. Therefore, if you’re planning to spend a few hundred dollars or more on a new TV, it might be best to hold off.

Historically, TV deals are most popular during two events: Black Friday and the Super Bowl. Black Friday is especially popular for TV shopping because almost every major retailer will offer a discount on electronics. Super Bowl deals are less common, but they’re worth keeping an eye on.

The best way to take advantage of a sale is to research presale prices at least a few weeks before the sale begins. Retailers are crafty, and sometimes your sale price is actually the same or more expensive than regular pricing because retailers first raise the base price to make a “sale” seem more appealing.

If you shop on Black Friday for the holidays, this is especially important because these faux sales are rampant. Following the price of the TV you want in the month leading up to Black Friday can help you spot a real bargain.

If you’re buying from Amazon, you can use the CamelCamelCamel extension to track Amazon prices and view price history for millions of products. Similarly, Honey and Capital One Shopping let you set up price tracking alerts on products to receive notifications when a product you’re interested in drops in price.

New TV models usually release in spring, so this is another ideal time to buy older TV models. Ultimately, if you give yourself enough runway, you can buy a new TV at a low price point for easy savings.


6. Use Reward Websites and Apps

Comparison-shopping websites or daily deal websites are useful for finding discounts. However, sometimes cash-back reward websites offer the greatest chance to save.

Rakuten is one popular option that pays you cash back for shopping at their partners. Creating a Rakuten account is free, and you simply visit Rakuten before shopping online to find opportunities to earn cash back.

In terms of TVs and electronics, notable Rakuten partners include:

  • Best Buy: Up to 1% cash back
  • TV Store Online: 7.5% cash back
  • Staples: 2% cash back
  • Office Depot: 2% cash back
  • Overstock: 4% cash back

Cash-back rewards are subject to change. Luckily, Rakuten partners with thousands of retailers, and there’s always an opportunity to earn cash back on your next electronics purchase. Rakuten also has online coupon codes, although cash back is where the platform shines.

If you can’t find deals on Rakuten, various reward apps are also worth trying. Apps like Drop pay you in free gift cards for shopping through the app at specific partners. Drop partners with plenty of big box retailers, making it easy to find TV deals.

Similarly, Dosh is another rewards app that automatically pays you cash back for shopping through its partners. Once you link your credit and debit cards to Dosh, you never have to worry about preselecting offers before shopping, and Dosh also partners with plenty of major U.S. retailers.

If you combine these rewards with shopping at the right time of year and other savvy tricks, you can get a new TV for much less than full price.


7. Consider Cheaper Brands

With electronics, you largely get what you pay for. Whether you’re shopping for noise-canceling headphones, a laptop, or a new TV, going for the cheapest option sometimes has consequences for performance and longevity.

If you’re buying a new TV for your home theater or family room, spending more on a premium brand and model might be worth it. However, if you just need a TV for watching the hockey game in your garage or for sending with your kid back to college, you don’t need to splurge on a leading brand.

Cheaper TV brands like Vizio and Insignia can get the job done without draining your wallet. You can also shop for refurbished electronics if you find a reputable seller and understand the warranty that comes with the TV.


Final Word

Like most electronics, TVs feel like something we need to update every few years. New models come out, screen sizes get larger, and it seems like upgrades are an inevitability.

There’s nothing wrong with buying a new TV or even splurging on a recent model with the latest specs. However, you should never pay full price for a new TV, especially if you’re on a tight budget and are trying to maximize your savings rate.

Additionally, consider the diminishing returns on your spending before making your next upgrade. New TVs are a luxury, but there comes a point at which spending more doesn’t necessarily increase enjoyment.

Source: moneycrashers.com