Historic Old Hollywood Charm: See Inside Vanessa Hudgens’ Luxurious Los Feliz Estate

After searching for five years, Vanessa Hudgens found the perfect Georgian colonial estate in Los Feliz, Calif. to call home. Find out how the High School Musical star transported an old Hollywood home into her “French” and “vibey” dream house.

Nicknamed “The Little DeMille,” iconic Hollywood filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille built the stunning Los Feliz house for his mistress in 1922.

And now, the Princess Switch star, 32, is opening up the doors of the updated home to Architectural Digest for an exclusive tour.

From her DIY remodel in the kitchen, to her “obsession” with candlesticks and vintage books, to the “sexy” and “cave-like” bathroom, here’s the full scoop on Vanessa Hudgens’ luxe Los Angeles home.

An historic Hollywood home transformed into the perfect “escape” 

According to Daily Mail, Hudgens purchased the luxurious Los Feliz home from Academy Award-winning actor Gary Oldman. After a 5-year house hunt, Hudgens bought the home in December 2018 for just under $5 million. 

The 3,168 square foot Georgian colonial home retains many of its original features. 

Sitting on a half-acre, the stunning estate includes three bedrooms and four bathrooms with a separate one-bed, one-bath guesthouse that sits over a detached two-car garage.

Nestled in the Hollywood Hills, the historic Los Feliz home provides the perfect escape for the Tick, Tick…Boom! actress. 

“There were so many things about it that struck me,” Hudgens tells AD of her plush property.

She adds: “Walking through the gate and seeing this house covered in ivy, surrounded by olive trees, it was like I had been transported to France or Italy. It felt like such an escape.”

ivy-covered entrance to vanessa hudgens' house
Photo credit: Jenna Peffley for Architectural Digest

Sisters unite! Ashley Tisdale helped Hudgens with the DIY decor

BFF to the rescue!

While Hudgens always “wanted an old home,” there’s no escaping the upkeep and renovations with an older building.

After purchasing the house three years ago, Hudgens enlisted the help of her High School Musical costar and good pal Ashley Tisdale. 

“I got new marble, painted the cabinets, got new knobs and drawer pulls—I really wanted brass. My girlfriend Ashley Tisdale does interior design, and I got her advice on where to shop,” Hudgens says.

vanessa hudgens' lively kitchen
Photo credit: Jenna Peffley for Architectural Digest

Hudgens also hired Jake Arnold to help bring her overall vision together, including a vast collection of vintage books, colorful art pieces, the perfect lighting for all her house plants, and a wide selection of candlesticks. 

“I wanted it to be casual, relaxed and cozy,” she says of the interior design, adding, “I’m a big fan of candlesticks, so you will notice them everywhere.”

The luxe Los Feliz pad also has this “big selling point”

Amid the big plants, abstract art and witchy books, Hudgens couldn’t help but gush about the home’s fabulous floors.

“Oh and the floors!” she boasts.

The herringbone wood parquets “were a big selling point for me when I saw this house,” she shares. 

Made from 18th-century French oak taken from an old chapel in Europe, the floors were originally added by Oldman. 

exterior of vanessa hudgens' house and the outdoor pool
Photo credit: Jenna Peffley for Architectural Digest

Hudgens took on a pandemic project to improve her new home

Admitting that her kitchen looked “very different” when she moved in, the Powerless star remodeled it during the pandemic.

“I took it upon myself to have a project, and put it all together,” Hudgens says of the DIY project.

“I painted the cabinets, removed some cabinets, and put big oak beams for open shelving,” shares the actress.

kitchen cabinets revamped by actress vanessa hudgens herself
Photo credit: Jenna Peffley for Architectural Digest

Including eccentric wallpaper featuring mushrooms and dragons, Hudgens decorated the breakfast nook with designs from the House of Hackney.

“I figured, Why not? I did what I like to call a facelift to it,” Hudgens says of her kitchen renovations. 

The funky wallpaper rests above a custom booth, inspired from “the dopest place ever.”

“I had the booth made for this space,” says Hudgens. “I was really inspired by the restaurant Maison Premiere, this absinthe and oyster bar in New York. It’s the dopest place ever.”

The actress also added extra tile, made of Carrara marble, from the primary bath for the backsplash.

A look at the romantic, the sexy and the cave-like features throughout the plush property 

Hudgens invites fans into her “romantic” dining room, which features an Italian chandelier from 1stdibs. 

Admitting she doesn’t cook often, Hudgens says, “I’m normally a ‘Let’s get everyone over, have a drink or two, put on a playlist, and then we all figure out what we want to eat and I just order it’ type of host.”

Heading upstairs, the Grease: Live star shows off her bedroom that features feminine art and pops of orange.

“For some reason I just really fell in love with the idea of orange for my bedroom,” she shares.

Hudgens is all about body-positivity, and shows fans a nude painting in her bedroom. “I wanted the house to be super feminine, to celebrate women’s bodies, to be a kind of femme palace,” Hudgens says.

When in California, enjoy the sunshine! The beautiful backyard features a pool, pizza oven, fire pit and plenty of outdoor space for entertaining.

“I wanted a yard that felt like a park where I could run around with my friends, have space to play, and just feel safe,” Hudgens shares.

Saving the best for last, Hudgens shows off her Goth black bathroom which is one of her “favorite places in the house.”

actress vanessa hudgens inside her bathroom in her los feliz house
Photo credit: Jenna Peffley for Architectural Digest

Featuring marble countertops, black walls and an egg-shaped tub, Hudgens went for a cave-like aesthetic in the primary bathroom. 

“The bathroom is a sexy cave,” shares the actress.

See the luxurious LA home for yourself! From the ivy exterior, to the poolside murals, to the various Teen Choice Awards and the ghost-like painting of herself, check out the YouTube video for a full tour with the High School Musical star.

More celebrity homes

Zendaya Owns a $4 Million Home Fit for a Disney PrincessThe Story of Taylor Swift’s Holiday House — Home to “the Last Great American Dynasty”
From a Prince to a King: A Look at Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith’s Real Estate Portfolio
Everything We Know About Adam Levine’s House in Los Angeles

Source: fancypantshomes.com

Decorators Share the Best Ways to Refresh Your Home for Free

Spring brings change outside so it’s only natural to want to redecorate inside. Whether you’re just freshening up or looking for a whole new look, it doesn’t have to cost a lot. In fact, seasoned decorators say there are plenty of ways to redecorate that don’t cost a dime.

‘Shop’ What You Already Have

“I always tell people to ‘shop’ in your home,” said decorator Stephanie Everhart, owner of So Be It Interiors in St. Petersburg, Florida. “Redesign your rooms using the items you already have.”

Joseph Marini, an interior decorator and owner of At Home With Joseph, is also a proponent of keeping original pieces when redecorating. Rearranging a room with the same furniture can make a big difference.

“Say you have a sofa and two easy chairs that are kitty corner to the sofa,” Marini said. “Try taking them and facing them across from the sofa, or putting them beside each other at a right angle to the sofa. Just changing the angles of furniture can give a room a whole new look.”

Re-Evaluate Your Current Layout

As people spend more time in their homes, they’re also realizing what makes them happy and what doesn’t, Everhart said.

That dining room that’s only used five times a year could become a second sitting area or a home office. Take the leaves out of the table, or fold down the sides and put it against a wall. Add a wing chair or bench from other rooms, pull a lamp out of the attic and a desk or end table that’s sitting in the garage. Now you have a new reading room.

Everhart realized her china cabinet took up a whole wall. She no longer wanted to display dinner plates and crystal, so she got rid of it. Now she has a whole new wall space on which to hang the religious art she collects.

10 More Free Ways to Refresh Your Home

Here are some more suggestions from Marini and Everhart:

1. Create an inviting outdoor area.

Whether it’s in your own yard or on a shared back stoop, fresh air is good. Take potted plants from inside to a space outdoors to enhance a sitting area. If you don’t have outdoor furniture, move a kitchen chair and end table outside for a couple days if rain isn’t in the forecast.

2. Try a different way of making your bed.

Fold the duvet or bedspread down to the bottom third of the mattress and drape a blanket over the upper portion. (Think hotel style.) If you usually layer pillows against the headboard, place them flat on the bed stacked on top of each other.

3. Break out the paint and brushes.

“If I get bored with furniture, I never mind painting it,” Marini said. “Take some paint you have lying around. Most furniture can be painted really nicely with two coats. If it’s really, really glossy, you can sand it.”

4. Tend to window treatments.

“One thing I always find that refreshes a home is labor-intensive washing,” Marini said. “Take curtains down and wash them, dry them and iron them. It gives you a sense of accomplishment.”

5. Bring the outside in.

You don’t have to have an elaborate rose garden to make a centerpiece and fill a vase on the bedside table. “Just go out and pick some greenery from your bushes or your trees if you don’t have flowers,” Marini said. “This always freshens a room and adds a personal touch.”

6. Redo your bookshelves.

Everhart shared some ideas, including:

  • Use a spare quart of paint sitting under the laundry room sink to paint the back of the shelves.
  • Arrange books by color. “I love taking those slick jackets off of books so you can see the real color and texture of the books,” she said. “It’s really nice to see their spine. Especially older books.”
  • Place some books vertically, but stack some on their sides. Now you have a little space for a picture frame or favorite memento. “Your bookcases need to have items that tell the story of your life,” Everhart said.

7. Highlight collections by gathering pieces in one place.

If you have two candle sticks on the dining room table and several stuck in a drawer, arrange them together on the fireplace mantle. Take your father’s cufflinks out of the felt bag in your top drawer and place them in a small glass bowl. Line those perfume bottles on a shelf instead of cramming them in bathroom drawers.

8. Reorganize a room by switching out a piece of furniture.

Everhart pulled out all the small appliances, like a crockpot and a long-forgotten George Foreman Grill, that were crowding her kitchen cabinets. “This made putting dishes and bowls away much easier, but I didn’t want the toaster and the blender and everything up on the counter,” she said.

“I went to the garage and found this wooden cabinet painted this God-awful olive green color. I painted it white and put it in my kitchen, where I used to have this little marble table on four legs that wasn’t serving a purpose.”

9. Rework frames and photos.

Replace some older photos with a few newer ones. Put a smaller photo in a frame and use fabric as the background. If frames are crowding a shelf or desk, try hanging a few on the wall.

10. Re-cover a chair to give it a new look

You can do this if you have a staple gun and a couple of yards of fabric, or a cloth shower curtain or vintage tablecloth. If you find that you want to learn more about reupholstering furniture, think about a side gig and make $20 an hour or more updating old furniture.

For more home decor tips, follow Everhart (SoBeItInteriors) on Instagram and Facebook and Marini (AtHomeWithJoseph) on Instagram and Facebook.

Contributor Katherine Snow Smith covers ways to make money, save money and other topics. Her work has appeared in the Tampa Bay Times, Charlotte (N.C.) Business Journal and Greenville (S.C.) News. She is the author of “Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker: Missteps & Lessons Learned.”

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

7 Rules for Taking a Work From Home Tax Deduction

If you’re one of the millions of people who worked remotely in 2021, you may be wondering whether that means a sweet deduction at tax time. Hold up, though: The IRS has strict rules for taking the home office deduction.

[email_capture_widget]

7 Essential Rules for Claiming a Work From Home Tax Deduction

Thinking about claiming a home office deduction on your tax return? Follow these tips to avoid raising any eyebrows at the IRS when you file your 2021 tax return, which is due on April 18, 2022.

1. You can’t claim it if you’re a regular employee, even if your company is requiring you to work from home due to COVID-19.

If you’re employed by a company and you work from home, you can’t deduct home office space from your taxes. This applies whether you’re a permanent remote worker. It also applies if your office was temporarily closed in 2021 because of the pandemic. The rule of thumb is that if you’re a W-2 employee, you’re not eligible for a work-from-home tax deduction.

This wasn’t always the case, though. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 suspended the deduction for miscellaneous unreimbursed employee business expenses, which allowed you to claim a home office if you worked from home for the convenience of your employer, provided that you itemized your tax deductions. The law nearly doubled the standard deduction. As a result, many people who once saved money by itemizing now have a lower tax bill when they take the standard deduction.

2. If you have a regular job but you also have self-employment income, you can qualify.

If you’re self-employed — whether you own a business or you’re a freelancer, gig worker or independent contractor — you probably can take the deduction, even if you’re also a full-time employee of a company you don’t own. It doesn’t matter if you work from home at that full-time job or work from an office, as long as you meet the other criteria that we’ll discuss shortly.

You’re only allowed to deduct the gross income you earn from self-employment, though. That means if you earned $1,000 from your side hustle plus a $50,000 salary from your regular job that you do remotely, $1,000 is the most you can deduct.

3. It needs to be a separate space that you use exclusively for business.

The IRS requires that you have a space that you use “exclusively and regularly” for business purposes. If you have an extra bedroom and you use it solely as your office space, you’re allowed to deduct the space — and that space alone. So if your house is 1,000 square feet and the home office is 200 square feet, you’re allowed to deduct 20% of your home expenses.

But if that home office also doubles as a guest bedroom, it wouldn’t qualify. Same goes for if you’re using that space to do your day job. The IRS takes the word “exclusively” pretty seriously here when it says you need to use the space exclusively for your business purposes.

To avoid running afoul of the rules, be cautious about what you keep in your home office. Photos, posters and other decorations are fine. But if you move your gaming console, exercise equipment or a TV into your office, that’s probably not. Even mixing professional books with personal books could technically cross the line.

A man works from home while watching his daughter.
Getty Images

4. You don’t need a separate room.

There needs to be a clear division between your home office space and your personal space. That doesn’t mean you have to have an entire room that you use as an office to take the deduction, though. Suppose you have a desk area in that extra bedroom. You can still claim a portion of the room as long as there’s a marker between your office space and the rest of the room.

Here’s an easy way to separate your home office from your personal space, courtesy of TurboTax Intuit: Mark it with duct tape.

5. The space needs to be your principal place of business.

To deduct your home office, it needs to be your principal place of business. But that doesn’t mean you have to conduct all your business activities in the space. If you’re a handyman and you get paid to fix things at other people’s houses, but you handle the bulk of your paperwork, billing and phone calls in your home office, that’s allowed.

There are some exceptions if you operate a day care center or you store inventory. If either of these scenarios apply, check out the IRS rules.

[community_widget]

6. Mortgage and rent aren’t the only expenses you can deduct. 

If you use 20% of your home as an office, you can deduct 20% of your mortgage or rent. But that’s not all you can deduct. You’re also allowed to deduct expenses like real estate taxes, homeowner insurance and utilities, though in this example, you’d only be allowed to deduct 20% of any of these expenses.

Be careful here, though. You can only deduct expenses for the part of the home you use for business purposes. So using the example above, if you pay someone to mow your lawn or you’re painting your kitchen, you don’t get to deduct 20% of the expenses.

You’ll also need to account for depreciation if you own the home. That can get complicated. Consider consulting with a tax professional in this situation. If you sell your home for a profit, you’ll owe capital gains taxes on the depreciation. Whenever you’re claiming deductions, it’s essential to keep good records so you can provide them to the IRS if necessary.

If you don’t want to deal with extensive record-keeping or deducting depreciation, the IRS offers a simplified option: You can take a deduction of $5 per square foot, up to a maximum of 300 square feet. This method will probably result in a smaller deduction, but it’s less complicated than the regular method.

7. Relax. You probably won’t get audited if you follow the rules.

The home office deduction has a notorious reputation as an audit trigger, but it’s mostly undeserved. Deducting your home office expenses is perfectly legal, provided that you follow the IRS guidelines. A more likely audit trigger: You deduct a huge amount of expenses relative to the income you report, regardless of whether they’re related to a home office.

It’s essential to be ready in case you are audited, though. Make sure you can provide a copy of your mortgage or lease, insurance policies, tax records, utility bills, etc., so you can prove your deductions were warranted. You’ll also want to take pictures and be prepared to provide a diagram of your setup to the IRS if necessary.

As always, consult with a tax adviser if you’re not sure whether the expense you’re deducting is allowable. It’s best to shell out a little extra money now to avoid the headache of an audit later.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].

<!–

–>

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How to Save Money on Flooring – 9 Steps to Get What You Want For Less

@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

Installing new flooring is one of the most difficult and costly home decorating projects. For a 500-square-foot-room, most homeowners pay $1,500 to $4,500 for materials and installation. If you need to remove and replace old floors, the cost is even higher.

But if you don’t have thousands of dollars to drop on new flooring, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with your cruddy old floors for life. There are plenty of ways to get the floor you want for a lower price. It just requires a little ingenuity and effort.

How to Save Money on Flooring

Any flooring project has two primary costs: materials and installation. There are more ways to save money on materials since you have lots of options for what to buy and where to buy it. But there are strategies to save money on installation costs too.

1. Repair Minor Issues

First, consider whether you need to replace your flooring at all. In many cases, you can make your old floors look like new at a much lower cost. 


Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations have an average return of 618%. For $79 (or just $1.52 per week), join more than 1 million members and don’t miss their upcoming stock picks. 30 day money-back guarantee. Sign Up Now

Some options for sprucing up your existing flooring include:

  • Refinishing Hardwood Floors. Even if you have to hire a professional to do it, refinishing can be cheaper than replacing. You can have old floors sanded, stained, and finished with several coats of varnish for $2 to $8 per square foot.
  • Paint or Varnish Wood Floors. If you can’t afford to have hardwood floors fully refinished, you can refurbish them with a coat of paint, varnish, or whitewash. It costs as little as $1 to $4 per foot. And it won’t stop you from refinishing the floors later.
  • Painting or Staining Concrete Floors. You can make a bare concrete floor more presentable by painting or staining the concrete. You can give it a different color, a pattern, or a coat of sealer for shine. You can pay $2 to $4 per square foot to hire a pro or DIY for under $1 per foot.
  • Fixing Grout. Tile is very durable, but the grout that goes between tiles wears out faster. Sometimes, deep-cleaning the grout is enough to make old tile floors look like new. If that doesn’t do it, you can add a new layer of grout for $2 to $5 per square foot.
  • Adding a Rug. The quickest, easiest way to spruce up dingy floors is to throw a nice area rug on top of them. An 8-by-10-foot rug costs just a few hundred dollars — much less than a whole new floor.

2. Choose Less Expensive Materials

If your old floors are too far gone to save, that doesn’t mean your only option is to rip them out and install pricey exotic hardwood or high-end tile. You may be able to get the look you want for less with a different type of flooring. 

For instance, laminate flooring, luxury vinyl tile, or vinyl plank flooring can give you the look of wood floors for less than solid hardwood. Laminate and luxury vinyl can also mimic the look of other materials, such as tile, stone, or brick.

And even within the same flooring types, some materials are much cheaper than others. For instance, costs for hardwood flooring range from $3 to $14 per square foot. Carpeting can cost $1 to $7 per foot, and tile covers a huge range — anywhere from $1 to $25. 

However, when choosing flooring options, there’s often a trade-off between flooring cost and durability. For instance, low-cost olefin carpeting doesn’t hold up as well as wool. If you use it in a high-traffic area, you’ll need to replace it much sooner. That makes it a poor long-term value.

To get the best value, stick to flooring options suitable for your space. For instance, avoid laminate and wood floors in moist environments like bathrooms and basements. And hard, durable tile is good for bathrooms but uncomfortable for bedrooms. 

If you might need to sell your home soon, it’s also worth thinking about resale value. For example, hardwood floors cost more than carpet, but they pay off when you sell the home.

3. Shop Around

Once you know what general type of flooring you want, shop around for the best deal. Visit lots of different retailers and look at multiple choices before you decide. Consider all the options since minor differences in color or pattern can make a big difference in price.

As you compare prices, factor in costs for shipping or delivery. Two stores can offer the same tile for the same price, but the cost after shipping can be nearly twice as high at one store compared to the other.

Once you’ve narrowed down your flooring options, buy small samples of the ones you like best to take home with you. That lets you see them in your space, with your decor and lighting.

A given shade of carpet or tile can look very different in your home than it does in the showroom. Spending a few bucks ahead of time on a sample can save you from spending hundreds or thousands on a flooring project you won’t be happy with.

4. Reuse Materials

As you’re comparing flooring products, don’t overlook materials you already have in your home. Check your attic, basement, and storage shed for materials left over from other flooring projects. 

You might find wood planks from a renovation you did so long ago you’d forgotten all about it. There might even be tile left over from a bathroom remodel done by the previous owner. If there are enough of these remnants to fill your needs, you might not need to buy new flooring material at all.

You can also ask friends and family for their leftover flooring materials. Often, they’re happy to give them away just to get them out of the house.

If no one you know has flooring to spare, try reuse websites. People give away unwanted home improvement materials on sites like Freecycle and the Buy Nothing Project. You can also buy them cheaply on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.

Finally, check out local reuse centers like Habitat for Humanity ReStores. Stores like these often carry tile, wood, or sheet vinyl left over from building projects or salvaged from old buildings.

5. Shop at Discount and Overstock Retailers

Another place to look for the best prices on flooring is at discount and overstock retailers. Overstock retailers buy excess flooring materials from manufacturers and sell them to the public, often at costs lower than most retail stores.

Options include:

  • Overstock. This overstock site carries all kinds of flooring, including hardwood, laminate, carpet, vinyl, bamboo, and cork. Check the flooring sale section for extra discounts.
  • LL Flooring. Formerly known as Lumber Liquidators, this seller now carries many types of flooring. You can find laminates starting at $1 per square foot, luxury vinyl planks starting at around $2, and solid hardwood for as little as $3.
  • Floor & Decor. This online store is one of the best places to find cheap tile. Ceramic tiles start at around $1 per square foot. Along with its wide variety of tile, the site also carries laminate, vinyl, and hardwood.
  • BuildDirect. Through this site, professionals and homeowners can find bulk deals on all sorts of home improvement products, including flooring. Check the clearance section for the best prices. All orders on this site must meet a minimum order requirement, which varies by product.

6. Look for Discounted Materials

Special deal sites aren’t the only places to find bargains on flooring. Home improvement centers like Home Depot and Lowe’s often carry discounted flooring materials too, such as:

  • Overstocked Inventory. Sometimes, home centers buy more of a flooring product than customers want. They often sell the overstock by the box at clearance prices.
  • Discontinued Flooring. Home centers also offer deals on discontinued flooring products. They don’t want these products taking up room in their warehouses, so they unload them at low prices.
  • Canceled Orders. Sometimes, customers place an order for flooring and then cancel it. It’s often cheaper for the store to sell it at a discount than to return it to the warehouse.
  • Remnants. These are the pieces left over at the end of a large roll of carpet. Home centers and carpeting stores sell them at discounts of up to 90% — a fantastic deal if you don’t need much. However, these pieces usually sell as is, with no warranty.
  • Sales. Like any other product, flooring sometimes goes on sale. The best time to buy it is usually mid-winter, when fewer homeowners are doing home improvement projects. You can also find deals on and around Black Friday. 

With any kind of special deal, it’s crucial to read the fine print. Sometimes, there’s a minimum or maximum amount associated with the deal. Products may come without a warranty, or there may be restrictions on returns. 

7. Negotiate Material Costs

If you can’t find a deal on flooring, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck paying the price on the tag. Often, it’s possible to negotiate a better deal. 

One key to negotiating is to give the retailer a reason they should be willing to reduce the price. Some examples include:

  • Damaged Goods. Always check flooring materials carefully for minor flaws. If you find any that aren’t deal-breakers for your project, you can ask the seller to knock something off the price.
  • Helping a Local Business. One reason to shop local is that smaller businesses are often more willing to negotiate on price. They depend on word of mouth to attract new customers, so they’re eager to send you away happy.
  • Bulk Discounts. If you’re buying all your materials from one flooring company, ask if they can take a little something off the price. A discount of 5% to 10% is a reasonable request.
  • Paying in Cash. When you use a credit card, the retailer has to pay a merchant fee of up to 3.5%. If you pay in cash instead, that saves them money. So if you can afford to pay cash upfront, ask them for a discount. 
  • Group Member Discounts. Home improvement retailers offer various discounts for members of certain groups, such as first responders, military members, veterans, teachers, and students. Check to see if your store has any discounts that apply to you.

8. Do It Yourself

Installation can be one of the most expensive parts of a flooring project. For a 500-square-foot room, it can cost anywhere from $500 to $4,500. The price varies based on the type of flooring, the contractor installing it, and the size of the project.

In many cases, you can save money on flooring installation by doing the work yourself. Many types of flooring require only basic DIY skills to install. 

In general, floating floors are the easiest to install. This floor type has interlocking boards that sit on top of a foam or cork underlayer rather than being glued or nailed in place. Many modern floating floors have a click-and-lock system that makes installation even easier. 

Laminate floors, luxury vinyl tile, and vinyl plank flooring are all reasonable choices for a DIY project. By contrast, installing hardwood floors, ceramic tile, or sheet vinyl is probably a job for a professional. Wall-to-wall carpeting is tricky, but carpet tiles are much easier to handle.

Even if you can’t install your new floors on your own, you may be able to save money by doing part of the job yourself. For instance, you can prep the room by clearing out the furniture, pulling out old flooring, and cleaning the subfloor.

Likewise, once the new flooring is in place, you can take care of the final stages, such as cleaning up or applying sealants. Ask your contractor what parts of the job you can take on yourself to lower your costs.

9. Negotiate With Contractors

If you can’t do the work yourself, you can still negotiate with your contractor to keep the cost down. Ways to get the best price from a flooring contractor include: 

  • Do Your Flooring Project in Winter. Wintertime is a slow season for home improvement professionals. That means contractors are more willing to offer a good deal.  
  • Get Multiple Quotes. Always get quotes from at least three contractors, and let them know you’re doing so. That gives them an incentive to offer a lower price to get your business. 
  • Get the Details. As you get each quote, read it carefully. Make sure you know what’s included, such as moving the furniture out and back and what it adds to the cost. The lowest price may not be the best offer if it covers less work. 
  • Don’t Name Your Price. When getting bids, don’t tell contractors what your budget is. If you tell them you can pay $3,000 for a job that would typically cost $2,000, that just encourages them to bid higher. Make them name their own price.
  • Ask for a Sign Discount. Sometimes, contractors ask to display a yard sign on your property to advertise their services. Tell them you’ll allow this only if it gets you a discount on the price.
  • Get a Separate Quote on Materials. Contractors can often get better prices on materials, but they may inflate the cost. So ask for separate quotes on materials and labor. If their materials quote is more than you found, insist on buying them yourself. But if it’s lower, go for it.

Also ask contractors for their credentials: license, insurance, and references from other customers. And take the time to call the references and ensure the contractor did a good job. You can check reviews online too.

That won’t get you a lower price on your flooring project. But it can help you avoid a shoddy job that costs more money to redo.


Final Word

After you install your new floors, you can save money by maintaining them. The longer you can keep them looking great, the more time it will be before you have to do a flooring project again. 

So, check with the contractor or the manufacturer information that came with the flooring. Learn how to clean the floors properly and how often you need to do other maintenance, such as shampooing carpets or sealing hard floors.

Additionally, take some common-sense precautions to protect your new floors. Put down mats at every entrance for wiping dirt and grit from your shoes so they don’t track across the floor. Clean up all spills promptly. And put pads on the legs of furniture pieces so they don’t scratch the floor when moved.

By taking good care of your floors, you can enjoy the rewards of a beautiful new floor as long as possible — and avoid the cost and hassle of replacing them.

.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_055987-a5 .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_055987-a5 .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_055987-a5 .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_055987-a5 .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_055987-a5 .kb-table-of-content-list limargin-bottom:7px;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_055987-a5 .kb-table-of-content-list li .kb-table-of-contents-list-submargin-top:7px;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_055987-a5 .kb-toggle-icon-style-basiccircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:after, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_055987-a5 .kb-toggle-icon-style-basiccircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:before, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_055987-a5 .kb-toggle-icon-style-arrowcircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:after, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_055987-a5 .kb-toggle-icon-style-arrowcircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:before, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_055987-a5 .kb-toggle-icon-style-xclosecircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:after, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_055987-a5 .kb-toggle-icon-style-xclosecircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:beforebackground-color:#f9fafa;

Stock Advisor

Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations have an average return of 618%. For $79 (or just $1.52 per week), join more than 1 million members and don’t miss their upcoming stock picks. 30 day money-back guarantee.

Amy Livingston is a freelance writer who can actually answer yes to the question, “And from that you make a living?” She has written about personal finance and shopping strategies for a variety of publications, including ConsumerSearch.com, ShopSmart.com, and the Dollar Stretcher newsletter. She also maintains a personal blog, Ecofrugal Living, on ways to save money and live green at the same time.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Should You Buy a Fixer-Upper House? The Pros and Cons to Consider

@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

Content networks like HGTV and Magnolia Network are full of shows about people who fix up old, damaged houses for a living. After binge-watching a bunch of episodes and seeing house after house transformed from an old wreck to a beautiful home, you could easily find yourself thinking, “I bet I could do that!”

But before you grab a hammer, step back and take a reality check. Yes, buying a fixer-upper and putting some work into it can be a good way to get a great home on a budget – especially if you do the repairs yourself. 

But it can also be a good way to fall into a money pit that swallows up your savings and free time — and remains hungry for more. It’s not a decision to make lightly.

Should You Buy a Fixer-Upper House?

When you buy a move-in ready home, you can do just that: move in and get settled. When you buy a fixer-upper, your work is just beginning. 


Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations have an average return of 618%. For $79 (or just $1.52 per week), join more than 1 million members and don’t miss their upcoming stock picks. 30 day money-back guarantee. Sign Up Now

It could take months or even years of work, plus many thousands of dollars, to turn your new house into your dream home. But for many people, all that effort is worth it for the sake of the finished result.

To figure out whether fixing up a fixer-upper is right for you, you need to start with a realistic idea of what you’re getting into. Understand both the benefits and the costs as measured in money, time, and hassle. Then figure out whether your skills, your schedule, your budget, and your relationships are up to the task.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Fixer-Upper

Buying a fixer-upper home is a tradeoff. You’re sacrificing time and effort to get the house you want on a budget you can afford. If you do it right, you’ll end up with a home that’s worth more than you put into it, but this isn’t guaranteed.

Pros

Buying a fixer-upper can be a way to get more bang for your home-buying buck. The perks include:

  1. Lower Purchase Price. Fixer-uppers cost less per square foot than move-in ready homes. That lower price tag means both your down payment and your monthly mortgage payment are lower. It makes it easier to afford a home, or to get a bigger house than your budget would allow otherwise.
  2. Lower Taxes. Your annual property tax bill is equal to your local property tax rate times the assessed value of your home. Since fixer-upper homes are worth less money, they tend to come with lower property taxes. Unfortunately, those lower taxes only last until after the renovations are done. Then the home value goes up, and so does the tax bill.
  3. Less Competition. In a hot real estate market, competition for move-in-ready homes is fierce. Because fewer homebuyers are interested in fixer-uppers, it’s easier to get your hands on one at an affordable price.
  4. Access to Better Neighborhoods. If most houses in your ideal neighborhood are out of your price range, a fixer-upper can be your way in. You can gain access to features like good public schools, mass transit, parks, and shopping on a budget you can afford.
  5. Ability to Customize. It’s often hard to find the exact features you want in a turnkey home. But when you redo a house from the ground up, you can make it just the way you want it. You can decide what upgrades to add and choose the exact materials, finishes, and colors you want in every room.

Cons

If fixer-uppers offer such great value, why aren’t more homebuyers interested in them? Simply put, because it takes a lot of work, time, and money to get them into shape. If you buy one, be prepared to deal with these problems:

  1. Repairs & Renovations Can Be Expensive. Typical prices for a whole-house remodel range from about $18,000 to about $77,000. Depending on how much work your fixer-upper needs, the purchase price plus the cost of renovations could add up to more than you’d have spent on a move-in-ready home.
  2. Surprise Issues Can Put You Over-Budget. You can — and should — try to avoid this problem by inspecting the house ahead of time and budgeting for repair costs. But older houses often have hidden problems a home inspection doesn’t reveal. That makes it hard to come up with an accurate renovation budget ahead of time.
  3. Financing Options Are Limited. Traditional mortgages don’t cover renovation costs. There are special renovation loans that do, like the FHA 203(k) and Fannie Mae HomeStyle Renovation Loan. But these loans generally come with limitations on what upgrades you can add and how you do the work.
  4. It Takes a Long Time. When you buy a new home, you can just move in and get settled. With a fixer-upper, the necessary home renovations can take months or even years. You have to either delay moving in or deal with living in a construction zone.
  5. It’s Stressful. Fixing up a house is a big job. If you’re DIYing the work, it can easily eat up all your free time. And even if you’re hiring it out, finding contractors and supervising their efforts eats into your spare time. You also have the stress of either living in a half-finished house or running back and forth between it and your current home.

Things to Consider When Buying a Fixer-Upper

Obviously, you don’t want to take on the job of fixing up a house unless you know you can afford the cost of renovations. If you blow your budget on the house itself and leave too little for renovation projects, you could be stuck living in a half-finished home for years.

But that isn’t the only thing you need to know. Fixing up a house is a major undertaking, and you need to be sure you’re up for the challenge. Before you make a bid, ask yourself these questions to figure out if a fixer-upper is the right house for you.

How Much Work Are You Able and Willing to Do?

One of the best ways to keep the cost of renovations down is to do the work yourself wherever possible. By tackling home improvement projects on your own, you can cut their cost by 15% to 50%, depending on the type of project. 

But DIYing a whole house from top to bottom isn’t as easy as it looks on TV. You need to evaluate your skill level to figure out which jobs you can handle.

Some jobs, like painting or stripping wallpaper, are simple enough even for DIY beginners. Others, like roofing or major electrical work, are far too dangerous for any amateur. If a mistake could kill you or cause major damage to your house, it’s best to leave the job to the pros.

In between these two skill levels, there are lots of jobs that a skilled DIYer can do, such as:

  • Hanging cabinets
  • Repairing walls
  • Building decks
  • Replacing windows
  • Tiling
  • Refinishing floors
  • Putting on vinyl siding
  • Hanging drywall

However, even if you can handle a job on your own, that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to. Some homeowners love DIY and can’t think of a better way to spend time than hanging drywall. But for others, spending a weekend up to the elbows in joint compound sounds like a nightmare.

The more work you’re both able and willing to do yourself, the more likely you are to get good value from a fixer-upper. If you’re a skilled DIYer who really enjoys tackling home improvement jobs, buying a fixer-upper makes sense. You can quickly build up sweat equity, raising the market value of your new home through your labor rather than by spending cash.

But if you’re a novice or reluctant DIYer, you’ll have to spend a lot more money on contractors. That will make it harder to get your money’s worth out of a fixer-upper.

How Much Time Are You Willing to Spend?

Fixing up an older home is a time-consuming job. If you do the work yourself, it can easily eat up all the free time you have, and then some. You may have to choose between taking time off from work or devoting every weekend to home improvement for weeks on end.

Even if you’re not planning to do most of the work yourself, rehabbing a house still takes time. You need to:

  • Learn What Each Job Involves. Before you even start hiring contractors, you need to have some idea of what you want them to do. That way, you can tell if their bids cover all the parts of the job.
  • Get Multiple Bids. Next, you need to get bids from contractors. Ideally, you need at least three bids on every job. That lets you compare prices and see if they’re reasonable.
  • Check References. You also want to make sure the contractor you hire is reliable. That means asking for and checking out references from other customers. If you can, go out and look at examples of the contractor’s work.
  • Supervise the Work. Once you hire a contractor, your job isn’t done. You need to keep an eye on the work to make sure it’s being done the way you want. For a big remodel, you could spend months or even years checking up on one contractor after another.

The bottom line is, no matter who does the work, you’ll have to devote a lot of time to it. If you’re not willing to give up your daily trip to the gym or weekly date night, it’s probably not for you.

Can You Handle the Stress?

Buying a first house is always a stressful experience. Make that house a fixer-upper, and all that stress is doubled. You’re putting in hours of hard work, week after week. You’re also straining your budget to the max to pay for it all.

A rehab also means living with uncertainty. You never know just how long a job will take. New problems keep cropping up without warning, and you have to drop everything and deal with them.

Finally, if you’re living in the house during the overhaul, you add the stress of living in chaos for months on end. You could spend weeks living on takeout because you lack a finished kitchen or showering at friends’ houses because you don’t have a usable bathtub. Plus, you’ll be living with all the noise and dirt created in a construction zone.

How well you handle this challenge depends largely on your temperament. If you’re a creature of habit who doesn’t deal well with change and uncertainty, fixing up a house probably isn’t a job for you. But if you’re the kind of person who thrives on chaos, it could be just your cup of tea.

Moving into and fixing up a fixer-upper is also easier if you live with someone who can share the work. DIY jobs tend to go more smoothly with an extra pair of hands. Even hiring and supervising contractors is easier with another person to help.

But at the same time, living in a half-finished home puts a lot of stress on the other people who live in it. It can be hard on young children, who often don’t deal well with disruptions in their routine. It’s also tough on new relationships. You’re still learning how to live with each other, but the way you’ll likely be living is nowhere close to normal.

The best candidate for a fixer-upper is probably a person in a long-established relationship with no small kids. However, it’s also doable for a single person if you have plenty of friends and relatives who are willing to help you out.

Where Will You Live During Renovations?

As noted above, living in a house during renovations is always stressful and inconvenient. But in some cases, it’s not even possible. A house with no working bathrooms or no heat in the wintertime isn’t just uncomfortable — it’s unlivable.

If you’re in this situation, you’ll need a separate place to stay during the renovations. There are several possible ways to handle this situation:

  • Keep Your Old House. If you’re already a homeowner, you can wait to sell your old house until your new one is finished. However, this isn’t possible if you need to sell the old house to raise the down payment for the fixer-upper. And even if you can pull it off, it means carrying two mortgages at once.
  • Rent. You can also rent a place to live in while you’re working on your new house. In some cases, you can even sell your old house, then rent it back from the new owners until you’re ready to move. But once again, this means you have a monthly rent payment on top of your new mortgage.
  • Stay With Family. In some cases, family members or friends can put you up until your fixer-upper is ready to move into. This is fine for a few weeks, but it can get stressful as the weeks run into months. For one thing, you’ll probably have to keep most of your belongings in storage. You’ll also be living under someone else’s roof, which means living by their rules. And making room in their home for you can be hard on them, too.

On the whole, it’s usually less costly to move into your new fixer-upper as soon as possible. But even this arrangement involves some extra expense if the house isn’t finished.

For instance, if there’s no working kitchen, you’ll have to pay extra for restaurant or takeout meals. If there isn’t a functioning laundry room, you’ll pay extra to take your clothes to the coin laundry. You need to make sure there’s room in your budget for these added costs.


Final Word

Buying a fixer-upper is a major commitment. It will eat up a lot of your time and money. And once you close on the house, you can’t just back out if you decide it’s too much for you. You’re in it for the long haul, which could turn out to be months, or even years.

But if you’re willing to put in the effort, a fixer-upper gives you a chance to own a dream home you’d never afford otherwise. And in some ways, it’s even better than just buying a home that’s already perfect when you first walk in the door. 

Putting in all those hours of work to fix up your fixer-upper makes it uniquely yours. When the work is finally done, you’ll have more than just a beautiful home. You’ll have something you put your heart and soul into.

.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_055987-a5 .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_055987-a5 .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_055987-a5 .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_055987-a5 .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_055987-a5 .kb-table-of-content-list limargin-bottom:7px;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_055987-a5 .kb-table-of-content-list li .kb-table-of-contents-list-submargin-top:7px;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_055987-a5 .kb-toggle-icon-style-basiccircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:after, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_055987-a5 .kb-toggle-icon-style-basiccircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:before, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_055987-a5 .kb-toggle-icon-style-arrowcircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:after, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_055987-a5 .kb-toggle-icon-style-arrowcircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:before, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_055987-a5 .kb-toggle-icon-style-xclosecircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:after, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_055987-a5 .kb-toggle-icon-style-xclosecircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:beforebackground-color:#f9fafa;

Stock Advisor

Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations have an average return of 618%. For $79 (or just $1.52 per week), join more than 1 million members and don’t miss their upcoming stock picks. 30 day money-back guarantee.

Amy Livingston is a freelance writer who can actually answer yes to the question, “And from that you make a living?” She has written about personal finance and shopping strategies for a variety of publications, including ConsumerSearch.com, ShopSmart.com, and the Dollar Stretcher newsletter. She also maintains a personal blog, Ecofrugal Living, on ways to save money and live green at the same time.

Source: moneycrashers.com

14 Thoughtful Ways to Celebrate Your Tenants on Valentine’s Day

When Feb. 14 rolls around, it’s the perfect time to show a little love for your tenants in ways big and small.

Whether you decide to host a Valentine’s Day party or give away treats or prizes, celebrating tenants can help you retain them.

Ensuring that your apartment community is a fun place to live, where renters feel appreciated and creating a sense of community will make tenants feel welcome and want to keep renewing their leases each year.

So, get creative and start planning your festivities now. Here are 14 Valentine’s Day ideas for apartments that your tenants will love.

1. Host a drop-in party

We’re still in a pandemic, so hosting a large, crowded party isn’t a great idea. Instead, host a drop-in party in a common area like the clubhouse. Serve candy and other treats, set up craft tables where kids and adults can make Valentine’s cards or other crafts and play games. Everyone will have a blast!

Valentine

Valentine

2. Decorate the common areas

Create a festive Valentine’s Day atmosphere by decorating the apartment community’s common areas, like the clubhouse, fitness center, offices and laundry space. Hang hearts, cupids, balloons and other decorations and set out jars of individually wrapped chocolate or other candy for residents to nibble on.

3. Share the love on social media

Make the love you have for your tenants known publicly by creating a few social media posts. Use a Valentine’s-themed graphic and write something like, “We love our tenants” or simply “Happy Valentine’s Day from [apartment community’s name].” These posts will generate likes, shares and some buzz for your social media channels. So, the next time someone is looking for an apartment to rent, they’ll likely remember your community.

4. Send cards to all your renters

It’s not Valentine’s Day without valentines, so create Valentine’s Day cards for each of your renters. Write a message telling them how much you enjoy having them live in your community and pass them out to all tenants.

5. Give out candy or other goodies

Heart-shaped candy, cookies, cupcakes and other sweet treats are hallmarks of Valentine’s Day, so sharing treats with tenants will be much appreciated. For smaller apartment communities, leave bags of candy on everyone’s front door. In other cases, place bowls of candy or trays of cookies and cupcakes in the clubhouse or lobby for residents to grab and go.

Valentines Day dog

Valentines Day dog

6. Treat the pets, too

Don’t forget your four-legged residents on Valentine’s Day. Give out treats for dogs and cats, too. Pet owners will appreciate this gesture. Even though a large percentage of renters have pets, it can often be tough to find pet-friendly apartments to rent.

7. Create a referral program

Another Valentine’s Day idea for apartments is to set up a promotional referral program or make your existing referral program a little sweeter. Send Valentine’s cards to residents offering a special holiday-related bonus if they share their love for your apartment community with their friends — and that friend ends up renting a unit. Bonuses could be a cash prize, a rent discount or a free month of rent.

8. Set up a photo booth

People love taking selfies, so setting up a Valentine’s Day-themed photo booth will be a fun way for them to enjoy the holiday. Create a festive backdrop featuring your apartment community’s branding and include balloons, paper hats and other props. Encourage residents to snap a photo to post on social media. Turn it into a contest by asking them to tag your community in the post for a chance to win a prize.

Valentines Day teddy bears

Valentines Day teddy bears

9. Collect teddy bears for charity

Use Valentine’s Day to share your love for the community beyond your apartments by hosting a donation drive. Collect teddy bears to distribute at a local children’s hospital, for example. Or, choose another charity in your area and encourage apartment residents to donate money or items.

10. Give away prizes

Hold a raffle to give away Valentine’s-themed prizes, such as a gift card for a romantic dinner for two or a spa day. Include prizes related to the apartment community, too. For example, give renters the chance to win free parking for a month, a free month’s rent, a discount on rent or some extra guest passes for the apartment community’s pool, fitness center or other amenities.

11. Partner with local businesses

Another Valentine’s Day idea for apartments is to support local businesses. Property owners or managers should reach out to local restaurants, shops, pet-sitters and other businesses to see if they’ll offer your tenants an exclusive coupon or discount. Small businesses will likely provide a free appetizer with an entrée purchase or 10 percent off coupons. And, tenants will appreciate these perks.

Valentines Day wreath

Valentines Day wreath

12. Stick a heart on everyone’s door

Make your apartment community look festive while showing your appreciation for your renters by sticking a colorful paper heart on everyone’s front door. Leave a note thanking tenants for choosing your apartment community. The hearts are sure to put a smile on your residents’ faces.

13. Display children’s artwork

Another way to celebrate is to ask the children living in your units to submit Valentine’s Day works of art. Then, display them in the lobby, clubhouse or other common areas. Kids will love drawing and painting hearts, candies and cupids and everyone else will enjoy seeing their artwork. The display also gives you a chance to highlight how family-friendly the apartment community is.

14. Host a door-decorating contest

Give tenants the chance to express their creative side and decorate their front doors for Valentine’s Day. Turn it into a contest for some added fun. The apartment community’s staff can judge whose decorations are the best and you can award prizes for first, second and third place. This activity will encourage residents to get to know one another and enjoy a friendly competition.

Valentine’s Day ideas for apartments

There’s no better time than Valentine’s Day to celebrate your renters. After all, they make your apartment community what it is. These Valentine’s Day ideas for apartments will help you show your appreciation, get to know your residents and foster a community spirit. To streamline running your apartment community, list your units on Rent.com, where you can take applications, screen potential tenants and collect rent.

Source: rent.com

15 Jobs That Qualify for Student Loan Repayment & Forgiveness Programs

@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

Student loan debt can be overwhelming. Yet it’s become an unavoidable reality for many college graduates. According to a 2018 report from the Institute for College Access & Success, two-thirds of students borrow money for college. 

The average amount borrowed, according to 2019 statistics from Nitro College, is more than $37,000. And many professions require taking on graduate school debt that tops six figures.

That’s a huge burden on new graduates just starting out in their careers. Fortunately, there are a variety of programs to help with repayment, including forgiveness, cancellation, and loan repayment programs (LRPs) specific to your chosen career. 

Career-specific programs can help reduce or even eliminate student debt in exchange for your years of service and expertise.

There are over 100 federal and state-based programs that offer student loan forgiveness, cancellation, or repayment assistance related to your profession. But while millions of borrowers could qualify for these programs, only a small fraction take advantage of them. 

For example, about 35 million Americans are employed in the public sector and could have their student loans forgiven through the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Yet less than one million have applied as of a 2017 estimate from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

That could be because many graduates aren’t even aware these LRPs and forgiveness programs exist. So, to help you get started on paying off your student loans as quickly as possible, we’ve put together a list of programs available for certain career fields. 

If you decide to apply for any of them, make sure you understand all the eligibility factors and program requirements.

Careers That Offer Student Loan Repayment or Forgiveness

Both the federal government and private organizations offer job-specific forgiveness and repayment programs. 

Generally, federal programs are available to professionals working in public-sector or high-need areas. These jobs often aren’t the best-paying or most desirable, so these programs are an incentive to attract highly qualified workers to jobs that might otherwise go unfilled. Hopefully, what you sacrifice in income will be made up by debt repayment or forgiveness.

Here’s a list of career paths that offer student loan forgiveness or repayment.

1. Public Service Employee

Nurses Doctors Coordinate Hands Team Hospital

Anyone who works in a qualifying organization, such as a government agency or nonprofit, can get loan forgiveness through the PSLF program. It was designed to encourage people to work in the public sector and covers the most careers of all job-specific forgiveness and repayment programs.

PSLF is available to any worker in a government organization — federal, state, or local — as well as nonprofit organizations. Just a few of the job types that could qualify include public teaching, military service, social work, public safety, law enforcement, public health services, public library services, and public interest law.

To qualify for PSLF, you must make a total of 120 payments while working for a qualifying nonprofit or government agency. These payments don’t need to be consecutive, but it does mean you need to work in a qualifying job for an overall total of 10 years. 

After making the required number of payments, any remaining loan balance will be forgiven. Unlike regular forgiveness with income-driven repayment, you won’t have to pay taxes on the remaining balance.


2. Federal Agency Employee

Federal Agent Nyc Secret Service

In addition to PSLF, federal employees also have access to a lesser-known LRP: the Federal Student Loan Repayment Program. To attract and retain highly qualified employees, federal agencies are allowed to offer job candidates this special job perk. 

In exchange for a commitment to work at the agency for a minimum of three years, federal agencies can pay up to $10,000 per year toward a new hire’s federal student loans. The total assistance given cannot exceed $60,000.

Depending on how much you owe, this program has a slight advantage over PSLF. If you owe $60,000 or less, you could have your entire balance wiped clean without making any payments toward your loans or needing to wait 10 years for forgiveness of the balance. 

You also won’t have to stay at the job for 10 years. Instead, you could have your balance paid off in as few as three years or as many as six.

However, the program isn’t without its caveats. For one, if you leave your job before your three years are up or are fired for misconduct or poor performance, you’ll have to pay back any money the agency paid toward your loans. 

And regardless of whether you complete the term or not, you’ll have to pay income tax on the amount paid toward your loans. 

Additionally, not all government jobs offer this perk or the same repayment amounts. 

Only federal loans are eligible for the program, but all types of federal loans are covered, including FFEL Loans, Direct Loans, and PLUS Loans.

If you’re a parent who borrowed a Parent PLUS loan to help cover college tuition for your child, you can qualify for this program. Very few options are available to help Parent PLUS borrowers manage payments. 

And, unlike with some forgiveness and repayment programs, you don’t need to have finished your degree to qualify.

However, many agencies require a degree and sometimes specific degrees. They all tailor their plans to recruit highly qualified candidates to hard-to-fill positions.

There’s no formal application for this program. Instead, you’ll need to ask your potential or current employer if student loan repayment is a benefit offered through that federal agency. 

If you ask, your employer will at least consider your request. But whether it’s given to you is decided on a case-by-case basis.

More than 35 federal agencies offer this perk, including all 15 cabinet-level departments and over 20 independent agencies. If you’re interviewing for or a federal agency that doesn’t, ask them if they’ll consider providing this benefit if you accept the position. All federal agencies are eligible to offer it.


3. Teacher

Portrait Teacher In Classroom With Students

Teaching generally requires an extensive amount of higher education. That could range from a bachelor’s degree to a Ph.D., depending on the position. Yet even those who teach at the college level often aren’t paid enough to account for the high cost of their education. 

As a college-level English teacher, I know this struggle firsthand. I borrowed well into the six figures to finance my Ph.D. (a requirement for teaching college), yet my starting teaching income was a meager $25,000.

Average teacher salaries are just over $30,000 for preschool teachers, $60,000 for elementary and middle school teachers, $62,000 for high school teachers, and $80,000 for postsecondary teachers. 

It’s easy to borrow more than the average annual teacher salary for only a bachelor’s degree, but many teachers are required to get masters and doctorate degrees. Fortunately, there are a few programs that can help them repay their loans.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

Most teachers — as long as they work full-time for a public or nonprofit school or college — qualify for PSLF. The program is a major boon for teachers who struggle with low pay while attempting to pay off high student loan debt.

Although the program hasn’t functioned optimally in the past, in October 2021, the Department of Education announced a huge and ongoing overhaul of PSLF that should make the program easier for borrowers to get forgiveness now and in the future.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program

If you teach in a low-income school district or work in a teacher shortage area, you qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. You could receive anywhere from $5,000 to $17,500 depending on the subject you teach and your years of service. Only math, science, and special education teachers are eligible to receive the higher amount of $17,500.

To qualify, you must work full-time for at least five consecutive academic years at a school that serves low-income students. To find out if your school qualifies, search the directory at Federal Student Aid.

You must also be a “highly qualified teacher.” That includes having a bachelor’s degree and state certification as a teacher and passing state tests that prove subject matter knowledge.

Only federal Direct and FFEL loans qualify. You cannot have Federal Perkins or Federal PLUS loans — either Parent PLUS or Graduate PLUS — forgiven under this program.

It’s possible to qualify for both Teacher Loan Forgiveness and PSLF, but any years of service that count toward Teacher Loan Forgiveness can’t be counted toward PSLF. So you need to crunch the numbers to see which is of greater benefit to your situation. 

Also, if you’re an AmeriCorp volunteer (see No. 14 below) any period of time you spend working toward their repayment benefit isn’t counted toward the years required for Teacher Loan Forgiveness.

Perkins Loan Cancellation

Although your Federal Perkins Loans aren’t eligible for Teacher Loan Forgiveness, they may be eligible for cancellation under the Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation Program. To qualify, you must teach at a low-income school, in a subject area deemed by your state to have a shortage, or as a special education teacher.

Perkins Loans cancellation is gradual. For your first and second years of teaching, you get a cancellation of 15% of your loan for each year of teaching, including any accrued interest. For the third and fourth years, it’s 20% for each year. And for the fifth year, it’s 30%. That adds up to a total of 100% cancellation if you continue teaching at a qualified school for five years.

Note that the Federal Perkins Loans program ended in 2017. It’s no longer possible to get this loan, but if you already have Perkins loans and you’re a teacher, this is one way to unload them.

State and City-Based Programs

Additionally, there are state and city-specific loan forgiveness programs available to teachers. To discover what’s available in your area, search the AFT directory.


4. Doctor/Physician

Doctor Smiling Arms Crossed Office

Although most doctors can expect to make well into the six figures, paying for the education to get there can take a significant chunk out of even a large paycheck. 

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the median medical school debt for 2016 graduates was $190,000. On a standard 10-year repayment plan, that’s a monthly student loan bill of over $2,200. 

Fortunately, doctors in need of debt relief have options, including PSLF for those who work in public health.

National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Programs

For those interested in working in shortage areas, the NHSC offers a number of LRPs for health care professionals.

  • NHSC Loan Repayment Program. The NHSC offers student loan repayment assistance of up to $50,000 to physicians and other health care professionals through their Loan Repayment Program. In exchange, doctors must work full-time in an NHSC-approved shortage area for two years. The payments are tax-free and disburse immediately on starting work. Even better, after the initial two-year service agreement, participants can renew their contracts annually to receive continued repayment assistance. The length and amount of assistance depend on the area of service. Higher-need areas qualify for larger loan repayments.
  • NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program. In exchange for providing substance use or opioid treatment, health care providers can receive up to $100,000 in student loan repayment assistance through the NHSC Rural Community LRP. Participants must work at a rural NHSC-approved substance use disorder treatment facility for three years. Priority is given to sites that have received Rural Communities Opioid Response Program funding.
  • NHSC Students to Service Program. For medical students completing their last year of school, the NHSC offers a Students to Service Program. In exchange for a commitment to provide primary health care at an NHSC-approved site for three years after graduation, the NHSC provides up to $120,000 toward both educational costs and student loans.
  • NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program. In exchange for working three years in substance use disorder treatment at an NHSC-approved site, the Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program pays up to $75,000 toward student loans. You get priority if you have a DATA 2000 waiver, serve in an opioid treatment program, or have a license or certification in substance use disorder interventions.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Loan Repayment Program

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers repayment assistance of $50,000 annually to health care professionals in exchange for performing medical research funded by a U.S. nonprofit. 

Like other repayment assistance programs, the NIH LRP was created to attract top talent to an underserved field — in this case, biomedical or behavioral research.

Through eight different programs, health researchers receive repayment assistance while either employed with the NIH or eligible organizations outside the NIH. The programs are organized around broad research areas but aren’t intended to fund individual research projects. Rather, the intention is to support applicants in building a career in medical research.

Indian Health Services (IHS) Loan Repayment Program

The Indian Health Service (IHS) is a federal program for American Indians and Alaska Natives. In exchange for a two-year commitment to work in a health facility serving indigenous Americans, the IHS Loan Repayment Program repays up to $40,000 in student loans for health care professionals. 

After the initial two years, participants can renew their contracts annually to receive additional benefits until their full debt is repaid.

Military Student Loan Repayment Assistance

The military offers a number of scholarships and repayment assistance programs to health care professionals. Although there may be some differences in maximum payout amounts, whether you join the Army, Navy, or the Force, all three branches of the military offer similar scholarship and repayment programs for health care professionals.

  • The Health Professions Scholarship Program. Qualified medical, dental, nursing, and veterinary students can have their full tuition and expenses paid by a branch of the military, plus receive a monthly stipend of $2,200 or more. Students are also eligible for a $20,000 sign-on bonus. Students “repay” the scholarship by serving in the military for one year per year of scholarship.
  • Financial Assistance Program. This LRP grants up to $45,000 per year in repayment assistance, as well as a monthly stipend of $2,000 or moreq to military members enrolled in an accredited residency. Once you complete your residency, you must complete a year of service for each year you received assistance, plus one additional year.
  • Health Professions Loan Repayment Program. Qualified participants receive up to $40,000 per year paid directly toward their student loans, minus federal income taxes.

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)

In addition to branches of the military, the VA, which provides medical care to veterans among other services, provides repayment assistance programs.

  • Education Debt Reduction Program. Through the VA’s Education Debt Reduction Program (EDRP), doctors and other health care professionals who work for the VA receive up to $200,000 in repayment assistance. Payments are made over a five-year period, up to a maximum of $40,000 per year. The VA uses the EDRP program as a recruitment incentive to fill positions in difficult-to-recruit specialties.
  • Student Loan Repayment Program. The VA is one of the government agencies qualified to offer repayment assistance as a recruitment bonus. As federal agency employees, VA doctors are eligible for up to $10,000 per year in repayment assistance, up to a maximum of $60,000 through the VA’s Student Loan Repayment Program.

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Faculty Loan Repayment Program

For health professionals who serve at least two years as a faculty member at a health professions school, HRSA’s Faculty Loan Repayment Program offers up to $40,000 in student loan repayment assistance. To qualify, you must come from a disadvantaged background.

State-Based Programs

A number of states offer LRPs for physicians. Many of these are through the NHSC’s State Loan Repayment Program. These programs provide incentives for doctors to practice in shortage areas.

Additionally, some states have their own loan repayment assistance plans (LRAPs) for doctors. Similar to the NHSC programs, these typically offer student loan repayment or other special pay incentives for doctors who commit to working in high-need areas. 

For a list of state programs, visit the database maintained by the AAMC.


5. Nurse

Group Of Nurses At Hospital

A nurse’s income can approach or even exceed six figures, depending on the type of nursing. The highest-paying jobs require graduate degrees. 

And according to a 2017 report from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, more than two-thirds of nursing students borrow anywhere from $40,000 to $150,000 to get these degrees. That’s a serious bite out of even a six-figure paycheck.

Many of the programs for doctors and physicians are also available to those in nursing. 

These include:

  • PSLF (if you work in public health)
  • The NHSC programs, except for Students to Service
  • The NIH LRP
  • The IHS LRP
  • Military scholarships and LRPs
  • VA LRPs
  • The HRSA Faculty LRP

Additionally, there are a couple of other nurse-specific programs to help nurses pay off their debt as quickly as possible.

Nurse Corp Loan Repayment Program

The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program repays up to 85% of the student debt acquired to get a nursing degree. In exchange for a two-year commitment to work in a nursing shortage area or as nursing faculty at an eligible school, participants can have 60% of their debt repaid. 

At the end of the initial two years, they can apply for a third year and receive another 25% of debt repayment assistance. 

Note that this assistance is not tax-exempt, so any assistance you receive is reduced by the amount of income tax you’ll need to pay.

Perkins Loan Cancellation

If you’re a nurse and have any Federal Perkins Loans, you can get up to 100% of them canceled. To qualify, you must be a registered nurse and work full-time. 

You also have to apply to the program, either through the school you borrowed from or your student loan servicer; enrollment isn’t automatic. 

As long as you qualify, your Perkins Loans are gradually discharged over a period of five years.

State-Based Programs

Most states offer loan forgiveness and repayment programs for nurses in exchange for working in a shortage area. You must be licensed to practice in a state to qualify for its loan repayment programs. 

There’s no centralized database specifically for nursing, so search your state to see if any programs are offered in your area. 

The database maintained by the AAMC is a good place to start.


6. Dentist

Boy Getting His Teeth Cleaned Dentist Chair Office

Believe it or not, dentists often find themselves in far worse student debt than physicians. According to the American Student Dental Association, the average debt load for 2018 dental graduates was a monumental $285,184. 

Like physicians, dentists can make well into the six figures, but it’s not nearly enough to make repaying loans of that size easy.

As with other professions, PSLF is an option if you work for a nonprofit or public service agency. Additionally, many of the same programs available to physicians are also available to dentists. 

These include:

  • Military scholarships and LRPs
  • VA LRPs
  • The IHS LRP
  • All of the NHSC programs, including Students to Service
  • The HRSA Faculty LRP

State-Based Programs

Many states have their own programs designed to encourage dentists to work in high-need areas. 

For a full list of state-specific student loan repayment assistance for dentists, visit the database maintained by the American Dental Education Association.


7. Pharmacist

Pharmacist Giving Medicine To Customer Pharmacy

As with many other health care professions, pharmacists have the potential to earn six-figure salaries. But getting there often requires taking on six-figure debt. 

According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, 2018 pharmacy graduates borrowed an average of $166,528 to get their degrees. 

Fortunately, assistance is available for pharmacists.

Anyone who works full-time for a public agency or nonprofit qualifies for PSLF, including pharmacists. Pharmacists also have access to some of the same programs as other health professionals. 

These include:

  • Military scholarships and LRPs
  • VA LRPs
  • The IHS LRP
  • The NHSC programs, except for Students to Service

State-Based Programs

Many states have programs to repay a portion or all of a pharmacist’s student loans if they work in a shortage area for a certain period of time. 

Although there’s no database maintained specifically for pharmacists, a search of the database at the AAMC is a good place to start.


8. Physical Therapist

Physical Therapist Rehabilitation Physiotherapy

A career as a physical therapist requires a doctoral degree (a DPT). Physical therapists can earn, on average, $88,000 per year, yet the amount of money required to finance a doctorate degree often far exceeds this amount. 

According to a 2017 survey conducted by The American Physical Therapy Association, the average DPT graduate borrows $96,000 to finance their education.

Some of the same programs available to other health care professionals are also available to physical therapists. 

These include:

  • PSLF
  • VA LRPs
  • The IHS LRP
  • The HRSA Faculty LRP
  • The NIH LRP

Additionally, many hospitals and private health care facilities use loan forgiveness as a recruitment incentive for physical therapists. 

To find out where these are available, ask during your hiring interview or contact the American Physical Therapy Association.


9. Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Therapist, or Social Worker

Child Psychologist Emotion Emoticons

The vast majority (91%) of psychologists with doctor of psychology degrees (Psy.D.) graduate with student loan debt in excess of $200,000, and 77% of those with doctor of philosophy degrees (Ph.D.) borrow more than $75,000, according to a 2014 study by the American Psychological Association.

Debt-relief programs available to psychologists and other mental health workers include:

  • PSLF
  • The NIH LRP
  • The IHS LRP
  • The HRSA Faculty LRP

The NHSC Programs, except Students to Service, are open to those with a variety of different psychology and social work degrees. And Health Professionals Loan Repayment is available for military clinical psychologists.

State-Based Programs

Many states offer repayment assistance to those who work in mental and behavioral health, as long as they’re willing to work in underserved areas. 

Although no database exists specifically for state-based mental health repayment programs, start with an online search to see if your state offers anything for graduates with your degree.


10. Veterinarian

Veterinarian Cat Stethoscope Doctor Vet Clinic

Getting a degree in veterinary medicine can cost nearly as much as one in human medicine. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 2016 veterinary medicine graduates borrowed an average of $143,758 to finance their education. 

But while the average vet salary comes close to six figures, they aren’t paid nearly as well as the average physician. Fortunately, there are a variety of LRPs and forgiveness programs for veterinarians.

Even though vets work on animals and not humans, they are still health professionals. Thus, a few of the same programs available to other health care workers are available to them. 

These include:

  • PSLF
  • Military scholarships and LRPs
  • The HRSA Faculty LRP

Additionally, there are a few vet-specific assistance programs.

USDA Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers a repayment assistance program for veterinarians. 

The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program pays up to $75,000 toward your student loans, dispersed in amounts of $25,000 per year over the course of your service. In exchange, you must work as a vet for three years in a region designated by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) as a shortage area. 

One of the great benefits of this program is that, unlike many other LRPs, you can use this money toward private as well as federal student loan debt.

Not everyone with veterinary debt is accepted into this program. NIFA only grants awards to a limited number of applicants. Also, the primary focus of the program is on veterinary medicine for livestock raised for food.

State-Based Programs

Many states offer repayment assistance to veterinarians who are willing to work in underserved areas. 

Although no database exists specifically for state-based veterinary medicine repayment programs, it’s worth it to do an online search to see if your state offers anything for veterinary graduates.


11. Lawyer

African American Woman Lawyer In Front Of Supreme Court

As many law graduates are aware, no one ever expects law school to be cheap. In fact, according to 2021 statistics from Nitro College, law school debt, at an average of $140,616, rivals that of medical school. 

Worse, the average salary of an attorney is about half that of an M.D., which makes paying it off that much harder.

Fortunately, there’s a wide variety of student debt repayment assistance and forgiveness programs for lawyers, including PSLF for those who work in public law or for a nonprofit.

School-Based Programs

Dozens of law schools, including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and NYU, offer loan repayment assistance programs. 

Programs generally require you to have full-time employment at a public service law firm and have an adjusted gross income of less than $60,000, although programs vary from school to school.

The amount of student debt law schools repay varies widely. 

For example, the University of Notre Dame Law School repays up to $15,000 annually for 10 years to lawyers working in public law who make less than $70,000. 

The University of Virginia covers 100% of student debt for lawyers who make less than $65,000 per year, and a portion of the debt for those who earn between $65,000 and $85,000. 

Although you need to speak with your school directly for the most up-to-date information, Equal Justice Works has a comprehensive booklet on repaying law school loans that includes a list of schools offering repayment assistance.

U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program

As a participant in the federal employee LRP, every spring, the DOJ opens its Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program to attract top talent. 

As with other federal agency employees, in exchange for a three-year commitment, lawyers at the DOJ can receive up to $60,000 in repayment assistance, paid in $10,000 annual increments.

John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program

The John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program provides repayment assistance to qualifying public defenders and prosecutors who agree to work in public law for a minimum of three years. 

Amounts vary depending on where you live. Assistance is payable in increments of up to $10,000 per year and cannot exceed a maximum of $60,000.

Applicants to this program must apply through their state and follow the procedures of their state-designated agency.

Herbert S. Garten Loan Repayment Assistance Program

The Herbert S. Garten LRP repays law school loans up to $5,600 per year for three years. 

Attorneys must work at a qualifying organization for the full three years, and not everyone is selected. 

The agency uses a lottery system to choose 70 attorneys for the program each year.

Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps

For those interested in joining the JAG Corps, the Air Force pays up to $65,000 toward student loans. 

The payments are made directly to the lender over the course of a three-year period starting after the first year of enlistment. A JAG attorney must remain enlisted for four years to receive the full benefit.

If you remain with JAG after the initial four-year period, you also become eligible to receive up to $60,000 in cash bonuses, depending on the number of years of service. 

Although this money can be used any way you want, you could certainly apply it to any remaining student loan balance.

State-Based Programs

Many state and local repayment assistance programs are available for attorneys. To see if one exists in your area, do an Internet search. 

The American Bar Association maintains a list of state programs, but you must be a member to access this information.


12. Active-Duty Military

Military Mother Soldier With Daughter Hugging Balloons

Not only does the military offer repayment assistance for lawyers and health care professionals, but it also offers assistance to many other types of enlisted soldiers.

The College Loan Repayment Program

The College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP) is offered as an enlistment incentive for new military recruits. The program is for enlisted personnel only and is not available to officers. Additionally, not every military occupational specialty (MOS) is eligible. 

The list of eligible MOS’s changes quarterly, but all recruiting officers have it. Although there are basic similarities, each branch is authorized by Congress to administer the program as it sees fit to meet its recruitment goals. So there are differences among each branch.

Generally, the military annually repays one-third of eligible student loan debt or $1,500 (whichever is greater) in return for a three-year service commitment. Payments begin at the end of the first year of service. 

Congress has set the total maximum allowable amount of repayment to $65,000, minus taxes. But each branch of the military applies their own maximums. Below is specific information on what each offers.

  • Army. The Army College Loan Repayment Program repays the maximum. To qualify, you need a score of 50 or higher on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and must serve in an eligible MOS.
  • Army Reserves. The Army Reserve College Loan Repayment Program pays up to $50,000 of a soldier’s student loans, paid annually as 15% of your outstanding debt or $1,500 (whichever is greater). To qualify, you need a score of 50 or higher on the ASVAB, must serve in an eligible MOS, and must enlist for a minimum of six years.
  • Army National Guard. The National Guard College Loan Repayment Program pays up to $50,000 of a servicemember’s student loans. To qualify, you need a score of 50 or higher on the ASVAB, must serve in an eligible MOS, and must enlist for a minimum of six years. In return, the National Guard will annually pay 15% of your outstanding student loan debt or $1,500 (whichever is greater) for each year of service.
  • Navy. The Navy College Loan Repayment Program pays the highest amount — up to $65,000 toward your student loan debt. One-third of your student loan debt or $1,500 (whichever is greater) is paid annually for each year of service. If your balance ever drops below one-third of your initial debt, the Navy will pay it off completely. To qualify, you must have a minimum score of 50 on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) and enlist in an LRP-qualifying position.
  • Air Force. Unfortunately, the Air Force no longer has a CLRP for new enlistees. The only repayment benefit it currently offers is for JAG. However, they do offer tuition assistance for any enlisted member interested in furthering their education.

0% Interest Rate

In addition to the above repayment options, enlisting in the military comes with some other student loan-related benefits. For one, if you’re on active duty serving in an area of hostility and receive special pay, you can get 0% interest on your federal student loans for up to a maximum of 60 months. This interest rate can be applied retroactively.

You also can defer making payments on your federal student loans while on active duty. Some private lenders also offer this benefit.

Additionally, for qualifying federal loans, no interest will accrue during the deferment. While it’s not exactly repayment assistance, it will help you keep your costs down temporarily, hopefully making it easier to pay off your loan more quickly down the road.

Veterans Total and Permanent Disability Discharge

If you were permanently disabled while serving in the military, all of your student loans can be canceled through the Department of Education’s total and permanent disability (TPD) discharge program. 

To qualify, you’ll need to provide a letter from the VA stating either that you have a service-connected disability that’s 100% disabling or that you’re totally disabled based on an individual unemployability rating.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

And, of course, as government employees, all military service personnel qualify for PSLF.


13. Automotive Workers

Automotive Factory Worker Painting Car Assembly Line

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) offers loan repayment assistance through its SEMA Loan Forgiveness Program. 

Any employee of a member company can apply annually for an award of up to $5,000. Awards can be used to repay loans already acquired or as scholarships for further schooling.

To qualify, you must have earned a degree or certificate from a U.S. college, university, or technical school, graduated with a GPA of 2.5 or higher, and you must complete an application demonstrating your passion for the automotive industry.


14. Volunteer

Peace Corps Website Magnifying Glass

While not exactly a career, volunteering opportunities can help with your student loans. In exchange for your service, certain volunteer organizations grant repayment assistance. In most cases, as long as you work full-time, your efforts count toward PSLF.

Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA)

Sponsored by AmeriCorps, VISTA is a program created to fight poverty in the United States by placing volunteers in nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and faith-based groups. 

Examples of VISTA projects include organizing shelter and job opportunities for victims of disasters and creating an adult literacy awareness campaign.

Programs include a living allowance, but the biggest perk of fulfilling a one-year term of service is the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award. You can use this to pay educational costs at eligible post-secondary institutions or to repay qualified student loans. 

The amount of the award is equal to the maximum amount of the Pell Grant for the fiscal year in which your term of national service is approved. Thus, the amount of the award changes from year to year. It also varies by amount of service (whether you work full-time or part-time). 

For example, for the fiscal year Oct. 1, 2021 — Sept. 30, 2022, the award for one year of full-time service is $6,495.

The Peace Corps

If you prefer to travel abroad for your volunteer service, the Peace Corps is another great option. It sends Americans all over the world to help with people’s most pressing needs. 

Projects include everything from teaching digital literacy to boosting entrepreneurship. I have a friend who served her term in Jamaica teaching environmental sustainability.

In exchange for your service, volunteers can defer their federal student loans, have their service count toward PSLF, or receive partial cancellation of their Perkins Loans.

Additionally, at the end of the program, volunteers are given a $10,000 stipend to help them adjust to life back home. The money can be used however you want, including as payment toward your loans.

And while it’s not repayment assistance, through the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program, returning Peace Corps volunteers can receive tuition assistance toward graduate school studies.

Teach for America

The Teach for America program is designed to recruit and develop strong teachers who are passionate about educational equality and excellence. Teachers serve in inner-city or rural areas with economically disadvantaged populations. 

You don’t need to have a teaching degree; any undergraduate degree from an accredited college is sufficient. You also must have graduated with a minimum 2.5 GPA and be a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient.

Teach for America participants receive a salary, typically between $33,000 and $58,000, and benefits. In addition, their work counts toward PSLF.


15. Other Careers

Stem Jobs Science Tech Engineering Math

Most states offer repayment assistance for a variety of careers. While the most common are for doctors, nurses, teachers, and lawyers, many states offer assistance for additional occupations. 

For example, the Alfond Leaders Program in Maine offers repayment assistance to those in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers.

It’s worth checking out your state’s programs to see if there’s one that could apply to your situation. To find them, search for your state’s name plus your profession plus “student loan repayment assistance.”


Should You Choose a Job for the Forgiveness Benefit?

Despite the possibilities, you may want to think twice about taking on a certain profession only for the forgiveness benefits. Many of these programs come with tradeoffs. 

While you could potentially have thousands — or even tens of thousands — of dollars in student debt repaid on your behalf, you’ll likely have to work in a rural or disadvantaged area where your salary is significantly less than it would be elsewhere. You have to decide if the repayment benefit or the higher salary would net you more in the long run.

If you’re still in school, you should know that programs change all the time before you take on a lot of debt in anticipation of getting a program to help you pay it. For example, the Air Force used to have a CLRP, but it was discontinued in 2019. 

Additionally, if state or federal budgets are tight, funding for a program could easily end. For example, Maine’s Alfond’s Leaders Program is currently under review and may not continue.

Many of these programs have strict legal obligations, including contracts and a minimum employment term. They can also be difficult to qualify for due to strict eligibility requirements. Most apply only to federal loans and not private student loan debt. And some repayment assistance is tax-exempt, while other assistance is considered income and taxed accordingly.

Finally, some programs can be combined, while others are mutually exclusive. 

For example, if you participate in the military CLRP program, your years of service while your loans are being repaid don’t count toward the G.I. Bill, which pays for a certain amount of continuing education depending on your length of service.

However, if you’re already working in one of these professions and have graduated with a significant amount of student debt, it can definitely be worth your time to at least research if any of these programs can benefit your situation — especially if you’re already working in an underserved area.


Final Word

Depending on your situation, student loan forgiveness or repayment assistance may or may not be for you. But, if it is, giving just two or three years of your professional life to a program you qualify for can make a life-changing difference in your student debt burden.

.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_9bf7f1-5e .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_9bf7f1-5e .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_9bf7f1-5e .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_9bf7f1-5e .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_9bf7f1-5e .kb-table-of-content-list limargin-bottom:7px;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_9bf7f1-5e .kb-table-of-content-list li .kb-table-of-contents-list-submargin-top:7px;.kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_9bf7f1-5e .kb-toggle-icon-style-basiccircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:after, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_9bf7f1-5e .kb-toggle-icon-style-basiccircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:before, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_9bf7f1-5e .kb-toggle-icon-style-arrowcircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:after, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_9bf7f1-5e .kb-toggle-icon-style-arrowcircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:before, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_9bf7f1-5e .kb-toggle-icon-style-xclosecircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:after, .kb-table-of-content-nav.kb-table-of-content-id_9bf7f1-5e .kb-toggle-icon-style-xclosecircle .kb-table-of-contents-icon-trigger:beforebackground-color:#f9fafa;

Stock Advisor

Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations have an average return of 618%. For $79 (or just $1.52 per week), join more than 1 million members and don’t miss their upcoming stock picks. 30 day money-back guarantee.

Sarah Graves, Ph.D. is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance, parenting, education, and creative entrepreneurship. She’s also a college instructor of English and humanities. When not busy writing or teaching her students the proper use of a semicolon, you can find her hanging out with her awesome husband and adorable son watching way too many superhero movies.

Source: moneycrashers.com

How to Style a Gallery Wall

After moving into a new place, the biggest question you’re asking yourself is likely, “How am I going to decorate?”

A great use for all that blank, white space is a gallery wall. This is an easy way to feature your favorite framed artwork and personal photographs.

Follow our tips to style your own gallery wall:

1. Decide what to hang: Choose your medium (painting, drawing, photograph), size, and frame (including color, material, and shape). Don’t be afraid to mix and match! When adding variation, just make sure it’s balanced and doesn’t clash. If you have a collection of various frames but want to make everything uniform, consider painting them all the same color.

2. Plan the arrangement: Play around with the layout before you start putting nails into the wall. Decide if you’re going to group multiple pieces in a shape (diamonds, squares, and rectangles work well) or in a straight line. You might want to do a little sketch on paper (to scale). Then lay out your collage on the floor. Place each frame approximately one or two inches apart for cohesiveness. If you’re mixing sizes, start with the biggest piece and work around them with the smaller ones. Consider choosing one piece of art as the focal point and place it in the center.

3. Test your layout: Once you’re happy with the arrangement, cut out pieces of paper that fit each framed piece. Mock up your collage on the wall with paper and tape to help visualize the result. Make tweaks, and move the pieces around until the layout is just right.

4. Start hanging: This is the moment you’ve been waiting for! Break out your hammer and nails. Place the frames over the paper, replacing each cut-out with the actual piece.

Once you’re done, take a few steps back to admire your work! One of the best things about a gallery wall is that you can swap personal photos and art if you find a new piece that you want to feature.

Source: century21.com

10 Ways to Turn Off Potential Buyers

As a result of our obsession with photos and visuals today, buyers make judgments of homes immediately. Many will do their first showing online, so if your photos turn them off, they may never step foot inside.

Sellers need to go to great lengths to get buyers in the door. If you can get them through, it’s the small (and often obvious) things that will keep them interested. Though it’s a home first and foremost, it’s also an investment. Make changes or alterations that could turn off a buyer, and you risk hurting your bottom line.

If you’re planning to put your house on the market, be aware of these 10 ways you might be turning off potential buyers.

1. Turn your garage into a family room.

A family room might be attractive – to a family. But if you’ve sacrificed the garage, the trade-off might be a turn-off, especially to people who don’t have kids or who live in dense urban areas, where parking is at a premium. Even in the suburbs, most people want a covered, secure place to park their cars.

Don’t forget that a garage often doubles as a storage location, housing everything from the lawn mower to excess paper towels and cleansers. If you go glam with your garage, you’re likely to force a buyer to look elsewhere.

2. Convert a bedroom into a something other than a bedroom.

Aside from location and price, one of the first things a buyer searches for is number of bedrooms. Why? Because it’s a fundamental requirement.

You might think that having a wine cellar with built-in refrigerators in your home will make it attractive to potential buyers because it was attractive to you. But that’s not for everyone.

And while it’s true many people work from home today, at least part of the time, that doesn’t mean they want a dedicated home office -especially one with built-in desks or bookcases they can’t easily remove.

If you must convert a bedroom into something else, make sure you can readily change it back into a bedroom when you go to sell. If you have lots of bedrooms, buyers might be more forgiving. But a buyer who needs three might see your custom home office as a turn-off.

3. Lay down carpet over hardwood floors.

People like hardwood floors. They look cleaner, add a design element, don’t show dirt as much, and consumers with allergies prefer them over carpets.

If you have gleaming hardwood floors, show them off. Let the buyer decide if she wants to cover them. It’s easier for her to purchase new carpeting of her choosing than to get past yours.

4. Install over-the-top light fixtures.

A beautiful chandelier can enliven a dining room. But it can also turn off buyers who prefer simpler, less ornate fixtures.

Did you fall in love with a dark light fixture on a trip to Casablanca? That’s great. And you should use it for your enjoyment. But when it comes time to sell, replace it with something more neutral.

Remember, you want to appeal to the masses when your home is for sale. You want to stand out from a crowded field of sellers – but in the right way.

5. Turn your kid’s room into a miniature theme park.

Little kids have big imaginations. They tend to love Disney characters, spaceships, and superheroes, and their parents are often all-too-willing to turn their rooms into fantasy caves.

But the more you transform a child’s bedroom into something resembling a Disneyland ride, the more you’ll turn off most potential buyers. Your buyer might have teenage children, and see the removal of wallpaper, paint or little-kid-inspired light fixtures as too much work.

If you can, neutralize the kids’ rooms before you go on the market.

6. Add an above-ground pool.

Does it get hot in the summer where you live? Wish you had a backyard pool, but can’t afford to have a “real” pool installed? Then you might be tempted to buy and set up an above-ground pool.

For most buyers, though, these pools are an eyesore. Also, an above-ground pool can leave a big dead spot of grass in your backyard – another eyesore.

If you must have it, consider dismantling it before going on the market. Of course, be sure you’re ready to sell, or you may be stuck without a place to cool off next summer.

7. Leave dirty dishes in the sink.

A kitchen full of dirty dishes is not only unattractive, but it sends a strong message to the buyer: You don’t care about your home.

shutterstock_3339927

If your home is for sale, buyers will be coming through, and you want to impress them. Would you keep dirty dishes in the sink for your in-laws or overnight guests? Probably not. Then why wouldn’t you clean up for your potential customers?

Putting your home up for sale, and keeping it on the market, is work. If you aren’t cut out for it, considering holding off until you are ready to clean up for the buyers.

8. Make buyers take off their shoes.

This turn-off cuts both ways. As an agent, I always hated being forced to take my shoes off in someone else’s home - until I sold my own. Not only was it inconvenient, but also I wasn’t happy about my socks picking up a random homeowner’s dirt, pet hair and dust.

Once I became a first-time home seller, and one with sparkling new hardwood floors and carpet, I couldn’t imagine allowing dirt and grime from the outside world to dirty up my floors.

So what’s the compromise? Shoe covers from a medical supply store. Buyers and agents don’t need to take off their shoes, simply cover them. It’s a win-win for everyone.

9. Smoke cigarettes in every room of your house – for years.

Over time, the smell of smoke permeates your home. It gets into the carpet, drapes, wood paneling - just about everywhere. And that’s a big turn-off to most buyers today.

Getting rid of the smoke smell can be a big job. If you’re a smoker, seriously consider how you want to present your home to the market. For a long-term smoke-filled home, it means painting, removing carpets, and doing lots of deep cleaning. If you don’t do it, don’t expect to get top dollar for your home.

10. Keep Fido’s bed and toys front and center.

Family pets bring a lot of joy to the home. But they don’t always bring the same joy to a prospective buyer. Dog’s toys, filled with saliva, dirt and dust, can be a sore both for the eyes and the nose.

If you have a pet, put a plan in place to move the food and water bowls as well as the toys and dog’s bed to a better location, like in the garage.

It’s your home – for now

Part of the joy of owning a home is that you can do whatever you want with it, to it, and in it. You should enjoy it. But if you want to sell it quickly and for top dollar down the road, try to picture how others might react to any renovations, additions or modifications you make.

The more specific you get – such as turning your kid’s room into a miniature castle – the harder it will be to sell your home later, and the less return on investment you’ll get. When considering changes to your home, always consider resale.

Related:

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Source: zillow.com

Can Your Craft Become Your Livelihood? A Conversation with Grant Ginder

That creative thing you love—writing, painting, designing, composing—that’s what you do for pleasure. To relax, unwind, escape. Many of us hold a belief that the thing we love to do and the thing we get paid to do can’t be one and the same. Unless, of course, you’re Lizzo or Stephen King. 

But what if that assumption is wrong? What if there's a way to add a small revenue stream, or even make a full-time career, out of the creative thing you love?

Becoming a creative begins with creating.

I sat down with novelist Grant Ginder (author of The People We Hate at the Wedding and Honestly, We Meant Well) who boldly shares his advice on how he turned his writing hobby into a profession and how he believes you can follow his lead down any artistic path you choose.

What makes someone an artist?

When I asked Grant what makes someone an artist, he chuckled before confessing that even as a published author, he struggles to claim the title out loud.

"I think … so much of it is just a matter of taking ownership. [We tend to believe] you're not allowed to call yourself a painter unless you've sold paintings. But a painter is someone who paints. …I spend a lot of my day writing, and so I'm a writer. Getting anyone else to take you seriously is to take yourself seriously. And part of taking yourself seriously is calling yourself what you are."

Addressing the mindset of art as a hobby or creative pursuit only

Many of us carry a creative wish or talent inside of us. And yet so many believe that our art—the creating—is the thing we must do after the “real job” is done. Being creative happens separately from being a professional.

"My parents… encouraged me to follow those [writing] ambitions. And if I would've told them after I graduated college ‘I'm going to go be a writer’… they would have [said] ‘Maybe you won't be doing that.’

"When my first book came out, my parents had a celebration for me and my dad was giving a speech. He said ‘Grant said he was going to write a book and we didn't believe it!'"

Then, after Grant’s second book was published, his parents (supportively) expressed the same surprise.

"It was a mixed message. It’s not just your parents [sending you this message]—I think you have pressures from all sides; from school, from media, from just looking at the world around you. It’s like the only [artists] that matter are the ones who make a lot of money. I think it’s a very skewed way of looking at art."

Making the move from amateur to creative professional

It's all well and good to say that we should all support creative pursuits as a means to an income. But how do you actually get started on making it official? The answer, perhaps unsurprisingly, is that becoming a creative begins with creating.

"For me, the creating part was learning to set aside time, and to protect that time, to engage in this particular craft… I would write on the weekends a lot. [I had to learn] to say no to things… [because] this is the time that I've set aside to engage in this process, and I'm going to engage in this process now. Holding yourself to that and getting other people to recognize and take that seriously [is essential]."

He also speaks to the importance of consuming the art form you want to produce. For Grant, that’s the novel. But he acknowledges that it's probably the same for other creative arts like painting or music. The process involves analysis and self-reflection.

"You read a novel and you want to write one of these things. [What do you like about it? Why do you like that? And how is that writer doing that thing? And so, [you're] coming at it as… someone who's trying to train themselves in a particular craft. I think that's kind of step one in producing something [creative]."

Finding inspiration and motivation

Sometimes you don't have the luxury of waiting for inspiration to strike you. You have a job to do.

What about inspiration? Do you wait for it to strike or do you just have to start?

Grant believes the artist simply has to start.

"I don't believe that I have to wait for inspiration to strike. I actually think that this comes from my training as a speechwriter, and from writing under deadlines. Sometimes you don't have the luxury of waiting for inspiration to strike you. You have a job to do."

He pointed to an idea he paraphrased from novelist Taffy Brodesser-Akner:

"You write a sentence. Just write that sentence. And it might be a really bad sentence, but the next one will probably be a little bit better."

"I'm also a fan of super messy first drafts. I think my writing is at its worst and my process is at its worst when I get way too precious. Am I in the mood? Is the light in the apartment just right? It's like, no, just roll up your sleeves and start."

Getting your creation out into the world

Once you’ve written or painted or composed the thing, is there a clear, step-by-step roadmap to getting it out into the world? Grants recommendations were refreshing. And relatable.

1. Do your research

"I used Google. When I wrote my first novel, I Googled ‘how many words are in a novel?

"I've always loved writing. I've always loved reading. And so, on breaks [from my speechwriting job], I would write. And, I kept that up. And then… when I reached that magic number [of novel words], I Googled ‘how to publish a novel.

"My path was like a Google Commercial."

Grant's googling led him to conclude that he needed to find a literary agent. And, of course, he then used Google to find out what a literary agent was. 

"Your research is really important [in figuring out] what the next steps are and how to prepare yourself for those steps."

2. Be scrappy

"I started realizing I'd never really read the acknowledgments in the backs of books before. So I started reading the acknowledgments… and authors thank their agents. So if I really liked the book, I would read the acknowledgments and keep a list of who the agents were.

"When it was time for me to query agents… I reached out to those agents. Some of them didn’t respond, but some did. It takes a while. You get a lot of rejections. But I told myself that for every rejection, I was going to send it out to two more people. You just chip away."

I told myself that for every rejection, I was going to send it out to two more people. You just chip away.

3. Make connections

"I assume this would translate to other fields—developing a network of other writers, painters, musicians helping each other … to navigate the landscape."

Grant had no prior knowledge of the steps to take in getting a book published. He had no connections. He had only a book, a wish, and a decent internet connection. And this is how he would advise any creator to figure things out as they go.

How do you handle rejection?

Grant mentioned rejection. And I wasn’t letting him off the hook. How, I asked, do you deal with rejection?

"There is this incredible vulnerability in putting something out in the world. It's something that you've sat with for years. And it's just [been] you, engaging with [it]. Then all of a sudden it's in the hands of everyone and they're allowed to think whatever they want about it.

"I think you have to get to this state—and I'm not there yet—[but] I imagine [it’s] like the author's Nirvana… where I’ve made this thing that belonged to me while I was making it. And I am now putting it forth for interpretation… [but] texts are meant to be read and processed in a variety of different ways. And I think that… the more you can lean into that belief, the happier, and probably the better writer you can be."

Grant's advice to budding creatives

I wrapped our interview with this question: What’s the one piece of advice you wish you could give your younger self?

Here’s a (slightly paraphrased) summary of the pep talk Grant wished he'd received.

"Just sit down and do it. Trust the process. One sentence will lead to the next sentence, which will lead to the next. Don't worry so much. Just write the book you want to write."

Source: quickanddirtytips.com