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Did you know that you should have a safety checklist in place for your apartment? Fret not: This page covers what you should know about optimal home safety. Read on to learn practical tips for keeping your apartment safe and secure from the time you first tour the apartment to when you’re either moving in or enjoying your new place.

Top tips for ensuring safety in your apartment

The real estate industry is booming. But while many aspire to become homeowners, only a few can invest in residential properties. Many have no choice but to reside in apartments and pay for rent or opt for rent-to-own home options.

Take it from Statista: The U.S. apartment rental market was worth $255.3 billion in 2021 and $253.4 billion in 2022, projected to hit $251.1 billion this year. Property owners continue to cater to the housing needs of renters.

But when renting and living in an apartment, safety should always be on top of mind. Not only should you secure your valuables, but you should also protect the lives of the entire household. Note that home safety also translates to comfort and happiness.

That said, consider the home safety tips below before moving in, when doing so or while living in an apartment.

Before moving in

Ask the right questions and observe all the important details even before making the move.

1. Check the apartment itself

Checking the apartment is imperative before moving in. It would help if you considered various factors even when you’re still looking for one. For example, why not rent a senior apartment if you’re living with older household members?

But when examining the apartment, keep home safety in mind. Here’s what to inspect during the apartment tour:

  • Check the doors and windows. You should ensure they aren’t vulnerable to burglars and intruders.
  • Examine the plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems. The goal is to ensure they don’t pose safety hazards at home.

2. Observe the area

Ryan Zomorodi, Co-Founder and COO of, suggests studying the location. “When looking for an apartment, you don’t only examine the property itself; you also observe the surroundings. You want to ensure living in a safe and friendly neighborhood.”

As such, Zomorodi recommends taking the following steps before moving in:

  • Check the neighborhood. Walk around to get the feel of the surroundings.
  • Meet potential neighbors. If possible, pursue a conversation with some of them.
  • See if it’s a disaster-free zone. Ideally, the area shouldn’t be prone to natural calamities or disasters.

When moving in

Set up your new abode to be as safe and comforting as possible while moving in.

3. Set a security system in place

Making security a top priority is equally important as getting the best mattress for sound sleep. So, upon moving in, prioritize installing a security system. That is, if you have the financial means to invest in security tools and devices.

To set up your home security systems, here are a few recommendations:

  • Have a wireless alarm system. This system should sound an alarm if intruders invade your house at night.
  • Put sensors in your doors and windows. Both are entry points that you must completely secure.
  • Install cameras on your front and back patio. Review the videos once in a while to stop potential burglary. In case of unforeseen circumstances, you have these as proof.

4. Update your doors and windows

Doors and windows are the entry points in your apartment. Unauthorized personnel can get into your house through these points. So, before moving in, consider securing your doors and windows.

If you think these entry points are vulnerable, contact local service providers for real estate to perform upgrades. Here’s what to consider:

  • Doors: Update your door locks with robust tools and materials. If not, install a door security bar to reinforce your security.
  • Windows: Install windows that come with a pair of locks. Ensure these locks are in top shape and working conditions. If not, repair or replace them altogether.

5. Repair your home systems

Sure, the property owner is responsible for the apartment repair before renting out the place. However, it’s best to fix and upgrade various systems to meet your safety requirements and comfort needs. That said, prioritize the following:

  • The plumbing system ensures your water supply distribution and the proper wastewater disposal. Make sure it doesn’t pose health threats and safety hazards.
  • The electrical system powers your entire apartment and the appliances. Ensure it won’t cause a fire outbreak and put your life at risk.
  • The HVAC system regulates the heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit of your apartment. Stay on top of it so it doesn’t compromise your safety.

When living in the apartment

Ensure your home is safe and sound for you and your family.

6. Regulate the use of keys

When moving in, the property owner hands over duplicate apartment keys. Of course, they serve as access to your home. However, it’s best to regulate who holds the key. That way, you can control who goes in and out of your apartment.

Below are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Ask the homeowner if they are the only ones with access.
  • See if the previous tenants have returned the keys.
  • Provide duplicate keys only to your housemates.
  • Keep the keys with you or your housemates all the time.

7. Use curtains to prevent people from peeking

Did you know that you hang curtains not only for aesthetics? For all you know, you can use them to promote safety at home. Of course, they prevent passersby from prying into your apartment.

Keep in mind that there’s a right way to hang your curtains. Strategize on how you’d go about positioning your drapes.

You can open your windows and curtains at a particular time of the day. That is to allow sunlight and fresh air into your home. However, ensure it doesn’t pave the way for people to spy on your apartment.

8. Inspect, maintain and repair your systems

Tom Nolan, Founder of All Star Home, recommends regular property upkeep. “You should stay on top of your apartment’s maintenance regularly. That is to maintain its structural integrity and prevent safety and health hazards.”

Nolan recommends the following measures:

  • Inspection: Examine various parts of your house regularly. Are the toilets slippery? Are the electrical wirings wearing off? Are there growing molds and mildew in the kitchen?
  • Maintenance: No, you don’t just clean your apartment regularly. You must also maintain various systems, from plumbing to electrical to HVAC. Warning: Neglecting them can cause safety risks at home.
  • Repair: If you find minor issues in your apartment, fix them immediately or hire professionals to do the job for you. That way, they won’t escalate into major problems that can threaten lives at home.

9. Keep valuables in a safe

As an apartment renter, you try to stay on top of your finances. You check your household income for social security, taxes, insurance and other expenditures. But you want to ensure that you consistently pay your rent on time.

However, nothing can be more frustrating than your valuables getting stolen at home. So what better way to do than invest in a safe to store all your valuables? Here are some items you can keep in a vault:

  • Cash
  • Jewelry
  • Heirlooms
  • Pertinent documents
  • Other valuables

10. Lock your doors and windows when out

As a property renter, you should be responsible for ensuring home safety. As such, make it a habit to lock your entry points when leaving the house. This is especially true if you’re living alone in your apartment.

However, if you’re sharing your space with others, remind all your housemates to do the same. Even if you’re off to sleep, lock all doors and windows. The last thing you want to happen is to become a victim of burglary just because you forgot to do so.

11. Set contingency plans for emergencies

Disaster safety for apartment renters is imperative. But no matter how you try to stay on top of it, emergencies can strike anytime. Therefore, you should set contingency plans in place.

  • Crimes: In case of emergency crimes, know what steps to take and whom to contact.
  • Burglary: While prevention is still the best measure, plan how to act during such a case or what to do after like incident reporting.
  • Flood: Ensure you have an elevated space in the neighborhood. Also, monitor the weather if there’s a storm in your area. Lastly, evacuate your place as soon as possible if there’s a heavy downpour.
  • Fire: One thing you must ensure is to have a fire exit in your apartment. Likewise, learn some safety measures like putting off a fire using a fire extinguisher and blowing out your candles when you leave a room.

12. Consider getting insurance

Renter’s insurance is precisely what it sounds like — protection for people renting an apartment, house or condo.

Also known as the tenant’s or apartment insurance, it secures your personal belongings and covers things like repair costs, medical payments and additional living expenses in case of incidents.

Anthony Martin, Founder and CEO of Choice Mutual, recommends getting a renter’s insurance. “As an apartment tenant, you want to foster home safety at all times. However, one thing you must consider is financial protection. Getting insurance is key!”

Home, safe home

Home safety is always a top priority. When renting an apartment, focus on this before considering the aesthetics, amenities and other factors.

That said, consider the home safety tips recommended above. Before and when moving into an apartment, follow the practical steps laid out above. And while living in an apartment, always stay on top of your safety and security.

At the end of the day, you want to go home in a safe space, eat a hearty meal with your loved ones and have a sound sleep! Still looking for a safe, comfortable home? Check out our houses and apartments for rent.


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Whether you’re selling your home to begin a new adventure or refinancing your existing home, getting an appraisal with the value you want is an important hurdle to clear. You may feel that the appraisal process is out of your control, but there are many easy and inexpensive ways to get both yourself and your home ready.

We put together a checklist of our top tips below. But first, let’s quickly cover the basics of home appraisals.

What Is a Home Appraisal and Why Is It Important?

A home appraisal is an unbiased report on the value of your home performed by a trained and state-licensed individual. Appraisals are an essential part of the home financing process, ensuring the homebuyer, seller and mortgage lender each have an impartial, consistent and accurate assessment of the value of the property under consideration.

The lender is responsible for ensuring that your home provides adequate collateral for the mortgage. For most loans, the lender obtains a signed and completed appraisal report that accurately reflects the market value, condition and marketability of the property.

It’s the appraiser’s job to provide a factual, unbiased and detailed description of the property and the neighborhood. They must take into account all factors that influence a home’s value when developing the market value opinion in the appraisal report.

Home Appraisal Cost

While home appraisal costs can vary by state and property size, the fee can range between $300 and $1,200. Most fall somewhere around $600-$1,000, with costs based primarily on the geographical area of the home.

How Long Does a Home Appraisal Take?

From start to finish, the home appraisal process usually takes approximately 7-10 days to complete.

The required in-person visit by a home appraiser can take over an hour, depending on the size of your home. However, several other steps are involved in making an unbiased and professional assessment of your home’s value. Your appraiser will research trends, local county records and recently closed comparable homes in your area, known in the industry as “comps.”

Once your appraiser compiles and analyzes all the information and data, they will present a final report of your home’s value.

What Do Home Appraisers Look For?

A home appraiser uses several sources of information to determine a property’s value. As part of the assessment, the appraiser will visit the property in person and review recently completed sales of comparable homes. Common factors examined during home appraisals include:

Property size. In real estate appraisals, size significantly affects the final number. In general, the higher the square footage of a home, the higher its value. An appraiser will also look at the kitchen, number of bedrooms, bathrooms and closets.

Exterior condition. When assigning a value to your property, the appraiser will consider not only the exterior appearance of your home but also its condition. They will check the following:

  • The condition of the roof, foundation, siding, gutters, chimney and walls, looking for signs of leaks, mold and other safety hazards
  • Lot size, including front and backyard square footage
  • Pool, outdoor kitchen, deck, porch and other amenities

Interior condition. Again, this refers not only to the appearance of the interior but also to the working condition of standard household assets such as:

  • Plumbing
  • Electrical and HVAC systems
  • Doors and windows
  • Light fixtures
  • Any kitchen appliances to be included in the sale

Attic, basement and foundation. A finished basement or attic may impact a home’s value, but these areas must meet specific requirements to be considered part of the Gross Living Area (GLA). An appraiser will also evaluate your home’s foundation and its condition.

Home improvements and renovations. Tell your appraiser about any work or upgrades you have done to spruce up your home. This can include anything from the central air system you installed 10 years ago to the kitchen flooring and countertops you just renovated (along with the new oven and fridge to match, of course).

What Hurts a Home Appraisal?

If an appraisal is in your future, it’s essential to understand the factors that could negatively impact it, such as the following:

  • Low-value comps and decreasing neighborhood property values
  • Poorly maintained interior or exterior
  • Age of the home
  • Location, such as a flood zone or busy road
  • Signs of mold, insect infestation, leaks or other safety concerns
  • Issues with the home’s systems, such as plumbing, electric or HVAC
  • Lack of parking
  • Hazardous construction materials like lead paint or asbestos tile
  • Outdated or faulty plumbing, electrical and heating systems

Some issues are in your control and some may not be. Whether you choose to address the correctable concerns or not, being aware of crucial appraisal criteria can help you avoid the potential unwelcome surprise of a lower-than-expected home value.

Top 7 Tips Home Appraisal Checklist

How does one best prepare for a home appraisal? We put together a checklist of common (and not-so-common) tips to help you get a high valuation from your appraiser.

1. Do Your Own Appraisal

Imagine that you are the appraiser. Walk around your home’s interior and exterior and really scrutinize it as if you were going to complete the appraisal report yourself. Take note of any obvious damage or deferred maintenance that needs your attention. Leaks, broken systems and damaged surfaces should all go on your list of things to repair.

Thoroughly inspect safety equipment like smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and home security systems. Are they all functioning, or do parts or entire systems need to be replaced? Make a plan to repair these issues and clean up any cosmetic issues that may have occurred as a result.

2. Investigate Comps

Check out recent home sales in your neighborhood. What has the price range been for homes with features and updates similar to yours? The values of these comparable homes should be similar to what your home will appraise for. This information can help you know where to focus your time, efforts and funds.

If you know a neighbor (or real estate agent) who recently sold a home in your area, contact them to find out if there were any appraisal issues or insights that they can share.

If you’re working with a real estate agent, you can request that they collect some comps for you and your appraiser to review. Particularly if your home has unique or uncommon features, your agent may need to get creative while staying within the guidelines for selecting comps.

A quick way to get a rough idea of how much your home is worth is to use a home value estimator calculator. Add some basic information to gauge your home’s current value and view recent home sales in your area.

3. Get Superficial

Clean your house from top to bottom and remove extra clutter. Once you’ve scrubbed and straightened up everything possible, consider making some easy, low-cost cosmetic updates that can have a big impact, like the following:

  • Paint or touch up existing paint
  • Hang updated window treatments
  • Replace worn faucets, doorknobs and cabinet hardware

If you’ve been planning to update your decor after you move, consider bringing in a few of the newer pieces to make the old house look fresh and modern. Downsizing or packing for a long-distance move? Ask your real estate agent if they have staging furnishings you can borrow or recommendations for a service you can use.

4. Make Your Outdoor Areas Truly Great

Now that your home’s interior looks fantastic, it’s time to pay attention to the exterior. Make sure that your landscaping is looking its best by doing the following:

  • Mow your lawn, trim your trees and bushes
  • Remove weeds and dead vegetation
  • Add color with inexpensive, seasonal flowers in the spring, summer or fall, and ensure that snow removal is neat and tidy in the winter

You’ll also want to:

  • Remove outdoor clutter, like yard tools and stray toys, from everywhere on the property
  • Consider staging any outdoor living spaces with new furniture or accessories
  • Power wash your home’s exterior, as well as your driveway and any deck or patio surfaces
  • Ensure your pool is well-maintained and in safe operating condition

Most of this can be accomplished in a weekend, and the increased curb appeal will be worth it.

Check out expert tips for outdoor home renovations — you may find just the right improvement to increase your value!

5. Be Sure To Share Your Upgrades

Tell your home appraiser about the improvements you’ve made to your home. Inform them of upgrades like the following that will positively impact your appraisal value:

  • New features that you have added, like a security system
  • Updated HVAC units
  • Exterior improvements like siding, gutters or a new roof
  • High-value room remodels like kitchens and bathrooms

An easy way to make sure that your appraiser remembers all of these improvements is to create and share a short, one-page list detailing each. You should have this list ready in advance and include any applicable permit information.

6. Know Your Neighborhood

Make your appraiser aware of any recent improvements in your overall neighborhood. It’s worth mentioning things like:

  • New or highly rated schools
  • Parks
  • Transportation enhancements
  • Shopping
  • Other beneficial amenities

These kinds of changes can add significant value to your home, and if your appraiser is not a local resident, they may not be aware of them. Appraisers are often familiar with the general area, but you probably know your specific neighborhood better than they do.

7. Stay Focused

While you are working your way through the tasks and updates listed above, it’s important to remember not to go overboard and take on too many projects. Invest your time, money and effort only on issues that clearly need attention. If you’re getting an appraisal for a home you’re selling, you most likely already have a buyer who liked your home enough in its current state to make an offer on it. Making unnecessary major changes could end up being a waste of your time and resources.

Your home’s selling price is affected by much more than just the appraisal! Find out how the time of year can increase your sale price.

Although it’s not possible to change your bungalow into a country estate overnight, taking the time to tackle a few strategic projects before your appraisal can help put you in a better position to get the outcome you want. If you’re ready to move or refinance the home you love living in, get a custom mortgage rate quote from Pennymac today. Our Loan Experts can answer your questions and help guide you through the mortgage loan process.



buying a home selling a home appraisal fundamentals


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Apache is functioning normally

This article is part of a series put together by the Total Mortgage marketing team that provides loan officers and other sales professionals with a crash course in marketing and self-promotion. To read other articles in this series, click here.

This article is designed to teach loan officers and other sales professionals how to properly maintain and boost their social media presence. It will hit all the key points such as connecting, managing multiple profiles, engaging with influencers, and what to post.

Want to jump ahead?

  1. LinkedIn
    • Connecting & Following
    • Managing Multiple Profiles
    • Properly Engaging with Influencers
    • How and What to Post
  2. Facebook
    • Connecting & Following
    • Managing Multiple Profiles
    • Properly Engaging with Influencers
    • How and What to Post
  3. Twitter
    • Connecting & Following
    • Managing Multiple Profiles
    • Properly Engaging with Influencer
    • How and What to Post
  4. Google +
    • Connecting & following
    • Managing Multiple Profiles
    • Properly Engaging with Influencers
    • How and What to Post


How to Gain/Find Connections

When you first started setting up your LinkedIn account, you were prompted to import your contacts from your email address book. If you clicked yes, you probably already have a few dozen connections. However, once your profile is completed, you will need to search for those connections you didn’t have on your contact list, like loan officers you met at a conference or realtors you haven’t had a chance to work with yet. There are many different ways to go about finding and linking with connections on LinkedIn.

  1. The first way is arguably the easiest way: using the Search box. It can be found on the top of any tab of the LinkedIn interface. There are also many “Advanced Search” options available if you click the “Advanced” text link right next to the search button.
  2. You could also find connections from clicking onto your Profile, scrolling down to your experience and hovering over your business place icon and then clicking onto the icon or your company title, highlighted by the red arrow.

  1. After clicking on your company’s icon, scroll down until you see the “How You’re Connected” on the right side of the screen. Click “See all.”

  1. Now you have the opportunity to see coworkers and contacts who you’re not connected to.

Managing Multiple Profiles

LinkedIn is generally a place where you focus on one personal profile. However, if you run your own business, you will want to create a company page for it. If you need help creating a company page, check out my Social Media Basics post. If you only manage one page, then this section may not be that useful.

If you are on your profile page and you want to switch to your company page, you simply click on the small icon on the top right hand corner of your screen (where the arrow is shown) then on “Company Page.”

This will lead you to this screen.

You’ll now be able manage, change, analyze, and update your company page. If you want to switch back to your profile page, just click on the home tab or profile tab.

Engaging with Influencers

Connecting with influencers—that is,  the people who are active, established, and popular in your industry—is a great way to widen your reach. Of course, engaging with influencers on LinkedIn is not something you should do blindly. It takes strategy and time to do correctly.

Do Not:

  • Do not connect with an influencer without ever interacting with them
  • Do not like, comment, or share everything they post
  • Do not post more than 3 times per day


  • Do connect if you had previous relations
  • Do connect if you are connected on other networks
  • Do connect if you have exchanged emails or contact info

How and What to Post on LinkedIn

Posting on LinkedIn is very straight forward. LinkedIn allows you to share updates, publish a post, upload a photo, share in groups, and post job opportunities. You can access these options in the home tab, except for sharing in groups and posting job opportunities.

Sharing in a Group

Sharing in a group could be a great way to get your content to a broader audience. Joining groups on LinkedIn is very easy. First, click on the “Interests” tab and then click on “Groups” If you are already a member of a group it will appear under the “My Groups” section. If you aren’t a member of any groups, just click on the “Discover” tab and LinkedIn will provide recommendations for groups to join. You have the option to select “not interested,” “ask to join,” or you can ignore and continue to scroll.

Once you ask to join a group, your request must get approved by an admin, which can take a day or two depending on how busy they are. After you’re accepted, you can view what the others in the group are posting. To get started, click on “Start a conversation with your group.” The box will expand and you get the options listed below. At this screen, type in your title and a brief description with a link to the real content. Follow the same process for posting a job opportunity in a group.

If you run a LinkedIn business page, then you have the option of posting a job ad through the “Business Services” tab. Once you hover over “Business Services,” click on “Post a Job” to get to this screen.

After you fill out the appropriate information and click “Start job post,” LinkedIn will walk you through a series of prompts, where you will fill out information like job function, company industry, and job description. Once that’s done, review everything and click submit.

What to Post:

  • Career status updates
  • News and events
  • Articles shared by your connections
  • Your own articles

What not to Post:

  • Quotes
  • Updates trying to sell services/items
  • Material you deem not appropriate for the workplace


How to Gain Followers:

With more than 1.65 billion monthly active users, Facebook has the potential to connect you to people across the globe. If you’re using Facebook for business purposes, you need to understand how to properly navigate it to connect with others.

There are multiple strategies to take. For example, you can create a personal account, a business page, or both. If you’re in an industry where you need to keep things professional (like, for instance, the mortgage and financial industry), then I recommend creating a business page so you can separate your professional life from your personal life. You have to mindful of whom you invite to like your page, but we’ll touch on that topic a little later.

If you’re completely new to Facebook, prepare to spend some time connecting with people you know. You can manually add friends by clicking in the search box at the top of the screen and typing the name of the person you are trying to find. Eventually Facebook will tailor a carousel of “People You May Know,” which will allow you to click “Add Friend.” Thankfully, Facebook has implemented a few tricks to make it easier to add friends in bulk.

Go to the Friends Request page then to the “Add Personal Contacts,” enter your email and click find friends.

After you enter your email it will take you through to a similar screen. Click “Agree,” then follow the on-screen instructions.

On the Go

You can also import contacts from your mobile device.

  1. Tap 
  2. Hit “Find Friends” in the Apps section
  3. Tap “Contacts,” then follow the on-screen instructions

Connecting to Others Via Your Business Page

  1. Click on the triangle in the top right corner of your home page.

  1. Click on the drop down menu and select your business page.

  1. Click on the […] on your cover photo and then click on “Invite Friends.”

  1. Search all friends: click the invite box next to your friends’ names to invite them to like your page—or type their names in the search box.

Managing Multiple Profiles

Facebook does a fantastic job of making it easy to manage as many pages as you want. Their interface organizes your pages so you can easily switch through and manage every single of one of them. Every time you create a new page, Facebook allows you to add that page into your “Favorites” section. I highly recommend doing this, because it keeps all of your pages in easy reach, which you can see in the image below.

You can also switch between pages by clicking the drop-down triangle on the upper right corner of your home page. In that menu, you’ll find a list of three of your pages. Shown below:

If you manage more than 3 pages—like we do here at Total Mortgage—you can just click on “See More…” and it will give you a list of all the Facebook pages that you manage. To switch back to your personal page, you simply just need to hit the “Home” button and it will take you back to your feed.

Properly Engaging with Influencers

Recently, Facebook has changed how you interact with other people or businesses when you’re on your business page. Once, you were able to be on your business profile, click on “Home” and interact with people and businesses that follow your business page. However, that is essentially nonexistent today. Now you really need to be creative if you want to engage with influencers in your community.

To Like a Different Page as Your Business Profile

Go to the page you want to like and click on the […]

Click “Like As Your Page.” Then this screen will pop up and you choose the business account that you want your like to come from. Click “Save.”

Tagging other influencers in your Facebook posts is simple if you know the name of their business page. A lot of influencers have both personal and professional profiles, however, so make sure you know which one you’d like to connect with.

Unfortunately, you can’t tag a personal account from your business profile. If you want to tag a professional account from your business page, you craft your post, then add the appropriate tag at the end. You always want to convey that you got the content from a source and you are using it credibly.

In the picture below, you see that I have crafted a draft of my message and tagged the source I got it from with the tag “via @[name].” Instead of via you could use from, by, thanks to, etc. When possible, try to use a link shortener such as Buffer or Hootsuite to keep things looking tidy.

Once you get the proper etiquette down for interacting with influencers, now it’s time to engage with them. Like I mentioned above, you can like other pages as your page. You are able to do the same for posts. You do that by going to the page you want to like something on and scrolling to the post that you want to interact with. Before you like the post or comment, make sure you switch from your profile to your business profile. You do this by:

1. Clicking on the downwards arrow next to your small Facebook default icon

2. Click on the account you want to like and comment as.

You are now liking and commenting as your business account. This is the best way you can engage with your influencers. There are 3 important things you must always remember to do and don’t do before you start engaging with influencers.

Do Not:

  1. Do not like/comment on everything that they post
  2. Do not ask for a favor like sharing a post right away
  3. Do not reach out to them right away


  1. Gradually interact with them by liking their page and commenting on a few posts/pictures 1-3 times a week
  2. Share some of their posts 1-2 times a week
  3. Always remember to thank them for sharing information that you find important

Here’s where you use your gut. Once you think you’ve earned yourself a spot on the influencer’s radar, the next step is to reach out personally. This can be done in an open forum through commenting, or it can be done through private message. The eventual goal is to take the conversation “offline” through either phone or email so you can begin building an even more personal relationship.

How and What to Post on Facebook

Posting and sharing on Facebook is very easy. If you have a personal Facebook, you already know the drill. If this is your first time on Facebook or you don’t know how to post to your business page, then keep reading.

Posting on Your Personal Page

  1. Bring your mouse to the top tab and click on your name
  2. Click on the box where it says:

3. Click on the kind of post you want to craft: status, photo/video, or life event. Finish typing it with the appropriate tags (if needed) and click post.

Posting on your Business Page

  1. Make your way over to your business page
  2. Click on the box where it says “status, photo/video, or life event” and create the post you want to send out
  3. When you are finished, click “Publish”

What to Post on Facebook

There are two types of content that you should post on Facebook. The difference depends on what account you plan to post with. For both profiles, you should post content that really resonates with your audience and makes people see you as a credible source (i.e. if you’re a loan officer, try content based around changes in the industry or tips on how to make the mortgage process easier).

Content like this positions you as an authority and encourages your audience to consider using your services if they are shopping for a home or refinancing. Every once in a while, it’s okay to throw in a shameless plug, whether you’re asking for referrals or encouraging people to use your services. Your personal page can have all the other updates—photos of your family, your dog, things you’re passionate about, etc. It is ok to post some business topics on your personal page, but make sure to do so sparingly. Your personal page is meant for personal things.


How to Gain Followers

Twitter is a great place to gain followers based on things that you find interesting. You can use the search box to find other professionals and people in your industry by looking for relevant hashtags, like #realestate.

Top Tips for Gaining Followers

  1. Try finding your connections from other places like Facebook and LinkedIn on Twitter
  2. Follow users who follow your followers
  3. Follow the accounts recommended by Twitter
  4. Join a Twitter chat

Managing Multiple Profiles

Unfortunately, Twitter doesn’t have an interface within itself to switch profiles easily—unless you are on your mobile device or want to use multiple web browsers. However, there are certain tricks, tips and hacks you can use to make managing multiple profiles easier.

Toggling Profiles in the Twitter App for iOS

  1. From the “Me tab, tap the people icon 
  2. Tap “More options.”
  3. From here you can “Create new account” or “Add an existing account.”
  4. Once you’ve added your additional account, you can toggle between accounts by tapping the people icon.

Toggling Profiles in the Twitter App for Android:

  1. Tap the overflow icon
  2. Tap “Accounts.”
  3. From here you can “Create new account” or “Add existing account.”
  4. Once you’ve added your additional account, you can toggle between accounts by tapping the overflow icon, then tapping “Accounts.”

If you’re uninterested in downloading the Twitter app for your mobile device, there are other options. If you manage more than one profile you can easily manage multiple accounts if you use a tool like Tweetdeck, Buffer, or Hootsuite. All of these applications have free versions, so you don’t have to worry about spending money.

These apps make it easy to manage countless amounts of accounts. My personal favorite of the three is Buffer, because the interface is very easy to use and it provides multiple tabs to check out how your account is doing in terms of analytics. It also has a built-in link shortener that automatically shrinks your links when you are adding them to a post. Shown below is a screenshot of my Buffer interface.

Engaging with Influencers

Engaging with influencers on Twitter is a great way to kick-start your influencer marketing strategy. This is where Twitter search comes in handy; you can use it to find the people who tweet regularly in your industry regularly. If you want to stay organized, I recommend creating a spreadsheet that has a list of your influencers, their names, follower count, and what stage of your relationship you’re in. Once you’ve found a handful of them, it’s time to start engaging.

Do not:

  1. Tweet, retweet, or like everything that they tweet
  2. Try to directly reach out to them—it comes off creepy
  3. Follow them on other networks without establishing a relationship with them


  1. Occasionally tweet, retweet, or like their posts to get on their radar
  2. Appreciate their content by tweeting it out to your audience (and making sure your attribute the author)
  3. Once you established a relationship, make it easy for them to tweet about your service by crafting an email with a few sample tweets that they could send out about your services. Make sure you convey the message that you are willing to reciprocate the favor

How and What to Post:

Posting on Twitter is very simple. If you are on the web browser version of Twitter the tweet box is one of the first things that you see. You can find it by looking for the “What’s happening?” text.

To compose a tweet you just click on this box and type the content you want to share.

Posting a Tweet on a Mobile Device

  1. Tap the compose Tweet icon  accessible from your Home timeline, the Notifications tab, or your profile (usually located on the upper right hand of your screen.)
  2. Start typing where it says “What’s happening?”
  3. If you’d like to Tweet an image, tap the camera icon 
  4.  Tap “Tweet” to post.

What to Post

Just like any other platform, choosing what to post comes down to a few key factors.

  1. Who your audience is
  2. What kind of message are you trying to portray
  3. What kind of content will resonate with that audience

Make sure you don’t forget to utilize the power of hashtags on Twitter. To see how a hashtag is performing simply search the hashtag in the search box before you post the tweet or check it out on Tagboard.

You want to have the appropriate amount of hashtags to text ratio. Most marketers recommend using no more than 3 hashtags per tweet. However, if your tweet only contains 3 words, don’t hashtag them all. Finding the perfect mix of creativity and content is surely a challenge but once you find your niche you will be good to go.

Google Plus

Google+ is one of the most underrated social media platforms, but it could be a great asset to your strategy if used properly.

How to Gain Followers

Make Your Profile Look Good

I know, it sounds obvious, but a lot of people just use the default graphics that Google supplies. Make sure your profile looks good and is customized so you reach people in your niche.

Follow other Google Plus People

Just like other social platforms, you’ll need to work for your followers. You do this by following as many people as possible. There are multiple ways of doing this. If you are looking for people to connect with , search for something relevant to your industry like, for example, “Real Estate.” A list like below will pop up and you will be able to decide who what you want to follow, whether it be collections, communities, people & pages, or if you just want to view posts.

You can also follow people manually:

  1. Click the People Icon on the left side of the screen
  2. You should see a “Find People” option. Click on that
  3. Go through the list of people and see who you want to add
  4. You can add them to just your follower base or you can add them to relevant circles, such as “Realtors”

Join Communities

If you’re looking for the fast track way of getting your name in front of dozens, even hundreds of people at once, then you’re looking for communities. When you join a community, you are part of a much larger group of people who are interested in a certain topic. This is how you engage the right kind of followers.

Utilize Hashtags

With Google Plus know you can search content by words, phrases, and hashtags. Even though hashtags are more popular on Twitter, they work the same way on Google+.

Let’s say you hashtag a word or phrase in your post, i.e. #RealEstate. Thanks to that hashtag, your post enters a stream with hundreds of other posts with that same hashtag. Meaning, anyone watching that stream or looking for specific information centered on that topic will easily find your post.

Add a Google+ Badge to Your Website

If you have your own website, it’s a sin in 2016 to not have visible social widgets. These are clickable icons that take you right to your social media pages. They take the hassle out of finding your social pages, making it easier to gain followers.

Managing Multiple Profiles

Managing multiple profiles on Google+ is very simple if you add all your accounts to one email address. Once you associate all your different profiles to that one email address it becomes very easy to switch back and forth between the different profiles from the Google+ interface. Don’t forget—you can always use a social media management tool like Buffer to switch profiles simultaneously.

Switching Profiles:

  1. Click the icon on the upper right hand corner (Note: Your icon will be different from ours)

  1. Once you click on that icon it will release a drop down menu of all the other profiles you have connected to your account

  1. Now you are free to switch through whichever profile you deem necessary

Properly Engaging with Influencers

Engaging with influencers is a lot like engaging with influencers on any other platform—you need a strategy and you need to find the right influencers.

Do not:

  1. Plus one (+1) everything they share
  2. Try to directly reach out to them–it comes off creepy
  3. Follow them on other networks without establishing a relationship with them


  1. Occasionally +1, comment, and share their posts
  2. Appreciate their content by sharing it in your communities
  3. Share some of their posts 1-2 times a week
  4. Thank them for sharing information that you find important

How and What to Post

Posting on Google+ seems a lot more complicated than it really is. Just keep in mind that you can post publicly, in a community, or in a group. To post you simply go to the page, community or group you want to post to.

  1. Click on the pencil icon on the bottom right hand corner

  1. Which will bring you to this screen

Here you type in the text of the message you want to draft in the ‘What’s new with you?’ section. If you are adding a link, click on the. If you want to add a picture (recommended) click on the camera icon. You can also add your location by clicking on the location pin.

What to Post

Just like any other network, you need to find your niche before posting blindly. Finding content that really resonates with your audience is half the battle. Like I said previously, try testing a few types of content to see what works best.

Don’t be afraid to use content with a lot of pictures like infographics. The more pictures the better. A very good post is a combination of clever content, great pictures and captive CTA’s (call to actions.) Once you find this balance roll with it and optimize your Google+ account to its full potential.

Thinking About Your Next Steps?

All of these social media platforms are great for connecting and getting your content out there. Each platform is a little different from the next, so don’t try to implement the same strategy throughout all of them. Finding your groove might take some time, but keep working towards it and tweaking your strategy to see what gives you the best results. Once you hit that sweet spot, roll with it.

You can learn more about what the Total Mortgage marketing team does for our loan officers by checking out other articles in this series, or by visiting our career portal.

Carter Wessman

Carter Wessman is originally from the charming town of Norfolk, Massachusetts. When he isn’t busy writing about mortgage related topics, you can find him playing table tennis, or jamming on his bass guitar.


Apache is functioning normally

Are you looking to learn how to find a free car? Cars are expensive. There’s no doubt about that. Is it possible to get free cars? Getting a free car may sound too good to be true, but it’s possible for people who meet certain requirements, which we will talk about below. In this article,…

Are you looking to learn how to find a free car?

Cars are expensive.

There’s no doubt about that.

Is it possible to get free cars?

Getting a free car may sound too good to be true, but it’s possible for people who meet certain requirements, which we will talk about below. In this article, I’ll show you how to get a free car through different ways, from charity donations to assistance programs, and more.

I understand that there are so many people who would benefit from a more affordable transportation option. After all, a car can be essential to landing a job, getting to work, helping you pick up and drop off your children at childcare (so that you can work!), getting groceries, and so much more.

Low-income families, single parents, individuals with disabilities, veterans and their families, and so many others may particularly benefit from getting free vehicles to improve their quality of life.

Whether it’s making it easier to get to work, taking the kids to school and childcare, or simply attending important appointments, acquiring a free car can have a significant impact on your daily life.

Related content:

Why do free cars exist?

Free cars exist to help people who need transportation.

There are many organizations whose sole purpose is to help you get a free car because they know how much it can change a person’s life.

Below are some organizations that may help you find a free car:

  • Nonprofit Organizations — Some nonprofit organizations give away cars for free to those who need one. They work with local partners and households and accept donations of old cars and used cars, which are then fixed up and given to those who need them. These organizations usually target specific groups of people, such as low-income families, working families, single parents, military families, or disabled individuals, who may find it hard to afford a car on their own.
  • Churches and Private Charities — Churches and private charities may offer car help in your community as well. They usually work on a smaller scale, providing help to local residents experiencing hardships and may just give out a free car here and there. These organizations often rely on donations from members of the community and local businesses, and they require applicants to demonstrate a genuine need for a vehicle. You may need to contact local churches and charities directly to learn more about how to get a car for free.

People donate their used cars all the time. Their reasons may be either because they have no use for the car, they want to avoid the hassle of selling a car, for tax breaks, or they want to help others.

Who can benefit from free cars?

There are many people who can benefit from a free car, such as:

  • Low-income families — If your family is struggling with money and you are finding it hard to afford your bills, you might be eligible to receive a free car if you can show your need to an organization.
  • Single mothers and single parents — Single moms and parents need transportation so that they can get to work and also be able to bring their children to childcare. Not having a car can make this much more difficult.
  • Domestic violence victims — Having reliable transportation can be important for the safety and well-being of domestic violence victims. Some organizations have experience providing a free car in this situation and understand the need for privacy.
  • Disabled individuals — If you have a disability, you might be eligible to receive a free car to help you get around and be more independent.
  • Veterans and military families — Veterans and military families can also benefit from free car programs. There are organizations dedicated to providing assistance to those with a military background, to repay them for their service and sacrifices.
  • Victims of natural disasters — If you have experienced loss from a natural disaster, then you may benefit from many charitable free car organizations.

Of course, there are many more people who could benefit from finding affordable transportation as well. This is not a full list of those who might need a free vehicle.

Now, you do want to be cautious with getting a free car. If you are receiving government assistance, such as housing assistance, welfare, or food stamps, then accepting a free car may be considered income and it can affect your benefits. This is something that you will definitely want to think about as you do not want to lose these benefits.

How To Get A Free Car

There are organizations that help you get a car when you need a free vehicle. And there are other ways to find a free car as well. Below are some of the options that you may want to look into:

1. 1-800-Charity Cars

1-800-Charity Cars (also known as Free Charity Cars) is a nonprofit organization that provides free vehicles to eligible people, including domestic violence victims, the medically needy, victims of natural disasters, veterans and military families, and families transitioning from public assistance to work. It was the first charity of its kind in the nation.

This is the original free charity cars organization and they have given away over $70,000,000 in cars (over 9,000 cars) nationwide since they started the organization in 1996.

To apply, you will need to meet their eligibility criteria and submit an application on their website. Some of their eligibility requirements include being over the age of 18, being a resident of the U.S., having a valid driver’s license, being at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, and having a genuine need for a vehicle.

This is a good place to start if you need a free car and you’re wondering where can I get a donated car for free.

2. Vehicles for Change

Vehicles for Change was started in 1999 and has given out over 7,500 cars to low-income families for little to no cost.

This organization helps residents in the states of Maryland and Northern Virginia. Cars are repaired and restored by people seeking workforce training as auto mechanics.

Donated vehicles are provided to families in need who meet their eligibility requirements. Eligible applicants must have a verifiable job offer or be working at least 30 hours per week, have no DUIs, and have a valid driver’s license to begin the application process.

3. Good News Garage

Good News Garage is a car donation program to look into if you’re trying to find a free car. They provide refurbished free cars for low-income families that meet their eligibility requirements. They give out around 200 cars to families in need each year and have provided around 5,500 cars since starting in 1996.

This organization is available for those in need who live in the New England area of Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

Good News Garage also has a transportation program. If you need to get to a job or get your children to childcare, then their program Ready To Go may be able to help you with this as well.

4. Online Car Donation is another platform that donates refurbished vehicles to needy individuals and families.

Online Car Donation gives free cars to people such as those with physical challenges, families living in homeless shelters, military families, and more.

You can apply by filling out their application form on their website and providing the required documents to prove your eligibility.

After you submit your application for a free car, if you are chosen, you will be contacted within 30 days. If you do not hear back within that time frame, their website says you can apply again as applications are only valid for 30 days.

5. With Causes Charitable Network

The Network helps individuals and families in need by providing resources and assistance, which includes help getting a free car. The eligibility requirements may vary, so visit their website to find out if you qualify and how to apply.

6. Salvation Army free car program

The Salvation Army offers a free car program for eligible candidates.

They mainly focus on helping domestic violence victims, families in dire financial situations, and the homeless. Visit your local Salvation Army branch to inquire about their car donation program and how to apply.

7. Cars 4 Heroes

Cars4Heroes donates free cars to first responders, military veterans, and their families who are in need of transportation.

Cars 4 Heroes was started in 1996, and the organization currently gives away over 300 cars a year in the Kansas City, Kansas, metro area.

You can fill out their application form on their website and provide the required documentation to be considered for a free car.

8. Local church

Your local churches or other religious institutions may have programs that provide free vehicles to families that need help getting a car.

You may want to contact your nearby churches to find out if they have any car donation programs and how to apply or if they have eligibility requirements. They may know someone that they can connect you with to help you get a free car.

9. Check Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist

Many people often give away their cars or sell them at low prices on platforms like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.

If I was wondering about free cars near me, then I’d browse through these websites regularly to find out if anything is available. The search can be customized by entering your budget and location to see if anything suitable turns up. 

10. Find a job that gives you a free car

There are jobs that may give you a free car as well, in case none of the above options works for you.

Some job positions that may come with a company car include sales representatives, district managers, or regional directors who spend a lot of time traveling between different offices.

To start your search for jobs that give you a car to take home, you can look for job postings with phrases like “company car provided” or “full-time vehicle provided.” Job websites such as Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor make it simpler to find such job listings by using specific keywords, so you may try searching for those. I did a quick search and was able to pull up jobs easily by typing those phrases into the keyword search bar.

Some employers might offer a car allowance instead of providing a free car. In this case, you would receive a monthly stipend to use toward your vehicle expenses. This would offset some of your car expenses, such as monthly payments or maintenance.

Also, if you know someone who currently has a company car, you can try asking them for tips and advice. They might even refer you to open positions at their workplace, and this can help you get a job with a free car as well.

11. Look for a free dealer donation

Dealer donations are a little more difficult of an option, as car dealers are in the business of making money, not giving away all of their cars that make them that money.

But, it doesn’t hurt to try if you have the time to write a letter and reach out to a car dealership.

To obtain a car dealer donation of a free used car, you’ll want to start by seeing what local dealerships are in your area. You can research their involvement in charitable activities to see if they even give out free cars (maybe do a simple search of the dealership’s name plus the term “free car” or something like that), as this will show you that they are open to the idea of donating a vehicle to those in need of a free car.

Once you have a list of local dealers to reach out to, there are ways to get a free car from a dealership. You can write a letter talking about your situation and reasons for requesting a donated car. You should talk about your struggles and the positive impact the donation will have on your life (such as, what a donated car will help you do).

When writing your letter for a free dealer donation, here are some things to think about:

  1. Write the letter to the dealership’s owner or general manager, as they will likely have the authority to approve a car donation or be able to talk to someone who does have that authority.
  2. Explain your situation fully and provide the specific reasons why you need a car.
  3. Talk about how a car donation would improve your life and allow you to overcome challenges or achieve goals.
  4. Provide information on any relevant programs or resources, such as a community organization or nonprofit, that may support your request for a free car.

After you have written your letter, submit it to the dealership. You may do this by sending it to the physical mailing address of the person, their email address, or perhaps even handing your letter to them in person.

Here are answers to common questions you may have about finding a free car:

What are other transportation options if I can’t find a free car?

There may be a long waiting period if you are applying for a donated car. If you are not able to find a free vehicle, then you may need to look into other options to get around town. Here are some ideas on how to get around if you don’t have a car of your own:

  • Public Transportation — If you live in a place with public transportation, then this option is something to look into. One great thing about public transportation is that you won’t have to pay to maintain a vehicle or repair anything. Of course, public transportation sometimes takes longer and may not be widely available to you (unfortunately, there are many towns in the U.S. that do not have great public transportation options), and that is something to think about. Also, more and more cities offer public transportation at no charge. You may have to apply for a special card to get this free service, or it may be available to everyone. It’s worth asking around about because it can save you hundreds of dollars a month.
  • Carpooling — Carpooling is an option to think about if you are unable to find a free car, especially for people who live in areas with limited public transportation. Car owners may be looking for riders so that the expense of ownership is offset a bit. You’ll need to share the cost of expenses, such as gas, tolls, parking, and wear and tear. You may be able to share rides with coworkers, friends, or neighbors. To save money, you could offer to trade babysitting, gardening, or home repairs for the ride. Also, check out carpooling apps that apply to your local area.
  • Rideshare Services — Now, rideshare most likely won’t be the most affordable option, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. Rideshare services, such as Uber and Lyft, may be able to get you to where you need to go if you don’t have any other options. To save money, use an app that compares rideshare companies and finds you the cheapest price. And, as far as your work commute, it’s good to know that some companies offer rideshare services as a benefit to their employees and will pay for the full cost or part of it.

How can I find free cars given away near me?

Yes, you can find free cars given away near you. There are many local organizations that may be able to help you out. You can research the various charity programs in your area and see if you meet their eligibility requirements for a free car.

Many charities, such as Charity Cars, provide free vehicles to people in need. These organizations often target specific groups of people, like veterans or victims of domestic violence.

Next, reach out to local branches of organizations like the Salvation Army or Goodwill Industries. These organizations may also auction off donated cars at affordable prices. Reach out to your nearest branch to learn more about available vehicles and to find out if they hold any auctions.

Another option is Online Car Donation, which aims to provide free cars to as many people in need as possible. Fill out their application to see if a reliable used car is available for you. They also offer trucks, vans, and sometimes even modified vehicles for individuals with disabilities.

Remember to be patient but also to keep trying, as it can sometimes take time to find the right opportunity for a free car. And, many times your application is only good for 30 days, so keep in mind that you may have to submit it over and over again.

Is Free Charity Cars legit? 

Yes, Free Charity Cars is a legitimate organization that connects eligible people with free vehicles. They have high ratings and many endorsements.

How to get a car if you can’t get a free one?

If you’re not able to get a free car, you do have some other options, such as learning how to get a cheap car and learning the best way to get a car loan with a low interest rate.

Here are my tips for finding a cheap car:

  1. Shop around for cars that are affordable to you: Many organizations offering a free car may also give you the option of purchasing a refurbished vehicle from them at a much lower cost than elsewhere. Otherwise, check out your local dealerships, online car-selling platforms, and even Craigslist to find the best deals on reliable cars in your area. Don’t limit yourself to just one site; shop around and be patient until you find a car that fits your budget.
  2. Buy a used car: Buying a used car rather than a brand new one can save you money. Pre-owned vehicles tend to be more affordable and can still offer reliable transportation.
  3. Negotiate for the best price: Don’t be afraid to negotiate the price of the car with the car seller or dealership. They may be able to lower the price, especially if you can show them that similar cars are around for cheaper prices elsewhere.
  4. Check your credit score: Before applying for a car loan, make sure that you know your credit score. A better credit score increases your chances of getting a lower interest rate on your car loan. If you can, I recommend you take the steps to improve your credit score (even while searching for a free car) in case you need to apply for a car loan.
  5. You can learn more about building up your credit score at Everything You Need To Know About How To Build Credit.
  6. Shop around for car loans: Just as you should shop around for the best car deal, you should do the same for car loans. Different lenders may offer different interest rates and loan terms.
  7. Choose a shorter loan term: While a shorter car loan term means higher monthly payments, you’ll pay less in interest overall, making the car less expensive over the years.

There are plenty of options for finding cars that may not be entirely free but are still affordable to you.

Related content: Save Money With These Top Tips For Buying A Car

How To Get A Free Car — Summary

I hope you enjoyed today’s article on how to get a free car.

If you need a car but cannot afford one, there are several ways to possibly get a free car. Many programs and organizations exist to help people get a free car, especially if you belong to certain categories, such as low-income families, veterans, domestic violence victims, or those transitioning from public assistance.

Remember, you do want to be cautious with getting a free car as well. If you are receiving government assistance, such as housing assistance, welfare, or food stamps, then accepting a free car may be considered income, and it can affect your benefits.

To find free cars near you, it’s important to explore local nonprofit organizations, as well as community centers, churches, or social services agencies that may have information about free car programs or resources in your area. Some jobs come with a company car that you can take home.

Here are some potential resources to assist you in getting a free car:

  • Local nonprofit organizations
  • Online car donation websites
  • Community centers and churches
  • Social services agencies

Remember that just because you meet the eligibility requirements for a free car and apply for one, it does not mean that you will succeed. There are many people who would like to receive a free vehicle as well. However, you can increase your chances of getting a free car if you can show that you have a need and you have a story to share (since people personally review the applications to see who needs the car the most).

Are you looking to learn how to find a free car?


Apache is functioning normally

Warmer weather and longer days call for firing up the grill and cooking delicious food. But you may need to take extra precautions. Grills cause an annual average of roughly 10,600 home fires each year. With less space, apartments are especially susceptible. Nothing puts a damper on summer barbecues like a visit from the fire department or having to head to the emergency room to deal with burns.

Luckily, these grilling safety tips will keep you, your family, your neighbors and your apartment safe.

Top tips for apartment grill safety

Prevent accidents and serve up some of the best barbecue cooking around with these grilling safety tips.

1. Check your local laws and regulations

For fire hazards and health and safety reasons, many municipalities, cities and towns have rules about grilling near or around apartment buildings and multi-family housing developments. Sometimes, landlords prohibit certain types of grills, while other times they’ll keep the grill a certain distance away from a structure.

2. Make sure you’re allowed to have a grill in your apartment

First things first, you should never use a grill intended for outdoor use inside your apartment. The smoke and flames can set off fire alarms, start fires and produce toxic amounts of carbon monoxide. No apartment complex will let you use an outdoor grill indoors. If they do, run as far away from that property as possible. It’s probably not a safe place to live if they allow you to grill inside. So, don’t even think about grilling inside your apartment. Try other options like ovens or stoves.

Secondly, you need to double-check what rules your landlord or apartment building has about using grills. Some may allow it with conditions, while others will flat-out prohibit it. Before investing in that great grill you saw, confirm your apartment complex and landlord actually allows it.

3. Can you use gas grills or charcoal grills?

Similar to reading the fine print of your rental agreement to see where you can use a grill in your apartment, you also need to see if there are rules about what kind of grill you can have. There are many different kinds, from solid-fueled grills to gas or charcoal.

Charcoal and gas grills are the two most popular and best known. Charcoal grills are great for adding a smoky flavor to your food. Gas grills use either propane tanks or natural gas. If your apartment doesn’t allow either of the above, electric grills are safe, easy to use and just as good at cooking as the other options.

4. Figure out where you can have a grill in your apartment

Location, location, location. When it comes to grills, it’s one of the most important factors. Your landlord might have strict stipulations about where you can use and store a grill. Some will allow grills on balconies or patios but may have specifications about how far to keep it from the building. It’s possible to safely grill on patios and balconies provided it’s not enclosed and the grill isn’t close to anything flammable.

5. Keep the grill secure

One minute, you’re grilling on your balcony or patio, preparing delicious food for your family and friends. The next minute, a strong gust of wind blows it over. Secure your grill to something sturdy and non-flammable using a strong chain. Also, keep it on a flat surface where it can’t roll away or fall over.

6. Keep starter fluids out of reach and safely stored

Another apartment grilling safety tip is to keep anything that could provide fuel and boost flames or coals away from the grill when not in use. This includes charcoal starter fluid, lighter fluid and any other flammable liquids. Securing them inside a metal container is one option.

Potentially dangerous grill accessories, like the meat thermometer, should also be kept out of reach of tiny hands.

7. Have a fire extinguisher on hand

You should have one in your apartment already. But just in case you don’t, make sure to get a fire extinguisher to keep by your grill.

8. Keep baking soda and salt close by

If you have a gas grill or charcoal grill, these two basic ingredients are your two best friends. Why? They’re excellent tools for stopping fires. In the event of gas grill fires or a grease fire, remain calm and follow these steps.

First, turn off the heat source if you can. Next, try to smother the flame to cut off its oxygen. This could be closing the grill tightly or placing a pot or pan over the flame. If you can’t cover the open fire completely or safely, throw salt or baking soda over it to extinguish the flame.

One thing to remember: NEVER throw water on grease fires. It will only cause flare-ups and make the fire even bigger.

9. Keep your grill clean

It’s important to keep your grill clean of built-up fat, cooking residue and other detritus. Fat buildup on grills can cause flare-ups as it melts and drips onto coals or other heat sources. So, make sure to thoroughly clean your grill after each use.

10. Keep the grill away from flammable materials

Place your grill in an open area far from anything that could easily catch fire. This is anything from other structures, like wooden partitions or columns on a balcony, to hanging baskets or furniture. Also, be careful of things like apron strings, shirttails and loose clothing. All it takes is one gust of wind to blow an apron string too close to the coals and lighting on fire.

11. Keep grills in a well-ventilated area

Smoke and carbon monoxide build-up are serious risks, so make sure to grill in well-ventilated, open-air places.

12. Check your gas grill or propane grill for leaks

A gas leak can turn grilling time into a disaster in no time at all. To check for leaks, mix some water and light soap together to form a soapy water solution. Using a spray bottle or brush, apply the mixture to the connection spots between the gas source and grill. Turn the gas grill on and watch for bubbles forming in the solution. If you see bubbles, that means there’s a leak.

Check for leaks when you haven’t used the grill in a while.

13. Keep children and pets away unless supervised

Never let young family members, children or pets play or hang out too close to the grill. Bumping into the grill can cause burns or worse.

14. Never leave the grill unattended while cooking

It doesn’t just put your meat and food at risk of overcooking or burning. Leaving your grill unattended is an invitation to all sorts of problems. Something could catch fire or someone could hurt themselves. Always monitor the grill when it’s in use.

Even after cooking, keep the lid closed at all times. Charcoal can stay hot for hours, and hot coal blown out of the grill can start a fire.

15. Keep a first aid kit handy

Hopefully, you won’t have to use it because you’ll be using all of these grilling safety tips. But sometimes, hot fat drips or grease can splash onto skin, in which case it’s great to have a first aid kit close at hand.

16. Use the common area grill

Some apartment complexes will have community grills in communal outdoor areas for everyone’s use. If you’re prohibited to have a grill in your own apartment, this is a great backup option for grilling food for events and gatherings.

All the above safety tips should still be closely followed. Since anyone in your building can use the grill, you don’t have a guarantee that everyone is taking proper care of the grill, like cleaning it correctly or frequently enough.

17. Use an electric grill

If you can’t have a gas or charcoal grill and your apartment building doesn’t have communal ones, you can always invest in an electric grill for indoor use. Completely safe for indoor use, an electric grill will still meet all your grilling needs without potentially lighting home fires.

Grill safely and happily with these tips

Just because you live in an apartment doesn’t mean you have to forego homemade barbecue. With these grilling safety tips, grill and cook food safely in your apartment without worry.


Apache is functioning normally

My wife isn’t one of those women who can buy hundreds of dollars of groceries for $12.93. She is, however, a frugal shopper, and can often trim an $80 bill to a $60 bill. Here are some of her top tips:

    1. Don’t shop for groceries if you’re hungry. You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s true. Studies show that folks who shop when they’re hungry buy more. It’s true for me: If I go to the store for milk on a Sunday morning without eating breakfast, I’m likely to come home with donuts and orange juice and Lucky Charms, too.
    2. Shop with a list. Make a list and stick to it. The list represents your grocery needs: the staples you’re out of, and the food you need for upcoming meals. When you stray from the list, you’re buying on impulse, and that’s how shopping trips get out of control. Sure, a magazine only costs $5, but if you spend an extra $5 every time you make a trip to the supermarket, you waste a lot of money.
    3. Choose a grocery store and learn its prices. As I mentioned yesterday, supermarkets monkey with prices. You can’t be sure a sale price is really a deal unless you know what the store usually charges. Once you learn the prices at one store, you can save even more by adding another supermarket to the mix. Learn its prices, too, and note how they compare to the first. Your goal should be to recognize bargains. You want to know when those Lucky Charms are really on sale.
    4. Buy in bulk, when possible. You can save a lot of money by taking advantage of economies of scale. But there are times you shouldn’t buy in bulk, too: if the larger bundle is actually more expensive per serving, if you don’t have room to store larger packages, if you won’t actually use more of the product before it spoils. You don’t want stale Lucky Charms.
    5. Stock up on non-perishables, if you have space. Investing in five tubes of sale toothpaste is better than buying one on sale now and four later at the regular price. If a favorite product goes on sale, buy as much as you will use before it goes bad. Again: be certain that the sale price is really a bargain. Great items to hoard include: dried pasta, canned foods, toiletries, baking supplies, cereal, and cleaning supplies.
    6. If you do seasonal baking, stock up year round. Dried fruit and nuts will keep in the fridge or freezer. Decorating supplies can be stored in a cupboard or cellar. By planning ahead, you can purchase seasonal goods when they’re cheapest rather than when you need them.
    7. Know when to shop at big box stores. Costco and Sam’s Club don’t always have the best prices, and their selection is limited. However, they do have great deals on many items, including vitamins, toiletries, baking supplies, pet supplies, and paper products.
    8. Compare unit pricing. The biggest package isn’t always the cheapest. Stores know that consumers want to buy in bulk, and so they mix it up: sometimes the bulk item is cheaper, sometimes it’s more expensive. The only way you can be sure is to take a calculator. (Mapgirl says she uses the calculator on her cell phone.) Our grocery store posts unit pricing for most items, which makes comparisons easy.
    9. Check your receipt. Make sure your prices are scanned correctly. Make sure your coupons are scanned correctly. Sale items, especially, have a tendency to be in the computer wrong, and yet few people ever challenge the price at the register. You don’t need to hold up the line: simply watch the price of each item as it’s scanned. If you suspect an error, step to the side and check the receipt as the clerk begins the next order. If there’s a problem, politely point it out. It’s your money. Ask for it.
    10. Use coupons, but only to buy things you actually need (or want to try). Gather coupons from your Sunday newspaper, from weekly circulars, from in-store booklets, or from online sources. Ask friends and family to save them for you. Sort through them while you’re doing something mindless — watching television, talking on the telephone, riding the bus. Clip coupons for products you use (or cheap alternates), or for products you’d like to try.
    11. Use coupons for staple foods and ingredients, not highly-processed foods.

Highly-processed foods have enormous markups. “You shouldn’t even buy processed foods because the markups are so high,” my wife advises. Coupon savings barely make a dent in the price. If you must buy processed foods, wait for a good sale and then add the coupon so that you can get them at an excellent price.

  1. Take advantage of special coupons whenever possible. Double coupons are great. My wife’s likes the “get $10 if you spend $50 or more” variety. Coupons for produce are rare — seasonal produce is often the cheapest and freshest. These special coupons can yield big savings.
  2. For maximum savings, combine coupons with in-store sales. What happens when you combine a steep in-store discount on Lucky Charms with a 50-cents-off coupon and a double coupon? You get very cheap Lucky Charms, that’s what.
  3. Plan your meals around what’s on sale. Every week, before making a shopping list or planning what to eat, go through your flyers and coupons. Check the calendar to see if there are any big events approaching for which you’ll need food. If you like meat, plan your menu based on the sale cuts.
  4. Examine sale flyers carefully. On the front page are the things that the store really wants you to buy. Be wary of these. Note any special bargains. This week, for example, our store had many items on sale at ten for ten dollars, including dried pasta.
  5. Take advantage of “buy one, get one free” offers. Split with a friend, if needed. You many not need two pot roasts, but it’s the same as getting one for half price if you find a friend to split the expense. (Alternately, pay the normal price and give the second away as a gift. Who wouldn’t love a free pot roast?)
  6. My wife’s final piece of advice? “Let your husband come with you for the company, but don’t let him put anything in the cart.” The experts agree.

Note: this entry started as a response to Punny Money‘s grand coupon experiment. Nick is convinced that he can’t save any money with coupons. I went to my wife for a rebuttal, but I didn’t get one. “Coupons are usually for things you don’t need,” she told me. “Sales are the same as coupons — you have to lump them together in your head. It’s all just finding bargains.”