4 Things to Tell Your Boss If You Want to Work From Home

These days, more and more employees are working from home on a regular basis. In fact, Global Workplace Analytics says that about 2.8% of the total workforce work from home at least half time. Nearly all U.S. workers say they’d like to work from home at least part-time, and about half the workforce say they could  work remotely at least some of the time.

But what if you’re not one the lucky ones who stumbles into a job that already allows working from home, whether sometimes or on a regular basis? In this case, you might need to convince your boss that working from home is a good idea.

And, in fact, working from home is a good idea, much of the time. It can actually save you money, and it can reduce your overall stress level. And if you’re like many people, you might actually get more done in less time when you’re working from home.

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But those arguments, especially the ones that are mostly beneficial to your personal life, may not be enough to convince your boss to let you work from home. Here are four more convincing arguments to try:

1. Better Productivity

Working from home isn’t a good fit for all jobs, but for some types, studies show that working from home actually increases productivity.

2. Reduced Overhead Costs

Outfitting an employee with an office or even cubicle comes with overhead costs. Not to mention all that water you flush down the toilet on bathroom breaks! In fact, many large employers started moving employees to work from home positions specifically to reduce overhead costs. (Of course, you’ll be taking on some of those costs by working from home — increased electricity and water usage can eat into your savings on commuting. You can try some of these easy penny pinching tips to help offset those costs.

3. Fewer Sick Days

Having the ability to work from home often curbs the number of sick days you take. You might not drag yourself into the office when you’re feeling under the weather, but you may opt to work as normal from your comfortable couch. Your fellow employees will appreciate fewer germs, anyway.

4. At-Home Workers Are Happier (& Stay Longer)

If working from home is really important to you, and if you’re in a field where it’s common, you may be more likely to stay in your job for the long term if you are allowed some flexibility to work from home. You don’t necessarily need to tell your boss this, but you can show that employees who work from home are happier in their jobs.

Making Your Proposal & Pulling It Off

Now that you’ve got some arguments in your back pocket, how do you go about actually asking your boss to let you work from home? Here are a few steps to take:

1. Create a Formal Proposal

Don’t just approach working from home by the seat of your pants, especially if it’s not already a common practice in your workplace. Instead, create a formal proposal for what working from home would look like for you.

What tasks would you accomplish at home? How would you handle meetings and phone calls? Would you be available during certain hours online? How would you keep track of the tasks that you’re working on at home? What sort of accountability system could you build in?

Put all this into writing. When in doubt, talk to someone else with a job similar to yours who works from home. See what kind of arrangements they have with their employers, and go from there. If others in your organization work from home, talk to them about their written work plans, too.

2. Pre-empt Your Boss’s Concerns

When you’re creating your proposal, try to think about it from your boss’s perspective. What concerns will he or she likely  have? You know this person best as a supervisor, so you can likely anticipate how the conversation will go.

Again, talk to others in your organization who work from home sometimes or regularly, and use that as a jumping off point. You’ll want to work those points into your written proposal, preferably, or at least address them in your conversation with your boss.

3. Propose a Trial Run

Don’t just jump in and ask to switch your in-office job to a full-time, work-from-home position. Instead, propose a trial. You may want to propose a part-time work from home schedule of one to three days per week at first. And you should also suggest trying to work from home for a period of thirty to ninety days before you and your boss formally evaluate the situation.

Starting with a trial period can help make working from home more palatable. Plus, if you’ve never worked from home before, you may find that a blended schedule of in-office and at-home actually suits you better than working from home full-time.

4. Be Flexible

Go into the conversation with your boss with goals and a proposal, but be willing to take his or her feedback into account, too. Be flexible in what you’re asking for, and be prepared to give up ground if that’s what you need to get your foot in the door. Maybe your three days a week goes to two, or your 90-day trial goes to 30. It’s still a start!

5. What Else Can You Give Up?

Oftentimes, people who really want to work from home are willing to take a pay cut to do so, or at least forgo a big raise. This means that evaluation time can be a good time to ask for work-from-home privileges. If you get a great review and are offered a raise, consider counter-offering a smaller raise with the ability to work remotely part-time.

Maybe you’re not willing to give up a raise, but you have other privileges you could lay on the table in order to work from home. Or maybe you feel you’ll be so much more productive at home that you can tackle additional responsibilities. Either way, you could give a little to get a little in this conversation.

6. Prove You Can Do It

Finally, when you do get to work from home, don’t take advantage of the situation. Put 100% into your work each day, and set up your lifestyle so that you’re more productive than ever. Keep track of your goals, metrics, and to-do lists, so that if there’s ever a question of whether or not you can work from home well, you’ve got data to back up your answer.

[Editor’s note: It’s also a good idea to keep track of your financial goals. One way to do that is to check your credit scores. Credit.com’s credit report summary offers a free credit score, updated every 14 days, plus tools that help you establish a plan for how to improve your scores.]

Image: AlexBrylov

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Source: credit.com

18 Simple Storage Tips for Small Apartments

The average U.S. household has 300,000 things in it.

From the tiniest thumbtack to each book on your shelf and every piece of clothing hanging in your closet, there’s a lot of stuff to keep organized. It’s even more daunting if you’re bringing it all into a smaller apartment.

Many people tend to look at a smaller home and see what’s missing — space. Yet, fewer closets and less built-in storage doesn’t mean you’re missing out on somewhere to put your stuff.

If you’re smart with your furniture choices, color picks and organizational tactics, every corner of a small space can become a “beloved spot.”

Cut the clutter

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When working with a smaller living space, your goal, according to Michelle Crouch writing for Reader’s Digest, should be to remove clutter not create more storage space. Clutter can manifest as items you want to keep, but not display, as well as things that you no longer need.

Certain keepsakes you want to hold onto can spend some time in a storage unit until you have a larger home. Paper records, greeting cards, mementos from special events (that aren’t that special anymore) and old letters from past relationships are all things that no longer need to follow you from place to place.

In fact, having a smaller apartment can help you triage what you really want to keep with you. What’s left can either go into storage or head to the round file (a.k.a. the trash.)

Rearrange what’s left

After narrowing down your necessities, take a look at your apartment for hidden storage opportunities. Each room can yield more space than you may think upon the first inspection. Taking a close and thoughtful look can help you find the right place for all your belongings, even in a small apartment.

Bedroom

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There are two areas in your bedroom that can be great for storage — your closet and under your bed. Maximizing space in your closet is possible with a variety of storage ideas. From special hangers to repurposing household items, your closet can hold twice as much stuff as you think.

  • Use vertical space: Stack shirts or pants on shelves
  • Shower curtain hangers: Install these in your closet to hold scarves, belts or even tank tops freeing up drawer space in your bedroom for bulkier items
  • Over-the-door shoe organizer: Less stuff on the ground helps your small space feel less cluttered
  • Under-bed storage: Even if you have a bed that’s lower to the ground, special storage bins exist that will slide under. Store your off-season clothing here to free up more space for the items you need.

Bathroom

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Tips for organizing small spaces are handiest in the bathroom. It’s most likely the tightest space in a small apartment, but there’s room to spare in there, too. Overlooked areas ideal for extra storage include above the toilet and inside cabinets.

  • Over-the-toilet shelf: Since it slides in around the toilet, you’re not adding to the footprint within the bathroom. This is a great place to hold toiletries that don’t fit on the sink.
  • Over-the-door hooks: Perfect for wet towels or bathrobes
  • Shower caddies: Hang these over your shower head to hold soap and shampoo
  • Small storage containers on the inside of your bathroom cabinets: A great place for your hairdryer and straightener
  • A wine rack or special shelf for fresh towels: Putting them up on the wall makes sure they aren’t taking up valuable closet or cabinet space. It also looks decorative if you incorporate towels in vibrant colors.

Kitchen

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The best way to increase storage space in your kitchen is to add more counter space.

  • Make use of all free space: Large bowls have a lot of space in them. Condense your Tupperware or dishes by putting smaller objects inside of larger ones.
  • Appliances for storage: No cabinets, no problem! Your oven or microwave is a great place to keep dishes, pots and pans out of sight.
  • Portable chef’s cart: Put cutlery or even small kitchen appliances under it, then wheel the cart near an outlet when you have to plug in something. It gives you an extra surface to prep food, and you can move it out of the way when you’re done.
  • Wall hooks and over-the-door storage: Hang large utensils, pots and pans, cleaning supplies and even pantry staples

Living room

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Most likely the largest room in your apartment, the living room can serve as a catch-all for the stuff you need to store that won’t naturally go somewhere else.

  • Decorative boxes: They can fit under coffee tables or desks, and can hold almost anything. Store magazines, board games and puzzles, along with any personal items you want to keep but don’t need to display.
  • Book cart: If your couch is set up against a wall, consider moving it forward a little bit to create even more storage space. Slide in a cart to hold all your books in a way that’s easy to access.
  • Portable desk: Living rooms in small apartments often double as an office. Make the space less cluttered with the convenience of wheeling your small, portable workstation back into a corner when it’s not in use.

Hallways

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While not technically a room, don’t dismiss the potential for storage in seemingly useless spaces. Your hallways are the perfect location for things like coats, shoes or umbrellas.

  • Coat rack: Give your guests a spot to hang their coats when they visit, rather than tossing them on a chair or your couch
  • Shoe cubby: Clear some space off the floor and keep your shoes organized

A word about shelving

Small storage shelves can go in almost any space in your home. They’re a universal space-saving device because they turn wall space into storage space. Especially in corners, which can feel like unusable areas of your apartment, shelves can save the day.

Trade in the cute, framed pictures you’ve put up on one wall and install shelves for instant storage. Deeper shelves can hold small bins, masking the appearance of anything that’s not so cute, and special corner shelving units nestle in nicely. There are so many shelving ideas out there, it’ll be easy to incorporate a few in your apartment.

After everything gets put away

Now that you’ve found a spot in your apartment for all your stuff, it’s time to decorate. Just because you have a small space doesn’t mean every nook and cranny has to go to holding stuff.

Leave a little room to make things pretty and transform your small space into the perfect home.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

One-Tap Online Shopping Savings Compared: Capital One Shopping Vs. Honey

There’s no sense in paying full price when shopping online — not when there are two truly legit discount apps that will save you money: Capital One Shopping and Honey.

The question is, which one to go with? Since I do at least 75% of my shopping exclusively online, I decided to run some tests to find out which coupon app was going to come out on top.

If you’re ready to save some serious cash on your next shopping trip, read on.

What’s Ahead:

Capital One Shopping vs. Honey summary

Features Capital One Shopping Honey
Format App
Browser extension
Website
App
Browser extension
Website
Partners Not specified, but most major name brands, plus Amazon 30,000 participating merchants including Amazon and
Watchlist Yes Yes (called Droplist)
Automatic coupon codes Yes Yes
Lowest Amazon price No Yes
Membership required No, except for credits No, except for Gold program
Local offers Yes No

About Capital One Shopping

One-Tap Online Shopping Savings Compared: Capital One Shopping Vs. Honey - Capital One Shopping

One-Tap Online Shopping Savings Compared: Capital One Shopping Vs. Honey - Capital One ShoppingCapital One Shopping is a discount and savings app owned by Capital One. It bills itself as the best option for discounts, loyalty perks, and deals.

To use Capital One Shopping, simply download the app, install the browser extension, or just visit the web site. Using Capital One Shopping gets you better prices on your online shopping, automatic discount codes at checkout, and tracks your must-have items to find the best price.

About Honey

One-tap Savings Compared: Wikibuy Vs. Honey - Honey

One-tap Savings Compared: Wikibuy Vs. Honey - HoneyHoney is an app dedicated to finding you the best deals and promos on all your online shopping. Installing the browser extension or downloading the app gets you great discounts and automatic coupon codes when you’re shopping online.

You don’t even have to lift a finger, Honey will add the best coupon they find right to your cart, or they’ll let you know that you have the best deal. 

Capital One Shopping vs. Honey savings

As major players in the discount code space, it may be tough to tell what sets Capital One Shopping and Honey apart. They’re both extremely effective at finding deals and applying codes. So let’s compare them in terms of savings. 

Capital One Shopping savings

Capital One Shopping helps you save in two main ways. First, it runs a comparison for the item you’re looking at, showing you if there’s a better price somewhere else. So, if you’re browsing Walmart.com for a particular camera, Capital One Shopping checks Amazon, Best Buy, B&H Photo Video, and other stores to see if you’re really getting the best possible deal.

Capital One Shopping shows you who has the lowest price, so that you can make the best choice for your wallet. They even spell out how long to expect for shipping at each alternative store and how much it costs to ship — so you get the true total price.

Then, at checkout, Capital One Shopping will scan all available coupon codes for you — automatically. No more Google searches or saving endless store emails; just have Capital One Shopping work its magic and you get the savings.

A word of warning, though: sometimes the savings you get are just cash back credits, and you can’t cash those out immediately. They may need to be verified and then can be redeemed for gift cards at some of your favorite retailers. 

Honey savings

Honey also automatically scans and applies coupon codes for you when you shop online. You don’t have to waste time with coupons that don’t work, because Honey only applies valid promo codes. 

Honey also saves you money by notifying you when items in your Droplist have changed price. The Droplist is Honey’s version of a watchlist; it’s where you save items you’re interested in. Not only will the Droplist notify you when prices drop, but you can see the price history, too.

Like Capital One Shopping, Honey also offers a cash back program, called Honey Gold, which requires a sign-up. Similar to Capital One Shopping, you have to save up a certain dollar amount (in this case, $10 of “gold”) before you can cash out in the form of a gift card. 

Capital One Shopping vs. Honey savings summary

Both Capital One Shopping and Honey will show you deals and automatically apply promo codes. The real difference comes down to the way you shop. Are you mostly an Amazon shopper? Then Honey is going to help you out. Do you want to take a moment to compare prices across a bunch of different retailers and go with the lowest cost? Then Capital One Shopping is for you. 

Here’s an example: I am in the market for a new pressure cooker. I found one I liked on Amazon. The Honey extension notified me that I found the lowest price of all the sellers on Amazon. I could check out with confidence. But the Capital One Shopping extension showed me that I could actually save $5.99 by taking advantage of a 7% cash back deal at Macy’s. I never would have known about that offer otherwise. 

However, while I may technically be saving $5.99 by purchasing my pressure cooker at that particular department store, I do not actually see those savings immediately; I have to save up the credits and apply them to a gift card, choosing from 32 different stores. Sometimes, you’d just rather have the cash.

Capital One Shopping vs. Honey pros

Capital One Shopping pros:

  • Detailed price history and insights – You’ll get insights into each product you shop for.
  • Compare prices at multiple stores – You can find the best deal at a large number of big-box retailers. 
  • Shipping included in price comparison – Easily see how much you’ll pay for everything, including shipping. 

Honey pros:

  • Finds the lowest offers on Amazon – There are thousands of shops on Amazon, so knowing which has the lowest price can be a huge help.
  • The website is more pleasant and transparent to use – Honey is as simple as downloading a Google Chrome extension.
  • Honey Gold program rewards you with gift cards – After earning a set amount of gold, you can cash out for gift cards. 

Capital One Shopping vs. Honey cons

Capital One Shopping cons:

  • Discounts are sometimes in the form of cash back, not lower prices – Not everyone wants to deal with cash back, some folks would prefer straight cash. 
  • Local deals require linking a credit card – If you want local deals, you’ll need to link your credit card, which could be a problem for those worried about privacy issues. 

Honey cons:

  • “Cash back” is in the form of gift cards at select retailers – Just like Capital One Shopping, cash back comes in the form of gift cards, rather than just cash. 
  • Doesn’t always find a valid code to apply – Honey isn’t perfect, and sometimes they miss coupon codes. 

Why choose Capital One Shopping?

Multiple store comparisons

Since both Capital One Shopping and Honey automatically apply coupon codes, one of the biggest differences might be that Capital One Shopping compares prices across multiple stores. You can also use the Mobile Price Comparison tool if you’re on mobile; text an Amazon link to PRICE1 and Capital One Shopping will text you back if there are lower-priced options available.  

Effective discounts

Capital One Shopping frequently finds a way to save on shopping trips, whether it’s a promo code, cash back offers, or lower shipping. Based on my usage, it seemed to deliver lower prices in some format more often than Honey.

Detailed product pages

The product pages showed a great deal of detail. In addition to the price, you’ll also be able to see a detailed price history, 180-day price insights, price volatility ratio, YouTube reviews, related products, and top alternatives.

Why choose Honey?

Get the lowest Amazon price

Having to sort through all the different prices offered by different Amazon sellers on the same product can be a pain in the neck. Honey does a great job of reducing that workload for you, simply showing the lowest-priced Amazon seller for what you’re looking for. So if you do most of your online shopping with your Amazon Prime subscription, the Honey browser extension will be a big boon.

Or avoid Amazon altogether

If you’re more of a mobile shopper and you tend not to shop on Amazon, the Honey mobile app (as opposed to the desktop browser extension) is a way to find thousands of great deals when you’re on your phone — no Amazon required. In fact, the mobile app doesn’t show Amazon products at all, which could be a good fit for you if you’re not a fan of the behemoth site.

Summary

Overall, choosing either Capital One Shopping or Honey is better than shopping online without them. Each will scour the internet for valid coupon codes, which can save you lots of money. You don’t need a membership with either one unless you want to start earning credits (or “gold”) to be redeemed for cash back. Not to mention, signing up for cash back offers could be worth your while, especially if you don’t mind turning over some of your privacy and letting these extensions track where you shop in exchange for saving a little bit of dough.

However, all that being said, Capital One Shopping does edge out the competition by a nose if you’re looking for the overall lowest price. If you’re primarily interested in coupon codes and Amazon deals, Honey is your better bet.

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Source: moneyunder30.com

Getting a second chance with credit repair – Lexington Law

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Credit can be difficult – it’s easy to make mistakes. You apply for credit card after credit card and get approved for every single one of them. You feel like a VIP. Your buying potential seems unlimited, and the temptation to spend is strong. Then, like Brittany, you begin to rationalize your spending. “It’s only a little credit here and only a little credit there,” you think.

Sooner or later, your cards are maxed out, and you’re barely able to keep up with the minimum payments each month. You’re no longer a VIP, but a someone who is a financial risk in the eyes of creditors. You might find yourself in a situation where you may have a financial emergency that you can’t cover. Like Brittany, you may be denied for a necessary loan. Instead of being approved for credit like you were before, you face denial after denial, which can be humiliating. But when you’re faced with this situation, what can you do? Who do you turn to? It may feel like there’s no way of getting what you need, because credit impacts so many aspects of our lives – from being able to get a credit card to buying a home, to how high insurance premiums are going to be or even if you get hired for a job.

Impact of Bad Credit

Bad credit can have serious consequences and in Brittany’s case it influenced her becoming homeless and hopeless. Her credit created challenges as she struggled to find housing to rent or to own. Credit can make or break you. It can be the difference between paying or saving thousands of dollars in interest, between homelessness and having a roof over your head. Credit impacts your lifestyle and having good credit can help you have the type of lifestyle you deserve.

Going from bad to good credit may feel hopeless, and fixing it can seem impossible. Luckily, the right inspiration can lead to starting the credit repair journey. This can be daunting, but Brittany found the inspiration to start hers. It was her family. She wanted to give her child a better life. Good credit can lead to a more stable, secure future – and that’s something a lot of us want to give our children. But it can be easy to lose hope if you’re drowning in debt, or if you don’t have the credit score needed to qualify for a home.

Credit Repair

Enter Lexington Law Firm. We will challenge negative accounts on your behalf that are unfair and inaccurate. In 2017, we saw 10 million removals from our client’s credit reports. We have over a decade of experience working with hundreds of thousands of clients on working to improve their credit, making us the trusted leaders in credit repair.

We will personalize your case to your unique credit circumstances – ranging from medical bills to divorce to help you with errors on your credit reports. With extensive knowledge of consumers rights and laws related to credit reporting, and a team of paralegals and attorneys fighting on your behalf for your right to a fair and accurate credit report, there is hope. There is a second chance. We offer credit repair, credit monitoring, and identity theft protection services to help you stay on track. Lexington Law Firm wants to help you reach your goals, like Brittany did, so that you can have the second chance you deserve that can help lead you to a better future. Call today for your free credit consultation.

rebuilding credit

Disclosure: Similar results should not be expected and are not guaranteed. Your results will vary.

You can also carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

15 Words That Could Add Value to Your Listing

When it comes to writing an effective listing description, don’t hold back. If you’ve got it, flaunt it!

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Why do some homes sell for a premium? Timing, for starters. An analysis of 24,000 home sales in “Zillow Talk: Rewriting the Rules of Real Estate” also reveals listings with certain keywords tend to sell for more than expected.

“Bottom-tier homes described as luxurious tend to beat their expected sale price by a whopping 8.2 percent,” write co-authors Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries. “Top-tier homes described as captivating tend to beat theirs by 6.5 percent. That means, if your home’s estimated home value is $110,000, but your listing includes the key word ‘luxurious,’ you could pocket an extra $8,965.”

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If one of the following words accurately describes your home, you might want to consider adding it to your listing.

1. Luxurious

As mentioned above, lower-priced listings with the word “luxurious” sold for 8.2 percent more on average than expected. “Luxurious” signals that a home’s finishes and amenities are high-end. This is a huge selling point, particularly in this price range.

2. Captivating

Top-tier listings described as “captivating” sold for 6.5 percent more on average than expected. Unlike the word “nice,” “captivating” provides a richer, more enticing description for buyers. Plus, it’s less open to interpretation. Anything can be seen as “nice,” but “captivating” sets a high bar.

3. Impeccable

On average, listings in the bottom tier with the word “impeccable” sold for 5.9 percent more than expected. Like “captivating,” “impeccable” is a rich adjective. It also implies something about the quality of a home: The features are desirable and the home is move-in ready.

4. Stainless

“Stainless” is typically used to describe kitchens with “stainless steel appliances.” It’s in your favor to talk up these features in your listing — especially if your home is in the bottom price tier. In our analysis, lower-priced homes with the word “stainless” sold for 5 percent more on average than expected.

5. Basketball

On average, lower-priced homes with the word “basketball” sold for 4.5 percent more than expected. This may seem like an odd word to include in this list, but when you consider the context it makes sense. Among lower-priced homes, a basketball court — or even better, an indoor basketball court — is a huge selling point. While it may not stand out as much among higher-priced homes, it’s definitely worth mentioning in this price range.

6. Landscaped

It’s just as valuable to describe your yard as your house. In all price tiers, listings with the word “landscaped” sold for more than expected on average. The biggest premium was seen among lower-priced listings, which on average sold for 4.2 percent more than expected.

7. Granite

In the same vein as “stainless,” “granite” is typically used to describe countertops or another high-end home feature. Listings with the word “granite” sold, on average, for 1 to 4 percent more than expected across all price tiers.

8. Pergola

Not only should you include high-end home features in your listing description, you should also mention features not found in every home. They’ll help your listing stand out, especially if buyers are searching for homes online by keyword. The data shows mid-priced listings with the word “pergola” sold for 4 percent more on average than expected.

9. Remodel

Was your home recently remodeled? It may be worth mentioning. On average, bottom-tier listings with the word “remodel” sold for 2.9 percent more, middle-tier homes for 1.8 percent more and top-tier homes for 1.7 percent more than expected.

10. Beautiful

While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a beautiful feature like a view may be worth noting. Lower-priced listings with the word “beautiful” sold for 2.3 percent more on average than expected.

11. Gentle

“Gentle” may seem like a weird adjective to have in a listing description. It’s typically used to describe “gentle rolling hills” or something about a home’s location. Top-tier listings with the word “gentle” sold for 2.3 percent more, on average, than expected.

12. Spotless

You may think all homes are spotless when a buyer moves in, so it’s not worth mentioning in a listing. But when it comes to lower-priced homes, cleanliness isn’t always a given. In this price range, listings described as “spotless” sold for 2 percent more on average than expected.

13. Tile

Much like “stainless” and “granite,” “tile” is a great word when it comes to describing the features of your home. A newly tiled backsplash or updated bathroom tile not only indicates a home’s aesthetic value but also sends a message to buyers that the home’s been well cared for by the current owners. Bottom-tier homes with the word “tile” in the listing sold for 2 percent more on average than expected.

14. Upgraded

On average, lower-priced listings with the word “upgraded” sold for 1.8 percent more than expected. Most buyers will agree that upgrades are a selling point. They indicate a home not only looks nice but also functions well. Spelling out which features have been updated is a good approach, so buyers have the right expectations when they see your home.

15. Updated

“Updated” sends a similar message to “upgraded.” But in addition to speaking to the quality of a home, it signals that something old has been replaced with something new. This is a great fact to communicate to potential buyers, as evidenced by the data. Mid-priced homes with “updated” in the listing sold for 0.8 percent more on average than expected.

Related:

Source: zillow.com

Getting a second chance with credit repair

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Credit can be difficult – it’s easy to make mistakes. You apply for credit card after credit card and get approved for every single one of them. You feel like a VIP. Your buying potential seems unlimited, and the temptation to spend is strong. Then, like Brittany, you begin to rationalize your spending. “It’s only a little credit here and only a little credit there,” you think.

Sooner or later, your cards are maxed out, and you’re barely able to keep up with the minimum payments each month. You’re no longer a VIP, but a someone who is a financial risk in the eyes of creditors. You might find yourself in a situation where you may have a financial emergency that you can’t cover. Like Brittany, you may be denied for a necessary loan. Instead of being approved for credit like you were before, you face denial after denial, which can be humiliating. But when you’re faced with this situation, what can you do? Who do you turn to? It may feel like there’s no way of getting what you need, because credit impacts so many aspects of our lives – from being able to get a credit card to buying a home, to how high insurance premiums are going to be or even if you get hired for a job.

Impact of Bad Credit

Bad credit can have serious consequences and in Brittany’s case it influenced her becoming homeless and hopeless. Her credit created challenges as she struggled to find housing to rent or to own. Credit can make or break you. It can be the difference between paying or saving thousands of dollars in interest, between homelessness and having a roof over your head. Credit impacts your lifestyle and having good credit can help you have the type of lifestyle you deserve.

Going from bad to good credit may feel hopeless, and fixing it can seem impossible. Luckily, the right inspiration can lead to starting the credit repair journey. This can be daunting, but Brittany found the inspiration to start hers. It was her family. She wanted to give her child a better life. Good credit can lead to a more stable, secure future – and that’s something a lot of us want to give our children. But it can be easy to lose hope if you’re drowning in debt, or if you don’t have the credit score needed to qualify for a home.

Credit Repair

Enter Lexington Law Firm. We will challenge negative accounts on your behalf that are unfair and inaccurate. In 2017, we saw 10 million removals from our client’s credit reports. We have over a decade of experience working with hundreds of thousands of clients on working to improve their credit, making us the trusted leaders in credit repair.

We will personalize your case to your unique credit circumstances – ranging from medical bills to divorce to help you with errors on your credit reports. With extensive knowledge of consumers rights and laws related to credit reporting, and a team of paralegals and attorneys fighting on your behalf for your right to a fair and accurate credit report, there is hope. There is a second chance. We offer credit repair, credit monitoring, and identity theft protection services to help you stay on track. Lexington Law Firm wants to help you reach your goals, like Brittany did, so that you can have the second chance you deserve that can help lead you to a better future. Call today for your free credit consultation.

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Disclosure: Similar results should not be expected and are not guaranteed. Your results will vary.

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Source: lexingtonlaw.com

Portable Washing Machines: No Laundry Room Required

The saying goes that the only two things in life that are certain are death and taxes. They forgot about laundry.

Whether you’re sending it out or doing it yourself, laundry happens. Even if you end up buying a few extra pairs of socks to extend the inevitable, laundry will still be there. What isn’t certain, is exactly where you’ll have to do it.

Cleaning clothes can quickly become a huge pain if you’re unable to do your laundry at home. Lugging a full hamper down to a laundry room, hoping machines are available, digging in your pockets for quarters, all to scurry back and forth in time to save your machine from someone else stealing it. It’s a process many of us like to avoid but can find it hard without washer and dryer hookups in the apartment.

There’s a solution. Go portable.

The portable washing machine

Full washing machine running with a wicker hamper beside itFull washing machine running with a wicker hamper beside it

You’re not going to get a full load of laundry into a portable washing machine, but it will do the trick when it comes to giving you in-unit laundry when you don’t have washer-dryer hookups.

Portable washers stand around three feet high and are about two feet wide. They’re lighter than a full-sized machine by a significant amount, making them easy to move around.

Using a portable washing machine is easy, but it does need access to a sink. For that reason, you’ll want to put the machine in either your kitchen or bathroom. They may be in the way while running, but don’t worry about them having to stay in the middle of a room. Because they’re easy to move, you can store portable washers somewhere else between laundry loads.

Deirdre Sullivan of The Spruce suggests you invest in a special dolly to make moving your portable washing machine even easier. She says:

“While portable washers are movable, their size and weight can make them pretty unwieldy. A telescopic furniture dolly designed to double as an appliance base will make moving your machine a breeze.”

Setting things up

With an outlet and a sink close by, you have all you need to get a portable washing machine up and running. There may be a lot of steps, but the basic setup involves a faucet to attach a hose to for the water to go into the machine and a sink for another hose go into to drain the water out.

Next, plug in the machine to get it up and running. Once the setup is complete, you add detergent and run it like a normal washing machine. For any other specific instructions, consult the manual that comes with your particular model of machine.

Lightening the load

Because of its size, it will take more loads to do your laundry with a portable washer than if you used your laundry room. If you typically broke your laundry up into four loads: lights, darks, delicates and sheets and towels, you’ll most likely have to double your loads.

A good strategy is to plan on doing laundry more often. Having a unit in your apartment makes this easy. Rather than running back and forth to the laundry room, giving up an entire day of the weekend, you can now throw a small load in when you get home from work each night.

Picking the right machine

There are two primary types of portable washing machines. Top-loading, single-stream machines will “fit in more places and run through the entire wash-rinse-drain-spin-dry cycle without having to do anything,” says Dan Nosowitz from the Strategist.

Side-by-side portable washing machines have two compartments and require an extra step to go from wash to spin. The spinner compartment can also sometimes be smaller than the washer, meaning you can only wash as much as fits in the spin compartment unless you want part of the load to sit wet while the other finishes a cycle. These machines can also be slightly larger.

Other features unique to each portable washing machine can help narrow down your decision even more. It’s important to know what you’re looking for when you begin the search. According to Jody Healey from The Hunt Guides, a few things to think about before shopping around for a portable washing machine are:

  • Size of overall machine
  • Capacity of the washing tub
  • Cost
  • Electric vs. manual power
  • Need for portability, based on how often you’ll move the machine around
  • Location of the spinner, and whether it should be separate from the washer

The cost of owning a portable washer

Person folding laundry on their deskPerson folding laundry on their desk

Basic portable washing machines start as low at $80 new, although it may be worthwhile to check for used machines in good condition online first. You may find a machine with a few more features at an affordable cost.

Buying new machines above the basic level can cost up to a few hundred dollars. Machines at the top of the line, with more bells and whistles than you may actually need, can cost as much as $800. This is what the initial purchase will set you back, but the real cost comes from actually using the machine.

What you spend

Regular use of a new appliance in your home impacts utilities. Your water and electricity bills will increase, although probably not too much. You also lose access to your bathtub or sink while the portable washing machine is in use, so it costs you a little space.

A cycle does often take longer than a standard machine and the loads are smaller. This means it’s going to take longer to wash all your clothes using this method, so the biggest cost of using a portable washer may be time.

Another potential cost of a portable washing machine is the damage it can cause to your apartment’s floor. Machines can produce a lot of moisture on their underside. This can lead to floor damage you may end up paying for when you move out of your apartment. Make sure to keep the machine away from carpet and hardwood floors to cut risk.

What you save

On the flip side, what a portable washing machine can save you may make the costs worth it. This is a great option if your apartment doesn’t have hookups and you’re overusing the coin-operated laundry room in your building.

Save the stress of worrying about having access to a machine at the time that’s best for you to clean your clothes. Save the annoyance of clothing going missing or someone taking your clothes out of a machine, leaving them wet and at risk of getting dirty all over again.

A portable washing machine gives you the added security of doing your laundry in your own home. The machine is always available and nobody else can mess with your stuff.

The portable dryer decision

Woman using clips to hand wet clothing on a drying rackWoman using clips to hand wet clothing on a drying rack

To own or not to own a portable dryer, that is the question. While a portable washer is necessary to get your clothes clean, having a companion dryer isn’t always a must. If you’re interested though, they do exist.

They work like a full-sized dryer, tumbling your clothes with blown-in heat, but like a portable washing machine, these dryers are smaller. Basic models cost around $90 but can get as expensive as $600 based on the features you need.

“All that you have to do is pop your clothing into the dryer and allow it to dry the items completely, putting your mind at ease…” says the site, OMO, who also shares that using a dryer saves you from having drying clothes taking up space needed for other purposes.

Speaking of space, if you have enough of it to hang laundry to dry, you can save money on the added electricity costs from running a portable dryer. Remember, hanging clothes to dry means they’re going to drip. Aim for a spot over your bathtub or somewhere where a puddle won’t be damaging or dangerous if it forms.

Invest in some metal hook clips or something similar for a space-saving trick to get more drying space on your shower rod. You can also place a collapsible drying rack into your bathtub for clothing. If you decide air drying is best, consider doing laundry at night so clothes can dry while you sleep and get put away easily the next day.

Go for a combo

Woman dropping dirty socks into the washing machine from the perspective of the washerWoman dropping dirty socks into the washing machine from the perspective of the washer

Another portable option is a washer/dryer combo. These are slightly different than if you buy a portable washer and dryer separately. The dryer in a combo machine does not use heat to dry. Instead, it spins the clothes to wick the water away, which means clothing may come out a little damp.

Still, a compact and lightweight machine, some combo units can wash and dry at the same time, speeding along a complete laundry cycle. The cost is right around $100 on average, and the most frequent complaint is that the dryer doesn’t get lint off clothing (there’s no lint trap.)

Get the laundry clean

While it’s ultimately all about getting your clothes clean, having an alternative to using the building laundry room may sound appealing. Before deciding to go portable, make sure to check with your property manager that it’s OK to use this type of appliance in your apartment.

Your lease may prohibit them based on the age of your building and whether you have on-site laundry. Once you get the green light, it’s time to find the best portable washer, dryer or washer/dryer combo that works for your space.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Air Out Your Apartment

Wet clothes … old cat litter … spoiled meat … these are all serious smells that might funk up your apartment for days. And few odors stick with – or stink up — a space, as powerfully as cigarette smoke. If you’ve moved into a formerly smoky spot, or have other smelly issues of your own, here are some tips that will help with the toughest odor removal.

When you need to remove a bad smell, your first step is to air out the room. The easiest way to do this is open all the windows and leave them open for 24 hours, if you can. You might also invest in an air purifier or plants to increase your efforts.

Veteran cleaners believe in the bowl method. Fill a bowl with vinegar or coffee grounds. (Inexpensive coffee will do just fine.) Place the magic bowl in your stinky room, and let it sit there for a few days, one bowl per room. This is an economical and earth-friendly cleaning option, plus you can use the vinegar to tackle other smelly areas. There’s also the obvious, getting a good air freshener. But if these aren’t enough, there’s more that you can do. 

Clean your carpet

Carpets are notorious for trapping odors, so cleaning your carpet is a must if you want to rid your apartment of cigarette smell. You can turn to another trusty friend in green cleaning, baking soda. Sprinkle it on the carpet and leave it on for at least 30 minutes or up to 72 hours; then, vacuum. This should lift away the stink and residue.

If the baking soda/vacuuming combination doesn’t work, you might try steam cleaning or a powerful cleaning product like Nature’s Miracle. Consumers rave about its ability to eradicate pet odors, and the word online is that it also works on cigarette smoke. Look for it at most pet stores.

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Clean your floors & doors

If you have wooden floors and doors, be sure to use a wood-friendly cleaner. Mop the floor first and make sure you change the water when needed. You might need to hand-scrub the corners, baseboards and door frames. If it’s really bad, you should consider replacing them.

Wash windows & mirrors

Here are two spots you may not have considered to be cigarette smell traps: windows and mirrors. Like walls, these surfaces can get covered with residue. Be sure to clean them thoroughly with — you guessed it — vinegar and warm water.

Clean your drapes & blinds

Take down all of the drapes and blinds. Wash them in hot water and add some vinegar to the wash – add this to the water before the drapes and use one cup per load. Vinegar is a great natural cleaner, however it is also a natural bleach and can fade colors, so never let fabrics sit in it for an extended period of time. If they need to be dry-cleaned, be sure to mention the smoke smell to your dry cleaner, they’ll know what to do.

Replace air filters & clean vents

If you’ve cleaned every surface and things still smell a little stale, try replacing your HVAC filter, as well as wiping down air vents. This is a quick tip that will help get cigarette smoke out of air circulation. Note that replacing filters may be a maintenance call, depending on your apartment community rules.

Clean the ceiling

This isn’t an easy task but it’s necessary when trying to eliminate cigarette odor. One trick is to clean with a soft cloth dipped in a blend of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts warm water and wring out any excess moisture before wiping down the ceiling.

Change out light bulbs

The final frontier. This might come to you as a surprise, but changing your light bulbs will definitely help remove the smell. Plus it prepares you for brighter and better-smelling days ahead as you settle into your apartment!

Now you know how to get cigarette smoke smell out of your apartment, so follow these simple steps to fresh, clean-smelling air.

Hot Tip: Before you attempt to remove a really bad smell, do check in with your landlord or apartment community manager. Your landlord may prefer to provide a cleaning service to help remove the offensive odor.

Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

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Source: apartmentguide.com

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

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

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

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

Ways a Vacuum Sealer Can Save You Money

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

1. Eliminate Food Waste

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

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

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

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

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

2. Buy in Bulk

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

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

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

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

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

3. DIY Dump Recipes

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

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

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

4. Batch Cooking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Long-Term Leftovers

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

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

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

6. Buy Food in Season

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

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

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

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

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

7. Store Herbs & Spices

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

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

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

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

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

8. Save Space in Your Kitchen

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

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

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

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

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

9. Marinate Faster

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

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

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

10. Sous Vide Cooking

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can even sous vide foods straight from the freezer.

11. Waterproof Your Valuables & Emergency Supplies

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

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

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

12. Camping & Hiking

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

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

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

13. Save Storage Space in Every Room

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

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

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

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


Types of Vacuum Sealers

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

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

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

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

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


Final Word

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

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

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

Source: moneycrashers.com

What is the Student Loan Grace Period? – Lexington Law

Student Loan Grace Period Header Image

The student loan grace period is the time given to you before you’re required to start paying back your student loans. The amount of time given varies depending on the loan you take out. The intent behind the grace period is to give graduates time to find a job and get financially prepared before the first payment is due. Unfortunately, not all student loans have grace periods. 

Our guide will answer common questions and explain crucial details you need to know about the student loan grace period.

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Does Interest Accrue During the Grace Period?

For most student loans, interest will accrue even during your grace period. Interest does not accrue during the grace period for Federal Perkins loans or subsidized Stafford loans made before July 1, 2012, or after July 1, 2014. 

If you have unsubsidized loans or a subsidized Stafford loan made between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2014, interest will accrue during deferment and grace periods. Unpaid interest is generally capitalized (added to the principal balance) following the grace period.

How Long is a Student Loan Grace Period?

Different loans have different grace periods. For private loans, you should review the specific terms of the loan to find out if you have a grace period and how long it is. 

  • Federal Stafford loans receive a six-month grace period.
  • Federal Perkins loans receive a nine-month grace period and are allowed another six-month grace period after an eligible deferment.
  • PLUS loans have no grace period, but you may be eligible for deferment.

When Does the Grace Period Start?

For most federal loans, your grace period begins after you leave college. This includes: 

  • Graduation 
  • If you withdraw from school
  • If you drop below half-time enrollment

Definitions for half-time enrollment vary by school, so check with your financial aid office if you adjust your class schedule.

Can the Student Loan Grace Period Change?

Certain circumstances may change your grace period, such as:

  • Active military duty: If you’re called to active duty for longer than 30 days during your grace period, you’ll receive a six-month grace period when you return from active duty.
  • Returning to school: If you re-enroll in school at least half-time during your grace period, you’ll have a full six months to begin repayment once you graduate or drop below half-time enrollment. 
  • Loan consolidation: Once you consolidate your loans, you lose any remaining grace period. You’ll receive your first bills approximately two months after the new direct consolidation loan is disbursed. 

What Happens When the Grace Period Ends?

Repayment starts when your grace period ends. Your loan servicer should provide a loan repayment schedule stating when your first payment is due. The schedule will detail the amount required in your monthly payments. If you need more time to find a job after your grace period ends, you can pursue an unemployment deferment or an income-based repayment plan.

How to Take Advantage of the Grace Period?

One of the best ways to prepare during your grace period is by establishing yourself financially.

  • Find employment that will help you make your monthly student loan payments.
  • If interest does accrue during your grace period, consider paying the interest before repayment begins. When interest is capitalized at the end of the grace period, interest is charged on the higher principal balance. 
  • Determine your repayment plan as early as possible. Understanding the details of repayment can save you time and money.
  • If you already have a job, start setting aside money for an emergency fund. This will be invaluable when unexpected events happen, and can prevent you from defaulting on your student loan.

How Student Loan Payments Affect Your Credit Score

As with any debt, student loans can affect your credit score positively or negatively. A student loan payment can help you establish credit history, improve the diversity of your accounts and show that you can responsibly manage a loan. However, late payments or defaulting on your loan can hurt your credit.

Keep an eye on your credit report to make sure your payments are correctly reported. Just one misreported late payment can hurt your credit score significantly. If you’re not sure where to start, you can contact Lexington Law firm for a free credit report consultation to get a better idea of where you stand.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com