How To Design The Ultimate TV Room For Sports Fans

It’s been an exciting Football Season, and come February, it will culminate in the ultimate championship game – the Super Bowl! According to Digital Trends, January is one of the best times to buy a new television, with manufacturers and retailers carrying over those great holiday sales prices on large-screen televisions in anticipation of the big game. But what good is a big screen TV if you don’t have an awesome TV room to put it in? Here, we’ll give you the play-by-play of how to design the ultimate TV room for sports fans, complete with solid wood cabinetry and all the necessities.

The Equipment

1-15-19 RTA2-Shaker Honey

Unless you plan to buy the massive 219-inch TV that Samsung just debuted at the CES technology show in Las Vegas, or you live in a tiny house, your big screen TV isn’t going to come close to filing your wall space. Adding solid wood cabinetry to your TV room helps to frame your television, and gives you added storage and display space for things like TV remotes, sound systems, and sports memorabilia. If your ultimate TV room is going to be located in a finished basement or bonus room, give yourself the home advantage by also installing a few bar cabinets to house snacks, and a mini fridge to keep cold beer on hand.

The Playing Field

1-15-19 RTA3-Dark Chocolate Shaker

Once your TV room cabinetry is installed and you have your big screen TV hung on the wall, it’s time to get the playing field ready. Above all else, the ultimate TV room should be comfortable. According to ESPN, the average football game runs around three hours. Baseball and basketball games are pretty close to that running time, as well. And don’t forget about golf – coverage of the PGA championship lasts for days! The same goes for tennis and college wrestling. Whatever your favorite sport, that’s a long time to sit on an uncomfortable couch. When designing the ultimate TV room, choose cushy, deep, oversized sofas and sectionals, preferably with reclining seats or ottomans. And don’t forget cup holders and/or end tables!

Don’t just dream about it – get out there and do it! Browse our wide selection of TV room cabinetry, choose your favorite style, and then contact The RTA Store to take advantage of our free room design service. Because an awesome TV room is something to cheer for!

At The RTA Store we help make your dream home a reality with RTA (Ready To Assemble) and Pre-Assembled cabinets and accessories. Whether it’s your kitchen bathroom, laundry room, home office, bar room or TV room, we offer the same (if not better) quality you would find at any retail store, but for a fraction of the price. Stop by our website or give us a call and let us make your dreams come true with the help of our free room design tool!

How Patio Planning Goes from Overwhelming to Fun and Easy

If you’re in the process of patio planning, even if you’ve only just begun your research, then you may have already realized that there’s a lot involved. There are so many different factors in play and a big range of choices when it comes to patio materials and even patio builders (all with different price ranges), and you might feel terribly overwhelmed.

If you are going to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a new patio, you want it to be perfect. It ought to not only look nice but should not have ongoing problems with it either. You should be able to create a patio that meets your needs and doesn’t have you wondering if you wasted your money.

New Residential Building Made Of 140 Reclaimed Shipping Containers

After a period of experimenting with shipping containers and using them to create all sorts of cozy retreats, cabins and other small structures, architects are now starting to also take on large-scale projects involving reclaimed containers. An example is this residential building located in downtown Johannesburg, in South Africa. The project was developed by studio LOT-EK in 2017. The building is six-stories high, situated on a triangular site and was built out of 140 reclaimed shipping containers.

The units are organized into two section with triangular courtyards in between. One section has green modules and the other has blue ones. The containers have seen purposely selected to feature these two colors, thus requiring no re-painting and giving the container homes and the building a genuine, authentic look.

The unusual shipping container building serves among other things to revitalize the downtown area of Johannesburg
The unusual shipping container building serves among other things to revitalize the downtown area of Johannesburg
The symmetrical pattern across the facade is eye-catching and gives the building an edgy and unconventional look
The symmetrical pattern across the facade is eye-catching and gives the building an edgy and unconventional look
Angular cut-outs into the facade open up the retail spaces situated on the ground floor
Angular cut-outs into the facade open up the retail spaces situated on the ground floor
The building stands out, its design and overall structure and its very nature contrasting with the surrounding buildings and architecture
The building stands out, its design and overall structure and its very nature contrasting with the surrounding buildings and architecture

The building’s ground floor is a multi-purpose zone which includes residential units at the rear, retail spaces along the side of the road and a courtyard and shipping container pool in between. The six stories above that contain apartments ranging from 300 to 600 square feet, each with access to balconies and each featuring angular windows that form chevron patterns across the building’s facades. Slanted cut-outs on the ground floor complete the pattern.

The apartment units are organized into two big sections and you can navigate between them via an open-air corridor
The apartment units are organized into two big sections and you can navigate between them via an open-air corridor
The two sections form a courtyard with a swimming pool, this area being a communal space for all residents
The two sections form a courtyard with a swimming pool, this area being a communal space for all residents
The apartment units range in size from 300 to 600 square feet and share similar interior designs
The apartment units range in size from 300 to 600 square feet and share similar interior designs
The apartment units have access to both private and communal balconies and spaces
The apartment units have access to both private and communal balconies and spaces
A strong industrial vibe defines the entire building and all the features in it
A strong industrial vibe defines the entire building and all the features in it
The interiors of the units are simple, featuring reclaimed wood floors and painted metal ceilings
The interiors of the units are simple, featuring reclaimed wood floors and painted metal ceilings
The apartment units have open plan layouts with large, angular windows, reclaimed wood floors and crisp white walls
The apartment units have open plan layouts with large, angular windows, reclaimed wood floors and crisp white walls
The strong industrial appearance of the building's exterior is not entirely reflected into the interior design of the units
The strong industrial appearance of the building’s exterior is not entirely reflected into the interior design of the units
This shipping container residential buildings helps to revitalize and repopulate the city's downtown area
This shipping container residential buildings helps to revitalize and repopulate the city’s downtown area
The triangular shape of the site had a big impact on the overall design and structure of this building
The triangular shape of the site had a big impact on the overall design and structure of this building
In total the building was built using 140 shipping containers selected in two specific colors: green and blue
In total the building was built using 140 shipping containers selected in two specific colors: green and blue
The building has quickly become a local landmark thanks to its unusual design
The building has quickly become a local landmark thanks to its unusual design
Green and blue reclaimed shipping containers are stacked forming six residential floors and a multi-purpose ground level
Green and blue reclaimed shipping containers are stacked forming six residential floors and a multi-purpose ground level
The building's name is Drivelines Studio and can be seen on the side of the blue unit section
The building’s name is Drivelines Studio and can be seen on the side of the blue unit section
The angular cuts and slanted windows give the building a dynamic and exciting look
The angular cuts and slanted windows give the building a dynamic and exciting look

The post New Residential Building Made Of 140 Reclaimed Shipping Containers appeared first on Home Decorating Trends – Homedit.

The Dirtiest Places in Your Office and How to Keep them Clean

Ask a co-worker what parts of the office they think are the filthiest and most will bring up office keyboards or perhaps the bathroom door handle. However, there are are other parts of the office that are teeming with germs that you may be oblivious to. Failure to properly clean an office can lead to health issues and loss of productivity, as many workers will call in sick. Below, are some of the dirtiest places in your office and how you can sterilize them without breaking the bank…or your back.

Cleaning dirtiest places in the office

The Start Button on Your Photocopier Machine

A study conducted by Hloom-a prestigious template maker-found that the average photocopier start button had 1.2 billion colony forming units per square inch; this is in stark comparison to a typical toilet seat at a school, which only has 3,200 colony forming units. As can be seen, the start button of your photocopier machine is one of the most germ-ridden spots in the office. The good news is you can clean it by using a high-quality disinfectant solution or by affixing an antimicrobial screen onto its surface.

The Surface of Your Desk

The surface of your desk will also be laden with a ton of germs. It may appear clean to the naked eye but rest assured that there are many harmful germs spread across your desk that you may not be aware of. Many busybodies also eat and drink at their desks in order to save time and make deadlines. As such, food particles and spilled liquids can cause issues, and discarded napkins, paper cups, and utensils can also serve as hot spots for nefarious germs to spread.

Many employees also make the mistake of simply wiping their desks down with a damp cloth instead of using a high-quality cleaning solution. To properly clean the surface of your desk you should use a high-quality disinfectant solution daily. If possible, come in a few minutes early and properly clean your desk before the workday begins, and, if you have the time, do the same right before exiting the office in the evening.

Vending Machine Buttons

A vending machine may appear clean, but it is also a hotspot for germs to spread. In fact, if you checked the buttons on the vending machine under a powerful microscope you would find a myriad of harmful germs and bacteria on them. Furthermore, one of the issues with vending machine buttons is that you can’t clean them using a conventional cleaning method. However, you can purchase antimicrobial resistance screens for vending machine buttons. Then, simply clean them whenever you have the time and you will reduce the propagation of germs with minimal effort.

Your Office Keyboard

While we did mention that the office keyboard isn’t the biggest ecosystem for germs, it is still one of the biggest. Dirt and dust from your table, as well as the carpet underneath your desk, will somehow find its way onto your keyboard and set up shop. In fact, it is possible to have up to 4000 germs in every square inch of your keyboard, which can make you sick. The good news is cleaning your keyboard can be a breeze if you use the proper technique and solution. Simply wipe it down using a high-quality disinfectant solution every day and you should be able to enjoy a clean (and pleasant smelling) keyboard for your office tasks.

The Refrigerator Handle

Dozens, if not hundreds of people, will need to access the office refrigerator on a daily basis, so the handle of the refrigerator will be touched a plethora of times. As such, germs can easily spread if the handle is not cleaned thoroughly and methodically. An easy solution to this issue is to ask your coworkers to wash their hands before they open the refrigerator. Evidently, not all of your coworkers will be compliant, so the only surefire way to reduce germs is to take matters into your own hands and vigorously clean the handle, as well as the surface of the fridge, with a premium quality disinfectant solution.

The Washroom Door Knob

Another classic hotspot for germs that needs to be sterilized as soon as possible is the inner knob of the washroom door. Unfortunately, many people simply do not wash their hands after using the washroom, and even the ones that do often don’t use the proper hand cleaning techniques. As such, fecal matter, and other malevolent particulates will often attach to washroom door knobs and spread from person to person. In fact, a single washroom inner doorknob in an office can house over a million harmful microbes, so cleaning it properly should be a priority. Moreover, most experts agree that an office washroom should be cleaned five times a day, with the inner door knob being no exception. Also, if your office has cleaning staff then you should ask them to also disinfect the washroom handles while they are cleaning the washrooms.

Sunrise Cleaning

Sunrise Cleaning provides full-service office cleaning services in Mississauga. In fact, we have been providing premium quality office cleaning services in Mississauga since 1992. We also offer a 20% discount for the first-time clean (some restrictions may apply), and currently, have a team of over 40 qualified maids and over 2,000+ satisfied customers. For a consultation in order to discuss your cleaning needs, please do not hesitate to contact us at 289-814-1824. You can also visit our website to learn more about our award-winning services.

The post The Dirtiest Places in Your Office and How to Keep them Clean appeared first on Sunrise-Cleaning.

Buying a House This Year? This Should Be Your 1st Step!

Buying a House This Year? This Should Be Your 1st Step! | Keeping Current Matters

In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes outnumbers the number of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show that you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

Even if you are not in an incredibly competitive market, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach.

Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the ‘My Home‘ section of their website:

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you through this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.”

Freddie Mac describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.

Bottom Line

Many potential homebuyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores necessary to qualify for a mortgage. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so today.


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The post Buying a House This Year? This Should Be Your 1st Step! appeared first on Keeping Current Matters.

5 Reasons to Buy a Fixer-Upper Instead of a Perfect Place

5 Reasons to Buy a Fixer-Upper Instead of a Perfect Place

“Location, location, location” is the mantra when it comes to where to buy a home. But when it comes to what to buy, it gets a little more complicated. There is definitely a contingent who would insist that you would buy the best home you can afford. But while there is something to be said for buying a move-in ready home, a place that needs a little love can be downright irresistible.

You don’t have to go all Chip and Joanna here, but buying a fixer-upper makes sense for so many reasons

.It costs less

“Fixer-uppers list for an average of 8% below market value,” said LearnVest. If you’re on a budget or are being priced out in your market, this is a way to get a literal foot in the door. How much depends greatly on the location. “Fixer-uppers in Phoenix have the smallest cash discount, saving buyers just $1,000 off list price. But you can save a lot of money in expensive markets like San Francisco, where fixer-uppers are discounted an average of 10%-giving homebuyers $54,000 in upfront savings for renovations on the median home.”

You may be able to finance your renovation

One of the major drawbacks of buying a home that needs to be fixed up is having to come up with the cash-especially after you’ve just put so much money into your down payment and closing costs. There are a few different types of loans that package the mortgage with funds for renovations, and they often come as a surprise to buyers who have only focused on FHA and 30-year conventional loans.

“Whether you need a new roof or your kitchen is outdated, there is a mortgage that’s right for your fixer-upper,” said Bankrate. Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle loan and FHA’s 203(k) loan both bundle a mortgage and funds for renovations. They each require a minimum credit score of 620. You’ll need at least 5% down payment for HomeStyle and just 3.5% for the 203(k).

It gives you the opportunity to build value

With an already-updated home, “If a seller has redecorated or improved the whole place, that seller is reaping the benefit,” said Forbes. “If the home’s value has been raised, the buyer is paying for it. Also, consider this reality: A seller who re-does a whole house in order to sell is not likely putting in the highest-quality materials. They’re cutting costs to maximize profit. But if you buy a fixer-upper, you might be able to secure an undervalued property, improve it and get the benefit of the extra equity. It’s a core real estate concept. If you can find the right property, this could mean thousands of dollars almost immediately.”

You can do renovations over time

There may be a few things you can’t live with in a fixer-upper, like the grungy carpet and cruddy plumbing fixtures, but no one (other than design shows) says your place has to be perfect the day you move in. Taking your time to make updates as you’re able gives you the opportunity to save money and recover from all the expenses of buying the home and moving in.

It allows you to put your stamp on it

When you buy a home that was lived in and fixed up by someone else, it reflects their taste and style-or at least the taste and style they think will help the house sell faster. If you buy a house with the intention of fixing it up, you get to update and upgrade it to your standards, and you have the money to do so.

“One of the primary reasons people buy fixer-upper properties is for the opportunity to make the space their own,” said Green Residential. “Instead of purchasing a home in which someone else designed the layout, chose the materials, and dictated where different elements were placed, you can buy a basic structure and then take charge. It’s like building your own home without having to go through the lengthy process of drawing plans and constructing it from the ground up.”

How to Get Rid of Cockroaches

Prevent Cockroach Infestations on Your Property & Stop the Unsightly & Unsafe Critters from Putting Your Family at Risk

Cockroaches are one of the most common household pests in the world, with Florida being home to over 70 different species of roaches.

Keeping this in mind, it is extremely likely that people will encounter cockroaches at some point in their home. This skeevy pest excels at adapting to new environments and can bring disease-causing germs into your home that can lead to allergic reactions, food poisoning, hepatitis, and diarrhea.

Facts About Cockroaches

If you see one cockroach, it’s likely there are more. And if there are more, you’ve likely got yourself a cockroach infestation.

If you’ve found yourself with an infestation, there are a number of things worth knowing about the pest.

First, cockroaches are small and sometimes hard to see, with dark brown or black bodies that are only 1/2 to 3 inches long.

Cockroaches prefer warm and humid environments (like Florida, especially Southern Florida) and they are scavengers in every aspect. They’ll eat almost anything; glue, the material in book bindings, and dead skin flakes are just a few of their odd-ball favorites. Some species of cockroach even eat their own young.

German cockroach found walking on a yellow dish sponge near the kitchen sink

Cockroach Infestations

Cockroaches are nocturnal and spend their days hiding in small cracks and crevices.

Hiding places for these critters varies depending on the species, but as a rule of thumb, cockroaches will fit themselves in extremely small cracks and feel most secure when they’re being touched by surfaces on all sides.

Once roaches have infested an area of your home, they multiply quickly and become harder to eliminate.

How to Get Rid of a Cockroach Infestation

To practice the most effective cockroach control, it typically requires more than one type of treatment method.

One of the most effective ways to control a cockroach infestation is roach spray, but it must be sprayed directly onto the roaches. To use this method, you must be able to see the cockroaches, and react quickly as the pest will scurry away.

To identify where cockroaches are hiding, examine your home for potential entry points.

Use a flashlight to search popular hiding spots, including under the sink, closet corners, crevices in cabinets and shelves, as well as behind the refrigerator.

After you’ve examined your home, an application of roach glue strips or glue boards will help to ultimately determine where the roaches are hiding. Leaving these in place for a week or more will help to ultimately determine if you have found the cockroach infestation.

When you’ve found these areas, another solution to getting rid of a cockroach infestation is to use gel bait. Gel bait comes in the form of a tube and can be applied in places where cockroaches are likely to hide. It is and extremely effective method for removing a cockroach infestation.

How to Prevent Cockroach Infestations

To prevent future cockroach infestations and control current ones, the most important things that you should practice in your home are cleanliness and proper sanitation.

Some basic guidelines for that are:

  • Don’t leave dirty dishes out overnight, keep food stored in closed containers, and clean the areas behind and along large kitchen appliances like stoves and refrigerators.
  • Immediately clean up spills and vacuum cracks and crevices in your kitchen.
  • Take the garbage out frequently and store it in a covered trash bin outside of the home.

Externally, seal any cracks that cockroaches could use to enter your home. Fix any leaky pipes and install dehumidifiers in your basement to eliminate areas of excess moisture.

Benefits of Professional Cockroach Pest Control

If your home or office in Southwest Florida has a cockroach infestation, it’s imperative to have it taken care of before it gets out of hand.

Contact a pest management professional as soon as you spot a roach in your home, especially during the day. These insects are usually only active at night, so if they are out during the daytime it is an indication of a large-scale infestation lurking in your house.

The pest-elimination professionals from the premium pest control provider in the area will ensure your home is protected from cockroaches and cockroach infestations with a complete removal plan that has been customized to eliminate the issue you are faced with.

How Garden Furniture Can Extend Your Living Space

Turn your garden into a living space with garden furniture. Here’s how!

Photos By: Living Etc.

There’s no doubt that Garden Furniture allows you to make the most of any outside space. This may be a lawn, patio, decking or just a balcony, and by adding furniture you will fully realize its potential to become a valuable extension of your home.

Traditional or contemporary in design, you have a wide choice of materials, with different types of timber, rattan, stainless steel and all-weather fabrics all proving popular when creating a particular ambiance or complementing the existing landscape.

Today’s garden furniture is very much similar quality to the equivalent sofas and chairs you’ll find in any lounge and, because it has to deal with adverse weather conditions, it’s probably more robust and made from highly durable materials.

The sheer range of garden furniture is impressive to say the least, with online garden furniture suppliers offering table and chair sets for dining and entertaining, benches and loungers for relaxation along with an incredibly diverse range of other items.

Garden Sofas and Ottomans

Nothing illustrates the beneficial impact that high quality furniture can have on your garden than all-weather sofas and day beds. There’s no better way to relax and enjoy the company of friends, than on these luxurious pieces that can be left outside throughout the summer months.

Corrosion resistant metal frames are used for strength and these are upholstered with artificial wicker, rattan or easy to clean fabric. Individual items can be used on their own while other piece are joined to form attractive and very useful corner sets. Accessories include deep cushions, stools, dining and side tables in a similar style.

Dining Sets

Eating and entertaining in your outdoor garden is so much better when the chair you’re sitting in is stylishly designed from teak or another hardwood, shining corrosion free metal, wicker, rattan, or even decorative moulded resin, and the matching table is similarly eye-catching perhaps with a glass or ceramic top.

Two chairs and a modest table make a lovely bistro set, benches and seats are able to accommodate more guests while individual chairs around a circular, square or long rectangular table create a comfortable and elegant ambiance which adds to your enjoyment of the food, drink and fellow diners.

Picnic Tables

The simplest of these very popular practical pieces of outdoor furniture represent a dining set at its most utilitarian, a central rectangular table and two facing benches offering a place to enjoy simple refreshment.

But even the humble picnic table can have a makeover and there are now versions with substantial railway type sleeper benches or four quarter circle seats with perhaps a slatted back rest surrounding a round table. Children’s picnic tables are also available with one showing its versatility doubling as a sandpit.

Garden Chairs and Benches

Weeding and mowing are hard work, and single Chairs and Benches provide useful resting places around the garden, while Companion Seats with a compact middle table, where refreshments or books can be placed, are perfect to share the time of day with someone else.

Again there is a huge range of sizes and styles, timber blends ideally with the landscape and metal will develop an attractive patina. Granite and colourful sandstone will also make an impression, and there are resin examples that boast storage space. If you enjoy sitting in the shade of a tree why not try a circular bench that will enclose the trunk of your favourite apple or oak.

Parasols

To complete your outdoor dining experience, a parasol might be required if the sun proves too intense, and the familiar circular umbrella designs that sit in the middle of the table have received contemporary remodelling in terms of both design and materials.

Cantilever parasols in a range of colours can now stand away from the table, reaching over to provide shade under a canopy that can be as much as 4 mtrs square. There are also ‘sail’ type canvas sheets that cover a wide area between two aluminium poles, and a curtain can be fitted to prevent any cool breeze from spoiling your enjoyment of the summer.

Hammocks

Finally, Hammocks or swing seats might represent the most comfortable way of relaxing in the garden. With shading from the sun you can swing back and forth on a seat supported by chains or tangle free rods. These aren’t children’s swings, they are high quality and distinctively designed for adults who want to unwind in the most satisfying way possible.

7 Stupid Easy Ways To Fix Your Finances In 2019

With 2019 just around the corner, you may have a resolution to fix your finances. If 2018 left you in debt, stressed out, maxed out, freaked out or just ready for a change, read on.

You would be AMAZED at what you can change in a year. The person you are today, does NOT need to be the person you are 12 months from now.

There are so many ways to go about doing this: loans, refinancing, a second job, starting a blog or becoming a freelance writer, transferring credit card balances, seeing a financial counselor, etc., etc., ETC.! But those aren’t particularly easy and they certainly are not a way to get quick cash.

That’s why I’ve created this list of 7 stupid easy ways to change your finances. Each option is a simple and fast way to start on the path to financial health.

Survey Says- Make Some Extra Cash

You can pinch pennies aplenty, but if you’re not making a lot to begin with, you’ll find it’s challenging to get ahead.  If you can squeeze in some extra time in nights and weekends, earning a few extra bucks can be a game changer.  Enter, the survey side hustle.

Online surveys are an easy and convenient way to earn a few bucks from the comfort of your couch. Keep in mind, though, that they do require you to pay attention and actually read each and every question. The company can tell if you just fibbed your way through the survey and will not pay you for it. They may even remove you from their program.

While there are numerous survey sites you could try, they’re not all created equal. Some rarely have surveys for you to take or make it extremely difficult to cash out. Luckily for you, we’ve sifted through all the survey companies and have come up with a list of programs where you can *actually* earn some money. They include:

Examine Your Credit

If you are suffering from low or even no credit, it’s important to keep an eye on your credit score. Not only will this allow you to see your progress, it can also help you catch any errors or inconsistencies.

While you are entitled to a free credit report from each credit reporting company (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax), Credit Sesame is my preferred monitoring program. Not only is it free, but you can check your credit report and score as often as you like. Pretty snazzy, ey?

It be totally scary to look at your credit score, I get it.  But knowing what’s negatively impacting you NOW can help you in a year’s time when you go to make a big purchase.  Follow these steps to earn some money and trim expenses, but also make sure you understand your score and how to improve it!

Trim and Sift It

Money-saving apps and programs are a dime a dozen these days. I’ve even written about some in the past. But as of December of 2018, my two favorites are Trim and Sift.  Using apps on your phone to simplify and optimize your spending habits is a great way to save without breaking a sweat!

Trim

Trim is an online, desktop based program that automates ways to save you money. After you securely connect your accounts, Trim will inspect each one to determine if there are any potential money saving options. Specifically, Trim excels at examining and notifying you of your recurring subscriptions, discovers if you can save money on your cable, and allows you to automate your savings. You can even request account alerts via text for things like overdrafts, low-funds, or large purchases. Best of all, it is free.

Trim takes security very seriously and therefore they have implemented 256-bit SSL encryption, two-factor authentication, and read-only access. Your account info is not stored of their servers. To learn more about Trim or to sign up, pop on over here.

Sift

Sift is an app that focuses on your credit cards and their purchases. Named as one of Google Play’s Best Apps of 2018, it maximizes your cashback and rewards, while tracking all the benefits available for each of your cards. It will automatically update you on any perks that may be available to you due to using a specific card. For example, theft and damage and warranties, time left to return, and price protection. The latter is my favorite perk, as it will help you save money on previous purchases if you used certain cards when buying an item that has decreased in price.

As for Sift’s security, information is transmitted securely via SSL (TLS 1.2) bank grade encryption. All of their servers and databases have very strict access control and all data transmitted and stored is anonymized. To give Sift a try, check it out here.

Save and Earn

When was the last time you evaluated your savings accounts? Do you know what kind of interest you are earning on your funds? If you use a big bank, with lots of brick and mortar locations, it is likely you aren’t getting as much as you could. Solve that problem by considering an online bank. My favorite is Capital One 360. Not only will you receive up to a $100 bonus when you open an account, but because they don’t have any physical locations, you get a higher yield interest rate. They have a large network of ATMs and offer mobile deposit, allowing you to get most of the benefits of a typical bank with less fees and a higher rate on your savings.

Surf’s Up

As mentioned above, online surveys are a nice way to change your finances by earning some quick cash. But the internet has more to offer than that. For example, Swagbucks is an easy way to earn gift cards. Swagbucks offer the typical surveys, but they also reward you for watching videos, shopping online, and more. It’s totally free and you can redeem your points earned for pretty much any gift card out there, including MasterCard.

If you want to earn some major cashback on your online purchases, you’ve got to give Ebates a try. Depending on which merchant you buy from, you can get up to 50% back. As a good example, when I switched from AT&T to Verizon for my mobile service, I got $75 cashback just for shopping through Ebates. That was a pretty outstanding month, but I typically reel in at least $20 a month just for shopping at online stores I already planned to buy from using Ebates.

(Re)Build Your Budget

You can’t change your finances for the better if you aren’t sticking to a healthy budget. I talk a lot about budgeting here at Frugal Beautiful, but my post How to Fall in Love with Your Budget is particularly useful.

Alternatively, there are several books on the subject that have helped me, and others like me, to create a budget and not deviate from that plan. A few of my favorite include:

Once you’ve read up on the subject, consider an online budgeting software like Mint or Personal Capital. It is easier than using pen and paper, especially on the go.

I use both of these apps.  I love that Mint has a little doughnut chart that shows me how much I’m spending in each category (sometimes it’s horrifying!) and that Personal Capital shows me the overall picture of how I’m doing to track my net worth.  It’s super motivating!

Hustle Hard

My personal favorite way to improve one’s personal finances is to find a side hustle. I’ve written extensively on my most profitable side hustle: Airbnb. Seriously, without the money I make hosting travelers on Airbnb, I’d be in a world of hurt. Owning a home has been a much more expensive endeavor than expected, specifically due to a major increase in taxes and numerous repairs not found before closing. Airbnb has helped me stay on track with my budgeting and retirement goals.

As of this writing in late 2018, I’m earning over $750 a month just renting out my spare room with minimal work as an Airbnb host

Another quick and easy option is to drive for Uber or Lyft. It’s simple and fast to get started with either company and can bring in some significant cash quickly. Cha-ching!

Start Saving With Just $1

One of my most popular posts is the Mason Jar Money Method .  If you’re a fan of the envelope system from Dave Ramsey or have cash on hand, this is for you.  You start with a giant mason jar, and start with $1.

Each week your savings grow from there and you begin to build better habits to make those bigger weeks work- you have about $1300 by year’s end.  What could you do with $1300 more dollars in the bank?  Maybe put it towards next year’s Christmas gifts and travel? New tires?  A vacation? You will be $1300 ahead by this time next year.


So, what are you waiting for? It’s never too late to get a handle on your financial life. Hop to it, friend, and best of luck!

Additional Reading:

We've created a list of 7 stupid easy ways to change your finances. Each option is a simple and fast way to start on the path to financial health.