Tips for Saving on Monthly Services

If money is tight right now, or if you’re just trying to live frugally, there are a number of ways to save money without having to drastically change your lifestyle. One of the best way to save money is by going through all of your recurring bills to see where you can eliminate or reduce spending.

In our age of user-friendly, advanced technology, there are more services available to us than ever before. You can call an Uber with one tap on your phone or order more laundry detergent by clicking the Amazon Dash button in your cabinet. With services this readily available to us, it’s hard not to sign up. Read on to learn how to save some money on your monthly services without having to sacrifice too many of life’s comforts.

Utilities

There are countless ways to save on water, heat, and electricity. Yes, you can turn down the heat in the winter time and take shorter showers, but there are less commonly known ways to save as well. For example:

  • Keep multiple electric-powered items plugged into one power-strip and power off the strip overnight. This will stop those items from consuming electricity in standby mode
  • Insulate your windows in the winter time by using caulking, weather stripping, and shrink wrap your windows with heat shrink film to keep the heat in
  • Some Saturday afternoon make a checklist of all of your home’s lightbulbs. Then go out and replace them with energy efficient CFLs and LED bulbs
  • Hang clothes on the line in fair weather and wash your clothes in cold water; much of the energy consumed by washing clothes goes to heating the water up first

Monthly services

Remember when there were only a few good shows on TV and paying for cable was the only way to watch them? Now any given household can have Netflix, Amazon Streaming, HBO Go, and countless other monthly services for watching TV.

To save on watching your favorite movies and television, try these tips:

  • Ditch Netflix DVD services or expensive premium cable channels and rent from your local library system. Through inter-library loans you can get the newest movies and TV shows shipped to your library for free
  • Cancel your cable bill and try a cheap service like Hulu. If you’re worried about missing the news, use websites or news apps on your smart TV to keep up to date on the issues
  • Negotiate rates with your provider. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call to learn about better options. Since many people are taking the internet-only approach, cable companies are desperate to maintain customers

Saving on telephone bills:

  • First, ditch the landline. You probably only get telemarketers calling there anyway; what do you have to lose?
  • Use a family plan and calculate your data usage. Make sure your family is on wifi whenever possible. You can save up to $30/month just by having a lower data plan
  • Negotiate with your provider. Reminding your provider that you have other options when it comes to cell phones can get you a better rate.

General tips and tricks:

  • If you have a student email address (.edu) this can be used to gain discounts from a number of monthly services
  • Ask your providers to apply promotions to your account. If you see that something you pay for is running a deal, call and ask if you can have the rate as well. You’re a loyal customer after all
  • If you’ve built up good credit, look for lower interest rates online. There are apps and websites dedicated to finding you better deals

Get Extra Kitchen Storage Space With a Pantry

A larger kitchen might be on your wish list if you’re always hunting for a place to store several bags of groceries. Despite how vigorously you push and shove cereal boxes, canned vegetables and paper towels inside your kitchen cabinets, there’s never enough space in your kitchen.

It’s easy to gain more kitchen space with a pantry

It’s reached the point where you’re starting to leave desserts, canned goods, rice and macaroni and cheese on the kitchen counter. This is causing you to feel cramped whenever you pull out your cutting board and start preparing meat for large dinners, including holiday meals. You could knock out a wall and expand your kitchen. But, that could easily cost more than $15,000.

Another solution is to install a kitchen pantry. Specialty shops and home goods stores sell removable kitchen pantries. You may get more space with a double door kitchen pantry. Some pantries have storage drawers and swing open doors. Opt for pantries that give you more shelf space and no storage drawers if your standard  kitchen drawers give you enough space to store silverware.

Looking for style? Choose a kitchen pantry that is topped with a glass storage area. As a tip, you could use stackable storage units to build your pantry. Stackable storage units may offer you more style options. To get the look you want, pay attention to color. You won’t have much choice when it comes to the texture that pantries are built with, as most pantries are wood.

Kitchen pantry types that offer lots of style

Modular kitchen pantries have a door at the top and a open bottom space. For style,check out a modular pantry that’s designed with a glass door. To save space and expand on style, you could line three to four pantries next to each other. For example, you could place three four-drawer kitchen pantries side-by-side, creating a look similar to what you find in a library.

This kitchen pantry option might surprise you. If you’re crunched for space and short on cash, use a bookcase as a pantry. There won’t be a door to conceal your food items. What you will have is extra space.

To save on cost, shop at outlet stores and industrial supply stores. This way, you can get a pantry at the same price that restaurant owners pay for the furniture. Buying a cabinet that serves as a pantry will also save you money. Just make sure that the cabinet is large enough to keep you from running out of kitchen space.

The easiest way to get more space with a kitchen pantry is to buy a house that is built with a permanent pantry. Go with a house that has a door in front of the pantry and you’ll get a clean look. A pantry door will keep you, your family and guests from staring at the extra food and supplies that you stock on your pantry shelves. Just make sure that you seal food before you place them in the pantry. Doing so, could keep pests away. It could also keep food from losing its freshness.

Great Ways to Redecorate Your Bathroom

Your bathroom can become the  most relaxing room in your home. It starts with the decor. Colors, textures, scents and wall artwork are star players that take your bathroom from humdrum to amazing. Many of the below winning bathroom redecoration ideas can be implemented in less than a day, some in less than an hour.

Upgrade your bathroom in six, easy steps

These six winning bathroom redecoration ideas are also cost efficient. Think about what you want your bathroom to look and feel like as you read through the below ideas.

  1. Highlight your bathroom with calming wallpaper. Ocean shores, birds flying over soothing bodies of water and abstract artwork are great. Choose light colors. Focus on wallpaper that has a soothing effect instead of wallpaper that would impress an art connoisseur.
  2. Install chic sink and tub water faucets. Retro faucets take you back to a simpler time. Long neck faucets are easy to turn and off with your foot, preventing you from having to sit up to turn the water off after your tub has filled with scented bubble or oil bath.
  3. Add a white marble sink. The deeper the sink,the better. Marble is easy to clean and shine. Hang an oval mirror over the sink to spotlight the marble sink’s features.
  4. Go for a large walk-in or garden tub. These two tub types are almost a must if you love soaking in a bubble bath. Freestanding acrylic or stone bath tubs are stylish. Set the tub off with a braided rug.
  5. Feature your bathroom window treatments. Traditional four-pane bathroom windows that open and push up with the turn of a knob are trendy. So too are bare single pane windows. If you do hang curtains in front of bathroom windows, stick with lightweight curtains.
  6. Place a colorful bouquet on the bathroom counter top. You could even add fresh flowers to a woven basket once a week. Consider placing decorative wall magnets over the bouquet. Doves and geese are wall magnets that bring out bathroom colors and style.

More ways to make your bathroom a winner

As comfortable as it would feel against the soles of your feet, don’t install carpet in your bathroom. Carpet soaks quickly. Once carpet gets wet it can stain and smell musty, not what you want in your winning bathroom.

Other ways to gain soothing comfort while you’re in your bathroom are to keep Epsom salt in the cabinet and to turn your bathroom radio to a station that pours out smooth sounds. For example, you could set your bathroom radio to a smooth jazz station or to your favorite orchestra station.

Although it’s not showcased like your living room, dining room or kitchen, your bathroom is a center stage space at your home. It’s the one place where you can unwind. It’s where you shower and bathe away the day’s stress. Your bathroom is probably also where you sing like a rock star, work through challenges and soak away physical ailments. This room deserves to be beautiful; it deserves to be amazing.

How to Photograph Your Home’s Exterior

If you’re selling your home you’ll want to take photos that show off both the inside and the outside of the property. Taking photos outside, however, is drastically different than inside. You’ll be dealing with a lot more natural light, which you can use to your advantage. However, you’ll also have the disadvantage of having to work with the elements: changes in lighting, shadows, weather and climate, and so on.

In this article, we’ll show you how to take great photos of your home with a digital camera. We’ll cover the settings and angles to get you started, and then it will be up to you to experiment to get those stunning exposures you’d see in a magazine.

Step 1: Setting up the yard

As important as how you take the photo is what you’re photographing. Even the best photography will fall short if they lack the right subject to shoot. Before you even reach for your camera, you’ll need to do some work in the yard.

Freshly mown grass is one of the most important aspects of outdoor real estate photography simply for the reason that it takes up so much of the frame. A full, lush yard will pop in the photo, plus it will tell your potential home buyers that the lawn is well-manicured.

Aside from the lawn, it’s important that other landscaping features be tidied up. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy new lawn decorations. Simply make sure that the lawn is edged neatly, that any mulch is fresh and not faded looking, and that trees, bushes, and plants have all been pruned and trimmed.

It’s also a good idea to clean your doors, windows, shutters, and siding of your home. A pressure washer works wonders, but you can often get them clean enough with a good car wash scrubber.

Step 2: Setting up your shot

There are many techniques to photographing the exterior of a home. Some photographers wait until the sun is setting and turn on all the lights in the home creating the sense that the house is the warm center of the property. Other photographers prefer to shoot in the day time with a sunny sky to show of the home’s architectural details.

Whichever way you choose, there are two important things to remember when taking your photos:

First, make sure you have shots with the entire house in the frame. Not only is it more aesthetically pleasing this way, but it also allows potential buyers to see what the house would look like with the naked eye.

Second, be sure to take detail photos of any aspects of the home or property that are of particular interest, such as a pool, patio, or excellent view.

Step 3: Camera settings

As a rule, you’ll want to take your outdoor shots using a tripod. Camera shake can cause blurry, out of focus photos even indoors. But when you’re outside, you also have the wind and uneven ground to deal with.

Move around and take shots rom several different angles. You’ll likely find that shots taken head-on with the house feel flat, whereas shots taken diagonally create more space, making the home and yard appear larger and more interesting.