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Thursday, January 13, 2022

What You Can Do to Reduce the Energy Use of Your Home

What You Can Do to Reduce the Energy Use of Your Home

This post contains paid affiliate links, please read our Advertising Disclosure Statement.

Let’s be honest here, we’re all struggling a little when it comes to household finances these days. The pandemic has taken a huge toll, and the impact it’s had on the job market doesn’t look like it’s going to go away anytime soon. In the meantime, it’s up to us to find ways to make our expenses fit our income. Reducing your energy bill can help, but only if you can find some ways to reduce the amount of energy you use. So what can you do?

Use Energy Efficient Appliances

So this one requires an upfront cost, but it’s one that can pay off if you’re able to swing it. Old kitchen and laundry appliances tend to be less energy efficient than the models of today. Part of this is due to increased inefficiencies that happen over time, while the other part of it is that newer appliances have been built with greater efficiency in mind. If your appliances are reaching the end of their lifespan, it’s time to start looking for newer, more efficient options. Once you have them, you can sit back and enjoy the extra savings you get just because the new appliances are using less power than the old ones.

Don’t Leave Things Plugged In

Ever heard of energy vampires? It’s the term that is used to describe things that get left plugged in and still pull electricity even if they aren’t actually being used. Phone chargers are a classic example of this. We tend to leave them plugged in all the time, regardless of whether or not we’re charging a phone. The problem is that the charger is still pulling electricity as long as it’s plugged in, regardless of whether or not a phone is charging. Unplugging appliances and electronics may not net you a ton of savings, but sometimes even a little savings here and there can help.

Add More Insulation

Your HVAC system probably has the greatest impact on how much energy you use in your home. The harder it has to work to heat or cool your home, the more energy it has to use to get the job done. There are plenty of things you can do to improve your HVAC system’s efficiency. One of them is to add more insulation to your home if you don’t have adequate insulation in places like your attic, walls, ceilings, floors, and more. Insulation allows you to maintain a more consistent temperature throughout your home, preventing heat loss in the winter and heat gain during the summer. This means your system won’t have to work as hard, reducing the amount of energy it uses.

Use Efficient Windows and Doors

Adding insulation isn’t the only way to maintain your home’s internal climate. Windows and doors can be major culprits when it comes to the loss of heat and cool air, especially if they aren’t energy efficient. That could cost you, literally. Energy efficient entry doors save money by reducing the need for heating and cooling. Energy efficient windows can do the same. If you aren’t sure if your windows and doors are a problem, you can always have a home inspection done. Some companies use infrared thermal scanning that can identify whether or not you have a problem in these areas.

Leverage Natural Light

Do you find yourself turning the lights on during the day? If so, you could be using energy unnecessarily. Natural light can go a long way towards lighting up your home. It’s free too, which means you’re saving money on the energy you aren’t using to light your home. Feel free to open up the curtains and blinds. Because natural light has mental health benefits, you may even find that your personal energy levels improve along with your energy savings in this area.

Get Smart

Have you hopped on the smart home bandwagon yet? If not, you could be missing out on some opportunities to reduce your energy use. Smart home technology allows you to control things like your home’s heating, electronic devices, and lights remotely, enabling you to maximize your savings opportunities. Remember how we said earlier that your HVAC system has a huge impact on the amount of energy you use? With a smart thermostat you can control the settings remotely, allowing you to adjust to more energy efficient settings while you’re away and then back to your comfort level when you’re getting close to home. Smart lights mean that you won’t have to worry about leaving the lights on again either. Reducing your energy use has never been easier.

Trimming a little here and a little there off of your expenses can make a difference when it comes to trying to stretch the income you have a little further. Finding ways to reduce the energy you use around your home is just one thing you can do to help cut costs. What are some of the money-saving strategies you’ve used in your household?

Read this next: How to Add to Your Home in a Way That Boosts Your Equity

Thank you for stopping by and checking out What You Can Do to Reduce the Energy Use of Your Home. Which suggestion was your favorite? What other tips would you suggest? Be sure to let us know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this post, we’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on Twitter and/or Facebook. Don't want to lose this? Pin it on Pinterest so you can get back to it later!
Have a great day!

Monday, January 10, 2022

Important Steps on the Way to Building a Custom Home

Important Steps on the Way to Building a Custom Home

This post contains paid affiliate links, please read our Advertising Disclosure Statement.

If you’ve been getting ready to start building a custom home, you’ve come to the right place. There are a lot of different steps to take and things to decide when it comes to building a custom home, and it can feel pretty overwhelming at times. However, there are some very important steps that will provide the bones and structure for your home build journey. Here are the most important steps to consider as you’re getting ready to build your custom home.

Create Your Vision

First off, you need to create a vision for the type of home that you want to build. This could include anything from the exterior structure to the interior decorations to the land that the home will be built on. Make sure that you are collecting ideas from magazines, social media, and websites to give you inspiration for your vision. Bookmark ideas that you love and create a specific folder, physical or digital, full of elements that you want to include in your home. This will help you to know how to navigate the next steps of your home build journey, and it will guarantee that you end up with the dream home you’ve always wanted.

Find Builders

Next up, you need to find builders to work on your home build. If you are building your home in a development neighborhood, chances are that the business running the development already has a team of workers that will build your home. However, if you aren’t building your home in a development neighborhood, you’ll need to find those builders yourself. It can be helpful to hire an experienced contractor since oftentimes they have building teams that will work with them on their projects. Try to find a contractor that is experienced in the specific style and type of home that you are wanting to build. This will help you to work better on achieving the vision for your home.

Look into Financing

Once you’ve found builders, it is important to look into financing. Buying a property and constructing a home can be quite expensive, and most people need a mortgage or loan to get started. Make sure that you look into the different mortgages and loans available for people building homes so that you find a plan that will be affordable and convenient for you. Your home build will be so important to you and your family, so you want to make sure that you can keep up with your mortgage and/or loan payments as time goes by.

Buy a Vacant Lot

Now that you’ve figured out your financing and have a plan for paying for your home, it is time to find the perfect spot for your home build. You need to have land or a contract closing soon to start building your home. So, it is important to search for a vacant lot that fits within your budget and that is also in the ideal setting for your home vision. The price for lots can vary based on the surrounding area and the size of the lot. However, you need to prioritize what is most important to you. A half-acre lot that is near lots of convenient stores, restaurants, and schools, will probably be more expensive than a full-acre lot that is on the outskirts of town. So, take these elements into account as you’re looking at lots and determining how much you’d like to spend on your land.

Choose Your Layout

Once you have your lot, your contractor and builders will want to get working, so it is important to determine what you’d like the layout of your house to be. If you’re building in a development neighborhood, the owners will likely have a number of layouts that you can choose from to create your ideal house. However, if you’re wanting something a lot more customizable and personal, this can also be achieved outside of a development neighborhood. As you’re planning your layout, make sure that you take into account how many bedrooms and bathrooms you’ll need as well as hosting and entertainment space. For example, if you have a large family and want to have them over often, you might want to choose an open floor plan for your kitchen and dining area. Your layout will determine the functionality of your home.

Choose Your Materials

After you’ve determined your layout and the builders have started working, it will be time for you to start choosing the materials that you want to use in your home. This can include everything from countertops to carpets to flooring to lighting to your home’s exterior. The truth is, there are a lot of choices that you’re going to have to make when it comes to the materials of your home build, which is why it is so important to have a vision for your home beforehand. Make sure that you prioritize the materials that really matter to you, so you’re not going over budget on everything.

Add Finishing Touches

So, your home is finally finished, the builders have vacated the area, and now you are left with the empty canvas of your home to decorate. Hopefully, you’ve left enough money in your budget for furniture and finishing touches. Fill your home with furniture, decorations, and accessories that make you happy and that are personal to your family, lifestyle, and interests. This will make your empty house build into a personalized home.

Now that you’ve read this article, you know all of the most important steps that will help you to achieve your vision for your custom home. Remember, if you feel like you need additional help on any of these steps, take some time to research and find specialists that can help you to accomplish your goals. Soon, you’ll have the custom home build that you’ve always dreamed of and your family will be able to enjoy that special space together.

Read this next: How to Add to Your Home in a Way That Boosts Your Equity

Thank you for stopping by and checking out Important Steps on the Way to Building a Custom Home. Which step was your favorite? What other steps would you suggest? Be sure to let us know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this post, we’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on Twitter and/or Facebook. Don't want to lose this? Pin it on Pinterest so you can get back to it later!
Have a great day!

Friday, January 7, 2022

How to Plan a Party on a Budget

How to Plan a Party on a Budget

This post contains paid affiliate links, please read our Advertising Disclosure Statement.

Every party host wants their guests to leave happy, satisfied, and let’s face it, impressed. But the cost of so many things that go into a party, such as food, beverages, decorations, and party rentals, can add up quickly. If keeping within your budget is important, don’t worry—you can plan a successful party and save money at the same time.

Make Simple Invitations

Small get-togethers require just a phone call or text, but for larger or more formal parties, invitations are in order. The trouble is, buying personalized and mailing invitations can be expensive. If the occasion allows, consider sending out digital invitations. Several websites and social media platforms offer free or low-cost digital invitations. You can design and personalize them online, and collect RSVPs when people respond. If you prefer printed invites or if a keepsake invitation is desired, such as for a special anniversary, you can also take advantage of low-cost websites that let you order printed invitations. Of course, you’ll want to plan ahead to leave extra time for shipping and mailing.

Focus on Free Entertainment

Kids don’t care if you hire an expensive character impersonator or rent an inflatable bouncer—they just want to have fun. For kids, that means being active and playing. If a kids’ party is being held outdoors, you can’t go wrong with classics like sack races or ball tosses. For the indoors, searching games and crafts can be fun. 

Just like kids, grown-ups like games, too. Organize a bean-bag throw contest (called cornhole in some areas) and offer inexpensive prizes for other kinds of competitions. Instead of hiring a DJ, hook up some speakers and stream your own music playlist. This can even work at weddings with some planning.

Reuse Old Supplies

Every party seems to end up with surplus supplies like extra paper plates, napkins, streamers, or balloons. With a little creativity, you can repurpose supplies from a previous party and create new decorations. You can make paper flowers from leftover streamers or party napkins. Or, add a new color and braid streamers together for a fresh look.

For kids, leftover paper plates can be folded into baskets to use for party favor bags. You can also use paper plates for kids’ crafts and games. The backs of paper plates make a great canvas for drawing and coloring. Use scissors to cut holes in the plates, and they can be transformed into masks.

Buy in Bulk

Whether you shop at a big-box warehouse retail store or an online shop, buying in bulk can save you money. Food, decorations, and other party supplies can all be purchased in large quantities at discount prices. Frozen party foods like chicken wings, meatballs, and other finger foods are available in large boxes, for instance, which can save you both money and time. For a large party, buying napkins, paper plates, drinking cups, and other serving supplies are also less expensive at bulk shops. Multi-tiered stands can make food such as hors d’oeuvres and desserts look appealing. Toothpicks add detail to your food presentation that will impress people without breaking the bank.

Encourage BYOB

Drinks are expensive, especially beer, wine, and spirits. For more informal parties, it’s perfectly acceptable to request guests to bring their own drinks or contribute to the bar. You may ask directly by putting BYOB on the invitations, but there are also some fun ways to subtly encourage it. For an adult party, consider throwing a wine tasting or beer tasting party. Ask guests to bring their favorite wine or craft beer. Use plastic shot glasses to set up tasting flights and ask guests to rate and vote for their favorite. The winner can win an inexpensive prize, such as a bottle opener or corkscrew, and afterward, everyone shares the leftover beverages.

Make It Appetizers Only

Unless you’re not specifically hosting a dinner party, you may not need to serve a meal or a full buffet. Everyone loves finger foods, and an appetizers-only party can satisfy your guests’ hunger and save you money in the long run. By offering a wide range of appetizers, from vegetables to gluten-free desserts, you can also meet your guests’ varying dietary needs.

For informal parties, a simple browsing table will work, but if you want to ramp it up a notch, serve some more unusual foods and take some time with the presentation. Tapas and small plates are popular trends these days, and the appetizers-only theme is even being used for weddings.

Use Your Backyard

Moving a party outdoors has a number of advantages, and not just on your budget. Most people’s backyards can comfortably accommodate more people than their living rooms, so you can expand the invitation list. Outdoor parties also require less elaborate decorations: just add some lights or a few flowering plants. If rain is a risk, consider renting a tent or canopy. It can be much less expensive than renting a venue. A backyard party doesn’t have to be a kids’ party or barbecue. With the right touches, you can transform your backyard into a more formal venue. Many couples save thousands of dollars by hosting a backyard wedding.

Make It a Potluck

Family parties are often potlucks, and they’re usually a hit. Everyone looks forward to Grandma’s potato salad or Uncle Joe’s hot wings. But potlucks can be fun experiences for other types of parties, too. Start by choosing a theme, such as a specific cuisine or occasion. Part of the entertainment is getting to sample a variety of dishes. You can ask people to indicate what they will bring or assign people certain categories, such as appetizers, side dishes, salad, entrées, and dessert. You might also want to set a size or price range per item so that everyone contributes an equitable amount. Label the dishes and encourage tasting size portions.

A great party doesn’t have to be expensive to be enjoyable. Whatever the occasion of the party, you can save money without forgoing anything needed for people to have a good time. With a little imagination, you can host a memorable event that doesn’t break your budget.

Read this next: Why Online Shopping is the Best Way to Shop

Thank you for stopping by and checking out our tips on How to Plan a Party on a Budget. Which tip was your favorite? What other tips would you suggest? Be sure to let us know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this post, we’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on Twitter and/or Facebook. Don't want to lose this? Pin it on Pinterest so you can get back to it later!
Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Items You Should Buy with Holiday Gift Cards

Items You Should Buy with Holiday Gift Cards
This post contains paid affiliate links, please read our Advertising Disclosure Statement.

The holidays can be a wonderful time of gift-giving and receiving as a way of showing love and appreciation for the people around you. However, some gifts can be tricky to know what to do with. For example, if you get gifted a lot of gift cards around the holidays, it can be difficult to decide what to buy with those gift cards, so they often end up sitting in your sock drawer for the next year or so. Don’t make that mistake this holiday season. Here are a few great items that you should buy with holiday gift cards this year.

A Nice Restaurant Meal

First off, it can be great to use your gift cards to buy nice restaurant meals. It can get expensive to eat out, especially if you try to stick to a budget. However, it can be very fun to eat at a restaurant so you can enjoy food and an environment that you don’t normally have access to. So, if you have a gift card to a few restaurants, make sure that you choose one of your favorite places to visit. You might even want to save the gift card for a special occasion like a birthday, an anniversary, or a celebration of a life milestone so that you can make those dates extra special.


Another great way to spend your gift cards is by buying electronics. Even though electronics are pretty essential in our day and age, they can be expensive and unaffordable. Try to take advantage of the credit on your gift card to buy the electronics that you’ve been needing. For example, if you’ve started a remote job, invest in some great headphones or speakers to facilitate your work. If you enjoy doing virtual art, you could look into getting a tablet to help you to work on your talents. Additionally, there are lots of great technology sales around the holidays, so it is important to take advantage of that gift card while prices are low.


If you’re looking for a useful way to spend your gift card, it can be great to buy furniture. No matter what stage of life you are in, you’ll always have a need for some type of furniture. For example, if you’re taking some online classes, you could invest in a great desk or comfy chair for those long hours on the computer. If you’re preparing to have a baby, you could use your gift card to buy a crib or high chair. If you’re moving into a new apartment, your gift card could help you get a new mattress or bed frame. Even though furniture might not always seem like the most exciting gift, it is definitely necessary, which makes it a great option for spending your gift card.


One of the most obvious ways to spend your gift card would be to buy clothing. Even if you don’t follow trends and don’t have a huge wardrobe, it can be helpful to buy new clothes from time to time. This will help you to have outfits for every type of weather or every occasion. For example, modest dresses are great for any occasion that requires some confidence and style. A comfy lounge set is great for the colder months when you’re spending time with loved ones indoors. There are tons of great clothing options at many stores.

Home Décor

If you enjoy making your house look nice, you should consider spending your gift card on some home décor. There are lots of stores such as Target, Home Goods, and Ikea that have affordable and beautiful home décor options. When you’re trying to decide what to buy with your gift card, think about the aesthetic that you’re trying to achieve in your home, and try to buy décor that won’t go out of style in a few months, but that will have more of a classy, timeless look.

Kitchen Accessories

One of the essential elements of life is preparing and eating food, so using your gift card to buy some kitchen and cooking accessories is a great option. Even if you don't feel like you have a lot of talent in the kitchen, there are lots of kitchen accessories that make it really easy to prepare delicious food. For example, there are tools like air fryers, microwave steamers, instant pots, and more that can prepare delicious food fairly quickly and that are quite easy to use. Make sure to keep these types of accessories in mind as you’re deciding how to use your gift card.


If you’ve received a Visa gift card, or any similar type of cash gift card that isn’t specifically connected to a store, it can be great to use these to invest in experiences. Having material items can be enjoyable for a time, but the memories that you gain from experiences last forever. Think about what types of experiences you and/or your family would love to have, and use your gift card to invest in making those dreams come true. For example, if you’ve been dreaming about taking your young kids to Disneyland, use your gift card to start planning that trip today.

Now that you’ve been able to think about the different ways in which you can use your gift card, don’t let it sit in your sock drawer for the rest of the year. Get out that gift card and use it today! Also, remember that the ideas in this article are only a few of many options. The great thing about receiving a gift card is that it can be used in so many ways to provide you with a gift that you will enjoy.

Read this next: Best Practices When Shopping Online

Thank you for stopping by and checking out our tips on Items You Should Buy with Holiday Gift Cards. Which tip was your favorite? What other tips would you suggest? Be sure to let us know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this post, we’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on Twitter and/or Facebook. Don't want to lose this? Pin it on Pinterest so you can get back to it later!
Have a great day!

Monday, January 3, 2022

How to Make Your Simple Home Look Luxurious

How to Make Your Simple Home Look Luxurious
This post contains paid affiliate links, please read our Advertising Disclosure Statement.

Everybody wants their home to look lush and beautiful, but if you (like everyone not a billionaire) are on a budget, then you’re probably not planning on hiring a decorator to redo your design in the new year. But, a couple long years of a pandemic have worn upon America’s collective souls, and it’s time to update your decorations. You want something which gives the luxurious warmth your family and friends want to relax into, but also the simplistic modern design which is itself relaxing.  How can you make your simple home look luxurious?

Use Metal in Your Design

Metallics do not, of course, make luxury in and of themselves, but add an antique element to your spaces. Try metal tiles in your kitchen backsplash or add shine in bathroom hooks. Humans are genetically programmed to search for shiny things because water has that sheen, which leads to both the love of metals of all kinds and the love of other shiny items like gemstones and glass. Whether hammered bronze or copper, which are both on trend, or an aluminum industrial element, adding in metallics can create a luxury feel to your space.  

Paint With Neutral Colors

Neutrals are so much more than white and cream! Almost every color has a neutral-edged counterpart on the color wheel, which can help make any color you love into a neutral if you can figure out what to add to create the usable neutral you need. Reds, greens, and blues also have neutral variations. This gives you the chance to choose options which fit your own taste, but which are neutral in texture. Bold colors tend to visibly distract from your décor items in a room. But in contrast, neutrals give you the chance to have both rich wall color, and also the gentle colors which enhance and bring out every treasured item and picture.

Add a Pool

While you might not want an Olympic-sized pool in your yard, the addition of a pool can add a great deal of luxury to your property. If your lot is oddly shaped, or it’s difficult to access the backyard, don’t despair! Concrete pump trucks can easily reach over your fence and other obstacles on your property. This gives you the freedom of being able to add in both luxury and functionality to your yard. Make sure to budget in the safety aspects which will make sure that both children and others will be protected when not in use.

Use an Anchor Piece

When purchasing furniture, it can be tempting to go through a series of cheap pieces, all of which both feel cheap when using them, and also break down easily. The reason that vintage classics stay both classic and vintage is that they have withstood the test of time. Look for a piece which is both well made, heavy, and which can likewise become vintage. Design around such, and your home will have some pieces which can continue to add luxury over time.


What lends both luxury and oxygen to a space? Your plants need not be the more trendy, nor expensive in order to be useful to you in creating the luxurious look you crave. Try groupings of similar types of plants together in similarly styled pots, so as to have variance of texture but a rich, monochromatic look. Look for those plants which are easy to care for, in varying heights. The bonus of using plants is that you get an extra boost of oxygen and calm by using them in your spaces!


While you’re adding metal into a space, one easy way to add both it and luxury is to change out your lighting! There are gorgeous options for adding a sculptural piece which can both make your space look luxurious without adding clutter, and also help lower the ceiling to only slightly above your viewpoint. Many modern homes have tall ceilings, particularly in living rooms and entryways, and the lighting left by contractors are generally not conducive to adding luxury! When you search for lighting, look for pieces which will add the modern feel while also offering classic design. You want something which your family can use for decades, and the next owners of the home will beg you to leave for their enjoyment.


Nothing says luxury like a lack of, well, mess. If your budget is strained and you want to make it possible to have a modern feel to your home, remember—less is more! Designers work hard to create a visual continuity in luxury homes by using neutral colors on walls and furnishings such as desks or bookcases, which then blend visually into the wall space. Items on shelving should be minimized, and collections placed together so that they can be more congruous. 

It can be complicated if you like to collect several types of items. Try grouping them together. As always, go through things like books, toys, blankets, knick knacks, and other items often. Collect things that you no longer use or love to give away and bless other families. By removing things that are no longer useful to you in your home, you give the option of bringing in décor items which you do indeed adore and will use happily. By removing those things which are extras- extra frames, extra books, extra furnishings—you can create a space which is peaceful to the eye, which automatically makes it more welcoming to guests.

Luxury can be less expensive than you think! By removing items which you no longer use, you are freeing up space where you can enjoy your design, and having more space is perhaps the most useful and luxurious hack of all! Make sure your lighting is both bright and beautiful. Add in your plants and an anchor piece, while considering how nice a pool would be next summer. Look for those subtle sheens, both in your metallics and the warm neutrals which can make your room glow!

Read this next: Top 10 Budgeting Strategies To Help You Curb Overspending 

Thank you for stopping by and checking out our tips on How to Make Your Simple Home Look Luxurious. Which tip was your favorite? What other tips would you suggest? Be sure to let us know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this post, we’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on Twitter and/or Facebook. Don't want to lose this? Pin it on Pinterest so you can get back to it later!
Have a great day!

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