Tag Archive: second

Home Burglary Statistics: How Safe Are You?

Do you feel safe in your home? What about when you’re not there? Home security is an everyday concern for many, so it’s important that you are taking the proper precautions to protect your valuables and loved ones. To help you understand the patterns and behavior of burglars, we have a guide on burglary statistics and how to safeguard your home.

Are people securing their homes?

We surveyed 1,000 Americans about their home security and found that:

  • 70 percent of people have security measures in place to keep their home from being burglarized
  • Almost as many people lock their doors and windows when they are home (40 percent) compared to when they aren’t (46 percent) home
  • Only 22 percent of respondents indicated that they use an alarm system and 22 percent said they use video cameras
  • 24 percent of respondents said they owned self-defense equipment

graphic that shows what americans do to protect their home from a burglary

When it comes to securing their homes, respondents indicated that they are more likely to use old-fashioned techniques such as deadlocks (40 percent) on their doors rather than relying on technology such as alarm systems (22 percent) or video cameras (22 percent).

Seasonal break-in concerns

The majority of respondents (56 percent) were most worried about a home burglary in the summer. Half as many (26 percent) were concerned about winter and only 9 percent were worried about spring and 9 percent in the fall. These concerns align with seasonal burglary statistics. According to the FBI, burglaries are most likely to occur during the summer months, between noon and 4 p.m.

graphic that shows seasonal break-in concerns

Despite the tendency for people to take precautions by having self-defense equipment and locking doors when they’re inside, a majority of break-ins happen when people are not there to protect the home.

Preventing a seasonal break-ins

The most break-ins occur in the summer months. This is when Americans are most likely to be on vacation or outside enjoying a sunny day. The second most popular season for break-ins is winter. During the holidays, people take trips to visit family and are away from their homes. This is also the time of year when they have valuable presents in their homes.

To prevent holiday break-ins this season:

  • Leave lights on a timer so it looks like you are home throughout the day. Break-ins are most likely to occur between noon and 4 p.m. If you aren’t home during those hours, leave lights or music on a timer so it seems like you are.
  • Don’t leave signs that you are gone such as mail piled up in the mailbox or garbage cans out in the street for too long. The average break-in lasts between eight to 10 minutes. Leaving signs you are gone lets a burglar know they have plenty of time to steal your belongings.
  • Don’t leave boxes from your holiday gifts on the curb. Forty-seven percent of burglaries aren’t planned. Someone might be passing by and see your new TV or PlayStation box on the curb which triggers them to try to break in.
  • Avoid posting that you are out of town on social media. Eighty-five percent of burglars know their victims so they could be following your public social media account.

Burglaries statistics by state

Wondering how your state compares? The FBI has a granular look at crime rates in your state. Below are the top 10 states with the most and least burglaries per hundred thousand residents in 2018.

states with the most and least break-ins per capita

Burglary vs. robbery

It is easy to misconstrue a burglary from a robbery. While they may seem similar, they are two very distinct crimes that have different implications and investigative processes.

Burglary is classified as a property crime, whereas a robbery is classified as a violent crime.

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, a burglary is an “unlawful or forcible entry or attempted entry of a structure with the intent to commit a felony or theft.” The specifics of a burglary is relative based on your state laws.

On the other hand, a robbery is classified as “taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.”

Since robberies are classified as violent crimes, if someone is convicted of a robbery they will find that it carries a more severe sentence than a burglary.

Additional burglary statistics

In 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice reported that there were 1.3 million household burglaries, which was a 4.72 percent increase from the previous year. It’s important to be aware of when they happen so you can reduce your risk.

1. Burglaries are most likely to occur during the middle of the day

According to the FBI, in 2018 there were 346,312 daytime burglaries compared to 218,028 burglaries that occurred at night.

This is most likely because the daytime is when your home is left unoccupied. People have daily routines. Criminals are able to track this and take advantage of the times you aren’t home.

2. Burglaries are most likely to happen in the summer months

Seasonality can impact the number of burglaries that occur. These crimes are most likely to occur during the summer months. This is most likely due to a combination of good weather, longer days and an increase in vacations. With more daylight, there is a larger window of opportunity for burglars to break into homes.

We found that the majority of survey respondents (54 percent) indicated that they are most concerned about home burglaries during the summer months.

burglar climbing fence

3 Burglaries are more likely to occur in rural states

According to the FBI, New Mexico, Mississippi and Oklahoma have the highest burglary rate per 100,000 residents. In contrast, Virginia, New York and New Hampshire have the lowest.

4. A burglary occurs every 23 seconds

According to burglary statistics from the FBI, burglaries happen every 23 seconds. This means, there are nearly three homes burglarized every minute and 3,757 burglaries each day.

burglar stealing jewelry

5. Your bedroom is most likely to be the target of a burglary

Burglars have to be strategic with their time, and this includes targeting the rooms that are most valuable. According to the American Society of Criminology, in two-story homes, burglars will bypass the living areas and head straight for the upstairs bedrooms where they will find the most coveted items.

When scouring the bedroom for your belongings, burglars gravitate toward small, valuable items. Rather than big bulky items like TVs that are difficult to carry, they steal small items that can fit into their pockets in order to avoid unwanted attention as they exit the home.

6. The average cost of a burglary is $2,799

The cost of a burglary is steep. At $2,799 this could set apartment renters back a couple months’ rent. Many renters get renters insurance so they can recoup these losses if burglary were to happen. While it is possible to get back your monetary loss, the feeling of security in your house is harder to recover.

breaking in

7. White men are most likely to break into your home

According to the FBI, 80.4 percent of men are found to be the ones breaking in compared to only 19.6 percent of women.

When looking at race or ethnicity in 2018, the FBI found that 68.1 percent of all offenders were Caucasian, 29.4 percent were African American,1.2 percent were American Indian or Alaska Native, 1.1 percent were Asian and 0.2 percent were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.

8. Only 23 percent of U.S. households are professionally monitored

According to senior analyst Dina Abdelrazik at Parks Associates, only 23 percent of all U.S. households with broadband internet have a professionally monitored security system and 2.5 percent have a self-monitored system.

person looking at home security system

How to prevent a break-in

While thieves can be tricky, there are precautions you can take to prevent a break-in in your home. Here are some ways to prevent a break-in.

Install a home security system

The installation of a home security system not only will help secure your home, but it will also give you more peace of mind when you are away. Many systems include video cameras that allow you to see who is on your property at all times of the day.

Park your car in the driveway

This can be an indicator that you are home and burglars will be hesitant to break in fear that they will encounter someone. If you are on vacation, have your neighbor use your driveway as a parking spot to deter any possible burglars.

Lock doors and windows

Locking all points of entry will provide an additional layer of protection when you are away from your home. If you leave a door unlocked or window cracked it will be an invitation for any intruder looking for an easy target.

Install timers for your lights

Even if you are away from your home, putting your lights on timers can give the illusion that someone is home, which can deter an intruder from breaking in.

Be careful on social media

Social media can be a way that burglars track you. Posting that you are at a coffee shop or on vacation will let them know when your home is free to attack. Be cognizant of your social media use, especially when you are not home.

Advertise your dog

Your dog can deter a burglar even if it’s harmless. A simple “beware of dog” sign can make a burglar second guess if they should break-in.

Don’t let the mail build-up

Allowing your mail to pile up is a clear indicator that you have not been home for quite some time. This will make your home an easy target.

Hide ladders and tools

Don’t give burglars any accessories to break into your home. Hide or keep your tools in a safe place where no one can access them but you.

Now that you are more aware of the upward trend in home burglaries in the past years. Be sure to take the necessary precautions to better secure your home or apartment. It is always better to be prepared than to realize you have been the victim of a burglary.

infographic

Methodology

This study was conducted for Apartment Guide using Google Consumer Surveys. The sample consists of 1,000 respondents in the United States. The survey was conducted in November 2019.

References:

  • Safewise
  • U.S. Department of Justice
  • State Laws
  • FBI 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Wiley
  • Safe At Last

The post Home Burglary Statistics: How Safe Are You? appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

10 Essentials for a Homemade First Aid Kit

Having medical supplies in your apartment just makes good sense. A well-stocked first-aid kit can help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies, according to the Mayo Clinic . Especially when an urgent need for an adhesive bandage or ice pack happens.

Why not be prepared and tailor a first aid kit to meet your everyday needs? A homemade first aid kit for minor emergencies lets you pick and choose all the must-haves. It doesn’t need to cost a slew of bucks either. Start your medicinal scavenger hunt at your local dollar store, where you’ll likely be surprised by the inventory.

The first step, determine your budget. Spend between $10 and $20 and have plenty of handy essentials right at your fingertips. Your first aid kit can be easily stored neatly in a pantry, or beneath the sink in your kitchen or bathroom.

We’ve organized a list of basics to help you get your homemade first aid kit ready for use.

1. Pain relievers

pain medicine

Generic-brand pain relievers come in many formats such as gel, lotion and patches. Use pain relievers for headaches and to reduce swelling. Find them for less at discount stores.

You can also look for brand name pain relievers at your favorite big-box retailer, drug store or pharmacy. If you have a rewards card at your drug store, you can also look for two-for-one deals on the pain relievers that work best for you.

2. Reusable ice packs

Reusable ice packs, which you can store in the freezer, are musts for your first aid kit. They should be your go-to to reduce swelling from bumps and twists.

If you need an ice pack immediately but don’t have one that’s cold, make an investment and buy instant cold packs. They’re easy to use: Snap the seal inside or squeeze the pack and they get cold in an instant! Just be sure to look for ones that are non-toxic.

3. Protective gloves

Be cautious about cleanliness. Try to keep a wound that requires attention clean of germs by picking up non-latex gloves. Look for deals. Sometimes, they come in multi-packs.

4. Minor wound dressing

first aid kit supplies for dressing minor wounds

Think of what you might need to dress minor wounds from accidental falls or burns from cooking. The list could include:

  • Gauze pads
  • Elastic wraps
  • Assorted band-aids
  • Cute band-aids for littles
  • Adhesive tape
  • Bandage strips and “butterfly” bandages in assorted sizes
  • Antibiotic ointments
  • Antiseptic cleansers

5. Hydrogen peroxide

You can shop for hydrogen peroxide at the dollar store of choice. You can also save there on musts like hand sanitizer and non-latex gloves for whoever is administering the first aid.

6. Applicators

Be sure to have items you use every day, including cotton balls and swabs. They’ll serve double-duty in the bathroom for everything from ear cleaning to makeup removal.

7. Tweezers

tweezers

Look for tweezers for splinter removal in the health and beauty section. Get small scissors for cutting bandages or gauze to the right length, too.

8. Thermometer

To know for sure if someone is running a fever, you should pick up a thermometer and add it to the kit’s mix. Some digital varieties even come with disposable plastic sleeves. These are great if you have more than one child whose temperature must be taken.

9. First aid box or case

Check the automotive and household aisles and you might score a small, sectioned case with a snap-lock to store everything in.

10. First aid manual

It’s also helpful to include a first aid manual in your kit as a guide for treating minor injuries and wounds. Look for one with instructions on performing CPR and diagrams of how to perform the Heimlich maneuver, in the event of choking.

Need more stuff?

For more extensive homemade first aid kits, you’ll probably have to stray outside the bounds of the dollar store. Head to your local pharmacy or supermarket to pick up extra items.

Now that you’ve created a first aid kit for your apartment, you’re a pro! Create a second first aid kit to keep in your car. You never know when it could come in handy.

The post 10 Essentials for a Homemade First Aid Kit appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Charge an Electric Car at Your Apartment

Plugging a car into a socket to charge it instead of filling it up with gas once was something of a sci-fi fantasy. Now, electric vehicles — or EVs — are becoming more and more popular. From Nissan to BMW to Tesla, you’ll see all major car manufacturers are creating fully electric vehicles.

If you’re jumping on the trend and are considering purchasing or already own an EV, that’s great. However, you’ll want to consider how and where to charge it if you’re an apartment dweller.

Whether your apartment has electric car charging don’t worry! Here are some ways to fully charge your car at your apartment with — or without — EV charging on site.

Electric vehicles charging on the street.

Apartment electric car charging

It is slightly more difficult to own an electric car if your apartment doesn’t offer EV charging, but it’s not impossible. With a bit of creative thinking, you can give your car a jolt of energy and be off cruising in no time.

Find a supercharging station located near you

When your apartment doesn’t have an option for electric car charging, you’ll need to find car charging stations in your area. To do this, download apps like PlugShare or OpenChargeMap where you can type in your location and find supercharging stations near you. This is a great option because you’re likely to find several EV charging stations near your apartment. You can plug in your car to charge while you’re grocery shopping, running errands or at the gym.

Charge at your office

If you still commute to an office and aren’t solely work-from-home, you can charge your car at your office building. A lot of companies are installing EV charging stations for their employees, so you can drive to work, charge during the 9-to-5 and leave work with a fully charged car.

Electric vehicle charging.

Run a heavy-duty extension cord from your apartment to your car

If you’re lacking apartment electric car charging options, you can create a makeshift charging station by purchasing a heavy-duty extension cord and snaking it from your apartment to the car itself. This isn’t an ideal option because you may not have enough voltage for a full charge. However, if you’re in a pinch this can work.

Look for apartments with EV charging

If you currently lease or own an electric vehicle and you’re looking for a new place to rent, it’s smart to search for an apartment with EV charging stations already included. This will save you time and energy as you can simply plug your car in to charge at your dedicated parking spot.

When searching for apartments with specific amenities, you can use a search finder tool to narrow your search and find the perfect place for you. Put in the features you’re looking for — like two bedrooms, on-site gym, swimming pool and apartment electric car charging — and you’ll get a list of available rentals tailored to your needs.

Why not include the exact features you’re looking for so you can charge your car while at home?

Ask your landlord to install an EV charging station

The green movement and electric vehicle trend are here to stay.

Over time, landlords will start installing apartment EV charging stations on their properties. While some have already started doing this, as the tenant, you can also push for this and ask your landlord to consider installing an apartment electric car charging station. There are companies like ChargePoint that will work with property owners to install EV charging stations on site.

It may seem like a big ask to get your landlord to install an EV charging station, but it benefits both the tenant and the landlord in the long run. First, you’ll be a satisfied tenant. And second, it’ll make the property more appealing to future renters.

Electric vehicle charging station.

Types of EV charging

Just like there are different types of gas to purchase (regular, premium, diesel), there are different types of charges for EVs.

  • Level 1 charging: This is the basic level of charging and can use a standard 120V household option. If you’re using a heavy-duty extension cord from your apartment to your car, you’re going to get a level 1 charge. Typically, this will get you around 4 to 5 miles of range per hour. If you’re driving here and there but mostly stay at home, this is a sufficient charge.
  • Level 2 charging: With level 2 charging, you’ll get more mileage, typically 12 to 20 miles of range per hour. This type of charging requires 240 volts.
  • DC fast charging: This is high-voltage charging, typically 800+ volts, and allows your EV to rapidly charge. This is a great option but you won’t find this at your typical apartment complex in most cases.

Understanding the different types of charging options can help you decide how and when to charge your electric car at your apartment.

Go green at your apartment

As electric vehicles increase in popularity, you’ll start to see more and more rental complexes offer apartment electric car charging stations as an amenity. Until it becomes common practice though, you can still go green, drive an EV and rent an apartment with EV charging options.

The post How to Charge an Electric Car at Your Apartment appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

How To Clean Stainless Steel: 10 Affordable Methods For A Sleek Finish

Stainless steel is best known for its ability to resist rust and other corrosion, making it a prime choice for kitchens and bathrooms. However, it’s hardly ever free from fingerprints and other marks, so you can’t forget to clean it routinely. The good news is, there are plenty of easy and cheap ways to make your stainless steel look brand new again.

Stainless steel material

Before we dive in on ways to clean your stainless steel you must first understand the material. Just like wood and certain fabrics, stainless steel has a grain to it. These are faint striations you can see on its surface. As you wipe the material, make sure you go in the direction of the grain for optimal cleansing and shine.

Now that we’ve got that covered, check out these top 10 tips on how to clean stainless steel to gain back its sleek and flawless finish.

1. Dish soap and baby oil

The dish soap and baby oil duo is almost unbeatable when it comes to cleaning and polishing. The dish soap will clear the stainless steel of any oils, fingerprints and dust on your surface while the oil polishes and makes it shine. Simply moisten a cotton rag and put a little bit of dish soap on it and wipe along the grain of your stainless steel. Once you’re rid of any marks, dry the surface with a clean towel.

Next, dab a small amount (a couple of drops) of baby oil onto another rag. Wipe along the grain as you did in the cleansing process with the dish soap. This gives your stainless steel a properly polished finish as if it was brand new!

Best for: Stainless steel appliances, countertops, sink, pots and pans

2. Windex and microfiber cloth

personal cleaning stainless steel oven

People often complain about fingerprints left on stainless steel. However, using a glass cleaner like Windex will do the trick! Spray the cleaner on a dry cloth (preferably microfiber) and evenly apply in circular motions. It’s not recommended to spray directly onto your appliance, as this could result in more drip marks and residue. Repeat the process until there are no more fingerprints and then rinse thoroughly and dry with a towel.

Best for: Stainless steel appliances and countertops

3. White vinegar and olive oil

White vinegar and olive oil are also great for cleaning any grime while polishing your stainless steel appliances. Apply white vinegar to a microfiber cloth or spray it directly onto your surface and let it sit for a moment before wiping it away (with the grain). Repeat this process until there is no more grime left to remove. Finally, dab a clean towel in some olive oil and polish in the direction of the grain. If any olive oil remains, wipe away with a fresh cloth.

Best for: Stainless steel appliances and countertops

Does vinegar damage stainless steel?

If left on for too long, vinegar can cause damage to your stainless steel. It’s important to not let any stainless steel material soak in a vinegar solution, but it’s harmless if you make sure to wipe it away in a timely manner.

4. Club soda

Girl cleaning stainless steel oven

Club soda surprisingly is a great cleaner as it cleanses away any fingerprints and food residue while simultaneously leaving a nice shine. Spray club soda directly onto your stainless steel surface and then wipe in the direction of the grain. Repeat as necessary.

Best for: Stainless steel appliances, countertops, sinks, pots, pans and jewelry

5. Warm water

Plain water seems so simple, but you’d be surprised how much cleaning some warm water and elbow grease can accomplish. It’s also the least risky option for cleaning stainless steel. Simply dampen a microfiber or special polishing cloth with some warm water and wipe your surface in the direction of the polish lines. Once you’ve ridden any unwanted smudges and residue, dry the material with a clean towel or cloth to prevent water spots.

Best for: Stainless steel appliances, countertops, sinks, pots and pans

6. WD-40

Have a leftover can of WD-40 from your squeaky door? Well lucky for you, WD-40 also cleans and protects surfaces including stainless steel. Spray some directly onto your appliance or into a clean rag and then wipe in the direction of the grain. For an added bonus, WD-40 provides a layer of protection to help prevent future smudges and pesky fingerprints. Keep in mind that this is a petroleum-based product, so it should be used with care around surfaces where you’ll be handling food. So make sure you clean thoroughly before proceeding as normal.

Best for: Stainless steel appliances

7. Lemon oil furniture polish

Someone using lemon oil furniture polish to clean stainless steel

If you have some furniture polish laying around, that’ll also do the trick for cleaning your stainless steel. Apply the polish to a clean cloth and rub it evenly on your appliance. Don’t apply the polish directly onto your stainless steel surface, as it may leave you with too much uneven excess. Once it’s evenly applied, wipe it clean with a fresh cloth in the direction of the grain.

Best for: Stainless steel appliances

8. Flour

Not only is flour great for baking delicious cakes, but also for buffing and polishing your stainless steel. Flour isn’t great for cleansing away grime or grease, but is a great final touch that will make your surfaces shine! Simply sprinkle flour onto your dry stainless steel surface until it’s fully covered. Then use a soft cloth to buff in circular motions until your surface starts to shine like it’s brand new!

Best for: Stainless steel countertops, sinks, pot and pans

9. Baking soda

someone using baking soda to clean stainless steel pan

Baking soda is a magic worker when it comes to cleaning. You can use it for just about anything and it’s extremely easy and cheap to come by. Make a paste with baking soda and water and let it sit on a problem area for a few minutes. Wipe away using a rag dampened with white vinegar followed by a cloth dampened with water. Dry using a microfiber cloth. This process is best for more stubborn stains and heavy-duty messes.

Best for: Stainless steel countertops, sinks, pots and pans

10. Store-bought stainless steel cleaner

Of course, there are cleaners that are specifically designed to clean and polish stainless steel, but they are rather expensive. If your appliance or surface has major staining, scratching or just needs a thorough polishing, this is an excellent option that may just be worth the extra penny. Make sure you read the directions on the cleaner and do a test on a small spot on your stainless steel before fully diving in.

Best for: Stainless steel appliances and countertops

What should you not use on stainless steel?

Now that you know what can be used on stainless steel, it’s important to cover the major “don’ts” when it comes to proper cleaning of the material.

Do not use:

  • Chlorine-based products
  • Oven cleaners
  • Steel wool or harsh scratchers or sponges
  • Harsh tap water that could leave water spots and stains (best to use distilled or filtered water)

What is the best cleaner for stainless steel?

If you are looking for the absolute best solution to your stainless steel cleaning routine, a store-bought cleaner may be your best option. However, DIY cleaners come in a close second and are much cheaper and convenient so give those a try before opting for a commercial cleaner.

The post How To Clean Stainless Steel: 10 Affordable Methods For A Sleek Finish appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

The Ultimate List of More Than 50 Budget Categories You Must Use

The post The Ultimate List of More Than 50 Budget Categories You Must Use appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

It is no secret that you need a budget.  But, it is imperative that it includes everything.  Take the time to review your spending and don’t leave anything off of it.  Below you will find a list of household budget categories you need to include. Forgetting even one off might be a big mistake.

It is no secret that the number one thing you must do to take control of your finances is to create a budget.  Without one, you really can’t see where your money goes.  Or, more importantly, you don’t get to direct your money to be spent as you would like for it to be!

While there are posts on how to create a budget, one question I get frequently is, “What categories should I include in a budget?”   When you are new to making a budget, something such as a personal budget categories list can help.  I agree.

As you create yours for the first time, it is important you don’t leave off anything important. A successful budget is one that includes a line item for every way you spend your money.

If you are just learning about budgeting, you will want to check out our page — How to Budget.

There, you will learn everything you want to know about budgets and budgeting.

 

To help you get a jump start on with your budget, and to make sure you don’t leave off any categories, download our free budget template.  This form has helped thousands get started with creating a budget.

SIMPLE BUDGET CATEGORIES 

Once you have your form, you are ready to figure out your budget categories!  While you may not have each of these as individual line items on your form, just make sure you include them all somewhere in your budget!

 

DONATIONS OR CHARITY CATEGORIES

These are all of the monthly donations you make to various charities.  Don’t forget about those you may make only once or twice a year as well!

Church
Medical Research
Youth Groups

 

SAVINGS CATEGORIES

While not needed to live, it is crucial that you always pay yourself before you pay anyone else.  Once you meet your necessary expenses, ensure you are saving enough each month.

If you are in your employer’s retirement plan, you pay those before you get your paycheck, so you would not include them.  However, make sure you account for the different types of savings accounts you may have.

Emergency Fund Savings
Annual Fees, such as taxes, insurance, and dues
College Savings
Investments
Christmas/Birthdays/Anniversaries
Additional Retirement (outside of your employer’s plan)

Read More:  Yearly Savings Challenge

 

CATEGORIES FOR HOUSING

No one will forget to add housing to their budget.  But, make sure you include the amount you may save for repairs and other expenses. To figure out how much to budget, look over your prior year spending and divide that total by 12.  You will add this to your savings, but you can track it under your housing budget category.

First Mortgage
Second Mortgage (if applicable)
Property Taxes
Insurance
Home Owner’s Association Dues
Maintenance
Housekeeper/Cleaning
Lawn Care

 

PERSONAL BUDGET UTILITIES CATEGORIES

You can’t live without your water and electricity.  It is essential that you don’t leave any of these off of your budget either!  These are some of the basic budget categories most people will not intend to forget, but just might.

Electricity
Water
Gas/Oil
Sewer
Trash
Cable/Satellite/Streaming Services
Internet (if not part of your cable bill)
Phone

Read more:  How to Lower Your Utility Bills

 

FOOD

You have to eat. There are only two ways that happens  — you cook or you eat out. Make sure you include both of these categories in your budget.

Groceries
Dining Out

 

TRANSPORTATION CATEGORIES

You have to be able to get around.  That doesn’t always mean a vehicle as it could mean using other means of transportation.  Whatever method you use, make sure you include all of those expenses in your budget.

Remember that you may not have to pay for some of these items each month, but it is essential you budget for them monthly so that the funds are available when needed.

Vehicle payment (make sure you include all payments for all vehicles)
Fuel
Insurance
Taxes
Tags/Licensing
Maintenance
Parking Fees
Taxi/Bus Fares

 

CLOTHING

A line item many people leave off of their budget is clothing.  They forget that it is a necessary expense.  While this doesn’t mean you should go and buy new clothes all of the time, it does allow you to replace items which are worn out.

It is also essential that parents include this item as kids need clothes a bit more frequently.

Adult Clothing
Kids Clothing

 

CATEGORIES FOR HEALTH

Don’t forget your health expenses when determining a budget.  Make sure you include the money you pay towards your co-pays during the year.

Health Insurance
Dental Insurance
Eye Insurance
Doctor Visits
Dental Visits
Optometrist
Medications
Deductible Savings

 

PERSONAL ITEMS CATEGORIES

Personal is a “catch-all” category which may contain much of your discretionary spending!  Some of the most common types you need to include:

Haircuts/Manicures/Pedicures
Life Insurance
Child Care/Babysitting
Toiletries (if not included in your grocery budget above)
Household Items (if you did not already include in your groceries budget above)
Education/Tuition
Dry Cleaning/Laundry
School Dues/Supplies
Magazines
Gym Memberships
Organization Dues
Postage
Pet Care (food, grooming, shots, boarding)
Photos (school and family photos)
Random Spending (always useful as a way to pay for the things you may not have broken out in your budget)

 

RECREATION

We all love to spend some time doing things we love.  Don’t forget to include your entertainment category when determining your budget.

Entertainment (movies/concerts)
Crafts
Hobbies
Parties
Vacations

 

DEBTS

Once you pay off your debt, these will go away entirely and will no longer be needed.  You can learn how to get out of debt and get started with that (once you have your budget).

Credit Cards (all debt)
Unsecured loans
Home equity loans
Student loans
Medical loans

 

Now you have the categories you need for your budget!  Take the first step in getting control of your finances by putting this to work for you.

caclulator on desk to figure budget categories

The post The Ultimate List of More Than 50 Budget Categories You Must Use appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

Loft Apartments: The Pros and Cons

When you think about living in a loft, you may picture an apartment with a large, open floor plan located in the heart of a bustling city like New York. The loft apartment is airy with tall ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows and exposed hardware.

It sounds urban and cool, but are loft apartments only something seen in movies? Not so! Loft apartments are increasingly more popular and available to the renter interested in living in a loft.

What is a loft apartment?

So, what exactly is a loft apartment?

A loft apartment, like a studio apartment, is an open-concept living area with no interior walls, except for a private bathroom. Lofts are very large (think 1,000+ square feet) and have typically been converted from an industrial or commercial warehouse to a living space.

Converted from old warehouse spaces, loft rooms often feature exposed piping and brick and large windows.

How is a loft apartment different from a regular apartment?

Loft rooms differ from traditional one or two-bedroom apartments because no interior walls divide up space. Lofts are open-areas with no defined bedroom, living room and kitchen. A regular apartment will have a clearly-defined bedroom, closet, kitchen and living room. Both have a private bathroom, though.

When looking at the floor plan for a regular apartment, you’ll see the walls that clearly define each room.

floorplan of a loft apartment

Source: Apartment Guide

Compare the previous floor plan to this loft apartment and you’ll clearly see the main difference (i.e. no walls!)

loft apartment with exposed brick and light fixtures, large open space

Source: Apartment Guide

Pros of living in a loft apartment

Now that we’ve covered what a loft apartment is, let’s go over some of the pros and cons of living in a loft so you can decide if renting a loft room is right for you.

Pro #1: Trendy, urban vibes

Lofts are inherently cool.

First, the buildings usually have an interesting history tied to whether it previously was a factory, warehouse or commercial building. Second, the exposed interior — piping, brick or windows — adds charm and detail that traditional apartments often lack. Third, the layout of the open-living concept feels spacious, airy and light. You’ll walk into a loft apartment and have ample room to settle in.

Plus, lofts are usually found in larger, metro cities so you’ll have a fun time living in an urban area, too.

Pro #2: Design flexibility

Because loft rooms are so open and big, look at your loft apartment like a blank canvas.

Are you into a modern style? Get a large piece of modern art and hang it on the wall. Do you like a minimalist feel? Then you can add the essential pieces of furniture to the space and let the rest of the room speak for itself. Do you want a cozy loft? Add lots of furniture, pillows, blankets and art to make the place a comfortable loft to snuggle up in.

Lofts give renters plenty of freedom to design the place how they like.

Pro #3: Lots of space

One of the main reasons people rent loft apartments is for the space. You’ll usually get 1,000+ square feet out of a loft so you won’t feel cramped.

Lofts have lots of light so you’ll always have natural sunlight pouring in and can roam freely without feeling too confined.

loft apartment

Cons of living in a loft apartment

As with everything in life, there is also a downside to loft apartments. For all the cool perks and features, lofts can also have some features that aren’t so hot. Here are some of the main cons to loft rooms.

Con #1: Costly utilities

While a pro of living in a loft is the space, it can also mean pricier utilities. There is simply more space to heat or cool down.

Also, lofts are typically located in older and refurbished commercial buildings, so consider old piping or thin windows impacting future utilities. If you choose to rent a loft, make sure to budget for utilities being a bit more.

Con #2: Insufficient storage

While lofts are open and spacious, they also lack traditional storage space like closets and pantries. You have all the space you need in an open floor plan, but actually finding places to put your belongings requires thinking outside the box.

Get creative with where to hang clothes and where to store your stuff.

Con #3: Lack of privacy

Great for singles or couples, lofts aren’t ideal for roommates. You might feel like you lack privacy in a loft apartment because there are no separate rooms or walls. If privacy is important to you, a loft apartment will not check that box.

loft apartment rooms

How to create rooms in a loft apartment

Because lofts lack rooms, you may need to craft your own at times. Here are a few ways to create rooms in a loft apartment for privacy and aesthetics.

1. Use furniture to divide the space

Make your furniture dual-purpose. Use a bookshelf to break up the room as a faux wall. For example, a bookshelf can separate the TV space from the kitchen while storing books.

2. Hang room divider curtains

Although the walls are often high in a loft, you can hang curtain rods and curtains from the walls to create a bedroom, for example. Use curtains to divide the room and visually break up the space.

3. Install sliding doors

Sliding barn doors are trendy and useful. If you need a room sectioned off in your loft apartment, consider installing a set of sliding doors.

Renting a loft apartment

Have you settled on renting a loft apartment as your next home? Well then, decide which city you want to live in and start the search for your perfect, trendy and spacious loft.

The post Loft Apartments: The Pros and Cons appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

Tips to Consolidate Credit Card Debt

Tips to Consolidate Credit Card Debt

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.

If left unchecked, extensive amounts of credit card debt can cripple your finances. The good news is there are many ways to handle debt, though each requires a dedicated effort on your part. But if you can manage to consolidate credit card debt, you will reduce your burden relatively quickly. In the process, you’ll avoid the exorbitant interest rates that accompany most credit cards. Below we take a look at some of the most effective techniques you can use to make this goal a reality.

Find Out Your Credit Score

Before you can work on improving your credit and minimizing your debt, you have to know where you currently stand.

Many credit card issuers allow cardholders to see their FICO® credit score free of charge once a month, so check out if any of your cards include that free credit score. The three major credit bureaus – TransUnion, Experian and Equifax – also give out free annual credit reports. If that’s not enough, websites like Credit Karma™ and Credit Sesame provide a free look at your credit score and reports as well.

It is vital to review your credit report with a fine-tooth comb to ensure the accuracy of the information. If you find errors be sure to let the credit bureau in question know so the issue can be eradicated as soon as possible.

Zero Interest Balance Transfer Cards

Although it might seem counterintuitive to apply for another credit card to lessen your debt, a zero interest balance transfer card could really help. These cards typically include an introductory 0% balance transfer Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for six months or more. This ultimately allows you to move debt from one account to another without incurring more interest. However, once the introductory offer concludes, any leftover balances will revert to your base APR.

These offers aren’t totally free, though. Most cards also charge a balance transfer fee that’s usually between 3% and 5% of the transfer. Even with this initial payment, you will almost always still save money over leaving your debt where it stands currently.

If you want to consolidate credit card debt, here are three different balance transfer credit cards you could apply for, with varying introductory interest rates and transfer fees:

Balance Transfer Credit Cards Card Intro Balance Transfer APR Balance Transfer Fee Chase Slate 0% APR for first 15 months; then 16.49% to 25.24% Variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness No fee for first 60 days; then $5 or 5% of each transfer, whichever is greater Citi Double Cash Card 0% introductory APR for 18 months from date of first transfer when transfers are completed within 4 months from date of account opening; then 15.49% to 25.49% Variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness $5 or 3% of each transfer, whichever is greater BankAmericard® credit card 0% APR for first 15 billing cycles; then 14.49% to 24.49% Variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness No fee for first 60 days; then $10 or 3% of each transfer, whichever is greater Take Out a Personal Loan

Tips to Consolidate Credit Card Debt

The thought of taking out another loan probably doesn’t sound too appetizing to consolidate credit card debt. But a personal debt consolidation loan is one of the speediest ways to rid yourself of credit card debt. More specifically, you can use it to pay off most or all of your debt in one lump sum. That way, your payments are all merged into a single account with your lender.

The APR and length of the offered loan and the minimum credit score needed for approval are the main factors that should go into your final decision on a lender. By concentrating on these three components of the loan, you can map out what your monthly payments will be. As a result, you can more easily implement them into your financial life.

Applying for a personal consolidation loan can have a detrimental effect on your credit. Unfortunately, most institutions will run a hard credit check on you prior to approval. However, many online lenders don’t do this, which might ease your mind depending on the severity of your debt situation.

These loans are available through a wide variety of financial institutions, including banks, online lenders and credit unions. Here are a few examples of some of the most common debt consolidation lenders:

Common Debt Consolidation Lenders Banks Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Fifth Third Bank Online Lenders Lending Club, Prosper, Best Egg Credit Unions Navy Federal Credit Union, Unify Financial Credit Union, Affinity Federal Credit Union Auto or Home Equity Loan

If you own assets like a home or car, you can take out a lump-sum loan based on the equity you hold in them to consolidate credit card debt. This is a great way to reuse money you paid toward an existing loan to take care of your debt. When paying back your auto or home equity loan, you’ll usually pay in fixed amounts at a relatively low interest rate. Even if this rate isn’t great, it’s likely much better than any offer you’d receive from a card issuer.

Equity loans are technically a second mortgage or loan, meaning your house or car will become the loan’s collateral. That means you could lose your house or car if you cannot keep up with your equity loan payments.

Create a Budget

Tips to Consolidate Credit Card Debt

To build a budget, you first need to figure out your approximate monthly net income. Don’t forget to take into account taxes when you’re doing this.

You can then start subtracting your variable and fixed expenses that are expected for the upcoming month. This is where you will likely be able to identify where you’re overspending, whether it’s on food, entertainment or travel. Once you’ve completed this, you can begin cutting back where you need to. Then, use your surplus cash to pay off your debt one month at a time.

It shouldn’t matter if you’re dealing with substantial credit card debt or not. A monthly spending budget should always be a part of how you manage your finances. While this is likely the slowest way to eliminate debt, it’s also the most financially sound. At its core, it attempts to fix the problem without taking funding from an outside source. This should leave very little financial strife in the aftermath of paying off your debt.

Professional Debt Counseling

Perhaps since you’ve found yourself in serious debt, you feel like you want professional help getting out of it. Well the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) is available for just that reason. The NFCC® has member offices all around the U.S. that are certified in helping you consolidate credit card debt.

These counselors won’t only address your current financial issues and debt. They’ll also work to create a plan that will help you avoid this situation again in the future.

Agencies that are accredited by the NFCC® will have it clearly displayed on their website or at their offices. If you’re not sure where to look, the foundation created an agency locator that’ll help you find a counselor nearby.

Borrow From Your Retirement

Taking money early from your employer-sponsored retirement account obviously isn’t ideal. That’s means borrowing from your retirement is a last-ditch alternative. But if your credit card debt has become such a handicap that it’s affecting all other facets of your life, it is a viable option to consolidate credit card debt.

Because you are technically loaning money to yourself, this will not show up on your credit report. Major tax and penalty charges await anyone who has trouble making payments on these loans though. To make matters worse, if you quit your job or are fired, you’re typically only given 60 days to finish paying it off to avoid incurring a penalty.

Tips To Consolidate Credit Card Debt

  • If you take the time to come up with a budget, don’t let it go to waste. While you might find it tough to stick to, especially if you’re trying to cut back, it is the best way to manage your money correctly. Even if a budget becomes habit, stay vigilant with where your money is being spent.
  • Although a financial advisor will cost money, he or she might be able to help you keep your finances in check while ultimately helping you plan for the future as well. However, if this isn’t an option for you financially, stay on track with your NFCC® debt counselor’s plan.
  • There are so many ways to gain access to your credit score that there’s virtually no excuse for not knowing it. It doesn’t matter if you do it through one of the top three credit bureaus, FICO® or one of your card issuers. Just remember to pay attention to those ever-important three digits as often as possible.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Liderina, ©iStock.com/ferrantraite, Â©iStock.com/cnythzl

The post Tips to Consolidate Credit Card Debt appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

Source: smartasset.com