How to Get Rid of Mice in Your Apartment

Got mice?

If these pesky pests are in your apartment, we’ve got solutions. While it makes good sense to keep them out in the first place, we get it, stuff happens. The number one thing you should do is speak to your leasing office maintenance crew or landlord. Let them know you need pest control right away! Hopefully they will send in a professional company to rid you of the problem.

But you can also be proactive and takes steps to oust the intruders. You should know that mice live in groups. So, when you see one mouse, you probably have five, six or more squatters.

That’s a problem because mice can contaminate food and food preparation surfaces, which can lead to potential health issues.

Leave pesticides to the professionals

You might think that pesticides are the way to go to get rid of mice. But according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that’s only a good idea if you’re a pro. This is not a DIY project.

Improper use of pesticides could be toxic to both people and pets, and people with compromised immune systems can be especially vulnerable to improper use of pesticides.

Here’s what you can do to rid your home of furry unwanted irritants scurrying across the floor and more.

1. Use traps

If you’re not squeamish interacting with a dead mouse, then try the old-school method. Terminix recommends baiting the trap with peanut butter, bacon, chocolate, dried fruit or oatmeal. Another option is a glue trap.

Or, you can try something more modern. There are actually traps that use high voltage to shock the mouse. It might sound cruel, but since it happens quickly, there’s no suffering. How does it work? The bait station is in the back of the unit. The mouse enters the trap and triggers a sensor. That’s when a high voltage electric current electrocutes the mouse in seconds.

Alternatively, catch-and-release traps are a humane option. When you trap a mouse, you can release it far from where you live.

2. Seal-off floor and wall gaps

mouse hole

If you see an opening where wires and conduits are in your apartment, those could be road maps for vermin. Mice can enter a building or home through the smallest opening or crack.

Plug up even the tiniest holes, even the ones the size of a nickel! Mice commonly move through walls, ceilings, floors and even cabinets.

3. Your in-house mouser superheroes

The furry pet you want in your house just might solve your mouse problem. If they’re up for it. Your cat is your live-in pest control agent. Some dogs can take on the task of de-mousing with vigor, too.

Mice love pet food. So, if you leave it out for your pet, that’s likely where your cat or dog will find the pest, nibbling away on his or her food.

4. All-natural repellents

Here’s a natural way to repel the critters as a preventive measure from the start. There are various mice repellents on the market that contain no chemicals and are also pet-friendly.

Ingredients matter, so look for the ones that have peppermint essential oil or balsam fir oil. These specific fragrances cause mice to find the closest exit. Humane and effective, you can find this option as a spray repellent or in sachet or pouch form.

5. Keep food sealed in the pantry

sealed food

Mice are in search of food. If you have a mouse problem, be sure that your food is safely sealed. Keep it out of the sight or smell of any mouse traipsing through your house. This means investing in airtight food canisters.

If there’s a package that’s ripped or open, remember that annoying mice can squeeze into even the tiniest opening in a bag or box of food.

Don’t do it all yourself

To help keep mice out of your apartment, have a list of what needs to be done to have a mouse-free home. The EPA recommends that you check your plumbing. Cover gaps and seals around sills, sewer lines and other spots they could squeeze into.

Ask the maintenance team in your apartment complex to do the hard stuff. This includes using caulk, knitted copper mesh, steel wool or foam insulation to block access around pipe openings.

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The post How to Get Rid of Mice in Your Apartment appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

Natural Remedies for Roaches: 8 Prevention Methods to Try

The survival skills cockroaches have are amazing. They can continue living, for a short time, without their heads. They can hold their breath underwater for 40 minutes. They can run up to three miles in a single hour.

This is all great for roaches (and pretty interesting too) — until the ugly bugs infest your apartment. Once they’ve made their way into your home, all you want to do is get rid of them. But, before you make an appointment with an exterminator, consider an organic, DIY approach. Use one of the many natural remedies for roaches to keep them away.

Cockroach

How to get rid of cockroaches

Once you’ve established you’ve got unwanted visitors, whether you’ve seen roaches or just their nasty trails, it’s time to consider how you want to get rid of them. You can use chemicals to do the job, but if you have pets or young children or you’re sensitive to certain products, going natural might be a better option.

When it’s time to get rid of unwanted insect visitors, look to your pantry first, you might already have some of these natural remedies for roaches ready to go.

1. Sugar

This is an example of using something sweet to lure cockroaches to their demise. You just have to add a little something extra. Mix one part powdered sugar with three parts boric acid. The sugar brings the bugs in — the boric acid takes them out.

Boric acid isn’t toxic to people or pets, but it can irritate skin. When putting this mixture down, avoid counters and stick to the hidden spots roaches can use for hiding places. Good spots are behind appliances, under the sink and in any cracks along the edges of cabinets.

If either ingredient isn’t readily available, this is a versatile recipe, so you can swap out ingredients to achieve the same effect. Instead of powdered sugar, you can use peanut butter or jelly. You can also replace the boric acid with food-grade diatomaceous earth.

soapy water, one of the natural remedies for roaches

2. Soapy water

If you spot a cockroach and want to kill it without having to get close enough to step on it, keep a spray bottle of soapy water handy. Use diluted dish soap so that whatever surface it gets on also gets clean (an added bonus).

Spraying this mixture directly onto a roach makes it impossible for the bug to breathe. It clogs up their skin, which is how they take in air. It may take an extra little bit to do the trick, and you still have to dispose of the roach but hey — it won’t head back to hang with its buddies.

3. Coffee grounds

This easy-to-find food staple helps make a perfect cockroach trap. They serve as bait to bring the roaches in and are non-toxic for every other member of your home. To make a trap, all you need is a glass jar, coffee grounds and water.

To build your trap:

  • Fill a large glass jar about halfway with water.
  • Add 1-2 tablespoons of moistened coffee grounds.
  • Place the jars as close to potential nesting spots as possible.

The roaches will come in to check out the coffee, climb into the jar and get stuck and eventually drown. Then, dump the entire contents of the trap into the toilet for a goodbye flush.

Lemon, one of the natural remedies for roaches

4. Lemon

While lemon won’t work on its own to keep roaches away, using lemon-scented cleaners around your home can have a big impact on keeping the place cockroach-free.

A clean home is the best way to avoid an infestation, and the scent of a lemon actually works to keep a variety of insects from wanting to live in your place.

For an easy, all-purpose cleaner you can make at home, you only need two ingredients — citrus peels and vinegar. To make:

  • Fill a glass jar with clean, chopped-up lemon peels.
  • Pour white vinegar over the peels to submerge them and seal the jar.
  • Let the mixture sit for about four weeks, shaking it regularly.
  • Strain out the peels and put the liquid into a spray bottle.

This will keep countertops, appliances, floors and glass all clean and smelling great, while also helping you deal with the cockroaches.

Make sure to clean your place regularly, focusing on areas like the kitchen and dining room. Roaches love crumbs and can smell food if packages get left open in your pantry. It’s also a good idea to empty your trash regularly to keep food odors out of your home.

5. Plants

Another big attractor for roaches is moisture. One way to deal with excess moisture in your home is to check your pipes regularly for leaks, but sometimes it’s a matter of high humidity. To deal with this, consider buying a few house plants.

You’ll need a specific type, epiphytes like ferns, orchids and cacti. These are special plants that work as a natural dehumidifier, pulling water from the air to keep themselves hydrated. They’re easy to care for and will help reduce moisture levels in your home.

Place one in every bathroom, on a screened-in porch, or anywhere where the air feels heavy. They won’t repel cockroaches themselves but will help take away a serious temptation for the bugs to come into your home.

onions, one of the natural remedies for roaches

6. Onions

This is maybe the strangest of the natural remedies for roaches, but it uses ingredients you’re bound to have at home right now. All you need is an onion and baking soda. Again, the food attracts hungry insects, and the baking soda does the dirty work.

To set this up:

  • Dice up about half an onion.
  • Sprinkle baking soda over it.
  • Place on a small paper plate anywhere roaches may hide overnight.

Since roaches prefer the dark, you’ll most likely “feed” more if you wait until evening to put out your trap. It’s also best to do it when there’s minimal risk of running into the nasty guys yourself.

7. Cornstarch

When you need to cover up cracks to keep the roaches away, this remedy is a great choice. Not only will it fill the space to let fewer roaches through, but it will also kill any of them who eat it.

Mix equal parts of cornstarch and Plaster of Paris to make a powder you can sprinkle anywhere. Don’t activate the Plaster of Paris with water beforehand. The roaches do that after they eat the concoction when they drink water. It’s the mixing in their stomach that ultimately kills them.

It’s important to note that Plaster of Paris is a toxic ingredient and dangerous for children and pets. Using this recipe specifically in cracks helps keep it away from everyone but the roaches.

Peppermint oil

8. Peppermint

Roaches hate the smell of peppermint. They’ll avoid it like the plague. It can also actually harm them if they come into contact with it. Spraying a mixture with peppermint oil directly onto roaches can mean lights out, but that’s only if you see the invaders around.

You’ll have more success using mint as a repellent, targeting areas near where you think roaches are hiding. To make a mint-infused spray:

  • Mix two parts water with one part white vinegar into a spray bottle.
  • Add about 10 drops of peppermint oil.
  • Shake up and spray.

Chemicals aren’t required to keep the roaches away

The question is never if you’ll see a roach in your apartment, but rather when. They’re out there, and there’s a lot of them, but knowing how to repel them and say good-bye for good means you don’t have to live with them. Us

ing natural remedies for roaches allows you to live insect-free without having to buy harsh chemicals or spend money on an exterminator. Just make sure you’re targeting the right areas. Roaches love to live in places like boiler rooms, basements, crawl spaces, steam tunnels, drains and sewers. Happy hunting!

The post Natural Remedies for Roaches: 8 Prevention Methods to Try appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

What to Do in a Power Outage at Your Apartment

Power outages do more than just put out all your lights. Losing power can lead to ruined food, loss of internet and the inability to live comfortably in your apartment.

On average, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a typical power outage lasts around two hours. While this isn’t long enough to wreak major havoc in your home, it’s enough to highly inconvenience you.

What to do in a power outage

The most important thing to do in a power outage is not panic. These things happen, and as long as you’re able to think clearly and make good decisions, you’ll get through the darkness.

1. Check your circuit breaker box

Circuit breaker box during a power outage.

The first thing to establish when you lose power is whether it’s a single unit issue or something more widespread. Making sure a circuit breaker isn’t tripped in your own apartment is the best place to start.

You’ll usually find your breaker box in a bedroom closet or on the wall in a hallway. Look for a gray or black door, assuming it wasn’t painted over to match the wall. Make sure you have a flashlight with you to see everything clearly.

When you open the box, you’ll notice if a breaker has tripped because it won’t firmly be in the “on” position. You can check each breaker to see if it wiggles too. If a breaker is in the “off” position or looks like it’s sitting in the middle, you’ve got a tripped breaker. Just flip the breaker back on and you’re back in business. If the breaker is in the middle, switch it all the way off before turning it back on.

2. Report the problem

Man in the dark during a power outage.

If you check your breaker box, and everything looks in order, it’s time to take the DIY out of the process. Contact your property manager to report the problem and get more information. They’ll most likely be able to tell you whether or not it’s affecting the entire building and what steps are in place to remedy the situation.

You can also simply look around to other buildings in your area to see if they look like they don’t have power either. If all the windows in neighboring buildings look dark, you know this is a much larger problem and something the electric company is most likely already working on repairing.

It still doesn’t hurt to report your outage to your electric company though.

3. Avoid damage from power surges

Electrical cord.

When the power does come back on, there’s a risk a power surge will take place. This can scorch walls or even lead to small electrical fires.

To prevent this from happening, go through your home and unplug appliances and electronics. Even though you’re eager to get back to using everything as soon as you get electricity back, it’s best to play it safe until after the power returns.

4. Monitor alerts

person on phone

Even with the power out, as long as your phone is already charged, you should have the ability to monitor alerts regarding your electricity. Check in with your power company for regular updates and report your issues if they haven’t documented anything wrong in your area.

If your power outage is weather-related, keep an eye on local news updates and weather reports to stay on top of any evacuation announcements or other important information.

5. Keep a clean supply of water

Supply of water filling up in a bathroom during a power outage.

With prolonged or widespread power outages, there’s a chance drinking water could get contaminated. This happens when the loss of electricity extends to the water sanitation system in your area.

Even if this happens, the water you can immediately pull out of your faucets is still okay to drink. To provide yourself with a solid amount of clean water when the lights go out, fill up tubs and sinks right after you lose power.

What not to do during a power outage

The most important thing not to do during a power outage is panic. You need to think with a clear head to act safely. However, a few other no-no’s are worth noting when it comes to staying in your apartment while the power is out.

  • Do not open your refrigerator or freezer if you can help it. This will keep the food inside cooler for longer and prevent spoilage.
  • Do not try to use a gas stove to heat your home. You should also avoid bringing in an outdoor grill for indoor heat. Doing so can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have a fireplace, go ahead and light that, but otherwise, bundle up with blankets or get to a warmer location.
  • Do not leave lit candles unattended for light. It’s OK to use them while you’re in the room with them, but make sure you blow them out before you leave. Flashlights are always a safer bet when moving from room to room and make a great first choice in light sources when you lose power.
  • Do not assume you can get out of your apartment complex. If you live in a gated community, chances are the gate runs on electricity. If you’re opting to leave your apartment while the power is out, make sure you either know how to manually open your community gate or that your management office has taken care of the issue.
  • Do not go near pooling water or power lines. If you’re outside at all during a widespread power outage, stay clear of fallen power lines and large puddles of water. You have no way of knowing when the electricity will come back on and charge up a wire or a pool of water where a line is hiding.
  • Do not waste hot water. Losing power doesn’t mean you can’t flush toilets or even take a shower, but the amount of hot water you have when the power goes out is not much. To avoid cold showers, on top of everything else, use the hot water you have sparingly.

Prepare in advance

Since the odds are good you’ll experience a power outage at least once, why not prepare in advance? You can make a lights-out kit to ensure everything you’ll need in an emergency is in one place.

Put together a few flashlights, extra batteries and an emergency radio if you have one. Consider adding a remote charger for your cell phone and even a few bottles of water.

Store your lights-out kit somewhere that’s easy to get to even in the dark.

Stay safe when the lights go out

We all pay an electric bill and come to rely on the utility’s availability whenever we need it. This is what makes it so stressful when the lights do go out. Knowing what to do in a power outage, and preparing in advance, are the best steps you can take to handle the issue until the light returns.

The post What to Do in a Power Outage at Your Apartment appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Buy a Second Home that Pays for Itself

Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that home sales were up more than 17% in June 2020 from the month before, and up more than 13% compared to the year prior. Those who have the means to buy a second home are wise to take on mortgage debt (or reorganize their current debt) in today’s low interest environment.

With low 30-year mortgage rates, owning a rental property that “pays for itself” through monthly rental income is especially lucrative with a significantly lower mortgage payment. If you’re curious about buying a second home and renting it out, keep reading to find out about the major issues you should be aware of, the hidden costs of becoming a landlord, and more. 

Important Factors When Buying a Short-Term Rental

The issues involved in buying a rental home varies dramatically depending on where you plan to purchase. After all, buying a ski lodge in an area with seasonal tourism and attractions might require different considerations than buying a home in a major metropolitan area where tourists visit all year long.

But there are some factors every potential landlord should consider regardless of location. Here are a few of the most important considerations:

  • Location. Consumers rent vacation homes almost anywhere, but you’ll want to make sure you’re looking at homes in an area where short-term rentals are popular and viable. You can do some basic research on AirDNA.co, a short-term rental data and analytics service, or check competing rentals in the area you’re considering.
  • Property Management Fees. If you plan to use a property management company to manage your short-term rental instead of managing it yourself, you should find out how much other owners pay for management. Also, compare listing fees for your second home with a platform like Airbnb or VRBO.
  • Taxes. Property taxes can be higher on second homes since you don’t qualify for a homestead exemption. This means higher fixed costs each month, which could make it more difficult to cover your mortgage with rental income.
  • Competition. Check whether a rental area you’re considering is full of competing rentals that are never full. You can find this information on VRBO or Airbnb by looking at various rentals and checking their booking calendars.
  • Potential Rental Fees. Check rental sites to see how much you might be able to charge for your second home on a nightly, weekly, or monthly basis. 

5 Steps to Rent Your Second Home

Before purchasing a second home, take time to run different scenarios using realistic numbers based on the rental market you’re targeting. From there, the following steps can guide you through preparing your property for the short-term rental market.

1. Research the Market

First, you’ll want to have a general understanding of the rental market you’re entering. How much does the average short-term rental go for each night or each week? What is the average vacancy rate for rentals on an annual basis? 

Research your local rental market, the average price of rentals in your area, various features offered by competing rentals, and more.

Action Item: Dig into these figures by using AirDNA.co. Just enter a zip code or town, and you’ll find out the average nightly rate, occupancy rate, revenue, and more. Although some of the site’s features require a monthly subscription, you can find out basic information about your rental market for free.

2. Know Your Numbers

You need to know an array of real numbers before renting your second home, including the following:

  • Average nightly rate
  • Average occupancy rate
  • Fixed costs, such as your mortgage payment, taxes, and insurance for the rental
  • Property management fees and costs for cleaning between tenants
  • Additional fixed costs for things like trash pickup, internet access, and cable television
  • Costs for marketing your space on a platform like VRBO or Airbnb, which could be a flat fee or 3% of your rental fee depending on the platform

You’ll use these numbers to figure out the average monthly operating cost for your second home, and the potential income you might be able to bring in. Without running these numbers first, you wind up in a situation where your short-term rental doesn’t pay for itself, and where you’re having to supplement operating expenses every month. 

Action Item: Gather every cost involved in operating your specific short-term rental, and then tally everything up with monthly and annual figures that you can plan for.

3. Buy the Right Insurance

If you plan on using your second home as a short-term rental, you’ll need to buy vacation rental insurance. This type of homeowners insurance is different from the type you’d buy for your primary residence. It’s even unique from landlord insurance coverage since you need to have insurance in place for your second home and its contents.

Some vacation rental policies let you pay per use, and they provide the benefits of homeowners insurance (like property coverage, liability, and more) plus special protection when your property is rented to a third party. 

Action Item: Shop around for a homeowners insurance plan that’s geared specifically to vacation rentals. See our top picks for the best homeowners insurance companies out there.

4. Create a Property Management Plan

If you live near your second home, you might want to manage it yourself. There’s nothing wrong with this option, but you should plan on receiving calls and dealing with problems at all hours of the day. 

Many short-term rental owners pay a property management company to communicate with their tenants, manage each rental period, and handle any issues that pop up. Property managers can also set up cleanings between each rental and help with marketing your property. 

Action Item: Create a property management plan and account for any costs. Most property managers charge 25% to 30% of the rental cost on an ongoing basis, so you can’t ignore this component of owning a short-term rental. 

5. Market Your Space

Make sure you appropriately market your space, which typically means paying for professional photos and creating an accurate, inviting listing on your chosen platforms. Your property manager might help you create a marketing plan for your vacation rental, but you can DIY this component of your side business if you’re tech- and media-savvy. 

Action Item: Hire a photographer to take professional photos of your rental, and craft your rental description and listing. 

Risks of Purchasing a Short-Term Rental

Becoming a landlord isn’t for the faint of heart. There’s plenty that can go wrong, but here are the main risks to plan for:

  • Government roadblocks. In destinations from New York City to Barcelona, government officials have been cracking down on short-term rentals and trying to limit their ability to operate. New rules could make running your business more costly, difficult, or even impossible. 
  • Your home could be damaged beyond repair. If you read the Airbnb message boards and other landlord forums, you’ll find an endless supply of nightmare rental stories of houses getting trashed and rentals enduring thousands of dollars in damage. 
  • Housing market crash. If the housing market crashes again like it did in 2008, you might find you owe more than your second home is worth at a time when it’s increasingly difficult to find renters. 
  • Reliance on tourism. As we’ve seen during the pandemic, circumstances beyond our control can bring travel and tourism to a screeching halt. Since short-term rentals typically rely on tourism to stay afloat, decreases in travel can affect the viability of your business, quickly.
  • High ongoing costs and fees. Higher property taxes, property management fees, cleaning fees and maintenance costs can make operating a short-term rental costly in the long-term. If you don’t account for all costs and fees involved, you might wind up losing money on your vacation home instead of having the property “pay for itself”.

The Bottom Line

A short-term rental can be a viable business opportunity, depending on where you want to buy and the specifics of the local rental market. But there are a lot of factors to consider before taking the leap. 

Before investing hundreds of thousands of dollars, think over all of the potential costs and risks involved. You’ll want to ensure that you’ve done comprehensive research and have run the numbers for every possible scenario to make an informed decision.

The post How to Buy a Second Home that Pays for Itself appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.

Source: goodfinancialcents.com

How Microlearning Can Level Up Your Knowledge

If you’re looking to advance your career or pivot to a new industry, then you’re probably checking out ways you can beef up your resume. Maybe you’re considering an MBA, a bootcamp, or browsing upcoming conferences. Or perhaps you’re considering the DIY route and looking for podcast and book recommendations. 

While any of these options will help you learn and could boost your resume, the best way to level up your career prospects is to dedicate yourself to becoming a lifelong learner, which is where microlearning comes into play. 

Conferences and classes are bursting with information, but you may feel limited by the course schedule and teaching style. This works for some people, but it can be expensive and hard to fit into a budget or daily schedule. Microlearning can help you take charge of your education by providing bite-sized lessons. Over time, you can build up your learnings for a more thorough and robust understanding of the subject. 

The best part is you can apply your specific lessons to your life, career, and goals to build each of these out over time and see what really works and what doesn’t. Your consistent growth can improve job satisfaction and career opportunities, putting you in the spotlight for the next raise or promotion. Learn more below or jump to our infographic to get started.

What Is Microlearning?

Microlearning has become a popular workplace trend as a learning process that breaks topics into highly specific, concise lessons. This allows the learner to build understanding and confidence at their own pace.

Microlearning is great for tackling new information and closing knowledge gaps. If you already have a foundation of knowledge for a topic, then it can be frustrating to wade through the basics for the few new ideas you were looking for. Khan Academy and TED Talks are a great example of how you may fill in knowledge gaps. 

The Benefits of Microlearning

The most important part of any lesson plan is that it’s tailored to a learner’s needs, and that the learner is actually able to retain information. Microlearning’s flexibility for learners is one of its biggest benefits.

illustration highlighting the benefits of microlearning

Here are some other reasons to consider microlearning:

  • Maximize time by preparing lessons for on-the-go and fitting them in during breaks or commutes.
  • Go in-depth to build a solid learning foundation and improve retention with practice. 
  • Find what works by experimenting with videos, articles, or podcasts to find what format works best for you. 
  • Save money with free resources like TED Talks, YouTube, and expert podcast hosts who provide episodic insights and lessons for you to follow. 
  • Fill knowledge gaps with lessons targeting exactly what you need to know instead of wading through beginner resources. 

The Disadvantages of Microlearning

Microlearning is great for career development, employee training, and specific topics that you could use a refresher on. However, they’re not a total replacement for other learning systems, and you should keep these in mind when you get started:

  • It’s not immediate and microlearning is about regular commitments to learning.
  • It isn’t easier, but it may feel easier. This is actually a benefit unless you assume it will be easy. You still have to actively learn and practice your lessons. 
  • Some topics just don’t work, including complicated topics like global economics. It’s great for learning about things like mortgages, but you likely won’t become an expert on personal finance in just a few lessons. 
  • There’s work upfront to finding and compiling the resources that fit your needs and that you trust. This work pays off in the long-run, though, with easy-to-access lessons. 

5 Ways to Begin Microlearning

You may not realize it, but you’ve probably already prioritized microlearning in your day-to-day life. If you’ve watched a YouTube video to learn how to change your oil or customize a spreadsheet, then you know exactly how beneficial short, specific, and detailed lessons can be. 

89% of employees feel more productive when their work is gamified with rewards

Here are some ways you can get started using microlearning as part of your professional development:

1. Game Groups

Gamifying your learning helps make the topic fun and builds a positive relationship with studying. You can get started by setting goals and rewards, or inviting peers to join you with a competitive leaderboard or a trivia night. 

2. Video Clips

Videos are designed to be relatively short and engaging, and YouTube has made learning largely accessible from anywhere. While YouTube playlists are a great place to learn, make sure you’ve done your research on any channels or personalities you’re watching to ensure your lessons are accurate. 

3. Podcast Playlists

Like videos, podcasts are a great way to consume information on the go and from personalities you enjoy and trust. They’ve become hugely popular because they’re easy to listen to while driving, working, or exercising, but it’s important that you give your playlist your active attention if you hope to learn effectively. 

4. Quiz Collections

Considering a quiz may bring flashbacks of test anxiety and stressful finals weeks, but in this scenario, quizzing isn’t about checking a box that you learned something new. Instead, it’s a means to practice your memory recall and retention so you can count on it when you need it most. 

5. Team Talks

Having a team to study with is not only great for motivation, but it can also improve your lesson retention. Active learning is the process of working or chatting through a subject or problem, and studies show this is the best way to learn and practice your skills. 

Keeping up with your professional development is the best way to impress your employer and expand your job prospects. Whether you want to climb the career ladder or ease your daily workload, How Microlearning Can Level Up Your Knowledge appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

10 DIY Face Scrubs and Masks

Amazing scrubs

1. Chocolate-honey scrub

Who doesn’t want to cover themselves in chocolate? Here’s your opportunity with this hydrating, revitalizing scrub.

  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix together all of the ingredients in a bowl, making sure to break up any lumps in the cocoa powder. Apply this luscious mixture to your skin, rubbing in a circular motion. Leave for 5 minutes, then rinse with warm water. Divine! (Leftover scrub can be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.)

2. Apricot–sea salt scrub

Here’s a great scrub for smoothing out rough spots on elbows, hands, feet, or wherever you need a little extra help.

  • ¼ cup sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons apricot kernel oil
  • 5 drops apricot essential oil

Mix together all of the ingredients, then rub onto the skin. Rinse with warm water.

3. Light sugar scrub

Dry, itchy skin bothering you? Try this super-moisturizing light scrub.

  • 3 tablespoons baby oil
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar

Mix together the ingredients, making sure to break up any lumps in the brown sugar. Massage immediately into skin, as the sugar will begin to dissolve. Rinse with warm water.

4. Minty morning wake-up

This invigorating scrub is great for those sleepy mornings when it’s almost impossible to drag yourself out of bed. For best results, make it the night before and store in the refrigerator until morning.

  • 1 cup rice
  • 6-ounce container plain yogurt
  • 5 sprigs mint
  • 3 drops peppermint essential oil

In a food processor, add the rice and pulse until ground. Transfer the contents to a bowl. Then process the yogurt and mint together and add to the ground rice. Add the essential oil, stir well, and refrigerate. Then, during your morning shower, rub the mixture into your skin. You’ll feel it working!

SEE ALSO: Who Knew's 18 Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Acne and Pimples 

5. Ginger face and body polish

For beach-ready skin, try this body polish. Ginger will help stimulate the skin, salt and sugar will rub away dead skin cells, and the combination of coconut and olive oils will provide deep hydration.

  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup raw sugar
  • ¼ cup sea salt

In a small saucepan, add the coconut oil and grated ginger, and heat on low until the oil melts and the ginger has infused it. Strain into a bowl. Stir in the olive oil, sugar, and sea salt, and allow the mixture to cool. Transfer to a cosmetics jar. To use, massage a little into the face and body, and leave for 5 minutes before rinsing under warm water.

Is the skin on your elbows looking a bit rough? Here’s an easy treatment: Cut a lemon or lime in half, then sprinkle it with brown sugar. Bend your elbow and shove it right into the citrus, then twist the fruit back and forth. The fruit’s acid will slough off dead skin with the help of the sugar.

All-natural masks

6. Veggie revitalizer

This powerhouse of a body mask is loaded with vital nutrients to help rejuvenate and revitalize skin.

  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced and steamed until soft
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup honey

Mash together the avocados and carrots in a medium bowl. Stir in the milk, lightly beaten eggs, and honey. Apply the mixture to damp skin, then leave on for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water.

7. Yogurt soother

Try this body mask to help soothe irritated skin. The lactic acid in the yogurt gently breaks down dry skin cells, and turmeric is a well-known anti-inflammatory.

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

Combine the yogurt and the turmeric, blending well. Apply to damp skin, and leave for 10 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water, then moisturize.

RELATED: Mighty Mommy's 10 Cures for Rainy Day Boredom

8. Skin-balancing facial

Do you have acne scars or other dark spots on your face? You can use the enzymes in certain foods to help lighten them! Here’s a soothing mask to try.

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons plain yogurt

Stir together the lemon juice, honey, and yogurt in a small bowl. Apply to your face, and leave on for about 10 minutes. Rinse with warm water.

9. Pumpkin pampering

For clean, soft skin—and a clever way to use up that can of pumpkin that’s been gathering dust in your pantry since last Thanksgiving—try this facial mask.

  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ ground almonds
  • Olive oil

Mix together the canned pumpkin with the yogurt, honey, ground almonds, and a drizzle of olive oil. Apply to skin, and take a hot bath to let the steam and enzymes in the mask do their work. After 10 minutes, rinse and apply your normal moisturizer. Refrigerate any leftovers and use within a week.

10. Clarifying facial

If you have oily skin, try this sweetly scented scrub. The clay will help remove impurities and excess oil, while the oats and almonds will exfoliate and soothe skin. As a bonus, lavender is great for stress relief!

  • 1½ cups rolled oats
  • ¾ cup almonds
  • 1 tablespoon dried lavender
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1¼ cups white kaolin clay

Pulse together the oats, almonds, and dried lavender in a blender. Mix in the honey and white kaolin clay. (You can find the clay online or at stores that carry natural beauty products.) Remove a tablespoon of the scrub and mix with water to make a thick paste. Massage over the face and neck, and leave on for 10 to 15 minutes. Store the leftovers in the refrigerator in a closed container.

Have a teeny bit of Champagne or white wine left after a party? Make a face scrub with it! Wine contains tartaric acid, a terrific exfoliant. Mix a few teaspoons sugar with enough wine to make a paste, then massage into clean skin.

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

Chip and Joanna Gaines Are Back (With Friends) in ‘First-Time Fixer’

Chip and Joanna GainesRob Kim / Contributor / Getty Images

“Fixer Upper” fans will be in a tizzy to hear that Chip and Joanna Gaines have returned to TV—this time to help friends renovate their first house on the premiere episode of the new Discovery+ show “First-Time Fixer.”

In the premiere episode “Salt Lake City Condo,” Chip and Jo head to Salt Lake City to give old-time pals Brittany Baker and Annie Hawkins tips on their first flip: a $305,000 midcentury condo. Baker and Hawkins have a renovation budget of only $50,000, so they’ll need a lot of help from the Gaineses to get this project done right.

Read on to find out Chip and Joanna’s best tips for these first-time flippers, which might inspire some changes around your own abode, too.

Polished concrete floors are beautiful—and easy on the budget

floors
Chip Gaines suggested using concrete floors.

Discovery+

Baker and Hawkins need to stick to a strict budget, so they’re excited when Chip suggests they rip up the carpet and simply use the concrete floors underneath.

They remove the carpet and repair the cracks in the concrete themselves (which saves a lot of money), then they hire a professional to polish the floors.

“We’re actually going to save a lot of money doing concrete, because it’s only going to be 2,000 bucks,” Baker says.

Once the floors are finished, the concrete looks amazing, giving the condo a cool industrial look. Who knew you could get that for cheap?

Save as many original features as possible

bathroom
Chip thought this vanity could be saved, but some mold meant it didn’t work in the end.

Discovery+

Chip has another money-saving tip for Baker and Hawkins: Save the bathroom vanity.

“I would keep this,” Chip says when he sees the wood vanity. “This is great quality stuff, y’all. And this is something you could do in a kind of DIY sense and save a little money.”

Hawkins and Baker are willing to fix it up, but don’t end up keeping the vanity—and for a good reason.

“Brittany discovered so much mold that we did not want to salvage it,” Hawkins explains.

bathroom
With a new vanity, this guest bathroom is complete.

Discovery+

They’re forced to spend money on a new vanity, but they find a new piece with similar charm and style.

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Watch: This Gorgeous New Farmhouse by Chip and Jo Gaines Is No ‘Fixer Upper’

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When the bathroom is finished, Chip and Jo approve of the choice. It proves that while saving an old piece can save money, sometimes it’s simply not worth it.

Call in the professionals for a polished look

shower
This shower definitely needed some new tile.

Discovery+

With all of Chip’s talk of DIY projects, Baker and Hawkins want to do as much as they can themselves. They even cut their own baseboards and do all the painting. But after some debating, they decide to hire a professional to do the bathroom tile.

“We decided not to tile as first-timers,” Hawkins says. “We felt like it was advanced for what we wanted to do, so the money that we saved from carpet, [we] put it toward tile.”

shower
Sometimes it’s best to bring in the professionals.

Discovery+

The modern gray tile they choose fits the condo’s midcentury style and, in the end, Hawkins and Baker are happy they hired someone to make it look so good. And Baker’s learned an important lesson.

“Know your limits,” Baker says. “And maybe next time we’ll try tiling.”

Sometimes the right materials cost only a little more

kitchen
This kitchen was closed off from the rest of the house.

Discovery+

Sometimes the biggest renovation challenge is simply choosing the right materials, a lesson Baker and Hawkins learn when trying to design the kitchen.

The condo was built in 1964, so they want to lean into the midcentury aesthetic by using walnut in the kitchen. Right away, Joanna loves the idea.

“I love walnut,” she says. “If I walk in and see your kitchen with walnut wood, I don’t think ‘oh they did this on the cheap.’”

kitchen
The walnut cabinets make the kitchen look sophisticated.

Discovery+

Hawkins and Baker know that walnut won’t be too pricy, but it will require taking some money out of the budget elsewhere.

They build a beautiful kitchen out of this medium-tone wood and, in the end, it pays off. These cabinets give the whole condo a midcentury look.

An open walkway can save money

door
This doorway to the den has midcentury style.

Discovery+

Throughout the renovation, Baker and Hawkins realize they’re really cutting it close with their budget—and it doesn’t help when they keep finding unexpected costs.

One big expense they weren’t expecting is the door to the den.

“So guess how much a freaking door costs?” Baker asks. “A freaking door costs five to six thousand dollars!”

While they want to create a private den space, they know they can’t afford to put a door there. So they get creative with glass windows and a midcentury-inspired opening. This doorway ends up working even better than a traditional door because it keeps the den open, improving the flow into the living room.

It’s a great solution to the budget issue, and it ends up being one of the more beautiful features of the home.

When Baker and Hawkins are finally finished with the renovation, they know that they’ve gone way over their timeline. While they expected the project to take only nine weeks, it ends up taking four months. Still, they don’t go too far over their budget, spending $56,000 instead of their originally planned $50,000.

In the end, these novice flippers are proud of their work—and so are Chip and Jo!

The post Chip and Joanna Gaines Are Back (With Friends) in ‘First-Time Fixer’ appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

COVID-19 Gives a Boost to Estate Planning: How You Can Get a Will Done—and Fast

courtneyk/Getty Images

Here’s the macabre truth: With hundreds of thousands of confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the country—and the death toll steadily rising—estate planners are reporting an increase in calls and transactions by people wanting to put their affairs in order in case of their death.

But estate planning isn’t just for those with a life-threatening diagnosis. In fact, if you’ve never considered who will inherit your assets, or whom you’d appoint to be your power of attorney, now’s probably a good time. We spoke with several experts to find out everything you need to know about quickly securing your assets during the pandemic—or beyond. Keep reading for all the details.

Estate planning with a lawyer vs. online

If you’re panicked about getting your estate planning done quickly, maybe you’ve wondered: Can’t I just do it online?

While many lawyers advocate for working with a professional, there are situations in which it might make sense to take the do-it-yourself online approach.

“If you’ve already taken stock of your assets and decided on how it should be managed, creating an estate plan is rather straightforward,” explains Felix Sebastian of Legal Templates. “An attorney can draft one up for you in a matter of hours, or you can do so yourself by using forms provided by your state government.”

For those with relatively simple estate planning goals (i.e., a limited number of assets and beneficiaries, and no special circumstances), online services can be a great option, with the added perk of having an incredibly fast turnaround time.

“We have streamlined the process to make it easy and efficient,” says Patrick Hicks, head of legal at Trust & Will. “Most people finish in 15 to 30 minutes, but the process is driven by the individual, so anyone can take more or less time as they desire.

“Our process is much like TurboTax,” he adds. “One easy question at a time, and each question will then lead you through the process to collect and synthesize all of your information and decisions. Most people can complete it all with no preparation and no other documents needed.”

__________

Watch: Our Chief Economist’s View on the Pandemic, Mortgage Rates, and What’s Ahead

__________

The downsides of DIY estate planning

If this sounds good to you, you wouldn’t be alone. Hicks says their service has seen a 50% increase in activity even compared with other busy times of the year, and Mary Kate D’Souza, founder of online estate planning service Gentreo, reported a 143% increase in membership over the past week alone.

And while there are certainly potential perks of using an online service (e.g., getting documents faster or saving money on lawyer fees), just be sure you understand what you’re actually getting: a set of unnotarized forms that will likely not include any sort of legal advice.

“Creating an estate planning document such as a will only gets you halfway there,” Sebastian says. “Pretty much every single state and territory of the U.S. requires that these documents be signed by witnesses and/or notarized.”

And on that note: While putting your online forms together can be done relatively quickly, it may end up taking you much longer to get those forms notarized, even if you have the option to do so remotely.

Lawyers urge clients not to delay their wills and trusts

If you’re considering working with a lawyer for your estate planning, the experts are advising you get to it—and fast.

“Since the COVID-19 outbreak, we have experienced a 30% increase in calls from people wanting us to draft powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney, and wills,” says family law and estate planning attorney Chelsea Chapman of McIlveen Family Law Firm.

Plus, beyond those new clients, estate planners are trying to juggle their existing roster of clients, too—who are, understandably, concerned.

“With the COVID-19 outbreak, we’re receiving an exponentially greater number of existing-client calls than usual,” says Judith Harris, an attorney and co-chair of the Estate Trust and Tax Group at Norris McLaughlin.

Although many law offices typically take several weeks to complete estate planning packages, exceptions can be made for emergency situations.

“In the event of an emergency, we can get documents done in 48 hours,” says Eido Walny, founder of the Walny Legal Group. “That’s one heck of a rush job, however, and would require skipping over a lot of other people in the process. As a result, clients who ask for that kind of turnaround should expect to offer all the cooperation that is asked of them and also to pay a hefty premium for the service. But it can be done.”

The final word

Ultimately, however you choose to get your estate planning done, there’s one key takeaway.

“Don’t wait,” Walny says. “Get the planning process started now. Estate planning is not death planning—these documents will help you during life, during illness, and also in death. Hopefully this crisis will pass, and when it does, these documents will continue to be valuable, unlike the 1,200 rolls of toilet paper hidden in the basement.”

The post COVID-19 Gives a Boost to Estate Planning: How You Can Get a Will Done—and Fast appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

8 Money-Saving Tips for Improving Your Bathroom’s Design

I don’t know about you, but for me, a bathroom goes well beyond its practical uses; within the past years, I’ve come to think about it as a sanctuary of sorts, that room of the house that’s dedicated to pampering, relaxing, and deconnecting — a place where I can enjoy some alone time and use that alone time to take care of my skin, hair, body, and mind.

And just like any other space in my house, the more beautiful my bathroom is, the more I can enjoy the time I spend in it. But re-designing a bathroom or remodeling it altogether is quite an investment. That’s why today we’re going to look at a few handy ways in which we can improve our bathroom’s design without having to spend a ton of money in the process. Here are some tips to help you maximize your bathroom’s function and style while saving money — both on the short and long run:

#1 Choose décor materials wisely

When designing your bathroom, one of the most important things to take into consideration is choosing the right materials. And I’m not talking about the tile (which we all know ceramic is the way to go); but rather furniture and appliances. Since this space is expected to be exposed to water, humidity, and moisture, it’s best to use waterproof materials for all furniture, décor items, and appliances.

For example, solid wood or plywood may not be a good choice for furniture, as it will likely warp and crack (and it can even lead to mold). Instead, a way better — and longer-lasting — choice would be PVC, which is extremely durable, completely waterproof and offers a great look and feel as well for bathroom cabinets. When buying blinds for your bathroom windows, choose waterproof blinds because they are stain and mold resistant, as well as fade-free. When picking appliances, make sure to avoid any metal that might rust, and preferably stay away from plastic; some of your best choices are brass, stainless steel, and zinc (or zinc alloys), as they stand the test of time and add a note of style to your bathroom.

Overall, focus on materials that can withstand humidity and water. This way, you don’t have to spend money replacing them and you can rest assured that your bathroom will maintain its clean and brand-new look over the years.

#2 Widen and brighten your space with mirrors

Instead of adding a skylight or a new window to brighten a rather gloomy bathroom (which would call for a pricy renovation), consider using a large mirror, re-painting your walls in a light color, or adding extra light fixtures. These can all help create the illusion of space, making your bathroom look wider and brighter. Obviously, this technique is much more affordable than having to install an additional window to your bathroom space and you’d be surprised at how much of a difference adding a large mirror can make.

If you feel like you don’t have the space to add an additional mirror to your bathroom, consider replacing the mirror above your vanity with a far larger one. Bonus tip: choosing an unusual shape or a unique frame for the vanity mirror (like the one in the image below) can give an impressive look to your bathroom, and act as the centerpiece of the room.

bathroom vanity with large, unique mirror

#3 Update by regrouting

If you’re looking to update your bathroom quickly and on a tight budget, consider replacing the existing tile grout. Regrouting is a two-step manual process by which you first remove the hardened old grout from the seams, or joints, between the tiles in your bathroom, then apply fresh new grout to make it seem like you have just installed your tiles (here’s a full walkthrough of the process). You’d be surprised how big of a difference this fairly simple update can make — especially since tiles rarely show signs of wear and tear, but the grout’s initial color fades away, and often gives a sense that it’s dirty, discolored and old.

This idea works best if the tiles in your space are still in great shape, that is, they don’t have cracks or missing pieces. Although it may take a bit of work, it’s surely faster and cheaper than a major bathroom overhaul. Fresh grout will make the tiled area look brand new, and you can even apply a new grout color to make a more dramatic change to your bathroom. 

pink bathroom tiles

#4 Get creative with designer tiles

Now, if you’re looking to add a splash of sophistication to your shower or bathroom tiles, but don’t have the budget to splurge on designer tiles, there’s a super easy trick you can turn to: use regular, budget friendly tiles across the walls of your bathroom, then add a pop of design and color in a small area using more expensive designer tiles. 

Or, you can keep it simple and use classic tiles, but arrange them in an unusual pattern or install them at an angle to create an eye-catching effect. If you’re looking for the maximum effect, create an accent wall (preferably right where either the shower or bathroom vanity go, to highlight that space), like the one pictured below. It won’t cost as much as replacing all of your bathroom tiles, but will definitely give your space a great, updated look.

bathroom shower tiles

#5 Try to avoid current trends

We all like to think that we’re aligned with the latest trends and fads. But the truth of the matter is, the best way to waste money is to follow fads that in a couple of years will seem so outdated that you’ll feel the need to renovate your bathroom all over again. You can make your design last way longer if you’ll use natural finishes and neutral colors.

Classics also tend to be considerably less expensive than their trending counterparts, and they’re much more likely to stand the test of time. See below for a marble-themed bathroom that was all the rage a few years back, but that seems a little out of place in the more minimalist-inclined era that we live in today.

marble bathroom with gold fixtures

#6 Use traditional finishes

This goes hand in hand with our last point: using fancy fixtures and embellishments on your faucets and cabinet hardware may seem like a good way to add some personality, but they can turn out to be rather costly without having the desired effect over the years. These kinds of fixtures are pricier than standard ones and their unusual colors, trimmings, and shapes can be more difficult to match with the rest of the décor — and limit any improvements you might decide to make in the near future.

Because of this, you may be forced to buy new coordinating pieces, too. However, if you’ll stick with traditional finishes, it will be simpler for you to create a cohesive look while still sticking to your budget. 

bathroom sink and fixtures

#7 Re-use old furniture to create a unique look

If you have an old desk, table, dresser, or TV stand, consider using it in your bathroom (provided it can withstand humidity and isn’t easily prone to water damage, as we’ve stated above). Repurposing old furniture will give you a chance to show your personality while adding much-needed bathroom storage. Consider doing this as a DIY project, which can help you save money while also being earth-friendly. 

Not sure how to fit old furniture with your bathroom décor? Repurposing doesn’t mean using the piece of furniture in the same way it was intended by its makers; so you can get as creative as you want, by say turning an old desk into a vanity, parts of a table into shelves, an old painting frame into a mirror frame, you name it. See below for a great example of how this stunning bathroom with matching his and hers vanities uses old crates to frame the bathtub.

elegant bathroom with matching his and hers vanities

#8 Refinish rather than replace

Replacing bathroom elements will usually require removing or replacing plumbing fixtures, which comes with additional costs. It can also involve construction changes, demolition work, and new installation. Before deciding on replacing any of these fixtures, determine if they really need replacement. If you’re replacing them for aesthetic reasons, you might have the option to refinish them instead of replacing them altogether. 

For example, you can refinish your old tub with a nice-looking, protective coating instead of completely replacing it. You can also paint your cabinet anew instead of purchasing a new one — and you can even get creative with the color you use. Check out this elegant bathroom below, whose owners chose to refinish the bathtub and paint it in a slight pinkish hue. Isn’t it just lovely?

pink bathtub in elegant bathroom

Final thoughts

The bathroom is one part of the house that needs some upgrading every now and then, and said upgrades can turn out to be quite expensive. However, with some rather small, but well-thought changes, you can spruce up your bathroom design without spending a pretty penny. And if our suggestions are not to your liking, there’s tons of helpful resources out there that can give you some great ideas to get you started.

More interior design tips

Here’s Everything You Need to Set Up a Meditation Corner in Your House
How to Turn Your Kitchen Into Every Coffee Lover’s Dream
Design Trends that Add Extra Flair to Your Fancy Home
How to Add a Touch of Luxury to Your Home without a Costly Renovation

The post 8 Money-Saving Tips for Improving Your Bathroom’s Design appeared first on Fancy Pants Homes.

Source: fancypantshomes.com

Is a Fixer-Upper Home Worth the Investment?

fixer-upper

Buying fixer-upper homes is currently a popular investment in the housing market, especially since lower-priced houses increase housing confidence in home buyers. On the one hand, it is a great way to purchase a home below market value and sell it for more than you paid. On the other hand, it often seems to be more work than people anticipate, and sometimes the final product doesn’t end up being worth as much time, effort, and money as people put into it.

So, is a fixer-upper home worth it? The answer depends on a variety of factors and your current situation. Thankfully, we have a list of pros and cons as well as tips and recommendations if you’re trying to decide if a fixer-upper home is the right decision for you.

The Pros

  • You have more creative leeway. You can build, renovate, and design the house the way you want.
  • You can decide what places in the home you want to spend more money on (i.e., a better kitchen or a better bedroom).
  • You have the opportunity to make the home worth a great deal more than you paid.
  • You can likely flip the home for more money
  • Fixer-upper homes are typically 8% below the market value.
  • You will pay less in property taxes because they are calculated based on your home’s sale price.
  • If you have a home warranty, you can save money on replacing and repairing broken appliances and systems.

The Cons

  • Most fixer-upper homes are not move-in ready.
  • Renovations are costly.
  • You also don’t have an exact total of what everything will cost, making the financial bottom line uncertain.
  • Fixer-upper homes can be a risk. You never know when things are going to go wrong, so you have to anticipate possible complications.
  • If you need to make structural changes, you’ll need a building permit, which is around $1,000, according to HomeAdvisor.
  • It can take months or even longer to finish a fixer-upper.

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Do a Home Inspection

If you are interested in a fixer-upper home, you want to begin with a home inspection. The inspector will likely be able to determine whether the home is worth the investment or not, depending on the severity of the necessary renovations.

Note that if the necessary improvements in the house are structural, such as roof and/or wall issues, it’s likely not worth the investment. These type of renovations are complicated and extremely expensive. They are also not typically noticeable by potential buyers, so they fail to raise the value of your home enough to make up for the money you invested. However, if you have a written report from your home inspector listing the major issues and the estimated repair costs, you might be able to get the seller to lower the cost of the house to account for the added repairs you’ll have to do.

Get an Estimate of Renovation Costs

Deciding if a fixer-upper home is worth it is heavily influenced by the estimated cost of renovations. As stated above, home inspectors can often help you with this. Note all of the necessary renovations and how much they will cost by using a home inspector or a contractor; it’s better to over quote this than under quote. Then you want to subtract this from the home’s projected market value (after repairs and renovations). You can estimate a home’s market value by researching the neighboring homes’ values. Finally, you need to deduct 5 to 10 percent more for possible complications and other possibilities.

Determine If You Need Permits

Depending on your area, you might need permits to do certain renovations. If you build without obtaining the proper permits, you could have difficulty selling the house in the future. Make sure you have the money to get the required permits before committing to remodeling.

Identify the Skills You Have and What You Can DIY

Part of purchasing a fixer-upper is having to do much of the work on your own. Decide if you have the skills to do the necessary renovations. If you can do most of the repairs by yourself, figure out what you can DIY and hire someone to do the rest. If you’re doing most of the labor, all you need are the parts and equipment for the renovations, and you won’t have to waste money paying someone else.

If you don’t have the ability to do a large chunk of the workload yourself, consider staying away from a fixer-upper home. Hiring someone to do most of the work for you will likely cost more than the renovations are worth in value.

Make Sure You Have the Time—and the Motivation

Fixer-upper homes require a considerable amount of time. If you think you’re too busy to manage the home renovations, consider going with a move-in ready home instead. Especially if you delay pressing repairs, you could risk losing money and value in your home.

Along with a time sacrifice, fixer-uppers require motivation to deal with such a huge project. Ensure you have the motivation and determination to finish renovations before committing to a fixer-upper home. You don’t want to take the plunge and buy the home just to get burnt out halfway through and regret your decision.

Check Financing Options

Buying a fixer-upper home is more financially complicated than your typical finished home; you will need money for the routine down payment and closing costs, but you will also need money for the home repairs and any possible complications in the renovation process.

If you don’t have enough money for the renovations up front, there are borrowing options such as the 203(k) loan that is meant for home repair, improvement, and reconstruction. A multitude of other loan options can ease the financial difficulty.

Avoid Being House Poor

Being house poor is when you spend the majority of your income on your home ownership. This can include your mortgage payment, property taxes, utilities, maintenance costs, etc. If choosing a fixer-upper home is going to take the majority of your money, you’re most likely better off to wait until you have additional income to handle the financial burden.

Take into account your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) when deciding if a fixer-upper home will make you house poor. Your DTI is all of your monthly debt payments divided by your gross monthly income. Generally, a 36 percent or lower DTI is ideal.

Plan for Complications

With fixer-upper homes comes unpredictability. There are unexpected issues and costs that can leave you scrambling if you’re not prepared. Although you can’t predict the future, you can still take precautions so you are as prepared as possible if something goes wrong, whether that be additional expenses, time constraints, etc. You don’t want to be left in a tough spot because you assumed everything would go as planned.

The Bottom Line

Fixer-upper homes can be a great home investment, but a great deal of responsibility and financial burden comes with it. Make sure you have the resources and the time to manage such a project. If you do, use the above tips in your fixer-upper journey. If not, maybe consider a move-in ready home or you could postpone the fixer-upper project until you are more prepared.

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