Blog

What Homebuyers Want in 2022

by Kendall Little
January 4, 2022
from Time/NextAdvisor

Outdoor space is in. 

That’s the feature most home buyers are looking for these days, according to real estate agents, who say the season’s stay-at-home orders have left millions of people feeling cooped up. 

If you’re going to spend time and money on a home improvement project, it pays to focus on things future buyers might find valuable, in case you choose to sell one day. Projects like refurbishing a patio — or replacing a garage door — can improve your day-to-day experience in your home and boost its value too. 

In fact, many Americans have spent their time at home over the past few months tackling DIY renovations. Quarterly earnings reports from big box home improvement chains Lowe’s and Home Depot both showed year-over-year improvement from 2019, even as overall consumer spending fell by record amounts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the whole article on Time/NextAdvisor.

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How to Prep Your Home for a Remodel

Your designs are finalized, all the paperwork is signed, everything is ordered and arriving on time (fingers crossed), and you’ve got a start date with your contractor. Congratulations, you’ve got the first part of your remodeling project done! Home renovations are a major undertaking and can be quite disruptive to you and your family’s regular lives. With some thoughtful planning and preparations, you can minimize the chaos and the stress by prepping your home for the remodel. 

Before you do anything, don’t forget to take “Before” photos of the areas to be renovated. These will be a wonderful record of how your home looked before you did any work on it. 

1. Clean, Declutter, and Box Up.

Work in the areas that will be renovated, and begin by going through all the items in these spaces. You will need to take everything out, including items inside cabinets and drawers, on shelves, or on the counter. Unused and unneeded things can go right into a “donations” box—anything you won’t want or need after the remodel, get rid of it now. Broken, stained, or expired items should be tossed or recycled.

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Check These Annually: Your Credit Report, Social Security, and Social Media Privacy

There are many things we should all check periodically, but this article will focus on the three biggies you should definitely check on an annual basis. 

1. Check your credit report.

In a world where data breaches and credit fraud are all too common, you need to keep on top of your personal and financial information. One major aspect of that is your credit report, which can help determine things like your mortgage rate, your car loan APR, and your credit card approvals. It’s very important to do an annual credit report check. You can dispute any errors, detect possible credit card fraud or ID theft, and find incomplete or outdated information. To make this even easier, it’s free! 

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three major consumer credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). Since February-April is when most Americans file their taxes, it’s also a good time to check your credit. The official source for your three free credit reports is Annual Credit Report—don’t be fooled by other sites.

Keep in mind that while your credit report is free, your credit score will probably not be. Your credit report is a detailed summary of the information related to your credit activity. Your credit score is a number, typically between 300 and 850, that rates your credit risk. Creditors use this number to determine whether to give you credit, decide the terms they offer, or the interest rate you pay.

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15 Realistic Tips to Lessen Screen Time for You and Your Family

It’s fairly common knowledge now that too much screen time is unhealthy for a wide variety of reasons. According to the Nielsen research group, American adults now spend “more than 11 hours per day watching, reading, listening to or simply interacting with media.” If we assume 6-7 hours of sleep in a 24 hour day, that leaves just 6-7 hours of time daily with no screen interaction. Yikes! This shows how addicted and reliant we have become to our screens, and that can’t possibly be a good thing. For kids, it’s even more important that screen time be limited. But how to go about it without going cold turkey? We’ve created a list of practical, realistic tips on how to lessen screen time for you and your family.

1.   Keep track of your screen time.

Smartphones let you check your screen time daily and weekly usage, as well as your number of pickups. Not sure how? Here’s how to do so on Apple devices, as well as on Android, which also has a feature called Digital Wellbeing to help you use your phone in a healthier, more balanced manner. You may be shocked to find, for instance, that you are picking up your phone 58 times a day (the average). Don’t forget to track screen time usage for computers, tablets, game consoles, and televisions—these all count as screens.

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Filing Cabinets Don’t Work for ADHD Minds: Help for Paper Pilers

October 19, 2020
by Lisa Woodruff
from ADDitude.mag

Did you think we would still be dealing with paper in 2020? Me neither. I was sure that the “future would be digital,” yet here I sit with stacks of paper around me and more paper in every room. If you’re wondering how to organize paperwork, start with this management system.

Paper is a Hard Habit to Break

Ours is a paper-based society.

Paper-dependence starts with birth certificates and Social Security cards. In short order, kids become paper producers. From precious handprint turkeys to report cards, they bring home so much paper that is heart-wrenching to discard. Some you keep as memorabilia; some you save for a while to remind you of an action item — like an upcoming field trip or project.

When I realized I would never be paperless, I changed my goal from eliminating all paper to having less of it.

Read the rest on ADDitude.mag.

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7 Steps to Cleaning and Organizing Your Computer Desktop

Your computer desktop is the first thing you see when you log in. Is your password an entry to a desktop that is cluttered with files, folders, photos, apps, zip files, shortcuts, screen shots, and other digital detritus? If so, it could very well have a negative impact on your productivity and your stress level. It’s not hugely different from having an actual desktop that is also cluttered and disorganized. A workspace, onscreen or not, that is a jumbled mess will make you feel distracted, scattered, and anxious. Read on for some tips on getting your computer desktop cleaned and organized—then watch your productivity trend upwards!

1. Make good use of your taskbar to minimize program icons.

Look at each program icon on your desktop and consider how often you use it. The ones you use daily and at least 3x a week, keep on your desktop. The rest should be moved into the Start button on a PC, or the Applications folder in a Mac’s Finder. To neaten up your desktop even more, keep your program icons on your taskbar. On a PC, pin an icon to your Taskbar by right-clicking on it; then select “pin to taskbar.” On a Mac, simply drag and drop the icon onto your Dock. This will help keep your desktop neater and save you the hassle of finding programs because all your apps are in one spot, instead of all over your screen.

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Trim the Fat: How to Better Track and Manage Your Paid Subscriptions

January 19, 1922
by Jason Cohen
from PCmag.com

With Netflix hiking its prices again, it’s a good time to get a handle on your recurring subscription services. These are the best apps to help you see exactly what you’re spending each month and how to save the most money.

Cord cutting has long been touted as the answer to costly monthly cable bills. Don’t pay for channels you never watch; just stream your favorite shows and movies online. That was the dream, but TV and cable execs have caught on.

If you want all the popular originals—The Witcher on Netflix, The Mandalorian on Disney+, Star Trek: Discovery on Paramount+, Ted Lasso on Apple TV+—plus exclusive access to deep movie catalogues on HBO Max and Amazon Video, things get expensive pretty fast.

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7 Signs of Unhealthy Shopping Habits

Everyone shops. We all need the basics in life, right? Food, shelter, clothing, etc. It’s the “etc.” part that presents a wide range when it comes to shopping habits. While there are many amusing adages about shopping—”Shop til you drop,” “Whoever said money can’t buy happiness…,” and “Shopping is my cardio” are a few that come to mind—for some it has become an unhealthy situation, both mentally, physically, and financially. It is called a few different things: “shopaholism”, “Compulsive Buying Disorder (CBD)” or “oniomania”. Not sure if you are just guilty of the occasional splurge, or if you need help to rein in your spending? You’re not alone. Read on for 7 signs of unhealthy shopping habits…and some real talk on how you can change them.

1. You browse or shop online as a source of entertainment or happiness.

Got some time to kill, so you open your Amazon app or spend a couple of hours at the mall. We’re all guilty of the occasional “retail therapy”. However, if this is how you always fill your spare time and the result is a constant influx bags and boxes of stuff you don’t really need, then it is definitely not a healthy habit. Give yourself better options to spend that valuable free time. Schedule regular coffee or walk dates with a friend. Go to the library—browsing and borrowing is free! Sign up for an online class. Basically, fill up that space with options that do not indulge those shopping urges.

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Mental Health Benefits of Decluttering

by Dan Brennan, MD
October 5, 2021
from WebMD.com

If you’re looking for an easy way to reduce stress, decluttering your environment may be a good place to start. Getting rid of excess stuff can benefit your mental health by making you feel calmer, happier, and more in control. A tidier space can make for a more relaxed mind.

Benefits of Decluttering

Untidy environments often increase stress for most people. In one study, women who described their homes with positive language had a lower level of the stress hormone cortisol than women who described their homes as cluttered or unfinished. Still, the case for decluttering isn’t clear-cut. Another study found that, while orderly environments are more linked to healthy choices, disorderly environments promote creativity and fresh ideas. If you value creativity, you may want to allow yourself to be a little messy in certain areas of your life.For most people, decluttering can promote productivity and improvements in mental and physical health. Benefits of decluttering include:

Better focus. Clutter makes it difficult to find what you need. It may also distract you. Getting rid of visual clutter can help you focus better on any task at hand. 

Higher self-esteem. When you have trouble staying organized, you may feel out of control. Improving your living space can restore feelings of competency and pride.

Read the rest at WebMD.

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A Week in the Life of a Simplify Experts Organizer

Simplify Experts professional organizers handle a wide variety of situations. Decluttering and organizing, downsizing or upsizing homes, packing and/or unpacking a move, estate sale preparation, garages and garden sheds, businesses and home offices—you name it, and we’ve probably done it! To give you more insight into what our organizers do in a typical week, here are excerpts from our CRM. These entries are input by the organizers themselves, and all client names have been redacted. Keep in mind that these are mostly 3-hour sessions! We hope you’ll find it enlightening.

“Such a great day with 2 of us! We rocked through the whole kitchen and got the countertops cleared and made homes for everything so [client] can do the dishes and put them away. We moved the coffee station next to the fridge alongside the blender. Teas/coffees/accessories went in the drawers. Then all appliances went in the next drawer….We were such an efficient team that the kitchen took about 2.5 hours so for the last 25 minutes or so, I convinced [client] to let us at least get the recycling out of the garage so that there was more room. She consented to letting me do a recycling run….we helped break down boxes and I loaded my car with as many as I could fit.”

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