Home Upgrades That Pay For Themselves

When most of us hear home upgrades, we think of costly projects that are likely to break the budget. For those of us unable to afford a large-scale remodel or renovation, there are smaller, simpler home upgrades that we can invest in that will pay for themselves in the long run.

Try Smart Home Tech

Not at all uncommon these days, smart home tech is making it easy for many homeowners to conveniently save money on things like water, electric, and utility bills. Smart home tech may seem expensive upfront but quickly pays for itself in money you’ll save on bills. Installation can be done yourself, and in addition to making your life easier with features like controlling your thermostat through an app, smart home tech adds value to your home.

Cut Water Consumption

The kitchen, laundry room, bathrooms – all use water. Because of this, homeowners water bills can take up a chunk of monthly budgets. Making a few simple adjustments can drastically cut down your water consumption and substantially decrease your water bill each month. Things such as replacing your old water guzzling dishwasher with an Energy Star Efficient one and installing a low flowing shower head in bathrooms are easy projects guaranteed to cut your water bills.

Keep Cool With Ceiling Fans

Keeping your home air-conditioned in the summer months is expensive. While they probably won’t eliminate your need to use the air-conditioning, ceiling fans can definitely help you lower the temperature of the thermostat by a few degrees. Installing ceiling fans in rooms is an easy long lasting home upgrade bound to add to your savings.

Set Up A Home Security System

Whether or not your home is burglarized, having a home security system set up can save you money on insurance. Most insurance companies provide customers with discounted premiums if they have home security systems. In addition to lower premiums, a home security system will give you peace of mind.

Install Solar Panels

As solar panels have become more efficient, now is an excellent time to invest in installing them. Decreasing prices of solar panels have reduced the time until the investment pays itself off so get started now. Don’t let the upfront cost scare you away before you consider all of the benefits they provide in the long run, environmentally as well as financially.

While all of these home upgrades have initial costs, they’re all likely to quickly pay for themselves in savings. These upgrades will increase the value of your home and save you money in the long-run.

Interested in upgrading your home but don’t have the upfront costs? Consider a personal loan. Get the money you need to start upgrading your home today.

Simple Ways to Save Money on Food

The majority of Americans spend most of their money on three things: rent/mortgage, transportation, and food.

When you’re trying to save money, cutting your food costs may be an excellent place to start.

You don’t have to spend hours cutting out coupons or buy more in bulk than fits in your freezer to save money on food. There are simple methods you can easily employ to cut down on your food costs.

Cook at home

The is the obvious and most likely to save you the most money way to save on food. Many of us avoid cooking our own meals — whether it’s because we feel we don’t have time, we’re tired, or take out is just too tempting. Eating out is far more expensive than cooking our own meals at home so if you’re trying to stretch your food budget, start by increasing the number of meals you prepare at home.

Share meals

If you’re not ready to eliminate eating out, try sharing meals at restaurants instead. Plus, you’ll find it’s easier to avoid overeating when you share, and you’ll be cutting down on food waste.

Set limits

Set aside exactly how much you want to spend on groceries. Stay within your limits. It’s helpful to know your limits before you head off to the grocery store.

Go generic

“If it costs more, it must be superior,” doesn’t always apply. Many times, when buying name-brand groceries instead of the generic, you’re only paying more for the name and advertising. There are products where the name-brand may be superior to the generic but for many groceries, staples like flour, coffee, and spices, you’ll probably be better off going generic and saving the extra money.

Buy bulk

Not everything of course! Buying in bulk is only wise if you know you’ll use all of it.

Pass on pre-cut

Instead of pre-cut fruits and vegetables, purchase whole. Pre-cut and packaged fruits and vegetables on average cost between 30-50% more than if you had bought whole and cut them yourself.

Stay in season

The cheapest fruits and vegetables are going to be those that are in season. Follow a list of available fruits and vegetables by season.

Give grocery ads a glance

Before you head to the grocery store, give your store’s ads a look. It requires a bit more thought, but by planning around what’s on sale, you can save a lot.

Freeze leftovers

Save money as well as avoid adding to food waste by freezing leftovers. Pick up some containers and freeze what you know you can’t eat. Pull these containers out anytime you feel too tired to cook a full meal.

Use membership cards

Most major stores have membership or club cards that will increase your savings. These cards allow you access to sales and special lower prices if you take the time to sign up. Some stores even allow you to earn cash back when you use your card.

Shop online

Online grocery shopping might seem like it would be expensive but depending on your needs, it may actually end up saving you money. Without the stress of roaming aisles, you’re less likely to spend on impulse buys.

Adjusting your food budget takes a little time and effort, but with these simple changes, the money you save may be worth it.

Do’s and Don’ts When Applying for a Payday Loan

Over the last few years, online payday loans have become an increasingly popular choice. There are payday loan providers that are in business because they prey on people when they are weakest. Here, we’ll go over some basic do’s and don’ts that will help you stay on track getting a payday loan online when you’re facing a financial emergency.

DO always pay on time.

Always. Make sure you have the cash in your bank account when the time comes to pay back your payday loan. Most online payday lending companies are able to offer you an extension on due dates, but you may also wind up with hefty financial fees from both the lender and your bank.

DO plan your budget accordingly.

When you get your payday loan, budgeting becomes even more important. Before applying for an instant payday loan, you should determine how much you actually need from the short-term loan. You should also have a plan for how the payday loan will be spent. Be sure to budget for when the payment becomes due on your payday loan. Take out just what you need. Be careful to make sure that making that payment is not going to put you into more debt than you’re already dealing with.

DO go with TCA Financial.

There are tons of payday loan providers on the web, but we are able to match you directly with lenders who can offer you the best rates. Save the time you’d spend applying to other people. We’ll match you to the lenders who are able to provide you the best rates and quick payout.

DO carefully review the loan terms.

Every lending company you get a payday loan from will provide you with all the facts about your loan. Interest rates, other fees, repayment schedule —these all have to be specifically described in the payday loan documentation. Before you agree to receive a payday loan, make sure you read all documents and understand them.

DON’T lie.

Payday loan providers check on the facts you provide them in your application form. If you lie on your application, and it’s found out, you may not be able to get your payday loan and could risk being black marked in the industry system.

Sweet Ways to Save This Valentine’s Day

Saving is sexy. With Valentine’s Day celebrations just around the corner, you’ll want to spoil your valentine and have a romantic day. It’s easy to overspend when you’re spending on someone you love. To help you maximize your savings and keep you from overspending while you shop for your Valentine this Valentine’s Day, we have a few tips to share.

A Romantic Dinner In

Instead of dinner reservations, why not grab the ingredients at the grocery store and be the chef this Valentine’s Day? Cook up your valentine’s favorite meal and grab a bottle of wine. Because dinner is usually the most expensive part of Valentine’s Day, the money you’ll save on dinner and drinks by celebrating at home is immense.

Look Elsewhere for Flowers

Skip the florist, the flowers sold on the side of the road (seconds), and expensive flowers sold online. The best deals on flowers can be found in grocery and even warehouse stores. For flowers that last more than a day or two, look for closed buds and don’t forget the flower food packet!

Get Lit

Show your burning love with candles or a fire lit in the fireplace. Not only are candles and firewood affordable, but they also set the ultimate cozy, romantic mood.

Handcrafted From the Heart

Handmade gifts are always the most memorable! Don’t be afraid to craft your own card for your valentine. You could also write a poem or love letter or if you’re better with computers, design, and print a card or note from home. Express your love and don’t fear being cheesy. It’s Valentine’s Day! A handmade gift is far more meaningful than your signature in a mass-produced greeting card.

Affordable Alternatives to Champagne

There are many sparkling wine alternatives to Champagne that’ll impress your valentine and not break your budget. One alternative, Prosecco is a lighter, slightly less bubbly version of Champagne from a region north of Venice, Italy. Another option, Cava is Spain’s Champagne. Cava is made similarly to Champagne but is often described as a bit more dry and fruity. A great bottle of Prosecco or Cava will run you about $15, significantly cheaper than Champagne.

Sweet Chocolate Savings

Chocolate is the most popular candy on Valentine’s Day, but the prices can be quite high. Instead of shelling out $20-$50 for luxury chocolates, make Valentine’s treats at home. Treats like chocolate covered strawberries, truffles, chocolate barks, or fudge can be made at home, usually for less than $10. Another benefit of making your own Valentine’s treats is that they’re far more personal than the heart-shaped box from the store and you can make only your valentine’s favorite flavors.

A Final Word

Whatever you choose to spoil your valentine with this Valentine’s Day, know that it’s the thought that counts most. The best gifts do not have to be the most expensive. It is entirely possible to spoil your valentine and not empty out your wallet. After all, love isn’t measured in dollars.

Challenge Yourself

Are you interested in increasing your personal financial stability? Most of us are. One method of doing this is to Challenge Yourself. You’ll need a goal or multiple goals. Write them down and get ready to succeed.

Now that you have a goal to strive for, make a list of variable loan bills to lower, and have an understanding as to why it’s crucial to compare cost, risks, and benefits before making a purchase, you’re now ready to Challenge Yourself to succeed.

Are you wondering how you are supposed to Challenge Yourself?

Take for example a track runner/sprinter who can run the 100m sprint in 10.6 seconds. What do you think this runner will do next? He/She will challenge themselves to beat that 10.6 time the next sprint.

The point is, this runner is continually pushing him or herself to do better. The challenge is to strive for a faster time each and every time they run the 100m sprint. The same thing applies to your personal finances and saving efforts. You will want to Challenge Yourself to beat the amount you save each and every month.

When you Challenge Yourself to save as much as possible, you inspire yourself to succeed. Because you are faced with this “CHALLENGE” you’ll begin thinking thoughts like, “If I was able to save $75 this month, there’s no reason why I couldn’t save $85 next month.” If you were able to save $84 in January, your challenge goal for February is to beat that amount. In other words, to save more than $84 in the month of February.

Kick start your competitive spirit and Challenge Yourself to do your best.

Save Money – Barter & Borrow

It might surprise you to know that bartering and borrowing can potentially save you money here and there. Whether it’s petsitting or housesitting, free furniture from moving neighbors or renting out your home in a time of high demand, there are many ways you can save money. You might be surprised by just how much you can save!

START A BABYSITTING AND/OR CO-OP WITH NEIGHBORS AND FRIENDS. You’ll have a pool of experienced parents nearby to help if you’re in a pinch, most of whom have fewer social demands on their time than local teenagers. If you have a pet, you probably have neighbors with pets also. Why not ask or offer help when someone is on vacation? They’re likely to return the favor and you’ll know your furry friends are with someone you trust.

SWAP YOUR HOME. Trading homes when you go on vacation could save you $100 to $200 a night on hotels. Vacation Homes Unlimited ($65 annual membership; (www.vacation-homes.com) is one of several groups that can plug you into International Home Exchange Association listings: Members get three updated directories a year of homes available for trade. A similar Internet-based group, the International Home Exchange Network (www.homexchange.com), charges $29.99 per year to post a listing.

GO INTO THE LODGING BUSINESS–TEMPORARILY. If you’re fortunate to reside in an area that experiences short bursts of popularity–such as during an annual arts festival or golf tournament–rent out your home for a week or two while you vacation. Each April, for example, more than a thousand homeowners around Augusta, Ga., rent their homes out while the Masters golf tournament is going on. Many of them take the $1,500 to $2,500 rent (for a three-bedroom home) and spend it on their own spring-break vacation at the beach. Best of all, you don’t have to report the rent to the IRS as long as you limit it to no more than 14 days a year. Check with local real estate agents, the chamber of commerce or event organizers about offering your home.

JOIN NEIGHBORHOOD FORUMS. Websites such as NextDoor act as a private social network for neighborhoods. The website allows you to ask around for money-saving recommendations, find out about yard sales, and just to help you get to know your neighbors.

Save Money – Build, Fix or Remodel for Less

When it comes to building, fixing, and remodeling your home, it’s easy to quickly max out your budget. Many fear not having the budget to finish and no one wants to have to pause projects. In this post, we offer tips to help you save yourself from having to spend more than planned.

ADD JUST A TOUCH OF THE FANCY STUFF. If your kitchen’s too big (or your budget’s too small) to swath all the counters in granite ($100 per linear foot and up), just add some highlights in the most prominent areas, such as kitchen islands, and install laminate everywhere else (less than $20 per foot). The same trick works with expensive flooring.

BUY OFF-THE-SHELF BUILDING PLANS. For $235 to about $500 per set, you can get new home plans the way many developers do–out of a catalog. You probably will need to pay a local architect or engineer a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to adapt them to your building lot, but you’ll save over a custom architect’s fee, which can run to 15% of construction costs–$45,000 for a $300,000 home.

GET WITH THE NEIGHBORS. In many suburban developments, all the houses are approximately the same age and thus may be in need of new roofs, resurfaced driveways, and new air-conditioners at approximately the same time. Many contractors are willing to cut a deal with neighborhood associations, offering discounts of 2% to 5% to groups of neighbors willing to have the work done by the company. The contractor benefits from economies of scale, and you and your neighbors may save $250 each on a $5,000 roofing job.

SOLVE THAT WET-BASEMENT PROBLEM. We have two inexpensive fixes to try before you pay as much as $5,000 on a waterproofing job: Cheap idea number one is nearly free: Invest two bucks in a 10-foot length of black corrugated drainpipe to carry water from your downspouts far away from your home’s foundation. The second idea is dirt cheap: Invest in a truckload of dirt (roughly $100 to $250) and fix the grading around your home so that water naturally rolls away.

LEARN HOW TO DO-IT-YOURSELF, but avoid expensive rookie mistakes. Community-education programs–and even large home-center stores–offer free or low-cost classes on home-improvement basics such as installing a new sink or door, wallpapering, and even building a deck. Nuts-and-bolts details are laid out in books such as Home Improvement for Dummies.

Save Money – Reassess Your Insurance

In this post, we address more money-saving strategies that include giving your home insurance a second look. Included below are tips and tricks to trim expenditures both large and small. If you missed it, our tips for saving money by squeezing the kilowatts can be found here.

SHIELD YOURSELF FROM LIABILITY WITH AN UMBRELLA. Most homeowners policies provide $100,000 in liability protection. A good auto policy should cover at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident for liability. But you may need more. The best way to raise your protection is with an umbrella liability policy. The $250 to $300 annual cost of a $1-million policy could save you more than anything else you’ve ever bought. You may need to have your auto and homeowners coverage from the same company to get the broadest protection, including coverage for risks such as accusations of libel and slander. That may garner a discount of about 10% on each policy.

SHOP FOR REPLACEMENT-COST COVERAGE FOR YOUR HOME. You’ll pay about 10% extra for such a policy–but it will pay the full cost of rebuilding your home. And if you have to make a claim for the loss of, say, your ten-year-old dining-room set, you’ll get the money to buy a new one. Some large insurers are capping replacement-cost guarantees of the structure at 120% to 125% of the amount. You need to know what 100% means. If you doubt your agent’s estimate, get a contractor’s take on how much it would cost to rebuild (see “Home,” Aug.).

FILL GAPS IN COVERAGE OF YOUR COMPUTER AND EXPENSIVE ELECTRONICS. Some homeowners policies have a $5,000 or $10,000 limit on electronic equipment, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Even with replacement-cost coverage, you might need to beef up that limit to cover your computer, big-screen TV, satellite dish, video camera and audio equipment. You can boost you]’ coverage for $50 to $100 per year.

RAISE YOUR DEDUCTIBLE. Frequent small claims could prompt your insurance company to drop you at renewal time anyway. So paying for the small losses yourself could save big in the long run. Raising your deductible from $250 to $500 will cut your premium by about 12%. Raise it to $1,000 and you’ll cut the premium by 24%.


Disclaimer: Modern Lending Solutions (modernlendingsolutions.com) is not a lender. We offer a matching service for connecting potential borrowers with financial institutions. Loan amounts, rates, and terms will vary based on lender’s decision, and approval is not guaranteed.
Offers provided to customers feature rate may no greater than 35.99% APR with terms from 61 days to 180 months. However, your actual rate depends on credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage and history, and will be agreed upon between you and the lender. An example of the total amount paid on a personal loan of $5,000 for a term of 36 months at a rate of 10% would be equivalent to $5,808.09 over the 36-month life of the loan.