7 Traditional Housewarming Gifts (And What They Really Mean)

Housewarming gifts have been a popular tradition since medieval times. Originally, certain gifts for the home were thought to have special powers, often providing a newcomer’s place of residence with warmth, luck and wonderful wishes. While many of these items are still given as Christmas gifts, wedding presents and at housewarming parties, the meaning behind them is not well known.

Are you ready to discover the symbolism behind traditional housewarming gifts? This handy gift guide is just what you need! We’ve even included a few modern-day gift ideas to help you maintain the original spirit of housewarming.

The Meaning Behind Traditional Housewarming Gifts

The symbolism of these unique gifts for the home might surprise you!

1. Candles

Whether you’re giving Christmas gifts, presents for the new couple, or items for a recently relocated loved one, candles are a great way to go. To ensure light for your recipient through the darkest of times, choose unique candles and pair them with creative candle holders.

Home Sweet Home 6 Inch Porcelain House

2. Wine Gifts

Wish good cheer and prosperity on your friends and family with wine giftsthis year. Skip the liquor store down the street and consider a special vino from our exciting merchants! And be sure to order personalized wine glasses for a customized touch.

3. Salt and Herbs

Salt and herbs are meant to always bring spice and flavor to those you hold dear. Opt for high quality products and pair them with a creative grinder set to ensure his or her life (and dinner) is never bland.

SpiceCrafts Dual Salt & Pepper Grinder Set

4. Broom

Sweep away bad luck and evil spirits when you give your friends and family members a broom for their new home. You can choose a traditional broom and pair it with a few cleaning supplies for a practical housewarming gift. Or add a little elbow grease to an ornamental broom for one-of-a-kind home decor!

5. Coins

Meant to represent luck and good fortune, coins are unique housewarming gifts. Present your coin gifts in style with a DIY money tree or mount them in personalized photo frames. You could even embed them in homemade decorative candles and double your loved one’s luck.

BLack Friday Money

6. Plants and Olive Oils

Plants have always been popular gifts for the home that bring wishes of long lives to recipients. But giving your loved one a bottle of olive oil from the grocer downtown to wish for his or her health and well-being might seem a little odd. Combine the two to create a homemade decoration that is sure to be adored.

7. Wood

Wood symbolizes stability, peace and harmony. Since you might feel a little strange presenting a chunk of wood from your backyard tree, however, you might want to jazz this one up a bit. Consider a customized cutting or serving board for the kitchen instead!Good Food Good Life Acacia Cheese Board with Sunflower Spreader

Be sure to add a positive sentiment to not only give your gift a more personalized touch, but also to let your recipient know the meaning behind his or her traditional housewarming gift.

Source: christmasgifts.com ~ Image: christmasgifts.com

How to Inventory Your Home for an Insurance Adjuster

Q. Do I need to inventory every item I own in the event of a house fire?

A. The more detail about your belongings that you can relay to an insurance adjuster in your home inventory, the more you stand to recover from your insurance claim, says Tobie Stanger, a CR senior money editor. At the start of your home inventory, focus first on the big and valuable: major appliances, jewelry, furniture, rugs, electronics, and art or collectibles.

Using your smartphone’s video feature, sweep the camera around a room, narrating the description of items you’re filming and—if you remember—what you paid. (Photograph receipts if you have them.) Capture serial numbers and brand names when possible so that the insurer can replace what you had with exact or similar items.

Once you’ve cataloged the pricier items for your home inventory, then open cabinets, drawers, closets, and boxes and do the same. “But don’t sweat the small stuff too much. An insurance adjuster is likely to create a ‘bulk estimate’ of those things—for example, $200 for everything in your utility closet,” Stanger says.

Store the images and video for your home inventory on a cloud service, such as iCloud or OneDrive, or put it on a thumb drive and stash it in a safe deposit box or fireproof safe. Several insurers even offer free web-based home inventory storage tools and apps. American Family Insurance’s DreamVault, for instance, lets anyone create a digital home inventory; it’s available online and as an Android and iOS app.

Source: consumerreports ~ By:  Consumer Reports ~ Image: pixabay.com

Holiday Travel Tips for Homeowners

The holidays are quickly approaching, and for many of us that means traveling to visit our friends and family members that we haven’t seen in a while. Before you let the excitement and anticipation take hold, you should turn your thoughts to preparing your home for your absence.

There are a number of ways to make sure your home is safe and secure while you’re gone, each one with its own pros and cons. Think carefully before deciding which will work best for you, as not enough thought prior to your vacation can lead to a disaster upon your return.

In this post we’ll not only cover some of the most popular options, we’ll give you a pre-travel checklist for your home to help you to keep it safe and well during your adventures.

Housesitting

Housesitting is when someone you know, preferably a friend or family member, stays in your house while you’re away.

This is a great option for people who have someone they know close by, and who doesn’t mind leaving their own home for a short time. If they live in an apartment or other small residence, chances are they’ll enjoy the luxury of a larger home all to themselves.

Even if the individual can’t spend the nights at your home for whatever reason, having them check up on the house once a day will lift a big weight off of your shoulders.

Just make sure to leave them a list of things that need to be done and who to contact in case of an emergency.

House Swaps

If you’re traveling for the holidays, but don’t have a place to stay, a house swap may be the answer for you. If you can find another individual or family who is looking to travel to your hometown or city, you may be able to arrange to “swap” houses for the duration of the vacation.

This way, you don’t end up having to pay for accommodations or worry about booking a hotel. Just make sure that you have a clear contract with the other party so that you both understand the terms. Try to find someone through friends or family members before looking online. It’s best if you know the other person, even if it’s just through someone else.

Be careful about who you choose and ask someone you know that lives in the area to check out the house before you sign anything. Have them meet the people who you want to swap with to make sure that you aren’t about to get into a sticky situation.

Temporary Rentals

Another alternative to leaving your home vacant is to consider renting out your home on a short-term basis. In this type of agreement, you can create a lease, which can protect you from many different issues. You may even be able to find a short-term tenant through your realtor or through an old property manager or landlord.

Again, finding someone that you know (or that you know by association) is a far better option than renting to a stranger. Having your home occupied is a better option than leaving it empty, especially if you’ll be away for more than a week.

Pre-Travel Checklist

Tell Your Neighbors

The first thing that you should do when leaving your home either attended or unattended is to tell your neighbors that you will be gone. Let them know when you’re leaving, and when you plan to return.

Ask them to keep an eye on your property to make sure that no one is entering without permission, and leave them a key in case they need to check the heat or plumbing. If you get mail delivered to your home, ask them to pick it up for you so that it isn’t left unopened on your front step.

Turn the Heat Down

Keep your heat turned up enough to prevent any seasonal freezing, but low enough that you won’t be wasting power on an empty house.

If you have someone checking in on the property while you are away, ask them to turn on the faucets every couple of days to make sure that water is going through your plumbing. This helps to keep pipes from freezing, and it keeps the pea traps from drying out and causing unpleasant odors.

Leave a Timed Light On

If possible, leave an outdoor light on with a timer. Having a light on for your whole absence may show that you are actually away, while having one on a timer can indicate that someone is home. If you do have someone checking in on the house, ask them to make sure that they turn off any lights and lock any doors before leaving.

Plan for an Emergency

Traveling in the winter, either by plane or by car, is always a risky business. With inclement weather and unexpected storms, you never know whether or not you can trust your return date. Keep in close contact with whoever is taking care of your home to ensure that they are up-to-date on your plans.

Pets

If you have pets and will be leaving them at home, be sure to arrange for their care. Even if you only have a small pet like a fish or a gerbil, have someone check in to make sure that they have fresh water and food. If your trip is delayed, it won’t matter that you left them plenty of food and water before you left, they might be out by the time you get back.

Seasonal Care

If you have someone close by who you can ask, have them shovel and salt the walks while you are gone. It wouldn’t be much fun to come home to a pile of snow and a driveway that you can’t park in. If they’re able, ask if they can check on the house in the event of a power outage as well, to make sure that the heat kicks back on properly and that your appliances (such as your fridge) are back to working order.

Source: lawdepot.com ~ By:  Brittany Foster ~ Image: pixabay.com

How to Host a Thanksgiving Dinner for the First Time

For the first time ever, I am hosting my family for Thanksgiving. And not only that, I am participating in a time-honored tradition of the newly engaged: bringing the families together. Yes, for the first time ever, my parents and brother will be meeting my fiance’s mother and sister over Thanksgiving dinner — in the tiny two-bedroom apartment where we live in New York City.

 

As thrilled as I am to be hosting (and therefore not to have to deal with one of the busiest travel days of the year), I’ll be honest: I’m a little stressed out. Not because I think our families won’t get along — they’re all great people, it should be swell! — but because I’ve never cooked a holiday meal, let alone one featuring a meeting of future in-laws. And as much as I know they will all love the meal regardless, I’m starting to feel immense pressure to make sure it goes perfectly. I’m doing everything I can to make sure my home looks the part, that we plan ahead for the food and that everything goes as smoothly as possible the day of the feast.

But, of course, I also don’t want to go overboard when it comes to Thanksgiving Day spending. We have seven total people to feed, and on top of food and drink costs, we’ve already found ourselves stopping at HomeGoods to check out the tablecloth and festive placemat situation. In order to plan ahead as much as possible, I decided to reach out to a few cooking and finance experts to get the best possible advice on budgeting for the holiday. Here’s what they had to say:

1. THINK LIKE A CHEF TO PLAN HOW MUCH MEAT YOU NEED

This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s something I could definitely miscalculate: planning the right amount of food for the people you’re hosting.

Rick Camac, the Institute of Culinary Education’s Dean of Restaurant & Hospitality Management, says to be sure to consider people, portions, and yield, especially when it comes to getting your turkey:

Yield means what useable product you get after the bird is cooked down and ready to serve.

[Assume you need] 8 ounces of protein per person. This is a lot, but who doesn’t overeat for Thanksgiving, and who doesn’t want leftovers? If you’re serving more than one protein (such as a ham and a turkey) obviously cut numbers in half, meaning 4 ounces of turkey and 4 ounces of ham…Assume a 50% yield on average. You’ll likely get a tad better, but this is a good estimate. So, for 10 people, being served 8 ounces each, you need 5 lbs. of yield. That would call for a 10-lb. turkey. Personally, I’d order 12 lbs. to be sure but, that’s me.

Buying too much turkey isn’t the end of the world, especially if you can use the leftovers to make something delicious (my favorite is turning it into a shepherd’s pie). But over-buying also means you have a bigger chance of letting your turkey go to waste — and losing money because of it. Use Camac’s yield rule to make sure you get the right amount.

Source: nbcnews.com ~ By: Holly Trantham ~ Image: pixabay.com

7 Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Cold Weather

As cold weather approaches, there are several things you can do around the house to make sure you and your family stay warm and safe all winter. These seven steps can ensure your house will be in top shape for whatever winter brings.
1. Protect Your Pipes:
checking pipes

We all know water expands as it freezes. If water inside your pipes freezes, it will expand, too, which can cause your pipes to crack and burst. Pipes also can burst when pressure builds up behind a chunk of ice, which is why it’s a good idea to leave faucets dripping in very cold weather. Either way, a burst pipe can cause massive damage. Take a few steps to winterize your pipes and avoid a potentially catastrophic claim.

  • Drain water from outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems to keep those pipes from freezing.
  • Disconnect and store outdoor hoses; cover outdoor faucets with foam insulators.
  • Protect water pipes that run through unheated areas of your home with insulation, such as the attic, basement, or garage.
Pro Tip: Know where your water shutoff valve is so that you can turn off the water in case of an emergency. Typically it’s located in the basement or buried near the road.
2. Check the Heat:
replacing air filter

The time to be sure you’re going to stay warm all winter is before the weather gets too cold. Check your furnace by turning on the heat and the blower to be sure they’re operating as they should.

  • Change your furnace filter at the start of the season and then every two to four months. Filters get dirty much more quickly if your home is dusty or if you have furry or feathery pets. Clogged or dirty filters are less efficient, which means your home might not warm up properly.
  • Consider installing a programmable thermostat if you don’t have one. Programming it to be cooler at night and when you’re not at home will save you money, and you can program it to be warmer for when you return or get up on cold winter mornings.
Pro Tip: Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans. Everybody thinks of using fans in the summer, but they can help you stay warm in winter too. Set the blades to turn clockwise to circulate warm air from the ceiling down into the room.
3. Prevent Ice Dams:
unclogging gutters

Ice dams form when heat escapes through the roof and melts snow that’s settled there. That snowmelt flows to your roof’s edge and refreezes, usually at the eaves. Those pretty icicles can signal an ugly ice dam underneath. The problem with an ice dam is that snow that later melts can’t properly drain, so it has to go somewhere… and that might be through a leak in your roof, causing water damage in your home.

Fortunately, a few simple steps before the temperature starts to drop can go a long way toward preventing all of this:

  • Clogged gutters and downspouts are the No. 1 cause of ice dams. Clean them out to keep water flowing during the winter.
  • Seal places that may allow warm air to leak from your home to your attic, such as around vent pipes, exhaust fans, chimneys, attic hatches, and light fixtures.
  • Be sure soffit vents, which are along the eaves of the house and allow air to flow into the attic, are clear.

If you’ve had problems with ice dams before or have reason to suspect you might this year, you can take these additional steps:

  • Install snow and ice slides to prevent ice and snow from “bonding” to your roof.
  • Install a rubberized ice and water shield beneath the roof shingles, going three to six feet back from the eaves.
  • Hire a roofer to install heat cable along the eaves to melt ice.
  • Add additional insulation to your attic floor.
4. Clean and Store Lawn Equipment:
trimming hedges

After a summer of yard work, gas-powered equipment such as mowers, trimmers, tillers, and chippers can all benefit from service before being stored for the winter. This basic checklist will get you started on equipment maintenance, but be sure to check the owner’s manual for any specific requirements for your machines.

  • Empty all of the fuel. Gas can degrade all the time, and the ethanol in E10 gas can damage fuel lines and other components while sitting unused. Try to use up most of the fuel during the last mowing of the season. You can remove what’s left with a meat baster, then run the engines until they stop. Check with your local waste management or public works department for guidance on how to dispose of the fuel.
  • Clean the machine of oil and yard debris, and sharpen the blades.
  • Store them for winter in a basement, garage, or covered storage shed where they’re safe from the weather.
5. Inspect the Fireplace and Chimney:
sweeping ash from fireplace

There’s nothing like the glow of a fire to warm up a winter evening. But before you light up that first log, make sure your fireplace and chimney are clean and critter-free.

A professional chimney sweep can clean out soot and other debris that could catch fire. Keep your home’s warm air from escaping out the chimney when you’re not using it by keeping the flue closed all the way. You shouldn’t be able to feel any cold air coming down the chimney.

You can also install glass fireplace doors or a chimney inflatable that blocks cold air from coming down the chimney and keeps in warm air.

6. Seal Windows and Doors:
sealing around a door

Gaps around windows and doors can make it tough to keep your house warm in winter. Caulk around windows and install weather stripping around doors as needed. This minor and inexpensive task can help you save on heating costs.

If your windows and doors are older, they may be inefficient single-pane windows or uninsulated doors. Consider upgrading to double- or even triple-pane windows and insulated doors and garage doors to boost the energy efficiency of your home.

Another option is to add storm windows and doors. Remove, wash and store screens for the spring before you have them installed.

7. Stock Up on Cold-weather Essentials:

When winter storms hit, they often come with power outages. To ensure you and your family are prepared for anything Mother Nature throws at you this winter, you will want to have an emergency kit ready. Explore this one for ideas of what to put in it, and consider having these cold-weather specific items on hand as well:

  • A working, fully charged fire extinguisher.
  • An alternative heat source such as a generator, wood-burning stove, or fireplace.
  • Sand, ice melt, and a shovel if where you live is prone to ice and snow (avoid using kitty litter, as it doesn’t provide good traction and can make a mess).

You should also develop a plan for communicating or meeting up with family in case you aren’t together when a winter storm hits.

And get your car ready too. Whether you live in a cold-weather climate or just plan to visit one, you will want to keep these essentials in your car for winter-weather emergencies.

A storm or power outage in winter can be dangerous, even when you’re in your car or home. Be prepared this winter to weather the storms and cold.

Source: libertymutual.com ~ Image: ebay.com

10 to-dos to get your kitchen ready for the holidays

Now that Halloween is behind us, I’m in holiday mode. If you’ll be doing a lot of baking, cooking or entertaining this year, there are some things you can do in the next week or two to get your kitchen ready for the holiday season.

  1. Check your spice rack. If you do a lot of baking, you’re going to need nutmeg, ground cloves, cinnamon and more. Roasting a turkey calls for poultry seasonings. Pull out all your recipes now and see what spices you’ll be needing and then make sure you have plenty of them in the kitchen. And, don’t forget the vanilla. Get a big bottle.
  2. Inspect your bakeware and cookware. While you’re pulling out your recipes to check to make sure you have all your spices, also make sure you have enough cookie sheets, roasting pans and casserole dishes to make everything.
  3. Start saving reusable containers. Sending home leftovers with guests is made easier (and more eco-friendly) when you have plenty of clean, empty jars and plastic containers that they can take home and not have to return.
  4. Make room in the freezer. Clean out the freezer so you have enough room to store make-ahead cookies and leftovers from holiday dinners.
  5. Get your knives sharpened. They’re probably due and carving the turkey and chopping onions will be easier with sharp knives.
  6. Start stocking your pantry. Right after Halloween ends, there are usually sales on flour, sugar, canned pumpkin, chocolate chips, and other holiday baking staples. Buy what goes on sale each week and put them away for when you’ll need them.
  7. Inspect your dishes, serving pieces and glassware. If every Thanksgiving you think to yourself, “Darn, I forgot to buy a second gravy boat again,” as you’re setting the table, this step is for you. If you host gatherings during the holidays, now is the time to replace any essential pieces that have broken over the years, to add the few pieces you’ve been meaning to add, or to discover that something has gone missing.
  8. Make sure your small, plug-in appliances are in working order. If your slow cooker, electric skillet, electric mixer, coffee maker, or blender or other small appliance only gets used during the holidays, make sure they’re in working order before you need them.
  9. Stock up on cleaning supplies. If you’ve ever run out of dishwashing liquid on Thanksgiving while your sisters-in-law are hand-washing your grandmother’s china after dinner, you will probably never forget to stock up on dish soap and powder again. But, it’s good to make sure you have enough of all you need – dish soap and powder, counter disinfectants, rags and perhaps a roll or two of paper towels made from recycled paper.
  10. Clean thoroughly. Wipe down the baseboards, the ceiling fan blades, the cabinets and more. Do a thorough cleaning of all the things you don’t clean on a weekly basis just to get the kitchen looking good for the high season of cooking.

Source:  mnn.com ~ By:  Robin Shreeves ~ Image: pixabay.com

Halloween Décor Safety Smarts

How to keep those Halloween decorations from causing more than a scare.

A carved pumpkin and maybe a scarecrow on the front porch used to be all the decorating you needed on Halloween. But these days more and more people are decking out their yards for All Hallows’ Eve like the Griswolds on Christmas.

Halloween is now becoming the second most decorated holiday after Here UL answers your questions about how to keep your Halloween decorations disaster free.

To submit a question to SafeBee, email editorial@safebee.com with “Ask the Expert” in the subject line.

I love to string up my yard with orange and purple lights on Halloween. How can I make sure the lights are safe, even when it rains? 

Look for the UL mark. This means representative samples have been tested and met the rigorous safety standards of UL. If the UL mark is in red, it means the product has been tested for outdoor use, including exposure to rain and UV light from the sun. If the UL label is green, the lights are suitable for indoor use only.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping your decorations from year to year, but don’t forget to inspect the lights, as well as extension cords and electronic decorations, before putting them out. Look at the wires and sockets when you pull them out of the closet. If they are broken or frayed, throw them out. These decorations are relatively inexpensive and it’s not worth the risk.

With all the lights and electronic decorations I put in my yard, how can I make sure I’m not overloading the circuits?

With the increased use of LED lights in light strings and other lighted decorations, overloading becomes less of a problem unless you are one who lights up your yard like a Broadway marquee. Most important is to be sure to use outdoor extension cords when decorating outdoors. These cords have been tested for severe weather conditions and usually have the electrical capacity for normal decorating. Look at the labels on the cord and the decorations plugged into it. The sum of the power used by the decorations should not exceed the capacity of the cord.

To get the cords out of the way, you can buy plastic hooks of all kinds at hardware stores and home centers. Never use metal nails or staples since damage to the cords or wires could result in a shock or fire hazard.

If you decorate outdoors, make sure you buy decorations that are suitable for outdoor use. Some are suitable only for indoors.

I’m nervous about using candles in my pumpkins. Are there safer options?

On Halloween day we see a big increase in fires and burns. Lighted candles are one reason. It’s easy enough and just as pretty to use a glow stick, a flashlight or a battery-operated LED candle inside your pumpkin, and also inside paper bags if you like to line your walkway with paper bag lanterns. It will be a lot safer, and once they’re inside a paper bag you can’t tell the difference.

Avoid using real candles to light your front steps. With packs of little kids running up and down, the flame could burn their costumes.

If you are going to use a real candle to light your pumpkin, a small votive candle is best. Use a long fireplace lighter to light candles inside pumpkins.

Make sure to place candlelit pumpkins, and all candles, on a sturdy surface away from curtains or children’s flowing Halloween costumes. Never leave any lighted candle unattended.

What can I do to avoid a house fire on Halloween?

Using candles safely, or using alternatives to candles, and making sure your outdoor lights and electronic decorations are UL certified are key steps.

Keep all decorations away from open flames and heat sources. And never drape fabric or crêpe paper over a light bulb.

This is an exciting time for kids, but take a few seconds to think about safety. A few tips can go a long way.

Source: safebee.com ~ By: Mary Purcell ~ Image: pixabay.com

How to Calculate Your Retirement Needs

Your budget should include setting aside some money for retirement.

But how much?

To figure out how much money you should set aside each month for retirement, you first need to calculate how large of a nest egg — in total — you ought to build.

In other words: How much money will you need to retire? You’ll need to answer that question before you can reverse-engineer the amount you should set aside in your budget.

Here’s a way that you can calculate how big of a nest egg you’re going to need:

Step 1:

Decide what portion of your current income you want to replace during retirement.

Most experts recommend replacing between 70% to 85% of your pre-retirement income.  Multiply your annual income by 70% to 85% to come up with your target retirement income in today’s dollars. If your current income is $100,000 and you decide that you want to replace 80% of it in retirement, your target retirement income (in today’s dollars) is $80,000 per year. (Don’t worry about adjusting for inflation during this step.)

If you and your spouse both earn money outside of the house, make sure that you complete this exercise with your combined joint income.

If you earn $50,000 annually and your spouse earns $75,000 annually, add your income together ($125,000 annually combined) and then multiply by 70 percent to 85 percent.​

Step 2:

Adjust the figure from Step 1 to account for 4% inflation. Here’s how:

If you are ten years away from retirement, multiply your target retirement income by an inflation factor of 1.48.  If you are 15 years away from retirement, use an inflation factor of 1.8.  If you are 20 years away from retirement, multiply by 2.19, and if you’re 25 years away from retirement, multiply by 2.67.

Let’s assume that you’re also 25 years away from retirement.

In this second step, you take that figure — $80,000 per year in today’s dollars — and you multiply it by 2.67.  Your answer ($80,000 x 2.67 = $213,600) represents your target retirement income in future dollars, after adjusting for inflation.

In other words: To maintain the lifestyle that an annual income of $80,000 provides today, you’ll need $213,600 per year in 25 years from now.​

Step 3:

Log on to the government’s Social Security website to find out what your projected Social Security benefit will be.

Step 4:

Contact your human resources department to find out how much of a pension, if any, you are eligible to receive.  Two-thirds of Americans are no longer eligible to collect pensions, but I’m including this step for the benefit of the one-third of Americans who are.

Step 5:

Using the same inflation factors that I outlined in Step 2, adjust those amounts for inflation.  For example, if you are eligible to receive $20,000 per year from Social Security in today’s dollars and you are 25 years away from retirement, multiply $20,000 by the inflation factor of 2.67.

The answer, $53,400, is the amount of money that you will collect from Social Security in future dollars, after adjusting for inflation.

Remember:

  • If you are 10 years from retirement, multiply by 1.48.
  • If you are 15 years from retirement, multiply by 1.8.
  • If you are 20 years from retirement, multiply by 2.19.
  • If you are 25 years from retirement, multiply by 2.67.

Step 6:

Subtract your inflation-adjusted projected future Social Security and pension benefits from your inflation-adjusted target retirement income. It shows how much money you will need to come up with from your investment portfolio.

For example:

  • Inflation-Adjusted Target Retirement Income: $213,600 per year
  • Inflation-Adjusted Social Security Benefit: $53,400
  • Pension: $0
  • Shortfall: $160,200 per year

In other words, you’ll need to create an investment portfolio that can produce $160,200 per year in income.​

Step 7:

Multiply this number by 25.  That is how large of an investment portfolio you will need to take care of your retirement needs.

For example: If you need to come up with $160,200 per year, you’ll need ($160,200 x 25 = $4,005,000 in your retirement portfolio. In other words, you’ll need a $4 million retirement portfolio.)

Why multiply by 25?  Because of a rule of thumb known as “the 4% withdrawal rule,” which states that you can withdraw 4% of your portfolio each year without running a significant risk of dwindling down your reserves.

Step 8:

Calculate how much money you’ll need to save per month to create a $4 million portfolio (or however large of a portfolio you calculate for yourself).

This article will give you a general overview of how much you’ll need to put away every month to build a $1 million nest egg. It assumes you’re starting with $0 saved.

Since you probably have some money in your retirement accounts already, you should only use that article for a big-picture overview. To calculate the precise amount that you personally need to save, use a compounding interest calculator.

A compound interest calculator will measure the returns that your returns generate. For example: In Year 1, you invest $10,000 and earn a 5 percent return. At the end of Year 1, you have a total of $10,500. In Year 2, you invest the full $10,500 — in other words, your gains ($500) are now making their own gains. Over time, this is a very powerful tool for growing your money. Learn more about compound interest here.

When you use the calculator, assume that the markets will return 7 to 8 percent as a long-term annualized average. (Enter 7 percent or 8 percent in the spot that asks for “rate.”)

This calculator will show you how much money you need to set aside every month to build your ideal retirement nest egg.

Step 9:

Create space in your budget to set aside this money for retirement. Use these worksheets to target the areas in your budget in which you can cut back your spending so that you can set aside extra for retirement.

Furthermore, don’t forget that you can also focus on earning extra income, as well. Take on a second job, and save this additional income for your retirement.

Source: thebalance.com ~ By:  ~ Image: pixabay.com

7 Ways to Get the Best Work from Your Contractor

Working with a contractor takes effort and diligence in order to keep your project on time and on budget.

We’ve been around enough remodeling jobs to know that if you want great results, you’ll need to actively manage the process — even if you’ve hired a general contractor to oversee the work. Get apathetic or lose your focus and you may pay for it — literally.

Here are seven smart ways to stay on top of the job and maintain strong communications with your contractor and construction team.

1. Avoid Allowances

An allowance is a line item in the contractor’s bid for something that’s yet to be determined. For example, if you haven’t chosen the plumbing hardware for your new master suite, the contractor will put an allowance number in the budget as a placeholder.

But with such a wide range of price points for these products, his estimate may be far lower than what you wind up spending.

Try to eliminate allowances by sorting out all of your material and product selections before the contractor gives you an itemized bid for the job. Otherwise, do enough shopping to give the contractor an accurate ballpark price for the materials you’re considering.

2. Establish Good Communication

Ask the contractor how he prefers to communicate with you. Good options include:

  • Being onsite and talking with your contractor every morning before work begins.
  • Having your contractor’s cell phone number and the OK to call or text anytime.
  • Talking with the job foreman every day at a pre-determined time.

Try to meet with the project leader at least once a day. This is an opportunity for you to hear progress reports and find out what work is scheduled over the coming days — and to ask your questions and voice any concerns you have.

3. Keep a Project Journal

Your project journal is your friend and ally. Use it to:

  • Record progress.
  • Note things you want to ask your contractor.
  • Jot down ideas.
  • Record product order numbers.
  • Note upcoming delivery dates.

A journal helps keep communication clear, and provides a record of who said what when — which could help you iron out disputes later on.

4. Track All Changes in Writing

Your team may encounter unforeseen structural issues, or you may decide to include additional work as the project evolves. Any good contractor can handle these changes — just make sure that he bids them in writing first.

Specify in your remodeling contract that you want change orders in writing for anything that’s going to add to the bottom line of the job. That means the contractor must give you a description of the change and a fixed price for what it’ll cost. You both must sign the change order before the work is done

5. Check the Work

Be proactive about checking your contractor’s work. A good time to check is when the crew has left for the day. Make notes in your journal and bring up anything you’re wondering about during your daily check-in with your contractor or job foreman. You can:

  • Compare the model numbers on appliances and fixtures against your receipts, invoices, and the contractor’s bid to ensure that the right product was delivered.
  • Check the locations of window and door openings against the blueprints.
  • Note any quality issues, such as misaligned trim. You’re the client; you have the right to expect good work.

6. Pay Only for Completed Work

Your remodeling contract should establish a series of payments to be made when certain aspects of the job are completed. For example, your contract could stipulate that you’ll pay in three equal installments, with the last payment to be made after the project is complete, and after you and your contractor agree the work is satisfactory.

Never put down more than 10% upfront; any more than that is too much cash to hand over before any work is complete. Your contractor should be able to get any necessary supplies on credit.

7. Be a Good Customer

One of the best ways to get quality work out of a contractor and construction crew is to make them enjoy working for you. That means being decisive with the contractor — and giving him a check promptly at the agreed-to points in the project.

Being friendly and accommodating of the workers is a great way to motivate them to do their best for you. Try:

  • Designating a bathroom that they can use.
  • Greeting them by name each morning.
  • Serving them cold lemonade on a hot day.
  • Complimenting their work (as long as you feel it’s worthy of praise).

Source: houselogic.com ~ By:  ~ Image: pixabay.com

Top 4 Reasons Why Guys Need a Man Cave

There are several good reasons why guys really do need this man cave and why it can make them better husbands and fathers.

There are lots of terms for it out there: Manland. Mantuary. Man Space.  But whatever you call your man cave — that garage, spare bedroom, shed, workspace or other area that is exclusively yours and that you can go to in order to just be yourself — is actually more important than you or your partner might realize.   

De-stressing

Many men have high-stress jobs and can spend long hours at work to earn money and help support their wives and children.  Work- and life-related stress can build up and if there is no healthy outlet for it — such as a man cave to escape to for a while to unwind — then the stress can build up and lead to physical problems like high blood pressure or tension headaches.

It can also lead to emotional problems like irritability, a short temper or even chronic anger, which can put a real strain on the marriage.

If a man has a place he can go to in order to process these emotions away from others, it can help with the emotional health of family life.  The man cave provides a place to temporarily get away from life’s pressures and to decompress so that there is emotional energy left over for family life.

Regulating Emotions

Many men are not aware of this on a conscious level, but there is a relationship between one’s feelings and one’s environment — and in many households, women tend to have more of say in how this environment looks than do their husbands or partners. This is why, notes home design journalist Mitchell Parker, in his Houzz blog, it is so important for men to have a space that have decorated and laid out for themselves in a way that expresses their own individual tastes and personalities. Having this kind of environment to escape to helps them to regulate their emotions and to explore and interpret who they are in privacy and without the rules that being around others naturally brings.

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Getting “Me” Time

Obviously, both men and women need some “me” time, even in a strong and healthy marriage. This can be a sticking point with women, however, who can sometimes feel offended if their husbands need space or time to themselves without them

But for men, it can be even more important. John Gray, author of the famous Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus series, notes that, “There is a part of the brain that helps us to interpret time and space. That part of the brain is much larger in men than it is in women. This means that men have a much bigger awareness of the need for space and time to themselves, “me” time.  Also, it is worth noting that “me” time can be quite different for men and women: for women, this can often include talking or texting other women, whereas for men, the desire for actual solitude seems more paramount.  When this need is fulfilled, it is easier for men to emerge from the cave and be ready and able take up the responsibilities of being husbands, fathers and breadwinners.

Getting Physical

Most of the reasons for man caves mentioned above are emotional or psychological ones.  But there is a physical aspect to this as well: man caves can also be a great place for men to be able to work out and be active, whether it’s a session on your treadmill to the tune of your favorite CD or a weight-lifting sessions to build up those pecs. 

Why is this is important? Because according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 3 out of 4 men are overweight or obese — and this is a major risk factor for heart disease, which remains the number one killer of American men.  So, if used properly, a man cave can not only help fulfil a man’s emotional needs but his physical health.

So while the man cave can be the subject of much joking and jesting in family life, there is a more serious side to its presence — and when men and women take this side into account, it is more likely that both will make it more of a priority.

Source: goodmenproject.com ~ By: Dr. Bryan W. Wu ~ Image: Pixabay.com