Category Archives: Blog

Tips For Buying Your First Home Header

5 Tips For Buying Your First Home

I have wanted to buy a home of my very own for quite some time. That is why I jumped on the chance to share this post from Erin King Jax Historic Realty, and their 5 tips for buying your first home . While this post is sponsored, it is loaded with great information. I hope you will enjoy it!

5 Tips For Buying Your First Home

Buying your first home can be a very exciting experience, but it can also be stressful if you do not know what to look for or what steps to take. Finding a great real estate agent to help you find that perfect home can eliminate a lot of this stress, along with other things you can do to make the process as easy as possible. Below are some tips to help you through the experience of buying your first home:

Get Pre-Approved Before Looking At Homes

Tips For Buying Your First Home Approved

Getting pre-approved is essential before looking at homes. Getting pre-approved not only helps you figure out your budget when it comes to buying a home, but it can also point out any obstacles when it comes to getting approved, before you fall in love with a home. The housing market is fast-paced and if you are not pre-approved, you might end up losing a home that you love to another individual or couple that is pre-approved to secure a loan. Being pre-approved when making an offer on a home shows the sellers that you are serious about the purchase.

Make Sure Your Real Estate Agent Is Knowledgeable When It Comes to The Location

You need a real estate agent that is knowledgeable when it comes to the location that you are wanting to buy in, especially if you are not very informed about the area yourself. This will not only help you focus on homes that are located within the best areas of the city, but your real estate agent will know details that can help you make a smart financial decision when it comes to buying a home in a certain area of the town.

Tips For Buying Your First Home Erin King
For example, Erin King Jax Historic Realty has years of experience in the Jacksonville housing market. He knows how crucial it is for you to find relevant and up-to-date information on not only the housing market, but also the area, in general. That is why his website (and overall goal) is to be your one-stop shop for all of your real estate needs in Jacksonville.

Erin King is here to make your home buying experience smooth and stress-free. He is a Best of Zillow® REALTOR® who specializes in Jacksonville’s historic neighborhoods. “Erin, who previously worked in financial services and holds an MBA with an economics focus, brings a deep understanding of buying and selling historic homes.

He enjoys sharing that knowledge with clients, from how to fit a 21st century lifestyle into a historic home and where to seek financing for renovation with a home purchase, to accurately pricing homes in Historic Districts such as Riverside, Avondale, Ortega, Springfield, Murray Hill, and San Marco. Erin, who prides himself on close attention to detail and quick response to clients, has put together a support team of contractors and other professionals who help transactions go smoothly.”

Deciding to buy your first home is a huge life step and in order to make it less stressful for you, Erin King offers a first-time home buyer coaching session where he will educate and prepare you for making a successful transaction. The session is free with no obligations at all! Check out his website today for more information on the coaching session and how he can help you find your first home.

Know The Difference Between Your Wants And Needs

We could all describe our dream house and all of the features that it would have. However, it is not always smart to only consider houses with all of these features that we want. When buying a house, particularly if you are on a budget, it is critical to assess what you want in a house, and what you actually need. Knowing the difference between your wants and needs can same you some money while still leaving you with a house that you love.

For example, if you want a basement for entertaining guests and storing those boxes of Christmas decorations, but you find a less expensive house without a basement but with a great living room for entertaining and plenty of storage space in the attic, it might be a better decision to go with the house without the basement and save some money. In this situation, the basement is a want, not a need. Remember, you have plenty of life to own your dream home. Your very first home doesn’t have to be your last!

Tips For Buying Your First Home Keys

Keep An Open Mind

Buying your first home is just that: a first home. If you go into the process with an idea of what you will buy in your head, you might just end up disappointed by what is out there for you. Of course, as I already mentioned, it is important to know what you need and you should not sacrifice needs, but keeping an open mind throughout the process can help you not only find a new home, but love it even more!

Do Not Make Any Large Purchases

This is a mistake that people commonly make. After getting pre-approved, you cannot make any large purchases on your credit cards! Wait until after you leave the closing table to make any large purchases such as appliances or furniture. What a lot of people do not know is that they can lose the purchase if they are willy nilly with their finances during the home buying process, so be very careful.

 

The Roller Coaster of The Last 6 Weeks

The last 6 weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions. Read more about what’s going on with my sister and nephew here.

LOW – On March 22 my baby sister Rebecca was admitted into the ICU with a deadly infection. One that kills many people who get it quickly, and others within up to 5 years of getting it.

HIGH – I was scheduled to leave for Europe for the trip I’d been dreaming of since the age of 15, and didn’t know if we’d be able to go. With the encouragement of friends and family, we went any way and had a beautiful time, all the while praying for Rebecca’s recovery. And it seemed as though she was improving

LOW – We got home just in time to learn her condition had worsened to the point that she was transferred to another hospital for the surgeries that would save her.

HIGH – Her transfer was uneventful, and I started getting more work with my clients, and my writing work has been therapeutic for me.

LOW – Rebecca’s husband left her and took all financial aid we had for the baby with him. Meanwhile my mom kept having to call out sick from work to be able to be by Rebecca’s side.  This is what prompted me to create the GoFundMe page for my sister and nephew Tyson, which you can donate to here.

HIGH – All of you. So many friends and family members, and even complete strangers have rallied around my family to help us in our dire time of need. I am so grateful for every message of hope, every prayer for healing, every monetary gift, and the food, formula and diapers that have been sent to us.

Thank you to every single one of you. You will never know the impact you are making on our lives and just what your love and generosity has meant to us in this time. Even me typing it now doesn’t fully express what I’m feeling. But thank you so much. I love you all.

4 Easy Home DIY Projects

Easy Home DIY Projects Faux Brickwork Header

This post is sponsored by Faux Brickwork. Now that we've gotten that FCC compliance out of the way, let's jam on the easy home DIY projects I promised you. Shall we?

Y’all know that I love a good DIY project, especially home projects! The reason for this is because home projects can get so timely and costly, especially when you hire them out.

A DIY project can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, and they can be quick and easy, as well! Here are 4 easy home DIY projects for when you get in the mood to change up the look of your home:

Easy Home DIY Projects – Painting

Easy Home DIY Projects Painting

One recommendation that I always give my friends and family members is to paint the rooms in their home. Paint completely changes the look of a room and the good thing about it is that it is relatively easy and inexpensive. Everyone knows how to paint a wall!

Another great thing to think about is getting stick on wallpaper or decals – this can dramatically change a room, as well and it’s very easy to do yourself! One of my favorite websites for wall decals is Rocky Mountain Decals.

They say, “Wall decals are names, shapes and designs that are printed onto either removable vinyl or removable wall fabric. They are an easy, fun and affordable way to add a little flair to a room or change the look of it completely. All our decals and wallpapers are handmade to order, and we offer a large variety of designs from super subtle to highly dramatic.

We pride ourselves in having the perfect decal design for every room. Boys room, check. Girls room, check. Laundry room, check. Bathroom, check. Master bedroom, check, you get the picture! With every order printed onto high quality and removable materials, you can add a splash of excitement to any space with the greatest of ease and have piece of mind that the decals can be removed at any time without leaving any damage or residue on your walls.”

So, next time you want to change up a room by yourself, use some decals and paint to completely change the look with ease!

 

Landscaping

Easy Home DIY Projects Gardening

Ever catch yourself driving through a neighborhood and commenting on which houses have good landscaping, and which could use a pick-me-up? Save the money on an expensive landscaper and make your yard HGTV-worthy yourself.

Use pictures you find online (hello HGTV and Pinterest) to give you the inspiration you need, then after a quick trip to your local home improvement store, it’s time to get to work! Google is a great resource to discover how to complete the tricky tasks you might not know how to do. You know what look you want better than anyone, so make your dream come true!

 

Easy Home DIY Projects – Decor

Easy Home DIY Projects Decor

There are so many great (and easy!) DIY projects to decorate your house. Whether you want a rustic headboard to spruce up the bedroom, some new throw pillows or blankets to decorate your living room, or some homemade candles to keep your home smelling nice, there is something for everyone!

If you need inspiration, check out my Pinterest Crafts and DIY board Pinterest Crafts and DIY board for some of my favorite projects that are easy and fun to complete. While you’re there, give my Pinterest page a follow please!

Easy Home DIY Projects – Backsplash

Easy Home DIY Projects Faux Brickwork

When you think of tackling backsplash on your own, you might get very concerned with how much time it will take, how hard it will be, and if your skills are good enough. Don’t worry – there are easier ways to work on your backsplash that will allow you to reduce your stress levels!

For example, instead of using tile or traditional brick, which could cost quite a bit of money and take a lot of time to do, you could use Faux Brickwork instead!

Faux Brickwork is a fantastic company based out of Clearwater, Florida. They provide exceptionally authentic looking brickwork to suit any setting, using high-quality materials. Faux Brickwork is dedicated to providing the US market with exceptionally sturdy and realistic faux brick panels, making it extremely quick and easy to transform a dull wall, or a whole room into a feature point.

The great thing about Faux Brickwork is that it looks like real brick, but it is simple and quick to install, it is lightweight, cost effective, and anyone can do it themselves. The reason the panels are so easy to install is because they are made from lightweight plaster.

The panels are perfect for busy individuals that want to renovate their home, or add personality to their home, without spending a ton of time and money on it. They have quite a few options when it comes to style and color, but you are also able to paint the panels on your own, order samples, or take advantage of their custom design service, as well!

Check out some more of my projects Below:

Hiring An Electrician-Working On Wires Feature Image

Checklist Ideas For Hiring An Electrician

Considering hiring an electrician? Are you lost on the process of how to go about it? If so, this post may help you with your decision! Check it out by clicking through the image!

In accordance with FTC guidelines, this post is sponsored. To learn more about my disclosure policy, click here.

Did you just purchase a home and are feeling a bit overwhelmed in the process of trying to fix it up yourself? If you’re looking at a home remodel or just attempting to fix that annoying light flicker in your closet, you’ll want to hire a professional electrician to the job right.

You’ll come to find out how much electricians charge, and why they might cost a little more than you think for what they do.

Hiring An Electrician-Light Bulb Plugging Itself In

There are also some great tips to keep your project on the lower end of your budget while also having an idea of what projects electricians work on, and why you may need to hire a specialist rather than attempting to do this on your own.

The most important thing is to determine what type of questions you’ll want to ask your contractor before the project begins, and then to have follow up questions ready to ask for  when your project is over.

Hiring An Electrician-Tools For Work

One of the things you’ll want to get checked off your list when hiring an electrician is perhaps one of the most important ones – how much do they cost? That’s a fair and reasonable question to ask. Generally the per hour rate they charge runs between roughly $50-$100.

Hiring An Electrician-Electrical SocketAsking how much they charge per hour is a fair and reasonable question when hiring an electrician.

 

 

It’ll vary depending on where you live as well as what type of professional you are thinking of hiring. Usually if you live in a nicer area, you’ll expect to pay on that higher scale.

Also the licensing level may also increase your price as well. Typically you pay higher for the first hour and their cost covers their travel and time expense.

If you have an emergency situation in the middle of the night, they may up their fee for a higher rate on weekends or after hours. A truly skilled well equipped professional with a truck that is filled with a lot of parts, may charge a higher fee as well, but it may be a much smarter choice than someone who is inexperienced and has various tools that might not get the job done.

Bottom line – you’ll want someone who is professional, accommodating, reasonably priced, and will get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Hiring An Electrician-Lots Of Wires

Before the electrician comes you’ll want to think of a few preparation tips to make sure you touch base on with them before you hire. This means you want to be as detailed in describing your needs of your contractor as possible.

The more they know ahead of time, the better and quicker the job will be done to your satisfaction. Even before they arrive at your home, I would prepare a very detailed list of items you want serviced. They have a budget of their time for a service call so you want to make sure you hit every point while you have their time and attention.

Make sure that the electrical panel box is also easily accessible. After all, you’ll pay for the time it takes to access it. Also, clear away and furniture or items that may be difficult to get too if you need them to work in a specific area.

This saves you time again when they are there with you. I also would ask any questions you have about the project before they start. In fact, to save time and money, ask before they arrive to get to work.

The last thing you want is for them to not have the right tool for the job, and end up charging you the fee it takes to drive and retrieve it!

Most are happy to run through the problem and the process of how they will go about fixing it. Ask them about issues after the work is complete too, and how to prevent problems in the future.

In some cases, you’ll be able to pay either at the time of service or a bill will be mailed to you to pay at a later date. Make sure you have the fee in writing before they leave if they will be mailing you a bill, however.

Hiring An Electrician-American Electric Logo

American Electric – Your Top Choice For Hiring an Electrician in Jacksonville

Are you thinking that you need to find someone to do all of these things for you may be overwhelming? Not to worry if you live in the Florida area.

Along with their credentials, you also want to find an individual who has a business understanding and a great up to date knowledge of the best products, tools and device as well as someone who has very good interpersonal skills.

If you live in the Jacksonville, Florida area, one such electrician company that you’ll need to check out that encompasses all of these qualities are the friendly staff at American Electric.

Started with Master Electrician, Mike Murphy who shared this simple idea to provide the highest quality electrical contracting service with the best talent in business with a can do attitude to the city of Jacksonville.

Mike began manning the phones from his home office when he first began and then began on a military electrical contracting jobs with a small team of dedicated electrical technicians.

They respond extremely quickly with your call  and with an experienced electrician right at your doorstep, they are there to help complete the job to your immediate satisfaction.

They are fully licensed, have 5 star ratings on their google page and come highly recommended with all their qualifications and experience that you are looking for!

The customers at American Electric also have a 24/7 number you can call for all your emergency needs day or night so you get an answer right away!

Now that is great customer service and one that you’ll recommend and feel comfortable using again and again. Truly, an excellent electrician company is a phone call away.

Like this post? Check out a few of our others:

More Than 30 Cricut Crafts Anyone With a Cricut Can Do!

Cutting paper by hand is soooooooooooo outdated. I mean, especially if you’re trying to make crafts. You could end up with paper cuts, and carpal tunnel. Sure, I’m saying these things in jest – but the truth is that when you are cutting paper by hand for crafts, it can get boring and overwhelming fast. And, if you are trying to make a LOT of crafts, well, you could be there for a lot longer than you initially intended.

Enter Cricut Cutting Machines. What is Cricut you ask? Cricut is the leader in DIY crafting technology. Its popular electronic cutting systems help you cut an endless variety of patterns in paper, vinyl, leather, fabric, iron-on and more so you can make beautiful, polished projects.

Source
This post does contain affiliate links for Cricut Cutting Machines. If you purchase a Cricut through one of my links, it provides this blog with a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!

Cricut bridges the gap from inspiration to creation by offering beautiful DIY projects anyone can make using it’s popular cutting machines and software.

Ditch the scissors, and get yourself a Cricut I say. If you’re hoping to sell crafts, you need a way to produce them faster. Cutting things by hand also leaves you with non-uniform shapes, and will take you much longer than you may want to spend.

The most exciting thing I’ve personally used the machines to make is Christmas cards. If I had done those all by hand, I wouldn’t have gotten them out until St. Patrick’s Day!

Now, I want to play a lot more with the Cricut machines I have access to. So, I went looking for inspiration. As usual, I went to my bloggy friends for their best Cricut crafts. And as always, they did not disappoint. Here are more than 30 Cricut Crafts anyone with a Cricut cutting machine can do!

30 Plus Cricut Crafts You Can Do With a Cricut

 

1 . DIY Masquerade Masks
2 . Scrap Wood Projects – DIY Wooden Cats
3 . DIY Wood Sign – How To Use Scrap Cedar Planks!
4 . DIY Outdoor Pillow
5 . Spring mini Cricut Maker quilt tutorial
6 . How to Make a Steampunk Hat

7 . DIY Leather Keychain
8 . DIY Fabric Banner Baby Gift (Cricut EasyPress Project)
9 . Scrabble Letter Tiles – A DIY Cricut Project
10 . Coffee Mug Vinyl Ideas | DIY Rae Dunn Inspired Decal Coffee Mugs
11 . 40 Mother’s Day Crafts Made with a Cricut Machine
12 . DIY Custom Easter Bunny T-Shirt with HTV Vinyl
13 . Make Teacher Graphic Tee with Cricut: A+ Teacher Christmas Gift Idea
14 . DIY Miss to Mrs Banner for Bridal Shower Decoration

15 . Multi Season Monogrammed Frame using Cricut Vinyl
16 . DIY Wedding Card Box with Vintage Flair (Using a Cricut)
17 . Updated Wooden Doorbell Cover with Vinyl Monogram {Thanks to Cricut Explore Air}
18 . How to Train Your Dragon Craft Project with Free Printables!
19 . Watch Me Whip – Oven Mitt Gift Idea With Cricut
20 . Make A Fun Cricut DIY Mermaid Pillow & Cricut EasyPress Giveaway!
21 . Home Organization Ideas to Make with a Cricut
22 . Make a 3D Family Bucket List

23 . Free Star Wars Gift Tags
24 . 18″ Doll Clothes Made Easy
25 . DIY Donut Pinata
26 . DIY Cat Travel Pillow with Free Pattern
27 . DIY Leather Passport Covers
28 . DIY Unicorn Coloring Shirt
29 . Make a DIY Rustic Wood Sign in Three Steps


30 . EMOJI Oreo Pops
31 . Sparkly New Year’s Eve Cake Topper
32 . DIY Ugly Christmas Hats
33 . Gobble Gobble Thanksgiving Table Runner
34 . How to Make a Wooden Bookmark
35 . Custom Oven Mitts

I hope you enjoyed this roundup post. I’ll be adding more roundups in the future because I love spotlighting my bloggy friends, and I also LOVE saving all these awesome links in one spot so I can find them all later! Until next time, stay crafty!

Looking for some Cricut Crafts inspiration? Check out this fun roundup post featuring 30 Cricut Crafts anyone with a Cricut can do!

 

 

If you like these Cricut Crafts, check out these other DIY projects:

Busch Gardens® Is Celebrating 60 Years of Adventure

One of my FAVORITE things about being a blogger, is being on media lists to learn about new and exciting things happening in the world around me. One of the lists I’m so ecstatic to be on in the media list for news and events for Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

I’ve been visiting Busch Gardens Tampa Bay since I was like 5 years old, and it’s always been a fun place to hang out with family and friends. Imagine my excitement when I learned that this year Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is celebrating SIXTY years in the Tampa Bay area!!!! How amazing is that?!?

They sent me this awesome press release below, and I thought I’d share it with all of you so you can see some of the neat stuff they are doing to celebrate their anniversary all year long!

BUSCH GARDENS® CELEBRATES 60 YEARS OF ADVENTURE

Florida’s Tallest Launch Coaster, fan-favorite events and first details on new hybrid coaster headline the excitement

Celebrating six decades of unforgettable experiences, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay shares even more exciting news with park guests during the 60th Anniversary Celebration Kickoff this evening.

In addition to debuting a new menu for the 2019 Food & Wine Festival and the launch of the all-new Pin Trading program, the park reveals more details for upcoming attractions including Tigris, Florida’s tallest launch coaster, and a new attraction coming in 2020.

 

Food & Wine Festival Coming to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay 3/16/19

Opening on March 16, the Food & Wine Festival returns with an exciting new menu, featuring more than 35 dishes inspired by regional cuisine around the country.

Guests can sample over 100 wines, craft brews and specialty cocktails while enjoying world-class concerts of all tastes, including Daughtry, Justin Moore, El Gran Combo, Boyz II Men, Foreigner and more!

The park recently announced a NEW performance for Stone Temple Pilots on Saturday, April 6. The full menu and line-up, including VIP packages, can be found online at BuschGardensTampa.com.

 

 

 

 

Pin Trading Program Launches at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Also as part of the park’s 60th Anniversary, Busch Gardens launches a NEW Pin Trading program today. With more than 150 pins now available in the park, guests can begin collecting and trading the pocket-sized souvenirs.

From fan-favorite animals, attractions, and events to exclusive collections not sold in stores, guests can trade pins with employees as they explore the park.

 

Tigris Will Be Florida’s TALLEST Launch Coaster

Excitement is building with the eagerly anticipated spring opening of TigrisFlorida’s tallest launch coaster. With the recent arrival of the ride vehicles, testing for the new attraction will begin soon to prepare for opening day this spring.

“We’re moving quickly to open our ninth roller coaster, Tigris, with a tenth coaster already underway for next year,” said Stewart Clark, President of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Adventure Island.

“This cadence of back-to-back new attractions is unprecedented for our park, and continues our legacy as Florida’s thrill ride leader.”

 

 

The buzz continues with more history in the making at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, as construction begins on a NEW hybrid coaster arriving in 2020. 

When it opens next year, the ride willbecome North America’s tallest hybrid, and the fastest, steepest hybrid coaster in the world.

 

Manufactured by Rocky Mountain Construction, the newest addition at Busch Gardens will be a wood and steel hybrid coaster design, featuring a maximum height of more than 200 feet tall.

The ride will feature all-new thrill elements, as well as restored elements of Gwazi. Coaster enthusiasts can follow the progress of Tigris and the new 2020 attraction through the park’s social media channels and using #TakeOnTigris and #2020Rising.

 

Be the first to know about new events, special deals and future announcements by following Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s blog and social media channels on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

 

Best Way to Play At Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

MORE VALUE, MORE OPTIONS WITH ANNUAL PASS – Pick your way to play in 2019 with a Busch Gardens Annual Pass, starting at $10.99 a month for Florida Residents.

Guests can select from four pass levels for the benefits they want most – including FREE parking, discounts on merchandise and food, as well as animal encounters – to gear up for a calendar full of special events plus EXCLUSIVE pass member ride time for the opening of Tigriscoming in 2019.

Add more parks – Get a 4-park pass to Busch Gardens, Adventure Island, SeaWorld and Aquatica, starting at just $15.99 a month.

FREE Preschool Card- Kids 5 and younger can enjoy FREE admission to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Adventure Island throughout all of 2019 with the Preschool Card. There’s never been a cooler time to be a kid! Florida residents only, other conditions apply, visit BuschGardensTampa.com to register.

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About Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay is the ultimate family adventure, offering 300 acres of fascinating attractions based on exotic explorations around the world. Busch Gardens is a unique blend of thrilling rides, one of the country’s premier zoos with thousands of animals representing more than 200 species, and live shows and events, providing unrivaled experiences for guests of every age.

For more information, visit BuschGardensTampaBay.com. Busch Gardens is owned by SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS), a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter, and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world.

 

How to Spend your Tax Refund? Don’t!

Tax Day is April 15. It comes every year and with it, our Facebook feeds, Twitter and Instagram accounts are full with everyone updating and showing off friends & family playing with the new “toys” they got with their tax refund!

Some people get a new car every year, or go on a family vacation, or go to an extravagant dinner they couldn’t have otherwise afforded.

For many families, tax season is the best time of year. Soon, they’re taking pictures of the latest Disney vacation, or the latest piece of technology they purchased. What does all this have in common? People are spending when they should probably be saving.

Let’s be real. Saving just isn’t as fun as spending but what if I told you that saving your tax return each year sets you up for opportunities to have more spending money throughout the year? Would you be interested in hearing more?

It’s true that a little delayed satisfaction can go a long way here. Let’s take for example, a family of four and a $1,500 tax refund. Believe it or not, that amount is modest by some standards.

This $1,500 could provide

  • a nice vacation for a family of four including hotel lodgings, fun and meals, OR
  • an action packed staycation at local attractions, museums & theme parks OR
  • an elegant night on the town (or two), OR
  • a down payment for a newer, nicer car on a trade-in.

But what if, instead, that same $1,500 was used to pre-pay your family’s electric bill (average $150/month) for 10 months? That would provide instant cash access of $150/month for 10 months!

Think of all the fun your family could have each month with that extra money. You could go to a museum, or go to the movies and dinner, or save a couple months and go to the local attractions. You could eliminate a bill that you pay each month, freeing up room in your regular budget and allowing you to create a new budget item of “FUN!”

Alternately, you could choose to pay off a debt, freeing your family of the burden of monthly payments and opening up that money for spending. You could also save or invest that money and see real dividends! That same $1,500 saved, or better yet, invested, could provide you with some real earning potential over the course of just a few years.

For a relatively conservative example, let’s say that your family invested the $1,500 in a return that yielded 4% compounded annually. The first year you would have $1,560.00. Doesn’t sound like much, does it?

Let’s say you decided to do the same again with your return (each year being $1,500) for an additional 3 years. In a matter of 4 years, your family would have $6,369.70. Doing this for 10 years in would leave you with a comfortable $18,009.16. Now THAT is something to get excited about! Think of all the ways you could spend all that money.

I think you might agree it was worth the time and energy spent saving. Sometimes the best way to spend your tax refund is not at all!

You Got a Tax Refund?

People sometimes get the silly notion that a tax refund is a GOOD thing. They think of vacations, cars, new phones, new toys, new gadgets, savings and more. But think again.

There are a lot of people that plan on their refund each year for certain items (see aforementioned list) and they treat it like a “savings account.” They just LOVE tax time and think a refund is a good thing.

However, a tax refund is really NOT a good thing. Let’s delve into this thought pattern a little more and see just how many silly mistakes you are making when you get an annual tax return.

A tax return means you over-paid the government in your taxes and they owe you money. Essentially, you have lent them money from January of the year before to April (or whenever you file your taxes) interest free. In other words, you’ve thrown away money from interest AND been unable to spend your money for a year or more.

Let’s discuss the interest losses we take on a tax refund. When you consider that a savings account or CD with a modest 1 or 2% interest rate would yield an annual return of $10 or $20 per $1,000 of return, you’ll agree that stuff adds up. A return of $2,000 would mean losing out $40.

If you don’t think that’s a lot then go ahead and take out 2 (two) $20 dollar bills from your pocket now. Go… I’m waiting…. Got them? Good. Now go throw them in the nearest garbage can and leave them there. Hurts, right?

Or, next time you’re at the bank get forty $1 bills and as you’re driving to work each day, throw out $1 every day right out the window… 40 days later, let me know how you feel about it! Obviously, when we see cash loss, it makes the point drive home. If you wouldn’t throw away cold hard cash, then why throw it away in other forms?

Finally, we must realize the loss of use associated with the government holding our money hostage until we file a return and then up to 6 weeks after for processing payment. Have you ever been a little short on cash?

Perhaps had the thought, “I could sure use some extra cash today?” Next time that happens, think of the government holding your latest tax refund in their hand while you scrounge for change in couch for your next coffee. Not such a good idea anymore, is it?

Now you see the light. But now what can you do about it?

In cases where you are an employee, you simply need to file an adjusted W-4 with your employer. This is the form your employer uses to withhold your taxes. It’s super easy- request one from your employer or simply go online to the IRS website (https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw4.pdf) and print a form.

To accurately determine how much you should have withheld, use the IRS withholding calculator. This will tailor your tax withholdings to your particular situation and ensure that you are withholding just the right amount. (https://apps.irs.gov/app/withholdingcalculator/) For self-employed situations, you will want to consult a professional tax expert to be sure that your estimated tax payments are correct.

In any situation, you want to make sure that you are withholding the correct amount, not too much or too little. Trust me, you do not want a refund even when you think you do.

How To Avoid Getting Fake Car Insurance

The following is a guest post by Thorsten Gohde

Ever since the dawn of civilization of civilization fake products have existed in the market. Fakers haven’t stopped. This time, it’s not only products that are being faked – services are being faked too.

Providers and regulators never stop informing the public about fake services. Yet there are still people who fall for these fakes over and over again. Some con artists are so adept at making their services look real.

The automobile industry is no exception. Sketchy car insurance websites are out there selling fake policies and deals. If you use a car or van for business purposes, you must make sure the insurance on it is up to date so you don’t get in trouble, even if you’re hiring it. In the UK, you can click on this site for more information about hiring a van. But back to fake insurance: in this article, we will discuss how you can avoid falling for such counterfeit services.

Understanding mandatory car insurance

You need car insurance to avoid financial loss in case of a car accident. It saves you from shouldering the repair cost. The law mandates liability insurance to protect other people from you and your car. This will cover paying for damages and injuries done to others. It helps to get insurance from a reputable source, for example, somewhere like car insurance by Insurance Quotes, to help you with your policy.

Understand the insurance policies

The two basic insurance types are liability insurance and comprehensive insurance. The liability insurance pays for damage you’ve done to others. Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your car due to natural causes, or in case of theft and accidents. You can learn more about this when you consult insurance providers.

Agents

First-time car insurance buyers often talk to insurance agents suggested by car dealers. Or sometimes, the car dealers offer you insurance too. If you are dealing with an agent, be sure to run a background check. This will help you avoid con artists.

You need to check and read the documents the agent gives you. Sometimes you might find sketchy clauses in your contract. Clarify what these means first before signing. You can always ask to see their license.

Car insurance companies

Scam artists have adapted and started getting into new technology. If you want to make a purchase with your insurance company, it’s safer to go to their branch office instead of going online. However, the downside is that it can be quite an inconvenience.

If you can’t go to the physical office, there’s another way to make sure the website is not a scam. Look for the customer service contact number and call it. If there is none, it is probably fake. If they don’t answer or is answered by a suspicious-sounding person, be wary.

Online aggregators

Some online aggregators can find insurance deals for you online. If you visit their website and avail of their services, they will do the comparing of premiums for you. Keep in mind that you should make sure their website is secured. To do this, look for the green padlock icon near the search bar where the website name is located. Keep in mind that you should check coverages too and not just prices. It certainly is possible to do a Cheap car insurance comparison of many different insurers.

You should make an informed choice

It doesn’t really matter where you choose to purchase your insurance. You have to make sure that you are making the right choice. Keep in mind the tips in this article and seek to further understand how getting an insurance works. If you master what each coverage does and how to get them, you won’t fall for fake auto insurance.

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Neesh or Nitch?

The following is a guest post by Bill Davis

I admit, I don’t know how to say niche. Some say “neesh” and some say “nitch.”

Does it really matter? No.

What does matter is that a) you pick a niche that has the potential to earn revenue and b) you research it really well.

Today, I want to talk about niches, or more specifically, choosing a niche.

This is very important: The niche, or topic, you choose to blog about will determine success or failure, as measured by earnings, traffic, engagement, and satisfaction (yours).

The most important aspect above is your satisfaction, in my humble opinion. You will not be able to continually write about and update your site if you hate it.

But that’s a given, right?

Many expert bloggers will tell you to choose a niche you’re passionate about. Others will tell you to pick a niche that has earning potential above all else.

I will tell you this: You need BOTH.

Let’s say you choose a topic that has high earning potential (think health, wealth, relationships, and hobbies). You begin blogging about it, making affiliate sales, earning advertising revenue, and maybe you even make your own product to sale.

Things are going well. You’re satisfied with your results. But you don’t really like the topic. Maybe you don’t even know the niche well.

You can sustain for a while. But eventually, you’ll grow tired of writing about something you don’t really like. You’ll stop writing, traffic will dry up, and you’ll abandon the project.

All earnings will eventually subside and vanish.

But hey, it was a good run.

Alternatively, let’s say you chose a niche that you’re passionate about. You’re an expert and you love talking about it at cocktail parties. Your niche friends love it, too.

You begin the project gung-ho. You write and write and write. You guest blog and you get your stories featured in industry blogs and newsletters.

Maybe you even get speaking gigs!

But you chose a niche that had little earning power (say, teen dental hygiene–I made that up).

Eventually, your passion for the project (the blog) will subside. Your passion for the topic may never die. But you will stop blogging.

It’s best, in fact, if you find this out sooner rather than later.

Let’s face it: You’re here because you want to earn money blogging and “internet marketing.”

You’re not here because you want to write blog posts that nobody reads.

You want the moolah!

So, I say to you, you need to pick a niche that you’re passionate about and that has earning potential.

As I alluded to before, focus on niches in the health, wealth, relationships, and hobbies areas.

But dive deeper than that. You need to find out where people are actively spending money in those niches.

How do you do that? You research!

Here’s a great primer on niche research. Read that whole series. It will give you great insight on how to choose a niche that will satisfy you and your readers (and hopefully, your BUYERS).