Home Improvements: Some Things Should Be Left to the Pros

by Renee' Anderson 23. April 2015

Home Equity Loan and Lines of Credit

It's true that saving money is important. However, sometimes you need to spend a little in order to not lose a lot. You know what I mean? No? Okay. Let me explain.

As you consider whether to hire professionals to handle your next home improvement project or do it yourself, there are some things to keep in mind.

  • How much is time worth? Often times, doing things yourself slows down the process. This could be fine, IF you’re not working on a time sensitive improvement like a new roof (you’d want to get your leaky roof fixed before the next big storm).

  • Is the type of improvement you’re doing something that could result in further damage? Pluming, for example, is a trade. If your project requires a complicated plumbing aspect, are you really skilled enough to do it? Or is it possible that you would make a mistake and end up with water damage, which could cost more money to fix than it would have to hire a plumber in the first place? Let’s be realistic here, people. We all would like to think we can do anything and everything, but sometimes the smarter person is the one who sticks to what they’re good at.

  • Wall demolition. Do you know which walls in your house are load-bearing walls? If your answer is no, do NOT knock anything down! If your answer is yes, do you know how to work around them? Sometimes it’s better to have a professional assess the situation before you decide if your wall demo project is a DIY or not.

  • Just because you see it on YouTube or Pinterest does NOT mean you can do it too. These days, you can pretty much find a YouTube how-to video on anything you search. That does not mean you should attempt to do just anything that there’s a how-to video on. For all you know, it could be a professional whose been doing it for 25 years and they just make it look a lot easier than it is. Not to mention, their situation may not be exactly like yours, i.e. if you decide to follow a video on building your own patio and it’s time to pour the concrete, perhaps you didn’t think about the fact that the weather where the how-to video was filmed was 70 degrees, but it’s 95 degrees where you are and the concrete starts to harden before you can get to it. (I mean, you’re not a professional, so let’s be honest, you’re not moving at lightning fast speed.)

While it might be fulfilling to complete home improvement projects yourself, there are just some things that should be left to the pros.

Finance Your Renovations with a Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

Using Home Equity Loans and Lines of Credit to Your Advantage

5 Inexpensive Ways to Improve the Look of Your Home

Quick Tips for Staging Your Home to Sell

10 Things You Can Do to Help Save the Earth

by Renee' Anderson 22. April 2015

Save Money Recycling

Really? Surely it doesn’t matter what I personally do, it’s not really going to impact much, right? Wrong. You’d be shocked at what just you, as one person, can do to impact the earth.

Here’s the thing, I’m busy. I don’t really even know what I can do, and I don’t really have time to figure it out, let alone take the extra steps to do it. This was my train of thought, until my 5- and 3-year-old kids started asking me why we don’t recycle. I danced around the topic for a while, but they kept pushing. Then I notice things piling up next to the trash can because they wanted to recycle these items (and of course I haven’t "had time" to get a recycling bin for our house). Yeah, okay, time for me to get onboard.

1. Recycle

On a family trip to Home Depot, I spotted a medium-sized blue recycling bin. My husband then picked up a big blue outdoor recycling bin from our trash collection provider. Done. It’s seriously amazing how much of our "trash" is actually recyclable. And since our trash only gets picked up once a week, it’s also nice that we now have two big bins to fill up!

2. Use water efficiently

Easy peasy! Just do simple things, such as don’t let the water run while shaving or brushing teeth, repair all toilet and faucet leaks right away, and run your dishwasher only with a full load. Why does this matter? It takes lots of energy to pump, treat, and heat water, so saving water reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

3. Change light bulbs

Replace lightbulbs with ENERGY STAR® qualified products. This will help the environment AND help you save money on energy bills. When shopping, always look for new appliances or even home electronics that are ENERGY STAR products.

4. Bank online

Pay bills and view statements online instead of through the mail. It's faster than writing checks and waiting for a paper statement in the mail, and you don't have to store all of that paper. If you’re a 1st Mariner customer and have yet to set up Online Banking and register for eStataments, do it now! If you’re not a customer but would like to take advantage of our Online Banking features, just open up an account and enroll in Online Banking and eStataments at the same time…get started saving the earth right away!

Fun Fact- If everybody in the United States started dealing with money online, it would save almost 19 million trees every year [source: IdealBite].

5. Get a programmable thermostat

Stop wasting energy when you aren't home and when you're sleeping (on a different floor). Not only is this another way to save the earth, but you will save on your energy bill as well…win, win.

6. Buy local food

This is another one that has more than one benefit. Buying food that is grown locally will help eliminate transportation (trucks, ships, etc. produce pollutants), and will allow you to support your local businesses. Visit farmers or use a CSA (community-supported agriculture) service to get fresh produce.

1st Mariner Bank Reusable Bag

7. Reusable fabric bags

Bring them with you when you go shopping. I have plenty of these bags lying in my closet, but I have to admit, I don’t actually USE them to shop with. So, one of my contributions to Earth Day this year will be to bring my reusable bags with me when I head out to the grocery store later today. Seriously. You can hold me accountable if you want. Check back in, I’ll take pictures.

8. Compost

Composting your food and yard waste reduces the amount of garbage that you send to landfills and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. And once you set up a composting system -- basically a bin in your kitchen to put in compostable waste, and a bin in your yard where it can decay -- all of that rich fertilizer is free.

9. Plant a garden

Gardening is not only something you can do to help save the earth, it can also be a fun and relaxing hobby! Plant some veggies and fruits that you will eat so that you don’t have to buy them at the store. Also try to make your yard friendlier to wildlife. Plant lots of different types of vegetation. All kinds of creatures will visit your yard if you provide them with reason to be there.

10. Spread the word

Tell everyone! Peer pressure…for a good cause, of course! Let others know how easy it is, and that they can truly impact our earth.

Fun find- calculate your household's carbon footprint. Use EPA's Household Carbon Footprint Calculator to estimate your household greenhouse gas emissions resulting from energy use, transportation, and waste disposal. This tool helps you understand where your emissions come from and identify ways to reduce them.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

7 Ways to Save Money Recycling

Infographic: Earth Day 2014

Spring Clean Your Finances in 6 Days - Part 1

How to Build Good Credit: 5 Steps for College Grads

by Renee' Anderson 3. February 2015

Good Credit, Bad Credit

Congratulations on making it through college! Now it’s time to get yourself together. Once you have a full-time job lined up, you should focus your attention on your financial future. Sounds grown up, huh?! It’s really not that complicated. Building good credit is an important part of your finances. Here are five steps to take towards your goal:

1) Become an authorized user on your parents’ credit card account.

This doesn’t mean your parents have to hand over their credit card and let you go crazy, buy a new iPhone6 and go on a shopping spree. What I would suggest is getting permission to simply use the card for expenses they typically pay for. This way you can take the credit card and fill the family grocery order while building good credit for yourself and pleasing your parents by lending a helping hand. It’s a win, win!

2) Apply for your own credit card.

Just one. Not 10, ONE. You will want to establish credit worthiness by using it to purchase small items that you typically would pay for with cash. Put the cash aside so when the bill arrives, you can pay it off in full each month. Oh, and while we’re on the subject…don’t forget to PAY IT OFF IN FULL each month!

3) Pay bills on time.

This applies to credit card bills along with any other bills you have. Perhaps you have student loans? A cell phone bill? Paying them on time makes a big difference.

4) Apply for a car loan.

Now that you’ve graduated and hopefully have a full-time job, you’re probably ready to buy your own brand new (or used) car. Go for it, and get the loan in your name. Doing this, and paying it on time, will help your credit. It’s good to have a variety of different account types to diversify your credit.

5) Pay attention!

You need to keep track of your finances including your credit card statements and the activity on the account. Make sure there are no mistakes, i.e. a charge that is not yours. There are times where mix ups occur, and you could be charged or penalized for something you didn’t do. If that happens, call your credit card company to straighten things out right away.

Follow these steps and you can take credit for building your own good credit. See what I did there? You know that was funny. Or cheesy, okay.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

Is It Good Debt or Bad Debt?

Establishing Credit for Beginners

5 Actions That Help Your Credit Score

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