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Tips&Tricks

How to save money when planning home improvements

Overspending on the budget is undoubtedly one of the biggest fear of every homeowner when it comes to remodeling or renovation projects. Even when it’s the third or fourth time you’ve had such tasks, it’s difficult to keep the bills for materials and contractors in check. Don’t worry because you are not alone. With a little bit of planning and thinking, you can easily cut costs without compromising the ultimate quality. Below are a few helpful tips to show you how to save money when planning home improvements.

1. Focus on efficiency rather than size

If you would reorganize and innovate your kitchen for optimal utility, it’s not necessary to knock down the walls to have extra square footage. Instead, you can replace a space-hogging shelf with pullout drawers, which contain racks for storing items. By increasing the efficiency in a specific space, you can save a lot of money from enlarging the area.

2. Make use of natural light

Before making a big hole in the wall of your living room and installing the frame for new windows, consider less expensive and invasive ways to capture light. For example, you can brighten up your windowless hallway or bath by installing a “light tube,” which would slip between the roof rafters and reflect sunshine down to your living space.

3. Visit the recycling centre

If you are a DIYer, it’s able to get significant savings with lightly used or recycled building materials or light fixtures. There are many recycling centres around the city which sell salvaged materials at much more affordable prices. Investing your time in these facilities, and you will significantly reduce your renovation budget.

4. Do it yourself

If you are a keen learner and think you can complete certain parts of the home improvement you are doing then why not. It can save you a lot of money in the long run. For example, if you are getting a new kitchen installed you could take out the old cabinets and take your kitchen back to basics yourself. This will save you a lot of money instead of hiring a trade to do it for you.

Tips&Tricks

How to Choose A New Family Vehicle: Knowing What to Look For

Family vehicles balance the necessity of safety for you and your loved ones, with the mobility required for modern living. Considering over 42,000 people lost their lives in highway-related accidents last year, every parent understands the desire for a vehicle that can protect your family. Large vehicles like sports utility vehicles (SUVs) are becoming the new go-to for safety, although they are counterbalanced by an increased risk of rollovers and danger to other drivers.

picking family car

Modern Safety Features Are Proven To Reduce the Risk Of Injury

When choosing a new family vehicle, it’s important to consider basic safety features. Many new cars include a feature to manually disable airbags for a time, to eliminate the risk that they will fire on small children and cause severe injury. You should also consider child safety locks, which automatically trigger when a vehicle’s ignition is started or turned off. These and other electronic safety measures can help with family safety in modern truck vehicles.

Check Informative Sources About Your Vehicle’s Make Or Model

If you’re going to buy a new family vehicle, consider checking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website. This government organization has been testing vehicle safety when it comes to impact crashes, rollovers, and other accident scenarios for years. They then reward models a safety rating using a five-star system. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is another group that gathers data on vehicle safety to help consumers make the right choice.

The Best Vehicle For Personal Safety

Family drivers have been buying more SUVs in recent years. The perception is that the larger mass of the vehicles reduces the seriousness of injury during crashes. Though SUVs do have a tendency to protect you and your family in an impact based crash, they are more prone to rollover due to the extra height, and the extra impact is transferred into other vehicles on side or head-on collisions, raising the risk of serious injury or death in anyone else involved in a crash.

Making the Best Choice

If you’re looking to buy a new family vehicle with your family’s safety as the priority, an SUV is most likely the right option. When it comes to child safety, remember to buy a more modern vehicle, as the introduction of child safety locks and electronic vehicle monitoring have given parents more control over their safety than ever before. And before you buy a new family vehicle, check with the NHTSA or IIHS, to determine the safety and efficiency of your family vehicle.

Tips&Tricks

How Much Money You Need to Have Kids

Children cost a tremendous amount of money. Many people, though, choose to have a baby first and worry about the expenses later. However, by doing things this way, they will force themselves to constantly look for solutions to their financial problems, such as how to feed and clothe their baby.

It is important that you are sure about this crucial decision and that you have the right partner in making it. You also need to consider several factors first before having children. That might be the reason why people are pushing back the age of having a child.

Average Age of First-Time Parents

The average age of first-time parents has been increasing in recent years. Women, taken as a group, have their first child between the ages of 30 and 34 nowadays, while men become parents when they are between the ages of 25 and 29.

The average age of first-time mothers is 28 years old. It was approximately 25 in 2000 and 26 in 2014, so you can see that it’s slowly increasing. Women delay having kids because they want to be financially stable first before starting a family. According to sociology experts, it costs around $235,000 to raise a kid from birth until he or she is 17. Adults today want to have a head start so that they are ready for the financial responsibilities that come with having children.

Save Money to Raise a Child

It is a good idea to save money before having a family. However, the amount you need varies from one case to another. Most parents say that young adults should not worry about lacking enough money to raise a child because they can take out a quick personal loan or use a credit card for their expenses when their income is insufficient and just worry about it later on.

Purchasing a house is the largest investment most people will make in their lifetime. However, raising several kids usually exceeds that amount. If you add the cost of college education or the expenses needed to raise more than one child, you will definitely find that buying a home is more affordable.

Proper planning, though, would help you raise children without suffering financially. Some of the expenses for the first 18 months of a kid’s life include prenatal care and childbirth, maternity leave, baby clothes and toys, formula and food, diapers, and child care, just to list a few.

It is important to prepare your finances before starting a family. What follows are some of the financial milestones you should reach before considering having children.

Have a Stable Job

It is important that you have job security before having kids. Whether you are self-employment, work in a traditional type of job, or exist through a combination of both, you should have a stable income that can support your family.

 

You should choose a career path that you can continue on, even after having kids. The income you receive should cover the costs of childcare, but this is just a portion of the amount required to raise a child.

When looking for a job, you should consider more than the salary, though. You should also understand the benefits offered, such as paternity or maternity leave, personal and sick leaves, and dental and health care. That way, you can take a day off when your child is sick, and it will not affect your salary.

Make Sure You Have Adequate Disposable Income

The above-quoted figure of $235,000 seems like a large amount, which averages out to around $1,087 a month for one child, or -$13,044 a year. You should have enough of a buffer in your budget to be financially secure, even before the expenses of caring for a child come into play.

Experts recommend that you save an amount equal to a year or more of the estimated cost of rearing a child. That way, you don’t need to worry about your expenses over time. Some financial experts even suggest having savings of at least $20,000 before you give birth. This amount could also cover some tests or other expenses that are not part of your insurance coverage.

Create an Emergency Fund

Aside from your disposable income, you should also have an emergency fund. You never know what might happen to your child. You need to be prepared for future possibilities. The emergency fund should be three to six months’ worth of expenses in order to protect your family from any surprises that may occur in the future.

Save Up for Retirement

Aside from having to pay for childcare, you should also start to save money for your retirement. The cost of raising your child increases as he or she ages. That’s why it is important to save for your own retirement before having your first child.

You have the sole responsibility for your retirement fund, and you should start one before having kids so that you secure your own financial future and prevent burdening your kids as you near retirement age.

The best way to save for retirement is to put ten percent of your income into your savings account. To ensure you do not use this portion of your paycheck on something else, you can automatically transfer the amount to your savings.

Find Ways to Save for College

Many parents find it difficult to start a college fund for their kids. To add to this burden, many adults are probably also still paying for their own student loans. If you don’t want your children to suffer the same, or a similar, debt problem, you should try your best to save up for their college education as soon as it’s possible, close to giving birth.

Manage Debt

Debt management is a skill that all parents should master. You should get your debt to a manageable level first, even before you consider having a baby. Expenses will absolutely add up fast when you have a child, and that factor can easily lead to more debt.

When it comes to your own debts, it’s important to make sure that you pay them off as fast as you can. By doing this, you save money and, at the same time, keep your finances under control. If you need to get a loan for childbirth, make sure that the terms are affordable. You should conduct your own research on different lenders before you sign for a loan.

Childcare Expenses

Childcare is the biggest expense you will incur once you go back to work. Having close family members or friends who can help take care of the child while you are at work can save you a lot of money over the long run.

However, having no family or friends nearby to help take care of the child will almost certainly result in more expenses and mean that you would need to employ the services of a nanny or daycare. Full-time infant care can cost up to $20,000 a year.

These are some of the things to consider before having a child. However, the reality doesn’t always present you with the best-case scenario. You will know when you are ready to have a child, even if you haven’t hit all of these previously mentioned financial milestones. They should only serve as a guide that will help prepare you financially before you have children.

Tips&Tricks

Fearless Meal Preps With Kids

With Masterchef Junior titles being dished out to chefs as young as eleven, like Beni Cwiakala from Chicago, Illinois, it’s evident that having little ones around while preparing dishes can be a treat. From preparing school lunches to helping with dinner prep, having kids in the kitchen can be a lot of fun. Here’s how to do that safely.

Safe knife skills for different ages

Knife skills are an integral part of involving children in the kitchen, but let’s face it, the prospect of combining a sharp blade with a busy toddler is terrifying. Cool Kids cook Jenny Chandler advises that a wooden lolly stick is a good place to start. From bananas to soft mozzarella cheese and strawberries, chopping these up is a good place to start. Once they start understanding the dangers of sharp blades, taking them through the various levels becomes a little easier. Tutorials aplenty are available on YouTube and can teach parents a thing or two about safe cutting skills as well.

Safety comes first

It’s normal to teach about the obvious things first, such as hot water, stovetops, and ovens. But there are other items in the kitchen that deserve a special mention too. Power pressure cookers have scared even adults for a number of years and are not a safe option for children to use. Slow cookers are a bit safer, but an adult should be on hand to lend support, especially when opening the lid as steam needs to escape. Deep fat fryers and electric frying pans also require young chefs to be extra cautious, with constant adult supervision a must.

Food prep is important too

Although chicken and sausages are mean ingredients for pasta sauces, handling the raw and cooked meats on the same surfaces can spell disaster with a capital “S” for Salmonella. It’s important to start with basic food safety such as washing ingredients and prepping food on clean surfaces with clean utensils. Keeping the equipment clean is also important and young aspiring chefs should know how to clean up as much as cook the food. This is also a good time to discuss food allergies and how they should be wary to share their food with other children for this reason.

There is much to think about when introducing your little ones to your domain: the kitchen. However, many parents are pleasantly surprised by how well their children adapt when they are given small amounts of responsibility. Teaching children to enjoy the cooking process will allow them to have a healthy view of ingredients and food as a whole.

Tips&Tricks

6 Handy Tips On Planning A Great Holiday With Toddlers

Are you wondering how to make the most of your trip with the toddlers tagging along? Vacations offer a great escape from your busy routine and a fun way of taking stress off your mind, unplugging from technology and enjoying some well-deserved ‘me’ time. But with toddlers and teenagers accompanying you, planning a marvelous getaway can be somewhat challenging. I believe, being optimistic about the entire concept of taking kids along can help ward off feelings of despair and apprehension. Consider the vacation as an opportunity to bond with each other, especially the little ones. Take a look at the tips I have compiled to make your trip hassle-free and enjoyable.

Include Kids in the Planning Process

When you plan your road trip or a summer holiday, make an effort to include toddlers in the process of selecting activities and making the holiday schedule. Even if they’re too young to review places and pick top destinations, allow them to plan the activities and ask them about the things they would want to see, the places they’d like to visit and so on. Permitting kids to participate in the planning process ensures a ‘happy’ journey for all family members.

Look Up Kid-Friendly places

With toddlers onboard, you should look for kid-friendly destinations that are safe and offer all the essential amenities your family need. Look up top destinations online or check out kid-friendly places for toddler holidays on Oliver’s Travels. If you’ve already got a place in mind, make sure it is safe to travel there with the kids and the accommodation facilities meet your travel requirements. Avoid traveling to places with hard terrains and mountainous regions including trekking spots with the kids. If you’ve booked a flight to one of the beaches in the Caribbean, make sure you are aware of all the safety measures you need to take in the time of need. The accommodation at the resort or the house you plan on staying should also be kid friendly with separate rooms for you and the little ones. The rooms must offer all the essential facilities for a comfortable living and enjoy a restful sleep.

A Visit To The Doctor

Before you embark on your journey, I suggest you take your toddlers to the doctor for a checkup. The doctor may advise vaccinations and medicine depending on your travel destination. While it’s safe to travel within the States and in-city but if you’re planning a week-long journey to Botswana or Hawaii, your kids may require some vaccination. Also, make sure you pack all relevant medicines, a sunblock, a first aid kit, an antibacterial hand wash, baby diapers and sanitizers before you take the road.

Make The Travel Safe for Kids

Did you decide, how will you be traveling? Will you be booking a flight or driving in your car? Airlines take care of toddler seating arrangements but if you’re traveling in your car you need to have kid safety seats. Ensure the seat belts are secured properly and all child locks are active. If you’re taking your toddler’s walker along, have it properly fastened to the car seat, so it doesn’t irk your little one along the way.

Fun Activities For Kids

On a family vacation, you surely want to take the kids to a place that offers loads of fun activities like guided tours, playgroup sessions, summer camps, and traveling sprees to check out themed parks and entertaining spots. Kids love some fun and adventure, so plan such activities for your little ones that could make the trip joyous and memorable. For toddlers, a visit to the safari club in Botswana or Zimbabwe, Disneyland, or a famous beach in the Caribbean to explore the wildlife around is a great way to keep them entertained throughout the journey.

Pack The Essentials

With toddlers accompanying you, it’s very important to pack the essentials. Surely, you don’t want them to miss out on the fun because you left their favorite teddy at home or forgot to bring their swimsuit along. Pack all necessary items from clothing and slippers to toddler accessories, the must-take toys, vaccinations, wet wipes, drinks and snacks to munch on, and tech gadgets like baby monitors etc. The little ones may not like the local delicacies at the place you’re traveling to, so make an effort to pack in their favorite meal and snacks.

Tips&Tricks

2 Mistakes New Parents Make When Putting Baby to Bed

Being a new parent is a lot of work, and there are so many things to think about on a daily basis. It is normal for you to put a lot of pressure on yourself to be perfect when you first bring home your new baby, but this just is not possible, and it might be time to cut yourself some slack and accept some help from other people.
When it comes to bedtime there is a lot to think about, and that is why we are here to tell you about 2 common mistakes that new parents make when putting baby to bed, and how to solve them.

2 Mistakes New Parents Make When Putting Baby to Bed

Unsafe Co-Sleeping

Due to the fact that sleeping alongside your new baby and having skin to skin contact are two of the main ways that parents bond with their children, it can be tempting to bring your new baby in your bed and sleep with them right in the middle of you and your partner. It can also be tempting to curl up with your new baby on the couch and take advantage of a good nap while they are also asleep.

But these bad co-sleeping habits can be the most unsafe thing that you can do with you baby for many different reasons.

Mistakes when putting baby to bed

When you are asleep next to your baby without any sort of assistance, you are taking a great risk of accidental injury to your new baby. You run the risk of your newborn rolling off the bed or being accidentally tangled in the covers or smothered underneath you. You don’t have control of what you do when you are asleep, especially during the postpartum coma-like naps that you take whenever you get the opportunity. Basically, it’s really dangerous to have your baby sleeping near or with you in an uncontrolled situation.

Luckily, there are a lot of good options that still allow you to co-sleep safely with your baby as a new parent. One of the most common options for a new parent is to keep the baby’s crib or bassinet in the parent’s room within arm’s reach. This way there is no risk of accidental injury for the baby while sleeping but you can still be near to and bond with your baby while asleep.

Another great option that is super common is having a sidecar co-sleeper that attaches to your bed and allows you to feel as though you are sharing the same sleeping space without any of the risk of sharing an actual bed with your new baby. There are a lot of great options out there for safe co-sleeping, like this website for co sleeping cribs.

 

Using a Crib Bumper

Despite the amount of warnings that have been released over the years, there are a lot of crib bumpers out there on the market. These are unsafe for your new baby, even though they may seem like they are increasing baby’s safety while they are in their crib.

The fact of the matter is that crib bumpers are now outdated and unnecessary, as they were invented when the bars of cribs were wide enough apart that a baby’s head could fit through them. Nowadays crib bumpers are essentially pointless and actually increase the chances of SIDS or suffocation.

The best way to fix this problem is to ditch the crib bumpers and instead keep nothing in your baby’s crib. Ensure that your cot meets modern safety standards, meaning that the bars are positioned so that accidental entrapment of the baby is not possible. If you are still worried about your baby hitting their head on the slats of the crib or injuring themselves, then consider swaddling when asleep or using bumpers that wrap around the slats of the crib and don’t sit inside the crib.

 

Conclusion

Being a new parent can be overwhelming, and there are a lot of things that you need to consider. However, taking little advice such as this  about putting baby to bed can make a huge difference in the happiness and safety of you and your baby.