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COA Resources
  • Driver's License - You must make sure you change your address with your State's department of motor vehicles (DMV).
  • Magazine Address Changes - We have collected some great information on how to change your address to keep getting the magazines you love at your new home.
  • Name Change Checklist - If you have recently gotten married, divorced, or changed your name for any other reason, then this list of resources will help you make sure you notify organizations that need to know your new name.
  • Driver's License - You must make sure you change your address with your State's department of motor vehicles (DMV).
  • USPS COA Site - You can pay a small fee to change your address here OR you can use our FREE service.
  • USPS Options for Receiving Mail - This is an interesting page where you can see what your options are for receiving mail. Did you know you had any?
  • Call to Change Your Address - This is an FAQ entry on how to change your address over the telephone.
  • USPS State Abbreviations - This is a real quick table for looking up State abbreviations.

Archive for February, 2011

10 Tips to Maximize Storage in Your Home

It doesn’t take much to fill up the available space in any house.  We all seem to add so many items over the years and quickly run out of places to store them.  Being creative with existing space can help, but there is only so much you can do at times.  So here are a few tips that might help with this problem.

  1. Getting Rid of Clutter. Before figuring out where to put your items, it is best to sort through what you have collected and get rid of what is simply clutter.  That can be a challenge if you love to hold onto things for sentimental value even when they just sit on a shelf in the bedroom or garage.
  2. Utilized Possible Furniture Space. There are places such as a bed frame that offer possible storage areas.  You can even purchase box beds with specifically designed storage spaces.  It is amazing how many things such as socks or toys that seem to take up lots of area, can easily be kept in a bed frame drawer.
  3. Bookshelves. Just because it is intended for use with books doesn’t mean you can’t store other things on those shelves.  There is no reason you can’t put magazines, even office files, on a bookshelf.  Taking a little time to do that will help move items off of tables or other places they were being kept.
  4. Vanity Cabinets. This is a great place to add those items you need to store that are bathroom essentials and grooming products.  There is no reason you can’t place all kinds of items used every day in the bathroom in this space.  By doing this they will be taking up less space in the room or linen closets needed for other things.
  5. Chairs. Easy chairs and overstuffed chairs might look good and be comfortable, but they do take up a lot of space.  In some cases you can replace some bigger chairs with a smaller chair and an ottoman that has storage space underneath.  It just being more realistic about the size of chair you need to use when you have limited space.
  6. Dressing Tables. Underneath the dressing table is a great area that can hold many small items. It really doesn’t take a lot of space at times to remove lots of little things from taking up room. This is one area often overlooked by many in regards to storage.
  7. Maximizing Bathroom And Kitchen Storage. You can’t overlook those places under sinks as a perfect place to use for storing certain items.  This is even more critical if you don’t have any given spot for things like detergents or cleaners.  They are still within  arms reach, but now out of eye sight. Safety locks can also be installed on the cabinet doors to keep small children from accessing the area.
  8. Changing an Inefficient Storage Format. In the kitchen it is easy to overlook the benefit of certain kinds of vertical storage options.  Those can be used to keep pots and pans at times.  Also you can get wall mounted types of storage containers that will add storage.  They can come in decorative forms that will fit nicely into the décor of many kitchens.
  9. Plastic Bags. Large sealable plastic bags can provide excellent options for storing things like clothes and bedding.  There are times when you need different types of bedding for a given season, but the rest of the year it sits on a shelf. A plastic bag can be great for cutting down on shelf space. There are also vacuum style plastic storage bags available which even further reduce your storage space needs.
  10. Multi Functional Furniture. This is furniture pieces like entertainment centers that work well for things like televisions, DVD players and other forms of electronic equipment.  They can be used to store DVD’s or a music library too. When shopping for furniture keep storage in mind, as well as beauty and basic function.

It is amazing how much room you can actually add to your storage need with just a little extra thought.  Although it might not solve all your storage problems, you can often find many practical and simple solutions to for increasing your usable storage space.

10 Reasons the USPS Has Closed Post Offices

The US Postal Service has closed many post office locations in the last few years and is expected to cut even more. What are the reasons behind these ongoing closures? Here are ten of the contributing factors to these closures.

  1. Budget deficits. The general answer to why so many postal offices have closed is the fact that the postal service continues to lose money. Closing offices is one way that the service is attempting to improve its profitability.
  2. Costly buildings. Many post office buildings are old and costly to maintain. Closing some of these older post office buildings can provide the opportunity for more efficient operations.
  3. Electronic mail. The continual increase of electronic mail use, over traditional mail service, has taken a big bite out of the postal revenues and has also decreased size of facilities needed.
  4. Postal employee benefits. Postal employees have some of the best benefit packages available. With the cost of health and retirement benefits skyrocketing, these benefits have widened the gap between revenues and costs in the USPS.
  5. Expired leases. As leases have expired, the USPS has chosen not to renew many of their leases rather than lock themselves in for another term.
  6. Online bill pay. The increasing number of people who are paying their bills online or through electronic funds transfer has also taken a toll on postal revenues and volume.
  7. Competition.  The postal service isn’t always the most convenient or the most inexpensive way to ship items anymore. UPS, Fedex and many other shipping options have taken over package shipping and even individual mail delivery for many people.
  8. Fax. The fax machine has become a standard piece of equipment in every business office and even in many homes. Where an original signature used to require postal delivery, many businesses now accept a faxed copy instead. Just one more area that has eaten away at the postal service.
  9. Cellphones. These small mobile devices have changed the way most people communicate. Those who used to send emails, now send text messages, photos and videos direct from their cellphones. Snail mail moves even further down the communication chain.
  10. Small towns. Staffing and maintaining a small town post office is very much a matter of convenience to the customers and very unprofitable to the US Postal Service. These are the locations most often targeted for closure.

The way that our society communicates has been rapidly changing. Combine that fact with the high costs of maintaining the current postal structure and you are fighting a losing battle financially. The USPS needs to cut their losses and closing some of their locations is one way that they are trying to do that.

10 Household Spring Cleaning Tips

My mother had two times each year to house clean from top to bottom.  Living on a farm, where dust and grunge found its way into our home during open window season, I see now how necessary it was to keep our little haven sanitary as a home could be in those days.  She was a neat-nick as we called her.  Carrying a broom in her hand (before vacuum cleaners) her floors and furnishing were spotless.  However there were times when surface cleaning, (as she called it) was not enough.  After being cooped up all winter with a house full of girls, and a farmer husband, we knew at the dawn of spring and warm weather what was next on the agenda.  Spring Cleaning.

  1. Spring cleaning may mean something different to you, but let’s find a common meeting ground here.  Make a list of what needs to be done.
    • Steam clean carpets or shampoo carpets
    • Wash or replace curtains
    • Dry clean drapes
    • Wash windows
    • Wash throw rugs
    • De-clutter
    • Dust furniture and apply a good furniture polish
    • Clean upholstered furniture
    • Wash bed coverings, i.e. quilts, spreads, blankets, etc.
    • Organize closets
    • Organize kids room
    • Wipe walls (wash?)  Ceiling fans
  1. I read stories about the Amish people of our country, and how cleanliness is next to Godliness to them.  It is part of their life to take whatever time to do all of the above and more.  Where to start?  That is up to you really, but I would suggest tackling one room at a time.
  2. Start with the smallest room first.  Maybe the kid’s room, or spare bedroom in my case.  De-clutter the closet, making a stack for Goodwill, and one for trash.  Sorting clothes into a (1) keep, (2) goodwill and (3) throw-a-way stack makes it easier to put into trash bags for delivery to the proper place.
  3. Dust the fans and crown molding.  Starting at the top of the room gives you a better clean when all the dust and cob-webs from above fall to the floor then vacuuming and shampooing the carpet gets it all picked up.
  4. Open the window.  Turn the mattress, vacuum the mattress and springs.  Spray a nice smelling linen spray on the mattress and springs before replacing the clean sheets.  It is always good to let the mattress and springs take in fresh air before replacing the bed coverings.  I would also suggest purchasing new pillows.  I try to do this every six months or so.  Bed pillows are not expensive, even though they can be.  However I have found those of $10 each or less to serve my purpose.
  5. After dusting the furniture and applying a good polish (preferably not a spray polish) but oil based polish, buffed and rubbed in well, giving the wood some much needed moisture you are then ready for the floors.
  6. Whether you have hard-wood or carpet, you must make sure every corner of the room has been dusted, cleaned and vacuumed or shampooed.
  7. Each room should get the same care.  So a spring cleaning job will take more than a week-end when there is little help.  However if there are teenagers who are willing to help, it may not take as much time as first thought.  Tackle the bathroom.  Remove all rugs, leaving the bare floor.  If there are vanity drawers, dump them and start with de-cluttering.  Before replacing the “Keep” stack, wash and clean the drawer.  Do each one until all is done, remembering that any shelf should be de-cluttered as well.  I love having all my towels and bath clothes folded the same.  It makes for a neat appearance when opening the linen closet door.
  8. Then there is under the sink, which can become a mess.  Decide what exactly you want this part of the bathroom to do for you.  Hold Toilet tissue? House your cleaning supplies?  Your grooming supplies?  If it is big enough, you may want to place two items with one on one side and another on the other.  Either way, make it accessible for either/or.
  9. Do you have tile?  Or is it linoleum?  Either way, a good mopping using a good disinfectant soap will leave your bathroom clean.  There are some good tub and tile cleaners that require a spray and wipe approach for cleaning the shower and tub.

After all this, I realized I need to take advantage of my own suggestions.  After having major surgery last month, I am anxious to get back to my ‘ole self and do just that.  This winter has left me with clutter and I’m ready to organize and do some spring cleaning.  My mother would be proud.  March and April will be here soon and by then my strength will be back to normal.

10 Types of Curtains to Cover Your Windows

I have a thing with windows, and how a home needs lots of windows to show what is beyond our walls.   The view may not be the best where we live, but we can still see the birds flying, or like today, the snow falling.  Nothing like it.  I am also one of those who open the shades when I get up in the morning.

So what to do?  It is according to the wishes of your decorator, whether that is you or someone else.  And believe me the choices are many when one begins their search for the right window covering. Go shopping.  Window shopping that is, and see what is available.  In doing so, you will also see the many types of window coverings there are, even to the custom made.  Something will surely suit your taste.

  1. Shades.  I love the 2” faux wood blinds.  Often a blind is all a window needs, yet we must be open to a curtain or drape as well.
  2. Then there is the cordless double cellular shade. Cordless design is ideal for homes with children and pets.  They come in inside or outside mounts and an added plus is the cordless double cellular shade reduces amount of light and noise.
  3. There is the black-out shade which is wonderful for the night worker who sleeps during the daylight hours.  These are a must.
  4. How about curtains and drapes.  What is the difference?  The fabric from which they are made.  They are both window coverings, so to get hung up on which one I have; a drape or a curtain would miss the point.  When curtains are custom made, and hung by a professional, I consider that draping a window.  Whereas, when I go to Wal-Mart or JC Penney’s and select my own curtain already packaged, I consider it a cheaper form of a drape or curtain.  The curtain which has a lining becomes a drape to me.  I stand to be corrected.
  5. I also like a window cornice.  Described as a 4 sided wooden box you can use to cover up your curtain rod or the head rail of your blind or shade. Often a well-padded cornice covered with decorative drapery fabric or wall paper is all a window needs – using the blinds as you wish.  Up during the day, and down in the evening.
  6. Patio doors are a pickle to cover.  The sliding doors open to a wonderful area of your home where entertainment is enjoyed and the kids love to play.  Eventually however, we all come inside and as a rule want that part of our yard to stay outside.  I have had the vertical blinds before.  They served their purpose at the time, yet I still had a curtain as well.  Now that I look back, I think a well hung curtain that can be closed to cover the door at night, would be my choice.  Even a roll up shade, mounted at the ceiling, would be better than the vertical blind experience.
  7. In today’s housing market, architects have come up with so many window designs it is difficult to narrow them all down to discuss window treatments.  From corner windows, to arched windows, to ceiling windows – each house brings to the owner – decisions on how best to cover the windows for the finest decorating touches they can have for their home.  I love the feel and look of lace.  To me lace is elegant as well as airy which is what I like in my formal dining room.  Lace curtains of varied quality can be found at most stores who have a home section.  Hanging them is easy.  Either with a decorative rod, or a pocket rod.
  8. One such home I visited is backed up to a fresh water creek, and beyond that a dense wooded area that covers an acre of timber where deer and other animals make their home.  The room facing the picturesque sight on the second story of the home, is considered a sun room, with windows on three sides.  There is no need for window coverings here, as the house sets on a mountain area of Tennessee.  The morning light that comes into the room at sunrise, does not reach any other part of the house where the occupants are sleeping.  I vote for keeping it this way without shades, curtains or drapes.
  9. Often a kitchen needs nothing more than a Valance.  My kitchen is on the west side and I encounter the afternoon sun each day about supper time.  I do have a venetian blind I can lower or raise, but otherwise a valance has served me well.
  10. As for a bedroom, again, each window covering should match the décor of the room.  A blind – hopefully the wide wooden look, along with either a heavy fabric curtain, or a lace curtain should bring sunshine into the room at some point, with shutting out the world at night.

Remember the internet is full of suggestions and examples.  Even your Home Improvement stores have a section for window coverings.  There are independent drapery makers, who can offer a great price along with suggestions for the custom made coverings.  The window world is yours and regardless of how much you have to spend, your home can be a show place to be proud of.

10 Great Get Well Soon Gifts

The very thought of someone giving or sending a get well gift is a gift within itself.  The busy world we live in dictates our lives in ways that unless we are conscientious of others and their illnesses, sending get-well wishes in the form of a card or a gift would be one of those things laid aside and forgotten.

However if you have ever been the recipient of a “get-well” card you understand the emotions it brings knowing someone took the time and effort to think of you and send a card.  And with that, it is easier to stop and do the same next time we hear of someone who may need a lift.

  1. A card – whether made by your own hand, on the computer, or hallmark, is always welcomed by one who is recuperating from a short or long illness or even surgery.  Especially one which has a hand written note of encouragement.
  2. I wonder if flowers are almost a thing of the past.  I’ve seen times when a hospital room was filled with flowers from well-wishers.  I for one still enjoy having a few flowers in the room I can take home and plant in season.
  3. Then there is a prayer journal.  Especially in church circles, when one is having surgery, to have the group record prayers in a journal to give to the patient while recuperating would be such a blessing during those times of wondering if life will ever be the same again.  This is also a great suggestion for a support group of any kind.  i.e. weight watchers, etc.
  4. After undergoing open-heart surgery recently I was visited by a young college student who looks to me as a grandparent.  It was always a delight to see her, but on one visit she brought a booklet she had made.  She apologized that it was in her “own handwriting” (which is not good, she said) She had thought about doing it on the computer, (but I was afraid it would lose what I wanted to say, she added).  I have no way to convey to you or did I to her, how precious the little decorated, handmade, book of scripture was to me at that moment on that day.  I held her hand as I read it aloud to both her and my husband, then prayed a special prayer for her that God would give her insight into what her gesture had done to my healing heart.
  5. I’m not sure I can speak from a man’s prospective in “get well” ideas.  My husband seems to remember the gift of someone’s time as much as anything.  Stopping by after he got home was a very important signal to him that his friends cared.  Flowers?   Yes.  Knowing that his company cared enough to send flowers.  However the visitors who called on the phone to check on him along with those who visited mean a great deal to him in his healing.
  6. One thing that has blessed me during my regaining my health from heart surgery is the fact my church family delivered meals every other day.  My pastor’s wife even came a cleaned my refrigerator and got my kitchen in order while she visited.  Nothing like the feeling of someone who cares enough to go the extra mile.
  7. In lieu of flowers, there is always the fruit basket.
  8. Or the “gift” basket.  A basket filled with healthful snacks, along with “chicken soup” booklets, a prayer journal and a packet of flower seed to be planted later in a house container.
  9. Let’s look at gifts for children who are getting well from an illness.  According to age of course, coloring books and crayons, to drawing paper to a jar of bubbles can brighten a child’s world like nothing else.  There is always a gift certificate to McDonalds or Burger King to boot!
  10. Then again, any age appropriate gift basket leaves open room for thought on the giver’s part to fill it with gifts pertinent to the receiver’s life.  Gift baskets do not have to be assembled by a specialty store – it can be done by you the one whose friend (whatever age) is in need of a boost and encouragement.

Whatever you do, just remember in most every case, it is the thought that counts.

10 Tips for Keeping Your Child’s Room Organized

Are you tired of your child’s bedroom always looking like it’s been hit by a cyclone? Maybe they just need some additional help keeping things organized. Here are 10 suggestions that can help.

  1. Robe hooks. Robe hooks are a quick and easy solution for keeping, not only robes, but hats, jackets and sweaters off the floor. They can be used for anything that can be hung up and placed at a height where your child can reach them.
  2. Laundry. Provide them with their own laundry basket or hamper to place their clothes in when they take them off. They are more likely to deposit them if it is located in their own room.
  3. A bin for everything. Plastic bins are wonderful for organizing. Have one for books, another for puzzles and another for games. Have a small bin for small toys and a big bin for bigger toys. This way they don’t have to dig through all the big toys trying to find one small one.
  4. What’s under the bed? Often times the space underneath the bed is where items get shoved or lost. Why not make it an intentional storage space instead. Purchase some of the bins, mentioned in Item 3, in sizes that will slide underneath their bed. Pull them out, remove something, slide it back underneath after you’re done.
  5. Keep it together, keep it apart. If you have siblings sharing a room, make sure that they each have a space for their own personal items and then designate a space for items that have shared ownership. Make each of them responsible for their own separate space.
  6. Color coded. This is especially helpful for pre-school children since they can’t read labels. Use different colored storage bins so that children begin to identify what goes where by the color of the bin.
  7. Thin it out. A lot times, it is just the over accumulation of clothes and toys that is creating the chaos and making it more difficult for your child to manage. Remember to go through their clothes at least twice a year and remove the pieces that they have out grown or don’t wear for other reasons. The same with toys. If they’d out grown some of their toys, remove them from their room and give them away or store them for a later garage sale.
  8. Store it elsewhere. Sometimes we are storing things in our child’s room that don’t need to be there and could be kept elsewhere. Is there another closet where all the games and craft items could be stored together, instead of in each child’s individual room? Go through their closets and reconsider which of the items could be stored in other locations.
  9. One thing at a time. When a bedroom, or any room in the house, becomes strewn with toys, games and clothes, the biggest reason is usually the fact that your children have moved from one activity to another without returning the last one to its proper storage place. Make it a house rule, and enforce it, that they cannot take out a new toy or a new activity until after they’ve put away the previous one.
  10. Plastic storage bags. The plastic storage bags with zipper closures have many uses beyond the kitchen. Smaller ones can hold small game pieces so they don’t get lost. A larger one might work for that puzzle that no longer stays within its box. They can also be used to keep jewelry pieces from becoming tangled or lost. A large one can hold all of a toddler’s socks together inside the dresser drawer.

With a little creativity and a few rules in place, your child’s room can again become a livable place. They even might enjoy being in it more themselves.

10 Tips for Organizing Your Mail

In spite of the increase of electronic communication, snail mail is still a daily task we all have to deal with. A week’s worth of mail can easily overwhelm your kitchen countertop if that becomes the dropping place each day when it is brought in. Following are ten tips for keeping that from happening.

  1. Throw away junk mail immediately. It only takes a few seconds to sort the junk mail out of your daily mail drop. Always throwing those items away immediately, rather than waiting until you open the other items, can keep the mail stack from becoming unmanageable.
  2. Have an inbox for your unopened mail. After throwing out the obvious junk, put the rest of the mail in an inbox container of your choosing, rather than leaving it on the countertop, kitchen table or desktop. Make sure the container you use is only large enough to hold about one week’s worth of mail. This will keep you from letting it sit too long without opening it.
  3. Catalogs and magazines. Remove catalogs and magazines from your mail pile before placing it in the inbox. Allocate them to their own storage locations where they will be available when you are ready to look at them.
  4. Keep the wastebasket handy. When you do open the mail, keep your wastebasket nearby. This will make it easy to dispose of envelopes and other waste items quickly.
  5. Organizing your bills. Provide a drawer or desktop organizer of some sort where you place your bills for payment. Organize them by due date, keeping the most current items to the front.
  6. Personal correspondence. Deal with invitation responses and other types of time sensitive correspondence immediately, if possible, so it doesn’t get forgotten. If it must wait, keep it in a prominent spot on your desk so that it gets dealt with promptly.
  7. Put it on your schedule. Designating a certain time of the day or a certain time once a week to go through your mail helps you to keep from putting it off too long. Make it a routine part of your schedule and the mound will not be near so intimidating.
  8. Eliminating junk mail. You can request to be removed from direct marketing mailing lists in order to decrease the amount of unsolicited mail that arrives in your mailbox. You can do this at www.dcaconsumers.org. It may take a few months, but you should see a dramatic decrease in your junk mail after registering your request.
  9. Paperless billing. You also have many options for decreasing the amount of bills you receive through the mail. Most companies provide the option of receiving your invoice via email these days. This can eliminate many of your bills. In addition, this gives you the choice of printing out copies of those billing statements, deleting them from your computer or saving them as electronic files instead of saving them in a traditional paper filing system.
  10. Outgoing mail. There are also a few things you can do to keep yourself more organized when preparing your outgoing mail as well. Simply keeping everything you need in one place is the first thing to do. Stamps, envelopes of varying sizes and return address labels should all be stored in the same desk or storage area as your unpaid bills. Your address book should be located here as well. Pens, stationery, note cards and greeting cards should be close by. Utilizing desks drawers or desktop organizers to keep all these items in close proximity will allow you to put together outgoing mail with very little hassle.

Taking the time to develop some new routines regarding the handling of your mail can keep this daily delivery of paper items under control.

 

Top 10 Mail Order Catalogs

Well you might think that this is going to be a list of the most popular mail order catalogs like LANDS’ END, JC PENNEY, SEARS, and more.  There are so many great individual catalogs that it would be really hard to pick the top 10.  In addition, raw circulation also makes it somewhat false because many of the companies print and distribute far more catalogs than ever get used or read.  What seemed to be an interesting take on the mail order catalog business was that 10 most popular categories of mail order catalogs.  So, here’s the list to top 10 mail order catalogs by category:
  1. Clothing: Many people are forced to shop in mail order catalogs and/or online in order to get the clothing sizes that fit them.  Most retails stores stock only standard sizes which leaves most of us big, tall, or small people without many choices unless we get more resourceful.  This includes all types of clothing jackets, jeans, shoes, and more.  This is by far the most common types of items ordered via mail order.
  2. Computers & Electronics: If you are an extreme tech geek like I am then you will piece together some pretty strange parts in order to build something “different” and better in some way that truly only matters to you.  While a lot of this activity has moved online there are still plenty of places to get specialty cases, memory, peripherals, and more.
  3. Cars, Trucks, Cycles: Including exotic cars and more importantly accessories for cars, trucks, and motorcycles.  This is another common item to have to special order.  If you have a “project” car in your garage then you must have a handful of catalogs stacked in a corner with edges turned and marked as you work toward your dream car.
  4. Books, Music, & Movies: Do you remember the 12 albums for a penny deals of the 70′s and 80′s.  Great stuff right!  Well there were music clubs and book clubs galore.  Now many people do something very similar with Netflix and other companies to send and receive their entertainment via our trusted postal service.
  5. Office Supplies: Who has time to run to the store for refills on paper, toner,  and other office products.  You can easily place your order from the catalog either by calling it in or filling out the similar form that accompanies just about every decent catalog.  Of course this also implies that you are capable of planning ahead and don’t have to make a last minute run to an office supply store every time your printer runs out of ink.
  6. Gifts & Collecticles: Whether you are a NASCAR fan or baseball card collector one industry that still uses guides and mail order catalogs is the collectibles industry.  It’s another example of how difficult it can be to get some rare treasures and those are generally things that work well via catalogs.
  7. Baby and Toys for Children:  If you have been to a store especially around Christmas time you will know how difficult it is to find those special toys that everyone wants.  After all, the store has a limited supply of any given toy.  Thankfully, you can usually mail order toys and replacement parts fairly easily.
  8. Home Decor: There are tons of catalogs available for decorating your home from blinds to carpets, there is a catalog that holds all the latest and greatest products with deals to good to pass up.  You generally can save a tremendous amount by giving up the convenience of being able to go to a local department store.  So if you need decorations for your home and office, be sure to check out the most common catalogs.
  9. Sports & Recreation: Sometimes it is impossible to get the latest and greatest driver to up your golf game by going to the local sports store.  However, you can find all kinds of specialty sports equipment online and in specialty catalogs.
  10. Art, Hobbies, & Crafts: I’m not exactly sure how many hobbies and crafts catalogs we have laying around the house to entertain kids and adults alike but it’s far more than we truly need.  Yet, you can get some really clever and practical project ideas and materials this way.

10 Things to Look For in Your Next Home

There are some important things to remember when choosing your next home. Hopefully the following 10 points will give you some food for thought and assist you with the process. They are in no particular order but should all be taken into consideration.

  1. Location- Knowing where you want to live is important. After you have decided where you want to live, you should begin the process of looking at neighborhoods. If you are going to be living downtown in a condo, then take the time to look around and discover the ebb and flow of the area.  If you have children, you will want to know the best rated schools and try to find a home within that school district. Drive through neighborhoods, ask the locals where the part of area of town is located that you want to live in, and look at crime reports.
  2. Know your budget- Your budget will determine a lot of things about your future home. It’s important to have a very clear picture of your financial landscape and that you factor in some things that require foresight to recognize. You have to take into consideration the fact that you have to set aside some money for emergency purposes. Don’t base your home purchase on the mortgage alone because there are other things that you need to spend on aside from that. Taxes, association dues, utilities, unexpected expenses, and other things compound the amount that you need to produce monthly.
  3. Look around- Don’t settle for the first home you like- Even though the first home you like maybe the one you end up buying, look around.  There are usually lots of good deals and looking around will give you options. It’s always good to have options. If it fits your budget, and after looking around the first home you like is the one you want and can afford, then purchase it.
  4. Know what you want- You have to know what kind of home you want so that you don’t waste your time looking at homes that you probably won’t end up considering anyway. More or less, how many rooms do you want? How big do you want it to be? How old a home are you willing to buy? What style home do you want? Asking yourself these questions will enable you in your searching.
  5. Get professional help-Even though the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings, most new buyers (and many more experienced ones) are better off using a professional agent. Look for an exclusive buyer agent, if possible, who will have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the bidding process.
  6. Choose carefully between points and rate- When picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points — a portion of the interest that you pay at closing — in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you stay in the house for a long time — say three to five years or more — it’s usually a better deal to take the points. The lower interest rate will save you more in the long run.
  7. Before house hunting, get pre-approved- Getting pre-approved will you save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can’t afford and put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Not to be confused with pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt and credit history.
  8. Do your homework before bidding-Your opening bid should be based on the sales trend of similar homes in the neighborhood. So before making it, consider sales of similar homes in the last three months. If homes have recently sold at 5 percent less than the asking price, you should make a bid that’s about eight to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.
  9. Hire a home inspector-Sure, your lender will require a home appraisal anyway. But that’s just the bank’s way of determining whether the house is worth the price you’ve agreed to pay. Separately, you should hire your own home inspector, preferably an engineer with experience in doing home surveys in the area where you are buying. His or her job will be to point out potential problems that could require costly repairs down the road.
  10. If you can’t put down the usual 20 percent, you may still  qualify for a loan-There are a variety of public and private lenders who, if you qualify, offer low-interest mortgages that require a down payment as small as 3 percent of the purchase price.

You have already gone through the home purchasing process at least once. Remember these basics and reconsider your needs as you seek your next place of residence.

10 Most Common Reasons to Send a Greeting Card

Whatever the occasion, for whatever reason, greeting cards are the customary way to send your love and congratulations, as well as keep in touch with loved ones. Nowadays, there is a greeting card for every holiday, age and celebration. Greeting cards have an important purpose for the sender and the receiver, and although they move at a snail’s pace, they are just as special, if not more, than a phone call, e-mail or eCard. Here are the 10 most common reasons to send a greeting card:

  1. It’s Someone’s Birthday: Birthdays are the number one reason people send their love through snail mail. Birthday cards make up the majority of greeting cards and they are one of the easiest and most thoughtful gestures you can do for a good friend.
  2. It’s a Holiday: Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Valentine’s or Easter, holidays are one of the most common reasons to send a greeting card to a friend or family member. People also like to use holiday cards to update everyone on their latest family news and send cash gifts.
  3. You’re In Love: When you’re in love and you want to show it, an “I love you” or “I miss you” card may just do the trick. These modern-day love letters are sent between lovers who are separated by distance or aren’t on speaking terms. It’s a romantic gesture that really gets the point across.
  4. Someone’s Getting Married: When someone you know is getting married, it’s a common gesture to send a card to congratulate the happy couple and maybe give them a monetary gift. And if you can’t make the wedding, these thoughtful cards really make up for your absence.
  5. Sending Get Well Wishes: When someone you know is sick or underwent surgery, it’s common to send a get well card to send your support and lift their spirits. These cards are especially popular to give when you are separated by distance and can’t visit.
  6. You’re Sorry: Apologies are hard to give, but they are easier written than said for most people. “I’m sorry” are a great alternative for people who aren’t on speaking terms and when you’ve really messed up.
  7. Just Thinking of You: When you come across a funny card or you want that special someone to know that you’ve been thinking of them, it’s commonplace to send a “thinking of you” greeting card. It’s a considerate gesture that will brighten up anyone’s day, and who doesn’t want to do that?
  8. Sending Your Congrats: Whether someone you know graduated, had a baby or received a job promotion, sending congratulatory cards is a common and thoughtful gesture. It’s like sending a high five through the mail and will, without a doubt, make them smile.
  9. Sending Your Deepest Sympathies: When someone you know loses a loved one, it’s commonplace to send a card to extend your deepest sympathies. These thoughtful cards always come at the right time and have a way of lifting your spirits even if it’s just for a minute.
  10. It’s Someone’s Anniversary: Anniversaries are a popular reason to send greeting cards and share in this celebration of marriage. These cards are especially popular for newlyweds and those celebrating the milestone years.