Monday, November 30, 2015

Add More Space In Your Closet

Is your clothes closet (or your teenager’s closet) a “hot mess”? (See definition in left column.) Try these ideas to make it more functional. • First things first: Empty out your closet and donate or consign everything you haven’t worn in the last two years. • Install closet organizing products available at stores such as Lowe’s and the Container Store. Sales people can help you choose the right pieces. Save time by inviting a friend to help! • Neatly stack folded clothes on shelves using inexpensive shelf dividers (see stores above). Stack no higher than 10 inches. • Hang scarves/belts/purses on shower curtain rings attached to a wooden hanger. • Get piles of shoes off the floor. Try an under-the-bed container. • For a quick fix, buy a small dresser or a bookcase from a garage sale or thrift shop and put it inside your closet.

Monday, November 23, 2015

How To Find More Free Time

Where does the time go? Even if you work a normal schedule and get a full night’s sleep, you still have about 50 free hours during the week – but most people say they still can’t find free time for hobbies and passions. Take these steps to find more time for YOU: 1. Map your current time use. First track how you use your time. Keep a log for a week or two to get a good representation of how you spend your time now. Try the app Chronos for Android and iPhone for an easy-to-use and comprehensive time log. 2. Create a list of things you really want to do. Try to come up with a list of 50-75 things. Make some of them easy one-day things (visit a museum) that you can quickly accomplish and others things you tend to put off (practicing guitar). Cut out unnecessary time-wasters and replace with something from your list. Cut out the time spent watching TV, surfing the internet, or attending too many functions. Start a new schedule and prioritize things that make you happy instead of time-wasters

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How To Make Your Neighborhood A Safer Place

Whether you’ve just moved in or you’ve been living in your home for years, you want your neighborhood to be safe from crime for you and your family. Take these actions to make it even safer.  Safety is a team effort, so get to know your neighbors. Who works during the day? Who has kids? Who is retired? Maintain a list of home/cell/work numbers so you can call each other if you see something suspicious. For example, some thieves pose as movers. If you see someone at your neighbor’s house putting flat screen TVs and computers in a truck, don’t assume it’s a legitimate activity. Call your neighbors to check, especially if they aren’t home.  Work with your police or sheriff’s office to launch a Neighborhood Watch Program. It unites law enforcement and citizens to reduce residential crime. To find an existing program or learn how to start one of your own, go to  Improve your neighborhood lighting. If you don’t have adequate street lighting, join with your neighbors in turning on your outside lights every night. An effective and inexpensive idea is to place sensor-activated lighting around the outside of your home, especially entry doors and garages ($20 – $80 at Home Depot or Amazon).  Talk to your neighbors about home security systems. Visit a site such as for information on a variety of systems. You can get basic ADT monitoring, for example, for $37 a month plus $99 for installation. Some insurance providers offer a discount if you purchase a complete security system. The site also offers an excellent Home Security Checklist (click on Learn and Home Security Resources).

Friday, November 13, 2015

How To Save On Home And Auto Insurance

Auto Insurance If you just renew insurance policies each year rather than taking the time to review your coverage and discounts, you’re likely paying too much. Shop around annually (set a date in your calendar to help you remember) to see if you’re getting the best deal. You can contact a broker, or use sites like or Ask your provider if they offer the following deals. Vehicle Insurance • Safety devices: Providers like State Farm and Geico offer a discount for daytime running lights, while Liberty Mutual and Travelers offer a discount for anti-lock brakes. • Young drivers: Drivers under 25 in your household can mean your rates skyrocket, but good students usually warrant a discount because they’re often safer drivers. Insurance companies may want to see proof of a B average in school. Home Insurance • Multiple plans: If you buy auto and home insurance from the same company, you can often get 5 to 15% off your rate. • Land value: Don’t mistakenly buy coverage for the price of your land in your homeowner’s policy – only include coverage for the price of the home. Land is not at risk of theft or fire, which is what you’re protecting from. • Modernizing/disaster prep: Ask your insurer – You may be able to add storm shutters, better roofing material, or modernize your electrical or plumbing systems to help lower premiums. Consider ways to get lower rates as soon as you purchase a new home or vehicle (homes in areas with lower crime rates or a professional fire department generally have lower rates. Vehicles with certain features like anti-theft devices can usually get a discount from auto insurers).

Monday, November 2, 2015

3 Ideas For Happier Holidays

The holidays can get stressful in a hurry. Try these simple methods for celebrating the season – and make it easier for you and your family. 1. Focus on the act of giving, not the presents. Buy gifts for the kids, but get your kids involved in giving homemade gifts (cookies, picture books) to other family members. 2. Start a family gift exchange. One idea: have family members put books they’d enjoy on an wish list. Share those lists and choose the books you want to give them. 3. Participate in (or donate to) a charitable activity. Check out a site like, but start looking early to make sure you are matched with the organization you want. On a smaller scale, bake something special and deliver it to a fire station or senior citizens’ home. 4. To ease your own stress, remember to plan ahead. Use a calendar to set aside days for exercise and rest, and learn to say no if you have too many commitments.