Even while American kids improve in other subjects, United States youth are only getting worse at handling money. According to the Jump$tart Coalition, an organization that aims to educate American youth on good financial habits, high school seniors regularly score lower than 48 percent on tests concerning personal finance, and college seniors rarely do much better with scores of around 65 percent. With such limited knowledge of finances, it should be no surprise that roughly one in four young adults is spending more than s/he makes despite having unpaid student loans, medical bills, and more. View Infographic ›
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Whether you’re into shine shows, cruise nights or meetups with others who share your passion for certain styles, makes and models, getting ready for your next car show is a big deal. You might be tempted to spring for an expensive detailing job, but you can actually do an equally killer job yourself and there’s no need to buy the most expensive equipment. The classics work, from using Windex and newspapers on your rims to a standard wax job. However, there’s more to prepping for a car show than just shining your ride.
It’s also about building community and showing off your knowledge. Few people know absolutely everything about their car, especially if it’s been customized or you recently picked it up from a reputable dealer or previous owner. Read up on the statistics, research the common issues with your make and model (there will always be a few things) and make sure you ask your body shop pro exactly what process was used for that custom color or design.
This isn’t just your car’s time to shine; it’s also yours.
Choosing the right meetup
There are niche shows and cruises for every type of car lover. It doesn’t matter if you’re into hip hop car culture, vintage VWs or all American muscle cars. Regardless of where you live, there are events happening year-round. However, a big struggle is actually getting to the show. Depending on how rare your ride, you may need to tow it to avoid putting senseless miles on it. This also means you’ll need to have a transportable detailing kit with you right before show time.
Finding your right niche is kind of like rushing a fraternity or sorority; some trial and error is required. You can get a feel for the group via social media. Check out what other cars have made appearances to gauge how you’ll fit in. There’s a right match for every collector car, and spreading yourself too thing can be frustrating. Since there are car shows every week of the year, choose wisely (especially if there’s an entry fee).
Unfortunately, many people attend car meetups and shows solely to show off, which means they miss out on the biggest perk: Socializing. It’s challenging to find others who share your same level of passion. Use this as an opportunity to connect, and listen more than you speak. Asking questions is a great way to get to know someone and you’ll even learn something in return.
When Americans feel a pinch in their financial situation, cost-saving tips becoming valuable to the average family. The MintLife Blog states that only 32 percent of American households currently draw up a detailed budget to control spending and track income.
While the typical budget-conscious individual may know to forgo that daily Starbucks treat at $5 a pop, he or she may be unaware of smartphone apps or negotiation advice that can save hundreds of dollars a month. You can benefit from the following tips of financial wisdom.
Understand your monthly expenses
According to The Savor Blog, tracking every cent of your expenses can help you develop better spending habits. Even though you may have cut a costly Starbucks habit, you could still be spending money on other habits that cost hundreds of dollars a month.
People who are addicted to cigarettes can easily spend $200 to $300 a month on them. By tracking every cent of your expenses in a smartphone app or Excel spreadsheet, you'll be fully aware of your spending habits and make required changes. Another option is to see what kind of online options your bank offers. Online checking accounts make it easy to monitor and record your transaction history from your home computer or even your mobile phone.
Take advantage of circulars
Grocery shopping can a great area to reduce expenses. ABC News recently discussed a list of smartphone apps that provide circulars in electronic form.
If you feel like you don’t have time to sift through newspapers or clip coupons, you may want to use a smartphone app to glance through circulars in your spare moments. Whether you’re waiting to pick up the kids from school or stuck in a long line, you can use this time to your benefit by finding electronic circulars and coupons.
Negotiate your medical bills
Some people suffer the financial pinch when they owe thousands of dollars on a medical bill. Instead of struggling to pay the total amount, you could try to negotiate the amount down.
Only 31 percent of Americans ever attempt to negotiate over an amount owed on a medical bill, yet 93 percent of Americans who do are successful. If you plan on discussing a medical debt, make sure you deal with the ultimate decision-maker.
Those who are in charge of billing decisions can help you out by cutting the amount you owe for your medical care.
Negotiate in all contexts
In addition to negotiating your medical bills, you should also feel comfortable to do the same in just about any other context. Even if you’re at a farmers market or clothing store, it may be possible to haggle for a lower price on something you want.
Improve the security of your home
You can lower the rate for your home insurance policy by taking the trouble to improve security measures. Adding a free wireless security system may help you save as much as five to 20 percent on your home insurance policy. Also, selecting the e-policy or e-bill delivery option can result in some savings.
Following the above tips can add some wiggle room to your monthly budget. Take advantage of these strategies so you can free up extra cash and get more value for your dollar.
When someone makes a move into a new rental or consider purchasing a home, most don't think about water damage. However, pre-existing damage or potential threats can dramatically reduce the value of a property, lead to the damage of your belongings, and create health hazards. Getting the facts about current water damage and threats, and then being proactive about addressing these issues is key during your move-in process. Leaky pipes, malfunctioning appliances, and condensation are sources of water damage that can affect your quality of living and your water bill.
Water Bill Spikes
When you receive you water bill, does it fail to make sense? Your money might be dripping away in the form of leaks and spills. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a single faucet that drips once per minute wastes up to 34 gallons per year. This can really add up, especially if your toilet is not working efficiently, and if your home has other leaks.
Learn how to check your water meter at home. If you're not sure, contact your local utilities company to get more information. Keep a close eye on the meter. The folks at Water Damage Defense recommend a simple test in their recent Water Damage By the Numbers infographic: note the measurement, then avoid using water for two hours. If the measurement has changed, then you probably have a leak.
Unseen leaks won't only cause water damage to your belongings and home structure, but it can lead to dangerous mold growth. This is no laughing matter, since mycotoxins from mold can cause severe allergies, breathing problems, and chronic illnesses. Mold growth may or may not be visible, especially if it is taking place behind walls. If you live in a home that develops condensation on walls or windows, make sure that the space is properly ventilated and even wiped down, to prevent moisture accumulation.
If you suspect a leak, contact your landlord or hire a contractor to address the plumbing issue first. If mold is discovered, hire a professional to clean it – they will have the appropriate filter masks and cleaners to deal with the issue safely. If you're a renter, check your local department of health to see what your tenant responsibilities are regarding mold assessment and cleanup.
Whether your home is affected by water damage concerns or not, it's a good practice to be prepared for any upcoming incidents. One of the easiest ways to monitor water levels is to equip your home with water sensors, emergency shut off systems, and backup pump systems. For example, if your washing machine or icemaker suddenly springs a leak, then the system will detect a rising water level and switch off the flow of water. This can save you thousands of dollars in damage.
Before you move into a new home or rental, it is very important to examine a property for current water damage and threats. While a property inspector can be helpful in this respect, inspectors are only expected to know a little about a lot. Therefore, a better option would be to hire a local preventative maintenance specialist like DePalma Roofing to inspect your property for existing water damage or potential maintenance needs. Not only will this awareness help you save money on your water bill, but it will also increase the safety of your household. Equipping your house with preventative devices can also save your home investments in the long run.