Power outages do more than just put out all your lights. Losing power can lead to ruined food, loss of internet and the inability to live comfortably in your apartment.
On average, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a typical power outage lasts around two hours. While this isn’t long enough to wreak major havoc in your home, it’s enough to highly inconvenience you.
What to do in a power outage
The most important thing to do in a power outage is not panic. These things happen, and as long as you’re able to think clearly and make good decisions, you’ll get through the darkness.
1. Check your circuit breaker box
The first thing to establish when you lose power is whether it’s a single unit issue or something more widespread. Making sure a circuit breaker isn’t tripped in your own apartment is the best place to start.
You’ll usually find your breaker box in a bedroom closet or on the wall in a hallway. Look for a gray or black door, assuming it wasn’t painted over to match the wall. Make sure you have a flashlight with you to see everything clearly.
When you open the box, you’ll notice if a breaker has tripped because it won’t firmly be in the “on” position. You can check each breaker to see if it wiggles too. If a breaker is in the “off” position or looks like it’s sitting in the middle, you’ve got a tripped breaker. Just flip the breaker back on and you’re back in business. If the breaker is in the middle, switch it all the way off before turning it back on.
2. Report the problem
If you check your breaker box, and everything looks in order, it’s time to take the DIY out of the process. Contact your property manager to report the problem and get more information. They’ll most likely be able to tell you whether or not it’s affecting the entire building and what steps are in place to remedy the situation.
You can also simply look around to other buildings in your area to see if they look like they don’t have power either. If all the windows in neighboring buildings look dark, you know this is a much larger problem and something the electric company is most likely already working on repairing.
It still doesn’t hurt to report your outage to your electric company though.
3. Avoid damage from power surges
When the power does come back on, there’s a risk a power surge will take place. This can scorch walls or even lead to small electrical fires.
To prevent this from happening, go through your home and unplug appliances and electronics. Even though you’re eager to get back to using everything as soon as you get electricity back, it’s best to play it safe until after the power returns.
4. Monitor alerts
Even with the power out, as long as your phone is already charged, you should have the ability to monitor alerts regarding your electricity. Check in with your power company for regular updates and report your issues if they haven’t documented anything wrong in your area.
If your power outage is weather-related, keep an eye on local news updates and weather reports to stay on top of any evacuation announcements or other important information.
5. Keep a clean supply of water
With prolonged or widespread power outages, there’s a chance drinking water could get contaminated. This happens when the loss of electricity extends to the water sanitation system in your area.
Even if this happens, the water you can immediately pull out of your faucets is still okay to drink. To provide yourself with a solid amount of clean water when the lights go out, fill up tubs and sinks right after you lose power.
What not to do during a power outage
The most important thing not to do during a power outage is panic. You need to think with a clear head to act safely. However, a few other no-no’s are worth noting when it comes to staying in your apartment while the power is out.
- Do not open your refrigerator or freezer if you can help it. This will keep the food inside cooler for longer and prevent spoilage.
- Do not try to use a gas stove to heat your home. You should also avoid bringing in an outdoor grill for indoor heat. Doing so can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have a fireplace, go ahead and light that, but otherwise, bundle up with blankets or get to a warmer location.
- Do not leave lit candles unattended for light. It’s OK to use them while you’re in the room with them, but make sure you blow them out before you leave. Flashlights are always a safer bet when moving from room to room and make a great first choice in light sources when you lose power.
- Do not assume you can get out of your apartment complex. If you live in a gated community, chances are the gate runs on electricity. If you’re opting to leave your apartment while the power is out, make sure you either know how to manually open your community gate or that your management office has taken care of the issue.
- Do not go near pooling water or power lines. If you’re outside at all during a widespread power outage, stay clear of fallen power lines and large puddles of water. You have no way of knowing when the electricity will come back on and charge up a wire or a pool of water where a line is hiding.
- Do not waste hot water. Losing power doesn’t mean you can’t flush toilets or even take a shower, but the amount of hot water you have when the power goes out is not much. To avoid cold showers, on top of everything else, use the hot water you have sparingly.
Prepare in advance
Since the odds are good you’ll experience a power outage at least once, why not prepare in advance? You can make a lights-out kit to ensure everything you’ll need in an emergency is in one place.
Put together a few flashlights, extra batteries and an emergency radio if you have one. Consider adding a remote charger for your cell phone and even a few bottles of water.
Store your lights-out kit somewhere that’s easy to get to even in the dark.
Stay safe when the lights go out
We all pay an electric bill and come to rely on the utility’s availability whenever we need it. This is what makes it so stressful when the lights do go out. Knowing what to do in a power outage, and preparing in advance, are the best steps you can take to handle the issue until the light returns.
The post What to Do in a Power Outage at Your Apartment appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.
The survival skills cockroaches have are amazing. They can continue living, for a short time, without their heads. They can hold their breath underwater for 40 minutes. They can run up to three miles in a single hour.
This is all great for roaches (and pretty interesting too) â until the ugly bugs infest your apartment. Once they’ve made their way into your home, all you want to do is get rid of them. But, before you make an appointment with an exterminator, consider an organic, DIY approach. Use one of the many natural remedies for roaches to keep them away.
How to get rid of cockroaches
Once you’ve established you’ve got unwanted visitors, whether you’ve seen roaches or just their nasty trails, it’s time to consider how you want to get rid of them. You can use chemicals to do the job, but if you have pets or young children or you’re sensitive to certain products, going natural might be a better option.
When it’s time to get rid of unwanted insect visitors, look to your pantry first, you might already have some of these natural remedies for roaches ready to go.
This is an example of using something sweet to lure cockroaches to their demise. You just have to add a little something extra. Mix one part powdered sugar with three parts boric acid. The sugar brings the bugs in â the boric acid takes them out.
Boric acid isn’t toxic to people or pets, but it can irritate skin. When putting this mixture down, avoid counters and stick to the hidden spots roaches can use for hiding places. Good spots are behind appliances, under the sink and in any cracks along the edges of cabinets.
If either ingredient isn’t readily available, this is a versatile recipe, so you can swap out ingredients to achieve the same effect. Instead of powdered sugar, you can use peanut butter or jelly. You can also replace the boric acid with food-grade diatomaceous earth.
2. Soapy water
If you spot a cockroach and want to kill it without having to get close enough to step on it, keep a spray bottle of soapy water handy. Use diluted dish soap so that whatever surface it gets on also gets clean (an added bonus).
Spraying this mixture directly onto a roach makes it impossible for the bug to breathe. It clogs up their skin, which is how they take in air. It may take an extra little bit to do the trick, and you still have to dispose of the roach but hey â it won’t head back to hang with its buddies.
3. Coffee grounds
This easy-to-find food staple helps make a perfect cockroach trap. They serve as bait to bring the roaches in and are non-toxic for every other member of your home. To make a trap, all you need is a glass jar, coffee grounds and water.
To build your trap:
- Fill a large glass jar about halfway with water.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of moistened coffee grounds.
- Place the jars as close to potential nesting spots as possible.
The roaches will come in to check out the coffee, climb into the jar and get stuck and eventually drown. Then, dump the entire contents of the trap into the toilet for a goodbye flush.
While lemon won’t work on its own to keep roaches away, using lemon-scented cleaners around your home can have a big impact on keeping the place cockroach-free.
A clean home is the best way to avoid an infestation, and the scent of a lemon actually works to keep a variety of insects from wanting to live in your place.
For an easy, all-purpose cleaner you can make at home, you only need two ingredients â citrus peels and vinegar. To make:
- Fill a glass jar with clean, chopped-up lemon peels.
- Pour white vinegar over the peels to submerge them and seal the jar.
- Let the mixture sit for about four weeks, shaking it regularly.
- Strain out the peels and put the liquid into a spray bottle.
This will keep countertops, appliances, floors and glass all clean and smelling great, while also helping you deal with the cockroaches.
Make sure to clean your place regularly, focusing on areas like the kitchen and dining room. Roaches love crumbs and can smell food if packages get left open in your pantry. It’s also a good idea to empty your trash regularly to keep food odors out of your home.
Another big attractor for roaches is moisture. One way to deal with excess moisture in your home is to check your pipes regularly for leaks, but sometimes it’s a matter of high humidity. To deal with this, consider buying a few house plants.
You’ll need a specific type, epiphytes like ferns, orchids and cacti. These are special plants that work as a natural dehumidifier, pulling water from the air to keep themselves hydrated. They’re easy to care for and will help reduce moisture levels in your home.
Place one in every bathroom, on a screened-in porch, or anywhere where the air feels heavy. They won’t repel cockroaches themselves but will help take away a serious temptation for the bugs to come into your home.
This is maybe the strangest of the natural remedies for roaches, but it uses ingredients you’re bound to have at home right now. All you need is an onion and baking soda. Again, the food attracts hungry insects, and the baking soda does the dirty work.
To set this up:
- Dice up about half an onion.
- Sprinkle baking soda over it.
- Place on a small paper plate anywhere roaches may hide overnight.
Since roaches prefer the dark, you’ll most likely âfeed” more if you wait until evening to put out your trap. It’s also best to do it when there’s minimal risk of running into the nasty guys yourself.
When you need to cover up cracks to keep the roaches away, this remedy is a great choice. Not only will it fill the space to let fewer roaches through, but it will also kill any of them who eat it.
Mix equal parts of cornstarch and Plaster of Paris to make a powder you can sprinkle anywhere. Don’t activate the Plaster of Paris with water beforehand. The roaches do that after they eat the concoction when they drink water. It’s the mixing in their stomach that ultimately kills them.
It’s important to note that Plaster of Paris is a toxic ingredient and dangerous for children and pets. Using this recipe specifically in cracks helps keep it away from everyone but the roaches.
Roaches hate the smell of peppermint. They’ll avoid it like the plague. It can also actually harm them if they come into contact with it. Spraying a mixture with peppermint oil directly onto roaches can mean lights out, but that’s only if you see the invaders around.
You’ll have more success using mint as a repellent, targeting areas near where you think roaches are hiding. To make a mint-infused spray:
- Mix two parts water with one part white vinegar into a spray bottle.
- Add about 10 drops of peppermint oil.
- Shake up and spray.
Chemicals aren’t required to keep the roaches away
The question is never if you’ll see a roach in your apartment, but rather when. They’re out there, and there’s a lot of them, but knowing how to repel them and say good-bye for good means you don’t have to live with them. Us
ing natural remedies for roaches allows you to live insect-free without having to buy harsh chemicals or spend money on an exterminator. Just make sure you’re targeting the right areas. Roaches love to live in places like boiler rooms, basements, crawl spaces, steam tunnels, drains and sewers. Happy hunting!
The post Natural Remedies for Roaches: 8 Prevention Methods to Try appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.
When it comes to affording a new home, you have a few types of home loans to choose from. Prospective homebuyers often compare the FHA vs. the conventional loan when researching loans. Each loan type has certain stereotypes associated with them, but we are here to give you the facts about both FHA and conventional loans. This post will help you understand what each loan is, familiarize you with the differences between them, and provide some guidelines for how to pick which one is best for you.
What Is An FHA Loan?
An FHA loan is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). These loans are issued by private lenders, but lenders are protected from losses by the FHA if the homeowner fails to repay. FHA loans are generally used to refinance or buy a home.
What Is A Conventional Loan?
A conventional loan is supplied by a private lender and isnât federally insured. Requirements for obtaining a conventional loan vary depending on the lender. When used to buy property, conventional loans are typically known as mortgages.
Differences Between FHA and Conventional Loans
The main difference between FHA and conventional loans is whether or not they are insured by the federal government. Conventional loans arenât federally backed, so itâs riskier for the lender to loan money. On the other hand, FHA loans are protected by the government, and as a result of less risk, they can typically offer better deals.
This difference in federal insurance is the reason why FHA and conventional loans vary when it comes to the details of the loan. Keep reading to learn the differences regarding credit requirements, minimum down payments, debt-to-income ratios, loan limits, mortgage insurance, and closing costs.
|FHA Loan||Conventional Loan|
|Minimum Credit Score||500||620|
|Minimum Down Payment||3.5%||3%|
|Maximum Debt-to-Income Ratio||Credit score of 500: 43%
Credit score of 580+: 43-50%
|Credit score of 620: 33-36%
Credit score of 740+: 36-45%
|Loan Limits||Low-cost counties: $356,362
High-cost counties: $822,375
|Contiguous US: $548,250
High-cost counties, AK, HI, and US territories: $822,375
|Mortgage Insurance||Mortgage insurance premiums required.||Private mortgage insurance required with down payments less than 20%.|
|Property Standards||Stricter standards, property purchased must be a primary residence.||Flexible standards, property purchased doesnât have to be a primary residence.|
Sources: FHA Single Family Housing Policy Handbook | Fannie Mae 1 2 | Federal Housing Finance Agency | Freddie Mac | HUD 1 2 | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 1 2
Your credit score is a determining factor in your loan eligibility. Your credit score is measured on a scale of 300 (poor credit) to 850 (excellent credit). Good credit helps you get approved for loans more easily and at better rates. FHA and conventional loans differ in their credit score requirements and represent financial options for individuals at either end of the credit spectrum.
Minimum Credit Score for FHA Loan: 500
- Accepts a credit score as low as 500, but usually with a 10% down payment
- These loans accept lower credit scores because they are insured
- Note: Some lenders may only issue FHA loans with higher credit scores
Minimum Credit Score for Conventional Loan: 620
- Accepted score may vary from lender to lender
- These loans are usually offered to individuals with strong credit because they present less risk to lenders
Minimum Down Payment
A down payment is the sum of money that is paid as a percentage of your purchase up-front.
Minimum Down Payment on an FHA loan:
- 10% of your purchase with 500 credit score
- 3.5% of your purchase with 580+ credit score
Minimum Down Payment on a Conventional Loan:
- 3% of your purchase can be put down with good credit
- 5% to 20% of your purchase price is typical
Your debt-to-income ratio is the amount of money paid toward debt each month divided by your total monthly income. To be eligible for a loan, you must be at or below the maximum debt-to-income (DTI) ratio.
Maximum DTI Ratio Guidelines for FHA loans:
- 43% with a credit score of 500
- 43â50% with a credit score of 580
Maximum DTI Ratio Guidelines For Conventional Loans:
- 33-36% with a credit score lower than 740
- 36-45% with a credit score of 740 or higher
- 50% highest allowed through Fannie Mae
Both FHA and conventional loans have limits on the amount that you can borrow. Loan limits vary based on your location and the year your loan is borrowed. Find 2021 loan limits specific to your county through the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
2021 FHA Loan Limits
- High-cost counties: $822,375
- Low-cost counties: $356,362
2021 Conventional Loan Limits
- Contiguous US (excluding high-cost counties): $548,250
- Alaska, Hawaii, US territories, and high-cost counties: $822,375
Mortgage insurance is taken out to protect the lender from losses in case you fail to repay your loan. Whether you will pay private mortgage insurance or mortgage insurance premiums is based on your loan type and down payment percentage.
- Mortgage insurance is required for all FHA loans.
- It is paid to the FHA in the form of mortgage insurance premiums and includes an up-front and monthly premium.
- MIP payments last the entire life of your FHA loan.
- To get rid of MIPs after paying 20% of your loan, you can choose to refinance into a conventional loan.
- Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is only required when a down payment below 20% is made.
- PMI comes in different forms: monthly premium, up-front premium, and split premiums.
- PMI requirements stop once you have met one of three requirements:
- Principal loan amount is reduced to 80% before the loan term ends.
- At least 78% of the principal balance is scheduled to be paid down.
- The halfway point of your loan term has passed.
There are different property standards that must be met to use each loan. FHA loans have stricter requirements, while conventional loans have more flexibility.
- Property purchased with FHA loans must be your principal residence, meaning the borrower has to occupy the residence
- FHA loans canât be used to invest in property (e.g., renting out or flipping)
- Title must be in the borrower’s name or name of a living trust
- Property purchased with a conventional loan doesnât have to be a principal residence â second or third residences are allowed
- Conventional loans can be used to purchase investment properties
Pros and Cons of FHA vs. Conventional Loans
As a result of the various differences between FHA and conventional loans, each type has its respective pros and cons.
Pros and Cons of FHA Loans
FHA loans are government-regulated and insured to extend flexible opportunities for homeownership. Theyâre flexible regarding credit and DTI, but stricter about insurance and property standards.
- Flexible qualification with low credit and high DTI
- Smaller down payments overall
- More affordable with low credit
- Mortgage insurance premiums required for life of loan
- Property purchased must be your primary residence
Pros and Cons of Conventional Loans
Conventional loans can also offer flexibility, but generally only if you have good credit and demonstrate reduced risk to the lender. These loans have stricter qualifications, but flexibility in other areas.
- Lowest option for down payments (3% with good credit)
- Private mortgage insurance can be canceled (must meet requirements)
- More affordable with good credit
- Property purchased doesnât have to be a primary residence
- Strict qualifications require higher credit and lower DTI
- Larger down payments are typical
- Private mortgage insurance required with a down payment less than 20%
Which Loan Is Better For You?
Both FHA and conventional loans have their advantages and disadvantages. Here are some general guidelines for when to use an FHA loan or a conventional loan.
When To Use an FHA Loan
- You have a low credit score (500â619)
- Your DTI ratio is on the higher side (between 45â50%)
- You can only afford a small down payment
- You plan to use the property as your primary residence
When To Use a Conventional Loan
- Your credit score is fairly good (620 or above)
- Your DTI ratio is on the lower side (33â36%)
- You can afford a larger down payment
- You want flexibility with insurance and repaying your loan
Itâs important to thoroughly research your options before choosing a loan. A key takeaway when comparing FHA vs. conventional loans is that FHA loans are federally insured and conventional loans arenât. This distinction results in different qualification and payment requirements for each loan.
Use the information in this post to carefully compare the differences in accepted credit scores, minimum down payments, loan limits, maximum debt-to-income ratios, mortgage insurance and property standards. In doing so, choose the loan that works for your circumstances and helps you best afford the home of your dreams.
Sources: FHA Single Family Housing Policy Handbook | US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development | Federal Housing Finance Agency | Freddie Mac
The post FHA vs. Conventional Loans: Which Is Better? appeared first on MintLife Blog.
If you’re spending more time outdoors, then you’re probably not alone. Here are some easy tricks and natural hacks to get rid of those unwanted summer pests.
The post How to Keep Common Summer Pests Away from Your Home appeared first on Homes.com.
New cars are sleek, shiny, full of impressive tech and smell amazing â mmm, new car smell. But they also come with price tags that can take your breath away â and not in a good way.
According to Kelley Blue Book, the average price of a new car in November 2020 was more than $39,000. Yowser.
If youâre in the market for a set of wheels thatâs more affordable, steer your sights over to the used car lot to save a little money. Or even a lot of money.
Why Buying a Used Car Is a Smart Money Move
If youâve ever heard someone refer to a car as a depreciating asset, itâs true. The longer you have a car, the less itâs worth. The first year of owning a new vehicle is when depreciation really packs a punch.
Jim Sharifi, formerly a content editor at Carfax, said research shows a new vehicle can lose as much as 10% of its value within the first month.
âIn the first year of ownership, depreciation can continue, and that same car could be worth up to 20% less than its original sale price,â he said.
When you buy a used car, the original owner has already taken that initial hit on depreciation and the price you pay accounts for that, so you donât have to shell out as much cash.
Just because youâre buying a car at a lower price point doesnât mean youâll be stuck with a clunker that was manufactured decades ago. Cars that are just two or three years old often hit dealership lots when their previous owners reach the end of their lease.
Those vehicles often have low mileage and are in great condition, having had only one previous owner. Sometimes they even still retain a hint of that new car smell.
So that covers the why. Now letâs get into how to buy a used car.
The Best Time to Buy a Used Car
Unlike new car releases, used cars come on the market throughout the year. It all depends on when their previous owners end their leases, put them up for sale or decide to trade in their vehicles.
However, there are certain times when youâre more likely to score a better deal.
Matt DeLorenzo, senior managing editor for Kelley Blue Book, said when dealerships host big sales events for new models that can also benefit used car shoppers.
â[Dealerships] will have more used vehicle inventory as a result of those types of promotions,â he said.
Think of the big sales that fall around holidays like Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.
The end of a model year â around September or October â is another good time to shop, DeLorenzo noted, as salespeople are looking to make deals to clear out their used vehicle stock to make room for new inventory.
Itâs best to avoid shopping for a car on the weekend when thereâs an influx of customers and sales staff is spread thin, Sharifi said. Youâll get more attention from the sales team by visiting on off hours, specifically on weekdays.
âThe end of the month (or the end of a quarter) can also be a good time to strike a deal, since dealerships may need to hit monthly or quarterly sales goals,â he said.
Of course, when you need a car might not align with a particular sale or time of month. Shopping for a vehicle before youâre in critical need of one will allow you time to search for the best deal rather than having to settle for something quick.
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Where to Shop for a Used Car â and Where to Avoid
Where you shop for a used car matters so you can avoid purchasing a lemon.
DeLorenzo recommends shopping at franchised car dealerships that have certified pre-owned cars â used vehicles that have been thoroughly inspected and typically come with some type of warranty coverage. Non-certified cars arenât bad â and theyâll typically cost less â but theyâre more likely to have higher mileage and more maintenance needs.
Be wary of independent car lots that boast they can make you a deal regardless of your credit or circumstance.
âTypically theyâll try to get you in with a low price, but you may not be getting the best quality car,â he said. âThe other thing is that if you get your financing through those types of dealers, they typically charge you a much higher interest rate.â
DeLorenzo recommends pre-qualifying for a loan at a bank or credit union before visiting a dealership. You can compare the offer with the dealerâs financing terms for better negotiating leverage.
For any dealer you visit, do some due diligence and check customer reviews online. If you know others whoâve recently purchased a car, ask for recommendations.
Outside of dealerships, look for cars online at trusted sites like Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, Carfax or Edmunds â or buy from a private seller.
When youâre buying from a private party, you may be able to get more accurate information about how theyâve driven and maintained the vehicle and what particular issues it might have, said Ron Montoya, senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds.
However, you also need to be OK with buying the vehicle as-is and securing your own financing. And be sure the owner has clear title to the car â in other words, donât let anyone sell you a car they donât legitimately own.
If cost is your primary concern, a private seller is likely to offer a lower price. A dealer folds overhead, repairs and marketing into its price.
What to Look for When Buying a Used Car
Knowing when and where to buy a used car is just half the battle. Figuring out how to vet a used car can be tough, especially if you have little to no car knowledge.
These tips will give you some guidance to make a good choice.
1. Find a Vehicle That Fits Your Needs
Itâs easy to focus on the numbers â age of the car, mileage and cost â but you also want to make sure youâre buying a car thatâll fit your needs for however long you expect to have it. If you have a growing family, you might want to rethink that two-door coupe or compact vehicle.
âYou want to make sure thereâs enough room for you,â Montoya said. âTake a look at the cargo area. Take a look at how easy it is to see out of the vehicle. Test out the entertainment system.â
2. Determine How âUsedâ Youâre Willing to Go
The older a car is, the cheaper itâll be â but the more itâs likely to have issues requiring repair. Everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to what theyâre willing to handle. A general rule of thumb is that a car is driven about 12,000 miles per year. A higher average could mean the car has more wear and tear.
Montoya said used car buyers must strike a balance between the age of the car, the amount of miles and what price theyâre willing to pay.
Buying an extended warranty or service plan can give you peace of mind that certain repairs or maintenance jobs will be covered.
Montoya said plans sold by auto manufacturers or reputable dealerships are better options than those sold by third-party companies. Make sure you understand exactly what your plan covers.
3. Make Sure The Price is Right
Before you accept a sales price, research the value of the car to make sure youâre not overpaying. Carfax, Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds all have price appraisal tools online.
You can also compare similar vehicles on the market to get an estimate of a carâs value, but keep in mind, no two used vehicles will be the same due to how they were driven and maintained. Use all this information when you sit down to negotiate â and donât be afraid to walk away if you donât think youâre getting a fair price.
When youâre budgeting for a car purchase, make sure youâre factoring in all the associated costs, like sales tax, insurance and getting the car registered.
4. Check the History of the Car
Sometimes just looking at a car will give you some idea of its history. Rust, worn out pedals and a side panel painted in a different color are red flags.
But donât just assume a carâs history. Getting the carâs history report, such as through Carfax, is a crucial step when buying a used car.
Youâll have to purchase the report if youâre buying from a private seller, so wait until youâre seriously interested in a particular vehicle. If youâre buying from a dealership, the salesperson should provide a copy of the vehicle history report for free.
Sharifi said to watch out for discrepancies with the odometer reading and if thereâs a branded title, which indicates that the car has been significantly compromised in some way.
âSevere accidents and instances where a car has been declared a total loss should signal the buyer to use caution,â he said. âThat said, a small fender bender shouldnât always mean that a buyer should walk away from a great deal.â
5. Go for a Test Drive
Always, always, always take a car for a spin before buying it. If you can bring a mechanic with you, even better.
âSome general things you can do on your own without being super knowledgeable about cars is [to] turn off the radio [and] listen for any strange noises,â Montoya said. âSee if the steering wheel stays straight when you drive down the road. Does it pull to one side? Look at the tires to see how old they are.â
Donât just look at the tiresâ tread. Each tire should include a four-digit number marking the month and year it was manufactured. Tires older than six years can be dried out and need replacing.
For any used car purchase, but especially if youâre buying from a private seller, have your mechanic inspect the vehicle before committing to buy.
Knowing the ins and outs of how to buy a used car will make the whole process less stressful and, most importantly, save you money.
Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Former staff writer Carson Kohler contributed to this post.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
With the growing use of paperless forms, electronic information transfers and storage has become the norm. This is true about our medical information as well. So, how do we know that our sensitive medical records are being kept private? Thanks to a federal law entitled Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), health plans, health care providers, and health care clearinghouses are required to abide by a set of standards to protect your data. While this law does offer protection for certain things, there are some companies that are not required to follow these standards. Keep reading to find out where the loopholes are and how you are being protected by this law.Â
What is the HIPAA Law and Privacy Rule?
Although HIPAA and Privacy and Security Rules have been around since 1996, there have been many revisions and changes over the years so to keep up with evolving health information technology. HIPAA and the HIPAA Privacy Rule set the bar for standards that protect sensitive patient information by making the rules for electronic exchange as well as the privacy and confidentiality of medical records and information by health care providers, health care clearing houses, and health plans. In accordance with HIPPA, Administrative Simplification Rules were created to safeguard patient privacy. This allows for information that is medically necessary to be shared while also maintaining the patientâs privacy rights. The majority of professionals in the health care industry are required to be compliant with the HIPAA regulations and rules.Â
Why do we have the HIPAA Act and Privacy Rule?
The original goal of HIPAA was to make it easier for patients to keep up with their health insurance coverage. This is ultimately why the Administrative Simplification Rules were created to simplify administrative procedures and keep costs at a decent rate. Because of all the exchanges of medical information between insurance companies and health care providers, the HIPAA Act aims to keep things simple when it comes to the healthcare industryâs handling of patient records and documents and places a high importance on maintain patientsâ protected health information.Â
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a federal law which was designed to safeguard healthcare data from data breaches, has five titles. Here is a description of each title:
- Title I: HIPAA Health Insurance Reform: The objective of Title I is to help individuals maintain health insurance coverage in the event that they lose or change jobs. It also prevents group health plans from rejecting applicants from being covered for having specific chronic illnesses or pre-existing conditions.Â
- Title II: HIPAA Administrative Simplification: Title II holds the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) responsible for setting national standards for processing electronic healthcare transactions. In accordance with this title, healthcare organizations must implement data security for health data transactions and maintain HIPPA compliance with the rules set by HHS.Â
- Title III: HIPPA Tax-Related Health Provisions: This title is all about the national standards regarding tax-related provisions as well as the general rules and principles in relation to medical care.Â Â
- Title IV: Application and Enforcement of Group Health Plan Requirements: Title IV elaborates further on issues related to health insurance coverage and reform, one key point being for patients with pre-existing conditions.Â
- Title V: Revenue Offsets: Â This title has provisions regarding company-owned life insurance policies as well as how to handle situations in which individuals lose their citizenship due to issues with income taxes.Â
In day to day conversations, when you hear someone bring up HIPAA compliance, they are most likely referring to Title II. To become compliant with HIPAA Title II, the health care industry must follow these provisions:
- National Provider Identifier Standard: Every healthcare entity is required to have a 10-digit national provider identifier number that is unique to them, otherwise known as, an NPI.Â
- Transactions and Code Sets Standard: Healthcare organizations are required to follow a set of standards pertaining to electronic data interchange (EDI) to be able to submit and process insurance claims.Â Â
- HIPAA Privacy Rule: This rule sets national standards that help to protect patient health information.
- HIPAA Security Rule: This rule establishes the standards for patient data security.Â
What information is protected by HIPAA?
The HIPAA Privacy Rule safeguards all individually identifiable health information obtained or transferred by a covered entity or business associate. Sometimes this information is stored or transmitted electronically, digitally, on paper or orally. Individually identifiable health information can also be referred to under the Privacy Rule as PHI.Â
Examples of PHI are:
- Personal identifying information such as the name, address, birth date and Social Security number of the patient.Â
- The mental or physical health condition of a person.
- Certain Information regarding the payment for treatments.
Health industries and professionals should take extra caution to prevent HIPAA violations. If a data breach occurs or if there is a failure to give patients access to their PHI, it could result in a fine.Â
There are several types of HIPAA violations and penalties including:
- Accidental HIPAA violations could result in $100 for an isolated incident and an upward of $25,000 for repeat offenses.
- Situations in which there is reasonable cause for the HIPAA violation could result in a $1,000 fine and an upward of $100,000 annually for repeat violations.
- Willfully neglecting HIPAA can cost anywhere between $10,000-$50,000 and $250,000-$1.5 million depending on whether or not it was an isolated occurrence, If it was corrected within a specific timeframe.Â
The largest penalty one could receive for a HIPAA violation is $50,000 per violation and $1.5 million per year for repeated offenses.
HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.
Idaho has some of the best potatoes in the world, but it has more to offer than just that. Itâs also dubbed the Gem State, with over 70 precious and semi-precious stones found within its bedrock and streams. The real gems of Idaho are its national parks, friendly people, and a range of real estate deals for buyers looking to maximize value without breaking the bank.
Finding an amazing home in Idaho is easy if you know what to look for and have the top tools and professionals on your side.
What to Look for in an Idaho Home
In Idaho, you can have your pick of beautiful homes and properties with stunning natural backdrops. To narrow down your list, you may want to keep a few things in mind.
Proximity to Employment
The capital of Idaho, Boise, is a major draw for many homebuyers due to its impressive list of corporate and boutique employment opportunities. If youâve already landed a job at a powerhouse like Boiseâs Micron, Hewlett-Packard, Clearwater, IDACORP, or St. Luke’s you will want to look for a home in or around the Boise area. If you havenât scored a job yet, being close to the city can only help your search and prospects.
With the Homie app, you can narrow down your search using the city or town of your current or future job. Whether you are looking in Boiseâs Bench or North End, Garden City, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell, Kuna or some other area, you can find what you are looking for. You can then collaborate with a Homie agent to decide which homes you may want to make an offer on in Boise.
The Lot the Home Sits On
Even though much of Idaho’s real estate sits on predictable, easy-to-manage land, in some cases, a property could have hidden issues. Keep an eye out for the following when evaluating where your home sits:
- Setback regulations that may limit where and if you can put on an addition
- Easements put in place that may limit what you can do
- How fences, hedges, trees, and other things at the edges of the property sit in relation to the actual, registered boundaries of the lot
Check the Available Utilities
Particularly in the more rural areas of Idaho, you will want to double-check the utilities at your disposal. In the more urban sections of the state, you may have multiple options for handling sewage, as well as heating your home. However, other parts of the state have far fewer choices. It’s best to decide ahead of time how you will deal with:
- A septic system instead of a town sewer
- Limited heating fuel optionsâand the extra expense that may involve
- Getting a back-up energy source in case there’s a blackout due to a storm and crews are delayed in fixing it
In most cases, any inconveniences can be overcome with a little planning. The more rural sections of Idaho more than make up for it with their natural beauty.
Idahoâs temps can dip below zero degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and push the mercury above 100 degrees in the summer months. To keep comfy, whether you want to be cozy or cool, it’s important to try to find a home thatâs energy-efficient. Focus on both the insulation and the mechanical system.
If thereâs no information available for the insulation used in the home, you can often gauge its efficiency based on the thickness of the walls. Two-by-six construction tends to be better at maintaining inside temps than two-by-four walls. Likewise, single-pane windows allow more heat loss or gain than a modern dual pane window filled with argon. A quick trip to the attic can reveal the kind of insulation between the roof and living spaces below.
The Importance of Using an Agent
Enlisting the assistance of a Homie agent can make the buying process easier and save you thousands of dollars, not to mention peace of mind. Here are some of the top advantages of using a Homie agent instead of trying to DIY your home purchase.
Getting the Best Deal
Making the right offer is a fine art and skill. Often, a homebuyer may have a number they think reflects the value of the home, but even a thoughtful figure may be skewed by a number of subjective factors. With an agent from Homie, youâll get a dedicated professional that knows the local area, how its prices have fluctuated over the years, and how well homes tend to hold value.
A local agent from Homie also knows how long properties tend to stay on the market in a given area, as well as the infrastructure and municipal projects in the works that may influence the valueâpresent or futureâor a home. With this store of data and insights, a Homie agent can help you nail the best offer and earn you a great deal.
Work With Experienced Professionals
When you work with Homie, you not only get to work with some of the top agents, but Homie also helps you find the best providers for all your needs through Homie Marketplace. The Marketplace is a list of partners that we know do amazing work in things like home inspections, warranties, and moving services.
Finding trusted professionals for each part of the home buying process is essential. A good home inspector will tell you what types of repairs your potential home needs. This important information to have so your agent can help you negotiate a fair price.
Youâll also want a good home warranty to protect against any unexpected issues that might come up after you move in. Instead of hunting all over the place to find each of the providers you need, our Homie team will help connect you with the right people.
Familiarity With Legal and Paperwork Requirements
Thereâs a lot more to buying a home than writing a check and grabbing the keys. The legal landscape can get tricky, particularly when it comes to the paperwork. Even well-meaning sellers can include clauses in the contract that could put you at a disadvantage.
Work With a Homie
If youâre digging for an Idaho real estate gem, a Homie professional can help you as you prospect for your prize. Whether youâre looking for the perfect starter home, an upgrade as your family grows, or a lovely investment property, your Homie agent will help you score a great deal and have a smooth process. Click here to start working with Homie to find your Boise home today!
For more tips on home buying, check out the articles below!
4 Ways to Outsmart the Competition When Buying a Home
5 Tips to Help You Afford Your First Home
Common Home Buying Fears and How To Overcome Them
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The post How to Find a Home in ID appeared first on Homie Blog.
One of the good things of working for a company is that they create a retirement plan for you. As an employee, you don’t have to do anything else but to participate in the plan. However, when you’re self-employed or a small business owner, you’re responsible of setting up your own retirement plan.
When it comes to operating your own business, time is of the essence. However, even if you’re crazy busy, saving for retirement should be a priority. Indeed, a retirement account allows you to contribute pre-tax money, which lowers your taxable income.
Luckily, a financial advisor can help you save time and help you choose the right plan that is best for you. Below are four retirement saving options you can create as a self-employer individual.
1. Solo 401k
A solo 401k is for small businesses or sole proprietors who don’t have any employees other than a spouse working for the business. The solo 401k mirrors a typical 401k plan that most companies offer. The main difference is that you can contribute as an employee and employer.
In other words, because you’re both the boss and the worker, you get to contribute in each capacity. That in turn allows you to contribute a higher amount each year. However, your total yearly contributions cannot exceed $58,000 or $64,000 for individuals age 50 or older as of 2021. To set up a solo 401k, you have to get in touch with a financial institution.
2. SEP IRA
If you’re an independent contractor, self-employed, or has a small business with 25 employees or less you can set up a SEP (Simplified Employee Pension). It’s very easy to establish and don’t even require you to incorporate your business to qualify.
In a SEP IRA, the employer alone contributes to the fund, not the employees. You can contribute up to 25% of your annual salary or $58,000 in 2021, whichever is less.
3. Keogh Plan
Keogh plans are available to self-employed people, including sole proprietors who file Schedule C or a partnership whose members file Schedule E. This type of plan is preferable among those who have a high and stable income.
But the main advantage the Keogh has is the high maximum contribution you can make. In 2021, you can contribute up to $58,000. To set up, you will need to work with a financial institution such as Charles Schwab.Â
4. Simple IRA
The Simple IRA was created by the Small Business Protection Act to help those who work at small companies to save for retirement. The small business can offer the plan if it has 100 or fewer employees.
Both the employer and the employee can contribute up to $13,000 in 2021, plus an additional catch-up amount of $3,000 if you’re 50 or older. If a company offers a Simple IRA, it must match an employee’s contribution dollar for dollar, up to 3% of each participant’s annual salary or make a nonelective 2% contribution to all employees.
Where to Invest Your Keogh, SEP IRA, Solo 401k, Simple IRA
As a small business owner, there is always an investment program that suits your needs for your IRA, SEP, Keogh and solo 401k. Places such as banks, brokerage firms and mutual funds institutions such as Vanguard, Fidelity, Charles Schwab are great options. But before opening account, make sure you consider how much money you have, your appetite for risks, the annual fee, etc.
The Bottom Line
If you’re a small business owner or self employed, you should take advantage of the tax benefits offered by these plans mentioned above. Creating a retirement plan is important, because not only will you be able to grow your retirement savings faster but also no one is going to do it for you.Â
- 4 Simple Ways to Accelerate Your Retirement Savings
- How to Retire at 50:10 Easy Steps to Consider
Tips on Retirement Planning
Retirement planning can be a major challenge, but you don’t have to go in it alone. Speak with a financial advisor who can help you come up with a unique plan based on your circumstances and situations. Use SmartAsset advisor matching toolÂ to get matched with fiduciary financial advisors in just 5 minutes.
The post How to Create Your Own Retirement Plan appeared first on GrowthRapidly.