Consumer Real Estate News

    • 10 Tips for Finding a Scholarship

      21 January 2019

      If you or a loved one are looking for a scholarship, you know there's a ton of info to wade through, and it can be both exciting and overwhelming. Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) is offering the following Top 10 list of tips to help students make the most of the season while potentially lowering their student debt.
      "While many scholarships open in September, January through the first part of March is the ideal time for students to apply for scholarships, with most of the deadlines occurring by March 15," says Abril Hunt, national trainings manager, outreach and financial literacy at ECMC. "Scholarships are a great way to reduce the cost of college. With the multitude of options available, students just need to know how to find them."

      ECMC, which works to lower student loan default rates and sponsors financial literacy programs, developed the following tips to help students and families maximize their scholarship potential:

      Leave no scholarship stone unturned. To increase the likelihood of obtaining scholarships, look for options in every area of your life: field of study, extracurricular activities, geographic area, heritage, employer, etc.

      Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Applying for a large number of scholarships, versus a small number of high-dollar offerings, can help you maximize chances of winning.

      Get to know yourself. The first step to create a compelling essay is taking time to reflect on your strengths, activities you enjoy, favorite subjects and what's important to you. Writing about something you care about is often easier and more enjoyable.

      Get involved in your community. Most scholarships request some type of community service. Working short periods for many different organizations is okay, but spending time volunteering at one or two key organizations gives you more depth of experience and can make for a stronger application.

      Don't sell yourself short. If you didn't have time to volunteer with a community organization but you worked and went to school, or you are a single parent and trying to juggle family/work/school, leverage those activities that illustrate your tenacity and ability to overcome obstacles.

      Be yourself. You may not have a specific example of every personal characteristic—some people consider themselves leaders, while others feel strongly about their academics or volunteerism. Don't focus on what you think might lead to a good essay. Make your personal story come alive, and be honest about your life experiences.

      Learn from past winners. Request sample winning entries from the organization administering the scholarship program. This can provide insight on the types of individuals and/or essays that won in the past.

      Work smarter, not harder. If possible, leverage your school work for your scholarship essays. Need to write a personal essay? Pen it with the application in mind. Or edit one that you've previously drafted. Of course, make sure the essay you submit is your work!

      Get through the "first look." The judges' first evaluation of your application is quick—usually 15 to 30 seconds—so make sure everything is complete. Also, be sure to craft an application that will capture the judges' interest right away.

      Be persistent. There are many kinds of scholarships available, including unique ones, if you know where to look and are willing to do some legwork. Some great resources include www.fastweb.com, www.scholarships.com, www.goldendoorscholars.org or simply search online for "weird scholarships." Apply to as many as possible, and don't discount a scholarship because it's "small." Smaller scholarships are less competitive. Think about the hourly rate earned if you receive a $500 scholarship that took you two hours to complete.

      Source: www.ecmc.org/students.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Relax in a Fresher, Healthier Bathroom

      21 January 2019

      You may think about the health of your diet or exercise routine, but how about the health of your bathroom? Bathrooms can be a leading culprit of unhealthy chemicals, be it from cleaning or bathing products. If you think your bathroom could be healthier, take a few tips on how to make it so:

      'Scent-sing' a change. Greenamerica.org is the latest of the growing legion calling for a reduction or complete elimination of chemical air fresheners that can contain dangerous ingredients like dichlorobenzene, naphthalene and formaldehyde.

      Conventional scented candles aren't much better. Many are made from petroleum-based paraffin wax, which releases carcinogenic soot when burned. Others have lead-core wicks, which release toxic lead into the air, which is linked to respiratory irritation.

      The solution?
      Avoid candles and air fresheners with synthetic fragrances. Instead, leave out a bowl of baking soda to absorb odors, and switch from paraffin to 100-percent beeswax or soy candles with cotton wicks.

      Natural cleaners. The folks at wellnessmama.com recommend creating or obtaining natural cleaners to make quick work of cleaning bathrooms. For instance, mirrors can be cleaned with a 50/50 vinegar and water mix in a spray bottle and wiped with old rags from cut-up t-shirts or newspaper.

      While paper towels leave a lot of residue, microfiber cloths are best for cleaning without using any chemicals at all. Clean with a wet one, and polish with a dry one.

      Just add plants. According to longevitylive.com, the large amounts of moisture in your bathroom are ideal for plants. They will repay you by reducing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Plants can even reduce dust in the air by 20 percent.

      Gold on mold. At the same time, Forbes' Jamie Gold points out that moisture you don’t remove can turn into mold, which is unpleasant to breathe. It’s also extremely unhealthy for individuals with respiratory and immunity issues.

      She suggests adding sensor vent fans to help prevent mold buildup by removing moisture from bathroom air. Gold says they even work when you’re not home because they turn on and off based on the humidity levels in each bathroom.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Energy Saving Tips to Start Now

      21 January 2019

      Saving money at home is high on the priority list for many homeowners, and energy use is often the culprit of bloated bills. To help reduce energy bills, Dominion Energy offers several other ways to curb usage:

      "No customer should have to be cold this winter because they can't afford to pay their electric bill," says Corynne Arnett, vice president of Customer Service with Dominion Energy.  "

      Small adjustments can make a big difference in your energy bills. Help reduce energy waste and save money by:

      Lowering your thermostat to 68 degrees. Learn more about your thermostat settings and energy savings by visiting the U.S. Department of Energy website.

      Sealing air leaks. Seal all holes from pipes and wires that enter/exit the living space, including entrances, pull-downs and attic stair openings, light fixtures, pipes and wires.

      Sealing duct work. Make sure that all duct work is sealed at joints and intersections with duct sealer or silicone caulk. Ducts can be sealed using foil-backed tape or silicone caulking.

      Changing your furnace filters monthly. This is the number one reason for furnace breakdowns. Inspect heating and cooling equipment annually, or as recommended by the manufacturer. Have a professional check and clean furnaces once a year.

      Weather-stripping doors, windows and attic entryways. Inspect windows and doors for air leaks. If you can see daylight around a door or window frame, then the door or window needs sealing. Air leaks can be sealed with caulking or weather-stripping. Insulate attic entryways.

      Source:  Dominion Energy

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • What Do People Really Want From Their Smart Home? Savings

      18 January 2019

      Smart home device household penetration will eclipse 33 percent this year, and is expected to be well over 50 percent by 2023. What’s holding some consumers back from jumping on the smart home bandwagon? For starters, proof that these internet-connected devices would indeed save them money, according to a recent survey from Parks Associates.

      According to the survey, 60 percent of households with a broadband internet connection but that haven’t purchased an internet-connected appliance yet, reported they would consider purchasing a smart home device if it could help save them money in the long-term, such as by reducing an electricity bill. Since many smart home devices are expensive to purchase, proof of long-term savings is important to many would-be consumers.

      The survey also revealed that another 55 percent of people would be more inclined to purchase a smart home device if the initial cost of investment was less. As smart home technology advances and becomes more ubiquitous, industry experts expect this to gradually start to happen.

      Interestingly, almost six in 10 survey respondents said they would consider buying a smart home device if it meant a discount on their home insurance premium. Certain insurance companies do, in fact, offer a discount if homeowners install security cameras, smart thermostats or similar smart home products, so be sure to check with your provider.

      Security concerns are also keeping certain consumers at bay when it comes to investing in smart home technology. Approximately 50 percent of those surveyed said they would consider internet-connected devices if they were given more control over their own data and how it is collected and used by companies.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • The Feng Shui of Color

      17 January 2019

      You may gravitate toward certain color palettes for your home for a variety of reasons, but did you know that color can impact the way you and your loved ones feel? According to the ancient Chinese practice of Feng Shui, the right combination of colors placed in the right areas of your home can actually affect the flow of energy. So consider the following guide from Artistic Tile before you grab that paint brush.

      Blue: Calmness and Serenity. The color of a serene river or a clear sky, blue is associated with the element of water in Feng Shui and is, therefore, considered a restorative color. Look to add blue to rooms of your home where you want to relax or escape.

      Black: Grounding and Protection. Black is a color that can have many meanings—from formal to seductive to dramatic to elegant. Consider using it in areas of your home where you want to make a strong impression, such as foyers or powder rooms. In Feng Shui, black is considered to have a heavy energy, so ideally, it should be used in moderation, and below eye level. Since it provides grounding and protection, use it near entrances or in picture frames surrounding photos of people you wish to protect.

      Green: Growth and Vitality. Due to its association with plants, green represents health and growth, so place it in areas where you’d like to see vitality—-such as your home office. It also works well in areas where you want to inspire well-being, such as a bedroom or exercise area.

      Gold: Prosperity and Abundance. When it comes to Feng Shui, a little bit of gold goes a long way. Summoning the vibrant warmth and energy of the sun, as well as associations of prosperity and abundance, gold can inspire passion and drive in your home. Small elements of gold can work well in a variety of places, including creative spaces, entertaining spaces and home offices. Its warmth also makes it appropriate for family and living rooms.

      Red: Love and Luck. Red symbolizes luck and love in China, and in India, where red is the standard color for bridal gowns, it is the symbol of marriage. The symbol of love, courage and passion in many cultures, use red in any room of your home that could benefit from a bit of high energy and luck, such as your home office, workout space or family room.  

      Published with permission from RISMedia.