Home Budgeting Tips: How to Stick to Your Money Plan

If you’re like most people, you probably have a difficult time sticking to your budget. It’s hard to keep track of where every penny goes, and it seems like there’s never enough money to go around. In this blog post, we will give you some tips on how to stick to your home budget and finally get your finances in order!

One of the best ways to stick to your budget is to create a spending plan. This means that you need to sit down and figure out where all of your money is going each month. Write down how much you spend on groceries, gas, utilities, rent or mortgage, entertainment, and any other expenses. Once you have a good idea of where your money is going, you can start to make adjustments and find ways to save.

Another great way to stick to your budget is to create a savings plan. This means that you need to set aside a certain amount of money each month for savings. You may want to save for a rainy day fund, or for a specific goal, like a new car or a trip to Europe. Whatever your goal may be, make sure you set aside money each month to achieve it.

Finally, make sure to stick to your budget! This means that you need to be diligent about not overspending and staying within your budget limits. If you can’t afford something, don’t buy it. And if you find that you’re constantly overspending, make some adjustments to your budget and try again.

Follow these tips and you’ll be able to stick to your home budget like a pro! Good luck!

Thank you for reading our blog post on home budgeting tips. We hope these tips help you get your finances in order! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help!

How to Prepare Your Family for a New Dog

It’s not a question of if, but when. You know that you and your family are going to add a new dog to your household- it’s just a matter of time. But before you can bring that new pup home, there are some things you need to do to prepare yourself and your loved ones. In this blog post, we will discuss the steps you need to take in order to make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone involved!

The first step is to decide who will be the primary caregiver for the new dog. This should be a decision that is made as a family, as everyone will need to be on board with taking care of the dog. The primary caregiver should be someone who has enough time to devote to caring for the dog, and who is also responsible enough to make sure that the dog is taken care of properly.

The next step is to decide on a name for the new dog. This can be a fun family activity, and it’s a great way to get everyone excited about the new addition to the family. Be sure to choose a name that everyone will love, and that will fit the personality of the dog.

Once you’ve chosen a name, it’s time to start preparing your home for the new arrival. This includes creating a space for the dog to sleep, as well as setting up some basic supplies like food and water bowls. You may also want to invest in a crate or kennel, which can be a great way to train the dog and give it a place to stay when you’re not home.

Finally, be sure to talk to your family about how the new dog will fit into the household. This includes discussing rules like whether or not the dog is allowed on furniture, and what kinds of things it can and cannot chew on. It’s important to set some ground rules early on, so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to taking care of the new dog.

By taking these steps, you can help ensure a smooth transition for both you and your new furry friend!

5 Ways to Teach Responsibility to Your Children

When it comes to teaching responsibility, there are many different routes that parents can take. Some people believe in giving their children the opportunity to make their own mistakes so they learn how to handle themselves accordingly. Others believe in showing them what is right and wrong by making them do chores or other responsibilities around the house. The best approach will depend on your parenting style and your child’s personality, but no matter which route you choose, one thing remains true: kids need to be taught responsibility from a young age if they’re going to grow up happy and successful!

In this article I’m going talk about six ways of doing just that!


One of the most traditional ways to teach responsibility is by giving kids chores. This can be anything from making their bed in the morning to taking out the trash on Tuesdays. Not only do chores help children learn how to handle themselves independently, but they also give parents a way to monitor their progress and make sure that they’re staying on track.


Another popular way to teach responsibility is through the use of an allowance. This is a fixed amount of money that children receive on a regular basis in exchange for doing chores or other tasks around the house. This can be a great way to not only teach kids how to handle their money, but also to give them an incentive to do their chores!

Responsibility Chart

Yet another way to teach responsibility is through the use of a responsibility chart. This is simply a list of tasks that need to be completed on a regular basis, and it can be customized to fit your family’s needs. Kids earn points for completing each task, and once they’ve earned enough points they can then cash them in for a prize or some other type of reward.

Community Service

One final way to teach responsibility is by having children participate in community service. This could involve anything from picking up trash at the park to helping out at a homeless shelter. Not only does community service help kids learn how to give back to their community, but it also teaches them the importance of responsibility and teamwork.


One of the best ways to teach responsibility is through the use of a pet. Pets require regular feeding, walking, and cleaning, so kids quickly learn how to handle themselves when it comes to taking care of something else. Plus, pets are a great way to teach children about empathy and compassion, which are two important traits that every responsible adult should have.

Even if you don’t want to go the pet route, children should still be given a chance to care for something every now and again! Whether it’s taking care of a plant or feeding their goldfish bowl, allowing your kids some responsibility is great way for them to learn how to take charge of themselves without too much help from you.

As you can see, there are many different ways to teach responsibility to your children. No matter which approach you choose, make sure that you remain patient and consistent; it may take a while for your child to learn how to fully handle themselves, but with time and patience they will get there! And in the meantime, be sure to enjoy the journey.

How to Find Less Expensive Needs for Your Home

You may have heard that you need to spend money in order to make money. However, the opposite is true when it comes to your home. There are many ways that can help save you money on your needs for your home, which will also allow you to better afford these things in the future!

1) Shop at thrift stores or garage sales before looking anywhere else

You never know what kind of hidden treasures await when shopping at these places! Plus, it’s a great way for people who want quality items but don’t want to pay top dollar for them.

2) Use coupons

Let’s face it; we all love getting discounts and coupons! It makes us feel like we’re getting something extra for free even if we aren’t.

3) List the needs and wants you have for your home on a budget

This will help you stay mindful of what you’re spending and keep yourself accountable.

4) Take advantage of sales

Who doesn’t love a good sale? It’s the perfect opportunity to get what you need at a fraction of the price!

5) Choose quality over quantity

This doesn’t mean you have to break the bank on everything, but sometimes spending a little more upfront will save you money in the long run.

6) Search for deals online

The internet is a wealth of information, and you can find some amazing deals on home needs by doing a simple search.

7) Be minimalistic

Sometimes the less you have, the better. It’s a good idea to consider how much stuff is really necessary for you and your home before buying anything else.

With a little bit of creativity and effort, you can find great ways to save money on the needs for your home! Try out some of these ideas and see how much of a difference they make. You may be surprised at just how much money you can save by making a few small changes. Happy budgeting!

Your Pup Needs Exercise, An Electric Dog Fence Can Help

Have you ever wanted your dog to be able to run around your yard freely, but you haven’t been able to do so because of the dangers of them running off into the woods, your neighbor’s yard, or worse – the street? It’s a common thought among dog owners because we know how much they love to run around when we take them to the park to chase frisbees, tennis balls, or otherwise. If you don’t have a fenced-in yard this amount of freedom for your dog may seem unachievable. That is unless you’ve heard about electric dog fences.

How Do They Work?

These electric dog fence systems may seem complicated at first glance, but in actuality, they are fairly simple. This topic is covered quite extensively on the internet, so I’ll try to keep it just to the basics. There are two essential components to an invisible dog fence system – the boundary and the collar. The idea is that you set the boundary and your dog wears the collar, and when your dog approaches and ultimately exceeds the boundary the collar will start with a warning signal and ultimately issue a correction when they cross over.

Are They Safe For Your Dog?

A primary concern among prospective owners of electric dog fences is whether or not they are safe for the pet wearing the collar. This probably has to do with the image associated with the term “electric fence”. I don’t know about you, but to me, it invokes an impression of a wired fence charged up and ready to shock any poor animal that happens to brush up against it. Rest assured, these electric dog fences are far from that extreme, and to calm that sensation they are often referred to as invisible dog fences. While shocking is the primary and most effective mechanism for teaching your dog where the boundaries are, there are a number of things to clarify.

First, the shock level is entirely humane and can be set to only be strong enough to get your dog’s attention. Many pet owners have even tested the shock on themselves prior to putting the collar on their dog. This is obviously not recommended, but it does illustrate the fact that they are humane. The other thing to consider is that if you have properly trained your dog, they won’t be going near or exceeding the boundary very often, if at all. You can make your dog aware of the boundaries using training flags, and once they get the idea then you can set the collar to beep or vibrate rather than shock to let your dog know they are too close to the edge.

Should You Get An In-Ground Fence or a Wireless System?

The appeal of a wireless system is fairly obvious at face value. It’s so much easier to install, and if you ever need to change the boundaries it’s a sinch. There are a few issues with them though, and for that reason, the in-ground systems are widely touted as the superior technology.

Most of it comes down to the technical aspects of the boundary. While in-ground systems take quite a bit more effort to set up, the level of customization that they offer you is simply unrivaled by wireless systems. If you want to avoid particular areas of your yard, such as a garden or a patio, it’s as simple as burying the electric wire appropriately. The biggest place where in-ground systems have the upper hand is in their reliability. They are far superior when it comes to ensuring the signal gets transmitter. Wireless systems are fairly robust, but they are susceptible to weak signals as well as interference from other strong signals nearby. At the end of the day, dog owners tend to be far happier when they choose in-ground electric dog fence systems.

A Spring Refresher on Ornamental Gardens

Spring is finally in full bloom and the good weather is upon us. I don’t know about you, but I’ve already spent a few days basking in the sun, working on my spring cleanup, and getting ready to enjoy the outdoors.

Personally, I have quite a large garden. I don’t say that to brag, I just want you to know where I’m coming from. All in all I have just shy of ten flower and decorative plant beds and four large raised beds for vegetables and herbs. Needless to say, this time of year always means a lot of yard work is right around the corner. There is cleanup to be done, seeds to be sprouted, compost to be spread, seedlings to be planted, and so much more. It’s really a daunting task if I’m to take a step back and evaluate it all.

I realize though that with over three decades of gardening under my belt I have started to take certain things for granted. Younger gardeners often reach out to me with questions that, to me, seem to have quite obvious answers. For that reason I felt it might not hurt to give a quick run down of my gardening activities. For this article I’m going to focus on decorative gardens and landscaping.

Beautiful Landscaping Starts With A Vision

Before you get started digging and sweating, I really find that it’s important to have a concrete idea of what you’re working towards in mind. There have been so many times over the years where I’ve put a ton of effort into moving my garden a certain a certain way, only to find I’m not quite satisfied with how it looks or where it’s placed and end up doing all of the work over again.

If you’re brand new to this, I’d probably recommend following your favorite TV shows or writers on social media to get some inspiration. It’s amazing you can get from taking a look at some of the professionals’ gardening ideas and using them as the seeds for your own creativity. Of course, over time you’ll gain experience and have your own foundation to work with, and as you grow you’ll become more sophisticated and wise as to what will work best in any particular situation. Just think about your yard as a whole and how you would like it to look before you get started with any of the strenuous labor.

Place Your Plants in Order of Importance

With a vision in mind, it’s time for you to make it come to life. First things first though, you want to start by identifying and placing your largest and most important ornamental pieces first. The reason you do this is to ensure that you have space for everything once it has all been put in place. You can always move your flower beds around to conform with the balance of your landscaping, but moving larger species like trees and bushes can be much more challenging if not impossible without killing them.

Once you have your larger species in place, you can fill around as you see fit with smaller species. Keep in minds that some plants bloom at different times of the year than others, so you’ll want to try to group them by when they bloom. Over time you’ll have a pretty good handle on this and you can integrate your gardens such that something is blooming at pretty much any point in time.

When you’re all finished placing the plants you’ll want to cover up the ground with mulch and/or stones. This will not only look nice, but also keep weeds and stray species at bay.

Ongoing Maintenance

Aside from ongoing watering, which is essential to maintaining a beautiful ornamental garden, there are a few things you’ll want to do to make sure that your plants and flowers are happy for years to come.

With these types of plants there is no need to shy away from the usage of fertilizers, at least in my opinion. Since you won’t be eating them I feel it’s best to give them all of the nutrients they need. If you’re a hardcore organic gardener you can even find some organic nutrients that will get the job done, though they may be quite a bit more expensive.

You’re also going to want to make sure that you keep your gardens thin and free of weeds. Weeding is something that needs to be taken care of quite regularly, as foreign plants will detract nutrients, water, and other resources from the soil that your prized plants would otherwise feast upon. I’d recommend weeding thoroughly on a monthly basis at the very least.

It may seem counterintuitive, but over time you’ll want to thin out your ornamentals as well. They will get large and bushy when treated well, but they can begin to crowd each other which will not only inhibit their growth and their appearance, but can even lead to mold development on the leaves – a problem that can escalate quickly if not taken care of. Believe it or not, plants are completely happy being trimmed back. They tend to grow back stronger than ever. As long as you don’t kill them, you won’t go wrong.

So there you have it, my primer on building a beautiful garden. Hopefully you can put some of these tips into action and have your garden blooming better than ever!

Looking for a Home Espresso Machine? Read This First.

If you’re an avid coffee drinker like me, then you have likely taken a jump into the world of espresso and other alternative coffee drinks at one point or another. Maybe you’ve even developed a fiendish double espresso habit to help get you through the work day. Don’t worry, I won’t judge. I’m the exact same way.

There’s just something so satisfying about coffee as you wake up for the day and start taking care of business. There’s the warm, roasted smell that coaxes you out of your foggy mental state early in the morning. Then there’s the cleansing sensation in your stomach as you follow up a light breakfast with a cup. By the time you’ve sat down to work you’re already alert, and your body starts to tingle slightly with great anticipation for the day that is to come.

It’s nice to have a Starbucks or your local coffee shop to retreat to when you need a change of scene. There are plenty of times though when you have a hankering for a cappuccino but leaving your home or office just doesn’t make sense. Not to mention the fact that repeated visits to the coffee shop can rack up quite the tab.

For aficionados like us it really makes sense to look into our very own home espresso machines. It’s kind of insane how many different products you’ll encounter when you start to look around the internet, or even in stores. It’s enough to make your head spin. I’ve been through this a couple of times before, and I actually just purchased a new DeLonghi espresso machine for my home. I figured this would be a great opportunity to shed my thoughts on this buying process.

Define Your Budget

The very first thing that you’ll notice when you start looking at home espresso machines, and a main proponent of why this process is so mind-boggling, is that the prices range drastically. You can find products for under a hundred dollars and you can find products well into the thousands of dollars – even the tens of thousands of dollars for some of the super high-end models. What in the world is an espresso machine supposed to cost?

This is why it’s important to set your budget right from the get-go. This is especially true if you’re just buying your first home espresso machine, as you’re likely to find some features that aren’t your favorite in your first purchase. Set an amount of money that you’re willing to spend and be comfortable with before you even start looking seriously. That way, you can make sure things don’t get out of hand too fast. Once you’ve had some experience with your espresso maker you will have a better idea of what works best for you, and you could always buy a better one later on down the road.

Get Familiar With The Lingo

There are quite a few different designs that you’ll encounter when it comes to home espresso machines, and they have different functionalities. I want to give you a quick run-down of the important features to save you some digging and reading as you go on your search.

You’ll want to pay attention to how the espresso machine physically brews the espresso. You definitely want something that makes use of high pressure during the extraction, as this is one of the primary factors that truly separates espresso from a regular ol’ cup of joe. The most basic models are heated on a stovetop, and the steam passes through the grounds. These will work OK, and they’re probably what you’ve seen your Italian Nonna using. You can find much better espresso machines out there though.

Mechanical designs are the next step up. You create the pressure for the extraction manually by pulling a lever. These can certainly get a richer and creamier cup of espresso than the design we just discussed, but they’re still rather rudimentary. They allow for inconsistency due to human error – that is, how much pressure the person operating the machine uses during the extraction. Another large drawback is that they rarely, if ever, come with a steam wand.

Steam wands are essential if you want to make lattes, cappuccinos, or other coffee drinks that require frothed milk. You’ll start to find them on the more sophisticated espresso makers out there. The next steps up are the semi automatic and the super automatic espresso machines. I’m going to gloss right over the capsule based machines, as the big brands (I’m sure you’ve heard of them) have enough of a marketing budget to get the word out.

Semi automatic espresso makers are where most people end up when making their first purchase. They utilize an electric pump to create the pressure during the extraction, ensuring you have sufficient and consistent pressure for a repeatable cup of espresso, every time. The pump also allows them to have a steam wand on board. Because the components of these designs are still fairly simple, you’ll find them in the low hundred-dollar range.

If you’re really looking to take your espresso game to the next level then look no further than the super automatic espresso machines. They have all of the benefits of the semi automatic machines, and then some. They’ll take care of everything from grinding the beans, to tamping and brewing. All you have to do is select a recipe and press a button. The largest benefit comes in the customization. You can set extraction temperatures and pressures to really get the perfect brew from the beans your using. Don’t expect this to come cheap though, as many of these models come with a price tag in the thousand dollar range.

So how do you feel, are you ready to go find your perfect home espresso machine? By now you sure should be. One last word of warning before we sign off though – keep on the look out for cheap knock-offs. You might be able to save you a few bucks, but at the end of the day you’re going to get a product made from inferior components. You get what you pay for, and these simply won’t hold up to long periods of use. Espresso machine components see a lot of wear and tear. Good luck out there, and if you have any questions while you’re on your search please don’t hesitate to give me a shout.

Looking to Hire a Professional Organizer for Your Home? Here’s What You Need to Know

Do you feel like all you do is clean and yet your house is always a mess? Are you faced with a mountain of paperwork (probably in bags) in order to find the one receipt you need? Have you bought items that were on sale to give as future presents but when the time comes to give them away you can’t find them? 

If you can associate with even one of the scenarios listed above, you may want to consider hiring a professional organizer. If you think hiring someone to get you and your home organized is an extravagance you cannot afford, think again. People have been known to spend more money by not being organized in the first place. 

  • How many times have you had to pay to get copies of paperwork that you just can’t get your hands on by the stated deadline? And then there is the extra cost of expediting the paperwork with an overnight delivery service. 
  • Did you feel like getting a head start on next year’s holiday season by purchasing tons of wrapping paper, gift bags, and tissue paper only to not be able to locate them and have to re-buy them at Christmas? 
  • Check out your refrigerator and see just how many jars of mustard you have hidden on the shelves. If you have more than one you are probably buying a jar every time you are at the store because you can’t remember or find the full jars you already have (this may or may not be from personal experience).

Okay, so you have looked at the big picture and as they say, the first thing is admitting you need help. How exactly do you go about hiring a professional organizer? You may be lucky enough to have a friend who can refer one to you. But if you are on your own, here are some things I learned from working with an excellent organizer from Washington DC:

  1. Consider how long have they been in business. The end result is what is important but you should know upfront if this person is just starting out or has been working as a professional for years. 
  2. Do they have before and after examples of their work? A good organizer will be able to show you specifically how their skills were able to make their client’s life much neater and easier. Pictures that show the improvements the organizer made can be impressive and get you excited about how great your place will soon look like. 
  3. Do they have a specific system that they use? Everyone has their own system, but a common one is separating things into piles to keep, give away, donate to charity, and throw out. Once you know how they will be working you can start thinking about what categories some of your things will fall into. 
  4. What is their exact mode of operation? What spaces are covered, how long will the entire experience take, and is there any follow-up? If you are going to have your entire home organized that is the most comprehensive plan. You may want to focus on closets, an eternally unorganized garage, or specifically your kid’s rooms. Make sure to get a timetable so you know how long it will take to complete. 
  5. What makes them an experienced professional in organizing? There is actually a National Association of Productivity and Organizing professionals that would be an impressive bonus if they were a member. Ask what other courses, clubs, or groups they participate in that would add to their success as an organizer. 
  6. What is the price? Are there different packages and prices? This is an important factor and should be spelled out exactly in a contract before hiring the organizer. Know exactly what services you are getting and at what cost. 

Remember, this is someone you will be working closely with as you deal with personal and sentimental items. Make sure your personalities work well together.

Alternatives to Aggressive Chemicals for Everyday Cleaning

e all want a clean home, preferably that smells good. Companies that make and market cleaners know this fact. Their print, television and online advertisements are all made to catch your attention. Showing our everyday messes and even the occasional big mess grabs our attention and then they reel us in with how well their product cleans. Now I am not saying these products do not clean. But they do contain harsh chemicals and scents that irritate and can even make us sick. 

According to the American Lung Association these cleaners we have trusted for years can not only irritate or cause reactions, but they can even potentially cause cancer. We all know that chlorine and ammonia have strong scents and are harsh chemicals. But something we do not always realize is that not all of the ingredients are listed. Those considered safer cleaners may be safer, but if they are combined with other safe cleaners they can cause harsh chemical reactions. 

White vinegar has been around for a very long time and is known to be a very good cleaning agent. Mixing vinegar with water is a great cleaner for windows. Add newspaper for wiping and you get a streak free shine. Vinegar is great for cutting through grease, grime and even mildew. Want those faucets to sparkle? Use diluted vinegar. Need to de-gunk that shower head, again vinegar and water to the rescue. Vinegar can also pair well with baking soda. Baking soda poured down a clogged drain with vinegar poured in after will help unclog it at a fraction of the cost of the harsh chemicals you can buy. Another little tip for vinegar is to mix it with water and keep it in a spray bottle as a quick all purpose cleaner. 

Baking soda is also a good cleaner. Mix it with a bit of water to form a paste to scrub difficult areas, including mildew. A great oven cleaning tip is to mix baking soda, water and a little dish soap. How dirty your oven is would determine how long you leave it on, but even overnight this paste mixture will not create irritating fumes. Then you simply wipe it off with your diluted vinegar water spray. Also baking soda and cornstarch work well to clean carpets. Both are naturally absorbent so they soak up liquid stains. And instead of expensive carpet deodorizing powders, simply use baking soda to help eliminate odors. It vacuums right up for no mess, but fresher carpets. 

Do you have some old tea bags? Boil some water in a pot and toss some of those old bags in and let them steep to make a strong tea. You can use this tea to clean windows, wood floors, mirrors, and pretty much any dirt. It is also a good de-greaser like vinegar but smells better. 

If you really like things smelling fresh you can always create your own citrus based cleaner. There are many articles and videos to be found on how to create one. Do not expect to use it immediately though. Like tea, the citrus needs to steep. But it will create a pleasant smelling cleaner that is safe to use even on toys. 

Simple, safe alternatives to harsh cleansers are readily available. A walk down your favorite grocery stores baking isle tends to provide all the items you need to have a less toxic cleaner at your fingertips. And if you do not want to have to creating your own mixtures there are several safe, non-toxic cleaners available with just a little research.

The Importance of Teaching Children History

Children are a symbol of the future; they are also humanity’s only hope for the future. Teaching children about their history is vital to establishing a basis of understanding within them; one that they could be referred back to in times of need.

It is essential that children understand that no matter how bad the situation is, we have all experienced it. There have been generations before them, that have been through the same bumps and trials, and seeing them now at 39 or 65, lets us know that if they survived, we can too. That is why teen, child, even adult suicide, is so detrimental to our society because it is all mental. An idea that was developed of self-perceived isolation that could have very easily been remedied by education and discussion. It is true; it is all about perception. Children and adults should be able to take all of their collective knowledge, and use it to transform the world to fit their purpose-whether that be curing illnesses or educating the next generation.

The main issue some adults have is not wanting to assume responsibility for the enormous pressures that society places on us to be selfless. It never feels like there is enough time for us to young and make silly mistakes, before we are faced with another wave of decisions. However, then we look at our past and our childhood, and we wonder if we had have known a particular thing or maybe if our parents had have raised us as their parents had raised them, perhaps life would not have been so hard.

Children are clay molds begging to be formed in their parent’s likeness. Just like it is indispensable as a parent, to share your favorite Baseball team with your son, or your favorite scarf with your daughter, it is equally as important to share your story. I have seen many parents neglect this parent-child social aspect, and then wonder why their son or daughter has strayed or made the same mistakes they have made. It is because of the lack of honesty. Yes, we want to shelter of kids for as long as we can but protecting them from ourselves, restricts their growth. Children should know about their place in society, their role within their families, and how they were born to make an impact. Nothing is sadder than to see a teenager lost. Unsure about their future and distrustful of their peers and elders. As adults, we should be asking ourselves how is this happen, and how can we make a change in this young person’s life? It is easy for children to lose hope. A bad grade on an exam could spell the end of the world, for a 16-year-old trying to get into an Ivy League college. Because we have lived longer than that little girl or boy, we can laugh and say, hun, you will get another chance to prove yourself.

Though they are sure not to believe us, we can rest easy knowing that one day when they reach our age, they will. Just like we remember various talks we have had with our elders, ones that at the time seemed mundane and counterintuitive; now they seem to be the only things getting us by, and we are thankful to them.