So you’ve been in your home for a while now. You’ve gotten used to the neighborhood, know where everything is in your area, and you’ve got your house furnished pretty much the way you want it. Everything seems to be perfect. Or does it? You may find yourself noticing some weird things in your home on occasion that leave you wondering what’s going on.
Doors Don’t Fit
Have you ever gone to close a door and noticed that it’s not closing quite right, despite closing without any trouble at all a few months ago? It’s weird, right? As it turns out, there are a couple of reasons why your doors may not be fitting quite right. Wooden doors expand and contract based on temperature and humidity levels, so they can seem to fit the frame a little differently during different seasons. You can alleviate this by keeping a consistent temperature within your home and taking steps to control the humidity. More serious reasons your doors might not be fitting their frames properly might be your house settling or foundation damage. This can cause cracks between the door frame and the rest of the house, and your doors to hang unevenly. These repairs are a lot more extensive and expensive, and will likely require professional help to address.
As you walk through your house, you may find yourself walking through a room that is much warmer or cooler than the rest. Don’t worry, your house isn’t being haunted. There are multiple reasons why some rooms may heat up or cool down faster than others. How well a room is insulated will have an impact on how well the room maintains its temperature. The better the insulation, the more consistent the temperature. Where the room is positioned in the house can have an impact as well. Rooms in the middle of the house are more likely to be a consistent temperature than, say, corner rooms. Because corner rooms have two exterior walls, they are more likely to trend towards the temperature outside. Their exposure to the sun will also have an impact. Rooms with greater sun exposure are likely to warm up faster, while those with less will likely cool down faster. Beyond that, your HVAC system may be the cause, not just the insulation or position of the room in the house. If you have an old, outdated HVAC system, it may not be equipped to efficiently and effectively maintain a consistent temperature throughout your house. More modern systems have the ability to focus more heat or cool air in different areas of the home, which can really help if you have multiple floors.
Cracks In Walls and Ceilings
Noticing cracks in your walls, ceilings, or both can be unsettling. Don’t worry, your house isn’t ready to fall down around your ears. Improperly installed ceiling drywall has a tendency to crack. While unsightly, it’s not necessarily dangerous. Vertical and horizontal cracks in drywall or plaster walls are often caused by shrinkage and drying after construction. Cracks that run at a 45 degree angle, are jagged, or stair-stepped are indicative of foundation or structural movement that could be serious, but more often are harmless. It’s virtually impossible to get a house to settle unevenly, and some degree of settling is fine and perfectly normal. That said, if you have cracks in your ceilings that continue to run down a wall, or are accompanied by sagging, you should get those inspected immediately.
While a babbling brook may be pleasant to listen to, pipes gurgling in your home every time you turn on the water isn’t. The short answer for why this is happening is because water isn’t flowing through the pipes properly. It could be because of a partial blockage that you can easily clear, or it could indicate a more serious blockage impacting your main sewer line. Over time, the blockage can become complete, resulting in water backing up all over your house. You can help prevent this by periodically cleaning your drains and preventing things like hair, oils, grease, fats, and things that get mushy from going down them. It’s also important to be aware that there are some things you should never flush down the toilet, even if they say they’re flushable. Flushable only means that they’ll go down the toilet, not that they’ll break down and make it all the way out. If you need plumbing maintenance, repairs, or services, talk to a professional who can get the job done properly the first time by using the right tools and training.
Trying to identify whistling or humming sounds coming from your home can leave you wondering if you’re going crazy or if there really is something you’re hearing. There are a few things to look into if that’s what you’re hearing. You may have clogged air filters. This makes your furnace work harder to get the air it needs to run properly, and could result in it sending exhaust gases to the rest of the house. Make sure you’re changing your furnace filters often enough to avoid this.
Hissing sounds could also be an indicator that you have a gas leak. Gas leaks are incredibly dangerous, as one small spark can be enough to ignite a furious blaze. If you notice hissing around your home’s outdoor gas meter or gas light post, the lines may have corroded. You may be able to smell a gas leak as well. As counterintuitive as it may sound, if you notice signs that indicate a gas leak, don’t try to fix it. Just get out. Call the gas company and let them fix it.
It’s not unusual to notice weird things in your home from time to time. Sometimes doors don’t fit quite the way they’re supposed to, temperatures may be uneven, or you may notice cracks in the walls or ceilings. Other oddities are auditory in nature. You may hear gurgling pipes and hissing sounds throughout your home. Pay attention to these things and discover the cause. Some may be minor issues, but they may also alert you to major problems that need your attention in a timely manner.
Read this next: Financial New Year’s Resolutions Your Family Should Make
When it comes to taking care of your health, one of biggest concerns you likely have is how you’re going to pay for everything. Health insurance can be an invaluable investment in your health, making getting the care you need more affordable. There are a lot of things that go into your health insurance policy, so there are multiple things you can do to get the most out of it.
Know What You Pay For
One of the most basic, yet important, ways to make sure you get the most out of your health insurance is to familiarize yourself with the details of your policy. When you know what you’re paying for, you can take advantage of covered services and make better financial decisions when it comes to those with copays. The details of what health insurance covers will differ from policy to policy. If you’re dissatisfied with your policy, open enrollment typically goes from November 1 to December 15. You can also change health insurance policies if you experience certain life events at any point during the year. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait for the next open enrollment period.
Choose the Right Doctor
Choosing the right doctor can make a huge difference in the care you receive. When looking for a good doctor, start by making sure they are covered by your insurance policy. You will usually have to pay more to see doctors outside of your policy’s preferred providers. Beyond that, choose a doctor who is a good fit for you. One of the best things that indicates that it will be a good fit is if they have good communication. You should feel comfortable in their knowledge and be able to establish a trusting relationship.
Take Advantage of Covered Services
Most essential (as opposed to elective or cosmetic) healthcare services are covered by insurance policies to some degree. In many cases, some preventive healthcare will be completely covered by your insurance policy. You won’t have to pay any copays, your deductible, or coinsurance. These services play an important role in reducing your risk of developing chronic diseases and protecting your overall health and wellbeing.
If you’re going to have health insurance, you might as well get the most out of it. Familiarize yourself with your policy so you know what you’re paying for. Choose the right doctor for your healthcare needs. Take advantage of services that are 100% covered by your policy. This will help you take full advantage of your health insurance.
Trying to save more money for your family? Check out our resources!
It’s no secret that healthcare is expensive. Most people don’t have much in the way of savings to begin with, and with the exorbitant costs of healthcare, many are just one health emergency away from poverty. Families need a way to set aside money for healthcare costs. Enter the Health Savings Account. Exactly what it sounds like, it’s a savings account specifically for healthcare costs.
Lapse in Insurance
There are multiple reasons why you might experience a lapse of insurance. Regardless of the reason, this can be an especially risky time for your family. Routine doctor appointments that would have been free or inexpensive suddenly cost a pretty penny. Emergency situations can strike at any time, resulting in a trip to the hospital that can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars. Since the funds in an HSA are specifically set aside for use on medical bills, saving money in that account can help make up for your lack of coverage.
Surprise Medical Bills
Surprise medical bills are bills patients receive after being given care at an in-network facility by an out-of-network provider. These bills are supposed to make up the difference between what your insurance is willing to pay and what the provider charges. More than 90% of healthcare consumers received a surprise medical bill in 2019 Congress recently passed a bill that disallows most surprise medical billing starting in 2022, but that still leaves you vulnerable to them in 2021, and potentially afterwards as well. These bills can be quite expensive, so having money saved up in an HSA can help you cover them.
As if the peace of mind that comes from building up your healthcare savings wasn’t enough, there are tax benefits that come from saving in an HSA as well. You can reduce your taxable income by putting funds into your HSA. There is a yearly maximum contribution limit, so be aware of that when you’re planning your contributions. Beyond reducing your tax liability, the money in the account itself isn’t taxed, and neither is the interest that accrues. Withdrawing the money to cover medical expenses isn’t taxed either.
Saving money in an HSA can be a great option for your family. It helps protect you if you experience a lapse in insurance, are sent a surprise medical bill, and can provide you with tax benefits. If you have trouble setting aside money for healthcare costs, consider setting up an HSA to take advantage of all that it offers.
Read this next: Financial New Year’s Resolutions Your Family Should Make
When you’re living in an apartment, living expenses are at lower lows than they might be if you were living in a larger space. When you’re in this situation, it’s easy to simply pay the basic expenses that you have and then use the rest of your money on fun things. But taking the time to identify a couple other ways to budget your money will save you time and stress in the long-run.
In addition to saving for a future down payment, you should also start building an emergency fund. Setting aside money for potential accidents or unforeseen events that could occur—like having to replace an old laptop or needing to cover medical bills that aren’t covered by insurance—will help you be prepared when tough situations come up.
Even having a few hundred dollars set aside as a college student can make a big difference for you if you find yourself in tight times.
There are multiple reasons why renters’ insurance is a good idea if you’re living in an apartment. First, just like with any sort of living situation, there are risks that you could encounter by living in your apartment. There could be a flood or a fire that damages some of your possessions. On the other hand, you could be the victim of a robbery that results in the theft of expensive items.
Paying for renters’ insurance each month typically isn’t overwhelmingly expensive, but it can make a big difference in ensuring that you recover at least some of the money in the case of one of these situations.
Down Payment on a House
When you’re living in an apartment, it’s a good time to start setting aside money for a future down payment on a house. Living in an apartment typically means less overall expense especially if you’re living with roommates with whom you can split rent costs and utilities costs.
Taking advantage of this living situation to save money for a down payment will help you be that much more prepared and able to qualify for a loan when it is finally time for you to purchase your own home.
Figuring out how to budget is hard. Figuring out specific additional expenses to account for when you’re living in an apartment can be harder. But it doesn’t have to be if you start small.
Looking to save even more? Check out our resources to help you out!
New Year’s resolutions are an important tradition that can inspire you and set the tone for the coming year. By carefully choosing your financial new year’s resolutions you can help your family be more successful and productive and build towards a strong future together.
Save More for Retirement
No matter where your family is on their financial journey, it is never too early to start saving for retirement. The earlier you begin, the more time that money has to grow and accrue interest which will help your retirement be less stressful and more fulfilling when the time comes.
In order to effectively save for your retirement, you should set a reasonable savings goal and start working towards it. Investing carefully can also be a great way to build towards a good retirement and be sure to take advantage of whatever retirement savings plans your work has to offer.
Pay Down Debt
When you pay down your debt you put yourself in a better position financially and free up more of your money for more productive use. Taking care of your debts from your car to your mortgage and credit card debts can help you feel more secure and take off the pressure of constant payments. One exciting benefit of working on your home debt is that making extra payments can help reduce the term of your mortgage. This means you save on interest and can pay off your home sooner. Taking care of your debts is a great goal for the year that can make your life simpler and more fulfilling.
Stick to a Budget
Budgeting doesn’t always seem like the most fun choice but with an effective budget you can make the most of your earnings and work your way towards financial freedom. The most important part of budgeting is coming up with a balance that helps you take care of your needs, save money, and have a little bit of fun. A budget that doesn’t allow for any discretionary spending will be difficult if not impossible to stick to, but a budget with too much fun spending won’t help you in the long run. Finding that balance will help you meet your needs while also feeling satisfied in your life.
Setting financial goals is a great way to start off the new year right. With these goals in mind, you will have a plan in place that can help next year be financially successful.
Read this next for more money-saving tips: How Your Household Can Become Debt-Free
When you get a holiday bonus, it can be tempting to spend it on something functional and boring. However, your holiday bonus can be a great opportunity to do something fun with your family. Choosing the right thing to do with your bonus this year can make this holiday season extra special!
Home improvements may not seem like the most fun way to spend your holiday bonus, but the right changes can make your home a more fun place to do. Try updating your kitchen, living area, or bedrooms, whatever spaces you and your family spend the most time in. Great updates in these rooms can bring added fun to your home for years to come. Choose a few easy projects to work on with your kids and you can all feel involved in the renovation process. Your home is where you spend a lot of your time, so making it a more exciting place to be can make your life so much more fun.
Take a Road Trip
A family road trip can be a great way to spend your holiday bonus and have an exciting adventure with your family. Any road trip can be fun. But getting off the standard highways and checking out scenic roads like Route 66 can make your adventure even more exciting. The historic Route 66 spans over 2,000 miles from Los Angeles to Chicago.
For a great road trip, start with a flexible plan, great snacks, and manageable stretches of driving. Especially when road tripping with kids, having good stopping places and yummy treats can make a huge difference.
Spend Some and Save Some
Finding a way to balance fun now with savings for the future can help you use your bonus effectively while having a good time now and being prepared for the future. Choose something that will be fun for the whole family to do now and choose a savings goal that will be fun for everyone in the future. That will help you make the most out of your bonus while also planning for something great to look forward to.
You deserve to have some fun with your end of year bonus, but it can also help you build a safety net and prepare for the future. Find great balance with your holiday bonus by having fun with your family and making solid choices for your future.
Read this next: How Your Household Can Become Debt-Free