Posted by Sandra Tessier on 10/10/2017

Between 30 and 70 percent of the water used by homeowners is used outdoors. Water usage in the summer time skyrockets as the heat rises and the grass starts growing. People are watering their gardens, their lawns, and themselves as a means to fight back against the heat of the season. Water usage, however, is becoming an increasingly serious issue as global temperature rises. In recent years, droughts have affected much of the continental United States, from California to the Carolinas. Most of us have become familiar with the concept of local water bans; limits on water usage for things like watering the lawn, washing cars, etc. However one good practice to get into is conserving water usage even when your area isn't in a time of drought. Follow these tips to start conserving water. They'll help you save money and help you do your small part for the environment as well.

Tips for conserving water outdoors

Since water usage peaks during the summer when we spend more time outdoors, we'll begin with tips for saving water in the backyard.
  • Sprinkler systems. Homes with sprinkler systems use significantly more water than those without. Sprinkler systems often water the grass when it doesn't need it or it overwaters. Properly setting up your sprinkler system will keep your water bill down.
  • Watering the grass. Before you water the grass, determine if it needs water. Will it rain soon? Step on the grass and see if it springs back. If it does, you might want to hold off.
  • Keep the grass long. The roots grow deeper when the grass grows longer. Deeper roots mean the grass taps into groundwater deeper into the earth, so you won't need to water as much.

Indoor water conservation

  • Replace old faucets and shower heads. Upgrading to more efficient faucets and shower heads will significantly cut down on water usage. If you're concerned about water pressure in the shower, go with a shower head designed for such a purpose.
  • Use a shower bucket. When you're heating up water for your shower, catch it in a bucket and use it to water your indoor and outdoor plants. Or, take the opportunity to wash your tub with this water.
  • Only run the dishwasher when it's full. Many people don't want to wait to wash the dishes, but doing so will conserve a lot of water in the long run.
  • Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth and washing hands. These are habits that might take some time to break, but they're well worth the effort. Keeping the water running while washing your hands and brushing your teeth uses exponentially more water than is needed.
  • Go to the car wash. Instead of washing your car at home where the water you use runs off into the ground, head to a car wash that utilizes recycled water to wash cars.
  • Wash dishes by hand efficiently. If you don't own a dishwasher or only have a few dishes that need to be washed, do so efficiently. Don't keep the water running while you're scrubbing the dishes, or fill the sink with a couple inches of water and use this for washing all the dishes you have.





Posted by Sandra Tessier on 9/27/2016

Money experts recommend having an emergency fund, however, that is easier said than done. You will want to have at least three to six months of living expenses in your emergency fund. Here are some tips on how to get there: Determine how much you need                                                                                               Calculate how much you spend each month. Add up your rent/mortgage, car payments, insurance, food and utilities. This will give you an idea of how much you will need to save. Start small If you find it hard to save, start by saving small amounts. Even if you only saved $20 per week for one year, you would increase your savings account by $1040.00 Have achievable goals                                                                                                                     Start with a small goal and gradually work towards a larger one. Set your initial goal of one month's savings and build upon that. If you start small and make savings a habit it will be easier to save. Make it automatic                                                                                                                           Set up automatic contributions to your savings account. Move a specified amount of money to your savings account through direct deposit. If you do this you may not even miss the money. Watch where your money goes                                                                                                 Keep track of how much money you spend. Calculate your spending average and try to spend less. Another great way to save is to find areas where you can cut back. What are some of your best tips for saving money?  




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Posted by Sandra Tessier on 8/4/2015

If you are sending a kid off to college it is not only the tuition you need to worry about. There are a lot of other expenses that add up as well. If you are on a tight budget or just looking to save a few bucks there are some tools to help save you money. Here are some cost-saving tips for the college years: Save on Textbooks Look beyond the university book store to save money. According to the College Board, students spend an average of $1,200 a year on books and supplies. Try to purchase used books from sites like Bookfinder, Affordabook, Half or Amazon. Another option could be to rent textbooks. Some schools have their own rental programs; also check sites like BarnesandNoble.com, CampusBookRentals.com, and Chegg.com. When buying or renting books outside of the university bookstore, make sure you get the right edition. Confirm the book has the correct ISBN (International Standard Book Number) do not just go by the title. Save on Computers Look for deals on refurbished computers online at sites like NotebooksForStudents.org. If you want to buy a new computer see if your school offers a partnership with any technology brands. This could save you approximately 10%. Dorm Room Necessities Shop the big box stores for dorm room items. Stores like Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond and Target offer a large selection of back-to-school items. Don't forget to shop the dollar store for items such as storage bins, and other small items. You may also want to look for used items like dorm refrigerators at yard sales or network with friends that may have kids graduating.





Posted by Sandra Tessier on 5/12/2015

Going to college can be a very expensive endeavor as a result of the financial requirements and obligations.  It requires a lot of financing from textbooks, to housing accommodations, transportation and other miscellaneous expenses.  This does not even include the cost of tuition. There are several ways of handling these costs effectively without going broke. Here are a few suggestions to assist in your financial planning. 529 College Plans This is a form of investment that allows parents to set aside some money towards their kid’s education, allowing it to appreciate in value tax free.  This implies that when you withdraw from your savings, as long as the funds are used for the purpose of your child’s education, you will not be taxed. Irrespective of your income, and other family members can contribute to a 529 account. Coverdell Education Saving Accounts (ESA) This account functions like an IRA. But in this case, it is for education and not retirement. With this form of savings, you can make contributions up to $2000 with post tax dollars and allow the money to grow tax free. When you withdraw, you are not taxed on the money or interest as long as it is used for the purpose of education. IRA and Roth IRA Accounts Basically, these accounts are investment accounts used to save money for college or retirement with no significant taxes. They come as deductible and non deductible accounts. In order to qualify for this type of accounts, your income as well as an existing retirement plan is taken into consideration. With a deductible IRA, tax is deducted from your annual contributions. When you make withdrawals, you will be taxed based on your contributions and earnings. Roth IRA, contributions are not tax deductible and your earnings are also tax free if your withdraws after a five year period are used for an appropriate expenses like college tuition.





Posted by Sandra Tessier on 3/10/2015

No matter how sturdy a home is, sooner or later maintenance will be required. When this happens, you will have the choice to do some of this maintenance work yourself, or you could opt to utilize a home repair service to do it for you. This largely depends on how much experience you have in repairing things in your home. For example, hanging a picture on the wall does not take too much knowledge and expertise, as all you would need is a good drill and a little bit of know-how. On the other hand, if you need some major plumbing repairs, then you are better off finding a reputable plumber to do the job for you. When it comes to painting, it really does depend on whether you have some experience and know-how, and how much you enjoy doing it. For some people, painting can be extremely therapeutic. They will gladly paint every room in their home without any fuss. For others, painting a wall can seem like an extremely messy job, and in most cases, it will be a job badly done. In a situation like this, you are better off using a professional painter. One of the best ways to find a good quality home repair service is by going on the internet, as this allows you to quickly find a specialized repair service within your area with just a few clicks of your mouse. In addition, you are also able to do a little research on the repair service beforehand. If you would like a local referral I keep a list of professionals. Please call or email me for more information.