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Five Home Improvement Tips that Will Increase the Value of Your Home

paint-2247394_640There are many ways to improve the look of your home and increase its value without breaking the bank. Whether it’s in need of freshening up or you have decided to put it on the market, a little bit of work can make a big difference for very little cost. The five home improvement tips that will increase the value of a home for a first time homebuyer are listed below.  If you are a first time home buyer, perhaps looking to buy a house in Bradenton, Fl these tips can help you save money on a purchase and immediately add value to your home.

If you have decided to sell, a few minor home repairs can increase the value by as much as 20% in today’s market. By taking an objective walk through your home, you can note the areas that need some minor repairs and develop a completion plan while keeping your budget in control.

Make A Plan

Though updating the entire house in your primary goal, here are the key areas to focus your attention and your budget on for the best results.


A good quality neutral coat of paint on all walls and trim can increase the value of a home almost immediately. Done either by a professional or as a DIY project, this is the first step in your homes new life. Repairing any trim and replacing broken or faded switch plates is also an easy fix for a low cost.

The Kitchen

The kitchen is the most critical area in your home repair efforts. Home buyers are looking for clean and spacious kitchens that flow without clutter. By updating the lighting and adding a coat of fresh paint, you can transform a dated kitchen for a more up to date look and feel. Remove all unnecessary clutter and replace any fixtures that show wear. Installing new flooring can drive up the overall value of the home.

Living and Family Areas

Like the kitchen, the family areas must give the illusion of space and comfort. Old and broken furniture should be removed as well as faded and excessive wall art. Once painted, continue with the neutral theme by minimizing clutter and adding light with lamps. New window furnishings can capture extra visual appeal by enhancing natural light.


Think clean and spacious with luxurious touches to make these rooms pop. As in the rest of the home, remove extra furniture and repair and replace any fixtures that have seen better days. Invest in new bed linens and carpeting if possible. Bedrooms need to feel calm and soothing, and by minimizing distractions, you can offer this effect with very little effort.

The Bathroom

This is the second critical area that may require a bit more effort to bring it up to date. New lighting, fixtures, and furnishings can overhaul an outdated bathroom immediately. Repainting cabinetry and re-grouting tiles are also quick and easy fixes for a cleaner and new feel. Clear out medicine cabinets and add new towels for better presentation.The bathroom may not be high on your priority list when considering rooms to remodel. However, bathroom remodels can help to improve the resale value of your home.

One of the easiest ways to improve the appearance of your bathroom is to re-grout the tile or thoroughly clean the grouting that is in the bathroom. Then, you can purchase a new rug and towels for the bathroom area. A beautiful matching shower curtain will nicely complete the look. If you have a tiny bathroom, these improvements can make an incredible difference.

Curb Appeal

Simple gardening will go a long way to making your home more attractive. Keep your trees and hedges trimmed and your gardens colorful for instant appeal. Repaint the moldings and front door a welcoming color and change the style of your light fixture for a new look.

A well-maintained home is noticeable from the first step on the property. Enhancing the flow and visual appeal of a well put together home can increase its value considerably. If moving is not in your plans, then all these ideas can be used to update your home for a brand new feel. Either way, keeping your home in the best shape will always be money well spent.

Fixing up your lawn and backyard is another great way to increase the market value of your house, and it can add some beauty to your house as well. Keep the home improvements to your landscape fairly simple, such as getting rid of old or dead shrubs and trees, or planting new bushes and colorful flowers. Do as much as you can to give your landscaping a facelift, and you will raise the value of your house at the same time.


How Africa is Using Mobile Phones For Health, Wealth and Happiness

smartphone-2209224_640The African continent is undergoing a technology revolution with no counterpart in first world history: due it’s lack of infrastructure, including a standard electricity network, or phonelines as we’d recognise in Europe, it’s plunging ahead into innovation and develop with mobile devices without following the pattern of more unwieldy desktops and laptops first.

Mobile devices have seen dramatic penetration across the continent: they are light, easy to transport, can be charged from small local charging stations powered by generator or solar panels (themselves driving small businesses allowing people a stable income).

Mobile phone credit can even be used as a de facto currency in some places, meaning that phones aren’t just a means of communication, but also a financing platform, more secure than carrying cash on your person. International mobile top up businesses are increasingly the most popular way for people who have moved abroad to send money back home to friends and family across the African continent.

One way in which mobile phones are particularly helpful in Africa is not in the financial field, but in health. Several apps have launched in the last few years that have been responsible for big improvements in public health in Africa. Some help with diagnosis, others ensure patients have access to all the information they need to take their medication correctly, and daily reminders to do so. Here are some of the most revolutionary apps that are helping Africa stay healthy.


Made by a team of four Ugandan coders, this app helps doctors in remote locations diagnose Malaria. This normally requires a blood test, but this app, using a simple piece of custom hardware (a red LED and sensor) allows doctors to test for the disease without either a long wait for results or sterile medical equipment.


With development funded by the US government, this app intends to help with the high mortality rate for mothers in Africa. Starting from when you find out you are pregnant, the app provides daily information and advice, with support lasting until after pregnancy. Currently only used in South Africa, success could see it localised to other African countries, providing much greater benefit with smaller resource investment.

HIV Confidant

A revolutionary app in fighting the AIDs crisis, this facilitates confidential notification of test results and helps those diagnosed with the virus get further care and counselling.


Auto Loan & Car Loan Actual Cash Value?

girls-1209321_640If, like many people, you purchase a car using an auto loan, one concept that’s important to understand is your car’s actual cash value. Here’s what you need to know about actual cash value and how you can protect yourself.

Your Car’s Actual Cash Value

It’s common knowledge at this point that new cars depreciate the moment buyers sign on the dotted line and drive off the lot. At that point, cars go from new to used, and that difference alone can shave a considerable amount off a car’s value.

New cars also tend to depreciate very quickly. The first two to three years of a car’s life is when it will depreciate the most. One of the potential problems with this is when you obtain an auto loan to purchase a car.

The standard insurance policy will cover a car’s actual cash value. If the $20,000 car you purchased now has a value of $16,000 and you total it, insurance will pay you $16,000. But auto loan payments have interest, and you may not have paid as much on your loan as the car has depreciated.

So, what happens if you still have $18,000 left to pay on your auto loan, but the insurance company only pays you $16,000 for your totaled car? You’re out $2,000, plus whatever your deductible was, and you need to get a new car. This obviously isn’t a great position for you.

What You Can Do

To protect yourself, you have a couple options. The most common safeguard is to purchase gap insurance, which is an optional insurance coverage. If you go through an experience like the one described above where your car is totaled and its actual cash value is less than the loan amount, your insurance company will cover the difference.

The lender that issued your auto loan may require that you have gap insurance. If not, it’s still a good idea to add it on. It won’t add much to your insurance premiums, and it’s well worth the peace of mind you’ll have.

Another option which is even more expensive but also provides much more protection is getting auto insurance that covers your car’s replacement cost. In this case, your insurance will pay you whatever it costs to buy a similar vehicle new instead of the actual cash value. If you bought a new 2015 Hyundai Sonata, purchased replacement value insurance coverage for it and then totaled the car in 2017, your insurance would pay for a 2017 Hyundai Sonata. If you’re thinking about going with this option, check with your insurance provider to confirm that you can, and remember that you will need to pay much higher premiums.

After Your Auto Loan Ends

Your car’s actual cash value is also important after you’re done paying off your auto loan. The most obvious reason is that you want to have property with as high of a value as possible so you make good money back if you decide to sell it.

The actual cash value of your vehicle can play a significant role if you ever need to use it as collateral on a loan. Let’s say you needed to get a Pittsburgh title loan. The lender would take your car’s actual cash value into consideration when deciding how much to lend you, because your car would serve as the collateral on the loan. This could also be the case with other loans where you put up your car as collateral.

The main thing you need to remember is that your car’s actual cash value can be much less than the remaining balance on your auto loan. You need to keep that in mind when purchasing insurance so in a worst-case scenario where the car is totaled, you’re at least paid enough to cover the loan.


The Factors of Borrowing from Family and Friends

girls-1209321_640Money can sometimes come between friendship. It can even spoil family relationships at times so it is important to think before lending to or borrowing from friends and family. It is often the cheapest way to get the money you want but there are other considerations. If you are in real difficulty or you know that you are lending to someone in real difficulty, there is always the chance that the debt cannot be repaid and you must be prepared for that and the consequences of that happening.

There are considerations when the situation arises which may affect the decision.

Immediate family

If you know that someone in the family has a short-term cash flow problem and the money will be repaid fairly quickly, there is really no problem in agreeing to a loan. You may even get a little interest as well.

However, it becomes more difficult when a relation who has a history of financial problems wants money. The prospect of repayment is slim so the wisest thing is to refuse because you are likely to be seen as an easy source for money again in the future.

How much

You should never lend an amount that you cannot afford because that can put you in trouble in addition to the person you are helping. Each individual has a different view on what obligations they have and how they should address them. Even close relations can let you down and it is certainly best to regard any lending strictly on a business basis. You may well get no favors in return for your help so don’t expect them. If the ‘’transaction’’ is kept on a formal business basis, with a proper contract, there will be no surprises on either side.


There is no benefit in criticising someone for getting into financial difficulties. It happened to many during the recession when unemployment was an everyday event. Certainly someone who has regularly lived beyond their means has made mistakes; sometimes this is evident in an expensive credit card balance. Anyone embarrassed to admit to this and able to get a personal loan at a cheaper rate should take one, and pay off that balance in full.


If you do agree to help someone out, you should make it clear that you are unable to do this a second time; that should engender more discipline in the friend or relation who has got into difficulties.

You should be firm in this and not give way to sad stories unless there is a serious emergency. If you stress to a borrower the need to think more carefully about their finances, they should perform better in the future.

If the money being asked for is to pay specific bills then it makes sense to say you will send the money directly to the creditors involved. If you are met with a frown when you suggest that, gauge the reaction of the person asking for money.

You should not discuss this with any third party, including the closest of relations. That is only likely to result in gossip and harm to relationships.


If you have prepared a contract then you should expect to be repaid in accordance with that contract. There are ways to get the money back without hounding the borrower though you should not feel guilty about asking if the money is not forthcoming.

Joint Responsibility 

One thing you should never do is to open a joint account or credit card whereby you become responsible yet have no control over the spending on that account or card.


You will probably be more adept with money than the person asking for help. There is nothing wrong in offering advice about handling money so that your friend or relation performs better in the future. If they do, it is less likely that you will need to help out in the future.


How Blue Apron Can Save You Money

I’ve always wanted to be a professional cook like on TV.  When I got my Blue Apron box, it was a little like having a secret fantasy come true.

If you know you want to sign up already click here. If you need to know more about it then please keep reading.

Ordering Your First Blue Apron Box

The ordering process is quick and easy. Simply go to Blue Apron’s webpage and sign up. After inputting your information and any coupon codes you find you select which meal plan you want.

Blue Apron will let you pick your favorite types of meat to eat, or rather your least favorite. In the settings menus, you can check or uncheck meats you do or don’t like. This allows Blue Apron to tailor the meals to what you like rather than what they just currently have available.

Blue Apron also offers vegetarians a wide array of options. As someone who loves to eat meat, I can say that the vegetarian meals they sent so far have been some of my favorites.

If after you sign up you don’t want to get a box every week you can “skip” a box. Or you can go in like me and skip all the boxes. Not that I’m never going to order again but I don’t want to accidentally forget that I’ve got a box coming and I’m on vacation and can’t get it.

When It Arrives

The box itself is not that large, or at least not as large as I thought it would have been. Once you open it though you see everything packed perfectly. It’s in an insulated bag with several ice packs and has so much food in it that it looks like you’ve just gone grocery shopping.

I took everything out of the bag and cleared a shelf in the fridge that was designated for Blue Apron meals. There were some things that came that I already had like limes, garlic, and oranges that I didn’t want to mix.

Preparing The Meal

Have you ever been jealous that TV has perfectly portioned out amounts of whatever they need? The first 15 to 25 minutes of making this meal will be making that for yourself.

Blue Apron comes with recipe cards that have instructions so detailed anyone could do it. Starting with chopping, mincing, slicing, etc. all the food. What I like is that it will have you start cooking one thing and then the instructions tell you when it’s time to start working on another portion of the meal instead of waiting.

According to the recipe cards, the meals I made should have taken a total of 30 to 45 minutes. It took me about an hour on each. Probably because I’m not as comfortable with a knife and don’t chop as fast as they are expecting. I also had to stop and read the card over and over again in an attempt to make sure what I’m doing is correct.

Once you start the process though it is really fun and relaxing. A warning however, it does dirty a lot of dishes. I used a small plate or bowl for each ingredient as I was prepping so I could just dump the whole thing in when needed. There are ways that you can decrease that but, to me it’s part of the fun to be able to just pour it in the dish.

How Filling Is It?

Having just two people in my family made the choice of sizing easy. One of the dishes I made I had several people over and turned into 4 dishes instead of 2. They were very filling and we all were happy with what we got. Making me think that had I eaten a whole amount myself I wouldn’t have been able to move because of how much food we had.

Not all the meals were as filling. The first meal, Oaxaca Cheese and Plantain Torta, was not nearly as filling. It fed both of us and we were full but had no leftovers. So there was no way we could have fed more than just us.

Should You Use Blue Apron Every Week?

We loved Blue Apron so much we want to do it every week. The food is great, better than anything I make on my own, but the cost is also pretty steep. I can usually make a meal for the two of us for half the price that these meals cost.

However, my wife and I also go out to eat from time to time and that can get pretty expensive. So we consider Blue Apron meals more as a special night type thing and it actually cuts down our budget. Instead of spending $35 to $50 at a restaurant by using Blue Apron we spend $60 for 3 nights of amazing meals.  In fact, it might also be cheaper than going to the grocery store in some situations. did a neat analysis of a Blue Apron meal and found it was about half as expensive as supermarket prices once you factor in the unit costs (here).

Not only will Blue Apron save money, but it also teaches me how to make things I would never have thought to make before. The plantains are things I’ve never really had before, especially in a sandwich. But, they were amazing and I would gladly eat them again. Not to mention I can get them at the produce store for less than $2, making it a very inexpensive meal.

If you have ever wanted to cook like the pros making delicious meals you can brag to your friends about then you need to sign up for Blue Apron. This link is good for $30 off your first order.

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