Advantages to Home Ownership

Is buying a home right for you? The answer, despite what you might assume, isn’t always “yes.” But oftentimes buying a home is not only a good idea for personal reasons, but also an excellent way to build wealth for the future. The more you know about the reasons to buy, the more comfortable you’ll feel taking the plunge. It’s important to remember that there are some advantages that don’t show up on a spreadsheet, such as pride of ownership and a sense of stability. And don’t discount the ability to change things—repaint, knock out a wall, redesign the garden—without asking a landlord’s permission and without throwing the cost of the home improvement down the drain. Here are a few tangible and less-tangible reasons to buy: Pride of Ownership “Pride of ownership” might sound like a squishy reason to buy a home, but it is one of the main motivators for home purchases. Not only is home ownership about the joy of grasping the American Dream, it’s the satisfaction that comes from being master of your own domain. Feel like painting all the walls lime green? Go ahead! Thinking of installing a solid-gold bathtub? No one’s stopping you! Stability Any renter who’s been summarily kicked out when the landlord wanted to sell or renovate or move in himself will know that renting has some serious drawbacks in the way of stability. Owning a home, alternately, provides real security. Unless you fall behind on your mortgage, no one can force you to leave. And your family can rest easy knowing they’ll be in the same place for years to come....

Be an Online Seller: eBay and Lesser-known Marketplaces

Most people have heard of eBay, but did you know that there are many lesser-known sites that can help you make a little extra money? The Internet is a great tool for connecting sellers with buyers, and models for doing that in different ways have proliferated over the last few years. Some sites, like eBay, allow buyers to set their own prices at auction. Others enable face-to-face sales, or sales of handmade goods, or on-demand creation of merchandise. The Internet, it is fair to say, can make entrepreneurs of us all. So what are the various options available to the enterprising and wired among us? Some names you’ll recognize, others you may not. But all are open to whoever is creative and persistent enough to make good use of the service. eBay www.ebay.com The big kahuna of online e-commerce sites, eBay is the go-to site for both auctions and regular sales. Ebay is the largest online marketplace, which provides sellers unrivaled exposure to buyers, but it doesn’t come without controversy; changes in fees have irked users in the past. Amazon www.amazon.com Users can list their products so that they pop up in Amazon search results. Amazon is such an established site that listing here can give you instant credibility, but the format does put your stuff right next to that offered by competitors, including Amazon itself. Craigslist www.craigslist.org Anyone can buy and sell without fees on craigslist, which maintains a separate site in each city, across the U.S. and abroad. Sellers on this site mainly target local buyers, so it’s the best spot to sell unwanted odds and ends...

Best Swap Meets Around the U.S.

If there’s anything better than finding a good deal, it’s the search that leads up to the finding. And there’s nowhere better for searching out special things at awesome prices than flea markets and swap meets. Garage sales are all well and good, but they don’t hold a candle to the bustle of a proper, established market. Flea Market Finds I’ve had the privilege of visiting flea markets in several states and have found some of my favorite possessions at these places. The lime-green dresser in my bedroom came from a swap meet in Florida. I dug up the painting that hangs over my mantel—a portrait of a sea captain smoking a pipe—at a flea market in Illinois. The set of silver teaspoons I use to stir in my sugar every day was provided by a lively market in Texas. In each case, I had to search through mountains of other things to find these treasures. If you’re someone who considers that kind of excavating a waste of time, these markets aren’t for you. But if you’re like me—delighting in the hunt, thrilled by the savings on amazing finds—you might just find your new hobby the minute you step into your first swap meet. Coast-to-Coast Bargains Here’s a list of some of the neatest swap meets and flea markets around the country, sure to entice bargain hunters from coast to coast. California Orange County Market Place – This weekend market in Costa Mesa offers all sorts of entertainment along with the shopping. Colorado Mile High Market Place – Held in Henderson, this is the Rocky Mountain region’s largest year-round,...

Tips for DIY Kitchen Organization

Ever had to interrupt the flow of your cooking to search for the oregano or grope for the pot lost in the back of a messy cupboard? It’s time for some kitchen organization. No room in the house needs more organization than the kitchen—chaotic spice drawers and unruly pot collections can threaten to overwhelm even the most in-control home chef. There are many creative ways to put things in order, but certain kitchen dilemmas deserve the most prominent attention. Here are some neat ideas to get those trickiest of items under control. POTS AND PANS Pots and pans, and especially their tops, are notoriously difficult to organize. A wall-mounted pot rack is a common solution. For smaller kitchens, try installing one inside a cabinet with the shelf removed. Getting the lids in order is more than half the battle. Creative solutions include using a magazine rack as pot-top holder or a peg rack to keep them organized. If you keep your pots inside a deep drawer, you can keep the tops out of the way and pressed against the side of the drawer using a short tension rod. KNIVES AND FLATWARE While most find traditional cutlery trays useful, there are alternatives. Silverware can go in containers attached to the wall or vertically in a deep drawer. Knives can be a little more trouble, since the sharp edges must be protected. On-counter knife blocks work if you have the space, but if you need a tidier solution, try an in-drawer knife organizer. If your wall space is more voluminous than your drawer space, a wall-mounted magnetic knife strip will fit...

Organizing for a Move

Moving can be one of the most stressful things you’ll do. I needed days to recover after we finally got everything to our new house. With a whole household full of stuff, how can you possibly stay sane in the process? Here are some helpful moving tips I’ve learned along the way. The most important thing is exhaustive labeling and list-keeping. Not the most fun way to spend your time, but you’ll thank yourself later First thing’s first: Leave yourself enough time. Trust me, you don’t want to leave packing to the last minute, especially if you have a large house. Plan on two or three months of steady packing work to make sure you can do it deliberately and carefully. Set yourself a goal—say putting together 10 boxes a week—to bring a relaxed pace to the proceedings. Next, get to weeding! It’s best to pare any extraneous items out of your life. There are surely quite a few things you really shouldn’t bother taking along. Ask yourself about the last time you used each one, and if it was over a year ago, give it the old heave-ho. Take action: Move things into the boxes. The key is to be steady and relentless. Just get ’er done! Be thoughtful about how you pack—it’s best to put heavy things like books in small boxes and light things in larger boxes. As for materials, you can get tons of free small and medium boxes from liquor stores. But don’t forget to buy lots of packing tape and quite a few thick permanent markers. Here’s where the labeling and list-keeping comes...