Home Tips

Take Control of Your Retirement – A Retiree’s Take

There is more to retirement than just leaving work. As far as retiring is concerned, I have always observed that young people are either in the dark or know so little about planning for their retirement. Ask anyone who has been on the job for some time and they will tell you that financial freedom after you leave work results from meticulous planning. As a retiree who has seen and done it all, I have always believed that anyone who wants to leave work someday has a right to be informed. In light of this, here are some of my best pieces of advice for anyone who is planning for his or her retirement.

You Need a Financial Planner

When any young man tells me about his intention to leave work, the first question I ask them is, ”do you have a financial planner?” If not, what are you doing to secure your financial future? I’m always not surprised to realize that these people do not have an elaborate plan on how to secure their financial lives. Planning for retirement can be tasking. I have always believed that getting out of this financial maze requires an objective approach, which is where a financial planner’s service comes in.

Start Early

Like I shared, I did not know much about planning for my retirement at a young age, but at least I was able to forge a plan. Though I started late, from 36 – 47, my passion for retiring sooner was critical in helping me. This meant that I had to make some sacrifices, some of which meant saving more and struggling with investments. If I had been able to start again, which is just a wish, I would start investing and putting away anything I can afford for the future.

Curb Your Spending

I always see young people getting themselves into a financial mess when they could liberate themselves from financial woes later in life. Looking back, I can confidently affirm that instant gratification will never bring happiness, but experience and investments will. I often feel sorry when I come across a young man with a luxury vehicle but not even a single investment. The key to enjoying life past your 40s is to focus on experiences and not material possessions.

Work on Your Credit Score

Having been a financial student to some godfather who understood things finances, I can confirm that I got some good advice early in life. Therefore, I always purposed to ensure that I had a perfect credit score, which meant that I avoided using credit to finance lifestyle pleasures. Because I am also human, I made my mistakes and later corrected them. I have lived a full life with a near-perfect credit score. This means whenever my wife and I decide to tour some exotic destinations, I move freely, knowing that I am not tied to unnecessary debts.

Own a Home

Having a home is key to enjoying life after work. But this does not mean burdening yourself with life-long mortgages when you can live comfortably in a small and affordable home. I had a small and environment-friendly home before I left work. I had always dreamt of owning a luxury home, but my wife was of a different opinion. After serious consideration, I bought my wife’s idea and built a simple house that I could afford. The fact that mortgages and expensive bills do not burden us means most of our paycheck is devoted to family and travel expenses.

Some people are tempted to believe that I had a decent income back in the day, looking at my life. But when we share, they are often left in awe. My salary, at the time, was average, if not meager. But thanks to strategic investments and savings, I managed to get the best out of my average take home. If I had to mentor anyone, I would advise him or her to live within their means and always have the bigger picture in mind: to retire early. Well, it is not easy, especially when those around you are enjoying life with a big spoon, but the focus is key to securing your financial future.

Home Tips

How to Organize Home Cleaning Tasks

Being a homeowner is one of my greatest achievements, but the responsibilities that come with it are something that I have struggled with. Not so much keeping up with the repairs as I expected this. But it’s keeping up with the housework that I found to be a real challenge. As a first-time homeowner, I didn’t realize how time-consuming this would be.  So, I decided that if I wanted to have any time to myself, I needed to develop a plan that would let me get all the cleaning done and leave me time for myself. It worked, so I thought I would pass my ideas along to you if you were having the same problems.

 

Start With a List

I realized that one of the problems I was having was that I was not organized. I wrote a list of all the tasks that had to be done. I broke the list down into what had to be done daily, weekly, then on occasion.

 

My daily tasks were simple: Making the beds, doing the dishes, and tidying up the living room at the end of the evenings. The problem here was I didn’t do these tasks at the right time. Then just before going to bed, they all needed doing. I realized I needed to organize my time better. As soon as I got up in the morning, I made the beds. Right after dinner, I did the dishes. Then all that was left was to tidy the living room. I no longer felt overwhelmed.

 

My weekly tasks:  I am a working woman, so all of my housecleaning chores got left to the weekends. Which meant that I had no time left over to do some of the things I wanted to do. To solve this problem, I went to my list of chores, which was comprised of:

 

  • Sweeping and washing the hardwood floors
  • Vacuuming the carpets
  • Dusting
  • Doing the laundry
  • Organizing the clutter created throughout the week.

I decided to assign one of these chores for each day of the week. Doing them individually was a lot better than cramming them all into one day on the weekend. Once I had prepared dinner while cooking, I would do all the dusting. Then the next day, I would do the vacuuming. It ended up, so I was doing one of the weekend chores each day of the week. When the weekend came, I was thrilled that all the housework had been done, and I had the whole weekend to myself.

 

I planned to do them on the last weekend of every month for the occasional chores.

 

Taking It a Step Further

I also discovered that I was wasting a lot of time doing the chores. I spent more time getting everything together that I needed than I did on the tasks themselves. It meant I needed to get organized here as well.

 

I set up a cleaning box that had everything in it that I needed. After each use, I made sure that I restocked it, so it was ready to use next time. After using the vacuum, I cleaned it out, so it was prepared to go again. I was almost able to cut the time spent on my cleaning chores by one quarter by following these few steps.

 

Relying on Others

As the home lady, I felt it was my responsibility to keep the house orderly. I now realized that I was not the only one living here, and it was time everyone pitched in. Like the kids putting their dishes in the sink, just simple things helped. Or my husband removing his shoes when coming in from working in the garage.

 

The Bottom Line

The biggest lesson I learned from all of this is that it really comes down to two things. One is time management, and the other being organized. I was surprised that I had not applied these two concepts to this area of my life before. I practice both excellent organization skills and time management in my working environment. I didn’t realize I could carry these skills into my home life. I am no longer a slave to housework.

 

Home Tips

Modern Living Room Decoration Ideas

I’m a woman and let me begin by saluting all women out there for the great work they do in their homes. As some people say, the home belongs to a man, but the house belongs to us, women. While I rarely subscribe to general views, I’m one of those people who subscribe to this particular view, and I’m sorry to admit this, just in case anyone out there is not one of the subscribers. But let me pose a question; if someone came to my house and found it dirty, disorganized, and cluttered, whom will they point an accusing finger at, me or my husband? Truth be told, I will be the one to take the hit. Besides cleanliness and tidiness, the decor is one thing I value the most – I just don’t compromise when it comes to getting it right.

Need some modern living room decor ideas? That is exactly what I’m going to discuss in this post. After years of tweaking decor ideas, I have managed to come up with what I believe will work for the readers of this post, given that I have seen it work for many people who have been coming to me for advice.

Leveraging the Wall Art

Wall art is one of the simplest ways of defining the theme of any living room while at the same time boosting the aesthetic value of the space. When choosing wall art, I always want to consider the decor of my house. Since  I’m in love with coastal themes, I particularly use American flags and faded prints to bring that feel into my living room. If I’m working with a farmhouse or cottage theme, I may want to choose an animal or botanical prints to complement that.

Use of Rugs/Carpet

Having a carpet in the living room is not news anymore, given that most modern houses have them. However, there are still many people out there who don’t know that having a rug in the living room complements the overall decor of the space. Now, when choosing a carpet, I don’t just go for any color. I always choose a color that will blend with the theme of my house. Given that I have beige sofas, I opted for a rug of the same color, but with some white accents, just to ensure that the room does not look dull. I also have a cream-white rug, though I rarely use it because the little ones tend to dirty it in a day or two. Nevertheless, it has never disappointed me every time I have turned to it.

Wall Mirrors

If anyone out there thinks that wall mirrors are out of date, then they may be wrong. I held a similar view until I visited a house that belonged to a professor in my locality. And while his living room had lots of valuable things, the mirrors on the wall are what struck me most, given that it was the only unique thing I saw there. Two round mirrors overlooked each other on both sides of the living room. They had a wooden frame, and they looked great – I still remember them like yesterday. Now that I did not want to be accused of copying and pasting (writers would call this plagiarism), I opted for oval mirrors, and they look even nicer. With wall mirrors available in various different designs and sizes out there, it is easy for me to find one that suits my living room.

Wall Clocks

I have seen wall clocks ever since I was born, but the more times change, the more they become modern. I’m not saying this so that anyone out there can continue hanging that 1970-wall clock. Getting a modern wall clock is the way to go. I use a glam wall clock in my living space, and it has always been the center of attention. The secret is to hang it where all the visitors will see it.

What About Shelves?

I use shelving to display my favorite items, including books from iconic authors and family photos. While these items are my treasures, they are decorative as well. While displaying my decorative items using shelves, I prefer choosing color-coordinated items to ensure they blend with my living room theme.

 

Home Tips

Money-Saving Tips Around the Home

When tough times come knocking, that is when you understand the importance of saving for a rainy day. This has often been too late in my experience. Many people go around feeling like saving is impossible, especially when there are many mouths to feed. However, I have found several ways to save and even have fun while at it. Here are a few tips I use without even thinking about it.

Bulk Shopping

Shopping every time I need something, especially groceries, forces me to focus on the urgency rather than how much I am spending. This is often the quickest way to deviate from my budget. Buying in bulk has many advantages. Aside from cutting down the grocery store trips, it also allows me to enjoy discounts on cumulative items.

Collecting Pocket Change

One will not often think much about the coins gathered as change. However, when I collect them long enough, I end up saving more than I expected. Such coins have often appeared as my saving grace, especially when I didn’t have loose cash to spend on an urgent household item.

Growing Herbs

Gone are the days when almost everyone owned a piece of land. Although urbanization has changed how people acquire food, I use small pots and planters to plant a few herbs. This cuts down my grocery expenses since most of these herbs can also be stored or dried.

Using Supermarket Loyalty Points and Bonus Cards

Although points collected from such cards do not count for much when few, if accumulated for a long time they become quite useful. There are days I go shopping for almost a month’s grocery plus other essentials without spending a dime thanks to loyalty bonuses.

Mastering a Few DIY Skills

Some problems in your house do not always call for paying an expert a lot of money to solve them. Mastering DIY skills have been quite handy for as long as I can remember. I easily create new shelves, check a leaking tap, and make other storage items by watching a few online videos. On many occasions, I have saved as much as a hundred dollars I would have otherwise paid someone to do the same job.

Go For Energy-Efficient Equipment

Utility bills can deprive one of their sleep, especially when you never saw it coming. Things like electricity expenses can easily be contained by using energy-efficient items. Instead of buying the normal 75 Watts or so bulbs for lighting, I opt for energy-saving ones. They might be more expensive, but their use saves me a lot of money in the long run.

I also find solar bulbs to be quite efficient since they cut down on electricity usage and I only bank on electricity when I have no other option.

Cook Your Own Meals

One way that I wrongfully spent my money, especially during my first days living alone, was eating out more than I should have. Looking back, I can now see how much I spent on coffee, burgers, and fries in the name of a quick bite and convenience. That money would have bought more groceries, maybe even enough to last a fortnight instead of one day’s meal. I now pack my lunch as well instead of ordering online when I’m at work. I even find it healthier than trusting foods from restaurants.

Buying Fruits and Veggies In Season

Once I started thinking about being more efficient even with healthy eating, I discovered that fruits and vegetables are often cheaper when in season. I, however, found it hard to keep them long enough to last offseason. Learning how to preserve and freeze veggies came in handy. If I cannot freeze a fruit, I look for in-season alternatives. This way, I get the same nutrients from different fruits, no matter the time of year.

Reusing and Recycling

With more people getting on board with ways to preserve the environment, programs such as Recyclebank are on the rise. These programs reward people for recycling. I have been a beneficiary of such, including getting restaurant coupons and free magazines for recycling. Plastic containers do not always have to go to the recycling bin. Some come in handy when you are looking for storage items.

Don’t always spend just because you want to. Think of tomorrow and find a win-win for today’s needs.