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“A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that is poverty—but how efficiently we can put things first- When you are clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it is clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar” –Victoria Moran

Has the clutter in your home gone out of control?

Are there spaces or rooms you can no longer use because of the abundance of clutter? Or have your common spaces in your homes that have been long dominated by it? If you have answered yes to the following questions, then you might undeniably have a hoarding disorder that needs to be addressed immediately.

Admittedly, most people tend to have stuff at home that they do not necessarily need. In this regard, it is inevitable for a home to get messy and disorganized over time. However, there is a marked difference between a home that is simply disorganized and a home that is no longer useful from being overwhelmed by the clutter. If you find yourself constantly stressed and anxious about the possessions in your home insomuch that it affects your life and your health then you might need to do something about it. It could be that the culprit is obsessive-compulsive anxiety disorder known as hoarding. A central aspect of this disorder is the acquisition of and failure to discard a large number of possessions that appear to be useless or are of limited value. Unfortunately, aside from causing general disarray and disorganization in your homes, hoarding can present a very detrimental effect in your lives. With this in mind, it is best to identify the telling signs of a hoarding problem. The earlier you can determine what these signs are, the timelier your response and remedy to the general clutter of your home will be. After all, discarding clutter starts with knowing that you have it and admitting that you do have a problem. From there, you can then come up with ways to counteract your perceived need to save these unwanted or little to of no value items. After all, according to Wendell Berry, you should not own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.

With all these considered, knowing whether you are a compulsive hoarder is paramount. So, whether you are living in a perpetually disorganized condo unit in Avida Towers Sola or a messy flat elsewhere, here are the outward signs in your home that would identify you as a compulsive hoarder:

Parts of your home have become unusable

Admittedly, it is normal to have common clutter in your homes. After all, these are everyday items that may just be strewn about in your homes. However, this is not the case for a compulsive hoarder. The latter implies that something is wrong and it is immediately evident upon entering the home. The amount of mess inside would be jarring and some areas of the home would be unusable. It might be that furniture would be moved into a corner or even the middle of a room as the periphery is filled higher and higher with objects of no substantial use. Over time, the amount of clutter will get so bad that only pathways will exist to get from one room to another. Eventually, the mess and disorder will get so bad that it would even be difficult to identify furniture such as beds or chairs.

No organization to the clutter

Some hoarders would have quite a lot of stuff and despite lacking general storage for these items, they are able to know and determine where everything is. This is not the case for people who compulsively hoard their stuff. There is no semblance of organization for the items they have and things just appear to be stacked arbitrarily in rooms. In fact, some of the items contained in a room might not even belong or is just randomly included inside.

Hoarded items hold little to no value

A compulsive hoarder tends to accumulate items that are of no value in their homes. Some of these might be stack upon stacks of previous documents that should have long been discarded but are instead kept. Sure, there might be a few items that are still of use but that is a rare occurrence. Signs of compulsive hoarding would include keeping newspapers, junk mail, catalogs, magazines and the like. Similarly, having piles upon piles of useless clothes you have not worn in years and keeping broken appliances are also signs of compulsive hoarding.

Your home is becoming unsanitary

In essence, clutter tends to thrive in unsanitary conditions. Undeniably, hoarders live in homes that are already considered messy. However, compulsive hoarders take it to the next level living in conditions that are considered unsanitary and posing various precarious risks to their health and well-being. Some of the signs of this unsanitary conditions are piles upon piles of unwashed dishes, toilets that look like they have not been scrubbed for a very long while and laundry strewn all around.

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“Some people look for a beautiful place, others make a place beautiful”-Hazrat Inayat Khan

As we anticipate the hottest months ahead of us, we try to come up with ways to stay cool in this sweltering season.

However, in the Philippines, cooling off would almost always mean blasting off the air-conditioning unit the entire day or strolling around the mall where the supposed “aircon” is free. Unfortunately, if one is constrained at home then the only option would be to constantly have the air-conditioning unit turned on. But unless you can pay for hefty and exorbitant electricity bills, this is not a likely nor is it a feasible alternative. Apart from jacking up your electricity bill, there is just something off about staying in a wintry environment when it is so hot outside. The entire ambiance of your home would feel contrived owing to the artificial chill. So then, what are you homeowners supposed to do to cool off? Well, as it turns out, you do not have to languish during the scorching season. Of course, there is a myriad of ways to make your homes cooler and the best thing about it is that you do not have to crank up your air conditioning unit all the time.

In any case, whether you are living in condo in Mandaluyong or elsewhere, here are some of the best tips to cool off during the hotter seasons:

Windows/Blinds

At night, welcome the cool summer breeze in especially when you live in a place where it is significantly cooler at night. Once the sun goes down, try popping the windows open and you will be amazed at how much cooler it will be with the cool air blowing in. It gives you homes an overall refreshing and invigorating ambiance. Further improve your home’s ventilation by utilizing fans to create tunnels of cool air blowing into your home. You can further get the most out of our efforts with this method by cracking a window on the main floor of the house.

While we are at that, keep in mind to make sure that your blinds are closed during the day. It turns out the some of the unwanted heat in your home is coming through your windows via the greenhouse effect. In other words, sunlight and heat can enter but are unable to escape. To address this, keep your blinds closed during the day. Double-up the effect by getting light-colored blinds that would reflect instead of absorb heat then open them again by sun down when it would be noticeably much cooler.

Appliances

A major oversight among most homeowners is failing to factor in appliances as a source of unwanted heat inside the home. Sure, windows would immediately be considered as the common denominator among stifling hot homes but another common factor would be the home’s appliances. Obviously, the oven is already a given but most appliances throw off a lot of heat when they are running. To mitigate their heat output, here are some of the things you can do:

Do chores at night

Conventionally, homeowners would do their chores during the day where there is ample light going around. However, during the summer season, it might be best to opt doing household chores at night. Laundry machines tend to throw off a lot of heat. If you coupled that with the washer and the driers running during the day then you will inevitably have a hotter environment. You might not be able to get a way out of doing chores during the summer season, but at least do it in the least scorching parts of the day.

Skip the oven/store

In this regard, you are encouraged to grill more. Ovens and even stove-tops can easily make your homes into a sweltering den with constant usage. With this in mind, grill your food while you can. However, if a meal necessitates the use of a stove then be sure to at least turn the range hood on. If you do not have a range hood that serves as a vent then turn the fan on—especially if it vents out to the exterior. Keep in mind that if it just recirculates the air, it would not be as effective.

Maximize your air conditioner

To get the most out of your air conditioner, keep in mind that the smoother and more efficient it runs, the cooler your house will be when it is turned on. To make the most out of your air conditioners, install a programmable thermostat instead of fiddling with the temperature night and day just trying to get it right. Also, remember to change your air conditioning filters regularly. At the most, clean it every six weeks (especially with heavy use) or else it would not be as efficient in cooling your homes. Dirty filters would also consequently reduce air quality, efficiency and air flow.

Keep doors inside the home open

Let the air flow and be sure to keep doors inside your home wide open. Let air freely flow from one room to another and throughout the entire house. A good airflow generally means a cooler home. Keep your doors open to prevent your homes from becoming stifling hot environments.

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“Clutter is stuck energy. The word “clutter” is derived from the Middle English word “clotter”, which means to coagulate—and that is about as stuck as you can get.” –Karen Kingston

Clutter, regardless of what form they may take, contributes to the negative energy surrounding a living space.

In this regard, a room encumbered with innumerable stuff would look like it is in a perpetual state of disarray and as a result would look overwhelmingly confusing. More importantly, it is quite difficult to relax in such rooms—particularly when it looks like there is so much going on. After all, a room that is overwhelmed with household items and clutter would be a lot to take in. Apart from creating visual noise, cluttered rooms tend to invite feelings of anxiety. With all these considered homeowners who seem to have an affinity with clutter need to rethink their house cleaning and organizing strategy.

Which brings us to the next question: Why is it that we have so much clutter? (At times, even too much). Primarily, this stems from our insistence to keep some of our old things—regardless of its usability and functionality—all in the name of nostalgia and sentimentality. However, a more dominant reason would be the fact that most homeowners are at a loss as to when some things should be thrown out. A lot of our household items do not come with an expiration date and would resultantly lead to homeowners keeping them for so long as they could even if they are way past their state of usability and functionality. However, this is basically the root cause as to why you have perpetually cluttered and disorganized homes and if you wish to address that, you need to be aware that there are some items that have to be thrown away. If you are unsure as to what truly belongs in the trash heap, let this article serve as your guide and begin purging your homes from the unwanted mess. In any case, whether you live in a condo in Quezon City or in a flat elsewhere, here are some of the household items in each area of your homes that you should get rid of immediately:

Kitchen
  • Disposable Silverware– Unless you are entertaining regularly or do not eat home quite often, having disposable silverware at home is a cardinal sign of laziness. Let us face it, you just do not want to wash your dishes and would rather dump everything in the trash the moment you are done. However, in your staunch refusal to wash your proper silverware, you are not only contributing to a more polluted earth, you are effectively taking up more space as well. Disposable silverware or plastic/paper utensils are only acceptable if you are hosting parties. At other times, you should get rid of them.
  • Condiment packets– You do not need to excessively and compulsively save them every single time you dine out at fast food restaurants. They take up space and you already have a bottle of ketchup anyway.
  • Leftovers (more than a week old)- If it has been sitting in your fridge for more than a couple of days, you most likely have forgotten it already. Dispose of it. Chances are it has likely attracted bacteria by now.
  • Anything expired– Condiments lose their flavour over time. Other staples such as sugar and flour are not as effective as they are when they are fresh. If there is something in your pantry that has been sitting there for the past six months without being used, consider throwing it out. On a side note: You should only buy pantry staples when you know you will be using them. There is no point wasting money on flour, baking soda and the like if you are not going to be using them anyway.
Closets
  • Old clothes that no longer fit– Stop hanging on to them with the hopes of losing or gaining weight in the future. It is old and unusable. Plus, there is a likely chance that you are going to find something better in the future anyway.
  • Broken sunglasses– You promised yourself that you will have it fixed—one year ago. And yet, here you are, still with broken sunglasses.
  • Shoes you have not worn in years– If you do not see yourself realistically wearing them anytime soon, might as well give them away or dispose of them.
  • Accessories you never wear– What is the point of having them taking up valuable closet real estate when they do not even serve its purpose?
Home Office
  • Old Newspapers– Why are you even keeping them? Unless you wish to clip articles that feature you or any family member, what is the point of even having them occupy space? If a particular paper features a news article you do like, clip it but toss the newspaper it came from.
  • Magazines more than two months old– In this digital age wherein everything can be found online, it is a wonder why people still insist on keeping their Magazine subscriptions. In any case, if you cannot cancel yours, clip the articles and recipes you wish to reread from time to time. Everything else belongs in the bin.
  • Receipts– Receipts should immediately be discarded after they have been recorded and tabulated into your household budget chart.
  • Greeting Cards– Greeting cards should only be kept only if they contain more than the generic felicitations. Other times, you should discard of them.
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“Our homes should inspire us to go out into the world to do great things and then welcome us back for refreshment”-Melissa Michaels

When our home was new, we used to look at it with starry-eyed amazement.

We used to love coming home after a taxing day at the office and could not wait to perch our feet on ottomans, rested our heads against love seats and got ready to unwind after a long day. However, after coming home to the same place for quite a time—say five plus years now—the feeling of anticipation has long faded. Today, the relaxing practice you once did years ago would feel like an anachronistic ritual and your homes inevitably feel like dated spaces. You used to love your homes so much in the past that you did all that you possibly could to ensure that it is not only in optimal functionality but aesthetically pleasing as well. However, much like any relationship, your connection to your home can grow stale over the years causing you to get bored of your surroundings. To keep your love for your homes alive, it requires a bit of effort on your part.

Staring at the same spaces and the same decorations—from the walls, floors down to the furniture—can get tedious after a while. In this regard, all you would need to do to renew your spark of interest in your abodes is simply to update them and make them look beautiful again. However, this endeavor does not have to be costly but it does require creative effort on your part. If you have been hoping to reignite your love for your homes once more—whether that may be a condominium in Mandaluyong or elsewhere—it pays to incorporate some decorating schemes in that endeavor. So, if you have any redecorating plans this upcoming weekend, here are some of the best tips to keep in mind if you wish to fall back in love with your homes:

Utilize scents

A home should not only look aesthetically pleasing but it should smell pleasant as well. Make your homes and spaces more inviting by utilizing wax meters, candles and diffusers. Remember, our sense of smell contributes to how we feel about a certain aspect in our lives. More importantly, it is a vital aspect to our feelings of well-being and quality of life. It also has a tendency to influence our mood and would play a pivotal factor as to how long we stay in a room.

Mix it up

Enliven your spaces and rooms by mixing it up. There is no absolute need for you to stick to one particular style per room. If you feel like injecting a bit of personality to each space, you can opt to have an industrial style for your kitchen with a sparkling crystal chandelier to illuminate it. When it comes to decorating and making your spaces feel alive again, there are no limits to your imagination. However, while you are not constrained to any design rules and the like, you are encouraged to at least find a semblance of cohesion between the design aspects in such a way that they do not clash with one another. Make sure that the colors you do utilize or the forms you incorporate would flow freely together and would connect with one another.

Add some shine

Sometimes, it would take only a little sprucing up just to get our homes and spaces feel beautiful once more. Even if you only had an hour to spare, you can use it to bring back the sparkle and shine into your homes by polishing the stainless steel. Clean up. Mop the floor. Wash the windows and get rid of the clutter. Sometimes, even the simplest of things can already make a home feel beautiful. In this regard, getting rid of the mess will certainly improve a home’s overall look and would make you look forward to coming home.

Organize your stuff

Revitalize a room by getting rid of the clutter. Organize it and ensure that everything is in its proper place. Useless items or things you have not used in a while should be classified as clutter and should be discarded, thrown out, given away or sold. Keep in mind that clutter—in whatever form—can drain the energy from a room and can make it feel really stifling. In this regard, take stock of everything in the room. And by everything, we mean everything. This means you have to include whatever is inside closets, drawers and shelves. Take a look at every single item you come across and ask yourself if you truly need it. Be realistic about what you need and what you could do without. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself what would be more important to you: Holding on to the clutter or having a more organized and ultimately, beautiful home?

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“The most important thing to understand is that feng shui is really about the energy surrounding you in your personal space” –Lillian Too

It has been said that Feng Shui is the art of introducing positive energy into our homes and eliminating the bad ones. It carries many benefits with it with better health and significantly better chances in attracting love and improving the various states of your business.

In this regard, many homeowners have taken it upon themselves to Feng Shui their home—not only as a decorating concept but rather as a medium for attracting luck. So, if you are one of the hopeful homeowners who had enlisted the expertise of a professional and signed yourself up for some feng shui 2018 in the Philippines then I am going to assume you had goals in mind. Unfortunately, it seems like the promised benefits are either waylaid or the Feng Shui in your home is not working as promised. What is wrong? Is there any truth to the rewarding results of Feng Shui at all? Or is the concept just a fancy way of restating a decorating technique? Well, before you start dismissing Feng Shui as ineffective or a myth, you may want to revisit the reasons as t why Feng Shui might not be working for you. You might have been utilizing Feng Shui but have not been appropriately implementing it leading you with less desirable results.

In any case, here are some of the biggest reasons why the results of your home’s Feng Shui have fallen short of your expectations:

You have not implemented the sudden changes

Simply stated, you did not take the expert advice of the Feng Shui master you had consulted. More often than not, homeowners become increasingly frustrated by not attracting the kind of luck they had wanted even after they had consulted a Feng Shui expert only to find out that the fault is mostly theirs. An expert’s opinion as to how your furnishings should be positioned should be taken seriously and implemented in the home. So, if a Feng Shui master tells you to make some changes in your home setup, you would need to effect those if you wish to attract positive energy. Unfortunately, in most cases only a single family member is open to the idea of changing the furniture layout of the home with the rest resisting to the idea. As a result, no significant changes will be effected. So, if you are hoping to avail of the services of a Feng Shui master for your home, consult the other family members first and come into agreement about your plan first.

You only implemented a few feng Shui tips

Common among those who do not seek help and assistance from Feng Shui experts, most homeowners would simply implement only a select few Feng Shui tips—mostly coming from online articles. However, Feng Shui should be holistically approached insomuch that you cannot cut it into parts and expect it to produce results. Unfortunately, many homeowners just take one part of what they have read on the internet and effect only the changes they deem fit and expect it to attract positive energy. When that does not happen, people would then dismiss the entire concept as hogwash. Remember, if you expect positive results, you have to take Feng Shui as a whole and not nitpick only those decorating ideas that you like. It is all of it or none of it at all. With this in mind, you can also expect better results if you consulted an expert on the field instead of doing it all yourself by effecting what you have read on the internet.

You neglected details from other Feng Shui rules

When we said that Feng Shui should be a holistic approach, we mean in its entirety which means that every single aspect will converge and commingle at one point. Unfortunately, those who are new to Feng Shui techniques cannot quite comprehend what it really means. Similarly, those who implement Feng Shui tips and cures without really understanding it tend to haphazardly implement Feng Shui tips while overlooking details from other Feng Shui rules. Unfortunately, this oversight can negatively impact the overall effect. Remember, there is quite a lot of rules involved in Feng Shui so you need to make sure that those you do implement will not conflict with one another. With this in mind, it is best to consult the expertise of a professional—particularly if you are inexperienced as there are details such as bed placement rules that might be easy to miss with an untrained eye.

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“Buyers decide in the first eight seconds of seeing a home if they are interested in buying it. Get out of your car, walk in their shoes and try to see what they see within the first eight seconds.” –Barbara Corcoran

Buying a home might be an individual’s biggest investment—a financial milestone if you may and yet the fact remains that selling a home can be quite the challenging endeavor.

The problem lies in the reality that in the Philippines, real estate properties remain in abundance while those are able to afford them remain only to be a few individuals. The glaring contrast between real estate properties and their potential homebuyers remains to be one of the compelling reasons why selling real estate in the Philippines remains to be quite a daunting and difficult task. After all, with real estate properties to sell, how sure would you be that you would be able to find a buyer? Let alone an appropriate one? Seeing as selling real estate properties is no easy feat, real estate agents who have made it big in the industry and have made a name for themselves are regarded with awe in respect. With way too many real estate professionals in the country trying to meet their monthly quota, one might even ask themselves: How do these individuals manage to be on top of their game? More importantly, how do they level up the playing field? How do they make it so easy to find buyers for a house and lot for sale in Bulacan or even in Laguna? What are their secrets? Well, now you do not have to wonder no more.

Read on below to step up your game and ensure that your clients—regardless of whether they are past or present—will always have you in the forefront of their minds whenever they are thinking of purchasing property in the Philippines. Here are some of the most compelling tips for real estate success from the real estate pros themselves:

Project a good first impression

More often than not, the success of an initial meeting is primarily hinged on how you project and conduct yourself. A good first impression works wonders and would often give you the results you want. Keep in mind that you would inevitably be conducting business and meetings with clients who are either esteemed individuals or coming from privileged families. In this regard, this type of client would not only demand a sharp appearance from you but an intellect to match it as well. You should be able to pique their curiosity enough to effect an offer from them. When it comes to selling real estate, keep in mind that you are not just selling homes but you are selling yourself as well. After all, if you want to succeed, you need to ensure that the client finishes the entire transaction with you and not any other real estate agent.

Address their concerns

There are times wherein your client would not be able to pay the down payment upfront. As a result, many of them might request for a special payment term from you. On your part, this might mean extra work and research to justify the request to the finance department. Not to mention, this kind of concern might require a bit of gall and nerve on your end to have it approved by the financing department. An easier route would have been to flatly tell the client that this is not allowed and that the request cannot be approved. However, if you did not go out of your way to address your client’s concerns, you would likely miss out on being inevitably recommended to their network of connections filled with individuals who will be similarly looking for real estate properties. Take the extra mile—especially if you are convinced that your client wants the unit. Soldier on until you get the approval and you will see that you and your client will be happy.

On a side note, be sure to address all of the client’s queries. Take note: Clients will be skeptical if they cannot make an informed decision because you have failed to answer pertinent questions. Answer all of their queries the best way that you can and give them a flexible payment term which they can work with. Lastly, give them a compelling reason why an investment on the project you are offering would be worth it.

Know the best time to contact your client

The fastest way to make a prospective client decline your offer is to constantly pester them with your calls about new offers and payment discounts. Do not constantly pester your client as you will only end up having your calls screened or worse, blocked. Know when the best time to call is so that you would not be intruding on their work hours. Calling on a Monday morning is ill-advised as most of your prospective clients will be working and really busy on that day. If a client does not show any interest, leave it be and do not badger them to see if you can change their mind. An interested client would give you a call or even send a message. Calling your client on strategic hours can be very helpful in ensuring that they would finish the transaction with you and buy from you as well.

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“Look everywhere you can to cut a little bit from your expenses. It will all add up to a meaningful sum.”-Suze Orman

Samuel Johnson was once quoted to say that a man who both spends and saves his money is the happiest man because he has both enjoyments. However, while that may be true, you should also exercise a little caution as to where to spend your money as according to Benjamin Franklin, you should beware of the little expenses as even the smallest leak can already sink a great ship. This is particularly true if you are saving up for a place of your own and have been unable to afford a home despite making a conscious effort to save part of your earnings.

Yes, owning a home and having a place to call your own is what we consider as the penultimate dream—second only to a few things we consider to be successes in our lives. Indeed, a place of your own is considered an accomplishment on its own as well as a big financial milestone. Unfortunately, it is not attained without any significant effort on your part. More importantly, owning a flat means undertaking more responsibility for yourself as well. However, if you are convinced that you are ready for this kind of responsibility, saved up for quite some time now and have found that you cannot afford even the low cost housing in the Philippines, then your budgeting and saving scheme might not some tweaking. It might be that you are incurring more expenses than you are saving which leads you to save only a meager portion of your income. Remember, a house is an investment—regardless of how much it costs. In this regard, you ought to view it as a significant financial responsibility—one that you should not only consider during the purchasing stage but for a lifetime.

In any case, if your money-saving efforts is met with difficulty and fraught with challenges, perhaps adjusting your lifestyle might address your pecuniary predicament. If you find that you still cannot afford the down payment of a home, here are things you might need to give up to make more headway and progress:

Procrastination

An endeavor to buy a home is a serious one and if you are committed to making it happen, then you should start saving money today. Your plans should be concrete and specific. Do not simply create a savings account for your house funds and then remind yourself to contribute to it. If you wish to see results, create a specific plan with a hard deadline. However, before you do that, determine what kind of how you can afford and set a target date for when you should make the purchase. After you have that figured out, identify how much you will have to save and for how long. From there, you can start setting aside an amount each day, week or month. Having a concrete plan with a deadline ensures that you keep things moving and propel your plans forward. Telling yourself simply just to save can potentially waylay your plans.

Put any unnecessary expenses on hold

If you want to become a homeowner, you will have to turn a blind eye to the things you do want but do not necessarily need. This is especially true for things that put a significant dent on your budget. Major purchases such as a new car or an exotic vacation to a foreign country might have to be put on hold. It might constitute as a big sacrifice on your part, but take note: The more sacrifices you make, the closer you will be to affording your new home.

Eating out

While dining out or grabbing your morning coffee from Starbucks might not seem like much, they can add up quickly—especially if eating out is something you do regularly. If you are not careful, it might even cost you an exorbitant amount in just a month. Generally, preparing and cooking food at home can significantly save you a lot of money and allow you to reach your savings goals sooner. However, this is not to say that you should deny yourself the simple treat of an occasional meal. Of course, that is still very much within your rights but be sure to curtail any unnecessary expenses. Remember, the simplest way to cut back on your expenses in a doable fashion is to opt for more affordable alternatives such as simply dining at home.

Cutting out underused services

Do you have Netflix and cable at the same time? If so, which service do you see yourself more? Once you have an answer, cut out the service that does not get used as often. Sure, it might be cool to have a cable TV as well, but what is the point if you are even rarely at home to enjoy it? Might as well cut it out of your expense and use that money in contributing to your housing fund. The same goes for any household service you might have that you rarely use. Remember, if you rarely use it then the chances are you are not going to miss it much.

Lifestyle Inflation

Just because you got a salary increase does not automatically mean that you should immediately upgrade your lifestyle as well. Sure, you might be earning more but would it not make more sense to save your monthly additional earnings rather than spending them if you are looking to buy a new home? Continue living on your existing salary and save the rest. Take your raise as an opportunity to buy your home faster rather than an avenue to elevate your lifestyle.

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Photo by Soroush Karimi

As a homemaker, you might be in charge of the stressful parts of the holiday season – decorating, buying gifts, or preparing the Christmas feast. Home decoration is a challenge because you must think of a concept that works best with all the rooms in your home. If you’re on a budget, you must search for items that complement your concept while still within specific price brackets. Shopping for gifts is easy when you know which stuff to buy and where to find them.

Meanwhile, the feast is a different story. Of the three things on the list, cooking is the most demanding. You have to buy the ingredients at organic market Manila. You must prep the meat, cut vegetables and figure out which foodstuff goes well with what you bought. Afterward, you must set the table. You must bring out your prized porcelain flatware and find the tablecloth that highlights all your hard work.

These are nothing compared to the state of your kitchen. To keep drinks flowing and to ensure everyone gets a bite of your recipes, you must leave your kitchen in a mess. You can clean up after the festivities, but do you think you still have the energy to do it? If you wish to have a clean kitchen even after cooking a full-course meal, then you should follow the tips below.

Create a list of what you need

Having a checklist to follow is one way to keep focused on the things you must do. How you organize your list is up to you as long as everything you need is on it. The list must consist of grocery items, tasks to accomplish before Christmas, and the remaining stuff you must finish on the day. You write them on separate papers or place all the things to do in a comprehensive list. Marking priority items is a technique you can do to ensure you complete them first.

Of course, it’s necessary to have a shopping list. You should include everything you so you don’t miss anything important. Don’t forget to include exact measurements. Also, put the extras you might need. You must stock up on salt, pepper, and other spices, so you don’t run out in the middle of cooking.

Schedule your shopping trip before December 22nd

Shopping takes time and drains your energy. It’s best to reserve your strength for entertaining guests. Avoid the holiday crowd by doing your errands early. You should do grocery shopping before December 22 as most people dash to stores and the supermarket on this day. Before heading out, you should plan how you go about your shopping list. Find out where can you find the items you need. That way, you can group the stuff accordingly and limit the time you spend in the shops.

If you must buy several items, you should bring a car. Carpooling with relatives, friends or neighbors is another option. You won’t have to cramp yourself in buses or wait for a long time in the taxi bay. With a private vehicle, you can drive to places and get home early. It gives you additional time to sort out your purchases and prep them before you need them.

Prep the turkey on Christmas Eve

Unlike pork and chicken, turkey is lean meat. It dries quickly, so the best time to work on it is twelve hours before it has to get into the oven. Doing this allows the meat to absorb extra moisture and make it moist and juicy. In the meantime, you can work on other recipes while waiting for the turkey.

Ensure you have the right cooking tools and equipment

How you cook and prepare your dishes is up to you. But if you prefer to save time, you must have kitchen appliances that can do most of the things you must accomplish within a short time. Grinding, chopping and other cooking preparations you must do becomes a breeze when you have the right equipment for the job.

Before working on your recipes, you should review the cooking processes needed for each one. It lets you know the tools you need and the time you must spend on each task. Knowing these helps you decide if you can do it with your hands or you need to purchase small kitchen appliances.

You should also see if you have enough oven trays, pots, pans, and serving dishes. You must also sharpen your knives as they can lessen cooking time. Another thing to stock up on is a roll of tin foil. It’s highly useful as it keeps the food warm. The foil is also necessary for leftovers. Be sure you have plenty, so loved ones can take home leftover dishes from the feast.

Prepare the vegetables

Even if you can manage to do everything before Christmas dinner, you must keep in mind that you might not have time to clean the mess in the kitchen afterward. You should peel potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables included in your recipes. Leave them in pans of cold water overnight, so they stay fresh. Preparing the day before allows you to pay attention to other things. It also gives you more space in the kitchen and the fridge as it gets rid of the mess. Other than peeling tubers and fruits, you can pre-cook them after, so you won’t have to think about them anymore.

Review your list

You might forget about your list along the way, so you should take a moment to go over it. The list helps you stay on top of things. It reminds you of everything you must finish before Christmas. It also allows you to distribute your time accordingly. Tick off the tasks you completed earlier to identify the things left to do. Arrange the remaining items based on how much time you need to go over them. It ensures you don’t leave anything on your to-do list.

Christmas is about being in the company of people you love. Have a stress-free holiday by ensuring you have a clean and organized kitchen. Follow this guide to maintain a clear and organized kitchen. You are sure to feel the Christmas spirit when you don’t have to think of the state of your kitchen.

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Photo by Skitterphoto

The weekend means everyone is at home. Nobody has to wake up early to prepare for school or work. You can enjoy your meals as a family since you don’t have to rush. You and your family can come together and set your itinerary for the day without the pressure of not having enough time. You have the whole day to do the things everyone is sure to enjoy – shopping at Ayala Mall Vermosa, watching the latest DC superhero movie or visiting the bowling alley.

This time, why not try different outdoor activities? Several places you can visit allows you to get busy and stay active. You can choose between land, water or air. Each setting offers a unique experience that suits different personalities. Isn’t it exciting? However, the great outdoors can overwhelm first-timers. It’s best to go easy until your family gets used to the heat of the sun or the distances you must cover.

Going outdoors makes a healthy family. To encourage everyone to join your nature trips, here are the ways on how to integrate outdoor activities into your weekend schedule.

1. Don’t rush it

Getting used to nature needs adjustment. Though part of daily life is going out, being in the forest or on the beach is different from staying in the mall. The mall has chairs, restaurants, and shops. You can easily acquire everything you need for a convenient stay. It is different during your nature trips. You must first pick a suitable location to camp or sit. You also have to pack the things you need. You must have a water jug, snacks, and clothing to change in after swimming or camping. You must also bring equipment. Some outdoor activities like hiking, snowboarding, and geolocating require you to have ropes, a snowboard, and a GPS. There’s no need to stress about these details when checking in a resort. But if it’s a one-day excursion, you must care for your equipment.
These things might not be a hassle to you, but children and others in your company might find these inconvenient. If that’s the case, you should skip overnight and extended trips. Instead, go out for a few hours at a time. Even if it’s only a short time, always ensure to set up or try out fun and exciting activities. It makes everyone appreciate what they see and encounter. Playing catch at a local park, setting a backyard camp or tracing local trails are some beginner activities you can do. It helps family members adjust to the environment, the smells and the weather.

2. Make everyone feel comfortable

Remember, everyone experiences the same activities differently. Some people enjoy it and want to try it again even if it’s their first time. Others do not. They wish to end it at once it or skip it altogether. With that, you must be sensitive how your companions feel. Ask them how they feel. Do they look forward to doing it again next week or do they wish to explore other options which are less taxing? Do they feel safe? Do they prefer being on dry land or being underwater? Do they prefer the view from the distance or do they want to get close? These questions give you an insight into their preferences. It’s best to speak with each person to get their opinion of the trip. That way, you can find common ground between their wants and needs and come up with an activity that makes everyone happy.

Besides inquiring about each person’s experience, you must also be patient. Do not force anyone to do something that makes them uneasy. First-time hikers, for instance, can feel anxious and challenged with the distance and altitude. If they back out half the hike, you shouldn’t force them to continue the climb. Keep your cool and understand them. Backing out might be their way of expressing that they feel intimidated. You can coax them to try again but don’t pressure them to continue if they aren’t ready.

3. Encourage good memories

People who have a great time doing something are more likely to commit to the activity over those who have a terrible experience. The fastest way to spend more time outdoors is to celebrate a holiday in nature. Almost everyone is in a good mood when out of school and office. Going on a nature trip and doing activities everyone enjoy is plus. You don’t only end up with a fun-filled holiday. You also create lasting memories.

Use birthdays, anniversaries, Labor Day and other holidays as an excuse to head out. Go on top of a hill, take a dip in saltwater, or try a zip line – excellent reasons to go out of town during time off school and work. Swimming lessons, horseback riding or scenic driving are also examples of unforgettable activities that allow your family members to explore their passions while out of the house. If you decide to head out, check the weather conditions of the places you plan to visit. That way, you can wear appropriate clothing and bring necessary items.

4. Praise accomplishments

Doing sports or taking a nature trip can make people feel inferior especially if it’s their first time — a way to uplift their spirits or to motivate them to do it more often to compliment them. No matter their accomplishment, giving them encouragements or a patting them on the back shows you appreciate their effort. Praises are highly effective towards children. It teaches them that they do the right things. Valuing their work also makes them feel good. You associate their actions with feel-good sensations which is also beneficial in creating memories.

5. Schedule different outdoor recreational activities each weekend

You don’t have to commit to the same things even if everyone enjoys them. For consistent nature trips, you should vary your activities. Include different pursuits each weekend. Taking time to research the available facilities and destinations in your area gives you an idea of which recreational activities are possible. You can also try sports if there’s not much to see in your area. It provides the same action and thrills you get from an outdoor adventure.

You should train your children and family members to embrace the outdoors. It’s a great pastime as it keeps family members healthy and happy. It also challenges your mind and body. Most of all, it improves family relationships. Going outdoors encourages bonding time with your parents, spouse, siblings, and the children with putting too much pressure in conversations.

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“For the seller, they are giving up their home, where they have all these attachments. And for the buyer, it is about painting a picture of their new lives and then carrying them through the whole process to a positive result.”-Sally Forster Jones

No doubt, the decision to buy a home and finally afford it is just as exciting as the selection of prime real estate property is. Indeed, after months or even years of saving up, the prospect of buying your first home can make you feel truly giddy to the core. However, before you make any hasty decisions, know that buying real estate—regardless of whether this is your first, second or even fifth one—is a process that is not to be taken lightly. Apart from being more than just a little discerning about the real estate properties you are considering, you need to ensure that you are getting a good deal out of your investment—that the house you are potentially considering in buying is worth it. After all, every buyer who invests a significant portion of their savings or income would want an excellent deal on their real estate purchase which begs the question: What makes a home an excellent investment or good purchase?

Well, before you start asking for BGC condo prices, it would make sense if you were well aware of what makes a good real estate investment first. Primarily, price plays a pivotal role in determining whether you will potentially score an excellent real estate deal. However, know that location and condition vastly outweigh the price point particularly since finding a property that can be overhauled with minimal effort and time is a rather difficult task. In any case, the prospect of buying a house with the intention of fixing it up is one that is often fraught with complex challenges—especially since there are bound to be a myriad of hidden problems that are not easily identifiable. In this regard, it is imperative to be able to ascertain whether a particular property is worth the investment and develop a keen eye for worthwhile deals. In any case, here are some of the best tips for establishing whether a particular real estate property would be worth your time, effort and money or not:

1.) Follow the 1% rule

While there are many ways to evaluate your returns on investment when purchasing income property, the 1% rule is a steadfast technique that does the trick. This strategy basically states that any income property should rent for at least 1% of the total purchase price to at yield a positive cash flow. With this in mind, it would make sense for you to analyze the fair market rental rates in the area before even considering making an offer on real estate property.

2.) Check for any zoning issues and liens

Before saying yes to a prospective real estate property, know whether the title is clean and whether or not the property is not under any ownership contest by litigation. From a general standpoint, most investors tend to stay away from properties that have any lien or zoning issues. Apart from potentially having your ownership contested, these properties are far too expensive for retail DIYS and it does not have enough meat for institutions.

3.) Check the cap rate

Knowing the cap rate (The price and earning ratio) is imperative. Cap rate VS. the neighborhood would make one signal of a potentially good real estate investment. However, do know that at times, there are legitimate reasons for why some sellers are more motivated than others. Just keep in mind that the price per square foot versus the neighborhood comps will count for a lot and would likely form an important standard metric when used appropriately. Similarly, be on the lookout for any successive price drops as this is an excellent indicator for a good buying opportunity.

4.) Take a gander at the presentation and condition of the property

While the presentation is important, do not let that sidetrack you from having a keen eye on the property’s overall condition. Remember, some presentation details are primarily setup to either conceal or trick the eye so be sure to keep a meticulous and observant eye out. Know that the condition of the property plays a pivotal role in determining whether its asking price is justified or whether or not the price point can be haggled. If it does not have any photos put up online then there is a likely chance that it has no curb appeal. Be on the lookout for small details such as that so that you would know whether can ask for a discount.

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