One of the milestones of adulthood used to be owning a home and all the renovation plans that came along with it. But these days, with over 70 percent of millennials choosing to rent over owning home, the markers of adulting have changed. Now, it's all about giving your rental some grown-up upgrades that are landlord-friendly and won't put a major dent in your bank account. Call it investing in yourself, or making your house a home without all the headaches of high-end renovations. Behold: Your idea inspiration.
Paper Your Walls
There was a time when wallpaper cost a fortune and required some serious elbow grease (A.K.A. glue) to apply. And should you have a change of heart, forget that paint job underneath. But things have changed with the advent of peel-and-stick wallpaper. Now you can upgrade any room in your rental without making too much of a financial or emotional commitment. Wayfair, Home Depot and Etsy all sell removable wallpaper in a variety of colors and patterns for as little as $1.25 per square foot. Give your living room an accent wall, paper your staircase or upgrade your bureau in a matter of minutes. You can also find decals and murals that give your walls a hand-painted look. When it's time to move on, peel 'em off and nobody will be the wiser.
Divide Those Rooms
While we wouldn't recommend hiring an architect to redesign your rental without some serious cash and the approval of your landlord, there are some low-budget tricks for dividing up rooms for more privacy. Some simple strategies include recruiting a tall bookcase or employing thick curtains and a suspension rod. (Here's has a ready-made kit for under $100). If you're feeling a little groovier, why not hang some $40 beaded or macrame panels to separate your space while still letting in the sunlight? If you're dead-set on a door, you could splurge on a sliding door kit which will run you around $700 (plus installation if you're not the DIY type), or tackle this Ikea hack which transforms elements of the PAX storage system into a partition wall and sliding door for a completely separate room. In fact, IkeaHackers.com has an archive of room dividing ideas courtesy of the low-cost furniture hub and some creative handy-work.
Upgrade the Bathroom
You can spruce up a dated bathroom on a renter's budget with a few small tweaks. Architectural Digest's Amanda Sims suggests swapping out the toilet seat cover for a wooden one (about $16 on Amazon), and painting over weathered grout. If you really want to make a splash, paint or peel-and-stick your way to new walls. "Using paint or temporary wallpaper, cover the walls of your bathroom to work with the old-timey or really basic tile you've already got," explains Sims. "So if the tiles are butter yellow, make sure the walls are crisp white, or a wallpaper with a tinge of yellow that complements them…anything but sickly yellow matching walls." Another trick is to replace the bathroom cabinet with an ornate mirror for an antique look, and to swap out the standard overhead light with a more dramatic sconce, or even a pendant light. (West Elm has some reasonably priced options.)
Modernize That Kitchen
You may not be ready to replace your old cabinetry, but a simple paint job will spiff up any yellowing wood. Remodelista's Margot Guralnick suggests going with a semi-gloss, gloss or satin. "The harder the finish the better," she writes. "Matte paint on kitchen cabinets is impractical; I wouldn't even use eggshell finish. You want a surface that's durable and wipeable, so you won't be painting again for at least a few years." Next up, the backsplash. You can purchase faux, stick-on tiles (4 panels for $11.99 from Bed Bath and Beyond) or water-resistant backsplash decals (Quadrostyle has a range of temporary tiles and decals) that will add texture and character to a dated kitchen. If you're looking for an eat-in vibe in a tiny kitchen, install a drop-leaf, wall-mounted desk or table (here's one for around $30) which you can flip open when you're ready to chow down.
Maximize your closet space
You may think there is absolutely nothing to be done with your overstuffed closet, but you just haven't discovered the joys of closet organizers. Wayfair has easy-to-install systems starting as low as $50, while Ikea's ALGOT system is customizable to your size and storage needs. "All the parts can be easily combined and adapted to suit your needs, making this system especially attractive if you anticipate space changes happening," writes ApartmentTherapy's Nicole Lund in her roundup of the best closet systems. "It's also incredibly easy to use—the parts just click in and out of the wall brackets, so you can quickly replace or move parts around." If you're simply looking for more space in your narrow closet, look up. Install wall-mounted shelves (Amazon has a two-pack for around $50) above your hanging rod and create a storage area for suitcases and out-of-season clothes.
Use Your Nooks
If you have a corner in your home marked by an indented wall or "nook," it's time to creative." The nook can be anything from a workspace to a library or a cozy reading area. But in order to give it that "built-in" look on a budget, it's all about using your measuring tape. The DIY option means customizing your own shelves to create a designated area, with the help of Home Depot or Lowes. The Container Store has a desk nook model that they'll install for you for under $200. Meanwhile, Ikea's BILLY bookcase has inspired a wealth of ideas from home libraries to cozy bench nooks.
Bonus: If you're hurting for extra closet space, DesignSponge has a really creative Ikea hack for your wall nook.
Create an Micro-room
How many closests do you really need? Is there one that might be better served as an office? All you need is a small desk, stool and some colorful wallpaper. Better yet, stick in a bar-height table and line it with your favorite booze for a MadMen-esque bar area.
According to the New York Times, transforming the closet into a micro-room has become a trend for city dwellers with small apartments. "I love working from home, but I didn't want to look at my work all the time, so I needed a closet where I could close it," jewelry designer Jane Herro, told the Times, of her closet-office. If you're looking to transform your own closet, Lowes offers a DIY guide. Meanwhile, ApartmentTherapy has a few ideas for converting a walk-in closet into an additional bedroom by adding curtains for a less-claustrophobic feel. Cover the wall with a tapestry, a soothing paint color, or a distinctive wallpaper that separates the sleeping area from the main room, and you've got yourself a new bedroom (or nursery) you'll never want to leave.
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When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.
A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.
One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.
The Federal Reserve
The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.
This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.
The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.
Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.
Frugal gifting often gets a bad reputation. However, this shopping method does not make you cheap — it makes you practical. Frugal gifts often avoid waste and overspending and can be just as meaningful (if not more so) as any other present.
With the National Retail Federation predicting each consumer this holiday season to spend upwards of $1,000 on holiday gifts amidst an economic recession —this year might be the perfect time to reconsider your spending budget. We've formulated the ultimate list of frugal gift-giving ideas to get you started.