If you're selling your home or plan to do so soon, a little strategic planning can mean more dollars in your pocket. You want the most you can get for the place, don't ya? These 4 "Ss" will have you seeing dollar signs once the "for sale" sign is taken down, thanks to their value-increasing benefits. While you may want to get the home on the market right away, it's worth the effort to make these changes and fairly quick fixes so your home can be as sought-after as possible. Sell with these "Ss" completed and watch the price tag numbers go up. Your first showing will prove the time spent did the trick.

Simplify

Decluttering is one of the best ways to make your space instantly more appealing. No potential buyer is interested in tripping over your kids' toys or being distracted by the silly knick-knacks you've collected over the years. The more you make your home as "generic" as can be, the more the potential buyer(s) can picture themselves living there… with their stuff.

According to Consumer Reports, "Vital to the process is de-cluttering and depersonalizing the space as much as possible. Buyers will have a hard time imagining themselves in your home if it's filled with family photos and other personal effects." Additionally, HGTV notes, "A clutter-free home appears cleaner and larger, which is more attractive to homebuyers and therefore more valuable."

If you're place is a real mess, you may want to consider hiring a pro to help clear things out, and Consumer Reports estimates the cost for such a service can run anywhere from $600 - $2,500. Seems steep, but on the bright side, they claim the potential return goes up 5%. Plus, since you're moving anyway, this clean-out will help you when it's time to pack up and go.

Spruce Up

A few fix-ups can make a world of difference in the appearance of your home. You don't have to go all out and make major repairs or renovations, but spiffing things up by applying a fresh coat of paint, filling chips and cracks, removing or steam cleaning a dirty carpet, re-grouting, etc. will make your home a whole lot more appealing.

This Old House recommends dealing with the basics rather than doing anything too pricey or extravagant. "Insulate the attic, repair plumbing leaks, replace rusty rain gutters, inspect the furnace and the septic system, replace or repair leaky windows, install storm doors, etc." As This Old House says, "A couple hundred dollars spent could increase the value of your house by a few thousand dollars."

Along with indoor touch-ups, consider the first impression. Bankrate suggests to "reframe your entry." "A nice, big piece of hardware on the front door signals to newcomers that this is a solid home." And Consumer Reports recommends a power washing followed by any needed paint touch-ups, especially on the front of the home.

As per This Old House, "Brokers and agents from across the country say the houses that get attention in this buyer's market are in tip-top shape. Because there is so much inventory, the houses that sell are in pristine condition and are priced to the market." Don't let a few neglected simple fixes trip up your chances of selling.

Smell Fresh

A potential buyer wants to walk into a home that smells good. If anything makes them turn up their nose, how could they ever imagine living there? As per U.S. News & World Report, "Realtors always say that your home needs to smell great before a showing."

One way to eliminate any stale odors in the home is by using baking soda, as U.S. News & World Report recommends. Use some on the carpets, in the fridge, and even inside the trash cans to absorb unpleasant odors that you may have grown used to.

Some recommended scents that appeal to most, as suggested by U.S. News & World Report include pine, vanilla, and citrus. Don't go overboard, but a light scent wafting through the home will make potential buyers feel welcomed and comfortable. Try a light air freshener, candles, or oils.

Along with providing a pleasant scent, wipe down all tabletops and shelves, clear out pet cages and litter boxes, and make sure the bathroom is mildew- and odor-free before any showings. Run a fan or two to clear the air to make for total freshness throughout the home. And one last trick… bake a batch of cookies! The familiar scent will make anyone looking at the place feel like they're home.

These quick fixes are nearly cost-free, but the change they'll make will give a potential return of at least 3% as per Consumer Reports.

Scenery

The surrounding yard space of your home is nearly as important as what's going on inside. An unkempt lawn, untrimmed hedges, and poorly manicured landscaping make for a poor first impression. Consumer reports suggests, "Start with basic maintenance: mowing the lawn, trimming overgrown shrubs, applying a fresh layer of mulch to garden beds."

According to This Old House, "Tangled trees and unkempt bushes can obscure views, darken interiors, promote mold, and block a good look at the house. Landscaping is one of the top three investments that bring the biggest return. According to a 2007 survey of 2,000 brokers conducted by HomeGain, an online real estate marketing site, an investment of around $400 or $500 dollars in landscaping, can bring a return of four times that."

But what if you're not the gardening type? Bankrate has the solution, "If you don't have a green thumb, consider hiring a landscaper to install some new sod, plant a few evergreen shrubs and give your front yard a good cleanup. These kinds of changes can instantly change people's perception of your home and, therefore, increase its value."

With these 4 "Ss" completed, your showings will be at their peak. Your realtor will thank you and the potential buyers will be delighted. And you will enjoy the extra bucks your home is sure to sell for!

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I thought I had a pretty good handle on my finances out of school. I worked several jobs while attending university and had little to no problem managing my income. However, once I graduated, I realized how much more complicated personal accounting could really be.

There were so many variables I needed to keep track of. Biweekly bills, monthly charges, and general necessities amounted to a heap of confusing numbers that were often impossible to decipher. The funniest part was that I was actually trying to do this by hand (I don't know what I was trying to prove to myself, either).

After messing up for the 17th time, I decided to give Microsoft Excel a shot. I used Excel a bit in school and I knew all the big-wig finance people used it, so what could I possibly have to lose? The answer is about six hours of my precious time. Excel isn't much of an improvement over handwriting and it's still dependent on the user to manually input all of the information. It's like doing everything by hand with the slightest help, meaning that it still required a tremendous amount of time and concentration. Well that was all for nothing, I guess.

It's sort of funny. I was certain that I could manage my personal finances with ease, when it's practically a full-time job. I was already stressed out enough with my first job and I knew I didn't have enough time to give my finances the attention it deserved.

That's why I decided to try out a budgeting app. My best friend told me that he uses an app called Truebill to manage his finances. "What does it even mean to manage your finances?" I asked him. He told me that Truebill was the personal financial assistant I wished I could have. It could aggregate all of my account information into one place and give me specific insights and actions.

I loved the idea of having full control over my finances, especially during a time of financial uncertainty, and I realized that Truebill would be the easiest way to accomplish this. The user interface is incredibly simple and intuitive, so it doesn't even feel like a finance app! Truebill offers a multitude of features, with their most popular being the ability to cancel subscriptions with the press of a button.

Okay, I had no idea how many subscriptions I was still subscribed to. In fact, I wasn't even using a quarter of the subscription services I was signed up for. Subscription boxes, streaming services, my old gym, and even an old subscription to my favorite magazine--it was all there and I was livid. How could I let myself waste all of this money and how did I never catch this? Thank goodness for Truebill.

Truebill also offers bill negotiations. There is a 40% fee based on how much you save and Truebill even claims that there is an 85% chance that they'll be able to lower your bill once a negotiation is requested. Why wouldn't I take them up on this? There was zero risk and I would only have to pay once my bill was lowered (which means that I would be saving money regardless).

More standard features of Truebill include the ability to generate a credit report on-demand and even request a pay advance. I only used the pay advance feature once when I wanted to buy a gift for my mom, but didn't have enough cash in hand and Truebill automatically reimbursed itself when I got my next paycheck.

The credit report is another fantastic feature and practically taught me what good credit meant. Truebill's credit report basically shows you which financial decisions have the most significant impact on your credit score and ways that you can improve your credit month-over-month. I've never had such control over my credit and it feels good.

I'll be the first to admit that I was extremely naive coming out of school. I figured that as long as I was attentive, I could manage my finances with ease. We manage money to some extent throughout our entire lives, but once you're thrown out on your own, it's a completely different story. With Truebill, I've finally been able to take control over my finances and stay on top of all of my responsibilities.

Update: Our friends at Truebill are extending a special offer to our readers! Follow this link to sign-up for Truebill.

My buddies and I always try to make it out to a game, but we never really care which one we end up at. Obviously we have our favorite sports and teams, but it was rarely about what game we went to or who we saw playing. It was about watching the game live.

In the early months of lockdown, all we had was Korean baseball, and trust me, we loved it. The only issue was, none of us had any idea what the commentators were saying. Even then, a few of my friends weren't huge fans of baseball. They were into sports like football and basketball, ones that moved at a quicker pace with less down-time in between plays.

We decided to see if there were any other events going down and came across horse racing. Yes, horse racing. It was perfect--short, fast-paced, and most importantly, an opportunity for betting.

I had never really considered watching a horse race any time other than the Belmont Stakes, but the prospects of the sport seemed exhilarating. Even better, with horse racing we knew we could still recreate the atmosphere of a race track. Salty snacks? Check. Stale beer? Check. A simple and easy way to bet? Check.

One quick Google search later, we came across TVG, powered by FanDuel. It's an online betting platform that takes you right to the heart of the action. We were a little apprehensive about using a mobile app to place our bets, but TVG's ability to bet on live horse races from all over the world was too good to pass up.

Here are 5 reasons why we are obsessed with horse racing thanks to TVG:

1. Betting has never been easier

Use your phone or computer to watch and bet on live horse races in real-time. TVG offers a bunch of features to make betting even simpler--live odds and handicapping tips leverage recent learnings to help you make your best bet. Not to mention, TVG's exclusive race content and wagering guide offers an under-the-hood look into the strategy behind horse race betting.

2. The biggest selection of horse races out there

If you're looking to drop a little dough on a horse race, chances are your best option is your local race track. But watching the same few horses races over and over again isn't the most exciting thing. With TVG you have access to over 150 tracks worldwide with races happening consistently throughout the day.

3. Get a generous sign-up offer when you place your first bet

Once you register your account, you will be eligible for a $200 risk-free bet. All you have to do is place your first bet and you're covered. If you happen to lose, TVG will insure you for up to $200 as a sort of wagering credit. I may have been a little trigger happy when placing my first bet, so having this insurance was a great perk. There are also a bunch of promotional offers available year-round.

4. Making deposits and cashing out at the touch of button

With a ton of payment options such as PayPal, BetCash, debit/credit, wire transfers, and other third-party services, making a deposit is a breeze. But what about the payout? Depending on your deposit method, your withdrawal will be available in a few days. No more waiting in-line to collect your winnings!

5. Watching live races with your friends while betting is exhilarating

Even when we were watching Korean baseball, Zoom calls with my friends were a little dull.

With TVG, we haven't had this sort of fun in months! Every weekend we'll turn on a race and throw our bets in. After a few races, and quite a few drinks, we'll tally up our winnings to see who won the most! Sometimes it's not even about making money, but just having a good time.

TVG is the perfect way to add a little excitement to an otherwise mundane afternoon. It introduced me to the world of horse racing, a sport I never would have considered otherwise.

The races just keep ramping up and thanks to TVG, I can always get in on the fun.

UPDATE: The biggest derby in horse racing is THIS WEEKEND. Get in on the action with your $200 risk-free bet!

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