There's nothing like getting the keys to your first car. The sense of independence and freedom. You can go anywhere, anytime you want. But this freedom comes with a lot of financial responsibility. Car payments, parking spaces, repair costs, and — of course — gas. For many, these are just accepted costs. But a growing portion of the population is not licensed to drive. A smaller portion does not own a car at all. Turns out, you don't have to own a car to get around. Here are a few more affordable transportation options than a personal car:
1. Public transit
In most major cities, some kind of public transportation exists. These can consist of subways, light rail trains or just buses. Public transit is a good option for reliable transportation to and from work. While some cities are notorious for late buses and trains, most areas experience little to no delays during rush hours. Most cities allow you to purchase weekly, monthly or even yearly passes. This makes budgeting much more efficient than tallying up varying mileage. It might take a little longer to get around with public transit, but you also have that time to relax or get even more things done.
2. Ride sharing
Services like Uber and Lyft had spiked in popularity and usage in recent years. Many people use Uber while traveling or for special events, but ride sharing is now an effective replacement for day-to-day transportation. With the addition of ride scheduling, commuters can plan pick ups and get to work on time. UberPool and LyftLine lower the cost by carpooling riders heading in the same direction. This can be an even more effective alternative to public transportation as well as car ownership.
3. Car sharing
Car sharing is the cousin to ride sharing. Instead of paying to get a ride, you pay to use a car for a set amount of time. The most popular service in this area is Zipcar. But there are other companies offering similar services. This can be similar to renting a car, but it is much much less expensive. You can pay Zipcar for just an hour or as long as a week. If you prefer to drive yourself, car sharing is a great alternative to owning your own vehicle.
If you're not a fan of these new apps and services, you can go old school and coordinate a carpool. Do you and your co-workers need a ride in to work? Hop in the same car. Have a neighbor who heads into downtown every day like you do? Ask to join him. But if you don't want to search for a carpool yourself, there are apps that can help you find a ride, like Waze Carpool. Carpooling helps clear up traffic and reduces the amount of pollution being released.
5. Last mile vehicle
If you live near your office or in a big city, owning a last mile vehicle might be more convenient than the other options. This can be an electric scooter, skateboard or just a regular bicycle. These are called last mile vehicles because they are typically used in conjunction with public transit to cover that last little portion of the trip. You can purchase your own bike or join your city's bike sharing program for more convenience. Owning and using an electric scooter or skateboard decreases your commute time and lowers the amount of energy you might have to exert. Nothing like fresh air on your way to work, right?
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As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.
Extensive Plants and Greenery
A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.
As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.
There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.
Usable Outdoor Furniture
Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.
A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.
Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.
Acting Quickly Out of Emotion
Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.
Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.
Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation
Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.
If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.
Donating Unusable Materials
Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.
Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.
Strictly Giving at Year's End
As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.
With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.
Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.
The Age of Your House
Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.
The One-Percent Rule
An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.
The Square-Foot Rule
Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.
The Mix and Match Method
Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.
Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.