September is a month of change, be it for yourself, your environment, or both. This issue of Good to Be Home will help you welcome the transformations fall can bring with tips for improving your home’s exterior, ideas to preserve your precious family photos, a homebuying guide for couples, and a look at the benefits of upgrading to comfortable furniture.
Curb appeal is a critically important part of home maintenance, but it’s often only prioritized in spring and summer. The enclosed guide for boosting your curb appeal in autumn can help you keep your home’s exterior looking sharp year-round.
If you have boxes of photo albums or framed photos in storage, there are a variety of ways you can preserve these images for future generations. Check out the ideas in this issue for bringing your family’s old prints into the digital age.
Buying a home is one of the biggest life changes you can make, especially for couples. Married and unmarried couples have a lot to think about when making this decision, and the tips inside highlight some of the most important considerations to help simplify the process.
Fall is all about embracing comfort, especially when it comes to your living spaces. Replacing your furniture with ergonomically designed pieces can help boost your comfort level while relaxing at home this season, so be sure to read the guide in this issue for inspiration.
May September bring many positive changes for you and your home. As always, it’s a pleasure to send you this magazine.
Generally speaking, people think of spring as the time to clean and enhance the appearance of their homes’ exteriors. While this is true, autumn—with its vibrant hues and eye-catching plants—can also be a great time to think about sprucing up your home to increase its curb appeal.
Best of all, it doesn’t need to be costly or time-consuming. In fact, much of it can be done quite reasonably if you have the proper tools. Whether you are going for a fresh look for your own satisfaction or are planning to sell your home soon, there are several ways you can bring new life to your home’s exterior this season.
Replace dead plants and shrubbery
If you have plants and shrubs that have lost their summer blooms, this is the perfect time to prune those overgrown areas and replace them with new plants and flowers in fun fall colors.
Out-of-control weeds can give your house an unmanicured look. You can easily remedy this by removing them with weed-removal tools and then adding a fresh layer of mulch to your garden beds, steps that will not only make a world of difference to your home’s appearance but also prepare your garden for the cooler months ahead.
Maintain your lawn and trees
Falling leaves look pretty, but they can also suffocate your lawn. Make sure you continue to mow your lawn during autumn, but you can likely do so less frequently and at a lower height as the weather gets colder and grass grows slower. (As a bonus, mulching leaves with your mower will feed your lawn.) Also, neatness counts: neatly edging your lawn and trimming any overhanging trees will make a world of difference to your home’s overall curb appeal.
You may be surprised to see what pressure-washing can do to clean up your home’s curb appeal, as it can easily remove summer’s unwanted grime, dirt, and mold from your driveway, sidewalks, siding, and roof. If you don’t want to pay someone to do this, you can rent or purchase a pressure washer at most hardware stores.
Clean out your gutters
Falling leaves need to land somewhere, and a prime spot is in your gutters. Remove leaves and other debris from these trenches so that water can properly drain from your roof rather than overflowing toward your foundation. However, it may be best to hire someone to do this to avoid potential ladder injuries.
Beautify your front door
Be sure your front entrance area is free of dirt and grime to provide a welcoming vibe for any guests or potential buyers. It may also be a good time to refresh your front door with a new paint color that complements the rest of your house. If your front door is stained with a varnish or lacquer, you can put on a fresh coat to bring it back to its original color.
Complete minor repairs or touch-ups
Inspect the exterior of your home, and repair, replace, or touch up items such as chipped paint, broken pavers, screens, gutters, downspouts, broken railings, shutters, or fencing. Consider a seasonal upgrade for your mailbox and welcome mat as well.
Regardless of whether you are aiming to sell your home this fall or fulfilling your own sense of seasonal enjoyment, improving your curb appeal can provide big benefits with little cost.
If you have family photographs pasted in old photo albums or stuffed into shoeboxes, you probably know all too well that they can fade, tear, or get damaged by water, heat, and light. So you should seriously think about making digital copies of these memories, which you can condense into data that’s easy to store and share with family and friends. This guide will show how you can go about preserving your family’s photos for generations to come.
Before you can start converting your prints into digital files, you’ll want to organize them. You might want to place your photos on a large table or another space that can be left undisturbed, since it may take time to sort through them. Set aside any duplicates, and separate your photos into categories by date, events (e.g., birthdays, holidays, celebrations), and people (e.g., parents, children, grandchildren). Place each category of photos into separate envelopes so they will be ready to go when you convert your photos.
Bringing your memories into the digital world can be an exciting yet daunting process because of the various options you have. Decide which one is best for you, your skills, and your finances.
Use your smartphone
A quick and inexpensive way to get digital copies of your prints is to use your cell phone to snap photos of them and then upload the new digital photos to your computer, an external hard drive, or the cloud. One drawback to this method is that it might be more difficult to get high-quality replicas of your prints, as you could capture glare and other imperfections from your original photos. You might get better copies of your prints if you use scanning apps like Google PhotoScan or Photomyne, but you can get even better replicas with other print-to-digital methods.
Scan the prints yourself
Your printer might have a scanning function you can use to get high-quality digital copies of your photos, or you could purchase a separate flatbed scanner to pair with your computer instead. While either can get you good digital copies, you may need to learn how to crop, make color fixes, and perform other adjustments to your new digital photos to get the best results.
Use a professional photo service
You can mail your photos to online companies, such as ScanCafe or ScanDigital, and have trained professionals scan and digitally adjust your photos for you. Many companies will also provide you with a box and shipping label to mail your prints. In addition, these services will let you choose how to receive your new digital prints, such as on a thumb drive or DVD, or you could download them onto your computer. There are a few drawbacks to consider, however: using an online professional service can be costly, you could risk losing your prints in the mail, and it can take weeks to receive your digital copies. An alternative could be to find a local photographer or camera shop to make digital copies for you instead.
After you convert your old prints into digital photos, there is still work to do to ensure that your prints are accessible for years to come. Take the time to back up your digital photos in more than one location, such as DVDs, SD cards, an external hard drive, a USB drive, or a cloud service such as iCloud, Google Photos, Dropbox, or Amazon Photos. Amazon charges a monthly fee unless you are an Amazon Prime member, iCloud gives its users 5 gigabytes of space without charge, and Google provides 15 gigabytes for free; in addition, most platforms allow customers to pay for extra storage space. For instance, you can get additional storage space through Google by upgrading to its Google One service, while Apple users can upgrade to iCloud+.
Check on your digital photos regularly, no matter where you decide to store them. Technology is always changing, so you might need to choose a new method for keeping your digital photos at some point. For instance, you don’t want to lose access to your photos should your cloud service be discontinued or if the format you use to save your digital photos becomes outdated. Finally, once you’ve made your digital copies, you need to determine what to do with your old prints. You can get rid of them to save space or keep them as your negatives, so to speak, in case your technology fails or better methods for scanning old photographic prints become available. You can also frame a few of your vintage family photos to display in your home to honor your past.
Buying a home is an exciting adventure, and that can be especially true for couples who are buying together for the first time, whether they’re newlyweds, engaged, or partners with no plans to marry. However, the purchasing criteria for buying a new home, including applying for and securing a mortgage, the setup of legal documents such as who holds the title and deed to the property, and how the down payment will be made, will vary. Knowing how this process will unfold can help the process go smoother and help prevent you from making unnecessary mistakes.
As newlyweds, you might not know the ins and outs of your partner’s credit history. However, this would be the time to discuss this information before applying for a mortgage.
Also, to avoid conflict when purchasing your first home, be sure you are both on the same page when it comes to financial expectations. For example, where is the down payment coming from? Will you both be contributing equally to it? Will all or part of it be gifted from a parent or relative? And will that change your equity ownership?
Many married couples share bank accounts so household costs can be commingled. However, if you’re not married, discussing things upfront can help you avoid surprises about who will pay the closing costs, who will get the mortgage deduction at the end of the year, and how future repairs, home upkeep, and any renovations will be paid for.
You will also need to decide ahead of time if you are applying for a mortgage as a married or unmarried couple and what type of ownership you want. There are different ways to take ownership of a property, each having advantages and disadvantages; your mortgage lender should outline all the different variations for you to choose from.
First, you must do your due diligence to find a mortgage company that has a reputation for being dependable, honest, and transparent to help ensure a smooth, stress-free transaction.
It’s not required to have both spouses on a mortgage, and marital status is not even a factor when applying for and seeking a loan. In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a statute stating that financial institutions that extend credit are required to “make credit equally available to all creditworthy customers without regard to sex or marital status.” That said, several other criteria must be met before a lender will fund you a loan.
Get a credit report to make sure there are no strikes against either of you before applying for a mortgage. If one of your credit scores comes up short, it could be difficult to secure a mortgage if applying as a couple, so it’s important to know your score before applying for a loan.
Once you have determined who can be on the mortgage documents, the lender will look at your monthly income. Whoever is responsible for the mortgage and how much they make will at least partially dictate the amount of money the mortgage company will lend.
Debts owed/debt-to-income ratio
For many young adults, student loans can stand in the way of meeting the debt-to-income ratio (the amount of debt you have compared to your monthly net income). This number is scrutinized during the loan process, so be prepared with all your documents to show this information.
Having assets can help offset your debt-to-income ratio. The lender may be able to take one or several assets into consideration to attach as a lien to the property you want to purchase. This is known as an asset depletion loan or mortgage, which may help you qualify for a loan if your income is not enough.
If you know what your buying power is, it will help you and your agent narrow your home search to what you can afford. In fact, most agents will not even show you a property unless you have documentation from a mortgage lender showing that you are prequalified for a certain loan amount. In addition, most sellers will not accept or entertain an offer without your prequalification.
Selecting an agent is not always as simple as it seems. Most people know several real estate agents, so here are some tips for how to pick the best real estate agent for you:
According to the CDC, more than 20 percent of adults suffer from some form of chronic pain. Our lifestyles usually don’t help the matter—sitting all day on furniture that doesn’t offer proper support can worsen stress points on the body, exacerbating pain. That’s why ergonomic furniture has become so popular. It can help you feel better while working or relaxing while also being stylish and budget friendly.
Ergonomics is the study of how the human body interacts with objects. So the design of ergonomic furniture considers comfort, support, and efficiency. From desk chairs and keyboards to recliners and pillows, ergonomic furniture can suit a variety of needs. Whether or not you should purchase this type of furniture depends entirely on your body and preferences.
When it comes to furnishing your home with comfortable furniture, there are likely two spaces that come to mind: a home office and a living room.
For the home office
The most popular space to invest in ergonomic pieces is a home office. People with joint pain or other musculoskeletal problems who sit for prolonged periods of time can find relief by choosing chairs that ease the stress on their muscles. Additionally, an optimized office space can help boost your productivity. Ask your employer if it will reimburse you for an ergonomic chair or purchase one for you. Such a piece can run anywhere from under $100 to well over $2,000, so it’s important to do your research before investing in a high-quality office chair.
For the living room
If you’re like most people, you enjoy relaxing in your living room by watching TV, reading books, and spending time with loved ones. All these activities should provide a sense of comfort. However, standard couches and recliners can cause undue strain on your back, legs, and neck. Ergonomic couches, recliners, and even coffee tables can help you be comfortable and pain-free in this area of your home. For example, if you tend to lounge on your couch, an ergonomically designed one can support your body and help improve your posture—which can help you stay alert and prevent slouching.
It’s important to look for ergonomic furniture made from materials that can withstand everyday use, allow for good airflow, and provide comfort. In addition, the shape should be able to mold to your body and support your body shape. For example, memory foam seats can conform to your legs and back while extra-tall chairs can support the long spine of a tall person. Keep your height, weight, and reclining style in mind while shopping. The following products are top-rated for their durability, support, and comfort.
High-back mesh desk chair
This chair features a high backrest for lumbar support, adjustable arms for greater comfort, and a headrest to help you maintain proper posture.
If you have back, hip, or tailbone pain, this product could be your solution. Its gel-infused memory foam supports your spine naturally and comfortably.
Velvet accent chair
This stylish accent chair looks and feels luxurious. Its curved design supports your back, while its plush material provides ultimate softness and comfort.
Memory foam pillow
If you suffer from neck pain while you sleep, this pillow can help cradle your head and support your spine. It’s designed for side, back, and stomach sleepers, so you’ll be able to find a comfortable position no matter your preference.
Ergonomic furniture can help alleviate your musculoskeletal symptoms and boost your productivity and energy, with many adding a stylish look to your home’s interior design.