Category Archives: Money

Home Improvement Projects That Aren’t Worth the Hassle of Doing Yourself

Your home is your castle. However, the castle sometimes needs a few updates. A home is also an investment, and your free time is valuable too. There are certain projects where poor work leads to expensive code violations, injuries, and property damage. Don’t waste your time on those.

Here are five home improvement projects where you are better off hiring professionals to handle them from start to finish, and while a loan from Check ‘n Go can help pay for the costs, they are often quite affordable and will pay off tremendously in the long-term.

  1. Roofing- Adventurous homeowners sometimes attempt to fix or even replace an entire roof by themselves. In addition to the obvious risk of injury, a mistake by a novice leads to roof leaks and significant damage. The seriousness of this project means you do not want the work done by fly-by night roofers either. Pick an established company like Champion Home Exteriors that has trained specialists, guarantees the quality of its work, and has a lifetime protection agreement. The peace of mind offered by a well installed roof is worth the cost.
  1. Siding- New siding is also a major improvement, and just like roofing, there are serious consequences for unprofessional work. Shoddy work reduces the curbside appeal (and value) of your home. Improper installation, especially around doors and windows, leads to building water entry and substantial damage. It is best to leave this work to specialists with proven experience.
  1. Electrical- In addition to the risks of injury from fire and electrical shock, there are financial reasons to hand this work off to a professional. All electrical work needs to conform to local codes. Unprofessional work not only leads to violations, but when you go to sell your home, the buyer’s attorney will demand that all electrical work be brought up to code by a licensed professional. Hire a professional the first time around and save yourself time.
  1. Plumbing- If you google “do it yourself disaster,” you find plenty of examples of plumbing projects gone wrong. For major projects like removing an old water softener or installing a new hot water heater, you really want a professional. Valves that are not shut off properly result in water gushing through your home. The cost and time spent cleaning up failed projects quickly eliminates any financial gains.
  1. Tree trimming and tree removal- People sometimes think “hey, I’ll just get rid of the old branches myself.” After all, most homeowners have a ladder and handsaw to accomplish the task. Hold on. If you cut a limb too short or too long, you damage your tree. This activity, like electrical work and roofing, has a serious risk of injury if you make one small mistake.

Tree removal is a related area with significant risks. Trees sometimes fall unpredictably. There is a reason why searches for do it yourself tree removal yield images of trees that fell on cars.

This article isn’t meant to dissuade people from trying home repair and improvement projects. Installing a shower head or painting a room on your own does save you money and the risks are low. There are, however, just some instances where it makes sense to hire companies with specialized equipment and expertise. If failure on a project equates with injury and/or economic loss, go with trained professionals that stand by their work.

How To Know When It’s Time To Leave Your Job

Just starting out in your career? An important and often overlooked element in your career development is knowing when to leave a job. Here are some signs, straight from a former recruiter’s mouth, about when it is time to find a new employer:

Problem #1- A Long Tenure

Many articles discuss the problems with “job hopping.” However, a long tenure at one company actually makes you less marketable too. When there has been career movement, it conveys that you had to learn new corporate cultures and sharpen your skills. Recruiters define an attractive candidate as someone with between 2 to 7 years at each of his or her employers.

There are other benefits to changing employers every 2 to 7 years. Companies often give a boost in pay that is greater than the typical yearly raise to attract new talent. You are also more likely to convince a new employer to produce desirable professional development opportunities if you maintain an attractive career profile.

There are exceptions to this rule of course. However, you need to be aware early in your career that most organizations view long tenures negatively.

Problem #2- Rumors of Financial Problems

This one seems obvious. If news articles talk about the poor financial state of your employer, it makes sense to move to another company. If you work for a company that keeps its financial information closely held, you might wonder how you can discern your employer’s financial health.

It is often good to look at the actions of people who know the most about a company’s performance. Are executives suddenly leaving for “better opportunities”? Has accounting developed a turnover problem? These signs, from the people who see how much money is coming in and exactly how much is going out, can give you a picture of your employer’s financial state.

Problem #3- Lack of Growth

Many job articles talk about growth, but in today’s workplace, it is up to you to promote your career development. HR departments exist to handle the administrative tasks associated with hiring and managing a company’s workforce. There are several signs you can look for to assess whether growth opportunities are or are not there.

If you work for a large company, the most visible sign is that you are not selected for promotions or desirable assignments. Look at your most recent performance review. While companies often use performance reviews to cover themselves in legal disputes (otherwise known as CYA), it is a valuable tool for an employee to determine his or her manager’s true views. Take it seriously if a manager likes your performance at your current position but seems unenthusiastic or evasive about opportunities for growth.

The decision to leave a small company is less straightforward. Successful small companies are ones that identify and grow lucrative niches for themselves. An individual employee can have the freedom to introduce process improvements or initiate new service offerings that might get vetoed at a larger company. These experiences are crucial for professional development. However, if the business owner loses interest in staying abreast of marketplace trends, a small company can quickly deteriorate. This situation means that growth opportunities will evaporate for you. The best advice in this case, leave quickly.

Career progression is a personal responsibility. Making sure you know when to exit a job that has become stagnant is critical. The three items mentioned above can tell you when it is time to go.

Clever Ways to Pay for Travel Abroad

Traveling abroad is a wonderful way to learn more about new cultures. Unfortunately travel does not necessarily come cheap, especially if you are planning to stay for a while. We recently did a trip to Italy, and even though we saved a lot of money by negotiating our Airbnb rates, the total cost of the trip was quite expensive.

Paying for food and accommodation can become very expensive. Fortunately, paying for travel becomes a lot easier if you are willing to look at things from a new perspective.

Here are some ideas to help you make your dreams of traveling the world a reality:

Look for Part-Time Work in Agriculture

There are many farms out there that need assistance, especially when it comes to harvesting crops. They usually pay a reasonable amount and, in some cases, will also provide food and accommodation as well. If you are interested in organic farming, wwoof.net is a good place to look for opportunities.

Grape picking in France is one such opportunity and is very popular but you could choose to work on a dairy farm – just apply for the type of work that appeals to you.

Work Exchange

Hosts listed on sites like workaway.info  and helpx.net do not pay a salary but will usually pay for your food and will provide accommodation for you. In most cases, you work for around about 5 hours a day in exchange for board and lodging.

Find Work as a House/ Pet Sitter

Sites such as trustedhousesitters.com are a subscription service. People with pets looking for house sitters advertise on the site and you can apply for house sitting jobs in the area of your choice. You do not get paid but you do get free accommodation for very little in terms of work. This is a great idea for pet-lovers.

Work as an Au-Pair

Working as an au-pair can be a great way to travel. In general, you need to be between the ages of 19 and 30 to sign up with any of the agencies. You will usually work between 25 and 30 hours a week and may be expected to do some housekeeping as well as looking after children.

The advantage here is that the host family may pay for your flights as well. So you get free board and lodging, and some spending money as well.

Travel Writing

Travel writing is a great way to get extra value from your holiday. Site such as matadornetwork.com can allow you to make money from your holiday photos and experiences. Also consider contacting local travel magazines – the rates are usually better when writing for a printed publication. It can be harder to break into offline writing and you will often only be paid when the piece is published – this could be as long as 6-12 months later, depending on the editorial calendar.

Couch Surfing

With couch surfing you register on couchsurfing.com and set up your profile. You then look for other registered members in the area that you want to visit. You send a request through with the respective dates and see whether or not they can accommodate you.

You are not going to need to pay for accommodation but may be expected to help out with food or at the very least, to help with a bit of cooking. You will generally be expected to clean up after yourself as well.

The advantage of this kind of arrangement is that the host family will share what they love about their town so you get a unique perspective.

You can travel on a shoestring budget and have a ball at the same time!