By: Rachel Semple
What do you do when uninvited guests (pests) show up at your rental house/apartment? It's hard to tell what is a quick fix versus a bigger problem that requires some professionals. We've broken down some of the more common problems you might have, plus how you deal with them.
It's on you if...
When to call the big people in charge...
For most problems, it’s safe to say that prevention of the problem and/or traps are your first solutions. Once those don’t work, it’s time to call for someone who knows what they’re doing and can provide tips and treatment for future prevention.
By: Julia Bellotti
Buying a house (or even thinking about buying a house) is scary. No doubt about it. You’re about to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a place to live for perhaps the next 10 years of your life. But NEVER FEAR! We are here to help so you can decide whether you should rent or buy.
I started off by asking friends why they rent – here’s what they said:
Are you sitting there nodding your head? Sound like you? It definitely makes sense, and some of these are great reasons to rent instead of buy. However, I attended a presentation by real estate agent Laura Pimentel to find out what was really true about renting vs. buying. The following is what she said about the true benefits and risks of buying a house:
Benefits of Owning a Home:
Risks to Buying a Home:
Okay, so that’s all fine and dandy, but that doesn’t really cover how people afford to buy a home.
How do they do it?
I spoke with a former roommate of mine who is now starting the process of buying a home with her boyfriend. She said they initially weren’t considering it until they heard about friends buying a home and thought “if they could buy a house then we could too.” They then sat down with a lender to figure out what they could afford and were pleasantly surprised.
Everything my former roommate told me echoes the advice Laura Pimentel and her real estate partner Alex DeLorme gave. Both recommend talking to a lender even before you start thinking about buying. A lender will give you solid advice by taking a look at your current financial portfolio, including:
In general, lenders want to see that your total monthly debt – including your potential mortgage – does not exceed 43% of your gross (before taxes) monthly income. There are many federal and state home buying assistance programs that you can look to based on your occupation and/or income level. Home buying assistance here doesn’t just mean they’ll chip in some money – in some cases, you won’t even need to put any money down for a down payment. Check out a sampling of these programs here.
Even if you’re not in a situation where you can buy right now, it’s still a great idea to speak with a lender and put together a plan of where you want to be in the future. Taking control of your finances is an incredibly adult thing to do and you’re already doing great by consulting The Adult Dish!
One last piece of advice –
My former roommate says the most helpful and educational advice she received was simply through talking with other people who were going through the process or recently went through the process. So if you're considering buying a house, I suggest you try and do the same!
How about you? Why did you decide to rent or buy your home? Tell us in the comments!
By: Allyse Harris with Tips from Chip the police Officer
For many of us, we’ve been groomed from a very young age to employ certain self-defense strategies. Since we could walk on our own and speak for ourselves, our parents have told us not to talk to strangers and not to take candy from strange men or women who want you to get in their van. Maybe a little bit later in life, our parents might have put restrictions on our internet use or AOL chats, and gave us curfews. From TV shows and movies, some of us may have even learned tips such as if you’re running away from someone who is shooting at you, do your best to run in a zig-zag pattern.
Many of these learned suggestions are well-founded, and while you might think that they should be common sense by now, there is still a lot of miscommunication about what are and aren't genuinely good self-defense practices. Social media is now a huge part of most of our lives, and I’m sure many of you have seen shared stories about things to watch out for when getting into your car, or the latest and greatest self-defense equipment which has saved someone’s life. But how do you know if they are actually useful?
As someone who is fascinated not only by crime, but also by law enforcement and self-defense, I’ve been one to save many of the online suggestions I see or remember as much of the advice I hear as possible. But I also like to do my research, and figure out what is actually good practice, and what might just put you in a worse-off situation. This article therefore shares with you some suggestions for what you can carry with you, what you can do both at home or at work, car safety tips, and party safety suggestions. I’ve also included some things you should maybe stay away from, or aren’t the greatest ideas in terms of self-defense. These are things I’ve been able to compile through my life, but more excitingly, I got to speak with Chip Watts, a police officer and self-defense instructor who graciously gave me his input on my thoughts. His advice and direct quotes are highlighted in red, so if you read anything from this article, read the stuff in red!
An important overlying theme for this entire article:
AWARENESS AND PLANNING: throughout my discussion with Chip, he emphasized that awareness and planning are the most basic, but most important, things you should consider whenever you think about self-defense. As much as it might be considered common knowledge, oftentimes the simplest things are forgotten and overlooked, so now is a great time to revisit this vital part of self-defense!
Another note to consider when reading: anything that I’ve included in here as far as self-defense goes are entirely non-lethal options, and therefore exclude options such as firearms.
What can you carry with you?
There are many, many options out there right now on different things that you can keep in your pocket, car, or purse. My goal, and I hope it will be yours too, is that if I want to use something, I want to make sure to put as much space as possible in between myself and any attackers. If you Google self-defense weapons or handhelds, you’ll probably come across objects such as tactical knives, pens, tasers, amongst other things. There is nothing wrong with these methods, but they do require close contact with the assailant, which could give him/her a greater chance of overpowering you and even taking the object and using it back on you. So, do keep this in mind when reading the following!
What is it?
How much is it?
How to use?
What is it?
How much is it?
How to use?
What is it?
How much is it?
How to use?
How can you stay safe at home?
Lock your house and cars, even during the day and when you’re at home
Buy wasp spray
How can you stay safe at work?
Many of the same strategies listed above for the home can be applied to the workplace.
How can you stay safe in/around the car?
The biggest component about being safe in, around, and coming to and from your car is…you guessed it, Awareness & Planning:
Some of you might be thinking that if you’re not in college, you don’t have to worry about this section. WRONG! A lot of party safety applies to any form of drinking out, whether it’s at house parties or at the bar scene. So take some time to consider these tips. A lot of them may be tips you’ve heard countless times, but again, oftentimes these are the things we most readily forget so here is your refresher.
Use the buddy system. Establish who your buddy is at the beginning of the night and look out for each other throughout the night. You will NOT leave the party or the bar without each other.
Never put your drink down. If you do, get a new one. It’s very easy for people to slip things into your drink when you aren’t looking.
Stay away from open buckets of juice or punch, it’s much better to only get stuff from kegs or grab an unopened can or bottle.
If it looks sketchy, don’t go there! Just like being aware of your surroundings for car and work safety, the same applies for parties. If it’s a bar or a party that’s known as “sketchy,” then just don’t go!
If you’re using Ubers, cabs, or university driving services, be sure to check the license plate or car before getting inside. I’m sure many of y’all have heard the stories on the news, so start putting this into practice.
Chip's Tip: “My biggest philosophy: Most people party and that’s fine, just don’t put yourself in a position where you get so drunk that you make yourself or others a victim of a crime.”
It really boils down to awareness and planning. I had thought I'd known everything about self-defense after all the preliminary research I had done, but after speaking with Chip I didn’t realize how fundamental the simple, "common sense" planning and awareness stage really is. Enough can’t be said for taking the time to truly think through what you’re about to do, and to make plans that are effective and accomplishable.
I love complicated crime stories. I love plot twists and turns. But I definitely am not a fan of complication when it comes to my safety. I want safe and simple, and I think a lot of the highlighted points of this article emphasize how to be both. That being said, I don’t want you to feel totally paranoid about everything either! Hopefully you'll feel less worried if you take time to be aware and make the mental checks as we discussed. It will give you the peace of mind knowing you likely won’t run into as many surprises.
Finally, don't forget the mentality of “see something, say something.” It’s much better to report something right then and there, rather than hearing about that sketchy thing you saw later on the news that you could have potentially prevented. So, don’t be overly paranoid, but also don't be afraid to give the police a call and report something. Got it? Good. "Safety doesn’t happen by accident.”
By: Guest contributor gloria Pugh of Amwat moving
For more moving tips and tricks, check out Gloria's blog here.
Moving is a stressful experience even under the best of circumstances, as it can be both emotionally and physically draining. Luckily, there are a few ways to reduce the amount of emotional, mental, and physical stress related to moving that might help make the process a little easier.
When possible, move before or after the peak moving season to reduce costs and scams.
Peak moving season in the United States usually occurs during the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Due to this increase in demand, summer rates for moving services are typically much higher in comparison to off-season rates, so if it is at all possible you should try to plan to move before or after this time frame.
Along with the summertime increase in consumer demand for moving services, as well as the increase in rates, there is also an increase in criminal activity as is related to moving. In particular, there are a surprising amount of people who claim to be associated with a reputable moving company but are not, and end up scamming you in the worst ways. You can avoid becoming a victim of moving fraud by ensuring the moving company you use is legitimate and reputable.
What you should be aware of when hiring moving services:
The United States Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration “FMCSA” regulates moving companies crossing state lines. Companies operating commercial vehicles that haul cargo, including moving companies, in interstate commerce must be registered with the FMCSA and must have a USDOT Number. The legal name or trade name of the business entity and USDOT Number must be prominently displayed on the driver’s side door. Moving companies operating without authority are operating illegally; checking a moving company’s operating authority is as simple as visiting this website.
Most states regulate the moving industry within the state. Whether moving locally or to another county in your state (my state is Florida, so I will use FL as an example in this article), ensure the moving company you hire is licensed with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Each of the mover's vehicles must display on the driver's side door "Fla. Mover Reg. No. ____" or "Fla. IM No. ____"; checking a moving company’s license status is as simple as visiting this website (or one like it for your particular state).
Cost of moving
Most consumers move infrequently and are therefore unaware of the cost of moving services. The cost for a long-distance move is primarily determined by the weight of the shipment (household goods) and distance with additional services (packing, storage, shuttle, etc.) adding to the cost of the move. It is therefore wise to dispose of unwanted items prior to your move in order to reduce the weight of the shipment, thereby reducing the cost. For example, donate food items and cleaning supplies to the local food bank or church as they add unnecessary weight to the shipment. You can easily purchase these items for less at their new destination in comparison to what you pay the moving company to transport long distance. Also, federal law prohibits moving companies from transporting flammable items commonly found in certain cleaning supplies, cooking oils, aerosol sprays, nail polish remover, etc., so those items are worth donating as well.
The cost for local moving services is typically based on an hourly rate plus a fuel/truck surcharge. Do not be fooled by a low hourly rate. Low hourly rates when multiplied by a slow moving process can become very expensive. Whether moving short or long distance, do not base your decision for hiring a mover exclusively on the cheapest rates as their reputability and reliability is more important.
How to choose your moving company
People use Google for just about every product and service, but if you simply Google the term “movers,” the results are overwhelming. How does one even begin to identify a reputable moving company?
First, avoid moving companies who advertise questionably low rates or promise the cheapest rates online. Executing an efficient and professional move requires many resources from manpower to reliable equipment. Operating a legitimate and reputable moving company is costly. A moving company’s revenues must cover overhead from regulatory fees, payroll, insurance, fuel, maintenance, taxes, and yes, damages to a client’s property. Taking all of these overhead expenses into consideration, you should question when you receive low moving rates, as many entities advertising on the web are actually brokers posing as legitimate moving companies, luring unsuspecting consumers with the promise of low rates. Often, these brokers take a consumer’s money, deduct their fees, and auction the move to a rogue operator who will likely take your possessions and demand more money for their return.
Communication is a wonderful tool. If you just mention to a friend or family member that you are moving, surely someone will have an experience to share and, hopefully, a referral to give. Likewise, post a request for a referral on social media and I guarantee friends will reply with suggestions stemming from their personal experience. Use the internet to your advantage: research the referrals to ensure the moving companies are brick and mortar businesses, preferably located in your immediate community or in the community you are moving to. Never hesitate to visit the moving company’s facility to ensure their authority. Reputable businesses enjoy when consumers visit their place of business.
Once you have identified several moving companies, call the moving companies. (Pay attention to their greeting. Avoid companies who answer their telephone with a phrase such as: “Moving company." Reputable businesses clearly identify their brand to consumers when answering telephone calls). While on the phone, discuss the details of your move and schedule an onsite survey of your residence. An onsite survey is a great tool for both the consumer and the moving company, as it provides an opportunity to exchange information, discuss concerns, and for the moving company to evaluate and determine the resources necessary for the move. It is the best method to estimate the cost of the move and the time it will take to execute the move.
Beware of moving companies who refuse to provide an onsite survey, specifically if it is a large/long-distance. Also be sure to obtain a written estimate from the moving company; Federal and most state laws including Florida require moving companies provide consumers with a written estimate prior to executing the moving services.
Never sign a blank contract for services. It's amazing how frequently consumers will sign blank contracts for services. Understand what you are signing, ask questions, and do not be bullied into signing documents that you do not understand.
There are three types of contracts in the moving industry: binding, not to exceed, and unbound. Unless you completely trust and know the moving company who is servicing your move, NEVER enter into an unbound contract because the sky is the limit.
Be cognizant of every interaction you have with the perspective moving company prior to retaining their services. Should the moving company not provide the attention and information you desire, move on (pun intended).
Follow these simple tips for an efficient, reliable, and professional move. And do not wait until the last minute to do so; it's best you can prepare ahead of time in case of any unforeseen setbacks.