Connie and Bill Dolloff's Blog
If you’re splitting expenses in your household or apartment, you likely want to make it the simplest process as possible. Things like rent, mortgage, and utilities can add up to a daunting number of bills to split. Fortunately, there are several tools available to make this process easier for you and your housemates.
In this article, we’ll talk about some of the ways to split costs, offer some advice to keep your bills paid on time, and show you some of the best apps to help make paying the bills an afterthought.
Two ways to split
Generally speaking, there are three ways you can split costs. You can divide the bill (whether it be rent, mortgage, or utilities) equally among the paying members of your household. Or, you can split costs based on usage. For rent and mortgages, this can be based on things like square footage.
Sometimes, to simplify things, you might agree that one person will pay extra toward rent if another agrees to pay the full internet or garbage bill each month. This is an easy way to simplify costs without having to worry about paying extra if you use more of a utility during a month since internet and garbage bills tend to be constant each month.
Set up auto-play
Many services allow you to link a checking account for recurring payments. To split utilities with auto-pay, you can often link multiple checking accounts to a service.
If the service doesn’t have an auto-pay feature, you might still be able to set up recurring payments through your bank. Oftentimes, this method is preferable as you will have more control over whether or not you make a payment.
One downfall of autopay is that it can be difficult to split for expenses that change in cost each month. For example, electric bills aren’t constant and you can find yourself overpaying and underpaying each month depending on usage.
Apps and tools
Understandably, there is a big market for tools to make this whole process easier. One great option is Splitwise. This mobile and web application keeps a running total of expenses to let you know how much each member of the house owes. It also comes with useful calculators for things like splitting rent based on room size and more.
If you prefer to have one member of the house act as the designated payer of bills, there are several options available to make payments easier. One of the safest, most well-known, and easier to use is PayPal.
Through PayPal, you can set up recurring payments for your share of things like rent, utilities, etc. If you’re the one paying the bills, you can also send requests and reminders to make sure you get paid on time, and to have proof of when you received funds.
Home automation or smart-home technology is just one piece of the bigger picture that is known as the “Internet of Things.” What this term basically means is that as technologies evolve they are becoming more ingrained into everyday objects.
What was once designated just for personal computers and cell phones is now the domain of any number of everyday objects--from our cars to our refrigerators. This means we can control things remotely, monitor our houses and our belongings, and even see if our babies are sleeping soundly from work via the latest baby monitors.
One of the most recent implementations of these technologies is in our home security systems. Home automation and security are natural companions, give us an ever-increasing number of ways to guarantee our safety within our homes.
In today’s article, we’re going to talk about the objects in our home that can be connected to the internet and how you can improve security at home.
Security or security risk?
Critics of the internet of things often bring up one chief concern--data security. The more objects we connect to the internet the more ways we open our data up to being compromised. To make matters worse, many electronics manufacturers aren’t concerned with the security of the devices they make, giving them no safeguards or encryption against being hacked.
In fact, these objects have already been commandeered by hackers, but not in the way you might think.
A common way to attack a website or service is to simply flood it with more traffic than it can handle. Since WiFi enabled refrigerators, webcams, and baby monitors tend to provide little protection, hackers have found ways to install malware on them that allow them to send all of these devices to a given site in an orchestrated incident known as a DDoS attack (Distributed Denial of Service). All the while your refrigerator seems to be working normally, but behind the scenes it’s part of a “zombie” army of devices.
What items can connect to the internet?
The number of objects that come equipped with WiFi capability grows every day. Some are extremely useful. They can let you know when you’re out of paper towels or laundry detergent, they can tell you if you forgot to lock the doors or turn out the lights, or you can ask them to play your favorite playlist.
However, just because an item can connect to your WiFi doesn’t mean you should let it by default. You’ll need to consider the pros and cons.
Which items can I trust?
Unfortunately for consumers, there is no “safe to use” list when it comes to the gadgets you might have around your home. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t do your research on the items yourself to look for basic security measures.
First, check to see if the items are password-protected or use some form of authentication. You can often find this information on the manufacturer’s website or in the user guide.
Next, think about who makes the product. Reputable companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon all have a lot invested in the security of their customers. As a result, Google Home, and Apple’s HomePod are likely to have stronger security measures in place.
Finally, you’ll have to take a look at your own security habits. Changing passwords frequently, creating complicated passwords, and being careful with your information online are all ways you can help prevent your data or identity from being compromised.
Hectic mornings can make for messy, disorganized bathrooms. Between the mad dash of getting the kids ready for school and ensuring you look presentable for the office who has time to put the toothpaste or hairspray back nevermind neatly so? If you’re dreaming of a clean, organized space to get ready for the day keep reading for some easy to implement tips.
Begin your project with a clean slate by tossing out any outdated products or items you simply don’t use. Check how long to keep an item for by the image of an open container with a number followed by a capital m inside of it. This indicates how many months to keep a product for after opening. If you can’t even remember when you bought a product it's safe to assume its time for a replacement.
Take a tip from the minimalists and keep only what you truly use. After all, the less you have the less you will have to dig through to find what you are looking for. Common culprits are hair products, spa-like bath products and piles of towels. If an item is really something you can’t let go of but don’t use often consider moving it to a nearby linen or storage closet.
Once you’ve decided what stays it’s time to put your items away. But before you start shoving everything back into drawers and cabinets take a few minutes to draw up a plan that gives each and every item a “home”. When everything has a dedicated space it belongs in it makes cleanup a breeze, especially on those hectic mornings.
Keep items off the countertops for an uncluttered magazine worthy countertop. Instead, place your families’ go-to items inside the medicine cabinet or top drawers. Try to keep everything in neat organized lines where you won't have to reach behind products to get the one you are looking for. An orderly lineup prevents chaos and products spilling down each time you reach to the back.
Installing clever organizers for small spaces helps to make the most of tiny bathroom spaces. Think more shelves, lazy susans, drawer organizers and roll out trays to get more out of cabinet spaces. A heat tool corral keeps pesky hairdryers and irons neatly organized and at arms-length.
Maximize empty and therefore unused space throughout the room such as over the toilet by installing shelving. You may also consider adding more hooks if you need them to hang up towels and keep them off of the floor.
It may seem like there isn’t any time for keeping an orderly bathroom when you’re just trying to get out the door in the morning. However, with a thorough cleanout and thoughtful organization your bathroom could be even more tidy than you first imagined. It just takes a little time and creativity to make the most of your unique bathroom space. Happy organizing!
Moving is stressful at the best of times. But when you’re moving across the country rather than across town, it adds to the number of preparations you’ll need to make.
In this article, we’ll give you some tips on how to best prepare for your long-distance move, whether it’s across the state, across the country, or to another country altogether.
Packing and moving
One of the biggest concerns you’ll have during a long distance move is the condition of your belongings.
If you’re using a moving company, you’ll want to make sure you trust them to handle your belongings with care. To ensure that they’re responsible movers, read over their reviews online. It’s also a good idea to review their contracts and to make sure you have enough insurance to cover any costly damages or losses. Speaking of moving companies, be sure to shop around to find out which one offers the best prices and delivery windows.
When it comes to packing your items, air on the side of caution and start boxing items well in advance of your move. Not only is it a good idea to label your boxes by room, but you should put your name and contact information on your boxes if they’re being shipped by a large moving company.
Remember that not everything needs to be in boxes. Soft items like clothing and towels can easily be packed in trash bags, suitcases, and duffel bags. You’ll be able to squeeze in more items and they’ll take up less space in the moving truck.
When filling the moving truck, be sure your fragile items aren’t the top box on a stack of boxes. Similarly, you don’t want fragile belongings underneath too many heavy boxes. Your movers likely have their own way of securing boxes, so be sure to indicate to them which boxes are the most fragile with labels.
Downsize your belongings
The month leading up to your move is a good time to sell or donate items you no longer use. It could save you space on the moving truck, and you could earn a few extra dollars before your big move.
Larger items should be your top priority. Bicycles, lawnmowers, and other big items that you’ve been thinking of replacing can be sold now and you can buy new ones at your future home. However, don’t discount the weight and size of things like DVD and book collections. Many people lug around bookcases from house to house and hardly ever touch the books on them. Furthermore, technology like Kindle and Netflix are making owning physical copies of your media less of a necessity.
Before you start packing the rest of your items into moving boxes, make sure you set aside a “survival kit” filled with your daily use items. Things like cell phone chargers, glasses and contacts, and sanitary items should be in your vehicle or carry on, not in the moving truck.
Moving is expensive, but there are a number of ways you can squeeze some savings out of the experience. First, take advantage of free boxes from local stores and restaurants. Then, ask for friends and family to help you pack rather than hiring professionals, offer them lunch in exchange for their help.
When it comes to getting to your new home, don’t rule out flying as being the most expensive option. Hotels, gas, and eating out add up quickly if you’re making a road trip out of your move.
Finally, see if your move is tax-deductible. If you’re relocating for work, there’s a chance some of your moving expenses will be. If so, be sure to keep all of your receipts along the way.