7 sins of first-time renters

July 20th, 2006

Article from MSN

Ready to get your own place? Whether you’re moving out of the dorms, taking a summer internship or starting a new job, you’ll want to avoid these costly mistakes.

By Erin Burt, Kiplinger’s

Ah, your first apartment. It may be smaller than a closet with a next-door neighbor who likes to blast Celine Dion into the wee hours of the morning, but hey, it’s a space to call your own. Whether you’re moving away from college or out of Mom and Dad’s house this summer, getting your first real place can be a liberating — and nerve-wracking — experience.

Trust us, there are worse situations you can find yourself in as a first-time renter than tight spaces and annoying neighbors. Moving into your own apartment may be one of the biggest financial steps you’ve taken thus far in your life. In this rite of passage, you’re committing to stay put for a long time while shelling out a pretty penny on rent, utilities and furniture. So, naturally, you want to do it right. We detail seven sins that can threaten your financial soul — and your sanity — upon moving into your own space. Avoid these missteps for a smoother transition, whether you’re a first-timer or a even a seasoned renter.

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Closing Costs When Purchasing A Home

July 19th, 2006

Buying a home is a financial strain if you are making a sizeable down payment. This can lead to problems if you forget the hard, cold cash you will need for closing.

Everybody looking to purchase a home no doubt wonders what the average closing costs will be. It is only natural to wonder, especially considering how expensive the closing costs can truly be if you are not careful. In truth, the costs aren’t much given the amount of money the home typically sells for, but they can cause problems because they usually must be paid now and in cash. Essentially, they add to the down payment amount and can cause cash flow problems for buyers.

As you might imagine, closing are not easy to quote. Closings in one state involve different things and costs compared to another. Closing costs related to things such as points and property taxes are dependent on the particular deal and geographic location. Some states, for instance, do not collect property taxes, which means no deposit against them must be collected at closing. All and all, you should take the following figures with a grain of salt, but at least you will have a guideline.
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July 3rd, 2006

During the late 1960s, a rebellion against modernism and a longing for more traditional styles influenced the design of modest tract housing in North America. Builders began to borrow freely from a variety of historic traditions, offering neoeclectic (or, neo-eclectic) houses that were “customized” using a mixture of features selected from construction catalogs. These homes are sometimes called postmodern because they borrow from a variety of styles without consideration for continuity or context. However, neo-eclectic homes are not usually experimental and do not reflect the artistic vision you would find in a truly original, architect-designed postmodern home.

Home Styles: Neoeclectic

Critics use the term McMansion to describe a neo-eclectic home that is oversized and pretentious. Coined from the McDonald’s fast food restaurant, the name McMansion implies that these homes are hastily assembled using cheaply-made materials and a menu of mix-and-match decorative details.

Typically have no porches, most have covered entryways. Usually have front facing gables. The main roof is usually a hip roof. Main roof ridges run both parallel and perpendicular to street. The exterior is clapboard or masonry (brick, stucco, stone).

A Neoeclectic home borrows characteristics from traditional styles such as:

  • Second Empire
  • Colonial Revival
  • Greek Revival
  • French
  • Spanish Revival
  • Tudor
  • Queen Anne

Sources: About.com, HomePlannerAndGuide.com

If You Want To Build A Home Gym…

June 13th, 2006

I walked into the commercial gym yesterday after a long day of work excited to begin my workout. After warming up I proceeded to the squat rack to start my resistance training workout. I unfortunately ran into a bit of a roadblock. I was planning on starting with some Back Squats but there was a young man in the power rack performing barbell biceps curls with horrible form (a definite no-no!).

Home gym

I decided to go to Plan B and rearrange my workout only to find that the flat benches were all occupied as well. This trend continued and everywhere I turned the equipment I desired was being used. I was happy that so many people were working out but at the same time I was frustrated that my well-laid plans were spoiled. I learned a long time ago that it is wise to have a back-up plan in place for situations like this so I decided to head home and revert to Plan C, which was my home workout routine.

I have found that having the option to workout at home is essential for people with busy schedules, for others who do not like going to crowded gyms, or for people who need a contingency plan for just-in-case situations (that’s me!). Another reason to have a home gym is that warmer weather has finally arrived and you may be less likely to go to your commercial gym.

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Big or small, treat all forms of fire with respect

June 5th, 2006

Did you know that smoke is responsible for three out of four fire-related deaths? Knowing what to expect and preparing for a fire before it happens can save your life. So plan ahead. Develop a fire safety plan with your employees that includes a review of fire hazards, an escape plan, installing smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, and teaching your staff about fire safety. By following these fire safety strategies you might just save lives.

Safety tips, advice, and resources found in this section have been recommended by a number of reputable organizations devoted to fire safety.


  1. Make the whole building safe. Put smoke detectors on every floor.
  2. Maintain your equipment. Make sure detectors are dust free. Replace batteries once a year, or sooner.
  3. Testing, testing. Test your detectors at least once a month.
  4. Be sure they’re working. If your detectors are directly wired into your electrical system, make sure the signal lights are blinking. This lets you know that the alarm is active.
  5. Know what’s happening. Smoke detectors that are monitored by an accredited emergency response station can be installed and will notify you in case of emergency wherever you are.
  6. Fires don’t discriminate. Neither does safety. There are detectors available for people with impaired hearing.

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