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  • A Few Easy Ways to Curb the Cost of Being a Homeowner

    The following is a post from Jenna Smith. Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this post.

    Being a homeowner is one of the most pivotal aspects of being a responsible adult. That humble house is supposed to represent a sense of security, stability, and family. However, as great as it is to have your own home, that ownership often come with a hefty financial responsibility. The responsibility of paying the mortgage, bills, insurance, taxes and household upkeep, in addition to personal expenses, can seriously put a strain on your wallet.

    However, there are many things you can do to help curb the cost of being a homeowner:

    Take advantage of your tax deductibles: Many newer homeowners are unaware of the deductibles that are available for them to take advantage of – instead of filing your taxes on your own, this season partner with a qualified tax expert or use a detailed DIY tax return program, and learn how take advantage of available tax breaks. You may be eligible for deductions on your mortgage, closing costs, property taxes and home equity loans.

    Be more energy efficient: Being energy efficient is not only a way to save the environment, it can also help you keep some green in your wallet. You can take steps to being more energy efficient by upgrading your appliances to energy efficient options and by properly insulating your home to repair any open cracks. Additionally, you can purchase energy efficient power strips, switch to LED bulbs, hang energy saving blackout curtains, insulate your water pipes, use solar powered chargers, and do laundry less often.

    Consider a reverse mortgage: Home financing through a reverse mortgage is an option for homeowners who are 62 years or older. This option will allow you to turn part of your home’s equity into cash to help cover monthly living expenses.

    Brush up on your DIY skills: It goes without saying that it costs money to outsource home repairs and upgrades. However, it doesn’t do very much for the value of the home if you don’t properly maintain it. Therefore, the best option is to do it yourself. Now, it is still highly recommended that you save the massive projects for the experts, however, you are well able to tackle the moderate household repairs yourself – such as painting, replacing windows and doors, upgrading toiletries, insulating and landscaping. Learning how to become a home DIYer can save you a lot of money, and doing so will give you that sense of satisfaction and pride that you learned new skills and tackled projects on your own.

    Make extra money: There is no better way to avoid the sting of financial struggle than to make extra money so that you can comfortably live in the home that you love. This current age of technology has made it possible for anyone to make a few extra bucks every week. To begin, you have to determine your skills and think of ways through which you can capitalize on them. For example, if you are a good writer or web designer, you can freelance on the side. You can even become a product flipper – buy inexpensive/valuable items from thrift shops and yard sales and sell them for a little more on auction sites. Or, you can complete surveys, sell your handmade crafts or homegrown veggies at fairs, or build your own website or use social media to be an affiliate marketer for a few companies.

    The worst scenario for any homeowner is to struggle to make payments every month or to lose their home entirely. This isn’t the dream of homeownership. Therefore, is up to you to find ways to save money so that you can live the peaceful, secure life that you deserve.

    Taking Care of Your Skin as You Age: Tips and Tricks

    The following is a post from Jenna Smith. Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this post.

    As we age, our skin tends to lose its luster. From fine lines and wrinkles to puffiness and sagging, our skin reflects our age, lifestyle habits and overall health and well-being. And while there’s a lot to be said for aging gracefully, protecting our skin is just good common sense.

    Keep reading for tips on reducing, preventing and even reversing the signs of aging on your skin.

    Healthy Skin, from the Inside Out

    Great skin starts on the inside. After all, our outer appearance is a direct reflection of our inner health, so, for a bright, glowing, younger-looking complexion, take the following factors into account:

    • Diet. If you eat lots of processed, starchy, fatty, high-calorie foods, your skin likely suffers as a result. These foods cause inflammation in the body, which speeds up the aging process and leads to sagging, dullness and the development of wrinkles. Revamp your diet by trading processed, unhealthy foods for fresh, whole foods like colorful produce, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Also, since even mild dehydration can add years to your appearance, be sure to drink plenty of water, and ditch the sodas, sugary juices and excess caffeine.
    • Activity levels. A sedentary lifestyle can wreak havoc on your skin and overall appearance. On the other hand, regular exercise can boost circulation in the skin, rid the pores of impurities and lead to a brighter, healthier complexion.
    • Sleep patterns. From dark circles and puffiness to acne and other complications, not getting enough sleep really shows on your face. And while getting a full eight hours can be challenging, sufficient sleep will keep your complexion looking fresh, bright and more youthful.
    • Stress. For many of us, stress is a unavoidable part of life. However, excess stress can lead to breakouts, rashes and irritation, premature aging and other unsightly effects. Combat these complications by reducing the stress in your life, or making an effort to manage stress more effectively. Exercise, practice deep-breathing techniques, or, when you feel the stress creeping up, take a short time-out to relax and regroup.

    The Best Products for Healthy Skin

    Sometimes, we need a little help in giving our skin that healthy glow. Include the following types of products in your skincare arsenal, and you can experience the fresher, brighter complexion you’re after:

    • Moisturizer. Even if you have oily skin, the right moisturizer can keep your skin soft, smooth and healthy, while also protecting against fine lines, wrinkles and other telltale signs of aging. For dryer skin, use a thicker, heavier cream or serum; if you have oily or combination skin, try a lighter, water-based formula.
    • Wrinkle treatment. To reduce lines and wrinkles, use products with retinol (a form of vitamin A). This crucial ingredient evens out lines and wrinkles, and promotes a healthy, more youthful glow. Also, an old, yet effective, at-home remedy for crow’s feet includes the use of a hemorrhoids treatment product applied to the skin around the eyes. This simple, inexpensive treatment can also help reduce puffiness and under-eye bags!
    • Blemish treatments. If you’re one of the many adults who suffer from acne, know that you’re not alone. Factors like stress and hormonal imbalances can lead to breakouts, no matter your age. However, older skin may not respond to treatments designed for younger skin, so look for products that have your age group in mind.
    • Sunscreen. Damage from the sun’s UV rays can result in wrinkles, age spots and discoloration. Protect yourself by using SPF 30 or higher, every time you’re out in the sun.
    • Exfoliants. Exfoliants can slough away dead skin cells to a reveal fresher, healthier complexion. Use these treatments sparingly, though, as too much exfoliating can lead to redness, dryness and irritation.

    Though aging is a natural part of life, taking care of your skin can help you look and feel better than ever before. Use the tips provided here, and start enjoying the benefits of fresher, healthier, younger-looking skin. Enter for a chance to win one of twenty $50 Kohl’s gift cards + Get $10 off a $30 purchase Memorial Day Weekend

    This post contains affiliate links that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you for using them! All opinions are honest and my own. You can read CFO’s full disclosure here.

    Kohls Giveaway

    Through May 24, you can enter for a chance to win one of twenty $50 Kohl’s Gift Cards from The official rules are here. Good luck!

    You can also get $10 off a $30 purchase during their Memorial Day Weekend Sale with promo code MAYSAVE10, plus get Free Shipping on orders of $75+. Restrictions may apply. Code is valid 5/22 – 5/25/15.

    Right now, you can get 50% off handbags, including this Relic Caraway Shoulder Bag, which I want to get for all of the schlepping around I’m going to do this summer. Enter for a chance to win one of twenty $50 GAP gift cards + Save up to 40% during the Summer Kickoff Event

    This post contains affiliate links that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you for using them! All opinions are honest and my own. You can read CFO’s full disclosure here.

    GAP Giveaway

    Through May 21, you can enter for a chance to win one of twenty $50 GAP Gift Cards from The official rules are here. Good luck!

    You can also save big during the Summer Kickoff Event and get up to 40% off plus Daily Deals at! Check it out:

    Monday, 5/18 ONLY
    $20 Select Adult Shorts
    $10 Select Kids, Toddlers and Babies Shorts

    Tuesday, 5/19 ONLY
    $25 Select Womens Dresses & Skirts
    $15 Select Kids, Toddlers and Babies Dresses & Skirts

    Wednesday, 5/20 ONLY
    $8 Select Adult Tees, Tanks & Layers
    $6 Select Kids, Toddlers and Babies Tees, Tanks & Layers

    I recently picked up some great deals at GAP, and I’ve got my eye on this relaxed henley (although I’m digging this aloha-style shirt for my boys too!). Exclusions apply. Summer Kickoff Event ends 5/20/15.

    Sponsored Video: GE Appliances Kitchen Portraits

    This post is sponsored by GE. All opinions are my own. Read the full CFO disclosure policy here.

    Five years ago, my husband and I made a huge decision: that when our oldest child started kindergarten, I would quit my full-time job as an attorney, and become a full-time blogger who works from home. I was pretty stressed out at the time from trying to balance family, work, blogging, volunteering and more. Of all of the things I was juggling, I enjoyed work the least. So that’s what we eliminated, and we’ve never looked back.

    It was a family-centric decision, of course – and in fact, since our kids are still quite young, almost everything we do is family-centric. I can imagine a time in the future when I may want to work outside the home again, when I’m not so focused on raising the kids. But for now, this is just the season of life we’re in, and it’s the kind season that GE Appliances is celebrating with their new series of webisodes, about six real-life American families. For example, one of the webisodes features Ken and Doris Richards, who adopted five children – three from Vietnam and two from Africa. Although they’re not connected by blood, they’ve all learned that a family can be built on love, through their interactions in the kitchen.

    And that’s not surprising, because really, food is so important in our lives that it means love to a lot of us. Whether it’s family dinners, family feasts, or one family member’s favorite food, when a family breaks bread together, they’re strengthening the bonds that connect them. So check out the video and let me know what you think.