How to Create a Budget

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When I went away to college, my parents told me to “make a budget”.  When I graduated from college, my parents told me to “make a budget.  When I was planning my wedding, my parents told me to “make a budget.”  When we were looking to buy our first home, my parents told me to… you guessed it, “make a budget.”

By this time in my life I should probably be an expert on budgeting, but I am not.  Like most people, I occasionally fail to see the big picture and give in to impulse buys or spend too much money on a pair of jeans, or eat out too many times per week.  But, that does not mean I should throw in the towel and just spend money all “willy nilly”.

Occasionally I hear my father’s voice reminding me to “tighten the purse strings” and that “money doesn’t grow on trees”.   This is my conscience reminding me to sit down to redo our loathsome, yet necessary household budget.  I am after all, a reasonably responsible adult with a child who will be going away to college in less than 8 years.

There are many factors that play a role when creating a budget from scratch, especially if it is your first time.  The task may seem overwhelming, but there are a few very basic tips to follow.

  1. List all “fixed” expenses.  These are expenses that do not change month to month.  These may include rent/ mortgage, car payment, insurances, utilities, loans, credit card bills etc.
  2. List all “variable” expenses.  These offer some flexibility such as groceries, entertainment, travel, eating out and general “fun money”.
  3. Know all sources of monthly income.
  4. Do the math… subtract fixed expenses from income.  Then factor in variable expenses.
  5. Don’t forget to factor in all of your savings/ retirement plans!

That’s it!  You now have a very basic household budget to work off of.  Once you have a budget created, whether you choose to use any of the many software options available, or if you prefer to create your own spreadsheet, keep it handy.  Look at it often.  Remember to reevaluate and adjust your budget over time as things in your life change and evolve, as they will naturally.

Remind yourself of your long-term goals.  This will help strengthen your will power and make it easier to walk away from those $100 jeans or that $6.00 cup of coffee. Personally, I hope to be able to retire and live comfortably when the time comes.  I want to be able to travel some and spend plenty of time on some beach.  That dream, along with my parents voices saying “make a budget” help keep me on track.

To help keep your budget on track, visit FiltersFast.com for all of your water and air filtration needs.

Appreciating the DIY Husband… Let Me Count the Ways

Toilet Repair... with assistance!

My husband: teaching the next generation to DIY

This month, my employer FiltersFast.com is honoring all of those DIY people out there.  As the proud wife of a DIY man, I would like to take this opportunity to say “Thank you, DIY people” for making life a little easier for the rest of us!  Upon further reflection, I realize both of my parents are also DIY, so all of my life I have seen what a little ingenuity, some creativity and a little (or lot) of hard work can accomplish.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have seen some massive DIY failures along the way; but I won’t go into those.

But this is about my husband and how his DIY prowess never fails to amaze me.  See he grew up on a dairy farm, which he claims is where he learned his skills. But, as an observer of people, I have decided that you either “are” or “are not” a DIY person by nature. Though with some effort, you can be somewhere in between, like myself.

Here is a brief rundown on some of the DIY projects/ skills my beloved has accomplished:

  • Changing the oil in cars/ trucks (TRACTORS)
  • General automotive maintenance; changing wipers, headlights, batteries etc.
  • Built a huge deck on our house
  • Painting
  • Install hardwood flooring
  • Remodeled bathroom (tore out old walls, replaced with nice new ones)
  • Cuts down trees (BIG ONES)
  • Basic plumbing; replace garbage disposal, repair toilets etc.
  • Install ceiling fans
  • Assembled trampoline (This is not as easy as it sounds. I know people who paid someone to do this, so I feel this counts.)

You get the picture.  After 14 years of marriage, I feel good in saying there are very few things that my husband cannot fix around the house, in the yard or on the car.  It may take a little time, but I know without question that job will be done correctly.

Now getting back to FiltersFast.com honoring the DIY, here are a few benefits of being one or in my case, living with one:

  1. Saving money:  why pay a professional when you can “do it yourself”
  2. From concept to reality = satisfaction!  Let’s face it, it feels good when you are able to “do it yourself.”
  3. Gaining and applying valuable knowledge into practical (often transferable) skills.
  4. Self-sufficiency.  Not having to rely on others may come in handy during the zombie apocalypse.  Just kidding. But really, it is nice if something breaks in the middle of the night.

FiltersFast.com and myself would like to take a moment to acknowledge all of the DIY people out there.  Why FiltersFast.com?  Because as a leading source in the air and water filtration industry, we know a little something about repairing, replacing and maintaining household items; specifically air and water filters!

Thank you DIY people and keep up the good work!

How To Improve Indoor Air Quality: The Facts about Indoor Air Pollution

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Image Credit: home.howstuffworks.com

Alright, so maybe your family isn’t wearing gas/breathing masks at home. However, if you knew the problems with indoor air quality, you may be moved to take steps to protect yourself from it too. You may think you don’t need to be that worried about the air in your home, but consider this:

1. Indoor air pollution is 2 to 5 times worse than the air outdoors (an estimated 87% of American homeowners are not aware of this)

2. The EPA has ranked indoor air pollution among the top 5 environmental dangers

3. An increase in the number of children with asthma and severe allergies has been linked to increasingly poor indoor air quality

4. A recent study referenced on indoorairqualityhvac.com states that 86% of homes have high levels of particles and bioaerosols like pollen, dust, and viruses

Indoor air pollution is clearly a problem.

Fortunately it is a problem that can be managed. To do so, you have to first identify the common sources of indoor air pollution such as:

  • Cleaning and personal care products, pastes, glues
  • Building materials such as carpet, insulation, cabinetry, and more
  • Combustion products such as tobacco smoke, gas, oil, kerosene and wood stoves or fireplaces
  • Pet dander, mold, dust mites, viruses

 

To improve the air quality in your home, there are three important things you need to consider:

1. Change your HVAC filter on a regular basis. In addition to improving the efficiency of your HVAC unit (thus saving you a lot of money) it also acts as a line of defense between you and many of the air pollutants outlined above.

Tip: Your HVAC filter should be replaced every 3 months.

2. Increase ventilation. Consider opening the windows more often during warmer temperature days to increase a steady air flow through the home. Homes with poor air circulation tend to have poor air quality.

Tip: Avoid home ventilation on days with a high pollen count, as it can cause flareups for allergy sufferers.

3. Consider outside sources to improve your indoor air quality such as investing in an air purifier to help reduce dust mites, mold, pet dander and more.

Tip: Certain house plants such as the Peace Lily can help purify the air, but should never be considered as the sole source for better air quality.

With the right tools you don’t have to worry about wearing masks in your home as long as you pay attention to your air quality. Changing your air filters more regularly, buying an Indoor Air Quality Test Kit, or any other method can make your home the safe and healthy sanctuary it should be for you and your family.