3 Easy Ways to Improve Your Backyard

As a homeowner, you have so many opportunities to upgrade and customize your home to your liking. When a person rents, they have to ask permission before painting a wall. Unlike a renter, a homeowner can knock down walls, complete renovations and let their creativity run wild. It’s also important to become intentional about finding ways to improve the home in order to increase its value. One area you can focus on is the backyard. Whether you have a large or small backyard, it’s an area that’s easily overlooked for a few reasons. For some people, it’s overlooked because people don’t know what to do with the space. Another reason why it can be overlooked is because it seems too challenging.

 

Truthfully, it’s not a difficult process. In fact, there are many easy ways you can improve your backyard. However, the key is to bring in the professionals to do the heavy-lifting on certain projects. Take a look at some magazines to gain inspiration. As you become inspired, consider these three fun ideas to make your backyard look new and improved.

 

1. Landscaping/Backyard Garden

If you have ever been a fan of beautiful gardens, it’s a great idea to start one in your backyard. To take it a step further, you can easily create a stunning look with a landscaping architect. Get a consultation to discuss the features you’d like to see. A stunning water feature that includes a small pond is a nice idea. Depending on the climate you live in, it’d be nice to add some lily pads to the water. If you are someone who likes to do your own gardening, you can set aside a specific area for any flowers, herbs and produce you plant. A walkway throughout the garden is a great way to organize the area. Perhaps there are days when you’ll want to take friends to sit and enjoy the scenery. Place a few benches in various spots of the garden for a nice, inviting touch.

 

2. Pool

If swimming feels like second nature to you, it’s a no-brainer. You need to install a pool in the backyard. While there are many homeowners who get nervous about the maintenance of a pool, understand that it doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s important to maintain a cleaning schedule. You’ll also want to cover the pool each time it’s not in use. If you are intentional with your cleaning schedule, it’ll feel like second nature. It can be really nice to enjoy a swim before you head to work in the morning. Alternatively, a pool is nice after a hard day at work. It can replace your need to go to the gym since it’s a great form of exercise. Plus, a pool will increase a home’s value. If you ever plan to put the home on the market, you’ll only increase the value of the home with this type of feature. Find a company that provides reasonable swimming pool pricing and build from there.

 

3. Entertaining Area

Create a backyard space that’s conducive to entertaining guests. If you love to have friends over, hang out in the backyard. Make room for a patio area. Set aside a portion of the area for dining and lounging. Set up an area that’s specifically for barbecuing and the preparation of food. Outdoor games are becoming increasingly popular. Create a special area for outdoor versions of chess and checkers. Oversized games like Jenga work really at parties. If you have a lot of sports enthusiasts as friends, set up a basketball court or a volleyball net. In another area of the backyard, create a lounge area with comfortable hammocks, swings and lounge chairs.

 

There are so many options to consider when you’re looking to improve your backyard. If you were getting ready to purchase a new home, think about what you’d like to see in a backyard. Use that as your starting point.

How to Plan for Major Purchases

You have started to enter into the realm of making bigger purchases, which is great, but can also be scary and daunting. You don’t want to end up with a lot of debt that you can’t afford to pay back, but you also know it isn’t wise to pay in cash for everything. Luckily there is a nice middle ground that lets you be smart with your money while also enjoying your life. You shouldn’t be stressed about different payments every month and you also want to enjoy the money that you earn. This article focuses on some major purchases you may make throughout your life and how to plan and tackle them.

 

Here are five major purchases people can make in their lifetime, you may not make every purchase but it is nice to have an idea on where to start if you decided to make that specific purchase:

 

House

This is one of the biggest purchases you could make in your lifetime. A house is a place where loved ones meet, parties are thrown and families grow. Of course you want to buy a house that you want to live in and it’s possible to make that dream a reality. If you aren’t sure where to start, check your credit score. Depending on what kind of house you want, you will need a good credit score.

 

The next step to take is to start saving for a down payment and look at getting a mortgage. You will need to take a serious look at your budget and how much you can afford to pay each month. Getting preapproved for a mortgage can take time so plan ahead and be aware of how long it will take to get a mortgage.

 

Car

This is another purchase that is exciting but can also be stressful. To make it less stressful, you will need to do some serious research about what kind of car you want. You will need to decide if you want a new or used car and if you want to take out a loan or pay from out of pocket. If you decide to get a loan, you will need a good credit score and depending on your loan you may need a down payment.

 

Pool

Many people dream of having some kind of backyard fun for themselves or their kids. Pools are a great option because they are practical and fun. They are a great way to cool down, especially if you live in a place that is hot and humid. Luckily there are pool financing options and companies that can help you make a payment plan so you don’t have to save up money for years. A down payment will probably be required and that will take some budgeting. Again research will be crucial to choosing the right option for you.

 

Trips

There is a whole world to see and explore. While traveling doesn’t have to be super expensive, it does take some planning to have a successful trip. Getting a plane ticket or some kind of transportation is important. Then there is also where to stay and who you are going to travel with. Sites and activities are one of the main reasons why people travel so make sure you plan some great site-seeing within your vacation.

 

Miscellaneous

There are so many different options on what you can buy. From dirtbikes to boats there is a variety of fun things that you can choose to spend your money on. The key here is to identify what kinds of activities you enjoy and are okay with spending money on. Concert goers may prefer to get annual passes to their favorite venue or enjoy getting VIP seats. Surfers may decide to get a new board. You get the idea and the key is to save for the right activity.

5 Surprisingly Good Investment Opportunities That Post Positive Returns

 

Do you hope to steer off the conventional way of thinking that has limited most individuals understanding of investment to just the money markets and real estate? Consider opening your mind up to exciting opportunities that don’t call for require massive investments. Ideally, most of these ventures only need a small capital injection, personal effort a fair deal of patience to watch them blossom and tear into profitability. If well taken care of, these investments in a less competitive industry can overtake the most sought after real estate and money market investments in terms of return on investments. These surprisingly good investments include:

 

1. Invest in a robo-advisor

Are you incredibly busy pursuing a career or other aspects of life but still want to make a decent passive income out of your savings? Invest in a robo-advisor. This refers to a digital investment platform that invests your money into different mutual funds. In this case, how much you make from a robo-advisor solely depends on your initial investment, your risk tolerance levels, and chosen portfolio.

 

2. Redistribute entertainment merchandise

Almost every movie blockbuster being released today provides the market with more than just a new story. It also brings in a new culture by selling the merchandise associated with the characters. This entertainment industry niche is fast growing, and you might be surprised at how fast some of the popular merchandise sells.

 

You only have to learn how to spot poplar brands like the spider Gwen figure, an adaptation of the Spiderman films and capitalize on its distribution. The investment is also pretty solid considering the fact that the entertainment industry is here to stay.

 

3. Peer-to-peer lending

The last thing you need is lending to friends and charging them interest. While this business idea may seem tempting, lending to friends and colleagues continually features on the list of factors prompting disrespect among friends. Peer-to-peer lending platforms have, however, made this easier by connecting lenders to borrowers online. You get to invest your share of capital to a system that lends this sum to borrowers who then pay it back with interest. Interestingly, you can invest from as low as $25.

 

4. Invest in an online course

For centuries scholars have hailed investing in oneself as the biggest investment one can ever make. But this doesn’t necessarily refer to getting back to class. The proliferation of online programs both for free and at ridiculously subsidized rates grants you the freedom to learn numerous life-enhancing courses.

 

Consider investing in one a course that you can convert into a profit-making business such as writing computer programs, learning virtual assistant skills, or even knitting. A course that equips you with employable skills and gives you an edge over the competition in the employment industry should also fall in the investment category.

 

5. Invest in high-yield savings accounts

Most individuals always have their money and even savings lying around current accounts even when they don’t hope to use the funds in the foreseeable future. And while this cautions them against extravagance spending, it doesn’t help that these accounts don’t earn them an income. Save your money in a high-yield savings account and earn interest. While most have a minimum saving amount of $100, they are free to open and are covered by the FDIC insurance.

 

6. Settle your debts

Have you ever considered paying up your debts as an investment? Ideally, the money you borrow often costs you interest. Settling your debt today instead of waiting for the loan to become due either eliminates the interest charges or lowers it significantly in the case of compounded interest. Therefore, how much you save in terms of future interests by settling a debt can be categorized as the returns for the money spent.

 

Bottom line

The general rule of the thumb in the world of finance is that how much you earn from an investment depends on your stake. A little effort and patience, however, go a long way in altering these natural laws and guaranteeing more meaningful returns on any investment.

Improve Your Bottom Line With These Digital Tips

While online businesses may be able to avoid the added expense associated with more traditional brick and mortar operations, they still need to keep an eye on their bottom line. Learning how to optimize online growth and reduce operational expenses can be an issue of the utmost importance for digital businesses that may be struggling to establish themselves, grow or even just survive. Proven techniques to boost online sales figures and improve revenue along with efforts to reduce costs and eliminate overhead can ensure that online businesses are able to thrive, even in competitive markets.

 

Brand Management

Branding and identity are essential concerns for any organization, but they may be especially important within the realm of ecommerce and for organizations that lack a the tangible presence afforded by more conventional business models. Establishing a memorable brand that customers will be more likely to remember or respond to in a positive way help to ensure that online businesses are better able to look out for their own bottom line. Manufacturers, retailers and service providers who fail to make brand management a top priority may soon find themselves getting lost in the crowd.

 

Cost-effective Marketing

Devising the right marketing strategy can be quite tricky for online businesses. Promotional efforts that fail to make an impact could leave businesses without the visibility, prominence or buzz needed to attract new clientele. Advertising strategies that may be too aggressive could end up robbing businesses of the financial resources that are required to address other concerns or manage other aspects of their operations. Investing in more affordable promotional solutions and marketing strategies that are able to produce results without breaking the bank can help to alleviate the financial stress that current advertising efforts may be causing.

 

Enhanced Visibility and Greater Online Presence

Both brand management and online marketing are merely a means to an end. Efforts, strategies and resources that allow businesses to enhance their visibility and enjoy all of the benefits that a more prominent and noticeable online presence can provide can make it much easier to attract and acquire new customers and future clients. Online businesses that are so small they may escape the notice of their clientele rarely last and business owners would do well to take advantage of any opportunities that may allow them to maximize their visibility or to cultivate a more significant presence online.

 

Finding Affordable Services and Infrastructure

Spending too much on any service or resource can quickly add up, especially for businesses who are already struggling to stay within budget. Seeking out more affordable online marketing services or taking advantage of ecommerce website hosting options that entail less long-term cost can often make a difference. Even minor cost reductions can be worth seeking out and businesses would do well to ensure that they are not spending any more than is absolutely necessary in order to maintain their infrastructure. The time and effort needed to seek out and discover more cost-effective alternatives, resources and solutions can provide a greater return of investment than many business owners may be expecting.

 

Curbing Overhead

Slashing overhead costs is absolutely critical for protecting the bottom line, especially for businesses that have yet to achieve profitability. Finding new ways to reduce overhead in order to create a more streamlined, efficient and cost-effective business model is something that can make or break businesses over the long term. Many business owners mistakenly assume that a digital or online business model, one that eliminates the need to deal with many of the startup and operational costs that conventional businesses must deal with, makes keeping an eye on overhead costs a less pressing issue. Even for online business owners who may have only minimal operational costs to deal with, finding ways to minimize or outright eliminate any expenses that are not absolutely necessary can go a long way towards ensuring greater profitability and future success.

9 Home Remedies for Acne That Really Work

Acne isn’t just a puberty problem. Over 85% of people have or will deal with acne in their life. It can be a socially isolating issue or even a painful medical situation. Sometimes it’s not life-changing but is still a real annoyance. For those issues that may not warrant a trip to the dermatologist but still need to be managed, try these 9 at-home remedies to clear up your skin and get you walking tall again.

 

Exfoliate

If you aren’t already, add the occasional exfoliation to your skincare routine. Our faces take on a lot of dirt, grime, and sweat throughout the day. Washing your face a couple times a day is best for taking care of that, but adding in a deep but gentle exfoliation a couple times a week can help to reach deep into your skin and get a really clean start.

 

Use the Right Cleanser

When thinking about what to exfoliate with, make sure that you’re choosing products that will be gentle on your skin as well as effective. Do you research and make sure that what you’re using is from a reputable company with dermatologist-backed recommendations, like Nu Skin. Product reviews from customers also help. You can view Nu Skin product reviews as well as other companies within the industry online to see what has worked best for real people with your skin type. Your breakouts could be because the product you’re using isn’t what’s best for your skin type.

 

Choose Oil-Free Makeup

When shopping around for your makeup, make sure that you’re only using top of the line, oil free, lightweight makeup. Caking it on can clog your pores and make it much more likely for your skin to breakout. Read through the ingredients and find foundation, concealer, and blush that will not trap in the bad, but keep out the bad.

 

Zinc

Make sure that you’re taking a multivitamin, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough zinc. Zinc kills acne forming bacteria and reduces the inflammatory response to bacteria, helping your skin not freak out if a small blemish happens. It also helps to regulate the effect that your hormones have on your skin. Basically, Zinc has got your back. Make sure that you’re eating lots of leafy greens and getting the zinc you need.

 

Tea Tree Oil

Much like zinc, tea tree oil can help fight bacteria and reduce inflammation. The topical use of this oil may not prevent acne as a whole, but it can definitely be used to reduce the visual ramifications of acne.

 

Honey and Cinnamon Mask

Along with exfoliating and taking care of your skin, an occasional mask of good, natural ingredients can help to jump start your skin’s healing process. A homemade recipe of honey and cinnamon can help to fortify your skin against infection and acne causing bacteria.

 

Witch Hazel

This natural extract isn’t a potion ingredient, though its effects can be magical. It helps to reduce the excess oils created by our skin and wash them away. This ingredient is found in many of the over the counter or even prescription treatments you may find, but using it sparingly in its pure state can also be incredibly efficient in clearing up those surprise break outs.

 

Moisturize

It may seem counterintuitive to moisturize skin that is prone to breakouts, but it’s not just oils that cause acne. Having skin that is too dry, to clogged, or not regenerating fast enough are huge causes of breakouts. After you exfoliate or wash your face, you always have to replace what you’ve washed away and make sure you’re doing it with a natural, cream based moisturizer.

 

Reduce Stress

Stress is a huge contributor to acne and other skin conditions. When our body produces stress hormones, our cells die and aren’t replaced as fast as they should be. Reducing stress and making sure you’re getting enough sleep every night will help your body fight acne internally, as it will be working at peak capacity.

 

Acne can be a lifelong struggle for some people. But following these nine at home remedies, you should be able to regain control of your own face without the embarrassment or inconvenience of an invasive dermatologist’s care.

Save Money by Repurposing Furniture

When it comes to decorating a home, furniture is key. Every room in your home feels barren without it, and it gives you a chance to really show off your sense of style. And most pieces are chosen with longevity in mind, with consumers expecting them to last a long time. But what do you do when that furniture becomes too old and doesn’t have the same polished look anymore? Most people opt to sell it on any number of websites offering to give them the most money for their furniture. However, if you sell your furniture then you have to go out and buy something else to replace it. If you’ve sold a table, you’ll really notice the large hole in your home. That’s why there’s usually an easier way than that.

 

Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle

With the rise of do-it-yourself decorations and television shows centered around flipping everything from storage units to entire houses, it’s no wonder that it’s become a fairly popular option to simply repurpose furniture. Upcycling is one faction of this, creating more aesthetically pleasing pieces out of older or second hand ones. It’s particularly popular because if you know what you’re doing, you can flip pieces with minimal effort. Repurposing has the same basic idea, just giving your own furniture a new look instead of having to buy something else first. Imagine if one of your dining table chairs was a little more worn than the others. Would you rather break up the set and have to scour furniture stores looking for a singular chair to match, buy an entirely new set, or just try to fix it up yourself? If it can be done, you’ll be able to save all kinds of time and money by choosing to repurpose old furniture instead of just selling it online.

 

Cabinets

For example, if you have an old china cabinet that just can’t bear to part with, you can easily fix it up to look like new again. It’s really simple if you know how to refinish a wooden piece. You just sand off the wear and tear, and repaint it to give it a fresher look. It can be either the same color it used to be or something that really pops and makes it stand out. Fix any other issues that you see along the way such as cracks or rings left from condensation. And then add a bit of your own personality to make sure that it matches the style you want. One way to do this is by replacing the glass cabinet doors with newer ones to give it a different look. They can have a different thickness or effects such as pebbled glass or other patterns.

 

Another possibility could be taking the cabinet doors off completely if you don’t need that much storage anymore. You could use this space for other purposes, such as a large and decorative bookcase. Or as a television stand if you’re willing to maneuver the cables appropriately. It’s all about repurposing what you already own to fit what you need.

 

And it works for every kind of furniture you might need. If you have a lamp that doesn’t work anymore despite your best efforts, you can use it for all kinds of things. If it has a fairly large base, you can hollow it out and use it as decorative storage. You can find hundreds of lamps filled with decorations like beads, seashells, or covered with mosaic tiles and other similar objects. Or, if you can remove the top of the pipe, you can use it as a candle stand. It’s not the most necessary idea by today’s standards, but it’s an easy fix to spruce up an otherwise broken piece of furniture. Another idea is If you’ve got window planters but don’t have a lot of luck growing plants, they can easily double as hanging shelves. You can put small decorations in them or just use them as more storage space if you need it.

 

Conclusion

Repurposing furniture opens the door to a world of possibilities. If you just need a touch up of the same piece, then touch it up and give it a little face lift while you’re at it. If you need a different piece of furniture, you might be surprised what you can do with a little creativity.

Need To Increase Your Salary? Consider These Careers.

You don’t really enjoy your job and the pay isn’t the greatest. You feel like you were made for something more and are smarter than what you are doing at your current job.

 

This is a completely normal feeling and it may mean it’s time to consider a different career. You shouldn’t dread waking up in the morning to go to work. Your job should be meaningful and leave you feeling like you are making a difference in the world.

 

While we can’t choose a career path for you, we can give you different options of careers that pay extremely well. Here are five careers that are known for their salaries:

 

1. Lawyer

This may seem like an obvious choice but the median salary for a lawyer is six figures. This job requires quite a bit of schooling (including law school) but is a great option for people stuck in their job. If you graduated in political science, law school is a good fit for you. Law school accepts a wide variety of degrees and backgrounds, so you don’t have to have a four year degree in something super specific that relates to law school.

 

Of course, law school requires that you specialize in some aspect of law. Depending on what you specialize in, you may make more or less than the median salary. There are a variety of options to choose from, everything from parents to elderly law.

 

2. Physician

The medical field is exciting and is always researching new and innovative solutions. Being a physician requires that you go to medical school which also requires you to take the MCAT, an entrance exam for medical school.

 

Physicians are responsible for the overall health of different patients. This means giving them preventive care, diet counseling and hygienic care. When patients do get sick or injured, a physician will take care of any injuries, order tests and prescribe the necessary medication to help their patients heal.  

 

3. Engineering

This is another field that gives you the freedom to specialize in a variety of areas. You can choose from civic, chemical, mechanical and software engineering. Depending on what you do specialize in will impact your salary. Some engineering jobs make more than others and some jobs are in more of a depend than other engineering jobs. The best thing to do is to do your research on engineering salaries and what they do on daily basis.

 

4. Web Development

This field is growing and is an exciting field for anyone who loves computers and coding. There are a lot of different things that you can choose from, including UX design and web development.

The same rule applies here as with other fields mentioned above: do some research.

 

Different jobs have different pay, web development salaries differ from an information architects salary. The good thing is that most of these jobs are high paying and do make good money.

 

You will need to research the kind of education that is needed and what kind of experience that is required for the job you are particularly interested in. In some cases, coding camp may be a better option than an undergraduate degree.

 

5. Information Systems Manager

This is a position where the median pay makes six figures. It requires you have a good grasp of leadership best practices and skills. It also is about information and how that information is organized and stored. This job can deal with any kind of information, from different systems to patient records.

 

If you are good at leadership and overseeing others or just management in general, this may be an ideal job for you. If information and organization is something that is fascinating to you, a job in information systems management may be a perfect fit.

 

Ready to make a career change? It can be hard but it isn’t impossible. What career did you find the most fascinating or interesting? Comment below to start the conversation.

Top 5 Digital Marketing Tips for Your Business

Today, businesses are using digital strategies to advertise their goods or services and run their operations. The internet is now a vital part of almost every company. It enables businesspersons to influence their customers and prospects to visit their stores to buy products or services. Previously, companies used a lot of money to advertise their brands. Although some of those marketing campaigns could bear good fruits, their Return on Investment (ROI) was low. With the introduction of the internet, businesspersons are now able to reach their target audiences at lower costs, increasing their ROI.

 

However, if you operate an online store, you have to understand that you are competing for the same audience as your rivals. Therefore, if you want to outshine them and make more sales than them, you have to use unique strategies to attract many people to your ecommerce website and turn them into your loyal customers. Additionally, you should utilize all digital platforms when marketing your goods or services to your potential customers. Using digital marketing techniques, you can quickly build an excellent reputation for your brand. You can also reach millions of customers from all corners of the world. This guide provides top five digital marketing tips that will take your business to the next level.

 

1. Create an Easy-to-use Website

You cannot run an online company or store without a website. You need a well-designed website to help you market your products and services to your target audience. When creating your site, you need to use user-friendly features. Your visitors should not encounter difficulties when navigating through your website. Additionally, you should include a section for customer testimonials. Reading the opinions of your customers regarding your products or services will help you improve the way you do business. You should update your site regularly. Also, it is advisable to make it mobile friendly and attention-grabbing to help you attract many visitors.

 

2. Engage Your Customers on Social Media

There are numerous social media channels that you can use to market your brand, including Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook. If you want to gain many followers, you should post informative messages regularly on your social media accounts. Moreover, you should provide the link to your website on social media, which will increase traffic. Once people realize that you always share valuable content and offer high-quality products and services, they will become loyal to your brand.

 

3. Utilize SEO Strategies

As a businessperson, you should understand the power of SEO. For instance, if you want to attract more customers, you should make your website SEO friendly. Additionally, you should always share high-quality content to improve the ranking of your site in major search engines. Once your site is ranked high, many customers will find you when searching for information, which is likely to increase your customer base. When using keywords, you need to ensure that they are relevant to your company.

 

4. Email Marketing

Although there are people who underestimate this digital advertising technique, it is still one of the most useful tools for customer retention. As an entrepreneur, you should send promotional emails to your customers and prospects regularly to inform them about your new products, services and improvements. You need to create appealing messages before sending them to your audience. The content should add value to your customers to increase the likelihood of purchase. You should also share the link to your website when sending emails to improve traffic.

 

5. Use Captivating Imagery

Your audience is likely to get persuaded by what they see rather than what they hear or read. Therefore, when creating your digital ads, you should include attractive images of your products or services. Using high-quality imagery will attract the attention of your audience, which is likely to boost sales.

 

As a businessperson, you need to know that the digital world is constantly changing. Therefore, you need to keep testing new ideas, expanding your knowledge and refreshing your marketing campaigns. If you use the best digital marketing techniques to promote your brand, you will outshine your competitors easily.