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Smart Home ROI: Money Saving Tips for Today and Tomorrow

You know all about smartphones, but what about smart homes? Smart home is a buzzword that describes the ability we have to not only automate our homes but also connect and control devices, appliances, and home security through the internet. With apps on smartphones or tablets, homeowners can manage lights, temperature, and security cameras. Among others. A smart home is an advancement that empowers us to control comfort and convenience, which can be a major selling point when it comes to putting your home on the market. What’s more, you can add this technology to your home without breaking your budget.

As a homeowner, you know that certain remodels and upgrades can not only improve the resale value of your home, but they can also increase the speed with which it sells. Smart home technologies are some of the easiest to install and most attractive to a variety of buyers — from millennial professionals to growing families. Most importantly, however, they are some of the least expensive upgrades you can make. In fact, spending just between $1,000 and $5,000 on smart home devices can increase the resale value of your home by up to 5 percent. Here’s what you need to know about how a smart home creates a positive ROI (return on investment). Various types of smart tech you can have different benefits, which you can enjoy now and reap the financial rewards later. Some of the appealing aspects of smart devices are below.

Watch Over Your Property

Cameras allow you to monitor the security of your children and pets. These are some of the simplest devices to install, and you can watch the cameras in real time in a web browser or app on your phone. Many homeowners find it easy to set up the camera themselves. If this isn’t an option, you can hire a pro. While these cameras come in a range of prices, you can get additional discounts when you take advantage of sales and cashback offers on equipment for retailers like Target, Walmart, and Best Buy.

Keep Your Family Safe

Alarms will immediately alert you, the police, and other emergency services in situations where your home may be impacted by fire, flood, break-ins, and other dangers. This is a fairly common baseline for most smart home devices, but you can find additional features such as the ability to speak to someone at your front door through your phone, see exactly where an alarm sensor is triggered, or communicate with authorities through your phone. You can save money when purchasing these extra bells and whistles by researching special deals and online promo codes for stores that sell these packages.

Reduce Energy Bills

Smart home technology can help reduce energy bills. Because you have remote control of home functions, you can save on electric bills by turning lights, heating and cooling, and other appliances on and off. It’s important to note that older appliances may not connect with smart tech, so part of this upgrade might mean purchasing newer appliances. You can save on both the smart tech and the new appliances by using sales and discounts for sites like Amazon, which also conveniently delivers your purchases straight to your door. If you need some help installing smart home improvements, consider hiring an electrician. The cost is well worth it to ensure the job is done right.

Whether you want to sell your home now or in the future, or you are interested in learning modern ways to protect your home or keep your energy bills down, a smart home is a wise decision. Upgrading your house to a smart home can happen overnight or over time, but either way, it can do amazing things for you, your family, and your home’s resale value.

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What to Look for in a Quality Daycare or Summer Camp

Choosing where to send your child and who is going to take care of them – either for an extended period of time or a short stay – is all about doing your due diligence. Not all child care facilities and programs are created equal. There are signs of a good program and signs of a bad one. Here are some essential tips for how to spot a good daycare or summer camp.

Clear, thoughtful curriculum

When you spend money to place your child in daycare or a summer program, you should expect to get your money’s worth. Of course, this means safety first and foremost. But beyond that, you should demand that your child is stimulated – not just “managed” – throughout the day.

Child care is more than just providing a place for kids to stay while their parents are gone. Good day care centers and summer camps will have clear, thoughtful curriculum/schedules that ensure your child is being fulfilled – both mentally and physically. 

“Because young children feel safe when their days are structured and predictable, it makes sense to look for a daycare with clear plans and programs … The lessons needn’t be elaborate – just enjoyable and appropriate to a child’s developmental stage. Other signs that a day care is well run include bulletin boards with recently created artwork, a regular parent newsletter, and a parent committee,” says

As a parent, you should ask about any program’s specific plans for how your child will spend each hour of their day. Any place that is unable to give you an acceptable plan is not worth your money.

A healthy meal plan

Making sure that your child is provided with nutritious food throughout their stay is crucial. Your child may eat more than half of their meals at a daycare center or camp. If your child’s nutritional needs are not being met, it may be time to look elsewhere for child care. 

“If you have to bring your child’s food, find out the center’s guidelines. Some may require you to pack only nutritious foods and that’s okay. Centers that don’t restrict candy or other sweets may not have your child’s best interests at heart. If the center does have a food plan, find out what it serves at meal and snack times (and make sure the staff is aware of your child’s food allergies, if any). Does it encourage healthy eating habits and cover all the food groups?” says

A good ratio

If you walk into a place and there are only a couple of care providers or counselors attempting to manage dozens of kids, it should be a huge red flag. Like a school classroom, the ratio of instructors to children is paramount to creating a safe environment where learning can occur. 

It’s just basic math – your child cannot get the attention they deserve if there is not enough staff there to help. 

Positive feedback from others

You should scour the internet for any feedback you can find on a camp or daycare center. Are there no reviews? While not necessarily an issue, this can be a bad sign. Talk to friends and others in the community and see if they have any experiences to share. 

Apart from that, you should actively seek businesses that have the proper credentials. Daycares require certification, but looking for accredited institutions that have a stamp of approval from trusted organizations (like the American Camp Association) can help you find the perfect fit for your child. Not all great child care providers are accredited, but if they are, you can be pretty sure that they’ve undergone rigorous inspections for safety, cleanliness, and curriculum. 

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Best Practices for Protecting Your Favorite Books

There are two types of people in the world: those who fear thunderstorms, and those who celebrate them. I am the type of person who has always welcomed a rainy spring day – because I know why rainy days exist. Beyond just breathing life into the gray world around us, rainy days are for sipping tea, and curling up on the couch in the warmth of your coziest blanket while listening to vinyl records, with your nose buried deep into the pages of your favorite book. Rainy days are a much-needed treat, a mini-vacation that transports us away from the daily grind and allows us to momentarily get lost in the adventures of our favorite stories.

Certainly, there are some people in this world who will tell you, with nothing but good intentions, that the best smell in this world is the scent of fresh vinyl records. Although I love my vinyl collection, I have to disagree with these people (who I’m guessing are probably the same people who fear thunderstorms). They are mistaken; vinyl is a close second, but the greatest smell in the world is actually the nostalgic smell of our most beloved old books. (To all of my fellow lovers of vinyl records: Sorry, that’s not just my opinion; it’s actual science.) 

If, like me, you enjoy a good book on a rainy afternoon, here are some tips for protecting, storing and preserving all of the books in your home library:

How to Safely Store Your Beloved Books

The obvious (and most mainstream) choice for storing a book collection is on a bookshelf. Of course, for a variety of reasons ranging from lack of space to just overflowing creativity, these traditional storage options are not readily available to everyone. For this reason, some readers and book collectors prefer to use cupboards, hidden boxes, or even temperature-controlled storage facilities. 

How to Organize Your Books

If you have a large book collection, you can use free online software to catalogue and organize your books. This makes it easier to track down a specific book – especially if your books are divided into different boxes, rooms, or other storage spaces.

How to Minimize Wear and Tear

Book jacket covers can be handy for protecting your books while also minimizing wear and tear. If you’re unfamiliar with book jacket covers, there are many online tutorials that can assist in helping you secure your books.

In addition to protecting the book cover, you’ll also want to minimize wear and tear on the book spine, which is one of the most commonly damaged parts of a book. This simple technique for carefully fanning the pages of a paperback book is one of the easiest tricks for preventing or minimizing wear on your book’s spine.

Getting Lost in a Good Book

Author John Green once wrote, “You have to get lost so that you can find yourself.” I would say that reading a good book, living vicariously through the adventures of your favorite character, getting lost in an author’s descriptions of his or her world, is one of the greatest ways to “lose yourself” – if only so that you can find yourself again at the end. By incorporating the tips listed above, you’ll be able to build a home library full of epic adventures for rainy days, thunderstorms, and endless inspiration.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash by Hans Vivek

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