Locked Out of Your Car? How to Get In and On Your Way

Picture it: it’s really hot (or cold), so you start your car while you load the groceries in the trunk. As you finish up and close the trunk, you realize the minute it closes and the doors automatically lock that you’ve locked your keys in there and you’re locked out of your car. 

We’ve all been there. The good news is that it’s fixable if you know what to do. Keep reading to learn what to do so you can get in your car and get on your way. 

1. Stay Calm and Review Your Options

It’s easy to freak out when you lock yourself out, but try to avoid that. Remain calm and think about the options that you have. Do you have a spare key somewhere? Is there someone who can bring it to you? Do you have any services that can come and unlock the door for you? 

If you don’t have a spare car key, companies like Car Key Replacement LLC can make you a replacement key to have on hand. 

2. Try to Unlock the Door Yourself

This is probably easier with older cars. We’ve all probably seen the old wire hanger trick but did you know that you can unlock your car with a shoestring? Or a tennis ball? A screwdriver? A slim jim (no, not the convenient store snack!).

There are plenty of tools and methods out there that might work to get you back in your vehicle, but of course, use these at your own risk. There’s always the risk of damaging your vehicle if you try to unlock it on your own. 

3. Call Roadside Assistance

Many car companies offer roadside assistance for their vehicles. There’s often a sticker on your window with the contact information if you have it. Your car insurance might also offer this and even some credit cards provide roadside assistance.

Figure out whether you have any of this assistance before you start making calls because roadside assistance is typically free of charge. 

4. Call a Tow Company or AAA

If you don’t have free roadside assistance, calling a tow company or locksmith on your own is an option. Be prepared to pay a premium price for this and wait awhile, especially if it’s a particularly busy time. AAA is another option. Your AAA membership typically offers a certain number of calls per year with no charge other than your yearly membership fee. 

5. Break the Window 

This should be used as a last resort and only in an emergency situation, such as a baby or a pet being locked in a hot car. Not only is it dangerous, but it can also be expensive to repair. 

It’s not advisable to do it yourself either. If there is time, call 911 and emergency responders can safely break the window for you while keeping the occupants of the car safe.

If you do need to do it yourself, a hammer, screwdriver, or golf club could get the job done. The center of the glass is the strongest, so aim for the outer edges. You should also choose the window furthest away from the child or pet to minimize any glass getting on them. 

Final Thoughts on Getting Locked Out of Your Car 

A lot of times you can look back on getting locked out of your car and laugh, but it’s not so funny when you’re running late or it’s raining or cold out.  Hopefully, you remember these tips and can stay calm and collected while you figure out how to get back in. 

If you liked this post, check out some of our other posts on family life, business, and how to save and earn money! 

Ready to Launch an Etsy Business? First Learn All About Etsy Shipping (The Easy and Cheap Way)

Did you know that 62% of billionaires in the United States are self-made? That’s grand and all, but what does this have to do with you?

Well, if you’re one of the 15 million Americans who are currently self-employed full-time, this statistic means a lot. Most business owners start their businesses from scratch. One day, you could be one of those billionaires.

So let’s start at the beginning. 

Are you running an Etsy shop, selling goods and products you make and love? Are you familiar with all the rules, regulations, and processes of Etsy shipping?

Being as informed as possible about this aspect of your business ensures you’re not losing money. And that you’re holding up a good reputation to your buyers.

If you want to work from the comfort of your home, you’ve got to do things right. You can’t afford to make excessive (or expensive) errors.

Here’s how to be a savvy shipper!

First, Why Etsy?

If you’re selling crafty, homemade, or vintage items, Etsy is the platform for you. This e-commerce site specializes in selling personalized goods, ranging from jewelry and furniture to artwork and clothing.

As of 2018, Etsy’s inventory reached over 60 million items! They had a hand in connecting 2.1 million sellers with 39.4 million buyers. This kind of reach is essential for entrepreneurs to be successful. 

Remember those billionaires we were talking about earlier?

Etsy’s Gross Merchandise Sales for the year of 2018 were $3.9 billion. If you want to dip your toes into that pool of money, Etsy is one way to do it.

With your business launched online, how can you hone in the details? Let’s look at Etsy’s shipping procedures next.

A Look at Etsy Shipping

Why would you use Etsy’s shipping rather than calculating and doing it yourself? There are many benefits to using Etsy to ship your products:

  • It saves you money (more on this later)
  • It’s convenient as Etsy has a shipping feature built into its platform
  • It offers start-to-finish tracking so you can ensure your package’s arrival
  • It can calculate the costs of shipping for you (less manual labor!)

When it comes to shipping, Etsy’s thought of everything. Their program is navigable, easy to read, and not a headache for Etsy sellers. Many a retailer has raved about their convenience. 

One way Etsy does this is through their “Print Shipping Label” button.

Clicking this leads you to enter details about your package: its shipping type, package type, dimensions and weight, and insurance. Once these get entered, you can calculate your shipping costs.

This gets done through either Calculated shipping or Manual shipping. 

Calculated shipping is what it sounds like. Taking all the info you entered about your package, Etsy will calculate a shipping cost for you. Since they’ve negotiated shipping rates with the Post Office, Etsy’s rates tend to be lower than if you went through a service other than Etsy.

Calculated shipping costs get determined by the size of the packaged item, not the thing itself.

Manual shipping works well for different businesses depending on circumstance. It takes more work on your part, but for certain situations, this could save you money (as opposed to Etsy’s pre-calculations). 

Should You Ship Internationally?

This isn’t that difficult of a question for you to answer! International shipping won’t affect your business as much as not offering it would. It only requires one more simple step.

Etsy has provided four customs forms that you would print, sign, and date. Place these forms in a USPS-appropriate envelope (available from their site). Stick this envelope on the top of your package and—voila!—that’s it.

A Look at Shipping Services

Your buyer can choose from a few different options when they decide on their shipping. If you wish, you can even offer extended options such as Priority mail. To get an idea of the quotes given, you can see for yourself—these UPS carrier partners offer free UPS shipping quotes.

Etsy generally offers the following six shipping services on their page:

  • USPS Priority Mail (1-3 days)
  • USPS Priority Mail Express (1-2 days)
  • USPS First Class Package Services (2-5 days)
  • USPS Priority Mail International (6-10 days)
  • USPS Priority Mail Express International (3-5 days)
  • USPS First Class International Package Service (Can vary)

Once your customer has made their order, the rest is up to you!

Ensure that all looks good—do the addresses match up? Are the dimensions and weights accurate? Is everything good to go?

Then print that shipping label!

Shipping Supplies Checklist

Of course, you’re packaging everything yourself. You’ll need to have the supplies necessary, from envelopes and boxes to tape and bubble wrap.

Your supplies checklist will vary based on the product you’re selling. Is it fragile? Is it incredibly tiny or pretty darn huge? Alter this list to your business’s products.

In general, here are some items that you’ll likely need to ensure a quality, safe, and insured shipment:

  • Boxes (small, large, corrugated, etc.)
  • Envelopes (padded and not)
  • Long boxes or mailing tubes
  • Poly bags (to group miscellaneous items)
  • Bubble wrap
  • Air pillows

And you could need more, depending on your operation. This list isn’t all-inclusive!

Another tip from one consumer to another—don’t hesitate to get creative or unique with your packaging. This can really make yours stand out from the bland beige. 

If you’re selling something lightweight like a T-shirt, consider mailing it in a cute, printed envelope. Hand-stamp all your boxes with your label. Or throw some free stickers in with every order over $50.

One Last Tip Before We Go

Did you know that you can schedule a USPS pick-up to come to your front door?

This is great if you’re mailing a lot of packages at once (or if you don’t have the time to make it to the post office that day). You can schedule a totally free—and convenient!—pick-up, as long as you do so before 2 a.m. on the same day.

Now that’s a great tip. Don’t forget to tap into services like these to save yourself time and money!

That’s what being a thrifty business owner is all about.

Etsy Is Thrifty

Working from home is a gift in itself.

To ensure the longevity of your freelancing career, try to save money here and there by using quick, affordable options like Etsy shipping.

We know you’re busy. After all, you’re your #1 employee! That’s why we put together 10 more awesome tips for running a successful home business.

8 Smart Ways to Save on Private School Tuition for Your Child

Private school for an elementary student averages $7,770 per year. For high school, that number climbs to $13,030 each year. How do those numbers fit into your budget?

You want the best education for your child. But you also need to pay your mortgage on time and keep food on the table.

How do you balance your regular budget demands with the extra cost of private school tuition? 

Luckily, you don’t have to give up all your comforts. But you may need to cut back in some areas.

Keep reading to explore eight ways to make private school more affordable.

1. Check into Financial Aid

Don’t let the sticker shock of private school cost scare you away from applying. Private schools offer financial aid to offset the costs.

Parents often think they make too much money to qualify for financial aid. That’s not always true. 

Your child may qualify for private school scholarships or grants to cover part of the tuition cost. That makes the remaining portion much more affordable.

It’s always a good idea to apply for financial aid even if you don’t think you’ll qualify. 

Some states offer scholarships and other programs to cover the costs of private school. The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program is just one example. It covers private school costs for kids from low-income families.

You can learn more about financial aid options by visiting the websites of any private schools you’re considering. Check with your state’s department of education for state financial aid options.

2. Ask about Payment Plans

Worried you’ll have to cut a check for the full tuition cost when you enroll? Paying upfront often saves you a little on tuition. If you have the money, that may be the best option.

Most private schools offer payment plans if you can’t pay it all. This option lets you spread out the cost throughout the year. If you’re on a tight budget, the payment plan can make it more feasible to cover private school tuition.

Payment plans vary by school. Some offer a semi-annual plan to break the tuition into two payments. Others let you pay monthly for even smaller payments.

3. Cut Back on Spending

If the cost of private school doesn’t fit into your budget, can you cut back in other areas? You can’t eliminate your mortgage or other fixed expenses. But you can ease up on extra spending.

Here are areas where most families can cut back:

  • Dining at restaurants less
  • Skipping the movie theater in favor of a movie at home
  • Replacing cable with low-cost streaming services
  • Planning cheaper meals to cut grocery costs
  • Waiting to replace furniture, vehicles, and other major expenses
  • Taking cheaper vacations or skip a year or two
  • Refinancing or consolidating debt to reduce payments

Not sure where your money’s going? An expense tracker can help you spot areas where you can cut back.  

4. Save on Uniforms

Tuition is only part of the private school cost. You’ll likely need uniforms and other equipment for your kids.

Ask if the private school offers a uniform swap program. These programs let you get free uniforms from other families whose kids have outgrown theirs.

If you know other families who go to the private school, you may be able to get old uniforms from them that no longer fit. Check local children’s thrift stores or garage sales for uniforms. 

Some schools have a specific uniform and retailer you have to use. Look for discount codes through those retailers. You might get a bulk discount for ordering multiples or a free shipping code for a large order.

Other schools have a general dress code, such as dress pants and a polo. Look for clothes that fit the requirements on clearance racks to save money.

5. Look for Discounts

We already talked about getting discounts for paying tuition in full. You may find a few other discounts if you ask.

One common private school discount is for families with multiple children. Many private schools offer a sibling discount for enrolling more than one student.

Even if you only have one child, it doesn’t hurt to ask for a discount. The school may offer discounts for other reasons. Some provide a tuition discount for school employees.   

6. Get Tax Breaks on Savings Plans

Educational savings plans help you grow your money for tuition. These investment accounts let you earn interest on your savings. They come with tax perks that can help you save money.

A Coverdell Education Savings Account works for elementary, secondary, and college expenses. Each child can have up to $2,000 in contributions every year. It won’t cover all the tuition, but it helps.

You can’t deduct your contributions on your income taxes. But the money grows tax-free in the account. 

Distributions are also tax-free in most cases. The distribution has to be less than the qualified education expenses to be tax-free. If it’s more than the expenses, a part of the earnings may be taxed.

A 529 plan is a way to save for private school tuition. You can choose your investment portfolio to help grow your money.

Each state runs its own 529 plan. The specifics and investment options vary. You can open a 529 plan in another state to take advantage of better terms.

Tax advantages happen a few ways. Some states offer tax benefits on your contributions. You might be able to deduct the amount from your state taxes.

If you withdraw the money for qualifying educational expenses, you don’t have to pay federal income tax on the earnings.  

7. Ask for Family Donations

Do your kids get way too many toys as gifts? Maybe the grandparents always ask for gift suggestions, but you don’t know what to say.

Why not ask them to donate toward your child’s education? It’s a practical option that helps you and your child. 

Some relatives like to give a physical gift other than cash. One option is to ask them to buy a uniform or two. 

8. Look for Other Money Sources

Still trying to figure out how to cover the costs of private school? We have a few more potential sources of money that may work.

If you don’t mind taking on some debt, you can take out a loan to cover the tuition cost. Check the terms of the loan, including the interest rate and penalties for paying off the loan early. Make sure you can afford the loan payments in your budget.

Another option is making extra money to cover the costs. Selling items you no longer need is one idea when you need money now to cover tuition. 

You can also take on a small part-time job. Ideas include babysitting, lawn care, rideshare driving, and running errands for people. Put any money you earn through these side gigs toward tuition.

Save for Private School Tuition Now

How are you saving for private school tuition? It can take a little creativity, but it is possible to work it into your budget.

Leave a comment to let us know how you afford the costs of private education! 

DIY Summer Projects: 5 Backyard Ideas on a Budget

Over the last few years, there’s been a major increase in the number of people who choose to do things like home repairs and decorating themselves.

In fact, experts even estimate that the whole DIY (do-it-yourself) market is going to reach a $13.9 billion valuation by the year 2021.

If you’re brand new to the DIY world, it’s best to start with something simple, like backyard updates. There are lots of ways you can upgrade your backyard on your own without spending a fortune.

Read on to learn some great DIY backyard ideas on a budget. There are lots of ways you can revamp your backyard without spending a fortune.

Why DIY?

There are lots of reasons to take the DIY approach, whether you’re updating your backyard or another area of your home. Some of the greatest perks include:

Save Money

One of the most well-known benefits of handling projects yourself is that you can save money.

If you’re working with a strict budget, DIY-ing your backyard upgrades can leave more money in your bank account while still helping you get the outdoor oasis you’ve always wanted.

Develop Your Skills

When you do things yourself, you get to develop new skills.

Whether you’re building furniture, planting flowers, or adding a fresh coat of paint, there’s a great sense of accomplishment that comes with doing something yourself. This is especially true if it’s something you’ve never done before.

Stay Active

We all could stand to be a bit more active during the day, right?

DIY projects are a fun way to burn a few extra calories while also improving your property. It might not be fun when you’re doing the work, but you’ll probably feel much better when it’s finished.

Strike up a Conversation

Finally, handling projects yourself also gives you a great conversation starter.

When someone compliments the upgrades in your backyard, you can let them know (humbly, of course) that you did them yourself. This is a great way to keep the conversation going when you’re talking to people you don’t know well.

5 DIY Backyard Ideas on a Budget

Do you have DIY fever yet? If so, start by trying out one of these fun DIY backyard updates:

1. Lay Your Own Path

A great way to revamp your backyard is to lay down a path to lead people from the house or gate to the party spot. Bricks and flat stones are highly affordable and easy to lay down yourself once you’ve cleared a path. This is a great weekend project that should only take a few hours to complete.

2. Repurpose an Old Tire

If you have old tires laying around, don’t despair. Use them for your next DIY project instead!

Consider spray painting old tires and using them as hanging planters. You could also stack them and cover them with outdoor pillowcases to create outdoor benches or ottomans.

3. Try Vertical Gardening

If you love the idea of a garden but don’t have a lot of space, consider a vertical garden instead. Vertical gardens take up very little space and they cost very little money.

A good starting point is to simply use a wooden ladder with some terra cotta pots to start your vertical garden. You could also repurpose old paint cans and use them as hanging planters.

4. Add Some Mood Lighting

Outdoor lights make your backyard much more fun and inviting. They don’t cost a lot of money, either.

White twinkle lights cost just a few dollars per strand. String them up across your patio or in your trees to transform your backyard into a romantic, relaxing place to hang out.

5. Throw in a Splash of Color

Pops of color are a great way to update your backyard on a budget.

Try making your own outdoor pillowcases with fabric from the scrap bin at your local craft store. You can also repaint your old patio furniture with some bright new paint to instantly revamp the backyard.

Get Your Backyard Barbecue-Ready

In addition to these DIY projects, there are lots of other steps you can take to make sure your backyard is barbecue-ready. The following are some things you might want to do before you invite people over for a big summer bash:

Mow the Lawn

First, make sure your lawn is freshly mowed. Nobody wants to traipse around in ankle-high grass during an outdoor event.

Wash the Deck or Patio

Use the house to spray down the deck or patio, too. Give it a good sweep, too, to get rid of dirt or debris.

Get Rid of Pests

Nothing ruins a backyard bash faster than pests like mosquitos or flies. Consider setting up some mosquito lights or lighting some citronella candles to keep bugs at bay.

You may also want to invest in a termite treatment for your deck. You don’t want it to collapse when people are standing on it during your party, right?

Many people don’t realize they have termite damage until it’s too late. Be proactive and get ahead of that before it becomes a serious problem!

Make Sure the Grill Is Good to Go

Finally, make sure that your grill is clean and ready for cooking. Give it a good scrub and make sure that it’s operating properly. Don’t forget to make sure you have a full propane tank or plenty of charcoal, too. 

It’s Time for Some Summer Fun!

As you can see, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to improve the appearance and functionality of your backyard.

Now that you have some fun DIY backyard ideas on a budget, it’s time to get to work! Which project are you going to try first? 

Once your backyard has been updated and is guest-ready, you might find yourself looking for some activities everyone can participate in during your upcoming summer soiree.

Check out this article to learn about some fun outdoor summer activities that everyone will enjoy.

You’ve put all this work into improving your backyard — don’t let it go to waste!

Don’t Break the Bank: How to Throw a Fun (And Affordable!) Gender Reveal Party

There are many exciting moments that happen in the course of pregnancy- revealing to your partner that you’re pregnant, feeling the baby kick for the first time, and seeing the results of the first ultrasound. 

But, out of all the exciting moments that come with pregnancy, undoubtedly, one of the most exciting moments is finding out the sex of your baby. 

Of course, you are going to love your baby whether they are a boy or a girl. But still, finding out the sex means you can start picking out clothes, making a list of potential baby names, and decorating their future bedroom. And, best of all, finding out the sex means you get to throw a gender reveal party!

Gender reveal parties are the perfect opportunity to share with your loved one the news about the sex of your baby. And, they’re a great way to have some fun and take your mind off of the aches and pains that come with pregnancy. 

But, how do you throw an awesome gender reveal party that your guests will love and that will have the baby kicking in excitement?

Check out this guide to learn how to throw a gender reveal party that is both fun and affordable. 

Throw It Outside of Mealtime Hours 

Typically, they say that when throwing a party, you are supposed to plan for a half a pound of meat for every guest. 

While that may not seem too ridiculous, that can quickly add up to months and months worth of diapers in pregnancy dollars. 

To save money on the food, we suggest throwing your gender reveal party outside of regular dining hour times. While times will vary according to your schedule, we usually find that the sweet spot is somewhere between 1-6pm. 

And, be sure to let your guests know that you’ll just be serving finger food. That way, they’ll know they should have a proper meal beforehand. 

Or, if you really want to save some money, you can turn the event into a potluck. Chances are, your friends and family will be more than happy to bring over some food to feed your pregnant belly!

Sips and Bits 

Whether you provide the food yourself or have your family and friends pitch in, you are still going to want some gender-revealed themed snacks and drinks- aka, refreshments that are blue and pink. 

If you’re on a budget, don’t worry about splurging on an elaborate seven-layer cake. There are plenty of treats that are affordable and simple that your party-goers will love. 

Here are a few quick refreshment ideas: 

  • Blue and Pink Cake Pops: Cake pops are all the rage right now, and for a good reason. They are super easy to make and they make the perfect bite-sized dessert. 
  • Blue and Pink Puppy Chow: Throw some powdered sugar, Chex cereal, butter, chocolate, and peanut butter together and you have the delicious, budget-friendly dessert that is puppy chow. And in some blue and pink food dye to make it party-themed!
  • Lemonade: Pink lemonade couldn’t be easier to whip up. For a blue drink, consider Kool-Aid. 
  • Colored Candies: If baking sounds like too much work, why not just buy candies that are already blue or pink? For example, you can load up on pink starbursts, blue M&Ms, pink Laffy Taffys, or blue Airheads. Or, grab a pink and blue marker and color in the lighter parts of the wrapper!
  • Pink and blue cotton candy

Also, don’t feel like every food item you serve needs to be pink or blue. Having two or three color-themed items is plenty. The rest can be normal finger food. 

If you’re looking for more recipes, you can also check out this Gender Reveal Guide

The Decor 

Lively decor is what makes a gender reveal party truly festive. 

But, purchasing gender reveal party decor can quickly add up. That’s why we suggest DIYing your decor. 

And don’t worry, you don’t need to be a skilled artist to whip up some professional looking decor items. 

Here are some simple and affordable DIY decor ideas:

  • Wrap blue and pink ribbons around white dollar store candles
  • Use card stock and ribbon to create a gender reveal banner
  • String blue and pink streamers all around your home
  • Lay out white plastic tablecloths and sprinkle blue and pink confetti all over them

Or, you can also totally skip these ideas and throw your party outside and let nature be your decor. 

The Reveal

The reveal is undoubtedly the most exciting moment of the gender reveal party. 

But, a great reveal isn’t about the money you put into it- it’s about creating an element of suspense for your guests. 

Here is a few affordable gender reveal ideas that are also huge crowd pleasers:

  • Pinata: Stuff a neutral-colored pinata with either pink or blue candy. If you want to make it really cutesy, stuff the pinata with pink or blue-colored party favors that the guests can then take home. 
  • Balloons in a Box: Put pink or blue balloons in a box and then decorate the box however you want. Have your guests count down to release the balloons. 
  • Paint War: As a future parent, you have a lifetime of messes coming your way. Why not start preparing for them now by having a paint war? Have your guests wear cheap, all white clothes, and then break out into a paint fight in the backyard for a good time.
  • Smoke Fountains: Colored smoke fountains may seem like they’d cost a lot of money, but you can easily find them for as little as $15
  • Silly String War: The same idea as a paint war, just a little less messy. 

As you can see, there are many simple reveal ideas out there that won’t cost you a fortune!

Are You Ready to Throw an Unforgettable Gender Reveal Party? 

As you can see, throwing a fun gender reveal party doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. 

If you have any questions about throwing an unforgettable gender reveal party, please let us know in the comments below. 

And, don’t forget about the baby shower! Be sure to put these baby toys on your baby shower wish list. 

 

 

 

The Sky is Falling: A Quick Guide to Emergency Prepping on a Budget

y person who calls themselves a prepper often gets a weird look or a bad name. There are certainly those who have taken the idea to the extreme, but it is always a good idea to be prepared for an emergency. 

Threats to your family can come in many forms; financial problems, natural disasters or even possibly social unrest. 

If you lost your job or financial resources or your area was hit with a flood, tornado or blizzard would you and your family have the necessary supplies to survive? 

You can spend thousands on pre-made kits, but it may not have everything you need or contain many things you would never use. It is a much better idea to create your own prepping list based on the unique needs of your family. 

If you begin small and slowly build the supplies, you can create a stockpile of items needed to keep everyone close to you safe and fed without breaking the bank. 

Let’s take a look at how to start prepping on a budget. 

The Basic Survival Kit

Depending on whom you ask, a doomsday prep kit can consist of material to live off the grid indefinitely and even defend yourself militarily. 

The information provided here is more of a short term (2-3 month) stockpile of basic survival necessities. 

Everyone has a different idea of what they think is needed to survive, but there are some pretty basic supplies recommended for emergency prepping. 

Water

You must have clean drinking water. You may not feel the need to invest in a water purifier, but you should certainly invest in lots of bottled water. It is inexpensive, and there is no expiration date. There should also be a supply of water purification tablets on hand.

For calculation purposes, each person needs about two gallons of water a day. This is for both drinking and sanitary use as well. 

It is a good idea to have at least 30+ of the value packs of water. You should also have a few one-gallon containers. If your budget allows, you could even invest in a 7-gallon water container. You will have less waste pulling from this tank regularly. 

This supply can be built on and you can be assured of having plenty of water as it is used for so many things daily. With no expiration date, it will not be wasted even if no emergency arises.

Food

The food stored for emergency purposes will be mainly canned foods with a long shelf life that can be eaten on their own or mixed with others. 

You can stock up on these items when they go on sale at the grocery store. 

Depending on personal preference get several cans of vegetables, sliced potatoes, beans, tomato sauce, pasta sauce, gravy, ready to eat pasta, mac and cheese, and fruit. You should pick up instant mashed potatoes, peanut butter, rice, and ramen noodles. You can also purchase meat in the form of canned tuna, chicken or roast beef.

Be sure to include energy bars and even vitamins in your food storage. The energy bars can be consumed quickly and provide a boost while the vitamins can supplement the nutrition that may be missing with pre-packaged, quick or canned meals.

While you are stockpiling, it’s ok to throw in some of the goodies you like as well. You should be able to find room for a few bags of candy and a couple of tins of cookies. 

Sanitary Items Needed for Prepping On a Budget

Building an emergency prep kit is more than just food and water. You will also need some sanitary supplies to keep things clean and reduce germs. 

The number one item you will need is toilet paper. It can be purchased fairly cheap, so stock up on it. 

You will also need baby wipes (or wet wipes), tissues, hand sanitizer, and bleach. Depending on your ability to wash dishes, you may need disposable plates and cups. If you plan to wash dishes, you will need liquid washing detergent. 

You will need to store an extra toothbrush and toothpaste along with a sewing kit and soap. If anyone in your group uses tampons, please stock up on them as well. Obviously, if there are babies, always have a stash of extra diapers and wipes.

It is a good idea to have some insect repellant on hand and also sunscreen just in case you are required to spend your time outdoors.

Emergency Items

Some of the items in this heading may not sound like emergency supplies until you need one. They do not all have to be purchased at the same time and you can make a list and buy them as they go on sale. If you enjoy yard sales, you might keep on the lookout for them there.

You will definitely need a manual can opener. If you have a multi-tool gadget, it probably has one, but a full-size version would be better especially with the possibility of many uses.

You should stock up on a supply of BIC lighters. Matches are also good to have, but they can get wet, so having a back up of lighters is a good idea. You can also purchase tea light candles. They don’t have a very long life, but could definitely come in handy. In addition, you should have at least one good flashlight, if not two, and have a separate supply of batteries just for the flashlight.

Speaking of batteries, have a stockpile of multiple sizes.

You should have a lock box for your valuables. This is not foolproof, but you never know if you may be huddled together with a group of other people. Most people band together in a crisis, but it is always a good idea to keep personal treasures or information locked away.

Duct tape is another important supply for your emergency kit. It has so many uses and is relatively inexpensive. You should also have a small hammer and a box of wood nails.

A small tent might be down on your priority list, but if your survival kit is coming along nicely and you want to add more items, a tent is a good option. You should practice putting it together when you are not under stress, and it should be one that folds into a neat and tight bundle in case you need to move.

If you have the room, you should start a firewood pile. Depending on your emergency, that may not be practical, but it is always a good idea to plan for as many scenarios as possible. The more prepared you are for any circumstance, the better you will fare overall.

First Aid Supplies

There is no way that you can create a first aid kit to handle everything you might encounter. The idea here is for basic supplies to treat common illness or accidents. Traumatic injuries or acute sickness will still need to be handled by medical professionals.

You should have a supply of Tylenol and Advil for pain and fever. You should also get some Benadryl or other allergy medicine along with some cold and flu meds.

You can purchase pre-packaged American Red Cross First-Aid kits which has something for almost any type of small injury. In addition, you can purchase extra bandages and antiseptic spray or cream.

A few Mylar thermal blankets are a great addition to your emergency kit.

Your first aid kit should also include all medications specific to the needs of you and your family. It may be difficult to accumulate extra prescription meds, but you should try. You could check to see if you can purchase in a three month supply. That isn’t fail-proof, but it might help.

There is also the option of putting in a refill as soon as the pharmacy fills it. That could provide a few extra doses each month that could be put away for emergency use. It is also a good idea to research natural remedies for problems within your family. It may not completely alleviate the problem, but it could help in the short term until the medicines could be taken again.

Having a stock of labels is also a good idea to help with safety. Anything that has an expiration date or presents any type of hazard should have a label. Most products have them, but if there is little light or in stressful situations, it would help to have an easy-to-read label.

In extreme emergencies, a gas mask may be needed or at least useful. There is also additional survival gear you can stock up on. For more information, shop this site.

Rotate Your Supplies

There will be some supplies in your kit that will last a very long time, but not everything. For those items that will expire or have a short shelf life, you should rotate them out.

If you buy food that your family already enjoys, you can switch that out every few months and replace with fresh. Medicines should also be rotated out to ensure all the active ingredients are still good.

Having an organization system for emergency supplies is also a great idea.

The Bottom Line

It is difficult to prepare for every scenario that can come up in an emergency. However, that is no reason not to put together a kit to use just in case.

Prepping on a budget is a doable project that everyone can get on board with.

The zombies may not be knocking down the door, but emergencies come in all shapes and sizes. Having the supplies needed for your family to survive in the short term just makes good sense.

7 Undeniable Signs You Need A New Roof

Being a homeowner can be a hassle.

Very often you find new things you never knew would need fixing.

But a roof is not one of those things.

Your roof is one of the most visible external parts of your home, and it faces constant exposure to the elements. Given these facts, it is just a reality of homeownership that your roof will need replacing eventually.

How do you know when that time has come? Fortunately, there are signs, and we will lay them out for you below.

Keep reading to learn the signs you need a new roof.

7 Signs You Need a New Roof

You do not have to diagnose your roofing problems alone. A trustworthy professional can be invaluable in that process. If you do want that help, make sure you find roofing companies in your area that you trust.

Without further ado, we present the following roof inspection criteria for your inspection.

1. You’ve Got Rot

It can difficult to just look at your roof and say, “That is definitely rot.” That is usually something a professional roofer does. But you can see evidence that rot exists.

One piece of evidence is sagging. If you see spots in your roof that appear to be indented more than the rest of the roof, or you notice a general droopiness to your roof, that is a good sign of the trapped moisture that leads to rot.

2. It’s Got Spots

If your roof starts to look like a leopard, you’ve got problems. When there are spots on your roof that are darker than other areas, those are the spots we’re talking about.

These dark spots come when your shingles start losing granules. These granules protect your shingles from breaking down due to the sun. The spots are a sign your shingles will age quickly and lose their protective qualities.

3. Moisture in the Attic

If you see moisture damage in your attic, that is a good sign your roof is not covering it adequately.

You can notice moisture damage within the attic similarly to the way you notice it on the roof. Are there dark spots or water stains? Those are signs of moisture problems.

4. Too Much Moss

Moss may seem charming enough, and even harmless, in its way. But moss can damage your roof because of its ability to grow under your shingles and raise them up. When this happens, water leaks in.

5. Spiking Energy Bills

One of your roof’s functions is to protect you from precipitation. But it should also protect you from fluctuations in temperature. If you notice your energy bills rising, it might be a sign that your roof is not protecting you or your family properly.

6. Missing Shingles

It should be no surprise that missing shingles are a sign of when to replace a roof. They form a part of your roof!

It is not that you can’t replace the shingles on your roof. You can. But if they are coming off, it is a sign of deeper aging issues with the roof underneath the shingles.

7. Deformed Shingles

Almost as bad as missing shingles are shingles that are cracked or curling up. These are early warning signs that the shingles are about to fall off. You may be at an earlier point in your roof’s life cycle than with some of the other items on this list, but it is still just a matter of time until you need an entire roof replacement.

We’ve Got You Covered

No one wants to find out they need to get their roof replaced. At least these signs you need a new roof can help remove the element of surprise.

Once you accept the reality of a new for a new roof, check out our guide to saving money on home improvements for help.