7 Tips for Saving Money at Outlet Mall Stores and Factory Stores

outlet mall stores

Americans buy so much clothing that we’re starting to fill up landfills with it.

Because you don’t know what you could end up wearing next year, you might not be the type to spend high prices on trendy clothing. If you want great fashion at a low price, outlet mall stores can give you the bargain you’re looking for.

Here are 7 things to remember when you’re shopping at outlet mall stores.

1. Look for Quality

When you’re walking through an outlet mall, you could be tempted by all the brands on display. Don’t get starry-eyed about all the luxury brand offerings. You need to find quality materials that will last you for years rather than brands that seem trendy now.

Lots of great brands make products that are also high-quality. They’ll also produce a lot of one product that they will sell but isn’t up to their usual quality standards. When you see a high quantity of one product, make sure it’s good quality before you buy it.

You’ll know quality materials, even from lighter fabrics, when you see them. Trust your gut when you’re shopping. Check out Ramco Textiles for some examples of high-quality fabrics.

2. Follow Trends to Come

While you should always be skeptical of trends, if you want to remain stylish, you’ll need to know what’s happening in the world of fashion. When a new style takes hold, every brand will try to jump on the bandwagon. When rompers were a big hit, just about every brand on the planet had overstock the next season.

Keeping an eye on trends means that you can be on the lookout for a brand that tried to be a trendsetter and failed. If a great brand made a version of a type of garment that won’t become a hit for 2 more seasons, there could be a lot of product in outlet stores for cheap.

Combine your love for trends with an appreciation for quality and you’ll be sure to end up with a great deal.

3. Always Plan Ahead

Don’t wait until the first snow storm to buy your winter jacket. If you’re not married to trends, look for great winter deals as soon as winter ends.

If you weren’t happy with what you had for summer or felt unprepared for the weather, look for new items as soon as fall hits. Outlet prices will cause off-season garment prices to plummet.

If you’re shopping for a family, shopping off-season is massively important to make sure that everyone has what they need and is happy with their wardrobe.

4. Avoid the Rush

Everyone wants to get a deal and some people will even call ahead to stores to see when they receive their next shipments. You can go that route if you’ve got to get the latest items, but you could find yourself in a mad dash to get things that there’s no shortage of.

Instead, save yourself the stress of waiting in long lines or dealing with picked-over shelves by going during off-peak hours. Try shopping early in the day on Tuesday-Thursday rather than going on the weekend. If you miss the morning shopping hours, go around dinnertime instead.

You’ll save yourself the stress and might find that the shelves are nicely stocked for your visit.

5. Check Return Policies

Depending on the brand or the store, you could be dealing with a rigid return policy that might leave you suspicious. In fact, if an outlet doesn’t believe in their products or their customers enough to offer a good return policy, they might not be worth working with.

Some stores might have no return policy at all. You might end up buying discounted goods as gifts, and if they don’t fit, your friends or loved ones won’t be able to return them. If they can’t be returned, it’s like you just walked into the store and donated money to them for no reason.

Rather than waste your time and money, make sure that the shop you’re buying from has a strong return policy. If the products are good enough, they’ll know that very few people will be returning but for legitimate reasons.

6. Talk to the Staff

You never know how the quality of one item compares to the items offered last year or even last season. Manufacturing could have changed or the way something is made might be different than it was before.

The people who will know the most are going to be the staff at the outlet mall. Talk to them and see what they recommend. Ask what is selling and what might be getting returned a lot.

If they’ve had problems with one garment, perhaps they can recommend another. Asking the people who work with the items day in and day out will give you the best idea of what to expect when you’re shopping.

7. Sometimes You Have to Come Back

Don’t ever feel guilty if you don’t find anything that you fall in love with at an outlet mall. The great thing about outlets is that the stock turns over so often that you can come back in a few weeks and find a completely new set of items for sale.

While it might take you a few trips to find what you’re looking for, with the savings that you’ll get in the end, it’s always worth being patient. If you pick up an item you don’t think you can love forever, just put it down and come back another time.

Outlet Mall Stores Are More Than Discount Malls

Outlet mall stores are a great place to find a deal, but also a great way to know what trends are going to be out of fashion in a year and which are here to stay. If you love fashion, it’s not all about following what’s in during a given season. It’s also about getting high-quality garments at a good price.

Before you go shopping, check out our guide to make sure you start decluttering before you bring more into your house.

10 Proven Health Benefits of Using Ginseng Every Day

gingseng

Ginseng is an herb that people have used for centuries for its many health benefits. It is very popular in the United States and worldwide for treating headaches, premature aging, stress, digestive problems, and more.

The plant can be used in a variety of ways. You can use the roots to make tea. Or You can buy it in powdered form or as a supplement.

Anecdotal evidence shows ginseng can help boost your immune system and help with chronic fatigue and insomnia. Researchers are studying the herb for its effect on cancer cells.

For centuries, people have used ginseng as a natural way to treat many health problems. Let’s take a look at 10 proven health benefits of using ginseng.

Increase Your Energy Level

People have long used ginseng to fight fatigue and boost their energy levels. It helps your body use oxygen efficiently during physical activity.

Many scientists believe it helps regulate metabolism which results in increased energy levels. It’s an energy amplifier.

Many people feel it enhances their mental activity and helps them think clearly. Instead of coffee, soft drinks, or energy drinks, try ginseng to get you through a long day at work.

Hsu’s Ginseng is a good choice. It will enhance your energy without the side effects of caffeine.

Enhances Cognitive Ability

The sharper your thinking, the better you perform in your daily life. Drinking coffee or energy drinks may offer a temporary boost, but the effects do not last.

The antioxidants in ginseng enhance cognitive function and improve focus and concentration. If you find yourself tiring mentally during the day, some ginseng tea or a supplement may be for you.

Helps With Type 2 Diabetes

Although there isn’t a cure for Type 2 Diabetes, studies show that the Ginseng plant is helpful in reducing the harmful effects of the disease. It helps lower blood sugar levels in those with diabetes.

This doesn’t mean you won’t need your diabetes medication. Ginseng, along with your medication, may prevent sudden fluctuations in your sugar levels.

If you have diabetes, ask your doctor about adding ginseng to your health routine.

Helps With Weight Control

Ginseng is a natural appetite suppressant. Taking it on a regular basis is good for your metabolism and will gradually help you eat less.

Going on starvation diets can damage your health and your metabolism over time. And diet pills are dangerous and have serious side effects.

Ginseng works naturally to let you lose weight at a gradual pace. If you are using it as an appetite suppressant, you still need to eat a healthy diet and exercise to lose weight.

You can add this herb to your tea, use it in salads, or incorporate it into your favorite healthy recipes.

Boosts the Immune System

For centuries, people have used ginseng to prevent and treat illnesses. It strengthens the immune system which protects you from viruses and infection.

Studies suggest that this herb may improve the effectiveness of the flu vaccine and help control flu symptoms. You can add two teaspoons of the crushed root to a liter of water to boil for 20 minutes.

Drink 1 glass in the morning and one at lunch for a boost. This is especially helpful when you are sick with the cold or flu.

Improves Sexual Performance

Many consider ginseng to be a strong aphrodisiac that can improve male sexual performance. Some men with erectile dysfunction choose to use the herb instead of prescription medication to treat the problem.

This is not a cure for the problem. You should not stop taking any prescriptions without talking to your doctor.

But if a ginseng supplement can help improve your libido or improve your symptoms, it may be worth a try.

Reduces Anxiety

Ginseng is a natural stress reliever. Many people suffer from anxiety on a daily basis but do not want to take addictive medications to control it.

For some, this herb offers a sense of calm and relief. It also enhances alertness which can help you get through the day with less stress and worry.

It’s a safe and natural herb, so if you suffer from anxiety, it may be what you’re looking for.

Good for Your Skin

Healthy blood flow is essential for healthy skin. Ginseng stimulates blood flow which is great for your skin.

It’s also good for dry skin. Regular use, along with a good skin care routine, helps keep your skin looking fresh and hydrated.

Many women want to use natural products to care for their skin. And using ginseng is an all natural way to improve the appearance and health of your skin.

Helps Lower Blood Pressure

A busy, stress-filled life combined with a poor diet is a recipe for high blood pressure and heart disease. Ginseng may help improve circulation and cardiovascular function.

Although this is a natural herb, if you have a heart condition, you should consult your doctor before taking it. If your doctor gives the okay, you may want to try a ginseng supplement in combination with your prescribed medications.

Possible Cancer Benefits

Ginseng contains natural compounds that may reduce the chances of developing certain cancers. These compounds interfere in the formation of blood vessels in some types of tumors.

This could be helpful in preventing cancer as well as treating it. This is not a cure for cancer.

But researchers are studying the effects of ginseng on prostate and other cancers, and the results are promising.

Live Your Best Life

A healthy lifestyle can enhance your life in many ways. Eating right, exercising, and taking natural supplements like ginseng can lead to better health over time.

Be sure to check out our website and other helpful blogs.

Top 10 Tips for Choosing Lottery Numbers (So You Can Hopefully Win Big!)

how to pick winning lottery numbers

Everyone wants to win the lottery. Some swear by lucky methods, others allow the machines to pick for them. But winning the lotto could change your life, so next time, don’t leave it completely up to chance.

Most countries around the world participate in lotteries, making millionaires of citizens overnight. No matter where you play the lotto, there are a few strategies you can employ to up your chances of becoming the next winner.

While there is no foolproof method for winning, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of winning big or at least earning some extra money.

Read on to help you develop your strategy on how to pick winning lottery numbers.

How to Pick Winning Lottery Numbers: Choose Numbers That Win Most Frequently

Many states will offer free statistics to allow you to see how frequently numbers are chosen. Some numbers get picked more often than others. This may be due to chance, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t get their time to shine more often.

Don’t incorporate the most frequently chosen numbers all at once, however. The odds of all of them being chosen at once is incredibly rare. Instead, focus on one or two most frequently drawn numbers.

Statistics differ for different types of games. The most frequent numbers for Euro Millions, for example, will be different from Powerball, which will, in turn, be different from Mega Millions. Make sure you’re looking at the correct chart before you choose.

Remember, even though numbers get drawn more frequently, each number still has an equal chance of being drawn.

Keep playing the numbers that get drawn the most frequently. Although they may not come up immediately, since they do come up often, over time you will eventually see a win. This may not mean you’ll win the jackpot, but you’ll likely win a consolation prize at some point.

Using the Same Numbers Over and Over

Some people choose numbers based on lucky numbers, significant dates or birthdays of family members. There are stories of individuals who have won after choosing the same numbers for the past 20 years, and finally having their lucky day.

If you frequently buy lottery tickets, purchasing two tickets is advisable when employing this strategy. One ticket should have your “lucky” numbers, while another should have tickets chosen from a different strategy.

You may even repeatedly enter the same set of lucky numbers to double your chances of them coming up eventually.

Choose Numbers That Haven’t Come Up in a While

While all numbers, statistically speaking, have the same chance of coming up, choosing numbers that are overdue can also be a significant strategy.

Using the same statistics, you can tell which numbers come up least often, or which numbers have not come up in years. In some lotteries around the world, statistics state that they haven’t had some numbers come up for over 70 years. That doesn’t mean the number is actually due to come up, or that it ever will, but it is still a strategy some people employ.

The numbers will come up eventually, however. And it might be you who gives them their moment to shine.

Don’t Toss Away Second-Chance Games

Many lotteries offer second chance games. These can be in the form of scratch-off, name draws and a variety of other contests. Some people get annoyed when they don’t win and toss their tickets, which can mean they have actually lost out on a chunk of money.

While you may not win the $300 million jackpot, you might still be in the running for $100,000. While it’s a pittance compared to the jackpot, for many, $100,000 would be a life-changing amount.

Double and Triple Check Your Numbers

Make sure you double and triple check your numbers. This may sound like common sense, but people have thrown out their winning lottery tickets because they misread them. Imagine realizing that weeks later!

Go over each number as carefully as possible, and make sure you’re checking the correct lottery. There are several lotteries that operate at once, and it can get confusing. Double check the name of the game as well.

Enter as Many Games as Possible

As mentioned above, there are many different lotteries going on at one time. You can go to this website to check out what’s going on in the United States. But if you have family that lives abroad, or you’re going abroad, you can also enter the lottery there.

This increases your chances, and also means you have several amounts you can win.

If you do this, you need to be extra vigilant about which numbers you’re checking. Read and re-read the names of the lotteries so you don’t check against the wrong ticket. Again, you don’t want to lose out because you misread it.

If You Find a Ticket Dropped or Thrown Out, Don’t Discard It

They say one man (or woman’s) trash is another man’s treasure. This couldn’t be truer than when it comes to lottery tickets. Often people misread their tickets or check them against the wrong lotto, and then throw their tickets out.

Later, a stranger finds the ticket in the trash or on the ground and it turns out to be their ticket to riches.

If you do find a lottery ticket on the ground or discarded, don’t just leave it. Check it against the lotto it is for and see if you’ve won. You might be a winner without even having to buy a lotto ticket.

Use a Random Number Generator

Although not as exciting, using a random number generator can help you reap rewards. Use Random.org, which is programmed for 280 lotteries all over the world. Simply plug in which lottery you’re looking to win and it will generate the required amount of numbers.

This is probably as statistically sound as any “quick pick” you get when you buy a randomly generated ticket, but many people prefer to use this system. This way, they can see the numbers first, and then approve them before they take them to purchase their lotto ticket.

Buy Lotto Tickets Frequently

Don’t go overboard, or you might go bankrupt while trying to play the lotto. Most people, however, don’t win on their first try. Instead, many play week after week, month after month, and even year after year before they see results.

Continue to enter the lotto as much as possible, if you can afford it. Don’t charge lotto tickets to a credit card if you can’t afford it, as it might not be a profitable pay-off in the end.

You can also ask for lottery tickets for special occasions, such as having them tucked away in birthday cards or for the winter holidays. This will be a cheap gift for someone to purchase for you, in addition to giving you yet another chance to win the game.

Although you may never win the big jackpot, if you continue to play, you’ll likely one day win some money. It might be a few thousand dollars, but that is a better payout than absolutely nothing.

Use the Ticket That Has Performed the Best in the Past

Statistically speaking, there are tickets that have won frequently in the past. There are some numbers that would have garnered someone a few million dollars by now if they had continually played them in every lotto for several years.

Although this strategy is similar to picking lucky numbers, it involves simply finding out which ticket has performed the best in the lotto you’re playing.

Over time, you’re bound to win some money, even if it isn’t the whole $100 million jackpot.

Use Statistics

There are some statistical approaches that work well, and if you learn them, you might be able to increase your chances.

The Delta Method, for example, involves choosing numbers between certain digits, adding them together and randomizing them to create number sequences.

The Wheeling Approach involves purchasing several tickets and using every single combination of one set of numbers. While this method is incredibly popular, it can become expensive relatively quickly. In the UK lottery, for example, any one set of numbers can have as many as 5005 combinations.

While this certainly ups your chances of winning, it also means you’re spending a big chunk of your paycheck on lottery numbers. However, the Wheeling approach is good for those who are going in together as a group and plan to split the winnings in several ways.

Go in As a Group

You can pool money together with coworkers, family or friends and purchase hundreds of lottery combinations. This method, however, involves the promise that you will actually split the money if you win and can cause serious issues among people in the event of a winning ticket.

But, it can be a good method for jackpots that are hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Takeaway

There is no clear answer to the question of how to pick winning lottery numbers. There is no science, as ultimately, it is all up to chance. Winning, though, can change your life if you’re one of the lucky ones that manage it.

Check out our blog for more information on saving money and how to make your paycheck stretch as far as possible.

10 Fast Ways to Make Easy Money When You’re in a Pinch

easy money

When you find yourself short on money for upcoming bills or simply want extra spending cash, you need a way to make easy money fast.

But where do you even begin to find it? Is there such a thing as “easy money”?

Lucky for you, there are many options for earning extra money that doesn’t require a lot of work. Though they’re not a get rich quick type deal, they will earn you enough to cover bills or a night out on the town.

Let’s look at 10 ways you can make easy money fast and leave those money troubles behind you.

1. Sell Your Stuff

Chances are you’ve got several things in your home you no longer use that you can sell for cash right now.

You can do this in several different ways. Such as using online marketplaces, selling to a consignment shop, using a pawn shop, listing on eBay, or having your own garage sale.

Look around your house for items that you don’t need and are in good condition. Then research online how much you may be able to get for them.

You likely won’t get as much at a consignment shop then you would if you sold it yourself. But it’s up to you to decide how much effort you want to put into it.

2. Get Paid to Take Surveys

When companies want to understand their target consumers better, they turn to surveys to find answers. And if you’re willing to take the time to fill out these surveys, you will get paid.

Sites such as Survey Junkie pay users to take easy surveys, most taking less than 5 minutes to complete.

And new surveys are added every day. Which can keep the money coming in when you really need it.

3. Walk Dogs

Dogs lovers, rejoice! There’s an easy way for you to make money AND spend time with those precious pooches at the same time.

You can join a service such as Rover and have people in your area hire you to walk their dogs. Or if you don’t want to go that route, simply advertise your services on social media or talk with your neighbors.

And once you have a proven, solid track record of good reviews, you’ll be able to easily find quick work whenever you may need it.

4. Drive with Uber or Lyft

If you’ve got a car and some extra time, you can make some extra cash fast by driving for Uber or Lyft.

This option is great because it allows you to work whenever you want, on your schedule. Which means you have the ability to bring in a good chunk of change when it’s convenient for you.

And you don’t have to pick just one service to drive for. Sign up for both so you can keep yourself busy and compare fares.

5. Photography

Do you love to take photos and have several amazing, high-quality ones you wouldn’t mind selling?

Websites such as ShutterStock and iStockPhoto allow users to upload their photos online and sell as a download to customers. In return, you get a commission.

And it’s easy because once you upload your photo, that’s it. You get paid as your photo gets a download, so it’s a continuous passive income.

6. Trim Your Bills

Take a hard look at your bank account and your monthly bills. Chances are there’s some fat that can be trimmed to save you some money.

Have subscriptions that need canceling? Can you negotiate that cable bill down, or even cut the cord all together? Are you eating out too much?

Knowing where your money is going and how to save on your bills is a smart way to keep your budget in check. And if you need help, there’s an app called Trim that may be able to locate savings that you couldn’t find on your own.

7. Rent a Spare Room on Airbnb

Turn that spare room you don’t use into much-needed income. You can list your room on Airbnb for short-term renters.

And if you know how to be an amazing host, you are sure to start racking up positive reviews that will keep renters, and the money, coming in.

8. Find Unclaimed Money

Wouldn’t it be great if there was money sitting out there for you and all you had to do was claim it? That could very well be your reality.

Unclaimed.org can help you find money you didn’t know you had. This could be in the form of a deposit from a utility service you had a long time ago. Or money in a bank account from when you were a kid.

Who knows, you may be surprised at what you find. It may feel like winning the lottery, but it’s more about finding what’s rightfully yours.

9. Freelance

Do you love to write? Are you a whiz at graphic design? Or specialize in accounting?

Lots of freelance work in a variety of industries can be found on websites like Upwork and Fivver. All you have to do is apply for the task you want and get approved.

If you don’t like that option, try pitching to companies and bloggers in the industries you want to work in. Many of them are willing to pay a pretty penny for high-quality work.

But if you’ve never done freelance work before, you can try to gain experience by doing projects for friends and family. Ask around! You never know who’s looking to outsource some work.

10. Start a Blog

Starting your own blog can not only be a creative outlet for you but earn you money at the same time.

And the best part is you get to have total control of it. Write about the things you love! Share it on social media and create a following.

Then you can start to create e-books, tutorials, and other digital products you can sell online. You can even use affiliate marketing to bring in more income.

This won’t earn you money overnight, it will take some work to get going, but it has the potential to pay well if you work hard enough at it.

Now You Can Become an Easy Money Pro

Finding yourself in a financial pinch is never a good feeling. But now that you have options to turn to, you can avoid the worry and earn easy money fast the next time you need it.

Want to learn more about working from home? Click here to access our blog posts all about it!

How to Buy a Watch You’ll Love Forever

how to buy a watch

What do you think of when you see a watch?

Watches weren’t always a status symbol. Their initial role was to tell time. But throughout history, they became an accessory that complements even the most basic of outfits.

Today, the market is overflowing with watch brands–but not all are made equal. There are clear differences in quality, workmanship, style, materials, and price.

Keep reading to learn how to buy a watch you’ll love (and wear) for years to come.

How to Buy a Watch: The Basics

Buying a watch may look as easy as going into a store and picking one. However, there are some basics you should know before you invest in this timeless accessory.

Read on to learn which details to pay attention to and how to make the right choice for you.

1. Budget

Before you start browsing for watches, you should set a clear budget.

If you want a truly exquisite watch, be prepared to pay thousands of dollars. But if you need a good starter timepiece, you can find high-quality watches from well-known brands for $300-$1,000.

Department stores and chain retailers offer all sorts of price ranges if your budget is limited.

The price usually reflects the workmanship, mechanics, brand heritage and quality of materials. Bear this in mind when you’re deciding on your watch purchase.

2. Style

Before you buy a watch, consider your personal fashion style.

Are you into classic, sophisticated clothing? Or do you prefer a more playful, casual look? This will determine the watch styles you should get to match your outfits.

For example, rubber and plastic watches won’t go well with a suit. Sporty watches with complications may work for casual wear, but not for business casual.

Dress watches with metal or leather straps are usually a great choice for any outfit. Whether you’re a man or a woman, a beautiful watch can take your style to the next level.

3. Occasion

True watch connoisseurs know how to pick a watch for every occasion.

For formal events where you’d wear a gown or a tuxedo, your watch should blend in with the outfit. Dress watches are your best choice here as they’re sophisticated and minimalistic.

Dress watches also go with date night outfits or corporate office attire. In more casual work settings or for a night out with friends, you should go for a simple, modern watch.

You don’t have to buy an expensive watch to make your outfit look good. You can dress well on a budget–as long as you know how to pick and combine your pieces.

4. Wrist Size

When you’re trying on watches at the store, consider your wrist size. You don’t want the wristwatch to be too big or too small–otherwise, it might look disproportionate.

The best way to determine which size to buy is to measure your wrist circumference. If it’s 6-7 inches, go for a 38-42 mm timepiece. If it’s above 7 inches, watches with 44-46 mm width will fit you perfectly.

5. Mechanism

One of the main differences in price between high-end luxury watch brands and all other watches is the built-in mechanism.

Most companies producing expensive watches make their own in-house mechanisms and pay a lot of attention to detail. They test the mechanism several times to ensure it’s perfect before installation.

This requires time, testing materials, and expertise–all of which increase the watch’s worth.

Brands that offer more affordable watches usually order the mechanism already assembled from the supplier. This is why they cost less than luxury brands.

6. Features

Aside from telling time, watches serve other purposes.

For instance, aviator watches come with complications that pilots find useful during their flights. Driving watches are used by racers, bikers, and even cyclists to measure speed, lap times, and mileage.

Diving watches are intended for divers and can tell time, depth, and immersion time left. They’re waterproof, made of durable materials, and can be read in the dark.

Casual and dress watches may come with fewer features. But if you’re only wearing them as an accessory, a minimalistic design is all you need.

7. Movements

There are three main types of watch movements:

  • Quartz
  • Mechanical
  • Automatic

Most medium and low-priced watches are made with quartz movement because it’s cheaper to produce and gets the job done. They’re battery-operated and don’t use complicated mechanisms to operate with accuracy.

However, true watch aficionados will only wear watches with mechanical movement. This is an indicator of craftsmanship and heritage. Mechanical watches are manually wound and the hands move in smooth motions rather than ticking one second at a time.

Automatic watches are similar to mechanical without the need of winding them by hand. They’re called automatic because they use your motion to keep working. As long as it detects your wrist movements, it’ll keep ticking.

8. Workmanship

Watch-making is nothing short of an art form. It involves a lot of patience, attention to detail, knowledge, and creativity.

Watch buying is not that much different. Those who know how much effort goes into making a top-notch timepiece will invest in one to honor the watchmaker.

If you open any two watches, you’ll immediately notice the differences in their mechanism and materials used. To learn more about the features of a quality watch, view here.

9. Get Recommendations

You can read every watch buying guide you come across, but you’ll get the best information through recommendations.

Ask your friends and family if they recently bought a watch and if so, how they made their decision. If you have someone in your circle who knows watches, ask them to come with you when you shop.

The best way to guarantee quality is to learn as much as you can and stick to your budget.

The Best Watches Are Timeless

If you’re wondering how to buy a watch you’ll love and wear forever, these tips will help you make the best choice.

For more fashion and style tips, head over to our fashion and beauty blog.

Make sure to follow us on Facebook too, where we post daily updates and talk about all things fashion, thrift shopping and living frugally!

How to Make Your Home Smart Without Breaking the Bank

how to make your home smart

Transforming your home into a smart home can make your house more convenient, efficient and also fun. You don’t have to break the bank to turn your house into a smart home. Here’s how to make your home smart on a budget.

How to Make Your Home Smart

Making your home smart doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars. Instead, it’s small investments in cost-efficient products that can improve your home’s security, lighting, communications, energy, and efficiency and audio and visual appliances.

For more reasons on why you should make your home smart, read more about the benefits of a smart home.

Start With a Problem

When deciding which products you need to make your home smart, start by trying to remedy any problems your home already has. For example, let’s say you always stress about leaving your house and wondering if you locked your door. If that’s the case you might want to invest in a device that can solve that problem.

Once you’ve mastered how to use your new smart home appliance, then look into other technology that can help you with other home headaches.

Build Over Time

Don’t stress about having to replace every appliance in your home with it’s smarter upgrade. Smart products can take a second to learn how to use and set up, so give yourself time with this. Adding items gradually over time will not only save you money, it will also save you stress.

Here are some of our favorite smart items right now, broken down by the problems they solve.

Safety and Security

Investing in smart door locks, window shades, smoke detectors, alarm systems and internal and external cameras can really help give you a peace of mind. Here are some of our favorite smart home security devices.

Blink Security Camera

This basic security camera records in 720p and has infrared that can detect movement up to 20 feet away. It might not have the highest fidelity, but it can store up to 20 hours of footage for free in your cloud. This device also works with IFTT making it easy to connect with other smart home devices like Phillips Hue smart lights, Alexa, Google Home and the Nest learning thermostat.

Lighting and Switches

Smart switches, lighting, and outlets make it easy for you to turn off or on your lights remotely. You don’t have to fuss around the house flipping off switches or worry if you left a light on when you’re away from home for a while.

Here are some of our favorite smart switches, lights, and outlets.

Sengled Element Starter Kit

This doesn’t work with as many smart home systems as Phillips, but these bulbs are much less expensive. A bulb costs about $9 each, which is great for smart lighting on a budget.

Belkin WeMo Mini Smart Plug

This plug can turn any of your basic devices smart and it lets you control all your appliances via a smartphone app. It’s best to use the Belkin WeMo with items like floor lamps, but you can even use it to turn on your coffee maker at a set time. It works with Alexa, Google Home, Nest and IFTT without blocking the second outlet.

TP-Link LB120 Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulb with Tunable White Light

We love how these bulbs can directly connect to your Wi-Fi network without a hub. They are dimmable and turntable so you can turn them from bright to daylight. These settings allow your lights to keep you alert during the day, or calm with soft white light in the evening.

This set also comes with a circadian mode that adjusts the lights automatically based on the time of day. You also can control these lights with Alexa or Google Home.

Logitech Pop Home Switch

Manually turning off all your lights, thermostat, TV and whatever else you have can be incredibly time consuming and annoying. Logitech’s Pop Home Switch allows you to do all of these tasks with a touch of one button.

Each button on your switch can be programmed for more than one action with the single, double or triple press. This lets you conveniently adjust all of your smart home devices at once, and it easily works with your Apple Homekit.

TP-Link HS105 Smart Plug

This smart plug has a great small design, easy to use app, and low price. You can make a lamp or anything else in your home that isn’t smart, with this simple plug, Just plug it into the HS-105, and you can set a schedule of when you want your devices turned on or off just by using your smartphone.

Philips Hue White Starter Kit

Philip Hue lights are one of the most popular for smart homes because they’re easy to use, they have a strong app and they can easily work with a number of smart home systems. While these bulbs don’t change colors but can dim and are an affordable way to get into smart home gadgets.

Ecobee Switch+

This switch takes the idea of an Internet-connected wall switch to another level. Alexa is already built into this switch so you can use it without having to get an Echo or other devices.

The switch also has a motion sensor so it can turn your lights on and off when you enter or leave a room. There’s also a temperature sensor making it easy to link it to Ecobee’s smart thermostat.

Aukey Wi-Fi Smart Plug

This plug doesn’t have the scheduling features like some other smart plugs, but it works well with Google Assistant and Alexa at about half the price of its competitors. At $24 these plugs are also small enough that you can easily fit two into an outlet.

Samsung SmartThings Hub

This lets you connect with smart-home devices that usually don’t work with each other. The app also lets you group items together. With this device, you can adjust shades, lights, and the thermostat at a certain time of day or when you come home from work.

iHome ISP100

Most smart plugs only work for indoor use, but not this one. The iHome ISP100 works with a ton of home systems so you can turn on and off your Christmas light or that outdoor fountain. It’s also easy to set up and use.

Energy Efficiency

There are some other smart devices that can really help the energy efficiency of your home. These devices include smart thermostats, window shades, and fans that can help cut down on your energy bills.

Roost Smart Battery

This Wi-Fi connected battery can insert into any smoke detector and it notifies you on your smartphone when the detector is activated. The app also allows you to alert other people. There’s also a snooze button, in case you were just cooking a steak and the alarm went off.

Honeywell Wi-Fi Thermostat

Most smart thermostats can cost over $200, but this one isn’t as flashy as the Nest or Ecobee and still gets the job done. It works well and even better with most smart home devices than it’s competition.

Audio and Video

Improving your audio and video is always a nice upgrade. There are devices that stop you from searching for multiple remotes and can easily improve your experience.

Amazon Echo Dot

The Echo Dot is an inexpensive way to get a voice control in your home. It’s only $49 and it lets you control all of your devices. From playing music, to ordering pizza without lifting a finger.

Vaux Portable Speaker

The Echo Dot’s speaker isn’t great, which is why the Vaux is a great addition. It’s also super easy to use and only needs to be plugged into work. It also has six hours of battery life is there isn’s a plug nearby, and its sound quality is incredible.

Google Home Mini

This is Google’s version of the Amazon Echo Dot. The Home Mini is a small smart speaker that brings Google Assistant to your house. It’s super cost-effective that sounds better and looks better than Amazon’s.

Logitech Harmony 665

This is one of the most affordable universal remote and it can easily control up to 10 of your entertainment devices at once. While it doesn’t work well with other smart home devices, it’s affordable and a great solution if you’re on a budget.

Amazon Echo (2nd Gen)

This second generation Echo is smaller and more visually appealing than it’s original but it sounds just as good. It also gives you full access to Alexa and you can swap out the cover to one that matches your style.

Google Chromecast

This is the least expensive way to stream content on your TV for only $35. It easily plugs into an HDMI port and lets you stream TV shows and movies from your phone, tablet or PC. It also works with Google home so you can control it with your voice.

Make Your House Smart Today

Now that you know how to make your home smart, start doing the research to transform your home today. Start with where you can really use the help and gradually add devices one day at a time. For more information on home repairs, check out our blog.

Top 10 DIY Face Mask Recipes to Save Money

diy face mask

Forget spending your money on sheet and clay masks–you can give yourself the spa experience right from the comfort of your own home.

Because let’s be honest, sometimes we’re just too lazy to run to the store for a new face mask. So why not turn to your kitchen for some DIY mask recipes?

These masks can tackle any skin problem out there–acne, dryness, dull skin, and more. All you need is simple, all-natural ingredients like avocado, honey, and oatmeal that you can find in your kitchen.

Follow these simple recipes to pamper yourself with the perfect DIY face mask.

Top 10 DIY Face Mask Recipes to Save Money

While there are a lot of DIY recipes out there, this list features some of the simplest, most effective masks–all made out of ingredients you can find in your home.

Although it’s always fun to treat yourself to a spa facial, these face masks are much easier on your wallet–and they can be a lot of fun to put together.

Let’s get into the top 10 recipes you can try.

1. Hydrating Avocado Mask

  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1 teaspoon plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Mash the avocado until it’s soft, then mix in the yogurt and honey. Keep stirring until it forms a creamy paste. Apply to your face and leave it on for about 10 to 15 minutes.

The avocado and yogurt provide a moisturizing and cooling effect, while the antibacterial effects of the honey can help fight off acne. This moisturizing mask is perfect for calming stressed-out skin.

2. Refreshing Banana Mask

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Mash up the banana into a paste and then mix in the juice and honey. Try to get it as fine as you can, but it’s okay if there are lumps. Let the mask sit for 10 to 20 minutes.

Who knew that bananas could be good for your skin? This tropical mask will give you a healthy, all-natural glow–and it’s gentle enough for even the most sensitive of skin types.

3. Nourishing Honey Mask

  • 2 chamomile tea bags
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast

First, brew one cup of the chamomile tea with the two bag and let it cool. In another bowl, stir the honey and yeast together. Then add just enough chamomile to create a paste. Let sit on your face for 20 minutes.

Although most of the other masks incorporate honey in some way, this mask is designed to harness the raw antibacterial power of honey. It’s calming for sensitive skin, fights off acne bacteria, and is rich in B-vitamins.

4. Cleansing Vinegar Mask

  • 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water

Mix the two together and apply to your face with a brush or a cotton pad. Let sit for about 10 minutes after it’s dried and then rinse off.

Vinegar has been used as a skin toner for centuries–and it’s just as good for your skin today. It works a lot like botox injections to tighten and reshape the skin. Using vinegar on your face can cleanse your pores for a cleaner, smoother look.

5. Tightening Egg White Mask

  • 1 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon of orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder

Separate the egg whites from an egg and whisk in a bowl until it’s fluffy. Then stir in the orange juice and turmeric powder to make a light paste.

This mask is great for oily skin or large pores. With a boost of vitamin C to brighten your complexion and turmeric to calm inflammation and even out your skin tone, the egg white mask can tighten your pores and calm acne flare-ups.

6. Exfoliating Sugar Scrub Mask

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

Stir together equal parts of brown sugar and coconut oil to form a grainy paste. Apply with gentle, circular motions to exfoliate the skin. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then rinse it off.

This mask works as an effective exfoliator and a mask. The brown sugar helps to clear away dead skin while the coconut oil replenishes and hydrates your skin barrier.

7. Calming Oatmeal Mask

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup plain oatmeal

Stir the ingredients together and then apply to your face for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water–and be sure to clear the oatmeal from your drain.

While this oatmeal face mask might seem weirdly breakfast themed, it’s surprisingly effective. It mattifies the skin and soaks up oils, all while calming the skin with oatmeal and tightening your pores with egg yolk. This mask is great for the end of a stressful day.

8. Brightening Papaya Mask

  • 1/2 cup papaya
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 squeeze lemon juice (optional)

Mash about a half-cup of papaya in a bowl, then blend in the honey. You can add a squeeze of lemon juice for extra brightening power. Apply to your face and leave on for up to 20 minutes.

This mask is great at lightening the skin and evening skin tone. The blast of vitamin C can help correct issues like hyperpigmentation, sun spots, acne scars, or otherwise discolored skin.

9. Age Defying Cocoa Mask

  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oats
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 2 tablespoons honey

First, combine the cocoa powder, cream, and honey. Then gradually stir in the oats until it forms a paste. Apply a thin layer to your face and leave it on for 10 minutes before rinsing.

Chocolate doesn’t just taste amazing–it can do wonders for your skin too. It helps with the production of collagen in your skin, which can reverse signs of aging. Plus the oats and honey will soothe and moisturize your skin.

10. Acne Fighting Milk Mask

  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons nutmeg

Mix these ingredients together and apply a thick layer to the face. Leave on for up to 20 minutes and then rinse off.

Honey is a natural acne fighter, but nutmeg can also exfoliate your skin to prevent future breakouts. To top it all off, milk can soothe irritated skin and replenish moisture.

Saving Your Face and Your Wallet

These DIY face mask recipes are super easy to put together–not to mention great for your bank account.

So the next time you get the urge to splurge on an expensive spa treatment or face masks from Sephora, check your kitchen cabinet first. You might just have everything you need to keep your skin healthy, glowing, and blemish free.

Looking for ways to take your skin care routine to the next level? Check out our beauty and fashion tips!