Planning for Buying a Home

We all hit a point in our lives when we should be focusing on the more mature things, the responsibilities that are upcoming, daunting, and a little worrying. These are the things we are likely to put off longer than we should simply because accepting the reality of our near future is a scary and uncertain thought.

These are the things, though, that we usually can’t afford to put off, and so when we do we end up putting ourselves behind schedule or even missing out on opportunities, causing us to settle for less. These things usually manifest in buying a home, planning a wedding, looking for a new job, or relocating to a new city.

I find myself in the home buying and wedding planning categories. These are, perhaps, two of the most exciting things for a mid 20-year-old, but they’re also scary to think about if you don’t know the entire process or have the help you wish you had.

The good thing is, I’ve got at least a year to plan the wedding and around 10 months to start looking for new homes. My fiancee is great about looking for homes (far more than I am), so I’m thankful to have someone at my side who is even more enthusiastic about the entire process than I am.

The thing we’ll need to consider when the move does come, though, is having plenty of cheap moving boxes to pack all of our smaller belongings in. We’re lucky to have her dad, who owns a furniture store, since he’ll enlist help on moving and has plenty of trailers to put all of our furniture in (and he gives us new furniture from his store, too). In fact, we’re extremely lucky for these things since it makes the entire moving process much simpler and less stressful than if we were to not have him.

So really, it just comes down to being prepared for the move by having everything boxed up in these cheap moving boxes. Finding or purchasing some won’t be any hassle at all. It’s just all about having everything ready to go when the move comes.

And yeah, I won’t mention the home buying process itself since that’s an entirely different beast altogether, one that will rear its head in about 6 months. That’s when the excitement and stress truly begins. That’s when I’m sure my fiancee and I will have many a debate and stressful conversation about the future of our little life, since buying a home is no small task.

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Reading is a Lifelong Learning Experience

Over 4th of July Weekend I finished a 300+ page novel. In fact, I did it in just three days without devoting more than 8 or 9 hours total to the book.

It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve read this much in such a short amount of time. I’m not sure if the author was so compelling that I was blazing through the material wanting more or if I was just in the zone and would’ve finished any book in this time. What I do know, however, is that I sincerely miss reading that much.

Let’s take a step back. I used to read a lot of novels in middle school and early high school. Like, at least one a week. And I was happy when I read. I was healthy, I slept better at night, and I felt like my vocabulary expanded a reasonable amount. There was nothing else I would have rather done with a few hours to myself than read. It would get to the point that I would bring my book anytime my parents drove me anywhere (whether it was a two hour drive or just a 15 minute hike down the road to the grocery). I’d say “Hold on, hold on, I’ve got to finish this page” when they would be getting out of the car, and it would get on their nerves at times.

I want to revisit that time in my life by reading as much as I used to. I want to feel like I’m actively gaining knowledge and experiences and analyzing the material I read from multiple perspectives, too. I used to read just for fantasy’s sake, to escape. But now, I want to bring into my life what I read and make it a part of who I am.

There’s much to be said about reading habits, different genres, what sorts of authors you like, and if you’re a fast or slow reader. None of that truly matters if you simply are reading, I believe.

I think buying books is one of the best investments anyone could make, because that single book can be read multiple times by multiple people. It can impart its knowledge and its stories on you many times in your life, each time giving you a new perspective on the same content.

That’s why I use packaging supplies to create makeshift bookmarks and leave my annotations in books. I’ll fold up packing tape as a cheap (i.e., pretty much free) bookmark and I’m known to write little notes within pages on some cheap label tape. Heck, I’ll put label tape on the covers of my books with specific things like “read again in ____” with a year in the blank. Packaging supplies have been a great way for me to enhance my reading experience while also keeping organized enough to know when I last read something and what I learned from it.

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4th of July Festivities for 2019

When it comes to planning for the holidays, things can get out of hand and you can underestimate the amount of guests you have coming over. Heck, you can underestimate the amount of hot dogs you’ll need for the grill and even short yourself of beer for when the night goes on!

Planning, then, all comes down to being prepared more than anything. It’s okay to get more alcohol than you think you’ll need. Why? Because you can still drink it the weekend following! It’s fine to have more meat than you figure you’ll grill, because you can just grill it all the next day to get rid of any excess you had. It’s all a win win so long as you have enough.

But what happens when you’re underprepared and understocked? Well, people get hungry, people sober up, and the evening isn’t as fun for everyone as they had originally thought.

That’s why I’ve got a short list of supplies you’ll absolutely need when this weekend rolls around. I’ll have you so stocked that you can party Thursday night through Sunday afternoon!

Party supplies.

These include your fireworks, the napkins and paper plates, and other random office or even shipping supplies you wouldn’t think of to begin with. For example, don’t you think having some extra packing tape or cheap moving boxes would be nice for having a mini fireworks base to shoot off of in the evening? All you’ve gotta do is break down those cheap moving boxes, set them up as a base, and tape mortar bases to them.

Activities.

Activities make the evening last. You don’t need to go overboard with activities, especially if it’ll break the bank. Just try to get someone to bring a cornhole set and have some extra solo cups sitting around for beer pong and you’re golden. And if someone has a lakehouse to party at? Well, that’s all you’d really need for a memorable 4th of July in order to have fun on the water and in the sun, drink what you want, and grill out by the lake! And don’t forget the tunes. Music is what keeps the party going.

Food and drinks.

Here’s the best suggestion I can give when it comes to food and drinks: overstock your fridge. If you run out, well, things can get boring, people will sober up, and stomachs will begin to growl. Of course, you want to tell your guests to bring their own drinks and contribute to food if needed. But the best thing you can do as a host is overprepare and overstock unless you want to run out of stuff in the middle of the evening/weekend.

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Supplies & Chores

Ever think about putting your kids to work to help out around the house but you’re never quite sure where to have them start? Or maybe it’s a slight fear you may have of what chores they can actually handle (especially if they’ve never done chores before)?

Well, there are a handful of cleaning tasks around the house that they can easily handle, you just may not have thought of them initially. The good thing is that a lot of these suggested chores pull the most weight in transforming your home from meh to wow. How’s that possible if they’re easy for your kids to pick up and do in on time, though?

Because these chores are the ones that make the most difference when actually tackled. You’ve just been putting them off for weeks or months because it’s a little extra labor for you. If you happen to spur forth some ingenuity and think about making your life easier with the right preparation, from using random packaging supplies to planning out your time better, you’ll be on the right track.

With that said, let’s dive into a few of my favorites that children won’t even mind if they’re doing it with you.

Cleaning the floors.

My mom had my brother and me do this about once a month. We would start by sweeping the floors, both of us with a broom in hand. This helped to pick up all the hair, dust, dirt, and other granules of who knows what before anything else.

Then, though, was where the magic happened. She would get out two hand towels, one for each of us, and soak them in warm water with some dish detergent. From there, all we did was spread them wide, put a foot at the end of each side of the towel, and then “walk” it around the floors which would scrub it down, yet we never had to get on our knees and inevitably complain about it.

To me, this was genius because it took no time with 2 or 3 people, no one was breaking their back to mop the floors, and it was almost kind of fun for us kids. Sometimes it was easy to place some stripped up packaging supplies (like cardboard that was broken down) beneath our feet but above the wet towels for more traction. The result? Absolutely sparkling floors, something any guest would notice right off the bat as they walked into the house.

Wiping down windows.

Talk about a task that takes no more than 10 to 15 minutes and yet is easy but will make a huge difference. I remember fighting over who got this chore with my brother. We were always wanting to do this first as it was an easier chore, yet mom would always praise the window work more than just about any other chore. Why? Because it’s so noticeably better when there’s no apparent window in front of you. If you can see handprints and smudges, though, it’s easy to notice a dirty window. When all that’s gone? Everything is crystal clear and beautiful.

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Home Projects Can Be Fun

This past weekend I took a trip back home to pick up my dog from my parents and hang out with them for a day or two at their place. I always forget how much I truly enjoy staying at home and just soaking in the countryside in the small town I grew up in. There’s zero worries, zero effort to just hang out, and a lot of fun and good conversation to be had.

Something that was particularly fun for me was helping my dad set up his outdoor pop up bar.

To give you a bit of context, my parents own two houses with three plots of land (one per house and then a plot between the two). This is all on the outskirts of our small town, so it’s essentially a big open expanse of pasture between their houses.

Well, my dad is always busy constructing something new for their home and property during any hours he’s not at work. This time, he was building structures that would be able to roll out to the field, stand up, and function as a little “bar” of sorts, almost like a tiki bar you’d see on the beach.

While I know he was using a decent amount of packaging supplies just to get things started, a big part of the project was cutting big patches of plywood to make “tables” of sorts for the bar itself and for the two stands to sit at.

Basically, he wants to use two whiskey barrels as the bar’s base, so he’d be able to roll those out to wherever he wants, lay the rectangular piece of plywood on top, and have a little bar. Then, he’d use the two giant rope spools (think of a small plastic spool that has thread around it and magnify that spool by about 200 times) as tables to hold umbrellas and have chairs to sit around them.

Again, I’m not sure what all packaging supplies and tools he used, but it seemed pretty minimal considering the biggest part of it all was just making the table tops and boring holes in two of them for holding up the umbrellas.

Needless to say, once we were done setting things up, it actually looked like a legit little pop up bar with protection from the sun, places to sit down and set your drinks, and even storage for beers so that you wouldn’t have to walk all the way back to the fridge in the garage for more drinks. Talk about a vacation spot within the boundaries of your own home!

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Essential Items to Have at Bonnaroo

Considering I’m about to make my second 5-day trip to Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival outside of Manchester, Tennessee, I’m starting to get a good grip on what’s needed for packing, how tight the vehicle will be after you’ve loaded it, and what you can afford to leave behind and what is an absolute must-have item while on the farm.

So rather than ramble on about the packing process itself and what packaging supplies you should have handy, I feel inclined to share with you some of the items that you should consider absolutely essential when traveling down to the middle of Tennessee for live music, good vibes, and summer heat camping.

Toilet paper.

Always, always, always bring a few rolls for yourself and never go to the bathroom (read: portapotties) without your own TP. You never know when the toilet paper in these bathrooms is missing, wet, used (ew!), low quality, or even ripped apart. So rather than risk it each time you go, just bring your own from home. Trust me, this is the number one item all fellow Bonnaroovians will suggest packing first.

Low sitting, portable chairs.

This product would make packaging supplies experts out there very proud simply because they break down into small pouches that are lightweight and out of the way. And I’m not talking traditional lawn chairs here. I’m talking about the little camping chairs you can break down and load into a small bag or the very low sitting chairs that fold up, are lightweight, and can attach to your backpack.

Chairs in Bonnaroo need to be under 12” off the ground at the seat level, but once you hit this parameter, you’ll be glad you brought one and will never look back. From sitting in pit lines to giving your feet a break between acts, chairs are a godsend out in the heat. You’ll be able to conserve your energy, take a nap, and give your body a break between bouts of dancing with these.

Multiple bottles of sunscreen.

Don’t ever go down to this music festival with under 2 bottles of sunscreen. I’m telling you what, you’ll be applying sunblock about 4 to 5 times a day out in the blazing sun, and you won’t even care if it’s wiped in perfectly.

So long as you’re covered from head to toe, you’ll be good to go. You won’t even care that you look a little weird if white spots are on your shins or shoulders because, honestly, no one cares. People all understand that your safety and health come first and foremost, as that’s what they’re thinking about themselves.

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Moving Into Your First Home

Moving into your college dorm for the first time is a very exciting thing, especially if it’s the first time you’re truly living on your own. And then, suddenly, you’re moving into your first apartment where you’ve got sole responsibility of keeping it maintained and not breaking anything. But the biggest jump of them all out there is buying your first home.

Home ownership is one of those things that is often mysterious to kids and younger adults, and it really shouldn’t have to be. The entire process of purchasing a home is an elusive, confounding experience for anyone not in the know, yet once you do understand the ins and outs, it’s suddenly a breeze.

As for moving into that first home, things needn’t be so roundabout and confusing. Read on for some tips on moving into your first home.

Enlist help.

Whether it’s your family, some old college friends, or even hired help, there’s no better way to make a move less stressful than to have multiple hands on deck. Sometimes you’ll find that certain friends or family members are unwilling to help. Well, this is bound to happen and those people aren’t great in your life if they won’t help after you’ve asked. Still, do what you can to get at least 5 or 6 more people than just yourself to help you move. When you’ve got all sorts of hands available, the work becomes even easier for everyone, meaning everyone is happy to do more for you. It’s kind of a snowball effect.

Have the right equipment.

Couple Moving Into New Home And Unpacking Boxes

You’ll need a few dollies. You’ll definitely need furniture blankets. You’ll want plenty of straps. Don’t skip out on having these things unless you want to make moving in an extreme hassle to you and those who you’ve asked to help you. Straps make sure your belongings arrive exactly as they were organized. Blankets make sure that nothing becomes damaged. And dollies are your savior unless you actually want an injured back.

Use a trailer.

Don’t ever try to move from one place to the next in a simple pickup truck or a few vans. You’ll hate yourself for it. Trailers, whether open or closed, just have too much space to not use. Do you really want to torture yourself with ungodly amounts of trips back and forth in vehicles that aren’t using trailers? No. Try to get two trailers if you can. This is especially true if you’re moving long distances.

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When Making a Move, Have These Things Handy

The most stressful part of buying a home, many would agree, is the act of searching for homes that fit your family’s needs and wants. Or, as others would say, it’s actively closing on the home and finalizing everything that’s needed with that procedure.

Or even others would agree that it’s actually making the move to the new home.

If you fall into that last camp, you must not be moving your things in an efficient and planned out way. With a little bit of preparation, having the right materials and tools, and enlisting some help, you shouldn’t have any troubles whatsoever. Let’s dive into what makes the move so stressful and how you can actually make the entire process much easier than what you’re accustomed to. Because, let’s face it, buying a home is the most stressful and toughest part of the entire process, not moving in (physically stressful on your body, sure; but your mind? Nope).

Having the right materials.

Moving doesn’t just mean jamming things into your vehicle and making 20 trips. That’s the definition of inefficiency and possibly even stupidity.

What you need to make sure you have is pretty much three things: a trailer (or 2), cheap moving boxes, and moving equipment, such as straps, handcarts, and furniture blankets.

The trailer is pretty much your number one priority to secure simply because it reduces the amount of times you have to drive back and forth. Unless you’re hiring someone to move everything for you, you should waste no time in making sure you and your family have access to at least one trailer. Whether it’s an open bed or an enclosed trailer, you need one for your bigger furniture more than anything. All the smaller things can fit in your cab or truck’s bed if needed.

Secondly, the cheap moving boxes are absolutely needed just for packing all of your smaller items into. From clothes to toiletries and dishes to decor, you’ve got to have boxes and bins to hold everything that is loose and needs packaged in an orderly and easily recognized manner.

Then, you’re going to want (and sometimes need) the right tools. Moving straps are amazing at securing things to your trailer so that they don’t bump, bounce, and break. You’ll never be gladder that you invested in some of these. Additionally, handcarts are a must for both carrying/lifting/dragging heavy items and making fewer trips to and from the house. And finally, you’ll want furniture blankets to protect your furniture as well as use to drag heavy items across hardwood flooring.

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You Have the Time to Accomplish Your Tasks & Chores

Keeping your place nice and tidy isn’t one of those things that you just do because you’re a neat freak and can’t function without order. In fact, a lot of people who organize their house and keep it clean are deemed as such, and I feel it’s a bit unfair to categorize orderly people as crazy or obsessed.

The problem is that the majority of people seem to relate more to a sense of laziness than they do cleanliness. I wouldn’t say that the majority is necessarily sloppy and owns a ransacked house. Rather, I feel like everyone can empathize with those who don’t have the time to stay on top of things every single day.

Most of the time, people say they don’t have enough hours in the day for their cleaning and organizing. I honestly believe this is where you need to start if you want a more organized and put together home. The number one way to continue your lazy lifestyle is to continue making excuses about the time. Because unless you’ve got multiple kids and pets, you work 60 hours a week, and your weekends consist of another job, guess what? You have the time to keep your house nice.

So, this really all begins with the right mindset. It’s kind of like moving houses. If you have a gameplan and enough cheap moving boxes, you’ll coordinate the move just fine and it won’t be that stressful.

Well, if you have the right mindset about your home, such as having an idea what days you’ll clean what areas and you have the right supplies (the analog to cheap moving boxes in this example), you’ll be able to accomplish anything.

So more than anything, being clean, organized, in shape, healthy, intelligent, successful, and financially stable all boil down to your approach and perspective. If you can see that you have just enough time or more than other Americans, you’ll realize that it just takes a new routine, a fresh perspective on all of it. But if you constantly write things off as undoable because you apparently can’t spare 15 minutes a day to keep one particular room a bit cleaner than it was before the day began, you’ll never be able to accomplish anything you want to do.

If there’s anything you take from this, make it this: you have the time to get stuff done; you just don’t want to.

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Stocking Up for Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day is one of those holidays that goes under the radar most of the year, yet when it comes around, Americans seem to plan big barbecues, family get togethers, and even trips to the lake. If anything, it’s the holiday that says “Let’s kick off the summer!”

And there’s good reason that we all get so excited for Memorial Day Weekend to come around. We’ve been waiting more than half a year to enjoy some amazing weather, so once the end of May hits, we’re all itching to get out in the sun, grill some good food, have some drinks, enjoy the company of family and friends, and just relax.

Memorial Day Weekend isn’t possible without planning ahead, however. If you don’t have the right supplies, foods, drinks, arrangements, or place to do it, it can be more stressful than it needs to be.

Without further adieu, here are some essentials you’ll need to be fully prepared and stocked for the first major holiday of the summer.

Foods.

Whether you’re doing a crawfish boil or a barbecue grill out, you’ll need to have the right meats, the right vegetables, and all the seasonings and charcoal that are needed to bring it all together. And just as well, it’s best to designate a “master chef” for the event so that everyone knows who is doing most of the work (because then that person won’t have to do any clean up or bartending or babysitting!).

Supplies.

Whether it’s paper towels and plastic utensils or packaging supplies like packing tape to hold table tarps down, you want to make sure there’s enough “things” to make the weekend possible. Other useful packaging supplies include cardboard boxes and even sharpies to mark down certain ingredients, foods, or even names for styrofoam/solo cups. Just as well, you need to make sure there are cleaning supplies handy in case someone makes a mess and something needs cleaned up in a hurry to keep the festivities ongoing.

Activities.

Planning activities can either be a major headache or very simple. It’s when you overextend that activities and games can become a chore. Don’t try to plan some huge boating trip if everyone doesn’t have the money or isn’t free for an entire day on whatever day of the weekend you choose. Sometimes it’s just easier to plan things like cornhole and darts if whoever is hosting has available space for such games. And if you’re planning a day at the lake, it’s easier if someone you know or are related to actually owns a lake house so that everyone can chill inside if the heat gets to them or if they have just been outside all day.

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