Monthly Archives: October 2017

Breaker Breaker! How to Safely Check for Electrical Current and a Quick Tip to Save Time

New homeowners sometimes walk in only to realize they might not have picked up the simple skills to fix or upgrade things and end up wasting money hiring a professional. Here’s a quick tip that will help you out!

Do you want to change out a light switch or electrical outlet?

The first step is to figure out which breaker to flip to turn off electricity to that switch/outlet or you risk getting an electric shock or worse!

breakerbox

This is our breaker box – if you’re lucky, a lot of the switches have already been labeled, however, you’ll obviously want to double-check before fiddling with any wires directly.

Method One to test for current:  this is the easiest way to make sure you flipped off the power to an outlet or light switch – TRY IT.  Plug in a lamp if it’s an empty outlet.

Method Two is even more pro: use a Volt Meter to test it.  Volt Meters will tell you if the same set of switches are on different breaker switches.  While it’s not common, it does happen.  For our most recent project, the very first set of rocker switches we worked with were on at least 2 different breakers.  Had we only checked the one switch, we could have been in for a nasty surprise!  Volt Meters can be simple or very complex (and expensive!), no need to break the bank though.  My husband strongly recommends that you pick up one from the brand Fluke, he finds they are high quality.  When you get it, simply follow the directions.

Once you’re sure there’s no electricity a-flowin’, replace the piece you need to, but before you put the cover back on, do this one thing to save yourself some time the next time you need to do some maintenance – get yourself a single roll of white electrical tape to keep with your tools, snip a piece off, and put it on the underside of the cover.  Write which breaker goes with that switch/outlet, and you’ll never have to wonder again!

Hope this has been a helpful household hint!

Budgeting 101

One of the most important things that so many people have never learned is BUDGETING.

I know, budgeting sounds scary, overwhelming, and restrictive.  For some it can make them look like deer in headlights, but trust me, once you get the hang of it, you can find it becomes easy, fast, and even enjoyable!

What is a Budget?

A budget is your estimated income and expenditures for a certain period of time.  Essentially: what you get paid and what you have to pay for with that money.

Why do I Need a Budget?

Without a budget, you are more apt to living paycheck-to-paycheck, make late payments, get assessed interest or late fees, and live beyond your means.  For many, this means living in a state of anxiety – who wants to live feeling anxious about money all the time???

How do I Make a Budget?

There are MANY ways to make a budget.  One of the simplest ways is by gathering bills and paystubs you’ve received in the last month or two, taking a piece of paper and hand-writing in 2 columns what each was.  For example:

SampleBudget
This is a very simplistic budget that covers a lot of the basic expenses a young adult might see.  Obviously individual situations will vary.  In this instance, this person is living within their means, with $400 left over at the end of the month.  This helps them to cover unexpected expenses, or just get a jump on the next month’s bills.

But I Live in the 21st Century!

Then guess what?  I have the perfect system for you!  It’s called You Need A Budget 🙂

There are a lot of budgeting programs out there, and I have tried quite a few, including the Dave Ramsey method (which I liked, but at some point felt got too preachy and judgmental) and Mint (which I found a little too simplistic for what I wanted), but until I found YNAB I just didn’t feel very successful.

YNAB allows you to budget not only from your desktop/laptop, but also lets you do it right from your smartphone!  Out at a restaurant?  Easily log your cost before you even leave the table.  With direct importing from banks there’s no need to go hunting for wayward charges, either!

What is You Need A Budget?

What I found with other programs was that you did a lot more “forecasting” – making estimates of what you will get coming in and going out in the future.  This can be nerve-wracking and problematic, especially if you get variable incomes and bills, or you have kids or elderly pets that may need emergency doctor visits, or you get sick and can’t work as many hours if you’re an hourly employee.

YNAB starts by focusing only on what is most important to you and making sure you give your money a job so you can plan ahead.  Confused?  Here is a quick video that explains the basics:

Are you going to make mistakes?  SURE!  We all do, but YNAB offers a variety of ways to get the help you need, especially when you’re just starting out – with a free online classes, a vibrant forum and an active Facebook group, you’ll only be a few clicks away from getting the answers or directions you need.

So what are you waiting for?  Go use their free, 34-day trial to give it a test run and see how you like it, and let me know if I can help you myself!

Note: this is not a paid post, I use this program myself and love it so much!  The annual fee is $50 for this program, which I have saved MANY times over and find it worth every penny, however if you choose to sign up for the program, both you and I will get a free month added to our subscription!

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