How to attract birds to your home

If you’re looking to entice a colorful collection of birds to your home, you’ll need more than just a sack of birdseed. Offering food to your feathered friends is a great start, but if you want them to stick around for more than just a quick snack, you’ll need to provide a more welcoming environment. Here’s how to turn your home into a bird sanctuary. 

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Renovate your home with mortgage financing

It’s been a record year for home renovations. With countless Americans staying home for work or school and cancelling planned expenses like vacations, many people have gained the motivation and the means to repair, upgrade or expand their living spaces. But what if you don’t have the funds for a big renovation project sitting in your bank account? The right mortgage solution may hold the key to financing your renovation.

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Tips for moving safely during COVID-19

Many people have cancelled or postponed life events due to COVID-19, but the number of people moving into new homes has been on the rise lately. Fortunately, moving safely during COVID-19 is possible by following extra safety precautions and doing proper research beforehand. Whether you’re moving down the block, to another town or across the country, here are some tips for making your move smoother and safer.

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Tips to prepare your home for selling

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if selling your home was as easy as putting it on the market as is and waiting for someone to make an offer? That may be wishful thinking, but you can increase the odds of a quicker deal if you spend enough time preparing to sell your home. With a few simple changes, your house will be ready to dazzle potential buyers as soon as they step through the door.

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A Guide to Decluttering Your Home

The meteoric rise of organizing guru Marie Kondo and her philosophy of living a tidy life has made one thing abundantly clear for many Americans – we hold on to too much stuff! A cluttered space full of unnecessary things leads to a cluttered brain full of unnecessary thoughts. If the KonMari Method seems too extreme for you (Kondo recommends getting rid of everything that doesn’t spark joy), parting with even a few items and organizing the rest can completely rejuvenate your home. Follow these steps to start living a life free from clutter.

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Improve Your Home and Office with the Benefits of Houseplants

Anyone who spends time appreciating Earth’s natural beauty will tell you how refreshing walking amongst the wilderness can be. “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks,” wrote environmentalist John Muir. The true beauty of plants is that their benefits can be felt wherever we experience them, both outdoors and inside. Adding a few plants to your home or office won’t necessarily compare to a quiet walk in the woods, but the benefits of houseplants will help rejuvenate your space and provide a breath of fresh air for those times when you can’t be outside.

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How to Start Your Own Vegetable Garden

Looking to get outdoors, eat healthier and save money, all in one activity? You can do all this with vegetable gardening! Starting a home vegetable garden is a great way to put fresh, healthy food on your table while saving money in the produce section. Gardening is a fun project that can have the whole family outdoors and working together. Here’s how to get going with your first vegetable garden – even if you don’t have a yard to plant one in.

Preparing Your Vegetable Garden

Before reaching for your overalls and shovel, stop and consider a few important factors for your garden.

What type of vegetables should you grow?

The best vegetables to grow in your garden are ones you will actually eat! Don’t let that hard work go to waste because you remembered your distaste for Brussels sprouts only after harvesting them.

Local climate also plays a big role in deciding what to plant. Certain vegetables do better in certain growing conditions. Enter your zip code into this USDA Hardiness Zone Map for more information on your area’s growing conditions and for a detailed list of vegetables that do well in your area during certain timeframes. You can also reach out to local gardening groups or the staff at garden centers and plant nurseries for advice.

Decide what you’ll be putting into the ground: seeds or transplants. Transplanting a young seedling into your garden will give you a head start on harvesting but will cost more than purchasing seeds. While transplanted veggies tend to resist more pests, some – like carrots, spinach and beets – fare better when planted as seeds.

Lettuce, beets, kale, peas, cherry tomatoes, green beans and radishes are a few safe bets for first-time gardeners.

Where should you grow?

Picking a spot for your garden is just as important as picking the vegetables to grow in it. Spend some time watching your yard to see where the sun hits the longest. Most vegetables like long exposure to sunlight, so avoid shady spots or areas with a lot of tree coverage.

Consider container gardening if you’re working with limited space! A 5-gallon bucket can easily be transformed into a perfect single-plant container for growing vegetables in a smaller yard, a balcony or even indoors.

For those in urban areas, see if your neighborhood has a community garden. Community gardens provide city dwellers with a patch of land to cultivate as their own in the concrete jungle.

Planting Your Vegetable Garden

Now that you’ve picked what you’re planting and selected a spot, it’s time to get this garden growing.

Preparing the Soil

  1. If planting directly into the ground, you’ll need to clear the area of any grass or plants currently growing there.
  2. Till the soil to make the ground loose and fertile for your vegetables.
  3. The garden beds should be 3-4 feet across – narrow enough to reach the center from either side.

Planting Your Vegetables

  1. Use a garden trowel to dig holes with enough room around them to let your plants grow. Consult this handy plant spacing chart for more information on your crops. 
  2. Carefully place your seeds or plants in the holes. Cover the plants with the same amount of soil that covered them in their pots.
  3. Water your plants to settle them into the new soil.
  4. Check the soil regularly for moisture. Water the plants about once a week or when the soil is dry a half-inch below the surface.

Conclusion

Vegetable gardening can help relieve stress while producing delicious food. How many hobbies can you say that about? Don’t be discouraged if your dinner table isn’t piling up with fresh veggies during your first harvest. Gardening involves some trial and error, so if a plant does poorly the first time, look at it as a learning experience to improve for next time. If a full-blown vegetable garden seems a bit intimidating, start greening your thumb on a smaller herb garden instead!

What you need to know about forbearance

If you are experiencing financial difficulty due to the coronavirus and you cannot make your payments,  you need to reach out to your loan’s servicer (the company you make your payment to) immediately.

If you are still able to make your mortgage payments, it is recommended that you do so.

Do not participate in a forbearance plan without asking these specific questions:

  • When will the missed payments become due?
    • Believe it or not, some servicers are waiving payments, but then asking for a ‘balloon payment’ at the end of the forbearance term. In other words, you may skip 3, 6 or 12 months of payments but then have it all due, with interest, at the end of that term.
  • Will I still acquire interest during this period?
    • Make sure that your agreement is clear on if, or how much, interest will be charged during the forbearance period. Most, if not all, of these programs are similar to when you get a furniture credit card. You don’t have to pay any interest until the term comes due.
  • Will this impact my credit?
    • If you simply stop making payments without contacting your servicer, and having an agreed upon forbearance plan in writing, you definitely WILL affect your credit negatively.
  • When will I know, for sure, that I can stop making payments and for how long?
    • Get EVERYTHING in writing. If a customer service rep tells you something on the phone, that is NOT a forbearance plan.

You can find more details in the video below.