Building a Green Building: Key Principles

These days, a lot of people are becoming increasingly aware of the advantages of having an energy efficient home and this is why they employ the services of a reputable energy consulting firm to help them design a home that is sustainable and eco-friendly.

What is an Energy Efficient Home?

An energy efficient home often has features such as wind power, geothermal heating and solar panels. But green living is not solely based on the use of renewable energy. It’s also about designing the house in such a way that energy becomes more efficiently utilized; a home that is well insulated and properly positioned to rely mostly on passive cooling and heating

With this kind of home, you will use minimal energy to light, heat and your household appliances. A house with majority of its windows are facing south (passive solar) can lessen their heating requirements by up to 25% without spending anything.

But it’s also important to design the home properly so that during summer, you can avoid overheating. Your building should be well insulated and properly sealed so that cool air won’t escape due to leak or moisture.

Go for a Reasonably Sized Home

Naturally, the smaller the house, the more efficient it is. It also means you’ll need lesser materials to build it, less space to cool and less space to heat. If you’re a small family then you don’t need to build a big house. We recommend an average of 700 square feet per person.

Make Your Home Flexible

Design your home in such a way that it accommodates any future changes with little disruption. Your household size will change over time so you should also make your home flexible. You can lower environmental and financial costs brought about by a major renovation if you anticipate possible changes while you’re still at the design stage.

Use Reclaimed Materials

You can re-use existing building materials and doing so makes you part of the green building movement. Green building begins at the design phase so by incorporating used materials, you are doing your part to help the environment and at the same time, save money on construction costs.

Design Your Green Home

Regardless of whether you design your dream home yourself or you are going to hire a professional to do it for you, the important thing is that you keep in mind the principles of green living. If you have a designer for your home, make sure you pick one who shares your vision or at the very least, understands what you want.

There’s also the option of buying a pre-drawn plan which may be cheaper however, it can be difficult to find a plan for a green home. If you have the time and the inclination, you can draw up your own plan. It’s fun and rewarding, and you’ll learn a lot from this project too. Just make sure you understand the building regulations in your locality so you don’t end up breaking any rules.

What is More Sustainable than Living Off your Dividends

When I question whether something is sustainable I think of whether “it” can be responsibly maintained.  The goal of creating a dividend income stream should be to eventually use just the dividends letting the principal continue to grow.  It is analogous to living off the fruits of a tree rather than cutting down the tree itself, dividend payments can eventually provide an income stream that is sustainable since you don’t have to erode the principal.

This post was inspired by an interesting post the other day from a great dividend sites Sure Dividend that explored the idea of dividends paying stocks like a tree,

You start with something small – an actual seed, or a bit of hard-earned money.

Before you plant your seed or invest your money, you have to find the right place to put your tree seed or your money. Throwing a seed onto a rock will not do, nor will investing in a business on its last legs.

***

Over time, your sapling becomes a tree. It now is producing seeds of its own. Your dividend stock’s payments have grown over time. In both cases, the cycle begins anew.

The tree’s seeds beget more trees. The dividend stock’s dividend payments are reinvested into other high quality dividend growth stocks.

***

Once your first tree produces other trees, eventually you will have a forest of trees – let’s say they are fruit bearing trees.

You can now happily live off the sustenance your fruit trees provide.

Dividend stocks are the same way. Over time, your dividend income will grow. You will be able to live on the dividend payments of your dividend stocks.

Your Goal Should be to Live off the Dividends and Leave the Principal

Every time you eat into principal you are affecting your future income.  If you have a $500,000 portfolio yielding 4% ($20,000), but you sell another $20,000 of principal you are looking at $480,000 if that were to yield that same 4% (ignoring the growth of the underlying assets) you are looking $19,200 the following year.  Again, this is compounded when you still need that same $40,000 (now it is $19,200 of dividends and $20,800 of principal0.  In addition to the natural erosion of principal the problem compounds itself if it is a down year.

I am not sure if I’ll ever be able to a large enough portfolio where I can solely live off the dividends, but it’ll be a nice part of the income investments I’d like to create over the next few decades.

Buying or Renting is Not the Only Argument when it Comes to Housing

Housing debates, the kind that as you grow older start to fill your conversation with friends over drinks. Should I rent or buy? Should I get a roommate to share the cost? Should I invest in a rental property? or even Should I move in with my parents?

This is the new reality for today’s housing market. If you live in a major metropolitan centre you may have even been priced out of your market. Did you know that if you make an average income in San Francisco that you would need four roommates to get by? How about eight in Hong Kong?

This infographic from the real estate agents at Liberty Village Toronto, calculates the number of roommates needed for major cities across the globe. It also provides some really neat stats around home ownership that you may have not considered.

Spoiler: Hong Kong is probably not the place for you.

Do-You-Need-A-Roommate1

Graphic Design by Miami Seo Company, Vol & Tier Digital

Are Falling House Prices Really a Bad Thing?

Falling home prices are usually reported with all the doom and gloom expected of a smallpox outbreak. Yes, lower prices do decrease the wealth of homeowners as they lose equity in their property. That decrease in wealth can take its toll on consumer confidence and spending, and even the creation of new businesses. However, there are definitely some positive benefits of falling home prices in the marketplace.

  • Reduction in inflation: Falling home prices typically reduce inflationary pressure on the economy. This will keep prices in check for homes as well as consumer goods, autos, and even groceries.
  • Lowered interest rates: As prices for homes fall, and inflation lowers, the MPC can consider reducing interest rates in an attempt to stir the economy. History has shown that lowering interest rates does get the market moving again.
  • Homeowners can save by refinancing at lower rates: Lowered rates can help homeowners with equity to save on their mortgage payments by refinancing at the lowered interest rates.
  • Increases in home sales: Falling home prices can make them more attractive to potential buyers. Who does not love a bargain, after all? Of course, increasing home sales will help stabilize the falling home prices as well. In states like California and New York while it’s true that the prices tend to be on the higher side compared to other states, if you consult with a California mortgage broker or one in New York, to give you an example, they can better help you find these bargains as they know more about the real estate in their own areas.
  • First time buyers will qualify more easily: Many of those shopping for their first home will be better able to afford a property with falling prices. Where they may not have qualified for a mortgage in the past, they may now. The percentage a bank is willing to lend takes into account the applicant’s income, which is generally less for younger borrowers.
  • Renters may buy homes: In addition to first time buyers, renters might move to buy a home as prices come down, making homeownership more attractive than renting to them.
  • More people will qualify for mortgage loans: As prices and interest rates are lowered, many more people will be able to purchase a home. Lenders use a potential borrower’s debt to income ratios and a mortgage affordability calculator to figure out how much a borrower can afford to pay back. With lowered rates, a borrower will be able to afford a higher priced home. If you want to see how much you can afford, check out this mortgage calculator for details.

More affordable housing helps public sector staffing: When housing is not affordable in certain areas, the effect is to cause shortages of teachers, nurses and police officers in those areas, which in turn makes the local economy worse. Some areas have even turned to immigration to fill those jobs, which is not an ideal situation.

Falling house price points are definitely not all negative, as you can see. In fact, it just might stir up the economy and help many people own homes that had given up on that dream. Currently, the banks are in a position where they are now returning to lending levels that are similar to those that pre-date the global financial crash of 2008. The opportunities available to those who are in the house market are currently at their greatest abundance for 8 years. Are we going to see first time buyers taking advantage of this?

 

Stuck for Cash? Get an Illinois Title Loan

Nothing is worse than needing some quick cash, but not haven’t enough in your wallet or bank account. Often unexpected bills arrive at the least opportune times—the car breaks right before the big vacation—or you lose your job and need to pay rent. A car title loan may be the best way for obtaining the cash you need quickly.

Title loans work by turning your car title into fast cash. It works as a loan, which you repay over a set payment schedule. The process works quickly, and most applicants will have their cash within twenty-four hours. This is often a lot faster loan than a bank can provide, particularly if you’re applying for your loan over the weekend, or in the evening.

Most banks have a longer application process, and you may have to give a reason for your loan, such as to pay bills, job loss, etc., which are reasons they may not like to hear.

Many people also have a bad credit score. This may have resulted from a job loss in the past where many bills were paid late. But with Illinois Title Loans they won’t look at your past credit history. Instead, your loan is secured with collateral, in this case it’s your car. In the event that you can’t pay back your loan, your car’s title will pass to the lender. It doesn’t happen too often, but you can be confident that you’ll have obtained a fair price for it. In the event this happens, your credit history will not be affected at all.

To see how much money you can get on your car title loan, visit the0 Illinois Title Loans website. Enter details about your vehicle: year, make, model, style, and estimated mileage, and click Next. The next step is entering details about you: full name, cell number, email and zip code. You’ll have to x the box to agree to receiving a quote on how much cash your car is worth. You’ll also need to agree to the privacy and wireless policies, and the terms and conditions, then click the Submit button.

Shortly afterwards, you’ll receive your quote. There is no obligation for obtaining a quote—if all you want to do is see how much you can get, you don’t need to follow through with the application process. But if you do, you’ll receive details in your email account. The entire application process will take less than 24 hours.

Another great benefit to obtaining title loans is that you can still keep on driving your car. This is different than obtaining a loan from a pawn shop, where you must surrender your item until you have paid the loan back in full.

Some other ways you can use the quick cash from a car loan include paying for medical or business expenses, car repairs, and many other reasons. There are no restrictions to how you spend your cash.

Choose Illinois Title Loans for the next time you need a loan. You may have some great ideas for how you’re going to spend your extra cash

Unleash Your Inner Kendall Jenner: Wear Leggings as Your Pants

“Leggings aren’t pants” – I cannot count how many times I have heard this. For some, it is just another anodyne comment. Come to think of it though, the statement is deeply misogynistic. It is already 2016 man, but we are still telling women what to wear. For generations, men and some women have suppressed women to submit to their rules based on how society believes women should think and behave.

If a woman’s body is conventionally fit or sexy, she needs to cover up because she is sexually disturbing. If a woman’s body does fit within the ridiculously narrow standards of beauty, she needs to cover it because it’s unappealing. What a chauvinist way of thinking. Where is the progress in that? A woman should be freely able to choose for themselves what to wear. And if other people have a problem with the way she dress up, that is not her problem.

So girls, if you like wearing leggings as pants, go ahead! Never mind the haters and unleash your inner Kendall Jenner.

If you are convinced yet on wearing leggings as pants, here are the reasons why you should. And I swear, once you wear leggings, you’ll never go back.

  1. They are the one of the comfiest clothing ever made

Wearing them will make you say “halleluiah” because it feels super comfortable. The fabric is super stretchable and soft so it feels like you are wearing pajamas outdoors. Also, putting them on is not much of a hassle unlike the ordinary jeans.

  1. They are fashionable

Despite a number of leggings-haters telling it’s immodest, a lot of fashion icons like Beyonce, Vera Wang, Kendall Jenner and Kate Moss wear them in different occasions. Even the late Audrey Hepburn wore them. So see, if these icons wear leggings as pants, what is stopping you? If you just know how to mix and match, you can wear leggings and still look classy.

  1. It allows you to breathe

When a friend invited you for a buffet dinner, wear leggings. Wearing leggings always means more room for food. YAAS! It also covers up your bloating due to pre-menstrual period. During summer, leggings are also an alternative from denim jeans because of its breathability.

  1. They are flattering on anyone

Aside from the basic black leggings, other dark shade leggings can also be just as slimming and sophisticated. Try out chocolate, plum, navy blue, asphalt and charcoal. Just remember that colors that blend elongate the body the most. As for the length, when choosing Capris, make sure the leggings stop at where the legs start to narrow. When you want to add bulk to your legs, choose leggings with patterns, knits and rips.

 

  1. Bend-over friendly

When people bend over while wearing leggings, they don’t run the risk of seeing everything exposed like one could while wearing jeans.

  1. Leggings can be paired with a variety of clothing

One can pair cotton leggings with a summer or spring dress. Just make sure that the colors of the dress and the leggings complement each other. If your dress has a lot of designs, opt for solid-colored leggings Pairing leggings with a longer top or jacket is also acceptable as long as you wear the right shoes. Knee-high boots, sandals, flip-flops and moccasins suit best with leggings.

When going to work, wear leggings that are made up of leather, suede or denim. y To look professional though, wear a fancy top or use a blazer made up of quality material. Having a variety of leggings to choose from will make it easier to mix and match outfits for different occasions.

A Financial Frame of Mind: Drawing the Line Between Frugal and Obsessively Cheap

Michael Jackson was known for the lavish shopping sprees that he went on for his own amusement. According to unauthorized biographies by Randy J. Tarraborelli and others, though, Jackson could be grasping when it came to compensating the music producers, attorneys, managers, security agents and other professionals whose skills he depended on.

Michael Jackson’s life carries an important moral lesson on the line between frugality and cheapness, generosity and flash.  If your particular brand of financial philosophy hurts anyone — you or others in any way, you’re probably doing something wrong.

What are some of the other tests to apply to yourself?

What is your bottom line — price or value? It’s an important test to apply. If you find yourself picking a cheap, low-capacity computer solely for the price savings to be had and don’t feel like thinking about how you lose out on productivity, you could be crossing the line from frugality to cheapness.

Do you want to save to spend, or just save to save? Those who are frugal love to spend, but only on the things that they personally consider important. They may not shop for clothes or gadgets, but may spend on a college course or a great vacation. The frugal person does want to spend, but wants to do it on their own terms. A person who is cheap saves for no good reason.

Is there any elective spending that makes you happy? If you tend to lean towards cheapness, there is probably no kind of spending that does. Every elective expense leaves you with a feeling of guilt and dread. If you have a healthy attitude to money, though, there are likely to be plenty of things that you can think of, that you would spend on without feeling bad.

Are your choices short-sighted ones? Would you buy a cheaper home for the saving right now, even if it means a poor long-term investment? The inability to loosen up for a better investment is a hallmark of obsessive thrift. When it comes to investments, it’s important to take the long view.

Is your thrift more about smartness or brute force? People who tend towards frugality spend less money by being smart about their shopping. They might always buy quality brands, but choose the previous year’s model to save money. They might spend some time couponing, and always be careful never to pay credit card interest. When you’re cheap, you usually go all out, and simply shut down your spending. Your purchases will tend towards unreliable, low-cost brands, or not buying anything, at all.

Do you like spending to make others happy? Frugal people usually do. They find their careworn minds loosening up when it comes to an opportunity to spend a little money to make someone happy. If you find that you’re unable to happily spend for any reason, there’s a problem.

Finding the will to change

Whether you hold on to your money or blow everything to impress others, you basically value money itself, rather than the power to create happiness that it represents. While being tight-fisted can make you happy in a narrow sense, it can have devastating consequences on your life and the lives of those who depend on you. It’s important to step back, take a look at what your relationship with money does, and gradually develop the will to change. If you’re willing to give yourself enough time, and to begin a careful move towards moderation, you’ll find that it leaves everyone far happier.

Start by spending on others

Buy the best gifts for your loved ones on birthdays and on holidays, going as far as you can afford. Look for good charities to give to, and don’t claim a tax break. Tip well, and be generous when you pay people who work for you.

Certainly, you shouldn’t spend any more than you can actually afford. It’s important when you begin to loosen up, that you are aware of exactly where you’re headed financially. If you aren’t used to being free with your money, it could end in overreach.

Make solid, logically defensible choices

One of the best ways to make the change is to carefully begin paying for greater quality in every purchase. Whether it’s a car where you get greater protection or better quality foods that are more nutritious, upgrades where you can easily calculate the value that you’re getting for your money are an excellent way to begin.

Look for the irrationality

A careful look at your motivations for not wanting to spend money is usually the ultimate way to change. It can take a painful look at yourself to be successful. In the end, though, it’s worth it.

Sheldon Roberson came across frugal living a few years ago, and was instantly hooked as she realized how it could assist her as an investor. She encourages others to learn about these lesser-known ideas and writes on the topic for a small number of blogs.