The Garden State Home Loans Team Tries Their Hand at Axe Throwing

On Wednesday, September 12th, the Garden State Home Loans staff took on Bury the Hatchet. Bury the Hatchet is a fun-filled group activity, that allows you to throw axes at a target! After the workday, the staff took off to Bury the Hatchet. After a safety talk and a few practice throws, we started our competition. Each person went head-to-head with another person on staff, throwing ten throws at the target for an attempt to get one, two, three, four, or six points. This gave us our base points to create a bracket to find out who would be the ultimate winner. Needless to say, we all had a great time.

If you are interested in taking on the axe throwing challenge, we highly recommend it. There are many locations all over the map! Look it up and see where the closest place to where you live is. Still aren’t convinced? Here are some great things to come out of axe throwing.

  1. Team building

Just like the Garden State Home Loans team, axe throwing is a great team building exercise. It’s a new challenge that can get everyone engaged. Not to mention the fun behind the group tournament to discover who the ultimate axe throwing champion in your office is.

  1. A fun workout

Not every bit of cardio needs to be in the gym. Each axe weighs about 3.5 pounds, so it’s a great way to get that heart rate pumping!

  1. Stress relief

What’s not relieving about throwing an axe at a target? Get out all that pent-up stress by aiming right for the bullseye!

  1. Do it for the ‘gram

If for nothing else, axe throwing makes for a great Instagram photo!

 

 

The team at Bury the Hatchet!

 

How to Clean Your Ceiling Fan

Cleaning Your Ceiling Fan

One thing that often gets forgotten about during the home cleaning process is the ceiling fan. Many people are too focused on collecting dust on the ground that they neglect to clean up the dust above their heads! Here are two easy ways to get your ceiling fan cleaned fast.

Using a Vacuum Cleaner

  1. See if your vacuum has a dusting or ceiling fan attachment

Many vacuums come with the attachment that is specifically for dusting. This gets placed over the vacuum’s hose and makes it easier to dust surfaces. If you don’t have one, you should consider getting one. A vacuum attachment typically costs around $10. The attachment you use should be wide and flat.

  1. Extend

Extend the vacuum handle so that it can reach the ceiling fan. If you have high ceilings (or you’re too short!) you may need to get a step stool or ladder to give you the elevation you need. Make sure you can reach the full length of the fan’s blade from where you are standing.

  1. Clean

Run the vacuum cleaner over the blades. The attachment will loosen the settled dust so the vacuum hose can suck it up. Go back over each blade after each swipe to make sure that you’ve picked up all the dust.

  1. Look for stray dust

Look around the surrounding area to see if any dust is on the floor or the furniture. If there is, the dust can be vacuumed up!

Cleaning by hand

  1. Use a cloth or a dusting glove

Dusting gloves slip onto your hand to let you wipe away dust. If you don’t have a dusting glove and don’t want to go out and purchase one, a cloth works just fine! If you’re using a cloth instead of a glove, dampen the cloth slightly before dusting. This will let the cloth hold more dust while cleaning.

  1. Get closer to the fan

Position yourself just under or slightly to the side of the fan. Cleaning your fan by hand makes it easier to stabilize the blades. When cleaning by hand, you will need to get up on a ladder or step stool to get closer to the fan. Be careful when using a ladder. You may want to have someone hold the ladder to prevent it from rocking.

  1. Dusting spray

Using a dusting spray, such as Pledge, will help get the best clean. However, some dusting sprays may contain wax, which isn’t good for certain surfaces. Look into what’s in your dusting spray and make sure that it reacts well with what material your fan is made of.

  1. Wipe clean

Spray the dusting spray and go over each fan blade with the cloth or dusting glove using straight strokes. If there is a lot of dust, you may need to go over the spot more than once.

Eight Uses for Aluminum Foil

Aluminum Foil Uses

Aluminum foil doesn’t just need to be regulated to wrapping leftovers. There are several other ways that aluminum foil can be used around the house. Here are a few examples.

  1. Sharpen dull scissors

Believe it or not, you can use aluminum foil to sharpen your scissors. Simply fold up a strip of aluminum foil several times until it’s a few layers thick. Then, cut through the layers a few times with the scissors to sharpen them.

  1. Keep clothes static-free

Don’t have dryer sheets? Use aluminum foil instead! Ball up the foil and throw it into the dryer with your clothes. It’ll keep your clothes from getting static-y!

  1. Iron your clothes faster

Place a sheet of aluminum foil on top of your ironing board, underneath the garment. The heat of the iron will be reflected from the foil, so it’s like ironing both sides of the garment at one time.

  1. Shine jewelry

Line a glass bowl with the foil, and fill the bowl with water and laundry detergent. This cleans your jewelry, such as rings and necklaces, and brings back their shine.

  1. Clean up pans and glassware

First things first, make sure your pan is not a non-stick pan. Using aluminum foil on a non-stick pan can scratch the finish of the pan. You can use a wad of aluminum foil to get off stuck on food off the pans or glassware simply by scrubbing at it.

  1. Protect from paint

If you don’t have painter’s tape on hand, try using aluminum foil. For fixtures such as doorknobs, drawer pulls, and other such fixtures, wrap them in aluminum foil to protect from paint getting on them.

  1. Soften brown sugar

Does a recipe call for brown sugar, but yours is hard as a rock? Aluminum foil can fix that! Wrap a bit of the sugar in a piece of aluminum foil and stick it in a 350-degree oven for five minutes.

  1. Keep your garden bug-free

Aluminum foil has a few benefits for your garden. Mixing in cut up strips of foil in with mulch can keep bugs away from your plants. In addition, the foil will also reflect light back to your plants, helping them to grow.

How to Build a Blanket Fort

Blanket Fort

You’re never too old to make (and hang out in) a blanket fort! They’re the perfect place to relax on a weekend…or whenever you want to build one. Here’s how to make the perfect blanket fort.

  1. Gather your materials

One of the great things about making a blanket fort is that you can use all the things that you already have laying around the house. Bring out a coat rack, chip clips, clamps, duct tape, and other such items to get your fort to stay up. To create the actual fort, take to your linens closet. You can use:

  • Sheets
  • Blankets, comforters, or sleeping bags
  • Pillows
  • Sofa cushions

You may also want to back the fort up to a couch or a few chairs to create structure and get a nice, cozy sitting place for your fort.

  1. Start building

Use lighter weight blankets or sheets for the top of your fort. Heavier blankets are not only more likely to weigh everything down, but they will also make your fort hotter.

  1. Up the comfy factor

Take your heavier blankets and comforters and place them on the floor. The more blankets you use, the more the floor will feel like a mattress. The comfier the floor is, the longer you’ll be able to chill in your awesome fort! Add in some pillows and you’ll never want to leave.

  1. Entertainment

While building the blanket fort is great entertainment, you’ll need something to do when it’s all finished! You can build your fort so that your television is inside it with you. Or you can bring in books, magazines, or different board games or gaming systems, whatever your heart desires.

  1. Enjoy!

Now that you’re all done building, all that’s left to do is enjoy your fort. Bring in some snacks (and paper towels to avoid crumbs), sit back, and relax.

How to: Deep Clean Your Bedroom

Deep Clean Your Bedroom

Your bedroom tends to accumulate a lot of stuff. As a room gets more cluttered, the less relaxed you feel in the room, and that’s the exact opposite of how you should feel in your bedroom. Here’s how to deep clean your bedroom to get your sanctuary back.

Pre-clean

  1. Take the sheets, pillowcases, and blankets off the bed and throw them into the washing machine.
  2. Take your curtains down. They’ll go in your next load of laundry! If you have blinds, wipe them down with a damp cloth.
  3. Place a flat sheet from your linen closet over the best. This will protect the bed from dust and dirt, and help make the bed into a large working surface.
  4. Fill up a bucket with warm, soapy water. Bring it into your room with a rag. You should also use a window cleaner and paper towels.
  5. Take everything off your dressers and end tables and put these items on the bed.

Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere

  1. Use a damp cloth to clean all surfaces in your room, including the window sill, bed frame, lamps, clocks, door handles, light switches, and end tables.
  2. If you have a ceiling fan, wipe it down.
  3. Go through the items on your bed and determine which you will keep and which should be thrown away or given away.
  4. Dust and clean the remaining items and place them back where they belong.
  5. Wash down windows, mirrors, and other glass surfaces with window cleaner and paper towels.

Bed time

  1. Take the mattress off the bed. If possible, turn over the box spring and vacuum underneath it.
  2. This is a great time to rotate your mattress. You should do this twice a year.
  3. Place the bed and mattress back in place and put the sheet on top again.

The floor

  1. Remove small and medium items from your floor and put them on the bed. If there are items on your closet floor, put them on your bed as well.
  2. Go through the items to see whether, if they are clothes, they are clean or dirty. Put the dirty clothes into your laundry basket. If they are other items, go through them to see which are trash and which should be put into storage.
  3. Take dirty clothes to the laundry room.
  4. Vacuum the floor.

Dressers and closet

  1. Empty your dresser drawers and closet shelves and go through your clothing. Rule of thumb: if you haven’t worn a piece of clothing in the past year, odds are you won’t wear it again. Instead of keeping it, consider donating the clothes to charity.
  2. Seasonal items can be stored in large rubber bins or on to a top shelf of the closet.
  3. Before returning clothes back to the drawers or shelves, wipe down the inside of the drawers and/or shelves.

Six Ways to Ace Your Job Hunt

Perfect the Job Hunt

No matter what, job hunting is difficult. The stress and time associated with the job hunt can be overwhelming at times. However, there are a few things you can do to get more prepared. Here’s how to ace the job hunt.

  1. Fix up your resume

Make sure your resume is up to date and free of grammatical errors. To avoid errors, have another person read through your resume. New eyes may be able to catch errors that you have passed over a hundred times. You may also want to adapt your resume to whatever job you are applying for. Research the format resumes are for the field you are applying in.  Make sure you know your resume well so that you are prepared for any questions the interviewer may ask you about your previous experience.

  1. Check your social media

With social media becoming more and more popular, job recruiters are using it as an opportunity to get to know their candidates better. With that being said, many potential candidates are passed up every day because their online personas don’t match with the company’s values. It is important to know where to draw the line when it comes to what you post on social media.

  1. Research

Before your interview, fully research the company. Look at their company website, their blog, social media accounts, and any articles written about them. Knowing more about the company, their values, and how they operate helps you understand if you truly mesh with the company.

You should always be fully aware of the job description you are paying for. An interviewer may ask you specific questions based on the job description, so you’ll want to be prepared in that case.

  1. Be professional, but be yourself

Prior to your interview, practice answering some common interview questions. However, when it comes time for the interview, don’t sound too rehearsed. Make sure your personality comes through in your answers.

  1. Body language

During your interview, your body language is extremely important. Make sure to sit up straight and do not slouch. This shows that you are alert and paying attention to what the interviewer is saying. In addition, eye contact is very important. Maintaining eye contact throughout the interview creates a connection with the interviewer and shows that you are listening to what the interviewer is saying.

  1. Follow up

After your interview is over, make sure to follow up with an email or a thank you not. This acts as a last point of contact and keeps you in the mind of the interviewer.

How to Start Saving For College

College Savings Accounts

College is expensive, even with loans. So, why not start the saving process early?  There are a few different ways that you can start saving early on that aren’t just a separate bank account. Here are three ways to start saving for college.

  1. 529 plan

Almost every state has its own 529 plan, also known as a Qualified Tuition Program, each coming with their own annual fees and operating costs. The great thing about a 529 plan is that you can put your money into any state’s plan. Spend some time looking around choose the state plan that you like best. The 529 plan also has tax advantages, the main one being that earning aren’t subject to federal taxes. You can usually begin with contributing small increments of cash. However, some state plans only allow for one adjustment to the account per year. When using this plan, you typically invest after-tax money. You can withdraw the money for qualified education expenses, such as tuition or textbooks. If your child ends up not going to college, you will face possible fees and tax penalties when withdrawing the funds.

You can also consider using a 529 college prepaid plan. For this plan, you can choose a college in your state and buy tuition credits and the current tuition rate. That way, you will not have to wait until your child is preparing to go to college and pay the going rate then. However, if your child does not want to go to the school you’ve chosen, you can get your money back, but it may not have grown as much as it would have in a different account.

  1. UTMA and UGMA account

UTMA and UGAM accounts are custodial accounts that act as a trust for your child. Assets like annuities, stocks, bonds, or cash can be put on reserve into one of these accounts. However, your child’s college of choice will take the amount of money in these accounts when considering financial aid. If you have a lot of money in one of these accounts, the school may not offer you a lot of financial aid. However, if you have a lot of money in the account, you may not need financial aid.

Before opening a UTMA or UGMA account, discuss it with a financial advisor. These accounts are considered your child’s asset, not yours. This means the money belongs to your child. Once your child turns 18, they can use the money for college or for something else.

  1. Coverdell Education Savings Account

Coverdell Education Savings Accounts are used specifically for your child’s education. However, the main downside of this type of account is that you can’t put more than $2,000 a year into one or multiple education savings accounts. The money in the account is typically tax-advantaged if the money is used to pay for educational expenses. If the funds are not used by the time your child turns 30, they may be subject to taxes.

A Coverdell education savings account is considered your asset, not your child’s. This means that it will have less of an impact on their chance at getting financial aid. In addition, the money in these accounts can be used to cover any educational expenses, including private school tuition for grades K-12.

Living a Cash-Only Lifestyle

How to Live a Cash-Only Lifestyle

If you have a habit of overspending, living a cash-only lifestyle may be a good option for you. Living within a definite budget helps you towards a debt-free lifestyle. If you would like to live a cash-only lifestyle, here are a few steps to follow.

  1. Categorize your spending

The first thing you need to do is determine what you’re spending and where. Divide all your expenses into categories and see how much of your paycheck is going towards those areas. If you don’t know how much you are spending, track your spending for a month using a notebook or a note taking app each time you go out to shop. The most logical categories to go cash-only on are those where you are consistently overspending. This may include groceries, entertainment, or clothing.

  1. Leave the debit card behind

Stop using your credit card for any of the categories that you determined in the step above. If you think you won’t be able to resist the temptation of the plastic, consider leaving your debit card behind for a few weeks to break the habit of using your card.

  1. Track your purchases

One way to track your purchase, or keep allotted cash separate from each other, is to use the envelope system. For each category, put a certain amount of money into the envelope and then put the receipts into the envelope so you can see what you spent at the end of the month.

  1. Take out cash only at a specified time

Limit the number of times you withdraw money from your bank account. Consider making the trip to the bank on payday. You can also ask your teller to give you your money in the correct denominations for each of your categories.

  1. Plan

It’s never a good idea to carry around a huge wad of money with you. Figure out where you are going for the day and plan out approximately how much money you are going to need and bring just that amount with you. This will also cut down on impulse purchases.

  1. Limit yourself and adjust accordingly

Don’t continue to spend money once you have gone through your allocated money for a category. If you find that you always have money left over in one category and always run out in another, adjust your money accordingly to fit your spending habits.

Moving with a Pet Bird

Moving with Birds

Moving with birds can be quite a challenge. If you have a feathered friend, follow these tips if you’re preparing for a move.

Preparing

Before you start the moving process, visit your vet. You will need to obtain certain documents for the move. If you are moving to a new state, you may need new documents or vaccines. You should also discuss with your vet the best ways to keep your bird safe and healthy during the relocation process. This may include stress-reducing and immunity boosting vitamins, probiotics or other supplements in your bird’s diet that you can include in your bird’s diet for a couple of weeks before you move. You may also want to ask about ways to quickly adjust your pet to their new surroundings.

Traveling in a car

The first thing you should do when traveling by car is to make the cage safe for travel. Remove any toys or swings in addition to the water and food receptacles. There shouldn’t be anything that can accidentally fall or shift inside the cage and hurt your bird. Use tie wraps on all the sides and the door of the cage as extra protection to secure the cage to the backseat. Never place a cage over a box or some other item, as the cage can easily fall over.

You want your bird to be comfortable when you’re traveling to your new abode. Cover the cage with a lightweight cloth or blanket to provide your security. You may also want to consider using glare guards to protect your bird from direct sunlight. Leave air-conditioning running, as birds are sensitive to temperature changes. Juicy fruit and vegetables keep your bird hydrated throughout the journey. If you are traveling a long distance, plan stops to give your bird proper food and water. Additionally, if you have to stay in a hotel, make sure you can bring your pet to the hotel with you.

Traveling by plane

If you need to travel by plane, you will need a hard-plastic kennel cab. Look for one that is designed to prevent risks during flight and turbulence. The perch should be installed near the bottom, so no injury will be caused if the bird falls from the perch. The carrier should also not be large enough that your bird would try to fly, as this can cause injury. Encourage your bird to sleep in the carrier a few times before the flight so they get accustomed to it. This will reduce their anxiety levels throughout the journey.

Line the bottom of the carrier with paper and seed to provide bedding and food for the duration of the flight. Just as if you were traveling by car, juicy fruit can be placed in the carrier for a source of food and hydration. When flying, label the carrier appropriately and choose a direct flight, avoiding weekend days and major holidays, as these flights are typically more crowded. Insurance may also be necessary when traveling by plane with your bird.

Getting settled

When in your new home, place your bird’s cage in a room away from the noise of unloading and unpacking. If your bird is plucking at their feathers more than usual, visit the vet as the bird may still be on a stress overload from the move.

 

How to Avoid Bankruptcy

Avoiding Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy occurs when your liabilities exceed your assets or when you have an insufficient cash flow to service your debt. In other words, bankruptcy happens when you don’t have enough money to pay off your bills. Declaring bankruptcy has many consequences and can affect your credit for many years. If you feel that you are on the verge of this, here are a few things you can do to avoid having to declare bankruptcy.

  1. See what you can sell

Do you have unopened or unused items that have just been collecting dust on your shelves? Consider putting those on eBay or having a yard sale to get some extra money. Extra pieces of furniture and collectibles are great for a quick cash turnaround. Fashion items, such as brand-name sneakers, bags, and sunglasses, are also great for some extra money if they are in good condition.

  1. Say goodbye to unnecessary expenses

Cut out any unnecessary expenses, such as gym memberships, streaming services, eating out, and vacations. While this might seem intense, remember that this is only a temporary situation. A few months without the extras will be worth it if you don’t have to declare bankruptcy!

  1. Second job

If your current job isn’t enough to pay your bills, consider getting a second job. Even if you only have time on the weekends, the extra cash flow can definitely help you pay off your existing debts faster.

  1. Contact your creditors

While it may seem like your creditors would be the last entity you want to contact, they can actually help you. Many creditors may be interested in helping find a way to settle your situation. They would rather help you settle the situation rather than lose the money they sent you. See if they will lower your interest rate and work out a repayment plan.

  1. Switch to cash

Budgeting your income should become a large part of overcoming your debt. Set a weekly budget for your necessities and pay for them with cash. Put away the credit cards for now and don’t use them until you have more of a grasp on your debt.

  1. Borrow from friends or family

Use this a last resort situation. Borrowing from friends and family can make these relationships when it comes to paying back that money. If you know that this wouldn’t just be a temporary fix, this might be a good solution for you. Make sure that you plan out a repayment plan. Be as clear with the payback terms before you borrow the money.