hardwood floorsAre you interested in installing hardwood floors in your home? This is one of the newest trends in interior design. Despite the fact that you may be interested in hardwood, there is a detail that could be holding you back: cost.

When compared to ceramic tile, vinyl, and carpet, it is easy to see that hardwood is generally the most expensive option. Sure, you could find expensive ceramic – or even granite or slate tiles – but generally, hardwood is usually more expensive.

Fortunately, saving money on the cost of hardwood flooring is easier than ever before. By taking the right steps, you can have great looking wood throughout any room (or multiple spaces) in your home in almost no time at all.

1. Consider Your Options
Not all hardwood floors are created equal. In fact, as you begin to shop around, you will find that you have multiple options. Your three basic choices include:

  • Solid wood floors
  • Engineered wood floors
  • Laminate wood floors

Solid wood floors are the most expensive. These consist of one solid piece of wood, usually ¾ inch thick. Solid hardwood floors come in many sizes, colors, and types of wood. The most common types of wood include maple, hickory, and cherry.

If you want the look and feel of hardwood, but don’t want to spend the money, take a step down to engineered wood floors. These floors are produced by laminating multiples pieces of hardwood plies. While not hardwood through and through, this is a great option.

What about laminate wood floors? This is the cheapest of the three. These floors are not made of wood, but do give off the appearance. If you are solely interested in getting the wood look and feel at the cheapest price, laminate is probably your best choice.

2. Look for Closeout Deals
With so many companies manufacturing hardwood flooring products, from time to time you will find great deals on “old” product. Buying a closeout product does not mean you are getting ripped off. At one point, this sale flooring was the cream of the crop – the new kid on the block.

You will have to do a bit of comparison shopping to find the best closeout deals. In addition to big box and local hardware stores, check online prices. Don’t be shy about ordering online if you are confident in what you are buying and are able to get a great deal.

3. Do It Yourself
One of the biggest costs associated with installing hardware flooring is labor. But what if you do the job yourself? This is by far one of the best ways to cut back on the cost.

Take, for example, a 500 square foot space. If you are able to find flooring for $3 per square foot, your approximate cost will be $1,500. However, if you hire a professional to install the floor, you can expect this price to increase by $1,000 to $1,500. Even if you don’t have experience, hardwood flooring products today are generally simple to install.

Final Thoughts
Upgrading your home can be a lot of fun. Adding hardwood floors is a great way to take the look of any room to the next level. If you are interested in this flooring option, but worried about the cost, consider the three strategies above. By employing one or more of these tips, you can save a lot of money.

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college student majorChoosing the right major in college is a very important decision, and one that should not be taken lightly. However, by putting too much pressure on yourself, you may end up making a hasty and incorrect choice. If you do your homework, take a close look at yourself, and check all available options, you’re more likely to select a major that will offer you long-term happiness and financial benefits.

1. Choose Something You Will Enjoy
Choosing to focus on a subject that you enjoy is the most important factor in determining your major. Becoming mired in a career for which you have no passion is an unenviable position – you can make all the money in the world, but if you’re not happy with your work, you’ll never be satisfied.

2. Evaluate Yourself
A wealth of online quizzes and evaluations are available to help uncover your strengths and talents. While you may think you know yourself, these tools can often identify hidden skills and reveal intriguing career paths to consider. Usually, when taking such quizzes, you can choose only one response for each question. If you feel that you could have chosen more than one answer for one or more questions, simply re-take the test to get a more comprehensive picture of your abilities.

3. Ask Friends and Family
When attempting to choose a major, you don’t need to place the entire decision solely on yourself – ask your friends and family what industry they think you’d perform well in. Often, you’ll be surprised at what they tell you. People that are close to you can offer an unbiased and objective opinion as to what career in which you could potentially excel.

4. Research
There are literally hundreds of choices available to you to major in, so it can be tough to narrow them down to a select few. But once you’ve got a good idea as to where you think you could be successful, fully investigate each industry. Research job descriptions, average starting salaries, advancement potential, and what the future job prospects are for each industry. Even if you think you’ve found the perfect major that could lead to a dream career, you could instead have a big problem if nobody is hiring.

5. Intern
By interning, you will receive an in-depth look at the industry in which you are considering entering, while establishing contacts with professionals in the field, which will be helpful when it comes time to look for a job. Both paid and unpaid options exist, and many will earn you academic credits. If you remain “undeclared” during your first semester or two of college, an internship during your first summer break could help point you in the right direction.

6. Take Your Time
Rather than having your mind set before attending your first class, you can always simply wait. Most core curricula at universities are similar in nature for the first year or two, so you do not need to commit to a major until you start your third year.

Start by attending core classes and earning the best grades you can. Meanwhile, get to know other students who are studying subjects that you’re interested in. They can offer you insights as to the classes are like and what the major can be used for after graduation – plus, this allows you to establish a wide range of contacts, which can come in handy in later years when it comes to finding a job.

Final Thoughts

You may decide upon a major during your first semester of college, or you may choose it after your second year has concluded. Regardless, there will almost always be time to change your mind further down the road. It may take you a bit longer to graduate if you make a change later on in your studies – it is advisable to try to avoid switching majors beyond your sophomore year – but it is also crucial to earn a degree in a field that you truly love and that will provide you with a long and beneficial career. To achieve this, it may very well be worthwhile to slightly extend your studies than to graduate with a degree that you regret or do not use in your professional life.

What other ideas do you have for choosing a major in college?

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landscaping toolsWith winter coming to an end and warm weather closing in across the country, homeowners are beginning to think about landscaping ideas for the spring season. Even if yard work isn’t your ideal past time, a little bit of effort is needed to ensure that your property is up to par the others on your block.

There are two major downfalls of landscaping: the necessary physical labor, and the cost of supplies. Outside of hiring help, there is nothing you can do about the sweat equity required to landscape your yard. Fortunately, there are ways you can save on the cost of supplies.

Ways to Save on Landscaping Supplies

1. Buy In Bulk
This is a lesson I learned the hard way last year. Week after week, I would head to the local Home Depot and purchase a couple of bags of mulch at $5 a pop. At the time, I saw nothing wrong with this. But toward the end of summer, I was struck by the realization that I had purchased in excess of 30 bags.

Shortly after realizing my mistake, I called a couple landscaping companies in my area. Both of them told me they could deliver mulch, in bulk, at a fraction of the cost of big box stores. After receiving a quote from two companies, I found that I could definitely save by purchasing in bulk. And not only do they offer mulch, they have great deals on top soil as well! As you can imagine, this spring, I will be having one batch of mulch delivered to me rather than paying more to haul individual bags from the store to my home.

If the prices sound great, but the quantity is more than you really need, consider buying in bulk and splitting the cost, and product, with the neighbors. Personally, I’ve ordered bulk quantities of mulch and top soil with neighbors and it’s worked out great.

Other products you can buy in bulk from a landscaping company include wood chips and nuggets, hay and straw, gravel, pine needles, and coco bean shells.

2. Check For Town Freebies
Did you know that some townships offer free landscaping supplies to residents? They do this for two main reasons:

  1. Landscaping benefits the aesthetics of the entire town, not just the person who is putting in the work.
  2. Townships do not want to get stuck with excess supplies. If not used, some supplies, such as mulch, will otherwise go to waste.

At my old home, I was offered up to three free trees as long as I agreed to plant them on my own. I was more than happy to take advantage of this deal. After all, these trees would have cost me at least $60, if not more.

To find out what your town offers, call your local borough or township headquarters and ask if they offer anything for free. You may be surprised at what you can get this spring.

3. Keep Up With Seasonal Maintenance
First time homeowners may not realize that maintaining both your landscaping supplies, and projects, is a great way to save. I know I regularly made this mistake in my early days of home ownership.

For example, I continually neglected to remove leaves from mulch beds in the fall. While this was no big deal when the snow was falling, by the time spring came around, my mulch was discolored, matted down, and in need of a replacement.

In short, the better care you take of the supplies you buy, no matter what they may be, the longer they will last. By keeping up with seasonal maintenance, you can avoid having to make the same purchases year after year.

4. Search for Coupons
This may not be the most exciting way to save on landscaping supplies, but its definitely something you don’t want to overlook. Some people are under the impression that coupons are only good for grocery stores and department stores. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In addition to coupons for stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s, there are often deals for local landscaping companies. For instance, this past week, I clipped three coupons from my local newspaper. All three were from landscaping companies in my area that are attempting to drum up business as spring heats up. They included: “Buy five cubic yards of mulch and get one free”, “Free delivery on gravel and rocks within 15 miles”, and “Free spreading of mulch with a purchase of 10 cubic yards or more.”

Keep your eyes peeled for great deals like these.

5. Compare All Your Options
As noted above, this is one area I totally missed out on last year. Instead of comparing multiple resources, I only purchased supplies from Home Depot. When all was said and done, I probably spent $50 to $75 more than I should have.

In order to ensure an efficient comparison process, do the following:

  • Get It in Writing: Start out by receiving a written quote from your “number one choice.” No matter if it is a big box store or professional landscaping company, the key is to get the quote in writing.
  • Bring Proof: Present your quotes to competitors as you search for the best deal. Many times you will find that a competitor can offer a better price, but only if you can prove what other companies are charging.

Make sure to not only look at the big-name stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s, but also your local hardware stores. Recently, I stopped in a small family owned hardware store to see what they had to offer. I was not looking for anything in particular, but I ended up purchasing a 15-foot electrical cord and a gas can. Both products were much cheaper than I could find anywhere else.

Finally, remember that the same strategy applies when it comes to professional landscaping companies. In addition to comparing these companies to one another, you should compare their prices to those of big box, and local hardware stores.

Final Word

If you own a home you should take great pride in its curb appeal. This spring, make sure you have all the supplies you need to landscape your yard with success. By following the five tips you can get everything you want without overspending. Whether you need a couple cubic yards of mulch, or somebody to help you plant a row of trees, when you follow some or all of the tips above you are putting yourself in position to save.

How do you save on landscaping?

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Three Discounts to Ask Your Cable Company About

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Regardless of where you live or which cable provider you choose to do business with, you probably feel like you’re paying too much and that your cable company is taking advantage of you. You can find various ways to lower your monthly bill, such as by avoiding hidden fees or even canceling your cable service […]

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5 Tips for Using Your Home and Car to Make Money

December 1, 2010

How to make money while at home is well documented, but what about literally using your home to make money? You may not have considered it in the past, but there are some great ways to use your home, and even your car, to boost your income. Here are 5 tips for making your assets […]

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