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Prepare Your Car for Winter

prepare car for winter

Sometimes breaking down in the summer and spring months isn’t too much of a hassle: especially if the weather is nice. But breaking down in sub-zero temperatures is another story. Prepare your car this winter by following these tips.

Check Your Battery

According to TheAA, the most common cause of breakdown is battery related. And battery related issues are exacerbated in winter months. Because of the cold weather, batteries have lower outputs levels, accept charges at lesser levels, and carry increased loads (lights, heat, wipers, etc.).

To avoid issues in the winter months, TheAA recommends replacing your battery if it is five years or older, especially if your car has trouble starting up. An easy preventative maintenance step you can take to decrease the load on your battery at startup is to turn everything electrical off for the first few seconds when you start your car. Avoid a breakdown this winter by taking care of your battery.

Wipers

Do you remember the last time you bought windshield wipers? If not, it’s probably time to get a new set. You can find wipers made specifically for the winter at your local auto store. These wear down less from ice accumulation and remove ice from your windshield easier than non-winter wipers.

Tires Lose 1 Pound of Pressure per Every 10 Degree Drop

Well, according to TireRack.com, the actual equation is 2% per every 10-degree Fahrenheit drop. But for the average car tire requiring 30-50 psi for adequate inflation, the difference between the summer and winter temperature could lose you at least 5 psi in tire inflation. That difference could end up making your car slide on the snow. Be sure to check your psi periodically in the winter months to ensure your tires are up to the car manual’s specifications.

Car Wash

This might sound strange, but car washes are imperative in the winter months if you drive on roads that are constantly plowed and salted. The salt can cause rust on your car’s frame and break and gas lines. Car washes will keep your car untouched by the dangers of winter-related rusting.

The winter months don’t only call for a change in attire. But they also demand certain preparations be made to your car. Get your car ready for the winter by following these tips.

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Tips for Working from Your Apartment

working from home

Working from home can be a huge blessing for some people: you can drink as much coffee as you want! For others, it can be a death sentence. From childcare and errands to cleaning the house and Sportscenter, some distractions you’ll find at home don’t exist at the workplace. But distractions don’t have to ruin the experience for you. These tips will help you make the most of working from home.

Create a Workspace

This is one of the easiest ways to remove distractions. Create a workspace you’ll enjoy seeing and working in. Make it extremely personal. You can do this: you have the freedom of your home. But whatever you do, leave that television in the living room. And never bring your phone or phone charger to the workspace. You’ll probably want a coffee pot though, right?

Dress like You’re Working

I know, it’s very tempting to stay in your pajamas all day. But it might also encourage you to take a nap, watch TV, or check your Instagram. This is because you’re basically dressed to lounge around. Continue with your normal morning routine when you work from home, but instead of going in to work, you’ll be able to just go to a different room in your apartment. You’ll feel more energetic and ready to work if you don’t make working from home like a day-off.

Take a Walk

When you’re feeling drowsy or uninspired, simply take a break. But don’t just watch TV or check your phone. Get outside the apartment. Take a walk around the neighbor or exercise for half an hour. Make sure you’re off the clock. But getting your mind off work every once in a while might actually boost productivity and energy.

Working from home can be extremely rewarding. Follow these tips and you’ll be just as productive, if not more so, than when you drive to the office.

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Storage Hacks for Apartment Living

Apartment Storage Ideas

Ever notice how densely populated areas have tall buildings? It’s because when you run out of horizontal space, you have to think vertically. If you lived in a dorm room during college, you’ll understand this principle. Most dorm room roommates position their beds over their desks and dressers. It’s efficient, and it opens the rest of the room for other things (like a table tennis table).

This means lack of closet and storage space doesn’t have to be the last word on your storage capabilities. Here are some hacks for making the most of your apartment space.

Use the Walls

Get some command strips. Hang everything. From your hats and hair ties to your shoes (the trick is to tie them together) and backpacks. You can probably think of more things to hang. You can also buy bags just for the purpose of placing things in them to hang on your wall.

Bed Lifts

If your bed doesn’t sit high off the ground, take a tip from dorm rooms: raise it. You’ll be able to fit a lot more things under there than you might expect: dressers, book shelves, desks. The possibilities are endless. You could even purchase a portable clothes rack and hang your clothes underneath.

Bookshelf Storage

This one is kind of obvious if you keep your bookshelf vertical. But try placing it on its side. Then you can purchase linen baskets and place anything inside of it (like charging cables, papers, extra blankets, and sheets, etc.) without making your room appear cluttered. Using linen baskets to create storage blocks in your bookshelf gives you the advantage of storage space without the messy appearance.

Don’t Hang Clothes

You read that right. Instead, go the military way and roll your clothes in their drawers. If rolled correctly, they won’t wrinkle. And you won’t have to dig through your drawers to find the perfect outfit.

If you feel like you don’t have enough space in your apartment, you may not be using the space efficiently. Use these hacks to maximize your apartment space.

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A Guide to Healthy Eating

Guide to Eating Healthy Post Image

Remember the food pyramid? That’s out. The United States Department of Agriculture created a new visualization for the healthiest way to eat. It’s called MyPlate.

Many reasons are cited for this change. One is the pyramid itself doesn’t exactly tell you what a typical plate conducive to a healthy lifestyle might look like. That’s really where MyPlate comes from. It shows you healthy portions in relation to a plate: thus the name.

Offered, also, are suggestions for a healthier lifestyle. We’ve listed some highlights for you.

All Choices Are Important

Your focus, when selecting foods and making dinner, should be to select healthy choices within each food category: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy. This means, first of all, to include each group in your food choices. Next, it means to be selective about choosing what to get from each group. For instance, whole grain bread is better for you than enriched bread. Most of all, remember what you eat and drink matters, every time you eat and drink.

Lower Saturated Fats, Sodium, and Added Sugars

One of the easiest ways to improve your diet is to not fill that table salt shaker. Salt is an essential part of making food: for its taste. But don’t overdo it. Don’t add more than recommended in the recipe and don’t sprinkle salt on that steak right before you eat it.

The same is true of sugar. Just leave it in the jar. After you wean yourself off both, your taste buds will adjust. And pretty soon you’ll have an aversion to added salt and sugar. It’ll be worth it in the long run.

Set Small Goals

Setting up big, nearly unreachable goals from the beginning is just setting yourself up to fail. It’s discouraging to not reach a goal. And having a huge goal at the outset may prevent you from eating healthy in the first place. Avoid this by setting small goals: maybe don’t reach for the table salt one day a week, then two, and so on.

It’s fun to set goals. And, once it becomes part of your lifestyle, it’s easy to eat well. Share your tips for eating healthy below!

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Things to Consider before Signing the Lease

tips when searching for apartments

Think about What You Can’t Change

The most important thing to remember before signing a lease is you can’t change some things. This just means that some things you should be certain that you’ll be okay with before you sign the lease. If not, you may end up upset, with eight months left on your lease. Put yourself in the best situation by remembering the following things when exploring your rental options.

Property Manager

You cannot change your property manager. Of course, your property manager might change while you’re a resident, especially if you are a long-term resident. But you need be sure that your personality will mesh with your property manager’s personality and communication style. That’s not to say you’ll have to be the same person or you’ll need to be friends, but just that you can understand where they’re coming from.

Neighbors

Your neighbors will change. But some neighbors may stay at the apartment property longer than you. Before you sign the lease, it’s a good idea to attend a community event the apartment community is involved in. Or, even, hold one yourself. Have a cookout, or set one up with the property management staff, for the community.

Seasons

Like most people, you’ll probably visit different apartment communities during the spring and summer seasons. But a good air conditioner in the summer doesn’t equal a good furnace in the winter. Ask neighbors about how the apartments change with the seasons.

Lease

You must read your lease. You can’t change it once you sign it. It’ll tell you the responsibilities of your property manager and your own obligations while you’re a resident. This will be your guide for certain policies as well. Most of all, if you find something unacceptable in your lease, talk with the property manager about it. You might get it changed.

Think as if Your Apartment is Permanent

The best thing to do when looking at apartments is to pretend you’ll be living at the apartments permanently. This may open up your eyes to things you may not focus on. For instance, you might think to ask about how old the water heater is. You might think about the water pressure, and how much utilities generally cost.

Pretending your apartment will be permanent is a good way to come up with questions to understand your move-in situation better. Then there’ll be no surprises. Remember, if you have any questions about the apartment you’re visiting, don’t leave it unanswered. Ask the property manager and do your own research.

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When to Contact Your Property Manager

when to contact your property manager

Property managers are like community organizers. They plan visits, fill vacancies, submit and follow-up on maintenance issues, resolve tenant complaints, and much more. They work to ensure their apartment community works like it should. Contacting your property manager shouldn’t be your number one option for settling certain issues. On the other hand, you definitely shouldn’t hesitate if one of the following occurs.

Emergency

If your air conditioning goes out in the middle of summer, it’s reason to contact your property manager. Do so quickly, so maintenance can put you on their task list (because they probably have a list of jobs to do). Priority is obviously given to emergencies, so the sooner you report your issue to the property manager the sooner your home will be back to normal.

But if you contact your manager for an emergency, make sure it’s an emergency. For instance, an inoperative cabinet door may seem like an emergency when you’re hosting a dinner party. But you should simply submit a repair request to the property staff instead of the manager in that situation (and others like it).

But, to be safe, if you don’t know if your issue is an emergency or could be considered one, submit it straight to the property manager. They’ll know how to classify your request.

Concerns

If you have questions or concerns regarding property rules you should contact your property manager. From parking issues to pool policies, the rules are in place for reasons your property manager can give to you for clarification.

Safety concerns should be brought up with your property manager as well. When common area doors are either jammed or broken, it’s important to get those fixed. If there is broken glass in the parking lot, for instance, it’s in the interest of the community to get it cleaned up.

Living in an apartment community is different from living at home by yourself. General and emergency maintenance is taken care of for you. And property managers are there to make your stay as comfortable and smooth as possible. Don’t be afraid to communicate when you have issues.

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How Renting is Greener than Owning

renting is greener than owning

When you think about it, the average apartment unit size per family size is probably smaller than the average house size per family size. This, at the outset, gives an advantage to renters: with a smaller area, you’ll use less energy to provide heating or cooling to satisfy the same amount of people. But some statistics, provided by the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario in 2012, may surprise you. It turns out that renting is significantly greener than owning.

Statistics[i]

APARTMENTS ARE GREENER THAN SINGLE FAMILY HOMES

  • 65% less energy use per household
  • 40% less water per capita
  • 60% less waste 10 km shorter commute distance to work

RENTERS ARE GREENER THAN OWNERS

  • 50% less energy used per household 8.4 km shorter commute each day
  • 32% less likely to use a car
  • 150% more likely to take transit
  • 175% more likely to walk

This is good news. Not only is the rental market booming in the United States, but other green initiatives are combing to create a market climate better for the environment and better for our wallets.

Could there be a better time to rent?


[i]Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario. (2012, February 08). Apartment Living Is Green. Retrieved August 23, 2016, from frpo.org, http://web.archive.org/web/20140208064830/http://www.frpo.org/documents/2012%20Apartment%20Living%20is%20Green.pdf

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Get Fit with Apartment Amenities

get fit

The summer is the perfect time to get in shape. Trips to the beach, vacations, and yard work in the hot sun call for sleeveless tees and beach attire. If you live in an apartment community, now you won’t have to leave your home, or break your budget, to get in shape.

Gym

Want to run in air conditioning? Most apartments with gyms have treadmills if nothing else. And for casual strength trainers, do a few cable-based exercises to compliment the run. Apartments with gyms are fantastic for procrastinators because all the excuses for skipping—the drive, the cost—are eliminated. And you most likely won’t need a spotter for your lifts, because most apartments will have cable-based equipment only.

Pool

Swimming in the pool is a great way to burn calories and relax at the same time. When you run, you’ll sweat. Do you ever remember sweating while swimming? Also, who doesn’t like floating? Buy a small pool hoop and basketball to compliment the swim. Work on your dunk game while exercising. You can also swim laps and see how close you can get to a Michael Phelps time (given, you probably won’t have an Olympic size pool). The pool is a great way to exercise while also enjoying yourself.

Bark Park

Have an energetic dog? Maybe it doesn’t get enough exercise. Jog with your pet to the dog park, then teach it some tricks. Many bark parks have agility training equipment. With a bag of treats in hand and some determination, you’ll be surprised how much discipline a dog can acquire with a few weeks training. And if there is no equipment, at least you’ll have some open room to play fetch with your dog.

Attaining your fitness goals can be a breeze when you live in an apartment community. Those amenities aren’t for nothing. Take advantage of all your community offers!

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A History of Labor Day

The beginnings of Labor Day: The Pullman Strike

Labor Day is here. For most of us, that means a day off work, the beginning of school, or a bid adieu to summer. But how did the first Monday of every September become a holiday? From its murky origins to its present day vacation placeholder, the history of Labor Day is a long one.

George Pullman and the Railroad Sleeping Car Company

Outside the melting pot of 1880s urban Chicago, businessman George Pullman founded a “worker’s paradise.” Visionary in its ideals, the company town of Pullman, Illinois, was the largest and earliest of its kind. Some 6,000 company employees bought from company-owned markets, lived in company-owned rentals, and learned and dined at company-owned churches, libraries, and entertainment venues.[i]

This idea of a company town was not new. It was a common practice among mining companies to establish these towns to minimize payout to employees. With upcharges for everything, a miner’s take-home check diminished to the point of nonexistence, and at times a miner could owe debts to their companies. Some executies established company towns to maximize profits.

But Pullman’s idea was radical. Outside the lure of a frenetic Chicago, a town of peace, order, and prosperity would exist on the foundation of labor rights. According to Pullman, a company-owned town could be good for workers because the company controls value of goods. And since the company also determines paychecks, the worker, in theory, would require less compensation for a high-quality life.

The company town would provide a prosperity to its workers unattainable in other towns.

The Pullman Strike[ii]

During the Pullman Strike of 1894, the first meat Train leaving Chicago Stock Yards was escorted by United States Cavalry, July 10, 1894.

For about 14 years the town instituted Pullman’s ideas, and they worked. Then the economic panic of 1893 befell the nation. Demand for Pullman cars plummeted. And on May 11, 1894, nearly 4,000 factory employees went on strike.[iii]

The reasons for the Pullman Strike were many: Pullman disallowed any employee from buying or renting a house outside the company town; Pullman had a “paternalistic” governing style, forbidding any democratic initiatives to influence governance; and, as profits and paychecks declined with the demand for Pullman cars, rent remained unmoved.

As the strike gained attention, the American Railways Union (ARU) joined the cause, led by Eugene V. Debs. The ARU called for a nationwide boycott of Pullman cars. Union and non-union members eventually rioted, burning railcars and obstructing railroads.

President Glover Cleveland, under pressure by stifled mail trains and anxious railroad executives, declared the strike a federal crime. 12,000 troops deployed to Illinois to discontinue protests. A story of ensuing violence is told by the Huffington Post.[iv] The clashes between troops and protesters signified an end to the strike. It concluded on August 3, 1894, at peak involving some 250,000 rail employees in over 27 states[v]

When the Pullman Strike ends, the ARU disbands, Debs finds himself in prison for six months, and Pullman employees sign pledges stating they’d never unionize again. The outfall stultified union growth and development across the nation until the Great Depression.

A National Holiday

1894 was an election year. And Cleveland’s tactics for ending the Pullman strike was looked upon as ignominious. Picking up on sentiment from union workers in New York City, who in September of 1892 took unpaid time off to protest for a national labor holiday, Cleveland sought to appease working voters.

Six days after troops toppled the Pullman strike, a national labor holiday bill appeared on Cleveland’s desk, after passing through Congress with unanimous favorable votes in both houses. Thus Labor Day was born.

A description of Labor Day, found in the PBS archive,[v] is given by Samuel Gompers, then head of the American Federation of Labor, calling it:

“the day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward when their rights and their wrongs would be discussed…that the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday but upon which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it.”

Labor Day Today

Though a century displaced, the spirit of the labor holiday movement can be seen in eight hour work days, overtime pay, vacation days, and many other modern labor laws.

But the intention of Labor Day seems all but lost. According to “Labor Unions in the United States,” only about 11.3% of United States workers belong to unions, down from some 35% at peak membership in 1954.[VI] Seen as vital around the turn of the 20th century, and following massive organizing efforts after WWII, reflections on labor and work seems to have dwindled with union politics.

For many people, Labor Day weekend signifies the unofficial end of summer. And for most, it is enough to spend time with family and friends, with a day off from work.


[i] Company town (2016). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Company_town#Pullman_lesson

[ii] The origins of labor day. (1996). Retrieved September 1, 2016, from News Desk, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/business-july-dec01-labor_day_9-2/

[iii] Pullman strike (2016). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pullman_Strike

[iv] Delaney, A. (2014, September 1). The bloody origin of labor day. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/01/labor-day-2014_n_5738262.html

[v] Ibid.

[VI] Labor unions in the United States (2016). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_unions_in_the_United_States#Post-World_War_II

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How to Create a Basic Budget

how to save money

Money in the future isn’t a matter of relying on every paycheck coming in exactly as expected. If you save up, the future looks a lot different. You can plan trips and large purchases ahead of time. It’ll take all the stress out of spending, and it’ll take a lot of stress out of living. Here are some tips to get you started.

Establish Goals

Why do you make money? To pay bills? What else? Do you want to fund a hobby, go on a trip, plan for a future child’s schooling? If you create goals, you’ll be able to reach them with financial plans—estimate how much you need, how much you make, and how much time you’ll have, then the rest is easy. These considerations are the foundations for any budget.

Basic Budgeting

Some people hate this word. But budgeting is the only way to get your money to work for you. Of course, you work to earn money, but have you thought about the ways in which you can, now, become more independent from your earnings? That’s what making your money work for you means.

When you’re hanging out with friends, or that new video game is released, it’s easy to blow the latest paycheck. In these situations, it can seem like your always chasing that next payday. Create an expense sheet. List all your monthly expenses—estimate if you need to, for your food and gas costs, for instance. Then add all your income per month together. Now subtract your expenses from your income. The money left over is free for you to save or assign to different goals or wants for the rest of the month. It’s a good policy, however, to try to save at least ten percent of what you make monthly in a savings account. And many people recommend only spending about 5% of your monthly budget for entertainment.

This is just an extremely basic budgeting strategy. But there are plenty of strategies available online. Whatever you do, plan ahead!

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