Friday, September 7, 2012

Doing It Yourself

Frugal Friday

We’ve all been there—the furnace goes out, a pipe bursts, a tree limb breaks in a storm.  So you call out the experts and have them take care of the situation.  Then they hand you the bill.  Often, it’s sticker shock.  And you think to yourself, “I could have done that myself for less.” 

But realistically you know that there are some repairs that are past your level of expertise.  There are, however, many things you can do yourself to keep repair bills down.

·         Maintain your equipment—furnace, hot water heater, car, etc.  If you take care of it and have it checked on a regular basis, odds are you will avoid major problems that cost large amounts of money to repair.

·         Learn how to make minor repairs yourself.  Anyone can change a washer in a leaky faucet or install a new belt in a vacuum cleaner.  Not only will you save money on repair bills, you won’t have to purchase a new item to replace one that is fixable.

·         Make your own cleaning solutions and supplies.  These will be natural, ecologically-friendly products, rather than harsh chemicals that will ruin pipes, countertops, etc.

·         Inspect your own house on a regular basis.  Look for signs of water seepage, cracks in the foundation, uneven floors, loose tiles, etc.  Handling these issues at the early stages will keep them from getting more serious.

Take care of your home and your home will take care of you.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Senior Thursday

While historically, grandparents hand over care of children once their own are married and have their own families, today’s economy is forcing many extended families to live under the same roof or combine parenting services. 

Almost 5.8 children are living in homes with their grandparents in the United States.  Of these, more than 2.5 million grandparents are taking on the responsibility for these children.  Often it is because the parents are both working.  Sometimes it is because the parents are not emotionally or physically able to care for the kids. 

Whatever the reason, this places added stress on elderly grandparents who may be physically challenged themselves.  This may put a strain on family relations as well.  Here are some helpful hints on creating a secure, warm environment for these children, their parents and grandparents.

·         Remember that the parents are the decision-makers when it comes to their children.  Respect their wishes.

·         Keep the lines of communication open.  Even though the parents are the decision-makers, grandparents should voice their opinions on matters where the child may be better off otherwise.  For example, if a grandchild shares stories with the grandparent about issues at school, and the child no longer wants to attend after-school care, the grandparent should inform the parents of these problems. 

·         Don’t rely on grandparents 24/7.  They need a break from parenting also.  Ultimately, children are the responsibility of the parents, not the grandparents.  So let them have time off and go on vacations.

·         Keep extensive records on school, health, legal and financial records for the children.  Create a binder to hold all this information.

·         Strive for consistency.  Keep the family on a routine.  If everyone knows what to expect, days will go more smoothly.  Everyone should know bedtime routines, mealtime routines, etc. 

·         Make the home safe for everyone.  This should include child-proofing the house, and keeping grandparents safe from falls and such.  Children’s toys can create a hazard for seniors, who aren’t as stable on their feet as younger adults.

·         Everyone should have a sense of privacy.  This would be a room of their own, and private spaces for relaxing or having phone conversations.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tips for Organizing Small Homes

Tips for Tuesday

When space is at a premium, finding a home for everything can be a challenge.  Even if you’ve de-cluttered and pared down your belongings, sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be enough room.  Here are some tips you can use in any area of your home to maximize use of the space.

·         Think vertical – Tall, narrow shelves use up less floor space. 

·         Install shelves on the walls wherever possible. This includes bedrooms and bathrooms as well as living spaces.

·         Hang hooks and organizers from the ceiling.  This is especially useful in kitchens and garages.

·         Use the backs of doors for shelving or pocket organizers. 

·         Use space under your cabinets for spice racks, utensil racks, etc.

·         Use the space under furniture (beds, sofas, etc.) for storage.  There are plastic containers built specifically for this purpose.

·         Purchase multi-purpose furniture-storage ottomans, storage benches, etc.

·         Install or place organizers in cabinets (wire racks, pull-out drawers, etc.) to maximize storage space.

·         Install hooks in small spaces to hold coats, belts, leashes, aprons, etc.