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Effects Of Obamacare Repeal

One of the bigger concerns surrounding the current political climate is the potential repeal of Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act. The good news for now is that the potential replacement that the Republican Party and President Trump proposed did not pass through the Senate vote. So, for the time being, the potential repeal remains “potential.” But, this does not mean that another proposition is not forthcoming. If you are currently insured, it is important to understand what the removal of the Affordable Care Act will do to your life, and your healthcare prospects.

If you have not yet considered the ramifications of this potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act, you might want to start. To begin, if the program is fully removed and replaced, an estimated 23 million Americans could lose their health insurance. According to the Congressional Budget Office, individual insurance premiums could increase by up to 50 percent if the bill is repealed. These two numbers, alone are reason to be concerned about the repeal and the replacement that the current administration has in store. The lack of medical care that could result from the repeal of the Affordable Care Act could result in the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans who suffer from life-threatening illness or who live in poverty. These people would no longer have access to the life-saving medical care and treatment they need. Thankfully, the proposed replacement by the Trump administration and the GOP did not remove the pre-existing condition clause. This is a good sign that any future potential replacements will likely keep this beneficial, life-saving facet of our national healthcare.

There are several facets of Obamacare that make it much easier for people to get health insurance coverage. It removes the possibility of denial for pre-existing conditions, it allows younger people to stay on their parent’s insurance for longer and it expands Medicaid. This provides health insurance to families and individuals without the means to otherwise afford healthcare. The Medicaid expansion portion of Obamacare is the part that allows so many Americans to have access to affordable healthcare. Revoking this would arguably be the most detrimental effect of repealing the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare increased the available coverage for poor and lower-income Americans for those adults who earn up to around $16,000 annually, and decreased the healthcare costs for any Americans who earn under $30,000 annually. Repealing the Affordable Care Act will mean that any policyholders who no longer fall under the updated income parameters would lose their access to healthcare, which includes all of the children of lower-income Americans.

The driving factor behind repealing Obamacare is to decrease government costs, and to divert those funds elsewhere. While this may be advantageous to the wider Republican Party and the current administration, pulling government funds away from healthcare will drive up the costs that the average American must pay for, in terms of anything health-related. This means higher insurance premiums, increased hospital fees and more expensive prescriptions for the larger population. The middle class who would still get insurance coverage under a potential replacement would no longer receive the benefits of subsidized healthcare. Despite the tax-saving premise behind the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, there would be almost non-existent tax relief for many Americans, but a large tax cut for the wealthy Americans.

Fortunately, all Americans who have signed up for health insurance through Obamacare will have their coverage for the entirety of the current year. Unfortunately, there is still an entire calendar year for the Republican Party and the current administration to create and fine-tune a replacement plan. The new plan will likely lead to the loss of insurance for millions of Americans. If you are among the many who will be affected by the potential repeal and replacement of Obamacare, start preparing accordingly. Obviously, if you are among the lower-income population who will lose your health insurance, there may not be much you can do. But, knowing in advance that you will lose your health coverage gives you ample time to plan to get insurance. If you are in the percentage of Americans who will maintain their health insurance, but will see higher premiums and increased medical costs, this may give you enough time to save money for these future health costs. All Americans with health insurance should know where they stand in relation to the Affordable Care Act, and should discuss the future with their current health insurance providers.

Four Ways Not to Waste Your Tax Refund

If you’ve already filed your taxes, you must be looking forward to the refund check hitting your bank account. It’s also possible that the money has already been deposited, and you’re letting it sit there while you decide what to do with that hefty balance. It’s easy to get excited at the prospect of tax season, because it means getting a relatively large sum of money back – likely when you most need it. But if you aren’t sure what to do with that windfall, or you want to be smart about the use of it, then here is a list of ways you could spend or save your tax return money so you don’t wind up wasting your refund.

Catch up on Bills

Did you only pay the minimum balance on your last credit card bill? Did you let your internet and car bills sit on your kitchen counter for a few too many weeks? If so, the first thing you should do with your refund money is to catch up bills. This should be non-negotiable. Past due bills are the worst thing for your credit record, and are especially bad if it’s something like electricity or rent. If you think you might be past due on bills, go check each and every one of them to ensure they’re paid in full or paid as much they can be. You should never let yourself get too behind on essentials, but if you had a bad month (or couple of months), your tax refund should be a welcome relief.

Pay Down Debt

Similarly, if you’re holding onto a large sum of credit card debt, tuition debt or any other kind of debt, make a payment. It doesn’t have to be for the whole amount, particularly if you’re dealing with debt that requires monthly payments. But, maybe you make an extra payment the month after you get your refund, or you finally pay off the balance of that one credit card you maxed out years ago and have been slowly paying it down ever since. Using your refund to help yourself out of debt is another useful way to not waste your refund. Similarly, if you borrowed money from a friend – whether simply for a dinner or something bigger, like a car repair for which the mechanic overcharged you or you let your roommate cover some of your rent portion during a bad finance month – pay them back as soon as possible.

Replace Something that Needs Replacing

Maybe your computer has been slowly dying for months, your coffee maker hasn’t quite been making the best coffee or you’ve been wearing a hole into one of your favorite work shoes. Whatever it may be, use this tax refund to replace an item in your home or your everyday life that you just keep telling yourself you’ll get around to replacing but never do. It will be a nice, small treat for yourself that does not feel too extravagant. We shouldn’t make too much of a habit out of shortchanging ourselves during everyday life because, for one, where’s the fun in that, and for another, you will slowly drive yourself crazy. But, something simple like making sure you own a functioning coffeepot or treating yourself to a new PC is worth the investment. So, using some of your refund to fund a replacement is a fantastic way to not waste the money you get back.

Fund a Savings Account

It is always, always, always a good idea to keep money in a savings account. It can be your designated emergency fund for unexpected charges like a trip to the vet or to the mechanic. The refund can even be your dream fund for buying that house one day, or finally going back to school. A tax refund can also be a fund to keep a couple months’ worth of rent in case you lose your job, or it can be a savings fund for your children (or future offspring) to go to college. Whatever it may be, have an account for it, and try your best to put money into it when you can. If you’re in a good enough place when you get your tax return, put most or all of it into your savings account. Or, if you have to do any of the aforementioned productive tasks with your refund, put money towards those, and then put whatever is left into your savings.

Volunteering Opportunities for Florida Seniors

Just because you are a retired senior citizen does not mean you have chosen to become inactive. In fact, retirement is a joyous time void of stress that can help you focus on the things you’ve always wanted to do. One great way to make an impact and to stay active as a retired senior in Florida is to volunteer. If you are unfamiliar with volunteering opportunities in Florida, consult the below list.

The Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and Hands On Orlando

One organization for sourcing volunteering opportunities across the state is The Retired Senior Volunteer Program. More widely known as RSVP, this organization is a division of the Corporation for National and Community Service. The great thing about it is that it is designed especially for seniors looking to get out into their communities and to volunteer their time and skills, meaning individual needs are really understood. Because it’s a statewide initiative, RSVP has many opportunities available in many different locations, too.

Similarly, Hands On Orlando is a great and very professional organization which makes it easy for interested parties by locating, organizing and overseeing top-quality volunteering projects in the Orlando area for people of all interests and backgrounds.

Legal Aid Society

For those who are intrigued by the legal system, this not-for-profit society offers a range of volunteer opportunities for those interested in legal services. Potential roles include conducting client interviews in-house or going out into the community. No experience is necessary, but the group does ask for an interest in legal services. Comprehensive orientation is provided for all new recruits. In terms of time commitment, this varies depending on the sort of work available at any given time. Volunteers may assist others in filling out legal applications, may operate within the legal system to offer information and directions to various departments or may also be called upon to sit with those who are waiting to go into a session.

Habitat for Humanity and Boys and Girls Club Stores

For those interested in working in a shop with a difference, the charity Habitat for Humanity has what is called ‘ReStore,’ which resells nearly-new household items and building materials as part of its mission to create better communities in areas of deprivation. This is about more than just standing behind a counter. ReStore volunteers help families realize the dream of creating homes. Plus, you can make some great friends along the way. This type of volunteering may require that the person involved is fit and is able to stand for periods of time, as well as able to lift light items.

Another great charity with thrift store volunteering opportunities is The Boys and Girls Club in Central Florida. Duties include preparing donations, creating window displays, hanging clothing and working behind the counter bagging items.

Foster Grandparents Program

Are you great with people and do you love to support those in need? If the answer is yes, then this could be just the right volunteering opportunity for you. The charity devotes its volunteer services entirely to disadvantaged or to disabled youth. Plus, as a program of the Senior Corps, and therefore a division of the Corporation for National and Community Service, it has some good funding and support behind it. Many seniors have a lifetime of experience and advice to offer young people who are lacking good role models, or who do not believe they have anything worthy to contribute to society. Senior volunteers often become surrogate grandparents for these program participants.

State of Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA)

There are countless ways you can volunteer to support the DOEA in Florida. With a very tight budget and a large population to service, the department is highly dependent on its volunteer programs to get a lot of important work done across the community. Here are just a few of the ways you can get involved:

Americorps

This is a network of national service programs that gets volunteers involved in education, public health and the environment. It’s all about critical need and hands-on support.

Respite for Elders Living in Everyday Families (RELIEF)

These volunteers provide respite to caregivers of frail seniors and particularly those with a dementia diagnoses such as Alzheimer’s.

Senior Companion Program

Through the Senior Companion Program, you can give support to elders with chronic illnesses, disabilities or those who are experiencing acute isolation. Types of support include transport to and from medical appointments, help with grocery shopping, preparing meals and basic companionship. It’s also a service which offers respite to caregivers.

State of Florida Senior Guide

Before you set off on any volunteering adventures it’s important to be realistic about what you can and can’t offer an organization in terms of your physical health and time. If you have any concerns, give your local Senior Guide helpline a call and a representative can advise you on what potential issues you need to learn. After all, although on the inside, you may feel the same as you did 20 years ago, we must respect our changing bodies and look after them in later life.

Vocational Careers to Consider

You may think that any kind of professional career with good pay and opportunities for advancement requires a four-year college course. Many careers that rely on physical or technical skill, however, require vocational training. Vocational training focuses on the actual work that will be done rather than academics.

Vocational careers often require only a two-year associates’ course or certification, depending on the individual job and the field or industry. Some vocational careers require only on-the-job training. Several of these jobs have similar pay and as many opportunities for advancement as those that require expensive degrees. Here are a few possible vocational careers that you might consider.

Medical

The highest-paid vocational careers are generally those in the medical field. The very highest pay is usually found to be for dental hygienists. This work involves performing tests and treatments on the patients. Aside from this, there are excellent opportunities and a high demand for many other careers in the medical field. There are various specialized areas, such as radiation, which requires its own technicians and therapists. You could become a licensed nurse, either practical or vocational. You could also start out as a medical assistant and gradually gain enough experience and skills to advance in the field.

Accounting

Accounting and auditing work, including bookkeeping, can be very high-paid. This can depend on the field in which you are working. Some of the top-paying industries include real estate, construction and the auto industry.

Technician

Training in a technical college allows you to specialize in a field. Every industry requires management, maintenance, operation and repair of various technologies and equipment. You could work on the equipment in a nuclear facility, for example, which can be very highly paid. There are also many areas in the medical field which require technicians.

Computer-Related

With the fast growth of computer-use, jobs working with computers are part of a rapidly expanding industry. Depending on the job, working with computers could require no formal training or qualifications at all. Jobs might include hardware maintenance and management, or software testing and development. You could get involved with web development and design, working with databases, or even customer support and assistance.

Transport

As online shopping increases in popularity, there is a huge demand for truckers and delivery drivers. Most of these jobs only require a high-school diploma and a commercial driving license, and the pay can be very high. Even a job as a commercial airline pilot can be achieved with vocational training at a flight school with an FAA certification.

Construction

The employment opportunities in construction are varied, and most are available through vocational training. Jobs can include physical laborer, plumber, electrician, tiler or roofer, for example. You could also train as a carpenter, a mason or an iron worker. Equipment operators and technicians are always needed, as are building and site inspectors.

Law

There are vocational training courses available to become a legal assistant or a paralegal. This involves administration and organization, scheduling and providing office assistance. Research for various cases is also sometimes required. With experience, you can specialize in an area of law, from real estate to malpractice suits. Specialization can help to improve your future career prospects.

Food Industry

The food industry is always open for new jobs. While entry-level jobs are not usually very well-paid, there is great opportunity for advancement through on-the-job training. You could work your way up to the level of chef, and even specialize your skills. You could also become involved with administrative side of the industry and train as a manager.

Beauty

Training courses in hair and cosmetology are generally quite short. The pay for these jobs is not necessarily very high, especially at the start of a person’s career. However, if you qualify for a license, you can practice from home or by personal appointment, making this a good option for self-employment.

Art and Design

Most careers involving art and design can begin with only vocational training. These jobs can be found across many industries. The highest-paid are likely in fashion design. However, web design and graphic design are both sought-after positions, and part of a widening field full of opportunities.

Putting in the Time

Some vocational jobs will require several years of work before you can begin to climb the ladder. However, experience is highly valued by future employers, and you have the added benefit of earning as you learn everything about your chosen career and industry. This notion, combined with shorter and less expensive training, means that many people can find vocational work as their most financially viable options when starting new careers.

Tips for Recruiting Qualified Job Candidates

In an age where the pool of candidates out there is as vast as the internet itself, blaming poor recruitment on the quality of applications available just isn’t fair anymore. Good recruitment is about enabling great candidates to easily find you, and when they do, taking them through a seamless process toward employment. This means maximizing every possible avenue for them to know your job role exists, but also taking a long, hard look at the way you do things as an organization. Sound overwhelming? With these five, simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to recruiting qualified candidates by next week!

Make the Most of Your Website

In today’s recruitment market, simply having a generic webpage with a list of currently available vacancies isn’t enough. You need to include an ‘About Us’ section which really sells your company. Carefully consider the following:

  • What benefits do you offer to employees?
  • What makes you a better company to work for than your closest competitor?
  • If determined to get the best qualified candidates out there above all else, how will you make it worth someone’s while to relocate for this job?

All this information will need to be conveyed accessibly too; no one is drawn to a company who considers a 1,000-word essay to be good sales. Including case studies from employees can be a great way of showing rather than telling, and you can do this via video as well, or by using high-quality images. Also, consider how straightforward you are making it for an applicant to apply. If someone reads your job page and wants to submit a speculative application for anything you might have in the future, allowing them to easily send over a resume could save the HR department a great deal of time and money if the job seeker turns out to be ideal for an upcoming role.

Tap Into Networks

Connect with your industry networks such as membership groups, funders, local organizations, institutions and publications – both online and offline. Remember that networks don’t necessarily mean huge companies; your current employees are a fantastic network available to you. Incentivize them to spread the word about your available jobs by prepping them on the kind of candidate you’re looking for and offering by financial compensation if their recommendation is the right fit for the job.

Write Better Job Descriptions

Did you know that including an intimidating list of required skills and responsibilities in a job description can put candidates off from the job even if they’re perfectly well-qualified? Consider that this document is as much of a sales pitch as your job’s webpage. Balance out what the potential applicant will bring to the role in terms of abilities and experience, and what you will offer in exchange.

Social Media is Your Friend

When it comes to advertising jobs online, you may have done nothing more than pay to post on a few job sites. And while this is something you should continue to consider (while carefully evaluating the success of such approaches), remember that social media is also a terrific tool in this quest.

It’s true that the likes of certain social media can be difficult arenas to control conversations and locate the right people, and that’s why it’s best to embrace the randomness of such networks. Make finding great candidates a speculative, ongoing concern in your team by starting conversations with intriguing individuals. You could even ask them to remotely begin doing some volunteering or consulting, which is the best kind of interview there is. Further down the line, you have a committed individual ready to go in a prospective role.

Another great purpose served by social media is that it allows you to check out candidates before you meet them. What does the candidate’s social media profile suggest he or she is up to in his or her spare time and what does this tell you about the personality of the candidate? Yes, he or she may look great on paper, but what tone does this person set with social posts, and how important is that to your company? Keep it ethical and legal by not snooping to excessively. But, if the information is readily available, use it to you advantage.

Listen to Online Conversations

The internet provides a fantastic opportunity to understand what is being said about your organization. Set up keyword searches to see what kind of reputation you have online. If potential candidates routinely have recurring issues about the recruitment processes, salary or office culture, you can use this information to fix the issues before they become excessive.

Tips for Keeping Your Kids Healthy

Children are adventurous, vulnerable beings by nature. However, the curiousness of children can lead to exposure to germs, illnesses and other harmful influences out of a parent’s control. It is important to teach your children healthy habits at a young age in order to help them grow strong both mentally and physically, so they can live healthy lives during their development. Continue below to review tips to help keep your kids healthy.

Tip #1: Washing Hands

It may seem too basic to even mention, but it shouldn’t be underestimated how important it is to encourage your kids to wash their hands from a young age. Crucial moments include before meals, after petting animals, after using the bathroom and after blowing their noses or sneezing. It might help to get everyone involved, including the adults. Make a family announcement, like “Before we eat, we all have to wash our hands!”

Tip #2: Make Exercise the Norm

Encouraging your kids to take up a form of physical activity from the get go is a great way of ensuring they prioritize their physical health for the rest of their lives. It will also help to develop their fine motor skills, which will benefit them daily throughout their school lives. Whether it’s hockey, swimming, basketball or horseback riding, try out a lot of different sports to give them a chance to discover what they love.

Exercise can be an excellent opportunity to spend quality time together as a family, too. Bike riding or hiking are both great examples of this. But, when it comes to finding a sport that they practice for themselves, remember that although you may be a football fanatic, your kid may not be. Allow your child the freedom to choose an activity that is suitable for him or for her.

Tip #3: Limit Screen Time

Did you know that for every hour of television a child watches between the ages of 1 through 3, he or she is around 10 percent likelier to develop concentration problems before the age of 7? ADHD is a bigger issue for this generation of children than ever before, so it’s very crucial to their school and social successes to limit the amount of screen time they have.

As a rule, enforce no screen time on computer games, digital tablets or TV two hours before bed. Not only will this mean they can focus more effectively at school and therefore increase their grades, but it also means they will sleep much better, which is another crucial component for a healthy childhood.

Tip #4: Control Sugar Intake

These days, with terms like corn syrup and fructose sweetener sneaking their ways into almost every list of ingredients, it’s getting trickier to limit your kids’ sugar intake. But, for that very reason, it’s more important than ever. Obesity is continuously on the rise, so getting your children used to the taste of non-sugary snacks is very important for their future food choices.

Consider opting for non-sugary snacks like chopped up carrots, bell peppers or apples. You can also do at-home baking that makes use of non-refined sugar alternatives, such as coconut sugar and cacao. There are tons of great recipe books out there, and the kids can get involved in the baking, too. You can also make reading food labels a family matter to encourage consciously making healthier food choices the norm.

Tip #5: Enforce Family Dinnertime

Another character-forming habit is to make the evening meal a time when the whole family sits together at the dining table to discuss their days and to enjoy food as a unit. Kids who eat separately from their parents and who eat different foods can grow up to be fussy eaters, and see mealtime as something to get over with quickly. Instead, it should be a time for sharing your highs and lows of the day, listening to others and trying out new and exciting flavors.

Tip #6: Healthy Habits at School

The schoolyard is a hive of germs at the best of times. But you can encourage your kids to take up healthy habits at home that will prevent them from getting ill at school. Ensure they cover their faces when they sneeze or cough, and that they know not to share water bottles or food with their friends. Check their hair frequently for lice and deal with the issue immediately if it arises. You could also consider child-friendly multivitamins, which will keep up their defenses throughout the school year.

Tips for Cutting Down on Home Energy Use

There are several ways to cut down on energy consumption within the home. The best way to start is by dividing up your efforts based on the rooms or areas of your home. Then, once you have established an organized system, you can begin to cut down on energy use across all fronts. For more details, review the sections provided below.

In the Kitchen

When cooking, put lids on pots and pans to reduce cooking time. Got leftovers? Leave them out of the ‘fridge until completely cooled. And when you want to heat them up again, use the microwave rather than the oven – it’s much faster.

When was the last time you defrosted the freezer? It’s a good idea to do so regularly, as a buildup of ice reduces its efficiency. Plus, a fuller freezer is a more energy-efficient freezer. So fill her up!

Understandably, with ovens and hot water doing their work, kitchens can quickly become very warm spaces. A great tip for keeping it cooler is to have a ceiling fan running when using the air conditioner. The effect means you can raise the temperature of your thermostat by about 4 degrees without any reduction in comfort.

In the Bathroom

Heading upstairs to get clean? Get in the shower – not the bath! Why? Because a full bath tub requires approximately 70 gallons of water, while taking a five-minute shower uses just 10 to 25 gallons.

Ever considered drying your clothes in the bathroom rather than using the dryer every time? Expandable clothes lines that can be tied onto your bath tub take up little space with maximum drying power. Plus, if you separate light fabrics from the heavy ones during the drying process, items will dry quicker.

In the Bedroom

Did you know that leaving a computer on or laptop plugged in all day can cost around 21 cents per day? That’s about $75 per year! Be sure to unplug these and other electronics when they’re not in use (for example: cell phone chargers, hair straighteners and hair dryers). Having a power surge strip will make this much easier, as you can turn everything off with a single switch.

If you don’t have one already, invest in a programmable thermostat. They have truly revolutionized the way we regulate the temperature in our homes, and could save you up to $150 per year.

In the Garden

Water your garden first thing in the morning when the temperatures are lower, and the wind tends to be more still. This will slow down the rate of evaporation. And, if you’d like to cover up your ugly air conditioning unit with foliage, just be sure not to cover the vents, as the system will work less efficiently.

Strategically placed plants and shrubs can have a big impact on your energy bills by reducing the amount of sunlight that gets into your home. If you’re unsure where the sun is coming in, speak to a gardener for advice on positioning and to find out what the best types of shrubs are.

In the Attic

It’s thought that around 50 percent of energy costs go toward heating and cooling our homes. So, an excellent place to start is to insure you have good quality insulation in your attic. One-hundred percent natural sheep’s wool is best. And, have you recently checked to see how draft-proof your windows and doors are? You can keep the heat out and the cold in (or vice-versa) much more effectively if you ensure air cannot escape from such nooks and crannies. Old windows are terrible for letting air escape, so replace them if they’re passed their prime.

And, have you considered how cozy your hot water tank is? Head down to any hardware store to buy an insulated wrap for it (called a jacket). This will prevent unnecessary heat from being lost from its immediate vicinity.

In the Lounge

If you’re looking to unwind in the evening, why not reach for a good book rather than turning on the TV? It’s proven to be more relaxing, plus, it is a large savings on electricity bills. If you’re chilly in the winter months, pull across some thick insulating curtains and put on an extra sweater or a blanket before reaching for the thermostat.

Lighting accounts for around 10 percent of home energy costs. But you can save up to 75 percent of that by replacing incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs, as they consume less energy. Not only do they use less energy, but they last around 10 times longer, saving you money on buying replacements in the long-term. It’s obvious, but it has to be said: when you leave the room, turn off the light. Speaking of lamps, make sure yours aren’t positioned near your air conditioner or thermostat, as it will assume the temperature in the space is much higher, and therefore the cost of running the A/C will increase.

3 Affordable Home Improvement Ideas

Renovating your house is a great way to infuse new life into an older home. However, home improvement can cost a pretty penny if you don’t know how to stay on a budget. There are plenty of Do-It-Yourself, or D.I.Y., methods in existence today to help you achieve the home refresh you so desperately need at low-cost. To review more information on affordable home improvement ideas, review the below tips.

Get Creative and Innovative With Storage

Kids toys, clothes and paperwork – having clutter on every surface of your home can make for a messy, unwelcoming environment for both your guests and you. But, if you find yourself constantly falling short when it comes to storage space, the likelihood is you’re not making the most of what you have available. Excellent storage doesn’t necessarily mean having huge cupboards at your disposal; it means being smart about what space you do have.

Office Storage

Organize your desk by up-cycling your food tins. A bit of paint and some creative flair looks great for storing your stationary, receipts and crafty tools. How about shelving? An office with a line of shelving around the top of the room will mean you can file away all those books and paperwork and create a smart finish while you’re at it. You can easily purchase thick blocks of wood from your D.I.Y. store. All you need are some brackets and a spot of varnish if you want to create a treated look.

Bedroom Storage

If your closet is overflowing with clothes that you only wear for half the year, why not move them out of the way? Is there any space you can be maximizing under the bed or on top of the closet, for instance? If yes, vacuum seal bags are a great space saving, cheap way of getting clothes and linens out of sight and out of mind.

A great idea for the kids’ bedrooms, the den and the utility room is canvas storage bins. They’re inexpensive, they look neat and tidy and they give you some place to chuck that unaccountable ‘stuff’ that just piles up over time when you run a busy household.

Kitchen Storage

Glass jars are both a cute and effective way of storing pasta, rice, cereals, and even spices. There are tons of innovative hooks you can get in good kitchenware stores, too which allow you to maximize your wall space and to free up your precious countertop.

And what about the trash? Your trashcan doesn’t need to look trashy. Buy a nice set of brightly colored bins for separating out your recyclables and your general waste, and place them inside a cupboard – if you can.

Garage Storage

Installing platform storage that hangs from your garage ceiling is a fantastic space saver, and gets that clutter out of the house that you barely ever use. Speak to your local D.I.Y. store worker about your space for ideas on how to get started.

Consider this: If something gets shoved in the garage and you don’t use it for the next year, do you really need to keep it? Regular garage sales are a great way of keeping on top of unnecessary hoarding.

A Fresh Lick Of Paint Is All It Takes

If your living spaces are beginning to look tired, there is no need to call an interior designer or to begin filling them with new, expensive furniture. You’d be surprised how far a bit of paint will get you when it comes to brightening up a room. And if you’re organized, it can be achieved in one weekend, so it’s a timely solution as well. Follow these top tips for a professional finish:

TIP #1

Remove everything from the space you don’t want to get ruined. Cover furniture with plastic sheeting, plus flooring, too.

TIP #2

Apply painter’s tape along the wall trim edges so you don’t have any accidents along the way, and be sure to remove it before the paint has dried completely for a smooth finish. Start with the edges and corners, and be sure to apply a light coating of paint.

TIP #3

Two coats should do the trick. And if you take a break halfway through, be sure to cover the paint tin with a lid and put your tools in the fridge so they don’t dry out.

TIP #4

Wash your brushes in warm water so they’re clean and ready to use again next time. This will save you money on continually buying new brushes.

Make a Memorable Entrance

Creating an impressive entrance to your home is less expensive than you might think. Putting some millwork in place around the doorway, for example, looks classy, and can be easily installed then painted to fit with the theme on the exterior of your home.

A few plant pots with some shrubs can go a long way to creating a welcoming atmosphere on the porch as well. And how about some soft lighting such as outdoor fairy lights trailed around your plant pots? This will create a warm glow in the evening and really help your house to stand out on your street.

What about your house number and your mailbox? These practical items are also an opportunity to show off your individual style. A bit of paint and some lawn ornaments from your local craft store might be all it takes to really freshen up that front lawn.

Theme Park Discounts For Florida Residents

Florida is famous for its theme parks, both across the United States and worldwide. With millions of people flocking from around the globe to line up for these attractions, Florida residents may be given an advantage through local discount tickets. Continue below to read more about theme park discounts available to Florida residents.

How do resident discounts work?

Theme parks usually have certain times of year when they know they will be busy. However, it is more profitable to extend their season as long as possible. By offering discounts to local residents, the parks can guarantee more visitors for a longer period of time. The deals available to residents vary per park, and per season. Often, the deals rely on the fact that the purchasers live locally, and the best prices will usually be for an annual pass. You might also find deals for passes that last multiple days, or allow entry after a certain time.

You might find that the best deals are off-peak-season, and do not apply to certain days. This applies when the park knows that they will be extremely busy and do not need to rely on discounts to fill up. You should always make a note of blackout days in order to avoid any disappointments.

There may be some restrictions, such as a limited number of tickets per pass or per purchase. Rides or events that are likely to be filled by regular ticket purchases might also not be covered. However, the overall discount might offset the cost of paying for an extra event ticket.

Note that you will have to provide proof that you are a Florida resident, either at the point of purchase or when you are collecting the tickets – often both. This could be a state-issued ID, a voter registration card, a college ID, a utility bill or a letter from a financial institution. The website of the theme park should have a list of acceptable documents or credentials you can present. It is always a good idea to bring hard copies of documents in case photocopies or digital files are not accepted. Photo ID for all ticket holders is also generally a good idea.

Eligible Discounts

Disneyworld

Disneyworld, encompassing the Disney Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom, offers several resident discount passes. The most well-known might be the Discover Disney ticket, allowing three days for $139 or four days for $159. Although you are not allowed to visit more than one park on the same day, the days do not need to be consecutive.

There are several deals available for annual passes. The Gold and Silver passes, $559 and $149, respectively, allow visits to any of the parks on the same day. They are both subject to blackout dates, although there are more days available on the Gold pass. There is also a special weekday pass for $269 from Mondays through Fridays, only.

Universal Orlando

Universal Studios tickets for Florida residents often have the best deals when the tickets are multi-day, and cover more than one park – choosing from Universal Studios, the Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay. For example, if you buy a two-park ticket for two days, and take advantage of the offer for two extra days free, you will end up paying less than $50 per person per day. There are various other deals of this kind available.

Universal Studios also offers Florida residents the chance to pay in installments for annual passes. For a seasonal pass, this could be as little as $13 a month. The prices increase per month depending on the pass, with the most expensive being the Premier Pass at $24 a month. Each pass carries its own discounts and access deals. The best deals will usually be found by booking online.

Busch Gardens Tampa

Busch Gardens offers a monthly payment plan, EZpay, on its annual passes to Florida residents. This can be as low as $14 for a year-long pass. There are bigger packages which can include access to Adventure Island or SeaWorld. The passes are not subject to blackout days, and allow for various deals, opportunities and savings.

Legoland

Legoland’s basic annual pass (the “Awesome Pass”) is normally $129. If purchased online, it is available to Florida Residents for $99. This also includes a 9:30 a.m. park entry, access to the water park, and discounted guest tickets.

There are many discounts available at various theme parks, and often at different times of year. One of the best ways to keep up-to-date on Florida resident offers is to subscribe to a mailing list or online an alert that will notify you when deals become available.

Effects Of Obamacare Repeal

One of the bigger concerns surrounding the current political climate is the potential repeal of Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act. The good news for now is that the potential replacement that the Republican Party and President Trump proposed did not pass through the Senate vote. So, for the time being, the potential repeal remains “potential.” But, this does not mean that another proposition is not forthcoming. If you are currently insured, it is important to understand what the removal of the Affordable Care Act will do to your life, and your healthcare prospects.

If you have not yet considered the ramifications of this potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act, you might want to start. To begin, if the program is fully removed and replaced, an estimated 23 million Americans could lose their health insurance. According to the Congressional Budget Office, individual insurance premiums could increase by up to 50 percent if the bill is repealed. These two numbers, alone are reason to be concerned about the repeal and the replacement that the current administration has in store. The lack of medical care that could result from the repeal of the Affordable Care Act could result in the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans who suffer from life-threatening illness or who live in poverty. These people would no longer have access to the life-saving medical care and treatment they need. Thankfully, the proposed replacement by the Trump administration and the GOP did not remove the pre-existing condition clause. This is a good sign that any future potential replacements will likely keep this beneficial, life-saving facet of our national healthcare.

There are several facets of Obamacare that make it much easier for people to get health insurance coverage. It removes the possibility of denial for pre-existing conditions, it allows younger people to stay on their parent’s insurance for longer and it expands Medicaid. This provides health insurance to families and individuals without the means to otherwise afford healthcare. The Medicaid expansion portion of Obamacare is the part that allows so many Americans to have access to affordable healthcare. Revoking this would arguably be the most detrimental effect of repealing the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare increased the available coverage for poor and lower-income Americans for those adults who earn up to around $16,000 annually, and decreased the healthcare costs for any Americans who earn under $30,000 annually. Repealing the Affordable Care Act will mean that any policyholders who no longer fall under the updated income parameters would lose their access to healthcare, which includes all of the children of lower-income Americans.

The driving factor behind repealing Obamacare is to decrease government costs, and to divert those funds elsewhere. While this may be advantageous to the wider Republican Party and the current administration, pulling government funds away from healthcare will drive up the costs that the average American must pay for, in terms of anything health-related. This means higher insurance premiums, increased hospital fees and more expensive prescriptions for the larger population. The middle class who would still get insurance coverage under a potential replacement would no longer receive the benefits of subsidized healthcare. Despite the tax-saving premise behind the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, there would be almost non-existent tax relief for many Americans, but a large tax cut for the wealthy Americans.

Fortunately, all Americans who have signed up for health insurance through Obamacare will have their coverage for the entirety of the current year. Unfortunately, there is still an entire calendar year for the Republican Party and the current administration to create and fine-tune a replacement plan. The new plan will likely lead to the loss of insurance for millions of Americans. If you are among the many who will be affected by the potential repeal and replacement of Obamacare, start preparing accordingly. Obviously, if you are among the lower-income population who will lose your health insurance, there may not be much you can do. But, knowing in advance that you will lose your health coverage gives you ample time to plan to get insurance. If you are in the percentage of Americans who will maintain their health insurance, but will see higher premiums and increased medical costs, this may give you enough time to save money for these future health costs. All Americans with health insurance should know where they stand in relation to the Affordable Care Act, and should discuss the future with their current health insurance providers.