Matthew Walsh's Blog
Household recycling has become easier than ever. Many towns and cities offer free recycling pickup, and even private waste management companies are implementing recycling programs.
There are a number of advantages to recycling. It helps protect the environment by reducing the amount of waste and making it easier to reuse raw materials. But, recycling is also advantageous to homeowners who don’t want to pay hefty fees for trash pickup when they can often recycle for free.
One of the more difficult aspects of household recycling is the learning curve of actually learning what is and isn’t recyclable. Homeowners might think something is recyclable because it’s made from plastic, only to find out later that it’s a specific type of plastic that can’t be recycled. On the other hand, you might be throwing some items in the garbage, filling up your bin each week when you could be recycling it instead.
In this article, we’re going to talk about some of the lesser known items you could be recycling. We’ll also cover some items you shouldn’t throw in your recycling bin, and give you tips on how to tell which is which.
Things that shouldn’t find their way into your recycling bin
It’s easy to assume that just because something looks like paper, plastic, or glass, that it can be tossed into your recycling bin. However, that isn’t always the case. Look out for these items that may not be recyclable in your area.
Used paper food containers. Pizza boxes are one of the biggest culprits that end up in recycling bins when they shouldn’t be. Items like paper food containers, use paper towels, and paper plates are all soiled with grease and other food residue making them ineligible for recycling.
Those glossy drink cartons made from unknown materials. There’s a good chance that if you can’t find a recycling logo on it somewhere it can’t be recycled. However, a growing number of cities are accepting milk cartons, so be sure to check on the rules in your area.
Plastic shopping bags. Those flimsy bags that you get from the supermarket? You can’t recycle those. As a result, many cities and stores are encouraging the use of reusable shopping bags. If you forget your bags at home, however, fear not: many supermarkets now accept your used plastic bags to be recirculated.
So that eliminates a lot of common household waste from being recycled. However, there are plenty of items you might not be aware of that can be tossed into the recycling bin.
Lesser known recyclable items around the house
Even if something isn’t eligible for curbside recycling doesn’t mean you should just toss it into the trash. There are many items that you can drop off or donate. Here are just a few items that are likely sitting in your house right now:
Old cell phones and electronics. Our gadgets are becoming obsolete at an ever-increasing rate. That means many of us have a lot of old tech junk sitting in boxes in our basements. The good news is that several stores accept free drop-offs of old electronics for reuse and recycling.
Mattresses and furniture. Large items like mattresses and old furniture are a pain to get rid of. They’re also likely useful to someone out there. For mattresses and box springs, try contacting retailers to see if they reuse them for materials. Furniture that is still in usable condition can be placed on Craigslist or donated to a thrift store like Goodwill or Salvation Army.
Oil and ink. Run out of ink in your printer? Online retailers will often pay you for your old cartridges. Also, if you recently changed your oil, drop it off at an auto parts store to be recycling into other automotive materials.
Want to transform your homeownership dream into a reality? Understanding what it takes to enter the real estate market successfully is paramount for homebuyers. With the necessary preparation, you should have no trouble purchasing your dream residence.
Ultimately, there are several steps that a homebuyer should take before he or she conducts a home search, including:
1. Perform Plenty of Housing Market Research
The housing market fluctuates regularly, and a buyer's market can change into a seller's market quickly. As such, you'll want to conduct sufficient real estate market research before you start your home search so you can streamline the process of finding the perfect house.
Consider where you want to live and whether you'd like to reside close to family members and friends. Also, consider how much space you'll need from a new home, along with whether you'd like to live near schools, playgrounds and other local hot spots.
Don't forget to check out the prices of a wide range of homes, either. By doing so, you may be able to determine the price range for houses that match your needs.
2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
With pre-approval for a mortgage, you'll know exactly what you can afford as soon as you're ready to buy a house.
Banks and credit unions frequently offer a vast array of home financing options, making it simple for you to choose a mortgage that fits your budget. Fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages are among the most popular choices for homebuyers nationwide. Meanwhile, you may be eligible for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loans as well.
Reach out to multiple banks and credit unions to pursue all of the home financing options at your disposal. This will enable you to find the best mortgage based on your individual needs and enter the housing market with financing in hand to secure your dream home.
3. Hire an Experienced Real Estate Agent
There is no reason to enter the housing market alone. Lucky for you, experienced real estate agents are happy to help you find the perfect house.
An experienced real estate agent understands the ins and outs of the housing market and will share his or her real estate expertise with you. This professional will educate you about the real estate market and ensure that you know what to look for when you attend an open house.
Also, an experienced real estate agent will guide you along the homebuying journey. From the moment you spot your dream home to the day you finalize a purchase agreement, your real estate agent will offer the support that you need to go from homebuyer to homeowner.
Perhaps best of all, an experienced real estate agent will help alleviate your homebuying concerns. And if you ever have homebuying questions, your real estate agent will provide responses at any time.
Don't settle for a subpar home – follow the aforementioned steps, and you can move closer to discovering your ideal residence.
If you're currently renting an apartment or house, it makes good financial sense to consider becoming a homeowner in the foreseeable future. There are pros and cons to owning your own home -- and it's not for everyone -- but for most people, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
An exception would be if your job requires you to relocate frequently. In that scenario, the potential benefits of building up equity in a home would be greatly diminished.
On the other hand, if you plan on staying put for more than a few years, then the tax benefits and investment value of owning real estate could put you on a stronger financial track than if you continued shelling out your hard-earned money to a landlord. You've probably heard the argument before: "If you pay rent, you have nothing to show for it at the end of the year". However, when you buy a home, an increasing portion of your monthly payments is applied to your actual ownership of the property (as opposed to how much you owe the bank).
Tax Advantages of Home Ownership
In most cases, you can deduct all of your home mortgage interest from your federal tax returns, according to the IRS. More specifically: "The only costs you can deduct are real estate taxes actually paid to the taxing authority, interest that qualifies as home mortgage interest, and mortgage insurance premiums."
However, since everyone's financial situation is different and there is no "one size fits all" approach to financial management, it's always best to consult with an experienced CPA, enrolled agent, or knowledgeable tax preparer. There may be other tax benefits you could qualify for as a homeowner, too, including getting tax credits for installing a solar energy system. The government's Energy Star program says tax credits on new solar energy systems are available through the year 2021.
Getting the Process Underway
Two key steps to becoming a home owner are finding out your credit score and meeting with a mortgage lender to determine how much of a real estate loan you could qualify for. An experienced real estate agent can also provide you with a wealth of guidance and information on how to become a homeowner. They can fill you in on many of the exact steps, requirements, and advantages of buying your first home. A buyers' agent can also help you assess your readiness to take the plunge into home ownership.
In addition to finding out your credit score, which will impact your mortgage interest rate and the type of loan you may qualify for, other vital information can be gleaned from a detailed personal budget. Although the amount of rent you now pay will provide some insights into your potential house-buying budget, there are a lot of variables which will impact how much of a mortgage you could comfortably afford.
A month passes quickly, especially when you're faced with the responsibility of paying a five-figure or larger mortgage each month. Knowing that a $1,000 or more bill is coming in the mail, electronically or in print, could keep you up at night.
Paying a mortgage shouldn't leave you feeling anxious and worried
The only way to let go of all thoughts about paying a mortgage is to pay your entire mortgage off. That's not always easy if you just bought a house. With focus and action, there are things that you can do to release year round mortgage worries.
Giving yourself permission to accept how much financial responsibility you've taken on is a good first step. So too is remembering other times when you were concerned that you'd taken off more than you could chew only to find out that you had what it took to meet those demands. To stop worrying about your mortgage, you could also:
- Look at your other household expenses. Can you cut down on water, electricity or gas usage? Do you really need to take four or more outfits to the dry cleaners each week?
- Use money that you save from other household expenses to pay down the principal on your mortgage. Also, use a portion of the money to treat yourself to something that you love each week. It could be as simple as a new, ethnic meal. It could be as wonderful as a deep body massage.
- Listen to people when they tell you that you have a gift. Consider using your gift to advise and consult others, to generate additional income. Put 75% or more of the income that you earn from this work to pay off the principal on your mortgage.
- Take your bonus and overtime pay and start chipping away at your mortgage principal.
- Get serious about paying off credit cards, starting with credit cards that have the highest interest rates. Just paying off one high interest credit card could save you several hundred dollars a month. Invest this savings in your aim to pay your mortgage off early.
- Work up numbers on how much you would save if you refinanced your mortgage at lower interest rates.
A place to worry in is not what you bought your house for
At its core, a house should be a place to create great memories. It should be a place where you know, absolutely know, that you're free to express yourself without fear of ridicule or embarrassment. Step inside your house and you should let your hair down, not curl up on the sofa and start worrying about how you're going to pay next month's mortgage.
Start taking steps early to breakdown how you're going to pay your mortgage. Include how you'll pay your mortgage should unexpected events like job changes or layoffs occur. Be confident that you can continue to make changes, shifts in how you review and meet your financial responsibilities, until the task of paying your monthly mortgage no longer scares you.