Tips for Storing Financial Documents

Tips for Storing Financial Documents

As you move from apartment to apartment, the task of storing financial documents can seem daunting at first, not only because some documents might be relevant in the foreseeable future while others virtually useless, but because typically financial documents include sensitive personal information. On top of a good organization system, storing financial documents requires a certain level of security not usually demanded of other kinds of storage. Read the following tips to get on you on the right track.

First thing’s first, for documents you don’t want to keep, destroy them: do not simply recycle or toss them in the trash. Because these documents contain sensitive information, the only safe way to dispose of these is through a shredder or incineration. If you don’t have a shredder, and don’t care about incineration, just visit Office Depot, or other office supply stores, to shred documents, as these businesses usually offer shredding services.

Physical Storage

For financial documents you won’t need access to, but should still keep in storage, just place them in filing boxes. To keep it simple and easy for the future, you might name boxes by category. For  security, a filing cabinet with a lock is the best direction to go, or even a locker where you can stack the boxes on top of each other.

On the other hand, if you want certain financial documents accessible, there are a few things you can do. Of course a filing cabinet is optimal, and then categorizing financial document types by file color. Also breaking down categories by date needed or date received could be useful.

Other, long-term financial-relevant documents you might need, like birth certificates, you can store at a safe deposit at your local bank, or purchase a safe for their keeping to protect it from possible future damages.

Digital Storage

A good way to keep your financial documents accessible while also adding an element of security is to purchase a small external hard drive. You probably won’t need more than 5 or 10 GBs, given how little space documents themselves take up, when compared to pictures and videos. With an external hard drive you can add a password protection. Another advantage is you won’t have your financial documents directly on the computer designated for everyday use. This will keep your sensitive files out of the hands of hackers and, maybe, your children. You won’t have to worry about accidentally sending the files or deleting them, as they’ll always be on the external hard drive, which you can disconnect from all devices when you don’t need access to the files stored there.

Another easy way to store sensitive documents is through the cloud, which will enable you to have access to these documents on any network-connected device. A free option is Google Drive, but there are other services like iCloud that provide similar services. You might also just want to look into getting a sensitive document storage program.

Whatever you do, remember to balance security and accessibility.

How to Avoid 3 Common Moving Scams

How to Avoid 3 Common Moving ScamsThe three most common moving scams all involve money. Before you continue to read about the common scams of moving companies, just know that all can be avoided, quite simply, if you sign a contract before you officially decide to hire or use moving services.

  1. Inflating Prices after Packing All Your Belongings

One thing you want to watch out for is hiring a moving company without having a contract with an established, agreed upon price for the move. If you don’t have a contract, some rogue moving companies will pack all your belongings and then require that you pay a fee two or three times larger than estimate or refuse to unpack your stuff. This is a terrible situation: avoid it at all costs!

  1. Inflating Prices after Giving an Estimate

Some dubious movers will just glance at all your belongings and give a “rough” estimate of how much moving fees and services will cost. Do not trust this, and do not base your final decision on the estimate being true. Rather, if you receive an estimate or not, do not agree to use the services of a moving company without signing a contract with an agreed upon price.

  1. Deposit Required before Moving

Lastly, unscrupulous moving companies might require a deposit before showing up to move your stuff. Never do this. This is the sure sign of a scam. Scammers will just take your deposit money and never show up. Then you’ll be out of both movers and out of money.

Signing a contract is the best way to avoid the scams listed above. But there is also more you can do to protect yourself. First of all, never give a deposit. The only time this might be necessary is if you move on a holiday, but otherwise virtually no reputable moving company will require one of you. Another thing you can do is ensure the moving company is licensed by the Department of Transportation. Simply visit their website and do some research on your movers. Additionally, the Department provides a checklist brochure so you’ll never be in the dark about whether your movers are legitimate or not. Lastly, you can always check online reviews. Chances are, if they’re scammers, other people have already reported them.

Ultra-Processed Foods and Cancer Risk Linked

A new study, as reported by Consumer Reports, draws a correlation between the consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk. This is the first study to connect ultra-processed foods to cancer, although these foods have already been connected to obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

“In the new study published Wednesday in the medical journal The BMJ [British Medical Journal], participants were followed for eight years. They kept 24-hour food diaries, indicating which types of food they ate. Researchers then measured what proportion of each individual’s diet was ultra-processed.

The researchers’ analysis showed that for every 10 percent of a respondent’s diet that was made up of ultra-processed foods, there was a 12 percent increase in overall cancer risk (and an 11 percent increase in breast cancer risk).”

So what are processed foods? CNN reports, “ultra-processed foods occupy a growing part of the world’s diet. A 2016 study found that 60% of the calories in the average American diet come from this kind of food. A 2017 study found that they make up 50% of the Canadian diet, and they make up more than 50% of the UK diet. And more of the developing world is starting to eat this way.

According to The Guardian, “Ultra-processed food is a definition created by a group of scientists led by Prof Carlos Monteiro in Brazil, a country which also has national dietary guidelines urging they be eaten as little as possible. The classification system, called Nova, puts foods into four groups – raw or minimally processed foods including seeds, fruit, eggs and milk; processed culinary ingredients such as oils and butter; processed foods including bottled vegetables and canned fish and cheeses; and ultra-processed, which are ‘formulations made mostly or entirely from substances derived from foods and additives’.”

BBC produces a general list of foods that count as ultra-processed:

What counts as ultra-processed

  • Mass-produced packaged breads and buns
  • Sweet or savoury packaged snacks including crisps
  • Chocolate bars and sweets
  • Sodas and sweetened drinks
  • Meatballs, poultry and fish nuggets
  • Instant noodles and soups
  • Frozen or shelf-life ready meals
  • Foods made mostly or entirely from sugar, oils and fats

In general, ultra-processed foods include anything canned, sealed, or frozen, but especially if the sugar content accounts for about 20% or more of the calorie count.

Although the news appears diresome, researchers warn not to worry. A well balanced diet should be sought, in any case, which will include consuming whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Most perishable food items will not be ultra-processed, although in the case of breads it is more difficult to judge.

To show the ramifications more specifically, the BBC reports:

  • On average, 18% of people’s diet was ultra-processed
  • On average, there were 79 cancers per 10,000 people each year
  • Upping the proportion of processed food by 10% would lead to nine extra cancers per 10,000 people per year

So although this may be a call to be more conscious of your diet, there is still much more research to be done to determine the exact mechanisms that propel this increase in cancer risk.

Good Gifts for New Neighbors

The trope of new neighbors typically brings to mind movie scenes involving casserole dishes. In our day and age expectations of neighborly courtesy have certainly changed. Traditional gifts like food dishes become less and less appealing when you think about the possible allergies any dish, even by accidental ingredient inclusion, might agitate. We are required to be mindful of food allergies. There are alternative gifts that are perhaps even better than the food dish.

Gift Cards & Local Places

One of the best ways to connect with new neighbors is by introducing them to places around town. Just pick up a gift card next time you dine at your favorite restaurant and acquaint the new neighbors to one of the best spots in town. Likewise, you can pick up a gift card for a Netflix subscription, HBO, and other streaming services! In this day and age, who wouldn’t appreciate a free month of streaming?

Favorite Gifts

Have a favorite recipe that you’d like to share but don’t want to agitate allergies? Give a gift basket that includes all the ingredients, a nicely printed recipe, and maybe a spatula. This can work with favorite foods or even favorite movies, television series, or books.

Utility Gifts

This can be a rather unusual and quirky option, but sometimes the best gift is a set of basic tools. Who couldn’t use a basic hammer or screwdriver set? Anyway, if your new neighbor already owns these, they can regift them!

It’s time to get creative. Use this article as a launching pad to think of new ways to welcome new neighbors and let us know what you did in the comments below!

Prevent Bugs and Pests in Your Apartment

Prevent Bugs and Pests in Your Apartment

Yes, it is a harrowing thought that one day when you get home from work it is possible that the beloved family dog will have eaten half of the living room carpet the leasing office just installed. But there is nothing worse than cooking dinner and, upon reaching for the cup of flour you poured a few minutes ago, your hand grazes the hard skeleton of an energetic cockroach. Pests in the apartment are the worst. The good news is you can prevent these uninvited guests by maintaining a few best practices for apartment cleaning.

The place with all the food is the best place to begin: the kitchen. Food crumbs from dinner are not the only culprit here, week-old pet food outlining the exterior of pet food bowls is an attractant to cockroaches particularly. Either be sure to clean up any grounded food whenever you feed your pets, or give more restricted portions to limit the amount of misplaced pet food. Another thing to watch out for is standing water, either in the sink, on the counter tops underneath dish racks, or on the floor. Standing water anywhere in your kitchen attracts bugs and pests in your apartment. Wipe counters dry after you clean dishes, and do not leave standing water in pots or pans for longer than a few hours.

Likewise, if you have a carpet, vacuum at least twice a week, and more if you have pets, to reduce dandruff, dead skin, and stray hair on the floor. These things will inevitably be there, so removing them as often as possible will remove food sources and breeding grounds for pests.

These few tips will prevent a large majority of pests from making your apartment their new home. Just be consistent with your cleaning, remove food and water from surfaces, sweep hardwood floors and vacuum often, and you won’t have to worry about the vast majority of pests and bugs entering your apartment.

Tips for Moving with Pets

Tips for Moving with PetsWith all the boxes, fragiles, and furniture you’ll pack into the moving truck, it’s easy to lump your pet’s belongings with everything else. But your pet’s belongings are key to comforting your pet during this time of change. As you think about moving, don’t forget your pet. Below are two important pieces to making the move with your pet as smooth as possible.

The Vet

Before you move, you’ll want to make sure you have your pet’s vaccination records, especially if you’re moving to an apartment. If you schedule a check-up with your pet you can get any records your missing and, more importantly, you can check the state of your pet’s health to ensure it can handle the stress of moving, especially if the move covers a long distance. Some vets will even provide a sedative. If you haven’t yet, be sure to schedule a vet checkup before your move, so that you will have all the relevant information on your pet, including its current state of health, and any extra tools that might make the move easier.

Your Pet’s Belongings

Moving day can be as stressful for your pet as it is for you. In the rush to move everything, you might be tempted to just throw all your pet’s toys and beds into a box and move them out with everything else. This will only exacerbate your pet’s anxiety. Your pet’s belongings have its scent, and this scent is an important signal to your pet that they are in a familiar place. When things get stressful, your pet will look for familiar things and places to comfort it. Taking your pet’s belongings away at the beginning of the move will make a bad situation worse, as it will leave your pet without the comfort of familiarity. Confine most of your pet’s things to a room and leave your pet with them while you move everything. This will help ease the transition to the new place.

While comforting your pet in a time of change, your pet’s belongings will also play an important role in introducing it to its new home. Introduce your pet to its new home by furnishing a room with its belongings, which already contains it scent, so that the new environment will already contain elements of familiarity. This will reduce the shock of transition and create a welcoming environment in a new space.

Apartment Living with Energetic Cats

Cats have taken over in some apartment communities. This is no accident. As independent, and somewhat aloof creatures, cats basically take care of themselves, given enough food and water. People who like to travel find this autonomy of cats convenient. Left alone too much, however, cats tend to become rambunctious.

Many have found even cats can be destructive to property. This kind of destruction seems inversely related to physical activity. When the yarn ball unfurls, or the toy mouse doesn’t zig-zag on the floor, your cat is going to need some attention. Whether you play with your cat or not, it needs to burn energy somehow.

This may translate into plucked couches or torn curtains. Take some time out of your day, maybe five or ten minutes, to keep your cat entertained, and let it burn some energy to indulge its instinctual drives. To reduce destructive behavior get a scratch post for them to use. Sometimes it is best to have a scratch post for each room. Anti-scratch tape, generally furniture friendly, also does the trick. Cats abhor the adhesive texture. And, if nothing else, during commercial breaks use a laser to imitate the prey-predator hunt.

Cats are independent, but they’ve also adapted to rely on play for exerting energy and satiating intense instinctual drives. Give your cat a little bit of time each day, and you’ll find its levels of destructive behavior will decrease dramatically.

Three Places to Hide Your Spare Keys

Improvements in technology haven’t really solved the old, eternal dilemma: where to put the spare key. Hiding it is imperative, but keeping it accessible, and in a memorable spot, is difficult. We recommend 3 easy, accessible places to hide your key in plain sight.

Car floor mat

As long as you don’t lose your car keys, your car floor mat is a great place to keep your spare key. It’s so great because, presumably, your car will be wherever you are.

Wind Chime

It may be unorthodox to hide your spare key in plain sight, but it’s perhaps a most effective method, given certain constraints. Attaching your key to a wind chime gives you accessibility and also an alarm. If anyone is attempting to take your key, you’ll hear it. On the other hand, every time your wind chime rings you might be tempted to peek outside. It’s a worthy sport for consideration, though.

Pet or Pet House

This may not just be unorthodox, but downright heresy. So long as you have the spare key on a keychain loop, you can attach it to almost anything. Consider placing the key either on the collar of a pet or in an outside pet house. That way, the spare key has a guard, and it’ll come to you when called.

Wherever you hide your spare keys, just make sure you don’t forget where they are, and keep them in accessible locations. That way, next time you get locked out, getting back into your apartment or home won’t be a nightmare.

The Best Time To Rent A New Apartment

The Best Time To Rent A New ApartmentPeople move for many reasons: their apartment wasn’t what they expected, annual rate increases, or newfound desires to change scenery. Yet there are some who anticipate the move, and rent a new apartment at the optimal time. Notwithstanding the specials that come and go at every apartment community in any given season, there are actually two such times each year when it is best to look for new apartments.

According to Rent.com, the best time to look for a new apartment, if you want the most options, is from May to September. This is the time span in which most people move. Thus, more availabilities at more apartment communities. But if you’re looking to save money, the best time to rent a new apartment is from October to April. This is the time when most people are not moving, and, as a result. some apartment complexes may have more vacancies than they anticipated, and therefore rates will likely be lower to account for the deadened demand.

The best time to rent a new apartment depends in large part on the kind of apartment you want. If you’re looking for the most options, the mid-year is the best time to rent. But for those who want to save money, they’ll be wise to look in the offseason.

Are You Ready to Sign the Lease?

Are You Ready to Sign the Lease?As you’ve counted down the days until your lease expires, the time lost to looking at new apartments on Apartments.com or Trulia has made your friends very worried. Why don’t you put that phone down and binge watch Netflix with them? It used to be your favorite thing to do. It’s like nobody knows you anymore. The season is only ten hours long!

So you schedule a tour, and you plan to put all the planning behind you.

It’s not easy, as a matter of adventure and commotion, to keep a level head when touring a new apartment community. The future always looks brighter when it offers new opportunities and remains somewhat unpredictable, especially when the present and past have been less than ideal. Expectations of what can be easily cloud good judgment. But it’s important to not dismiss the mundane things, the things that are forgotten in the fantasies of new life. Nothing is perfect. A level approach to the novelty of a new apartment is the best approach. Put yourself in the best position by considering the following elements before you sign the lease.

Pet Policy

Of course if you have a pet you’ll ask the property manager about the pet policy: whether pets are allowed. More specifically, ask about breed restrictions, or whether the pet has to be house-trained, below a certain weight, or declawed. Learning the specifics of the policy can save you from fines or, worse, eviction.

Parking

Ask whether residents or units are allocated a specific number of parking spots, and whether there is visitor parking that is separate from resident parking. If there is no separation, you might want to ask residents, via social media, what parking typically looks like after a day of work or on the weekend. Is it difficult to get a space? Ask also about the towing policy and how strictly it’s enforced. A strictly enforced towing policy can be a very good thing for residents, especially if they follow the rules. Towing policies are intended to benefit residents and are enforced to ensure residents have parking places.

Typical Utilities Cost

You can call up the utilities company you will be using and ask how much utilities typically cost for the unit you expect to lease. This will give you a good idea of how much you’ll spend each month, besides rent, to cover electricity, water, and the like.

Extra Expenses

Some properties have extra expenses that aren’t discussed with the price of rent. These may include water line hook-up, metering, and trash pickup. These expenses can sometimes be at least $25. Make sure you’re aware of any extra expenses you’ll encounter while living at the property so you don’t overextend your budget.

Noise Level

In the rush to get a new, larger, and nicer apartment, you may forget to consider what a typical day will bring. Look around the community: are the roads busy, what kind of neighborhoods surround it, how much traffic goes through the parking lot? This will be a good time to utilize social media again. Ask past or current residents. Are the walls paper-thin? Is there an airport next door?

It’s a great feeling to know you’re moving to a better apartment. But it’s terrible to realize after a month, that you didn’t think about the day-to-day expenses and hassles. Put yourself in the best position, and don’t let the possibilities of the future make you blind to the realities of the present.

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