Wednesday, June 19, 2019

4 Lessons To Learn From House Hunting

Written by Alex from The Berger Bungalow

House hunting is fun and exciting, and it also has the potential to teach kids life long lessons (and maybe it will teach the adults some lessons, as well!). Then again, every single situation that you go through in life has the potential of learning and teaching lessons - it is just how you look at the hand you are given on that specific day. During house hunting, however, there really are so many amazing lessons that you can teach your kids during the process. It can be stressful, yes, but make it an educational time period, as well. Here are four lessons to learn from house hunting:

Finances Are Extremely Important

The first lesson that you can teach your children, or child throughout the home buying process is that finances are extremely important. It is very hard for children to see the true meaning and value of hard work and money until they have to figure it out for themselves, but as a parent, you want your children to be as educated as possible, in order to avoid going through tough times (which most everyone has to do at least once in their life - especially with finances).

The home buying process is the perfect way to show your children how being responsible with your money and your credit score is very important. Start from the ground up and show them. Start by explaining the down payment and teach them about saving money and why it is important to not only save for a down payment, but also for emergencies, as well. Then, you can teach them about credit scores and how it can affect interest rates (and life, in general). Your FICO score will reflect if you are maxing out your credit cards and/or making late payments on your bills. Another important financial aspect of the home buying process is your debt-to-income ratio. If you only teach your children one thing, this would be it. Talk to them about debt and how to be realistic with how much they can afford because money does not grow on trees and racking up your credit cards is never a good thing.

There are many other financial steps that you will go through during the home buying process and if you are able to work in a few other lessons for your children to learn from you, that is even better!

Being Open Minded Is Essential

Being open minded when you are house hunting is essential, but it’s also very important for everyday life, as well. Things are going to come up and life very rarely goes as planned, so keeping an open mind and being flexible is important, in order to succeed in all aspects of life. Simplify Your Day says, “Keeping an open mind is one of the most difficult things to practice.

It means you are open to everyone and everything that comes your way, allowing yourself to embrace different possibilities, opportunities, people, views, suggestions and interests.

You need to be unprejudiced, without stubbornness and flexible at all times. I try to practice this in every situation and it makes life a hell of a lot easier and less complicated. Better yet it is fun to practice. Trying to understand someone’s point of view, even when you disagree or don’t like the person very much, can change and free your mind in a way you would have never expected.

I don’t claim to master this skill, but I do see great improvement and it makes me feel powerful having the ability to change my way of thinking and not to get stuck in a mindset that makes me frustrated, angry or helpless.

Keeping an open mind is one of the best tools I use in simplifying my life.

It doesn’t mean I believe or accept everything, but I do listen, observe, feel and try to comprehend every situation on my path. It has given me, saved me and helped me many times. Try it yourself.”

Life Is Easier When You Work With Others

Unfortunately, in school, working with others is not always an achievement, but in real life, working with others is a very important skillset that most everyone needs to learn. For example, in a professional setting, you will have to learn how to work with others, especially in a collaborative environment (which most workplaces are navigating to). This goes for other things in life, as well, such as house hunting, or even selling your home. It’s not just yourself doing the work. More than likely, you will need to hire a team - a team of professionals and when you do so, you need to be able to work with them and rely on them, when needed. A team such as Erin King Jax Historic Realty makes that a bit easier to do because Erin King really knows the ins and outs of the real estate market in Jacksonville, Florida. For example, if you are selling and buying a home at the same time, this is called a contingent transaction and according to Erin’s website, this requires high levels of skill and project management to make it happen. Erin King is an expert when it comes to contingency transactions and can not only guide you through the process, but he can help take a lot of stress off of your plate. Erin offers coaching sessions online that are completely free, with no obligation, where he helps you learn how to make this complex set of transactions work for you.

Erin King is a Best of Zillow® REALTOR® who specializes in Jacksonville’s historic neighborhoods. “Erin, who previously worked in financial services and holds an MBA with an economics focus, brings a deep understanding of buying and selling historic homes. He enjoys sharing that knowledge with clients, from how to fit a 21st century lifestyle into a historic home and where to seek financing for renovation with a home purchase, to accurately pricing homes in Historic Districts such as Riverside, Avondale, Ortega, Springfield, Murray Hill, and San Marco. Erin, who prides himself on close attention to detail and quick response to clients, has put together a support team of contractors and other professionals who help transactions go smoothly.” This means that when you work in a collaborative environment with Erin, to find the home of your dreams, you are not only making the process easier for yourself, but you are saving a lot of stress along the way, as well!

Don’t Put All Of Your Eggs In One Basket

Last but not least, do not ever put all of your eggs in one basket. Buying a house is never a guaranteed thing until you officially sign the paperwork and get the keys. Until then, everything has the potential to fall through, so do not put all of your eggs in one basket. This is a great way to look at life, as well. You are dealt your cards and it is up to you to make the best out of them, but always be open to change and never be stuck in one type of mindset. I am sure you all have heard the phrase “don’t put your eggs in one basket,” and that is because it is a great life lesson, no matter who you are, or what you are doing.

*This is a sponsored post*

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Instagram "Collabs" - What Happens Behind the Scenes and How to Avoid Being Taken Advantage Of

This topic is a little..."off-brand" for this blog.  But, it's something I talk to my friends and family about from time and time and their reactions seem to vary from intrigued to shocked. The question that usually starts the conversation to begin with? "How do you even make money through social media or your blog?"

To start off, my blog and social media accounts are not highly monetized.  Not at all. I didn't start this blog with the intent to make money from it. And I don't want to promote anything that seems sketchy just to make some cash. But I do accept sponsorships that "fit the blog's brand", seem interesting/useful/innovative, or that I know you all will want to see/hear about. I'll also participate in "collaborations" (I work with a brand, may be given free product, but am not paid) that fit that same bill.

When I first started my blog, I did a lot of the outreach for collabs.  I contacted brands I was interested in working with and promoting. As the years have gone on, I am fortunate enough to do very little outreach and have brands contact me daily. How does that happen? Honestly, I think it's because I have a long-standing relationship with COVERGIRL and I'm pretty sure they entered my information into large PR databases like Cision. (Thank you, COVERGIRL!) I also have learned to sign up for different third-party agencies (who act as the middle man between brands and "influencers") along the way.  It's very simple and a lot to explain all at the same time. But basically, that's the gist of it.

Since my contact information is available in PR databases, most of the more legitimate sponsorship or collaboration offers come through my email. Now, I still get sketchy ones that come to my email. And I do get legitimate offers in other places. But, generally, PR companies and brands like to contact me through email.

Every now and then, however, I receive messages through my social media DM's or comments asking me to DM an account for "collabs." Some of them are 100% on the up and up...others are a little questionable. Most of the time the brand wants me to promote their product but will give me something like 20% to 50% off. So I still have to purchase the product in order to promote it. And they may throw in an affiliate link with a commission percentage. I normally pass on those unless it's a product that I would (or already) buy at full price.

But recently, I've been seeing an uptick in [mainy instagram] companies offering a product deeply discounted in exchange for posts. But the thing is, they are selling these products at incredibly inflated prices. The first time I noticed it was with a sunglasses company (if you know me, you know why I get contacted by and consider collabs with anyone selling sunglasses).  They had a ton of super cute sunglasses and were offering me 60% off. Whaaaat. I am always down for some cute sunnies.

I went to their website and noticed the prices were around $70 or $80. And then recognized a pair (hi, I'm obsessed with sunglasses)... that I had seen on Amazon for about $12. So I started to do a deeper dive. I read reviews on the company located on third party review sites and what I suspected was unfortunately true. They were buying cheap sunglasses wholesale from China and selling them for much more than they were worth.

Since then, this has happened over and over again. And it's usually through Instagram. To the point that now when I get a collab request from anyone on Instagram, I usually research the company before I even respond. I can imagine that influencers who are much bigger than I am but don't yet have "people" to sift through requests for them, probably don't have the time to research every request they are interested in and may end up promoting something a little sketchy unintentionally.

So I'm giving you guys the "heads up" on what to look for.

1. They usually leave a random comment like this on a picture. 

I know they found me through one of the hashtags. The reason why this is odd is that MOST brands will either take the time to go to my bio to find my email and contact me that way. OR they at the very least send me a DM.

2. The conversation is usually a

Now, this is something you won't be able to see as a follower. But I wanted to include this for anyone just starting out in blogging or social media. Typically when brands contact influencers, they don't do a lot of back and forth before getting to the pitch. It's usually one message that goes something like "We love your blog/account/youtube etc. and think your followers would be interested in our product" and then they get straight into their company and what they have in mind as far as collaboration goes.

3. Their followers are all or mostly accounts with little content and/or most of their likes come from these empty accounts

If they have a ton of followers that have little to no content and little to no's a red flag. Everyone has some bots that follow them. I don't know why, but bots do just start following influencers, celebrities, and public accounts. But when a company has MOSTLY followers that look fake... there is a good chance they paid for their following.

4. All of their content was posted on the same day or not too long ago

If it's a brand you've never heard of, they aren't big anywhere else, and they have thousands of followers but their first piece of content was only posted a day ago... ehhhh.  Now, this could be a brand that has had an account for years and decided to hit restart and redo their image, wipe their account of content, and start over. But, it's not very common and it is still something to watch out for. Also having most of their content posted on the same day throws up a red flag since most brands will post a little bit each day or each week... Not all at once.

5. Their products don't seem to match the price

With things like sunglasses and clothing, it's hard to tell if the quality matches the price without actually seeing the product in person. But jewelry is a little easier. If the website doesn't list what the jewelry is made out of (examples: 925 sterling silver or 18K gold) then it's most likely alloy or another cheap material. And not worth $40.

You can also check this by doing a simple google search of the product name or reverse image search the product photo found on the website/ social media account. Most of the time you will find the same exact product (sometimes the same exact image) listed on wholesale websites and Amazon for 75%-90% cheaper.

*Bonus* They are following ... their other accounts?

This was new for me. I normally don't check who the brand is following. But this particular account was only following 3 accounts. So why not? Who were they following? Themselves. Yep. They have 3 more accounts for the same company. I'm assuming they have multiple people doing "outreach" via Instagram to influencers and that each person has their own IG account for the company...but that's not how things normally work (normally a company has one account or one main account and one PR/outreach account.... or their PR department contacts you through email). I can't know for sure if that's what's going on...but that's what it looks like to me.

And lastly, reviews are your friends! Check the comments on the companies' social media and search "[company name]+reviews" or "[company name]+scam" on google before giving them your coin.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Your Nursery Must Do's

Written by Alex from The Berger Bungalow

Do you have a baby on the way, or are you considering adding a little addition to your life? First of all, congratulations! Having a baby is such an amazing time filled with love, excitement, joy - and many sleepless nights. One of the most exciting parts of preparing for a new baby is getting the nursery ready. There are so many great nursery decorations and gadgets to help you style and organize your baby’s room. I’ve compiled a list of nursery must-do’s to help all of you new mothers out there make sure you’ve got everything prepared! Let me know in the comments below if you have any nursery must-do’s.

A Crib or Bassinet

Okay - this one is pretty obvious, but you definitely need a crib and/or bassinet. Every parent and every child is unique and will have his/her own needs, so find what works best for you. The recommendation now is to keep your child with you for the first few months while you sleep. Some parents co-sleep (with a safe sleeper, of course), some parents put a bassinet in their room, and others decide that the nursery works better for them, instead of sleeping in the same room. No matter what you choose, do not be swayed by the opinions of others. Like I mentioned, every parent and child is different and you just have to do what works best for YOU.

Closet Organization

I don’t know about you, but my entire life feels more organized when I have an organized closet. Seeing pictures of closet transformations is so satisfying! Having an organized closet in your nursery is critical - especially with all of the clothes and knick-knacks you will likely be gifted. Having drawers in your closet to separate smaller articles (think items such as socks and hats) is a good start. Another great method to organize, and my personal favorite method, is shelving. You can use anything from standard shelves attached to the wall, to an empty bookshelf. Shelves can hold anything from books to toys to clothing - the possibilities are endless! Let me know in the comments below how you are planning on organizing your nursery closet.

A Fan

Although there is nothing that can be done to totally prevent SIDS, babies who sleep in rooms with a fan have a lower risk for sudden death syndrome, according to quite a few recent studies. The finding is the latest evidence to suggest that a baby’s sleep environment is a critical factor in the risk for SIDS, which is diagnosed when the sudden death of an infant can’t be explained by other health concerns.

According to the New York Times, “Since 1992 the rate of SIDS deaths has dropped by 56 percent, from 1.2 deaths per 1,000 live births to about 1 death per 2,000 live births. The decline is linked to a national “Back to Sleep” campaign that promotes putting babies on their backs instead of the stomach, which has been shown to lower risk for sudden death. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that parents avoid soft bedding, allow a baby to use a pacifier if he or she wants, and avoid overheating a baby’s room as ways to lower the risk for SIDS.”

But, this means that you need to install a fan, which can be very tricky for some parents (especially with a big bump in tow!). Not only can it be tricky, but if you need to reroute wiring, it’s best to let the professionals do it so that you do not risk a house fire starting in your baby's room. Heck Electric, based out of Fleming Island, Florida, employees electricians who possess years of on-the-job experience, with industry certifications, so that you can have your electrical job done in the best and most skilled of hands. They say, “At Heck Electric, our goal is to provide you with the best customer service possible as well as the most highly trained technicians.” Heck Electric is a family-owned and operated business with tons of experience when it comes to installing fans! They are ready to provide fast and effective electrical services at a low price today, so give them a call.

A Comfortable Armchair

Having a baby is a wonderful and exciting time, but it also means lots of middle-of-the-night wake-up calls and lots of missed hours of sleep. Once you become a mother, you will care much less about losing hours of sleep when you see your cute little bundle of joy; however, it is still a good idea to have somewhere comfortable to relax in your baby’s nursery during that 1 am feeding session. You will appreciate it when it happens! Armchairs are a great addition to any nursery to give yourself some comfort, and also add a pop of color and a little extra style. You will thank yourself later, trust me!

*Sponsored Post