Home Furnishing and Lifestyle Tips

Here are some great tips, nifty ideas and interesting news tidbits about "Living The Good Life" with RTO. For starters, check out this informative article from MSNBC on RTO Consumer Tips.

Negotiate your cable/internet/phone bill and save money

Best prices for cable.

Haggle your internet bills for the best deal.

Most people are uncomfortable or do not realize the power you have negotiating your cable, internet and telephone bill and package services. First, you have nothing to lose and secondly, it costs the provider much more money signing a new customer than keeping a current one.

Here are some Shop RTO tips on the best way to negotiate a cheaper bill and/or better package service.

1. Find out when your contract is expiring and prepare your homework prior to calling them. Call three months prior to contract expiration to maximize savings and/or benefits and negotiating power.

2. Call customer service and ask them about your current package and if it matches current services offered. Telephone/cable/internet companies are always upgrading their basic services but fail to tell current customers that they have so you’re missing out on what you should get for what you’re paying. This is important because they may use that in their negotiations when you should be receiving those upgrades in the first place.

3. Determine what you want because they’ll usually offer several options – lower rates at the same service, same rates but with better service such as faster Internet speed, more free minutes, upgraded movie packages, etc. So know your priorities prior to know what direction to haggle.

3. Collect all of those mailers you get from their competitors on the great deals they are offering. Or, go to their website and get their offered specials there. You will need those in the negotiations.

4. Some say to go to customer service to start the negotiation but from our experience, go straight to cancellation department. They have the most incentive and power to negotiate. Remember, it costs them much less money to keep you than recruiting a new customer.

5. Be sincere and nice. It really helps. Tell them that their competition is bending over backwards to offer you a package that is too good to turn down. (Which they are but usually only for 3 months to a year.) That’s when the negotiations start.

6. Negotiate your deal on the priorities you set in step 3 until you’re satisfied. And, only agree to the terms for one year. Very important. That gives you next year to continue to negotiate the good deal you have or an even better one. When you get a good deal usually it’s only for one year and then they raise rates or take away added services.

7. Be prepared to leave. As you are well aware from the number of specials you receive in the mail or on advertisements, there are always great deals out there. Yes, it’s a pain switching services but it’s the only way to keep these companies in check providing the best package for the money. And, most of the time, they will not let you leave without offering you something.

8. If you hit a brick wall, don’t hesitate to talk to their boss. The higher up the ranks. the more they have to lose if they lose your business.

9. Don’t take their first offer. Push another time to see. Who knows how much rope they really have to let loose.

These companies know by research that us customers don’t want to spend the time changing providers so won’t try. And, in the meantime, your bill continues to rise. Or, they know you’re too uncomfortable in negotiating so they keep raising their rates. In this regard, the squeaky wheel gets oiled and you’re a paying customer so you have all of that working to your advantage.

We all need and/or enjoy these services but not necessarily at the rates they charge and continue to increase so do your due diligence and negotiate at the end of every contract term.

Just another Shop RTO lifestyle tip and money savings tips to save you some coin.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Bluetooth speaker systems becoming the hot ticket

Best bluetooth wireless speakers

Check out these tips for bluetooth wireless speakers

The vast improvement in sound quality, amplification, mobility and lowered prices are making bluetooth speakers the hot ticket. Add some unique and sleek designs to their look and they’re easily one of the hottest tickets in electronics today.

And we haven’t even mentioned the bluetooth aspect. As internet waves keep getting stronger and faster the ease and convenience make these portable, wireless speakers very attractive amongst consumers. And battery life has also improved to keep your tunes on the go for longer periods.

2015 brings in a whole new crop of quality bluetooth speakers at affordable prices ranging from $50 – $300. You need to shop around, though, as each offer benefits others don’t and vice versa. Here are some ShopRTO tips to making the best choice.

1. Make sure your iPod or portable device has bluetooth capabilities. Many older models do not.

2. Make sure you have your own radio station. With the ability to customize your own radio stations such as Pandora, your radio is just as good as your own playlist and they will find you new tunes for you already knowing your taste.

3. Do you need weather proof speakers? Because, they have them. If you’re looking for a portable system to broadcast outdoors a lot, look for the more durable, weather-proof and longer battery life models.

4. Some have carry cases, others do not. While that may not be a big deal, it is still a factor to be considered.

5. If it’s all about the bass then shop around. Many of these systems don’t have the thump as others and if it’s a big deal to you then be prepared to spend some extra cash. Again, it’s all about what room or settings you’re looking to jam your tunes.

6. Some allow for additional, wireless speakers. If you’re looking for a smaller home system to place speakers in key spots in your home then look for those with that feature. Many speaker systems do not.

7. Read the reviews on the Internet both from the experts and, especially, consumers. CNet Magazine can be a good source for both. Here’s their recent on 2015 bluetooth sound systems.

If you need to rent to own them to try before you buy or for a debt-free payment plan then shop around as some RTO stores carry them, others do not. If you do go rent to own, then make larger payments over shorter time periods to save you money.

Just another ShopRTO Home Audio tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Clean and organize your freezer

Clean ice maker

Organize your freezer.

Can you see the back of your freezer? If not then you’re like most Americans who use the freezer but not to your best use.

The food items that time forgot need some attention so what’s the best way? Set aside some time and commitment as it won’t take too long and can make your life and meals more efficient and tasty. Make sure you won’t need any ice for the next half day as you’re going to get rid of all ice in your freezer. Or have a bag of ice ready.

First get a cooler where you can store those freezer items you want to keep. Empty and examine the contents of each item. If it’s been in there for one month or longer then ask yourself will you really use it? If it’s been there more than 6 months then toss it.

If you don’t know what it is then toss it. You obviously forgot it was there which prompts the best tip and that is to always label your freezer items with masking tape and a sharpie.

Empty all ice trays and/or buckets into a bowl and put in the cooler. Take off all shelves and let them thaw a bit so they don’t crack when you wash them with warm water and vinegar. That’s two parts water to 1 part vinegar mixture. Or warm water and a 1/2 cup of baking soda. Either will do.

If you have an ice machine with a bucket, completely dismantle and wash. You’ll notice over time how ice has built up at the exit point and if you don’t regularly dismantle, thaw and wash; it will either freeze up the hole or the motor. Either way, you have to go through this exercise. Better spend time than money.

Wipe the inside of the freezer with your warm water mixture. If there are really bad spots, put some water on it and leave it for a moment then wipe away. You may need to find an old toothbrush for those really sticky items. And wipe down the door sealant! Don’t forget that one.

After cleaning the inside and all of the shelves you dismantles. Dry them all with paper towels and put them back.

Organize your freezer with those items you kept and create a calendar of preparing dishes for the freezer and from the freezer in regular rotation.

Just another Shop RTO Home Lifestyle and Refrigerator tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Winter storm tips for the home

winter weather tips

Take precautionary measures for bad weather.

The recent snow storms slamming into the northeast remind us all to be prepared. Here’s some Shop RTO tips to make sure you’re ready.

First is to know the difference between weather advisories and make sure to pay close attention to those as that will dictate your response and time needed.

Winter Storm Outlook: Winter storm conditions are possible within the next 2 to 5 days. Start checking supplies to see if you’re ready and, if not, get those necessary items.

Winter Storm Watch: Winter storm conditions possible for the next three days. Review your travel plans. Make sure you have basic items in case you’re stuck for several days or if power goes out.

Winter Weather Advisory: Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences. Take actions to be prepared for the worse.

Winter Storm Warning: Severe and life threatening conditions for the next 24 hours. Take precautions immediately.

Here are some standard check list items to be prepared for the worse. And prepare for at least three days.

1. Flashlight with working batteries tested prior and extra batteries.

2. Cell phones charged to maximum.

3. Warm clothes, blankets, gloves, hats,scarves, wool socks and WATER PROOF, insulated boots. Stay indoors and go outside only for emergencies.

4. Three days supplies of water, non-perishable foods that are easy to prepare.

5. Make sure your pets have 3 days supplies as well and keep them inside. Use them for your warmth. Good excuse to snuggle with you furry ones.

5. Have radio or smart phone apps ready for weather and news updates.

6. Make sure all of your medications are filled. Have a first aid kit ready.

7. Make contact with family and friend regularly to update them so they know or can help if need be. Or register with Redcross.org to let family and friends about your welfare.

8. Keep faucets dripping to avoid pipes bursting.

9. Make sure your car’s gas tank is full to prevent fuel lines from freezing.

Just another Shop RTO Home Lifestyle tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Are you taking advantage of your tax breaks?

Tax credits available

Take advantage of all tax breaks.

The tax code is a complicated formula and changes each year. That’s why accountants have job security. Here’s a few tax breaks many Americans do not take advantage that should.

Charitable contributions. Even if it means baking cookies for the fund raiser or running errands. You can write those off. Write the amount of the ingredients you bought and car mileage can be written off at 14¢ per mile.

You can write off moving expenses for that first job as long as you moved further than 50 miles. You can’t write off the costs of finding that job just the moving expenses. Those write offs can be for 23¢ per mile.

If you’re paying for child care, make sure to claim your child care tax credit. And a tax credit is better than a deduction as it matches the reduction dollar to dollar.

How about the Earned Income Tax Credit? IRS claims 25% of Americans do not take advantage of this credit. It is designed to help lower income families supplement their wages. You have to file a return and can be complicated. To find out if and how much you qualify for, go to the IRS website and follow their questions to see.

There are many areas to get deductions and credit. The above are the most pertinent to the working person. Go to the IRS website to fully delve into the best way to file and the amount you have to pay or are owed.

Just another Shop RTO personal finance tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Rent to own’s early purchase option and payment reinstatement rights make rent to own more attractive

shutterstock_156431330The rent to own transaction has more to it then meets the eye. The most appealing and unknown are the payment reinstatement option and the early purchase option.

The two most misunderstood aspects to the rent to own transaction is you are obligated to the same payments until the end of the agreement and that if you have to return the product, you lose all payment history. Not true. At any time, you can pay off the remaining payments in one swoop at 50%. And, if you cannot make payments on that HD TV or couch and needs to be picked up, the store will keep it for you just in case you want to resume payments.

The 50% off early purchase option is an important factor when budgeting with rent to own. Try saving up a little each week while making those rent to own payments until you can pay off the rest and save a bundle. Using the early purchase option makes renting to own refrigerators, tablets, beds and whatever else for the home more affordable. And much more affordable than minimal payments with a credit card. And, no debt nor credit is extended with rent to own.

With payment reinstatement rights, stores will keep the product for a certain amount of time to see if you want to come back and resume payments at the point where you left off when you had to return that product. This way, you don’t lose any of your payment history. In many cases, payment reinstatement rights can last a long time even for your lifetime for many companies. Obviously, it won’t be the exact same product but they will make sure it will be similar or better. And since your credit is not affected with rent to own then any payment history being disrupted won’t hurt your credit.

Rent to own home furniture, washer/dryer combos and refrigerators have come a long way and consumers need to know all of the aspects rent to own offers to make the best decision when acquiring home furnishings. It all depends on your financial circumstances and needs at the time.

Interestingly enough, those were significant complaints in the early days of rent to own home furniture industry in the 1980s and rightfully so. Progressive rent to own store owners met with critical lawmakers and put forth laws that mandated these two features.

Now, payment reinstatement rights and early purchase options are wedging rent to own’s presence in all market areas and with more mainstream companies. And, moreover, rent to own is becoming the fourth transaction option, up there with cash, credit and used.

Be sure to shop each of your local rent to own stores in your neighborhood as each company will have different policies regarding payment reinstatement and early purchase options. And play off rent to own competitors against each other to get the best deal for you.

Just another Shop RTO Home Lifestyle and Personal Finance tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Rent that big screen TV for the Superbowl party

HD TV rentals

Watch the Super Bowl in style.

Are you ready for the Superbowl TV watching party? Do you have a big enough TV to accommodate all of those Seahawks and Patriots fans? Did you inflate your kegs and refrigerators to the proper pressure to avoid violating party policies?

If not, call up your local rent to own store and rent that TV today. You get it for a week anyway so rent it today so you’re guaranteed to have it. Your local rent to own stores will deliver and set it up for you and then pick it up next week.

If you like it then keep renting it or just buy it outright. Use the 90-day same as cash and save a bundle. Since you’ve already tried it then you’ll know if you like it. Great aspect of the rent to own transaction is to try before you buy.

If you don’t have enough room in your refrigerator for all of those bottles, cans and party favorites, have them deliver a new fridge as well. Upgrade all in one fell swoop. Then you’ll need a new couch for the guests and a recliner and, heck, an entire new house full of furniture.

OK. Getting a little out of hand here. This is an article reminding Superbowl party hosts they have the option to rent the big screen for the big game from their local rent to own store. Rent to own are rentals first with the ownership option which many people do not realize. So don’t feel obligated when going rent to own. So upgrade your Sunday party in just one phone call and they’ll do the rest.

Just another Shop RTO Home Lifestyle and HD TV tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

More Americans are streaming TV shows

HD TV streaming TV Shows

Streaming through the future of TV programming

Streaming TV shows are catching on with Americans. It fits better with their schedules and Americans are latching onto the concept.

The ability and popularity of streaming movies has been around for nearly a decade but only in the past five years has streaming TV shows become popular. Families like to watch it at their own time and pace.

Many like to wait for the weekends and binge watch several shows or a whole season in a marathon sitting. How many friends do you know shared with you their weekend was dedicated to a couple of seasons of Breaking Bad?

What needs to happen now is the streaming channels and TVs need to catch up. It’s now basically standard for any new HD TV to have built in Internet hook ups. Streaming companies such as Netflix and Dish are already able creating 4K content and are able to stream 4K.

Roku Senior vice president, Jim Funk, notes that how 4K will be the first format that is driven by Internet streaming.

Networks and content providers are scrambling to catch up with the changing viewing habits and pricey packages by going straight to YouTube, Hulu and Amazon. And Sony, HBO, Playstation and others are going to be offering Internet only packages for those newly dubbed “cord cutters” who watch Internet streaming TV only.

So another reason to look for a brand new TV. Like we need another but you have to admit, it’s pretty cool and fun getting that brand new TV and one that has built-in Internet streaming.

Just another Shop RTO HDTV and Computer tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

January is the month for home electronics – get the newest or the best deals

New HD TVs

January is Electronics month!

Consumers need to know that January is the month for electronics. It’s because that’s when the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas rolls out the latest gadgets for families, businesses and individuals.

The CES show is one of the biggest trade shows of the year if not the biggest. It consumes Las Vegas and shows how popular electronics are in our homes and lives. From HD TVs, Ultra HD TVs, 4K TVs, audio systems, computers and robotics.

What does this mean for you? It means all of the latest technology will now be reduced in price to make room for the newer versions. So if you’re looking for a good HD TV, tablet or audio system deal then start looking now. On the flip side, if you’re wanting to be on the cutting edge of the newest products on the market, now’s the time to check them out.

If you’re like most of us and are budget conscience then prices are dropping from the low end such as a 32″ HD streaming TV to $180. Or the high end big screen Ultra HD TV that was $4000 two years ago is now under $1000. These price drops are definitely worth looking at.

Rent to own stores eye CES with 4K focus as well. Each year those TVs that were out of reach for consumers to try before they buy or want to use the debt free payment plan will now be in the price range that will fit your budget so if the rent to own transaction is your choice for this year’s electronics, make sure you check out the stores in your area to see what new offers they have.

Just another Shop RTO HDTV and Computer tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Bitcoin basics and the customer revolution

03Bitcoin_accepted_here_printable

Virtual currencies — money that exists only in digital form and is used as an alternative to government-issued currencies — have been available since the late 1990s. But it took the launch of Bitcoin in 2009 for virtual currencies to begin to see any significant adoption.

Bitcoin, which allows people to send and receive payments online within an entirely decentralized peer-to-peer network, has become the most prominent type of virtual currency worldwide. While the Bitcoin currency network has a capital “B,” actual bitcoins have a lowercase “b.”

Other virtual currencies include Litecoin (which is technically nearly identical to Bitcoin), Dogecoin, Namecoin, Peercoin and many others. “None of these virtual currencies are anywhere near Bitcoin in terms of adoption,” said Patrick Byrne, CEO of U.S.-based online discount retailer Overstock.com.

There were 13,360,750 bitcoins in circulation on October 8, 2014, worth around $4.6 billion, according to Bitcoin publication CoinDesk.com. Bitcoin’s value fluctuates daily. A whole bitcoin was worth $343 on CoinDesk’s USD Bitcoin Price Index (BPI) on October 8, 2014.

CoinDesk estimates that the number of Bitcoin wallets worldwide rose from 765,039 in June 2013 to 5.4 million in June 2014 and to 6.6 million in September 2014. Bitcoin was accepted by 76,000 merchants, the vast majority being online businesses, in September 2014, up from 63,000 worldwide in June 2014.

Tier 1 merchants such as Dell, Expedia, Overstock.com, TigerDirect and Virgin Atlantic accept Bitcoin, which is helping drive consumer awareness of virtual currencies. “A small but growing segment of consumers want to pay with Bitcoin,” Byrne said. “The number of Bitcoin users is growing at 30 percent a month, and the number of Bitcoin wallets is growing eightfold year-on-year.”

Bitcoin basics

Bitcoin was developed to eliminate the middleman when two parties exchange payment for goods and services. That means no banks or third-party networks such as MasterCard or Visa are involved in the Bitcoin payment process.

According to the Mercator Advisory Group report “Bitcoin Basics, Trends, Regulations, and Usage,” the main attraction of Bitcoin always has been that it isn’t an institution, an organization or any sort of centralized entity.

“Since there’s no central authority, Bitcoin has thrived due to its transparent and hassle-free nature for both buyers and sellers,” the report said. “While the governments of the U.S., U.K. or the European Union are not likely to shut down Bitcoin, rules and regulations will likely be imposed as the digital currency’s popularity continues to grow in select markets around the world.”

Full story here.

Consumer Website Shop RTO Releases Top Five Myths Consumers Think About Rent To Own Home Furnishings

Rent to own HD TVs are popular for Christmas.

There is no legal obligation to own with rent to own.

Market research shows continued misunderstanding by the general public regarding rent to own home furnishings.

Austin, TX (PRWEB) December 03, 2014

Affordable home furnishing website, Shop RTO, releases its top five myths regarding rent to own home furniture, computers, appliances and electronics. The myths are documented through on-going research conducted by the industry’s trade association.

Consumer focus groups and telephone polling conducted by The Association of Progressive Rental Organizations (APRO) reveal that most Americans do not know what rent to own stores are and what they do know is incorrect.

The rent to own industry’s consumer facing website, ShopRTO.com, looks to help dispel the myths in hopes that consumers will make rent to own a consideration when shopping for home furnishings.

1. The consumer is legally obligated to own the product. When renting to own, there is no obligation to own, no legal debt incurred and the consumer can return the product at any time for any reason without penalty.

2. Rent to own stores do not offer name brand merchandise. All rent to own stores offer the popular name brands ranging from Sony, Apple, Whirlpool, Ashley furniture and many others.

3. Rent to own stores charge high interest rates. Because there is no legal debt and credit is not extended, interest is not charged.

4. Rent to own contracts are long term and expensive. Industry leaders grapple with this accusation as they say it compares apples to oranges.

Comparing total cash price from retail to renting to own the same merchandise for the maximum number of rental payments, then rent to own owners readily admit that rent to own is more expensive. But, owners say, the rent to own price includes delivery, set up, pick up, maintenance beyond manufacturer warranty and a free loaner if the product must be fixed off premises. All of those services are added fees on a retail transaction.

Rent to own payments are like credit card payments where the consumer can pick the payments and change at any time. They can also execute the early purchase option and reduce total cost by 50%. The difference between the two is credit cards are legal contracts whereas rent to own agreements are not.

5. The customer can lose all previous payments if they miss a payment. Rent to own stores are governed by law to have payment reinstatement rights. But, most rent to own companies offer ‘lifetime’ reinstatement rights and most companies extend payment reinstatement well beyond what the law requires.

Local rent to own stores have different policies, inventories and payment plans so consumer experts advise rent to own customers shop around between their local rent to own stores to find the one best for their circumstances.

About Shop RTO:
Shop RTO offers holiday tips such as these for Halloween and posts articles that focus on creating the best family home on a budget.

For news release, click here.

20 Unexpected Items You Can Rent That Will Save You Money and Improve Your Credit

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Renting items is becoming commonplace as more shoppers are drawn to the ease and flexibility of owing an item for only a few days.

Luxury items such as professional camera equipment and diamond necklaces are no longer reserved only for people who are willing to shell out the extra bucks.

While renting is not always cheaper than buying the item you have been coveting, it gives you a chance to try out the latest gadget and figure out whether you are a fan of it.

One sign that you should rent before you buy is if you’re not fully committed to the purchase, said Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education for Credit.com.

“Whether it’s a home in a neighborhood or city where you aren’t sure you will stay put or a ball gown you may only wear once, renting allows you to try something out while you make up your mind about whether that’s what you really want,” she said.

When your credit score is weak or below where you can get a good interest rate, renting can be a good option, she said.

“A poor credit score can lock you into an expensive mortgage that can cost you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan,” Detweiler said. “Although renting may feel like you are ‘throwing away’ money, it can actually end up protecting your credit if it turns out you can’t afford the home, car or other major purchase you’ve made.”

Renting comes with its caveats – If paid off over the longest term available, renting can also add up quickly. The upside is the item can be returned at any time without penalty, even if you just want a different color. Some items make more sense to save up money for to purchase outright. Other items, when convenience or safety is at issue or knowledge of the product is lacking prior to purchase, rent to own can make for a practical solution.

Here is a list of 20 things you can rent to impress your friends, host your next party, stay green, spend your next holiday and still save money by limiting the amount of your purchases.

Professional camera equipment 

Professional camera equipment is expensive and one single lens can easily cost over $1,000. If you are just beginning to try your hand at photography, you may not know if you want a GoPro action camera or which lenses will be the best fit. Lumoid, a San Francisco startup, lets you rent the cameras and lenses for $15 to $25 a day. If you decide to buy the item, you can credit 30% of the rental price from that year for the purchase.

You can even have it shipped to your hotel so you don’t have to worry about it breaking. Another company to check out rent to own. Find a company near you.

EReaders

You probably have loads of gadgets and electronics at home stored in the back of your closet becoming obsolete. If your reading habits are sporadic, you might not need an e-reader.

Borrow one from your library for a week or two and see if you are actually reading more or like the smaller pages. The library in Dover Town, Mass. is a treasure trove of electronics and you can borrow a Kindle, Nook, iPads and iPod Touches as well as Blu-Ray and DVD players, XBox 360, Wii and PlayStation 3 gaming consoles and games. All you need is proof of residence to receive a library card.

Smartphone

If your data plan does not extend to Europe or other places when you are traveling, several companies rent out smartphones so you can use the apps for maps or restaurant reviews and avoid the data roaming fees. If you have family visiting you in the U.S., they can rent one from Rent-A-Center which does not require a deposit or credit check.

Car parts

If the last thing you want to spend your money on is replacing your dinged up hub caps or wheels, you can improve the look of your car by renting custom ones. You can rent wheels and fancy tires for just a week or by the month from Rent-N-Go.com and they even install them for you.

Home improvement tools and gadgets

As people downsize their homes, storage becomes more of an issue, so it can a good idea to rent things that you seldom use, said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a Washington, D.C. non-profit. Check out your local rent to own store. Many carry a variety of lawn and garden equipment you can rent for as long as you need with no obligation.

Full Story

Just another Shop RTO Lifestyle Tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Chance of home fires rise in winter – some preventative tips

Some fire safety tips.

Winter has the highest probability of house fires.

It’s getting cold which means fire, heaters, wood stoves and ovens. Which also means an increased chance to set your house on fire.

January represents the peak of home fire season starting November. But it’s not the weather to blame but us humans.

Heating equipment is the biggest culprit in house fires and home fire deaths. Due to bad placement of the heaters next to beds, clothes and furniture. Another factor is not properly maintaining and servicing the heaters. In other words, using a heater that should have been replaced years ago.

Make sure to clean your chimney. Have a professional inspector check for cracks, leaks, blockages from debris or nests and creosote build-up that comes from burning wood. Make sure to open the flue and have a sturdy fireplace screen properly placed.

The most common room for house fires is the kitchen. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen and smoke alarms with new batteries in every room. If you’re smoke alarms are more than 10 years old, have them replaced.

Makes sure you have an escape route for each room. There should be two ways out for each room so be cognizant. Always crawl under the smoke and when you get out of the house, do not go back for any reason.

You must be prepared all year long but Winter needs to be the yearly reminder to execute the safety tips to ensure a safe and warm home.

Just another Shop RTO Lifestyle Tip and one to take very seriously.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Have you seen washer and dryers lately?

Check out the new features of washers and dryers

Scratch your old washer/dryer combo.

Washer and dryer combos have made quite the changes lately both in efficiency and style. Their bright colors and sleek designs are making them more part of the home than tucked out of sight in the garage.

Having them closer also makes sense. Because they’re, well, closer. Makes it easier to carry large loads to and from and easier to do wash during daily chores. According to a survey from the National Association of Home Builders, most new homeowners want their washers and dryers in the home. Sound good? Not the question but the washer/dryer combo. Make sure you know the noise levels of that new washer and dryer so it doesn’t drown out your dinner conversation or the game. So, be sure to look up noise levels and reviews.

Then there’s ease and efficiency. Washer and dryers these days have so many more features in regards to adjusting to different size of loads, types of washes, hotter water temperatures, ‘wash now, dry later’, eco-action, eco-cycle, quick dry, delayed cycles and steam-cleaning.

Another direction has been the top loaders and clear glass doors so you can see where the cycle is without opening the door. Smaller and stackable sizes are more popular to fit in smaller spaces.

These features all help to save energy and time and in many instances save the lifetime of clothes. The more features, the more expensive but you’re going to save money in the long run especially with gas prices and electric bills going up and up.

With that in mind, throw the rent-to-own option in the mix as you can get a more efficient model on an affordable payment plan but make sure to be wise with your payment choice. Rent to own payment plans are as flexible as you want them so match the plan with your budget and the quickest way to pay it off if ownership is your goal.

Just another Shop RTO washer/dryer and laundry tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

 

 

Factor in delivery and set-up fees when shopping home furniture, electronics and appliances

 

Rent to own funiture delivery is in the cost.

Research delivery fees when shopping.

Always ask the sales person the total delivered price of that furniture, appliance or large electronics you’re getting for your home. That’s the bottom line of this post. OK, there’s also some other tips you’ll want to know if you’re having home furnishings delivered.

Many stores, such as rent to own stores, offer delivery in their pricing. They also factor in pick ups as well so if you’re through renting then they come to your home and pick it up. Rent to own employees will also set up your electronics and appliances which is an added bonus. And many times have same day delivery. It’s all a part of their pricing and the convenient factor of renting to own.

Other stores also have free delivery but it’s factored in their overall price.

Those stores that do not factor in delivery in the overall costs will charge you extra, sometimes up to $300 for a living room set. So, be watchful of the costs of the item being delivered to your home. You can get quite the surprise when an additional $100 is added at the end.

Other factors are what to do with any old furniture, refrigerators or TVs. Most will take your old appliances but not TVs nor furniture but it never hurts to ask. Make sure the delivery techs don’t have mud or dirt on their shoes and ask about the timing of delivery. Some stores such as Lowes will take several days to deliver so make sure you ask all of these questions before committing.

Just another ShopRTO Home Decorating and Home Furniture Tips.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Holiday shopping tips to keep you in budget

 

Using rent to own to shop

Christmas Shopping Tips

The holidays are upon us which means shopping. So make sure you shop wise and within budget. Here’s a few tips to take with you in your shopping cart.

The first one is to plan and don’t wait until the last moment. Start now and watch for the best deals. Try some of the shopping apps that will scan the deals for you.

Make a list, budget and stick with it. That means identifying who gets presents and think of everyone. Count the white elephant presents for work or for the toy charity you donate. This will help relieve any surprises.

If you have to use credit, compare it to rent to own, especially for furniture. Payment plans are going to cost more so you’re going to want to minimize final costs. Compare what your minimum payments would be for a credit card and a rent to own agreement then do the math. You can get stuck with a minimum payment plan for years with a credit card.

Rent to own payment plans max out at two years for most agreements. You’re also not legally committed to the purchase, incur debt or obligated to own.

Cross people off the list and quit shopping. That’s the difficult part. Surveys show that a third of us will overspend by 30% so show some restraint and discipline. Yeah, right.

Just another Shop RTO Holiday and Lifestyle tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

What exactly is ’90 Days Same As Cash’?

rent to own furniture payment options

Use ’90 Days Same as Cash” option with discipline.

Many retailers, rent to own furniture stores and short term loans offer ’90 days same as cash’. Each are significantly different so pay attention to the details of the offer. If used wisely, ’90 days same as cash’ is a great way to buy home furnishings or for a loan but you must have discipline to make the most of it.

The premise is if you can pay off the item or loan within 90 days then you are charged no interest or additional fees. Here’s the breakdown, advantages and disadvantages of each.

When shopping for furniture, electronics, appliances and computers most rent to own companies, if not all, offer the ’90 days same as cash’ option. Some even go as far as 180 days. Check each store’s policy before shopping each option. If you can make consecutive payments within the 90 days then you are able to acquire the product for basically the same as retail but avoid the trap of debt or interest because there is no interest nor debt in a rent to own transaction.

If you can’t make the 90, 120 or 180 days then your payment plan is turned into a rental agreement that you choose. If you complete enough of the rental payments then you own the product. The rental payments do not include interest nor debt and can return at any time for any reason without penalty. That’s the clear distinction between the rent to own transaction and a credit transaction.

If you made one or two payments then your rental payments can either be lower payments, lower number of payments or a balance of each. And, you get to choose the amount and number of payments. Remember, the golden rule of any transaction is the less payments, the less total cost. The fact that you already made several payments already guarantees a reasonable final price through rent to own.

Here’s the catch that you need to watch. Make sure the original cash price is fair to the market value. Cash prices can vary widely so shop against rent to own stores in your area to find the best cash price between them. Even bargain against each other. You’re the customer, they want your business so try. Make sure you talk to the manager or owner, though. Many times, they are the only ones with the authority to bargain.

Retail ’90 days same as cash’ is the same premise as rent to own but it is a credit transaction. You have a legal obligation to fulfill the transaction whether 90 days or more if you cannot meet the 90 days obligation. If you cannot make the necessary payments within the 90 days then you’re put on a credit payment plan and interest is charged. Sometimes an outrageous amount up to 20 -24%. Make sure you ask that specific question before entering a retail ’90 days same as cash’ transaction.

The pros of a retail ’90 days same as cash’ is that the retail price is usually a good deal. They’re counting on you to not be able to complete the payments then you get hit with fees, penalties and interest. And you’re legally obligated to finish the payments that now are on a credit basis that you originally agreed prior.

’90 days same as cash’ is also a cash loan transaction. They can be great if the loan is small and you’re in a bind but those can be the most costly if you cannot make the payments in those 90 days. So make sure you corner them on the exact cost, penalties, interest that will happen if you cannot make the payments in 90 days.

The bottom line with the ’90 days same as cash’ offers is they’re great with discipline. If you’re unsure though then be careful especially with cash loans. In regards to ’90 days same as cash’ with home furniture and other home goods, retail vs rent to own have a very distinct difference between being obligated to the debt you legally signed yourself to versus the debt free rent to own transaction.

Just another Shop RTO Home Lifestyle and Personal Finance tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

The green cleaning power of vinegar for the home

Vinegar is an eco friendly cleaner.

Use vinegar solution to clean your home earth-friendly.

Vinegar is an eco friendly, cheap and easy liquid that is the all purpose cleaner for the home.

Think of anything in your house and cleaning with vinegar will be just what you need EXCEPT stonework especially marble. The acid and lemon in the vinegar can permanently stain fancy stonework.

Having said that, check out all of these uses to clean the home with vinegar. You’re going to want to create a mixture of vinegar and water. White vinegar is the most popular. If you want a citrus smell, just add some lemon, lime, orange or a mixture. You typically want 1/2 water, 1/2 vinegar as the cleaning solution.

For that nasty grit from hard water in toilet bowl, bath tub, sink, etc. spray the vinegar mixture on it and the acid will start breaking it down immediately. And forget that god awful chlorine smell from bleach when cleaning tile, use vinegar.

Vinegar does have a, well, vinegary smell but goes away within 10 minutes. And, it’s better than that poisonous bleach smell that takes a day to go away.

Helps clean grease as well so can be used on all appliances especially cook tops, ovens and grills. The vinegar mixture helps removes stains from coffee or tea. It’s also great for cleaning both inside and outside of the refrigerator.

Vinegar helps clean and disinfect cutting boards especially those made out of wood. Another good use is to clean the inside of your microwave. Add some vinegar into a bowl of water then microwave for 10-20 seconds then wipe out all of that nasty gook that’s been there way too long.

Use a combination of baking soda and vinegar to clean out clogs and that nasty smell in the kitchen sink. Pour 1/4 cup of baking soda into the drain then pour one cup of vinegar and close the drain tightly. For really bad clogs, repeat it twice.

Use vinegar to clean out carpet stains. Wet the area with warm water then put together a tablespoon to 2 cups of warm water mixture and rub gently. Rinse with warm water then blot dry.

Vinegar is natural and bio degradable so it’s also great to use outdoors when cleaning your car, outdoor windows and patio furniture. Oh, and it’s good for cooking as well.

Just some more Shop RTO Home Lifestyle tips.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Ready for Black Friday? Some tips and predictions.

Shopping tips for black Friday.

Shop Smart for Black Friday.

Black Friday is getting closer so get prepared for the busiest shopping day of the year with these Shop RTO shopping tips. First, and most importantly, don’t be fooled by the “one day” sale. Black Friday will last a week or more.

Secondly, predictions are that Cyber Monday will kick its butt. So use the Internet specials to force local stores to honor the best deals. Most stores will honor others specials so keep that in mind when shopping for certain deals. Especially with computers and HD TVs. Those two are predicted to be the hottest deals this season.

Even with home furniture and appliances. You can buy everything on the net these days so start there and use those deals to leverage the best ones at your local furniture and appliances stores.

Whether you like it or not, Black Friday will continue to creep into Thanksgiving day for many retailers. So ‘Black Friday’ is beginning to mean Thursday to Tuesday and even beyond.

Look for great deals in laptops, tablets and 60″ TVs. Those are supposedly the hot deals. Ipad Minis for $200 and cheap androids for $25. And, 60″ TVs for $450. If you’re looking for a bigger TV then the upcoming Black Friday might do you just right.

Remember, Black Friday means retail specials which means all retail including rent to own stores. Local rent to own stores need your business as much as the others if not more so use the market to bargain with them. Remember the golden rule of shopping to own. If you’re 100% sure, pay cash.

If not, then try before you buy with rent to own. If you can’t buy cash then compare rent to own with a credit card comparing all the attributes of each transaction. You’d be surprised how rent to own can save you money and the potential legal problems of a credit transaction.

Just another Shop RTO Holiday and Lifestyle tips.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Use rent to own stores to prepare for holiday guests

rent to own your home furnishings for the holidays

Be prepared for visiting family.

Extra guests means extra seats, tables, beds, couch room and maybe a freezer to keep those big turkeys. It’s that time of year so make sure you’re prepared and local rent to own stores can help in many ways.

Many Americans go to rent to own stores just to rent for the days the guests will be crashing at your place. Rent to own is a rental first so you’re never obligated to make the next payment and they deliver and pick up for you which will help relieve any additional stress that comes with the holidays.

Many families get a bunk bed or two to help with the influx of kids storming into the home and being comfortable through their stay. Thanksgiving does mean a good football game or three so renting an HD TV can be a bonus for the guests.

Then there’s the ownership option with the rent to own transaction. If you rented the home furniture for the guests but ended up really liking ‘em, then continue the rental payments to ownership with no legal obligation. That’s what’s the best part of rent to own is you have no legal debt or obligation.

Many Americans use rent to own home furnishing stores to prompt them to upgrade their home with new furniture, appliances and a HD TV or two. Be smart with your payment plan by renting the shortest number of payments and use the early pay off as quickly as possible.

Do not extend yourself too much, make sure you can afford the payments with the early purchase option as your final goal. Use the “90 days same as cash” option if at all possible to really save big.

Make the most out of your home holiday experience and use rent to own stores to your full advantage whether for that holiday week or as a test to see if you want to go the ownership route. Either way, you’re not locked in and they do all of the work for you.

Just another Shop RTO Holiday and Home Decorating tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Measure the correct way when picking the right dining room table for your home

Make sure you have the correnct dining table dimensions.

Pick the right size for your dining room table.

There are several key factors when picking out your new dining room table. The most important is the proper size for your dining room table which means measuring first. And most people use the wrong measurement process so use these.

When you determine the room you’re going to put that dining room table, you need to measure three things going backwards to find out the dimension and type of dining room table.

First measure exit/entrance distance from any walls that you plan to put the table. Ideally, you want at least three feet of room to get in and out of your chair to enter and exit the table. Measure from the back of the chair and back legs to the edge of the wall, bookcase, etc. Some chairs have legs that stretch beyond the top of the chair so make sure you remember that when picking out the chairs that go along with the table.

Secondly you measure the exit/entrance room from chairs pulled out from the table. As if you’re through eating and relaxing in your chair talking to your family and friends. The way you measure that distance is to have your chair pulled out from the table to fully extend your legs.

Then, you can measure your table by your knees. In other words, your knees need to align to the edge of the table when your legs are fully extended. Once, you have gone through steps one through three, you will be able to measure the correct dimensions of your table with the chairs.

Hopefully you will have a sitting chair in your house to base these measurements on and give yourself some wiggle room when shopping. Now you have solid measurements to go into furniture stores that factor in the length from your home wall to your knees fully extended sitting.

Those measurements will basically dictate whether you need a square, rectangle, oblong or round dining room table. Try to go with dining room sets so you don’t have to worry about chair height. But make sure when you’re testing out the dining room chairs to sit at the very edge of the seat and the very back to see if they wobble or tip. You will not be happy with chairs that wobble or tip but most people don’t test to that extent then have those regrets later.

You can avoid buyers remorse through rent to own furniture stores. Test the table out at home for a month and if you like it, execute the early purchase option. Better yet, exercise their 90-days same as cash option and if you like the table after a month testing it out then make those last two monthly payments to really save while not putting yourself in a buyers remorse bind.

And if you don’t like it have them pick it up then choose another. Many ready to own stores will let you replace while keeping previous payments. BUT, make sure first. Every rent to own store have different policies and wiggle room so ask before.

Just another ShopRTO Home Decorating and Home Furniture Tips.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Know your cooking needs before shopping for ovens and stoves

Cooking FamilyIf it’s time or you’re looking for a new oven and/or stove, the first thing you do is pay close attention of how much you use it and, most of all, on what.  There are so many varieties of stoves and ovens to choose from that can make your cooking more efficient and enjoyable.

Write down your regular cooking menu items. What do  you cook? How often and how much? Whatever your regular cooking menu is, start writing them down. You’ll quickly find out what type of stove and oven you need.

Make sure you consider each season. Families tend to cook indoors and bake more in the Winter. School season tends towards quicker meals. Seasonal changes can be very significant to the cooking needs so when writing down your menus, go through each season to be thorough.

Another good tip is while you’re cooking, what are your most frustrating or helpful elements of your current cooking and baking experience? Most people don’t think about it because they’re so used to their current oven or working around it. If there is something frustrating with current stove, chances are a new one can fix it.

If you bake a lot then consider double wall ovens, dual range or single. An important factor is how big of a dish you cook or how many. If you do a big Turkey for holidays, keep that in mind. If you have some rolls, potatoes and a casserole all for one meal think about multiple ovens as that will simplify the timing process for when dinner’s ready and everything is cooked to perfection.

If you cook on the oven top a lot then look at a five range types. There are those smooth tops that have range or two that accommodate pans with different circumferences and allow for dual ranges for large frying pans. Those help with flexibility and saving energy.

Then there’s the eternal debate of gas vs electric. I won’t go into the many nuances except to say more advanced cooks prefer gas as it gives you more control and an even burn but costs more but saves money on electric bills. Electric ovens are safer and cheaper.

The last but not least tip is to go into the shopping process with a budget in hand. Ovens can range from $600 to $5000. Don’t open yourself to wasted trips or time. Know your budget.

If you can’t buy outright, make sure you compare a credit card vs rent to own. Rent to own stores offer all types of stoves and payment plans. You are never obligated to buy it out right so gives you the flexibility to return it if you don’t like it. On the flip side, you can find a great used deal at rent to own stores to buy it outright and save a bundle. Just be sure to call around as timing is everything when you go that route.

It’s all about the budget of your payments. The more you can afford each payment and less number of payments, the less money you spend overall. And then there’s the legal obligation of a credit card vs no legal obligation with rent to own. Those are two biggest factors on which transaction is better for you.

Just another ShopRTO Home Appliances tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Time to decorate the home for Halloween – some cheap, easy and family fun tips

Halloween decoration tips.

Construction paper, scissors and glue is all you need for Halloween decor.

It’s Halloween decorating time! For some, the funnest time of the year especially for the kids. So why not make it special by spooky-ing up the house to get into the festive spirit.

There are hundreds and hundreds of decorations to buy out there but none as fun, cheap and easy as cardboard paper, scissors, markers, glue and tape. It’s a great way for you and the kiddos to be together on a fun project and make it extra special because you made the decorations yourselves.

First things first, get some Halloween decor templates. You can print them straight from the web. Here’s a webpage from Country Living that you can use as an example but there are plenty more.

Print the templates of bats, haunted houses, skulls, ghosts, spiders, etc. Try to print them on hard stock paper but if you don’t have that capability then trace over a piece of construction paper and use that as your master template. Trace the shapes over all sorts of Halloween construction paper colors – orange and black (white for ghosts) – and cut the shapes out.

From there, let the imagination run wild. Cut out holes for eyes or cut out circles from a different color of paper and tape them on. Or just draw them in. Make a ghost cross-eyed to be a little goofy and scary at the same time. Try to use magic markers or larger felt tip pens for a more dramatic look. Or just use crayons. Whatever floats the boat.

We made sure to get a lot of construction paper, right? OK, good. Now look at your windows. They’re most likely rectangle which is the perfect shape for Frankenstein’s head. Cut out large triangle shapes, tape them at the top of the window pointing down and you’re creating his hair. Use enough to cover the top of the window. Stagger them if you want. Or, instead of triangles, use rectangles, fray the bottom and stagger those as his hair. Create the eyes, stitches, mouth or whatever you think of and place accordingly on the window and you have a large monster not made by Dr. Frankenstein but by the family.

Other cheap and easy homemade decorations is use pipe cleaners for spider legs. Tape or glue them to tiny pumpkins or empty soda or water bottles. Tear of any labels and decorate those. Use black tape or blacken some tape to decorate the bottles. Or go big spider and use a milk jug as the body and some pvc pipe covers as the legs.

Buy some glow sticks to light up balloons is another cheap and easy decoration. And then there’s always the standards of sheets for ghosts, cheese cloth for spider webs and, last but not least, the pumpkins!

There’s nothing like making Halloween special with homemade decorations that the whole family participated. So have some fun, be safe and be festive because it’s Halloween season!

Just another Shop RTO Home Decorating and Holiday Tips.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

How to pick the right mattress for you

 

How to choose the right mattress.

Make sure you pick the right mattress for your back.

You spend half of your life on your mattress so you better spend some time making the right choice when shopping for one. A good night’s sleep depends on many factors – stress levels, room temperature, ambient noise and comfort. Comfort means your pillow, blankets, maybe a cat or dog or two with you but most of all the mattress. So here’s some tips when shopping for your mattress.

First, let’s break down the type of mattresses to choose. There are four basic types – Innerspring coil, Memory Foam, Latex and Air. Each have their pros and cons.

Innerspring coils are the most popular where each coil is individually wrapped. Prices range widely and more expensive does not mean better. They also range from firm to soft. Sleep doctors say to make sure that they have a coil count of, at least 390. And, more coil count doesn’t mean better sleep. Innerspring mattresses can be the safest bet but may not give you the ultimate comfort the others provide.

Memory foam mattresses are those that are made from layers of foam of different types of densities. They mold to the contours of your body throughout the night and help relieve pressure points. If you sleep with a partner then each of you create your own individual imprint so no one has to compromise for the other. Because memory foam molds to your body, it can absorb the body heat and become hot. That’s good for some, bad for others. And some people have said the foam can emanate a chemical smell.

For some, Latex is best as it gives both the firmness and bouncy touch so has the support and comfort. But, if you don’t like firm mattresses then this may not be your choice.

Air mattresses are standard innerspring but use air-filled chambers instead of coils. It’s good for couples who need different types of firmness. The problems can be irregular pocket holes can create an uneven bed or can inflate one side when one sits on the other.

So what does all of this mean? It means your back has a lot of choices so spend the time lying on each. The best way to find your mattress is to go into stores and lie down on them for 10 – 15 minutes. Bring your pillow! Anything to re-create your sleep. I don’t think they’ll let you bring your dog or cat in, though.

Some rent to own stores have many mattresses to choose from and if you rent them and in a couple of months don’t like them then you’re not stuck with an unfriendly mattress. If you do like the mattress then use the early purchase option to save money.

Just another ShopRTO Lifestyle and Bedroom Furniture tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

 

It’s Fall, so prepare your house for the weather changes

Fall season home tips.

Get your home ready for the Fall season.

Fall 2014 is officially here which means it’s Fall! So here’s some Shop RTO Fall weather preparation, leaves a-fallin’ then get-ready for Winter tips for your home.

Make sure your windows and doors are sealed properly. That’s where the most energy and money is wasted so check. It can be as easy as waving your hand closely across all door and window borders checking for a draft. Do so when it is cooler so you can notice the difference of temperatures.

Check tree branches! Every Winter brings drastically colder temperatures and storms that are destined to remove branches that could fall on your home, fence, car, etc. Use the fall season to remove those dead or fragile branches overhanging in areas that could cause damage. AND, check the branches overhanging or near power lines.

Make sure gutters are clean because the leaves are about to clog them up even further. While you’re checking the gutters, view your roof closely. You don’t know what kind of debris could be up there and many times there are areas you can only see on a ladder.

Check leaky faucets now so when Winter comes and freezes an older or broken pipe, the frigid weather doesn’t magnify it’s damage and expense.

Clean out the fireplace and make sure all fireplace tools are there and that you have a fireplace screen that is sturdy. Also, get some firewood now as it will most likely be cheaper. It’s called supply and demand. When the first cold front hits, firewood will cost more than now.

Look at your water heater. Make sure it’s not rusty or falling apart. And check the furnace for any leaks. Find an AC/Heater company to come do an inspection.

Get ready to store or go ahead and store your outdoor furniture. If you live in the South, it’s going to be the time to use the outdoor furniture. If you live North, then it’s time to store. If you used rent to own to rent your Summer outdoor furniture, tell them to come and get ‘em. That’s part of their deal.

Just another ShopRTO Lifestyle tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

 

Gas saving tips for the family budget

Saving gas means saving money.

Try these gas saving tips to help your budget.

It’s called hypermilling. Tactics to help save gas thus money. Some of the tactics are illegal and controversial so we’re not mentioning those but here are some smart ones you need to execute.

Before those tips, we have to mention the obvious. Walk or ride your bike as much as possible whenever you can. Carpool whenever you can. And, find ways to not drive. Many people are asking to work at home or using flex hours to avoid peak driving times and many employers are just fine with it. Heck, if it gets another car off the road then they’re happy too.

But, if and when you drive here are some great fuel saving tips.

1. Get the junk out of the trunk. Any unnecessary and heavy items in your trunk or back seats weighs down the car and wastes gas.

2. Find the quickest way to your most used routes. For most people, it’s to and from work and the grocery store. This may sound obvious but in the world of traffic, it isn’t because the old adage of the “shortest path from A to B is a straight line” isn’t fuel efficient in many ways. Sitting, idling and shuffling the car on a highway is the biggest waste of energy so take some time to look at alternate ways. If it gets you there quicker in real time during peak traffic then switch to that route.

3. Memorize your route through traffic lights and stop signs. Braking your car and accelerating take a toll on your car and gas bill so if you memorize your route, you’ll know where the stop signs are and you’ll begin to know the timing of the stop lights to anticipate stops thus easing your way to those stops.

4. Here’s my favorite. Coast the most. Have you ever notice how many people speed up to stop? They know it’s a red light yet they speed right up to it as if their car will magically turn the light green and even if it did, you’d still have to stop to watch for thru traffic or a car in front of you. It’s a ‘driving mad’ or ‘I’m important cause I’m in a rush’ syndrome. When you see or know it’s a red light or will be a red light, take your foot off the pedal and coast to the stoplight. Your not using any gas nor brakes thus saving in two ways and that’s why it is important to memorize your most used routes, you’ll know when to anticipate the stops. You can also monitor the pedestrian signals that tell you if the light is about to turn yellow or not. Coasting can be the most fuel efficient tactic you can use.

5. Don’t idle. If you’re waiting on your child or date and know they’ll take some time. Turn the car off.

6. Don’t use the air conditioner if you can. If you live in the south and it’s Summer, the air conditioner is mandatory otherwise try not to when you can.

7. Park in a spot that’s easy to get in and out. Trying to get that closest spot causes a lot of idling driving in and out. Park a little further out and you avoid that problem and maybe walk a few calories off.

8. Avoid drive-thrus. Most of the time, it takes longer to get your order. Just park, walk in, order to-go then head on out.

9. Check your tire pressure. Tires need to be properly aired otherwise you will drag your car and your wallet.

There are many other minor tips that can help in tiny ways or, like stated above, can be dangerous so stick with the above recommendations and watch how you’ll save an extra day’s gas and money.

Just another ShopRTO Lifestyle and Family Budget tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Have social robots finally arrived?

The family robot for the home.

The family robot is upon us.

Has WallE arrived? With the recent buzz centering around Jibo, the concept of personal robots have been or about to become reality.

According to MIT social robotics wiz, Cynthia Breazeal, she states how people want technology to treat them as a person – “Right now technology treats us as technology, beeping and buzzing at us.”

Treating your computer devices as a person is something we consumers want. That’s why we all try SIRI but anyone who has tried or does SIRI knows how frustrating this technology can be. But anyone who has any observation skills in the past ten years knows how fast the speed of technology goes so just be patient because R2D2 is near reality.

Some say the hardware for such a robot is here and affordable, the real trick is getting the apps programmed and programmed well so the robot works rather than working your nerves. The latest talk centering around Jibo, a sort of mini snowman robot looking gizmo gives some true excitement. Especially when they’re able to add some personality to the robot as Jibo claims.

They market it as a family robot. As part of the family and the home. Check out their promotional video, it’s very intriguing.

Jibo is supposed to be released at the end of next year with full production in 2016. Pre orders are being set up and claim that the starting price in 2016 will be equivalent to a high end tablet. But something as this sophisticated may mean software and apps is where the cost will bite us in the wallet.

It’s still a buzz and looks great in a video demo but the real test is when it sits on your desk and, on its own volition as it monitors you moving around, tells you to get your butt into gear because you might be late to work due to its direct monitoring of the traffic conditions, weather and the propensity for your kids to lollygag on Mondays.

Just another ShopRTO Computer Tips.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Football season and 4K Ultra HD TV are here!

Ultra HD is lowering prices

Are you ready for some football and 4K TV?

College Football has officially started and NFL starts Thursday. Are you ready? Or, I mean, is your HD TV ready or is it time to get a new one?

Football season seems to be one of those times of year when you start thinking of upgrading your HD TV. Whether it’s a bigger one or jumping to the next level, it all depends. But at some point we all have to consider that jump to 4K. Prices have dropped considerably so is it time?

On an average, prices have been reduced $1500 – $2500. That definitely makes a difference.

Before you make the big decision, there are a few things you need to know and Shop RTO is here to help.

To get the full 4K experience, you’re gonna have to get a big one or be ready to move your couch and chair closer to the screen. Ultra HD is a great viewing experience but once you get a certain distance away, the distinction loses its luster.

China is on a rampage to the point where you can buy a lower named brand for $1500 and that’s for a 65″. Though some reviews for the lesser named brand are not as good as Sony, LG or Samsung. Yet those are now around $2000.

This is exciting news. But, one of the big drawbacks, is programming. Many shows and video streaming are not 4K produced or in the 4K format. They’re quickly becoming that way but patience is still a virtue in this arena.

But this article is about football season and this Summer’s World Cup has expedited 4K programming for sports broadcast. And, sports programming is always on the forefront of the latest production formats.

We’re getting at the tipping point for getting that 4K TV into our homes. And, this latest quarter sales of 4K TVs shows just that. Maybe everyone was preparing for the football season. Whatever the reasons, 4K and its format are either here for some or just around the corner for others. Who knows what the prices will be in December or January.

This also may be one of those times where renting to own that 4K TV makes perfect sense. Some RTO stores are carrying them now and with the no obligation payment and can have them pick it back up at no penalty are great features. Maybe, you try that 4K out for football season and if you like it, use the early buy out option to save you money and to make sure you’re satisfied before you make that big decision on what you’ll be watching for next several years.

Just another ShopRTO HD TV tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Rumors swirling about Apple’s newest gadgets

Computer innovations

What’s Apple got up its sleeve this time?

If you accuse Shop RTO of spreading vicious rumors about tomorrow’s gadgets, then you’re correct.  With all of the crazy buzz out there, we couldn’t resist. And, since, rent to own stores are the best outlets to try new gadgets or provide them at low weekly or monthly payments, this rumor spreading fits right into our mission.

Supposedly the hot new gadget is the I watch – a wristband computer and phone. The pre reviews of this rumored gadget run the gamut of how the %#$* are you going to see or use such a small device to ‘I am going to the Apple store right now to wait in line to get the first one’. Apple is notorious for stirring up the computer pot with their release of the I phone, I pad, I tunes, etc. All of which hit a wall of criticism and skepticism and, yet, Apple is, well, Apple. Just look at their stock price.

Upgrades to their Iphones and Ipads are coming. The Iphone 6 with bigger screens and sleeker designs. They’re trying to compete with Samsung and others. That’s not necessarily shocking news, it’s how far their upgrades in function, memory and storage is where the anticipation lies. Then, of course, the price. New Apple products are pricey. But Apple-ites profess that the money is worth the quality.

Here’s an interesting one. The giant I-pad. Rumors claim a screen just smaller than a laptop but with the unique usage tablets provide. Other I pads are supposed to have better anti-glare screens, more powerful and maybe a thinner design.

Then the Macbook Air is supposed to have retina display, anti-glare screen and be more powerful and more storage space. With so much video out there being downloaded, you’d be amazed how consumers want that storage especially in the smaller devices.

Remember, we’re spreading nasty rumors but if you read the dozens and dozens of gossip out there, we think we’re fairly on target. And, we’ll continue the rumor spreading with the other companies in following articles to keep you on the edge of your seat.

So, if you’re a techno freak or needing a new computer, tablet or phone check out your local rent to own dealer. Most carry the latest and greatest. Their payment plans are affordable and carry no legal obligation of further payments beyond the one just made.

Most don’t know but rent to own stores are keen on providing the most advanced of HD TVs, home audio systems and electronics in general but now are becoming the source for the latest models of computers. Remember, though, always call first. Some rent to own stores are better than others in this regard.

Just another ShopRTO Computer Tips.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Some Labor Day tips and trivia

Celebrate working with a day of fun.

Celebrate working with a day of fun.

Labor day weekend is upon us and many of us have a 3-day holiday weekend to take full advantage. So here are some random tips and trivia to take into account.

Many of us are driving to a destination so be prepared. Check your tires, fluids, brakes and all of that stuff. In other words, this is the perfect time to get your oil changed and have them check everything for you. You want your car to be safe and ready.

Speaking of being safe, make sure you have a car emergency kit with jumper cables, flashlight, duct tape, large towels that are meant to get dirty and an emergency stop sign or marker. AND, make sure your spare tire is completely full of air and that all of your tire-changing equipment is there. Make sure you have a first aid kit that is full. Then always have a bottle or two of water, some granola or energy bars, blankets that are not meant to get dirty and a roll of paper towels.

Have your phone charged. Don’t forget your phone charger. Map out your route and have it bookmarked on your I phone and printed out. And if you have a portable audio player and/or speakers, do not forget those as well. You want to have music for your holiday.

Make a list of all of these and save it as a permanent list on your computer and phone. This way every road trip you take, you have the master travel check list and use it to make sure you’re good to go each time.

How about your meals? Gotta make them all Amercian. That means getting the grill out for barbecuing hamburgers, steaks, dogs (hotdogs, that is), chicken, sausage, ribs, k-bobs, etc. Whatever needs flame to cook and symbolizes the American worker. Bust out with some fresh lemonade. Homemade lemonade is really easy. Squeeze a bunch of lemons, throw in some sugar, water, stir, chill then swill.

Check out some Shop RTO meat tips, barbecue and summer party tips. BUT, prepare for the day using the weekend prior so labor day doesn’t become a tiring and laborious day for you. Prepare your meat patties the night before. Grab all the menu items on Saturday. Make sure the beer is deep in the refrigerator the night before and know who’s coming over so you have enough.

Labor day is the tribute to the American worker. Yeah. To all of us working schmucks. Created as a national holiday in 1894 by President Grover Cleveland after a failed attempt to break up a railroad strike. The holiday was a culmination of years of harsh working conditions for the employees who toiled 12 hour days, seven days a week and employing 8-year olds.

Cleveland deemed the first Monday of September as Labor Day that symbolizes the long efforts to give workers their due respect. A century later the holiday still pay tributes to the American worker but also transcends as an American holiday with parades, picnics, celebrations and the beginning of College Football. OK. Maybe not that one but we all know secretly it does.

At any rate, pay tribute to your hard working hours by having a fun and safe Labor Day weekend.

Just another ShopRTO Holiday tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Back to school time – Prepare healthy meals in advance

 

Back to school meal tips

Make fresh meals to take to school.

Preparing all three meals during the school season can be difficult with working parents and busy school days. Therefore it’s important to prepare in advance to make sure your kiddos get healthy meals. School breakfasts and lunches are getting more healthy but the cost over time can get expensive. Try some of these Shop RTO tips and recipe ideas to make meals fresher, easier and more affordable.

Spend Sundays or whichever free day you have to prepare large quantities of quality cooked meals to refrigerate or freeze for the following weeks. Try to avoid store bought frozen foods.

When cooking, make sure to involve your children as much as possible so they learn how to prepare for their own dishes as well. And, you’ll be certain to cook them the way they like it. Hopefully you’ll get to a point when all family members cook thus meals will always be prepared.

You also need to be prepared to store them. Buy a set of washable, plastic containers that can be used over and over again. Make sure they’re big enough for a meal serving and in the size that is good for transporting in your bag. If your meal will be in a hot bag for more than two hours, buy re-freezable ice packs. If the meal is going to be at room temperature for a couple of hours then you should be fine.

Easy takes are raisins, apples, berries, granola, dry cereal, apple chips and crackers. Throw them in as part of the meal and done.

As far as prepared dishes, soups, pizza, spaghetti, beans and chilli are great choices and can be easy. Pizza crusts can be bought at the store. Tomato sauce is easy to prepare then store bought cheese and vegetables. Cook that pizza(s) for 20 minutes let cool then slice up for easy transport.

Spaghetti or pasta can host a variety of vegetables. People think spaghetti can only have meatballs and tomato sauce but far from true. Chop up and cook the vegetables into the tomato sauce for flavor or flavor them on the side then throw into the sauce. If you want to fool your children while providing fresh vegetables, zip up a variety of vegetables in a food blender to fine bits or pulp so they don’t know it’s there while getting the vitamins.

If they’re really anti-veg, make sure they don’t see you blending the vegetables because if the child associates veggies as bad, they will automatically associate that dish as bad. That trick can be done with chilli, soup and sauces. And it works well. I’ve seen dozens of my nieces, nephews, their friends and my child eat these dishes free of vegetables (so they think) while getting all of the veggie vitamins they need.

Chilli and soups can be filled with all sorts of vegetables and is easy to freeze for later uses. With soups and chilli, you can cook in a large pot to store and/or freeze many batches. Lasagna is a good dish to prepare as one batch can provide many meals. The only problem with lasagna, it can take longer to prepare than other meals.

Home made pinto or black beans are great for protein and can also host a variety of fresh vegetables. Beans can be blended to create beans for burritos, chalupas and nachos for easy, quick and fresh dinners as well. Each of these dishes are traditionally garnished with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions and peppers. If you cook a big pot of beans then use a several cups to put into a batch of chilli to further make the chilli fresh.

Sandwiches are also quick and easy. Cook some chicken breast in advance and flavor according to the taste of the child which is why your kids should be in there helping out. The fresh chicken has way less nitrates than the sliced chicken in the bag at the store and chicken is an easy dish to prepare. Sandwiches are also great to be stacked with fresh pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, onions and peppers. Try using fresh spinach to replace lettuce. It tastes the same and is waaay more nutritious.

Try not to use mustard, mayonnaise or any spread as they are just full of calories with little or no nutritional value. And, spoil more easily. That’s why it is important to cook flavorful chicken from the get go.

These are just a few tips but the point is to think of dishes you can make in large quantity, full of vitamins and easy to prepare for any meal. And! Make sure your children are involved in the cooking. They get what they like. They learn a valuable skill. Help the family out and create a family experience.

Just another ShopRTO be safe and home lifestyle tips.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Back to school time – Is your room ready?

 

Prepare your home for school

Get ready for school!

Whether your preparing for kindergarten or your college dorm room, get it ready for the school year. Here are some Shop RTO tips for doing so.

First, the obvious. Clean it up. When you’re on the go, it’s more difficult to spend a lot of time at once. That’s why clean it up now and make sure each day you clean whatever you messed up that day so all of sudden you’re not in some paper stacked, laundry filled jungle.

Wash everything! Sheets, pillow cases and clothes. Start the school year with everything clean and ready.

Make your study area nice. Get new furniture if need be. Buy some plants. Decorate with paintings, photos or posters. Anything to not make it look like a prison cell.

Studies constantly show your environment shapes your mood. Typically a sterile environment emanates a cold, dark presence that you don’t want to be in. You don’t want to associate studying or homework with a broom closet. Liven it up to your taste. If you have a window, use that as your basis for your room arrangement. It’s a feng shui approach.

Make sure you have plenty of light and the proper type of lighting. Typically, a room needs three tiers of lighting. But in a small bedroom or dorm room, you many only need one lamp then the overhead.

Make sure your computer, laptop and/or tablet is ready. Think about upgrading and getting a new one. Computers are now key in learning so you don’t want to be at a disadvantage from the get-go. Try rent to own stores if you can’t afford one or want the latest for a small rental price. Make sure your programs are installed correctly or updated to the most recent version.

If you need any of these home furnishings and can’t buy it outright or don’t want to own them due to a uncertain future of living arrangements as can be when in College then everything you need to make your room ready for school can happen through your local rent to own store. Rent the furniture for the semester or rent to own it with affordable payments. The rent to own store is responsible for delivery and pick up if you don’t want it anymore or are finished renting.

And, you’re never obligated to own it and can return it at any time for any reason. Who knows? Your aunt may come in and buy you a brand new bed so that bed you just rented can go back to the store and you’re not penalized one bit. And, they’ll come and get it for you.

Just another Shop RTO Home Decorating tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Back to school time – consider renting or renting to own computers

back to school computers

Rent or rent to own computers for school.

Are you or your kids on the wrong side of the digital divide? If so, consider rent to own computers, laptops and tablets. They’re affordable on a rental basis and either rent to own them as quickly as possible or rent them at the lowest price with a one-year replacement in mind.

Knowing that computer technology goes light speed, you can have a pure rental strategy to keep you on the cutting edge of the technology. Upgrade your laptop or tablet in one year increments and you’ll never be left behind. Just remember to back up your information on a portable hard drive or in the cloud so when you do upgrade, you don’t lose any programs or data.

If you can’t afford the outright expenditure, go to a rent to own store and find the best one for the best payment price. Many tablets are in the price range of paying it off in a year that will keep the payments manageable while the end price being mild.

Make sure you shop your local rent to own stores for the best one that knows their stuff to ensure all apps, programs and data is properly stored and installed. Each rent to own store or company have different levels of technological knowledge so do your research.

Through rent to own, you’re not obligated to make the next payment and can upgrade at anytime. Rent to own transactions are not leases that legally mandate a certain rental time and obligation.

That’s what makes rent to own stores so attractive regarding computers, laptops and tablets. The rent to own stores are also responsible for that computer to work. If your computer goes on the blitz, it’s their responsibility to fix it which is another great bonus.

But, do not let that prevent you from always backing up your information. There are many times not even Gandalf can bring back your information.

It’s back to school time which means getting ready to learn. The ability to keep up with today’s learning environment mandates having a computer. So take a serious look at your local rent to own store for the upcoming school season.

Just another Shop RTO Lifestyle and Computer tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

A Shop RTO guide to clothes cleaning symbols

Clothes Cleaning symbols

Decipher the laundry codes

The better you care for your clothes, the longer they’ll last and better they’ll continue to look. That’s why clothes makers put hieroglyphics so you can be even more confused when doing your laundry or force you to throw it in a pile to send to the dry cleaners.

Since most of us don’t want to or can’t really afford the dry cleaners, we must empower ourselves to unveil the secret codes to the almighty washer and dryer process. You have two choices, you can either go “Indiana Jones” and wash your way through the death defying journey of interpretation or go with Shop RTO.

Here is a simple table of the most used laundry care symbols and what they mean. We expect you to memorize these quickly for a test coming soon. Or, just bookmark this page and refer to it every time you are wondering what to do when washing and drying a garment you’re not sure of.

Just another Shop RTO Lifestyle and Laundry tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

The year of the tablet?

tabletIs 2014 the year of the tablet? Apparently so. Nearly 50% of computer sales are tablets this year.

And why not? They’re easy to use. Easier to carry than a laptop. They’re getting close to being as fast as a lapktop. And they’re much more affordable.

There are still limitations. You can’t upgrade to lightening speed nor have terabytes of storage but with cloud technology even that issue can be answered. Some complain about the strain on the eyes especially when reading articles or books. Or some are just old fashion curmudgeons who pine for old days and refuse to try. Go write a complaint letter on a typewriter, I say. Go green and save a tree.

Even with seniors, the tablets are becoming the most popular. Most seniors just need a computer for internet, video and e-mailing. The ease of large app icons, keyboard and the lightweight make it perfect.

Then on the other end, kids dig ‘em. They’re the perfect size for games and videos. You can play them in bed,  on the couch or in the tree house. I used to own an Ipad but for some reason it’s now owned by my 5 year old. Apparently Mom and kid cut a deal on my behalf.

So, what tablet is for you? What brand and size? The three most popular brands are the Ipad (duh), Kindle Fire and Google Nexus. Then there’s size. The mini or the tablet. That’s a huge debate.

At first, the mini was considered DOA as being too small. They called it an Iphone on steroids. But they were wrong. The minis are just as popular. So when shopping, pick up the regular size then the mini. You can usually tell in an instance. That’s why you make sure you hold one first if you have them shipped.

Then there’s price. The Ipad is the most expensive at around $350 then the Kindle at $250 then the Nexus at $150. But, remember, you get what you pay for in regards to speed, durability and functions. So keep those in mind when shopping.

Another issue is wi-fi. Wi fi plans can be expensive so do you count on hotspots to take care of you or buy the plan to ensure access everywhere within reason. That’s a huge factor regarding your budget and use.

Rent to own stores are realizing the popularity and stocking up on the tablets. You can get a really affordable payment plan with the ready to own option. Own it in a year with small payments and you’re good to go. Especially with the guarantee that RTO stores carry with all of their merchandise.

Just another ShopRTO Home Computer tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Home safety: Are you prepared?

FirstAidKeeping you house safe and sound is simple with this easy to use checklist. Take a quick peek and if you have neglected one of these items you might want to use this DIY list to put your home and family in the safe zone!

Of all the things people think about when turning a house into a home, safety is unfortunately one of them most overlooked. Use these quick safety tips to increase you chances of coming through an emergency with home and health in tact.

Home Safety Tips Fire Extinguisher

Place a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and every other floor of your home. Read the instructions that come with the fire extinguisher before you need to use it. Check extinguisher gauges often, and occasionally turn it over to make sure the contents don’t become compacted at the bottom.

Smoke Alarms

Install battery-powered smoke alarms to be prepared for early warnings of smoke in your home. Check your local building codes to make sure you have the right kind of smoke detector and enough of them for the size and layout of your home. Place detectors in bedrooms, and also install battery-powered carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home.

Tip: Use daylight savings time as a reminder to change the batteries in you smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

First Aid Kit

Keep a well-stocked first aid kit in a centrally located spot in your home. It should include activated charcoal, adhesive tape, antiseptic ointment, adhesive bandages, blanket, cold pack, disposable gloves, gauze, hand cleaner, plastic bags, scissors, tweezers and a small flashlight with extra batteries.

General Tips

If you have children, or children that visit often, place plastic covers over electrical outlets. Store cleaning products and other chemicals out of reach or within locked cabinets and drawers. Keep the phone number of your local Poison Control Center in an easily accessible, obvious spot, like a household chore list or bulletin board. Install ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) electrical outlets in the kitchen, bathroom and around any water source. They can help prevent electrocutions, electric shocks and some electric fires.

Keep electronics away from all sinks, bathtubs and showers. Investigate stains or cracks that appear in ceilings. They could be signs of a water leak, and if not taken care of, the ceiling could weaken. If the problem is serious, call a professional. Take a tour around your home looking in and around everything for potential hazards, like old appliances, fraying wires or overloaded electrical outlets. Fix or add padding to pieces of furniture that have sharp edges.

Before having visitors over, especially young children, think about what kids might get into, especially at their level.

More here.

 

 

Whip that yard into shape with these simple tips

TreetrimTrees: the shade keeps our summer energy costs down, the swing or hammock makes it the goto Sunday siesta spot and what kid doesn’t love a treehouse.

But for all their benefits, your personal forest does need tending from time to time.

Take those dead hanging limbs for example. Take a good look at those and see which ones need to be cut away, lest mother nature do the job for you. All it takes is a common thunderstorm and a brisk wind gust to break a branch and send it through your roof or windshield (or your neighbors) causing tremendous and costly damage.

Also, while you’re out there, prune any plants that might interfere with your AC condenser and trim bushes that might be too close to the house. They can trap moisture and cultivate rot and insects.

Don’t forget the bushes. If left untrimmed, they can trap moisture and invite termites and other home destroying critters. Keeping bushes trimmed can also eliminate potential hiding places for burglars or other unwanted visitors.

Vines come from the ground and grow on the house. They ay give your house a special look, but creepy crawlies come from the ground, too, and they can use those vines to get into your house. Vines also trap moisture against the house and they can eat away the mortar in between your bricks, jeopardizing the stability of your exterior walls.

So, while vines might be pretty they are not good for your house and you should trim them back regularly. If you really want to keep the vines hanging around, here’s a tip — install a garden trellis next to your house. They come in a variety of sizes and they keep vines away from your foundation.

More here:

http://www.diynetwork.com/outdoors/tips-for-summer-yard-maintenance/index.html

Just another Shop RTO Lifestyle and Outdoor Decorating tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Buying used furniture? Shop rent to own first.

 

Find your local rent to own store for used home furniture.

Try rent to own stores when shopping used furniture.

When talking about buying used furniture, appliances or electronics, the first places Americans think is garage sales, newspaper ads or craigslist. What most people don’t realize is that rent to own stores can be a treasure trove regarding good used furniture at great prices.

Statistics show that new rent to own home furnishings are returned within the first four months. And the return almost always has nothing to do with the quality of the furniture but personal circumstances.

Add to the fact that most customers want new merchandise so there is an incentive for rent to own stores to get rid of used merchandise quickly. They still make a profit, get rid of used inventory and you get a great deal on furniture that has just a little wear and tear.

So if you’re going the RTO option, follow these tips.

Find out the local rent to own stores in your area then call each to express what you’re looking for. Each rent to own store has different policies regarding selling used furniture and obviously what is available.

Because each have different policies, try to talk to a manager or the owner. It is in their best interest to get rid of inventory and they’ll have the most flexibility to cut a deal.

Find the stores that are eager to work with you and try them first. You want those rent to own stores that have the mentality and business model of wanting used merchandise out of the showroom floor so will have you on their mind. That’s why you work with the manager or owner as it is in their best interest.

If you don’t need the furniture immediately then use patience and shop around or wait.

Research prices of similar furniture to know what you can offer regarding what they can offer. And research through craigslist, newspaper ads and garage sales. Heck, those may offer you a better deal anyway. Always shop around, the consumer is in full control in these retail times.

Never buy before you try. Always visit the store and sit on the furniture before and inspect it closely. Rent to own stores are good because they spend a lot of time refurbishing the product.

Rent to own used furniture. If you’re not sure about the furniture, then rent it for a couple of months to try. If you like it then exercise the early purchase option.

The beauty of renting to own used furniture, you’ll get smaller payments or smaller time periods or both. And if you’re renting to own it, the product is under their warranty during the rental period.

If you’re buying it outright, make sure they deliver it for free. That shouldn’t be a problem as they’re in the business of customer service.

You have four choices when acquiring home furnishings for your abode. Keep them all in mind to make sure you get the best home that your money can buy.

Just another ShopRTO Home Decorating and shopping lifestyle tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Have an RTO July 4th party!

July 4th party tips

Happy Birthday America!

America’s birthday is coming up so it’s time to celebrate! And, if you want to avoid the crowds of festivals then have one at home with the family and friends.

For a festive party, the color scheme is fairly obvious, eh? Red, white and blue. And don’t forget flags. There’s those small toothpick flags as well as smaller flags to spread out that are cheap and fun. Then there’s red, white and blue streamers.

To keep costs down, ask for potluck. Guests don’t mind and it gives great variety and helps save time for the host. Make sure your refrigerator is clean and with lots of room. Use an ice chest for all drinks to help create room. Get the barbecue flaring and crank out one of the main dishes.

You can also go creative with some of your dishes. Go get a rectangle cake from the grocery store or make it yourself. Yeah, right. Have the icing be plain white. Place blueberries as the square for the stars then place raspberries as the red lines and you have a flag cake that’s easy and quick. And, you can even call it healthy since it has fresh fruit on it.

If you’re going to have a good ‘ole fashioned all-day July 4th get together, make sure you have some fun things to do. Keep a deck of cards, dominoes, board games around. Get a horseshoe set. Or, for cheap and easy, play ‘washers’. Create a makeshift set-up by getting a set of 4 washers out of the garage, two cans/cups placed in the ground, level with the dirt, pick teams and toss them. Here’s some basic rules.

Make sure you have music going. Great parties always have 2 things. Good music and good food. If you have to have a TV on, make sure it’s on a baseball game or a campy theme movie like “Independence Day” or “Field of Dreams”.

For the kids, have them play some sort of sports so they’re exercising. If you don’t have much room or want to make sure nothing gets broken, play cup baseball. Crush up a paper cup like a ball and hit the ball with your hand as the bat.

If you do have video games, make sure they’re motion games. Keep the kids active.

Now here’s where all of those seasonal rental items that you got from your local rent to own store come into play. Or, now’s the reason to go get something brand new at the rent to own store that will help the party out -  refrigerators, freezers, barbecue grills, out door furniture, HDTVs,p, boom boxes, ovens or whatever that makes your home as comfortable and fun as can be.

Just another ShopRTO Holiday tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Here’s some Summer safety tips

Summer Safety tips.

Fun and safe in the sun!

For those old enough, you can remember the metal slides that burnt every uncovered part of your skin when playing. Nowadays, these constructions are bit more safe but in regards to playing and having fun in the Summer, need to remember some basic safety tips.

The sun. Much of skin diseases can begin prior to the age of 18 so be liberal with sunscreen for your kids and you too. Make sure to apply every two hours and be sure to get those places where the sun hits the hardest – the nose, back of the neck and even the top of the ears.

If you’re sunbathing or swimming then all of the uncovered parts and don’t forget the top of the feet. For some reason, that is one spot many people forget. Wear a hat and sunglasses. And, if hanging out at the pool all day, spend some time in the shade.

And if swimming in the pool, keep the “arm away” rule with little kids. That means you’re never an arm away from them swimming so you can rescue them if anything happens. And, remember, anyone can drown so keep an eye on everyone to be the safest.

And, water! No matter what you do, especially in the Summer, make sure you drink plenty of water. And make sure the kiddos drink plenty of water. Always ask them and don’t wait until they say they’re thirsty. That usually means they’re already dehydrated.

What about mowing the yard? If you have a riding lawn mower, the general rule of thumb is that no one under 18 is supposed to use one and no one under the age of 12 should use a push mower. For gas powered mowers, don’t touch the engine. Make sure it is off when refilling and always make sure the blades have quit rotating and are completely off when cleaning grass out.

Try not to back pedal when mowing. It’s the easiest way to trip, fall and get hurt. Always wear sturdy shoes and clean up the lawn of big sticks and debris so you’re not shooting off large dangerous chunks to you and others.

Now, back to the playground. Just because they’re not metal, test the slides and seats before the kids play. Plastic can still get dangerously hot. Remove anything that has straps to get caught on the equipment even helmets. Never allow children to attach ropes, leashes or anything that can strangle. Inspect playground equipment for long bolt ends that can make a nasty gash or an S-hook to get caught.

Just another ShopRTO be safe and home lifestyle tips.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Clean out the garage tips

Garage sales or donations.

Time to clean out the garage!

According to Harris Poll, 50% of Americans name their garage as the messiest room in their house. The garage is also one of the most prominent curb appeal of your house and 1/4 of Americans are embarrassed to open their garage doors for the neighbors to see. And, one more, the garage can be the most functional room in the house except for the fact that it is the messiest therefore unusable.

I think those stats speak for themselves so let’s get started with the tips to get your garage cleaned. First things first. Take a deep breath. Even meditate if need be. But take it one step at a time.

Set aside two consecutive weekends and recruit family and/or friends to help. Pick the weekends accordingly. Many cities have junk collection days every six months which means perfect timing or pick the weekend you can borrow your brother’s truck for a trip to the dump. But, plan ahead. And, have a goal in mind.

Set aside some space to create four piles. 1. Keep 2. Throw away 3. Sell 4. Donate.

First things first. Purge. Throw away anything that you haven’t used or looked at in 18 months. Don’t overthink. Don’t say “one day I’ll use or want  it” because if you haven’t used it within 2 years then get rid of it. The exception to that rule is tools and building materials to a certain extent.

As such, organize your tools in one area, box, shelf, etc. That’s both for space saving and for practicality. And organize by seasons because that snow blower is useless in the summer but, oh so necessary in the winter.

Organize the holiday items. When that holiday comes, you’ll want to decorate with ease and items that you have already bought.

Organize the sentimental items. If you have old photos, designate a family member to scan all the photos and put them in your computer so you can actually look at them when wandering down memory lane. Then box up the real photos in an air locked container and tuck away.

Then there’s the decision you have to make regarding items that you’re getting rid of but are still usable. You may want to consider a garage sale, craig’s list, ebay, etc. Otherwise donate them. But do it within the two weekend span you dedicated. So you’re on task and follow through.

Get to a point where your entire garage is empty and clean and/or repair any necessary parts. Then look around and find spots where you can put shelves or racks to maximize space.

Then put everything you going to keep in its proper, designated spot. And if the clutter is not more than half gone that means you’re a pack rat or do a good job at keeping your garage clean.

One thing to note which many people do not yet do is to digitally archive. Many boxes are filled with paper work. Files of tax returns, warranties, instructions, journals, etc. Turn those into PDFs and store them on your computer, in the cloud and on a back-up and continue the digital process from then on.

I hope that gives you enough of a guidance to turn that garage into  a room that you can use and like. For more tips, go to Shop RTO’s “De-clutter” tips article.

Just another ShopRTO get-your-act-together and home lifestyle article.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

 

 

 

The American Dream redefined but still revolves around family and home

Family finances and home ownership.

Today’s American Dream is home ownership and financial stability for the family.

The “American Dream” has changed through the generations. First coined after the great depression, the phrase signified the ability to move up social classes to a greater standard of living.

Now, the American Dream has more of a meaning of security rather than prosperity according to a recent story conducted by Ketchum Global Research commissioned by rent to own company Aarons. More than 90 percent of survey respondents equate the American Dream having a good job and owning their own home. “Social Freedom”, the belief for their children having a better life and the ability to save money is right up there with 89%.

Being more practical is becoming the new aspiration as many Americans feel the new norm is being buried in debt and trying to manage a responsible budget. Luxury items such as jewelry are being replaced with technology and furniture as items that fulfill the American Dream for today’s society.

In the end, though, the study revolved around the new expectations that have culminated from different economic circumstances that exist today. The continued difficulty of owning a home and being debt free has pushed those two to the top of what Americans desire.

While owning a home and secure family finances is always at the core of the American Dream, past generations thought those were a given. With today’s financial environment,  home ownership and financial stability are now what Americans dream of.

Just another ShopRTO personal finance and lifestyle tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

 

Computer games going family style

 

Video games on the tablet are on the rise.

Families are playing video games together more.

Home computer games are no longer solo style. Games on the computer, smartphone and especially tablets are going interactive for the family and friends.

Statistics from the Entertainment Software Association state that more than 1/3 parents play video games with their kids regularly, more than once a week. 89% of parents are involved in choosing their children’s video games. And the average age for playing video games is 30 years.

More women are playing computer games than ever and with the onslaught of free video game apps, the tablet and smartphone games are going bezerk. While mobile computer gaming is exploding, many groups are warning against kids getting consumed into the games along with watching TV that social skills suffer and obesity grows.

The American Academy of Pediatricians recommend that children under 2 years should not play any video games. Ages 2 and above should be limited to one hour per day that includes TV as well. But, with the onslaught of interactive, educational games that opinion is being challenged.

For instance, 95% teachers use interactive games as part of the education process. While learning as part of the game is beneficial, they also cite hand to eye coordination and the development of technological skills as added benefits.

The computer game industry continues to fight the image of video games being too violent and sendentary, computer makers and the demand for family-orientated and educational games are helping to sway that opinion. And with the popularity of motion games on the rise, those also help turn games from creating obesity to exercising as the game.

So, as with all children activities, parents and families must maintain a balance of healthy, educational, interactive and family style games to being virtually away from the screen. (How’d you like that pun?)

Just another ShopRTO Computer Games tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

An outdoor living room? It’s more common than you think.

Get an outdoor living room set

Make an outdoor living room.

When one thinks of outdoor furniture, they automatically think of patio furniture. Which is great as it is durable through the seasons. Lately, though, many people are putting regular living room furniture outside.

When some buy new living room furniture, they’re left with older but still usable furniture. Knowing the furniture is going to be tossed out or given away, many Americans keep them by using it to furnish their outside especially if they have a covered deck. Or they put it outside and make sure to have heavy duty covers to keep the furniture as long as possible.

It creates a whole new vibe for the backyard or porch. Add an HDTV and watch baseball in the Summer breeze. And, again, if the furniture is used and was on its way to the dump then why not get some more use out of it.

If you have a covered deck or porch, the furniture lasts much longer and the comfort is great. Your family and guests will love it when waiting for the barbecue to get ready. And will add an unusual but very comfortable touch to the outdoors.

Some specifically but new living room furniture for the outdoors and some find used furniture for the outside. If so, rent to own stores are a great option as they are constantly needing to get rid of used furniture. The trick is finding the right store with the furniture right for your outdoor circumstances.

Just another ShopRTO outdoor decorating tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

You have to clean out your ‘fridge so here’s some good tips

Cleaning refrigerator

Stick your head in the fridge and clean!

Ewwww. Cleaning out the refrigerator? Can’t it wait? No. The longer you wait, the more work and potential damage to the fridge.

First things first. Throw outdated items out. Sounds obvious but you wouldn’t believe how many expired jars of jellies, pickles, mustards, etc. stay in the fridge.

Once that is done there are two different methods. One is to take out all refrigerator items, put them in a ice chest then dissemble all shelves and put them in the dishwasher and turn on. You’d be amazed how easy it is to dissemble refrigerators these days. And, if it isn’t then you have a really old one and need to get a new one.

The other is to go shelf by shelf hand washing and drying. Again, if you haven’t cleaned your refrigerator in awhile then you’ll see what I mean about needing to do it on a regular basis.

Do NOT use cleaning liquids. You don’t want your fridge and food smelling like comet. Use some baking powder or tad of vinegar in warm water. You can use some soap but be careful. You can tell by smelling your sponge or pad if it’s too much soap.

When cleaning glass shelves don’t use hot water when the glass is cold. It could break with the sudden change of temperatures.

Clean from the highest shelf down. That was a hard lesson to learn. Food, crumbs, etc. falls down so start at the top. And, again, make sure everything is dry before re-inserting food. And, make sure all of the jars, bottles and cartons are wiped down before putting back. It kind of defeats the purpose putting a messy jelly jar into a clean refrigerator.

Then clean the outside of the refrigerator. You can use the harder stuff for the outside and other interesting items for stainless steel refrigerators. And, if you want to get really in-depth cleaning, then try these other tips.

Just another ShopRTO fridge tip and kitchen appliance tips.

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

 

Apps for the home

 

Apps for the home

Have an Appy home!

Did you know how many home apps are out there? Lots. Haven’t tested them all yet but just downloaded a bunch. Here are just a few.

One of the first ones that are by far the most practical, useful and very effective is the flashlight and level. If your power goes out or need to look through the dark parts of your garage, just turn on the app and watch how your phone emanates like a lighthouse. Too cool.

The level works just great when hanging paintings and leveling other things. As you can tell, I only use it for paintings.

There are great home decorating apps such as Houzz, Houzz for kids and Brightnest. There’s a DIY app called “DIY” that helps with, well, DIY projects in the home. There’s gardening and landscaping apps such as “Home Gardening”.

There’s money management apps for the family budget. There’s one called Money Tracker and another called Level. If you’re looking to buy a home, get the Home Mortgage Calculator App. You’ll want that when shopping for your new home as most of us live by the paycheck so you’ll want to know if that payment fits into your budget.

Zillow Digs is a good app for home design and cost estimates regarding any upgrades or repairs. Household tips and tricks is another for good household tips and tricks. I know. That was obvious.

How about a grocery list? That one is interesting as it lists varying national grocery chains to customize your list to the store. I’m trying that one to see if it’s truly better than making a list on your smart phone notes app.

Go to the Itunes App store and type in a general search for whatever home tips you need and watch all that pop up. Most times, you’ll have too many to choose. So make sure you read the description and reviews before choosing. Especially if you’re buying one. While 99¢ or $2.99 isn’t that much, it is to most people’s budget. And since this is a website for affordable home living, our job is to help you be frugal so I always recommend the free apps.

You’ll suffer through some ads on the free apps but you need to try before you buy. Just like rent to own home furnishings. Use rent to own to try before you buy so you don’t make an expensive mistake.

Just another ShopRTO Lifestyle Tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

 

Rent the Summer life

rent to own grills, furniture

Rent summer gear to be debt and clutter free.

In many parts of the country summer living is only three to four months thus needing certain items only for that part of the year. Just a quick few are lawn mowers, air conditioners, power washers, BBQ grills and outdoor furniture.

Rent to own stores are the best location for renting ACs, riding lawn mowers, outdoor furniture and BBQ pits but power washers are best to find at a local Lowe’s or Home Depot. Make sure to check your local rent to own stores prior as every rent to own store rents different items. You’ll be surprised at some of the items they rent on a seasonal basis.

The beauty of renting these seasonal items is that you pay for their use and that’s it. So much of these items are left unused, further damaged or broken after harsh winters especially this one. If you rent them then when Summer’s over, your garage and home is clutter free and the next summer you get new rented items that are debt and worry free. The rent to own store will deliver, set up and come and get it when the cold winds come back and need to return to the inside.

With renting outdoor furniture for several months, you know it’ll be nice because you picked it out. If you have a good enclosed porch then you can rent higher end furniture since it will be only used for several months. But, if you like what you rented then buy them outright with rent to own’s early purchase option that include previous rental payments going towards ownership.

So many Americans are having to live in smaller homes and yards but still want to have the family barbecue, get together or enjoy the outside. Renting those key summer items means you get the full summer experience without so much of the headache. It all depends on the circumstances. Renting works perfect for some. Owning for others. And, again, rent to own stores give you both options.

Just another ShopRTO Outdoor Decorating and Lifestyle Tips.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Some bedroom feng shui tips

Bedroom Feng Shui tips

Create the perfect bedroom.

It’s your bedroom – the sanctuary of your home so decorate it with the best energy for your soul. Here’s some ShopRTO tips to help make that happen.

First of all, build the right bed! No used mattresses. Buy or rent to own one. It’s the best investment you’ll ever make. When shopping for your mattress there are many to choose from so make sure you pick the right one. How? Go to a store and lie down on them. Take your shoes off. Lie on your side, back and sit up as if you were reading a book or watching a movie. That’s the only way you’ll make sure. And if people are around watching you with a disapproving look then wink at them and see what happens.

The bed needs to be the right height. Good rule of thumb is your feet should be touching the floor naturally when sitting on the bed. This rule, though, can be compromised due to bed design. The new modern look has lowered and sleeker beds while some are going for the kingly higher beds through thicker mattresses for a more comfortable feel and royal look. Some beds are height adjustable. If you want to be safe, literally. Stick with the first rule that the feet should be touching the floor comfortably when sitting on the bed.

The bedframe needs to have a headboard. The corners where the legs are need to be rounded or covered so as not to harm the legs if you accidentally bump into them.

The bedroom feng shui begins with the windows and door. The bed should be as far away as the door as possible and not in alignment. The bed needs to be flat against the wall and with enough balanced space on both sides.

The windows should not be crowded around unless they are plants. The light and wind rays need to have room to flow. Have as few electronics as possible and give closets enough space to be able to use while also being able to hide with proper closet doors. The best way to work with feng shui is to see how easy it is to walk from the windows to the door.

By the way, this is the first time we’ve used the word “Feng Shui” so no rolling your eyes. We’re still about affordable home furnishings for the average, every-day Joe with a touch of enlightenment.

Just another ShopRTO Home Decorating and Bedroom Furniture Tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

How to enhance your home TV audio experience

 

HDTV Home Audio tips

Enhance your HDTV home audio experience.

If you have an HDTV that looks great on screen but has an unpredictable or underwhelming sound experience then there’s several ways to help. The most simple, affordable and compact way is through a sound bar. It’s basically a sleek, horizontal speaker system that can give you a 2.0 sound or 2.1 sound with a sub woofer.

If you don’t know the numerical designation of a speaker system that audio geeks always blurt out then here’s a quick lesson. A basic stereo system of 2 speakers projecting sound from the left and sound to the right is a 2.o stereo audio system. If you add a sub woofer which is the speaker that can handle the low frequency of bass sounds then you add .1. So if you have a stereo system with a subwoofer then it’s a 2.1 system.

A basic 2.1 sound system whether it’s a sound bar or two speakers with a subwoofer will make all the difference in the world especially if all you have done is listen to your TV speakers. Now going on to the next level of a 4.1 or 6.1 then you’re creating a surround sound experience which can be awesome but depends on the room and wallet.

If you go for a 4.1 then it’s basic logic on how to set it up. The first two are on the left and right of the TV and then you want the subwoofer in the middle preferable below the TV as that is where the bass frequency is in the first place. Then the next two speakers are on each side depending on the size of the room will depend where to put them but you want them half way from you and the TV and pointing at you not at each other. Then the next 6.1 system is that the two additional speakers are just behind you and pointing at you. Then you start creating the surround sound experience.

After that, you really start getting into the fancy-schmancy theater experience that we don’t care to get into because our job is provide you affordable home furnishing solutions.

There’s some other considerations you need to factor in. One of the most is cables. With a basic stereo system or a sound bar, the cables can be managed and hidden easily. If you’re going to four or more speakers then you’ll have to plan your wires very carefully to avoid an ugly wiring in your room. OR, go wireless and bluetooth as that technology is becoming much more reliable and affordable but be very thorough in your research on the best ones to buy.

But, remember, if your room or budget is small then go with a simple stereo sound and if you can throw in a subwoofer, do so. The difference is huge. For a test, throw in a DVD of a science fiction thriller-diller that has a lot of crashes, booms and laser beam sounds and you’ll really be able to tell a difference.

Just another ShopRTO Home Audio tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Did you know window treatments could be so creative?

Curtain and blinds decorating ideas.

Go decorative with your windows.

We’re so ingrained in thinking curtains or blinds for our windows that we forget the whole purpose is to provide privacy, shade or a decorative element for our windows and homes. So, think outside the window and you can find all sorts of garments and items to decorate your windows and still serve the functional purpose.

Curtains are fabrics that cover your windows. So, pick all sorts of fabrics to go creative. Burlap sacks, bed sheets, quilts, rugs, shawls, shirts, etc. All of those are fabrics and with some creativity and a good seamstress,  you can create some of the most imaginative and unique ‘curtains’ ever seen.

Or create your own patterns. Take a one-colored bed sheet and stencil words on it – names of your children, pets, words of wisdom, etc. Go Picasso or abstract and paint or water color your own designs. And, if it’s an old bed sheet and you end up not liking the design you created. Then try again and no real harm on the pocket book.

What about curtain rods? It’s a rod! Do you know how much you could do with those decorations? How about yarn, scrunchies (I hear they’re back), thick stock paper, rope, necklaces or whatever else you can think of or that you have just sitting around. Wrap those around the rods in whatever way that looks the most pleasing and you become an original designer with your own feature story in HGTV. It also gives you a neat project. For the kids, too. They will have a blast.

Just for decorating purposes, think of what you could hang down from a curtain rod. Take some colored ropes, string, shoe laces, belts, scarfs, etc. and tie on glass or ceramic jars with flowers in it. Or junk art like painted wheels from a kids wagon. Whatever you can imagine. The trick is painting the objects, attaching them and arranging so it looks like a really cool design and not strewn junk.

Ultimately, though, your window is a 3-D painting that can be designed into whatever creative art to be imagined. Make it loud or subtle but remember it doesn’t have to be just a curtain or a blind.

Just another ShopRTO Home Decorating tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Just add flowers – some ShopRTO tips for a beautiful home garden

Flower planting tips

Brighten your day with your yard.

It’s spring time which means flowers! Lots of them, too. Whether planting them or putting them on vases or on the front door. There is nothing better for the home, family and soul like flowers when driving up to your home. Here’s some basic tips to get you started in the right direction.

When planting flowers in your yard, there’s several different factors you have to keep in mind. First thing you should look at is the USDA plant hardiness zones to make sure the money and time spent is worth it. Especially in the south. The southern states can handle most flowers during the spring but die the moment that summer heat comes.

Then you need to know their life distinction – perennials, annuals and biennials. Perennials are plants that live beyond three years with flowers blooming each season. Roses are a good example and roses can be hardy throughout the country. But, the higher north you go, roses can get much bigger, brighter and fuller. Look at Portland’s rose garden and all throughout the northwest. Azaleas are another good example. In spring they burst with a brilliant purple color for about two weeks then gone until next spring. But they are hardy bushes that create an even,  green look especially against the walls of your house throughout the year.

Annuals are those plants that live, die then seed in one season. In the south bluebonnets are a good example. Beautiful for those three weeks then die and hope those seeds replant the next season, which they do. Other good annuals are marigolds, trumpets and daisies.

The trick with annuals is the sun/shade factor. Most annuals need a good amount of shade. And if those plants are going to last a short time, money is going to be a factor especially when on a budget which this blog is for.

So, the BEST ADVICE for cheap annuals is buy the seeds and plant each year. Planting seeds can make plant designs and little more difficult but is best for the budget.

Biennials are those plants that have a life cycle of two years so some planning is needed for their first and second year blooming. Pansies are the most common type of a biennial flower.

Hope those help. We wanted to give you the tools to best pick your strategy so quit reading and go get dirty for a pretty yard.

Just another ShopRTO Outdoor Decorating tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Some Easter decorating ideas

Easter egg decorations

Some Easter decorating tips.

The Easter bunny is hopping down your bunny trail so time to get festive. When it comes to Easter home decorations, you have the themes of rabbits, eggs, flowers, pastels with a fun and lively flare.

Let’s start with eggs. There are so many different ways to decorate them. If you don’t like to dye then go sparkles. Mix the glue with the sparkles then brush on. Some people use permanent markers. Then there’s cloth patterns you can glue on. Use the Japanese Washi tape that have all sorts of designs. Cut them in different angles and stick them on.

Then there’s the traditional dyeing. That means all bets are off in so many different directions. Go the reliable and old fashioned way of 8 drops of food coloring in 1 cup of hot water and 1/4 cup of vinegar. Make sure the eggs are fully dry after dyeing before you try the next dye for that egg.

With the left over dye, dye some pages from an old book you’re never going to use and create homemade Easter wreaths. Use the equivalent of a 1/2 page and wrap into cones then paste together to create a ring on a paper plate then elaborate however you see fit. Or cut the pages into vertical strips and glue around the paper plate in whatever design you can imagine. Make sure you cut a hole in the middle of the paper plate or color it or put glitter on it. You can always take those strips of dyed paper and glue or tape them into rings and create an Easter paper chain to hang over the windows, doors or where ever inside. All of these tips are great for the kids to do.

How about an Easter door decoration using an umbrella turned upside down then filling with flowers? Never would have thought of that one. Got that one from Better Homes and Garden. On that note, outside door decorations can be used in so many ways. Use an Easter basket filled with flowers is the most festive and cost effective. Colored yarn is also good to add to Easter decorations.

These are just some ideas to get you started. Just remember to color it up through dyed eggs, flowers, home crafty designs, bunny rabbits and don’t forget the chocolate!

Just another ShopRTO Home Decorating and Holiday Tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Springtime is here! Some home decorating tips to spring into action.

Spring Home decorating

Spring into Decorating for the season.

Celebrate the spring season as it is officially here. Now, it may still be cold since this has been the harshest winter we’ve experienced in years but here’s some home decorating tips to spring into your home when it does finally start acting like spring.

Flowers and real plants. Time to got get a bunch of flowers and real plants to liven up the room. Nothing better in a celebration than flowers. And live plants are good for health and home. And it’s time to till the flower beds and vegetable gardens.

Paint your door a different color and make it something bright. That’s a fairly easy task and can make a huge difference. It’s also good for the psyche. Studies show positive change in the daily routine stimulates neurons in the brain making you more happy. Thus changing the color of your front door that is pleasing provokes a happy feeling as it is new and is one of the first things you see when driving up to your home.

Put the candles up for next fall. If you have been a staunch Shop RTO follower then you saw how candles make great winter decorations. It’s not winter so put them away and use the sunlight. Especially now that daylight savings time is here.

Change your bedroom pillow and blanket covers. Make them bright, flowery, colorful, sunny, etc.

And, most of all, hopefully retire that winter coat for awhile and enjoy some warmth and sunshine.

Just another ShopRTO Home Decorating and Outdoor Decorating tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Futuristic induction ovens are on the way to your kitchen

 

Induction oven tips

The introduction of the induction oven.

If you haven’t heard about induction ovens then here it is. Electric ovens transfer  heat from the burners to heat up the pan that then cooks the food. Thus, the burners cook the food. With induction ranges, the induction coils use magnetic fields that create a warming reaction in the steel-based pots or pans thus its the pan that cooks the food not the burner.

Well, so what? As long as the food gets cooked, who cares? Here’s why. Induction ovens can heat the pan much faster thus saving energy and money. Since the pan is cooking the food, when you lift the pan off the range, you can touch the range and it will be cool thus being way safer.

It is also very precise in its temperature control. Now you can really cook by numbers and have reliable control. Restaurants are on a fast track to induction because you can put them in a small space and still be safe and in code.

And, their prices recently dropped. Before, you could get a basic one for $3000. Now they’re getting into the $1700 range (pun intended). Which means they’re getting more affordable and, soon, every Joe Schmoe can afford one.

But, here’s a few things you need to know before thinking about changing to induction ranges. You can only cook with steel and iron cookware so you probably will have to buy a whole new cooking set. Secondly, you have to change cooking strategy. These things heat up so quickly that burning your meal can happen if not careful. But, that can be good as it can reduce cooking time significantly. Just better be on watch.

Nothing is immune to the technological revolution so be prepared for the introduction of the induction.

Just another ShopRTO kitchen appliance tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Is Blu Ray the final disc in the format war while we stream ourselves to the future?

Blu Ray Players being replaced by streaming

The future of Blu Ray?

You finally had your collection of VHS tapes. Then, guess what? DVDs. OK, now you have the best DVD collection even if you had to buy the same damn movies once again. OK, it’s blu ray and then you hear it’s 4K and 3D. Will the madness ever end? Apparently so, some say. But, according to history, most likely not.

The quality of broadcast which is heading to 4K will be handled through streaming and the ability of your TV to handle whatever the latest code is. That’s why many other electronic experts concede that blu ray won’t be the future but will last some more years. Many X-ers and baby boomers like things to hold and streaming video can get clogged, interrupted and frustrating at times. Really frustrating, actually. But millennials are streamers thus the future.

The real alignment is going to be the streaming capabilities ability to handle the 4K signals which means google fiber and its competitors laying down their cable lines. Streaming formats will need to be universal so all TVs can handle the signal.

And, then there’s the servers. They need to be able to deal with all of those formats and the huge files of broadcast information. TVs need to be 4K ready and productions need to be 4K produced. When all of those are in alignment, that will be the final nail in the blu ray coffin. Until then, keep those blu ray players and discs and enjoy ‘em while they last.

And, until then, keep being confused as hell regarding what and when to buy those consumer electronics that will let you watch quality shows. Geesh.

Just another ShopRTO HDTV tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Hot new furniture trends for 2014 – mod, high class and affordable

Furniture design trends

Go modern, high class and affordable!

Looking at the furniture shows throughout the U.S. and you can see that 2014 is one of those tipping point years where you can see a distinct change. One of the biggest changes is the wide latitude that designers and decorators have for your home. Another interesting one is the techno look that is affordable giving regular folk the chance to be mod if they so choose. Maybe, the Hunger Games are permeating our culture much more than books and movies.

Metallic leather is a hot item. It’s a shiny copper, silver and gold leather couch and recliners that can cost as little as $700. Shiny gold lamps, accessories with non-traditional curvature designs are now accessible to us regular Joes. It’s becoming apparent that the current furniture shopper and maker are in agreement that the “au-courant” look or in-style look should be available to all.

That’s a function of the millenial generation coming in droves into the purchasing power as they move out of their parents homes and expecting a certain standard of living look. As such, renting furniture is becoming a popular concept. Millenials don’t covet ownership as much as previous generations and, once again, expect a certain standard of living.

Now, all bets are off on matching furniture and accessories. Go wild and be in style.

Another is dining room tables. Your dining room table needs to make a statement. Whatever it is. Is the family eating together becoming more popular now, the reason? Or a matter of the dining room table typically being the center of the room thus the biggest chance to make your statement. Whether a full, glass top mod look or the all natural wood look, use that dining room table to tell all that enter who you are.

Another are eco-friendly furniture. Furniture made from sustainable wood and not from rain forests. Furniture made from recycled metal and glass. And color finishes that are water based and not petroleum. That’s another effect from the millenials who take the eco-impact very seriously.

Glamor and pleats are in. Another repercussion of the all-bets-are-off decorating style today. A pleats sided couch next to a metallic leather recliner with an organic shaped, wooden dining room table and you’re in the in. Welcome to 2014, homebodies, and have some decorating fun.

Just another ShopRTO Home Decorating and Furniture Tips.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Do you like your Cable TV provider? Will it matter? Are their days numbered?

Cable TV has the lowest customer service rating

Is cable TV getting “netflixed”.

I know this may surprise you but the cable tv industry is one of the least liked industries in America. And, according to recent numbers, their days may also be. But the debate rages on.

With the recent merger of Comcast and Time Warner, some experts say that will give the new mega-corp the ability to dictate the industry thus securing its stranglehold of bad customer experience. Others, though, say that Cable TV is being “Netflixed” as the Internet is coming with superpowers to topple the paper tiger. Look at Google Fiber and Apple TV.

A recent survey show that in the past month, more than 200 billion online videos were viewed including real, full-length TV shows. 83% of viewers, ages 18-29, say they watch “some, most, or all of their shows online.” And it’s not just a millenial phenomenon. More Americans are watching videos online than on their TV. 58% say they no longer need their TV at all.

Add to the fact that within three years, Google Fiber will have Internet speed 100X faster with the ability to broadcast video without interruption. With Internet broadcast, you’ll be able to pay just for the programs that you want and won’t be held hostage to what the cable companies make you purchase.

Plus, the computer gives the viewer a place as a multi-media device for TV/movie watching, checking e-mail, facebook, websites all in one sitting with one device.

So cable companies are scrambling knowing that this outcome could be. Maybe that’s why the merger happened. It’s easier to merge than improve customer service. Here’s some ShopRTO advice if you don’t like your Cable provider. Call your Cable company’s cancellation department with a deal from their competitor and tell them if they do not match the competitor’s price, you’re leaving. Watch how you get that customer service you should have been receiving all along.

Just another ShopRTO lifestyle and HDTV tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Will renting and rent to own gallery art for the home catch on?

Rent to own art by Keith Davis

Painting by gallery artist Keith Davis.

Renting and rent to own “high art” is nothing new. Galleries in L.A., Chicago and Seattle have been doing it successfully for years. Traditional rent to own stores have been renting to own art for decades. But, is now the time for gallery-level art to hit national distribution and demand? One company, GetArtUp, is testing the timing.

The Y generation that is now coming into their independence have a higher sense of their standard of living that lends itself to a renters attitude. GetArtUp is the first (that ShopRTO knows of) that is taking the web to reach out to the country to help decorate homes with original art.

Based out of San Francisco, GetUpArt feels good about their prospect with the launch “going well!”. They’re trying to keep the concept simple by offering art that is under $10,000 and at a standard $55 monthly rental.

If the customer wants to own then 50% of their previous payments go towards ownership. The 50% formula is a little different to traditional rent to own that offers a 50% of the remaining payments towards ownership.

GetArtUp also works as traditional rent to own where you’re never obligated to make the next payment and can return at any time for any reason.

Renting art has always been a successful concept but never nationally at a gallery level. Renting home furniture and art gives consumers and decorators a great advantage of the “try before you buy” option especially when it comes to art. And swapping out art on a periodic basis gives a great decorating element of a fresh,  new home each time a new piece is delivered.

ShopRTO will be looking closely at this concept. If it works, it could create a whole new element to home decorating, access to gallery art and the image of renting and rent to own for the home.

Just another ShopRTO Home Decorating tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Make Home Safety a Priority With These Easy Steps

HomeSafetyTry out this checklist to make sure you’ve got all the tools tools at your fingertips to ensure a safe home.

Home safety is a major concern. This article gives you a checklist of safety issues in your home that you can easily take care of.

A lot goes into turning a house into a home—and one of the most important parts is making sure it’s safe. Thankfully, there are many easy things you can do to help prevent accidents in your home, beginning with our checklist of safety tips.

Home Safety Tips Fire Extinguisher

Place a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and every  floor of the home. Read the instructions before you need to use it. Check the extinguisher gauges often, and occasionally turn it upside down to make sure the contents don’t become compacted at the bottom.

Smoke Alarms

Install battery-powered smoke alarms for early warnings of smoke in your home.
Check your local building codes to make sure you have the right kind of smoke detector and enough of them for the size and layout of the home.
Place detectors in bedrooms and install battery-powered carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home.

Tip: When you change your clocks for daylight savings time, replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and check fire extinguisher gauges to make sure they’re full.

First Aid Kit

Keep a well-stocked first aid kit in a centrally located spot in your home.
It should include activated charcoal, adhesive tape, antiseptic ointment, adhesive bandages, blanket, cold pack, disposable gloves, gauze, hand cleaner,   plastic bags, scissors, tweezers and a small flashlight with extra batteries.

Appliances

Make sure all appliances are functioning correctly and if not, have them checked by a service professional.  All ranges must have an anti-tip bracket installed to prevent the appliance from coming off center and “tipping” over causing bodily harm or injury. If you don’t have one contact the manufacturer or landlord and have one installed. All rent to own ranges will have anti-tip devices installed upon delivery, but it never hurts to check and make sure.

General Tips

  •  If you have children, or children that visit often, place plastic covers over electrical outlets.
  •  Store cleaning products and other chemicals out of reach or within locked cabinets and drawers.
  •   Keep the phone number of your local Poison Control Center in an easily accessible, obvious spot, like a household chore list or bulletin board.\
  •  Install ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) electrical outlets in the kitchen, bathroom and around any water source. They can help prevent    electrocutions, electric shocks and some electric fires.
  • Keep electronics away from sinks, bathtubs and showers.
  • Investigate stains or cracks that appear in ceilings. They could be signs of a water leak, and if not taken care of, the ceiling could weaken. If the problem is serious, call a professional.
  • Take a tour around your home looking in and around everything for potential hazards, like old appliances, fraying wires or overloaded electrical outlets.
  • Fix or add padding to pieces of furniture that have sharp edges.
  • Before having visitors over, especially young children, think about what kids might get into, especially at their level.

FULL STORY

Just another ShopRTO Home Lifestyle tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

4K TVs and 60″ LCDs prices have dropped. Which one would you buy?

60" TVs and 4K TV are affordable

HD TVs prices have dropped.

There’s a technology timeline video posted on the web in 2012 about how some of today’s technology will be obsolete within four years. TVs are a great example. The only thing stopping the next generation from coming quicker is how TV programs are being produced.

So don’t worry if you’re looking at 4K TVs because the programming is just around the corner and the prices are getting lower and lower.

Once thousands of dollars, 4K TVs can be found as low as $700. And those will only get lower as the TV manufacturing business represents the most fierce of competitors. And, as stated before, the onset of 4K TV programming is about to become more and more popular.

So, what to do? Prices are the best ever so if you need a new TV now then plan for the future and buy that 4K TV. If you still have a good HD TV then wait as long as possible. Prices will drop and programming will become the norm.

But, wait. There’s more to the TV choosing equation. What about the 60″ LCDs? They’re dropping in price at the same rate. 60″ LCDs can be found as low as $700 and 55″ as low as $600. Also, some people say that there is little difference between the picture quality of 4K HD broadcast vs HD broadcast.

Or, position yourself to always have the latest HDTV technology and rent one until the next hot item comes and swap ‘em out. That’s what rent to own stores do. Consumers are already doing it with computers as their technology changes so rapidly. Or if you’re unsure which TV to buy, go to rent to own and try before you buy. You end up getting what you want and never obligated to any rental terms beyond that one payment.

So, if you’re on the market for a new TV then March is a good month for both 4K TVs and really big TVs. Now it’s a matter of your taste, preference and, in regards to the 60″ TVs, space.

Just another ShopRTO HDTV tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

ShopRTO Releases Spring Cleaning Tips to Make the Annual Chore a Fun and Productive Event

Spring cleaning tips

Make spring cleaning fun!

Austin, TX (PRWEB) February 26, 2014 -

Spring is coming and ShopRTO publishes tips to help families make the most of spring cleaning.

Winter is coming to an end signaling the annual theme of spring cleaning the home. ShopRTO issues the following tips to help families make the annual chore as fun and productive as possible.

Designate the day and time far in advance so the family knows and prepares. Prepare music and snacks to create an atmosphere reflecting an event rather than a chore. Schedule breaks to enjoy those snacks as a group but do not linger too long to lose the momentum.

Create a rewarding finish as an incentive and something to look forward at the end. It could be fine dining for the couple or family night at the nearest pizza place and movie theater. Incorporate a fun awards program at the end celebration with speeches, toasts and prizes for the hardest worker and such.

Create competition amongst the chores such as who can donate the most old clothes from the closet to goodwill. Make sure to include prizes for winners to further enhance the experience.

For the kids, create a scavenger hunt where the one who finds and deposits the most trash within five minutes wins a prize. Or hide treats, stickers or money under items to find when dusting. And let them use the squirt gun when washing windows, counter tops and such.

After the day is done, create a point system that rewards or punishes those who keep the home clean in the following weeks as an incentive.

ShopRTO and its e-newsletter are committed to helping families live a better home life and offers tips such as these spring cleaning tips. To view more tips and articles, visit ShopRTO.com and sign up for their weekly e-newsletter.

About ShopRTO.com:
ShopRTO provides affordable home decorating and lifestyle tips for Americans and when rent to own may be right for their home shopping choices.

Tax season is here, know the basics before you file

TaxtimeDepending on your situation, tax season can either be like an extra holiday — complete with a check from the government, or like going to the dentist — complete with an outstanding balance owed to the government.

In either case staying on top of current tax codes and tax lingo is key to filing accurate returns.

Key terms:

Familiarize yourself with the following key terms and what they mean. These words are sprinkled throughout your tax return. Knowing exactly what they mean is critical.

Earned income – Salaries, wages, tips and professional fees, including taxable scholarships and fellowship grants.

Unearned income – Investment-type income like interest on your savings account, dividends and capital gains, as well as unemployment compensation. 
Gross income – All income you received in the form of money, goods, property and services that is not exempt from taxes.

Exemptions – A predetermined amount of money you can deduct from your taxable income for basic living expenses. You, as an individual, may be an exemption, and dependent children (which you probably are to your parents) qualify as exemptions.

Standard deduction – A set amount of money that the federal government gives you if you meet certain stipulations. It differs according to marital status.

Itemized deductions – There are six main categories of expenses that can be deducted: medical and dental, taxes, interest, charitable contributions, and casualty and theft losses. Itemized deductions reduce the amount of tax you owe. 
W-2 Forms – Wage-income forms that you receive from employers in order to prepare your taxes.
Filing status – Whether you are single, married or head of household. There are several sub-categories within each of these as well.

Deciding Whether (and What) to File

Depending on your gross income, you may or may not be required to file. For example, in 2008, all single individuals under 65 with a minimum gross income of $8,950 were required to file. Even if your parents (or someone else) can claim you as a dependent, you may be required to file if you meet certain income conditions.

When determining your income, be sure to include all taxable income you receive. If your scholarships are not taxable, you need not include them in your income. (Non-taxable scholarships carry no service requirements and are used to cover education-related expenses).

Choosing a Form

To file your taxes, you need to fill out one of three basic forms:

There are a number of different types of income tax returns. You must use the tax form that corresponds with your particular situation and allows you to claim the income, deductions, credits, etc. that apply to you. The most common types of income tax returns include the following:

Form 1040 (U.S. Individual Income Tax Return) (a.k.a. “the long form)
Form 1040A (U.S. Individual Income Tax Return) (a.k.a. “the short form)
Form 1040EZ (Income Tax Return for Single and Joint Filers With No Dependents)
Form 1040NR (U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return)
Form 1040NR-EZ (U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Nonresident Aliens With No Dependents)

IRS Tax Form 1040 (U.S. Individual Income Tax Return)

Form 1040 is the standard federal income tax form used to report an individual’s income. It is also known as “the long form” because it is more extensive than the shorter 1040A and 1040EZ Tax Forms.

More here

Before filling out your 1040 or visiting your local tax preparation expert, be sure and have the following documents on hand:

Proof of identification

Filing status and residency status

Social Security Numbers for you, your spouse, and any dependents

Dates of birth for you, your spouse, and any dependents

A copy of your past tax return

Statements of wages earned (e.g., W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, etc.)

Statements of interest/dividends from banks, brokerages, etc.

Proof of any tax credits, tax deductions, or tax exclusions

Your bank account number and routing number (for Direct Deposit)

Income The IRS defines “income” as any money that you receive during the given tax year. Most people can simply review their W-2s (Wage and Tax Statements) to determine their annual income. Taxable income, generally speaking, is the gross income of an individual or corporation, less any allowable tax deductions. It’s important to realize that taxable income can encompass more than just your annual salary.

Taxable income can include profits from stocks or real estate sales, as well as winnings from the lottery, betting on horse races, or any casino (domestic or abroad). Even the cash value of bartered items is considered taxable income. Income that may be part of your gross income but is not identified as “taxable income” would include: child support, proceeds from life insurance policies, inheritances, Workers Compensation payments, Welfare benefits, compensation awarded as a result of physical injury, education scholarships or grants, and income paid to your retirement account (either a 401k or IRA, up to a certain amount).

Overall, taxable income is that portion of your gross income which is subject to taxation by the governing authority, minus any allowable itemized or standardized deductions.

Your taxable income is basically the amount of your income that is subject to income tax. [What qualifies as “taxable income” is defined in Section 63 of the Internal Revenue Code, and “gross income” is defined in Section 61 of the Internal Revenue Code.]

Adjusted Gross Income

Your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is defined as your gross income from all taxable sources, minus certain allowable tax deductions. These “allowable deductions” (also known as “above-the-line deductions”) may include unreimbursed business expenses, medical expenses, alimony, moving expenses, or deductible retirement plan contributions.

Your AGI is important when determining your overall tax liability because it can affect your tax bracket, how much you can contribute to qualified retirement accounts, and which tax credits you may qualify for.

On the other hand, “gross income” refers to all income that you received in the form of money, goods, property, and services that is not exempt from tax. This can include any income from sources outside of the United States, as well as income from the sale of your home.

Knowing the difference between deductions and credits — such as the Earned Income Credit (EIC) or Child Tax Credit will make a big difference in your final tax bill or refund so make sure you understand these thoroughly and if not, find someone who does.

Do It Yourself or Pay an Expert?

Filing on one’s own can be intimidating the first time out, but there are plenty of resources provided by the IRS to walk you through the process. If this is outside your comfort zone or you are not finding the answers to your questions, do not hesitate to consult a tax preparer.

Many can be found this time of year locally but rates and fees may differ so shop around. In either case be sure and ask for references and make sure the operation will still be open after filing season in case you or the IRS has any follow up questions.

More detailed information here

Just another ShopRTO personal finance tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Get back in the closet. And organize!

 

Spring Cleaning tips

Clean your closet as first step to spring cleaning.

It’s getting that time – spring cleaning season and the first step is organizing your closet. Organizing your closet is the first step when organizing the rest of your home.

Go through all of your clothes and accessories and get rid of unused clothes, shoes and accessories. Once purging is complete, organize the rest by how you get dressed in the morning. You can also organize by color which will help your closet look appealing and your everyday routine easier.

Organize clothes by use as well. Those that you use frequently, hang or place at eye level and in the middle. Those that are used infrequently hang or place at the higher levels and on the side.

Use boxes, shelves or cubby holes. You can buy them if you don’t have them or make them. A lot of space is wasted in closets. Step back several feet with the closet doors open and you’ll be able to see where the free space is.

If you have swing out doors, use the back of them to hang items like robes or hanging cloth holders for shoes and what not. 

There’s a list to ponder but the first step is having the ultimate courage to battling the closet monster and getting it clean and sober. You’ll be thankful when looking at a coordinated, organized and clutter free closet that will hopefully last more than a week or so.

Just another ShopRTO home decorating tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

How to decorate your wall with great artwork

Home decorating tips on hanging art.

The high art of hanging art.

Add your own style and personality to your home with some tips on how to decorate your walls with artwork. Before you start, though, keep these arranging and hanging guidelines in mind.

Make sure the artwork is at a good height. Most people tend to hang art too high. The center of the art should hang around 60″ to 65″.

If you’re decorating with several pieces or creating a grouping then you need to plan your arrangement. Start by placing the pieces on the floor and moving them around until you find the grouping that you like the best.

Try different grouping styles. A traditional method is the symmetrical art arrangement. Draw an imaginary line down the wall then mirror the arrangement on each side. Then there’s the salon style arrangement where you position your most prominent in the center, eye level then work around that central piece.

Once you’ve found your arrangement that you like, cut out shapes of paper equal to the size of the items that you want to hang, then use painter’s tape to place each paper shape on the wall in the arrangement you created on the floor. The tape won’t damage the wall and you can make sure your design is what you want before you put nails on the wall.

Mark each paper template at the place where your nail will be needed to hang the corresponding item. Pound nails into the wall through the paper templates at the marked spot, hang your artwork and enjoy.

Just another ShopRTO Home Decoratin’ tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

I don’t do windows, my robot does

Robots in the home.

Let a robot clean your windows.

The robot revolution is on its way and robot window cleaners are here. There’s already robot vacuum cleaners and vertical robot cleaners that will crawl across your wall and ceiling. Now you can wash your windows with a robot.

If you have tall windows or too many or don’t want to waste the time then $300 – $400 will get you a square shaped window cleaner that cleans, wipes and dries. You fill up the device with cleaning liquid and take out the cloth to clean and that’s about it.

The window cleaners and other robot cleaners are well on their way to becoming affordable, effective and popular. I hear through the technological grapevine that feeding your pets and watering you plants will soon be robotized. The Jetsons are on their way.

Just another ShopRTO Home Living a lil’ easier tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Save your wet cell phone with rice

iPhone-Rice-650x435Cell phones and water don’t mix. Yet as phones become more and more a part of our lives, an encounter with water seems only a slip away. Whether its a dip in the pool, an unintentional voyage through the laundry cycle or tumble into the picturesque lake you just had to document for your Facebook wall, chances are it will happen to you.

Though it’s never a happy moment when your phone takes a swim, staying calm may be your best remedy so try not to panic.

Just because your phone got wet doesn’t mean it’s gone for good. Follow these steps and you have a pretty decent shot at bringing it back to life.

  1. Take your phone out of the water. NOW.
    This should be pretty self-explanatory, but the longer your phone spends submerged, the greater chance there is of water seeping into open ports and really mucking things up. But just because you accidentally spent the entire day at the beach with your phone in your pocket doesn’t mean it can’t be revived. There’s still hope. Just less.
  2. Don’t press any buttons.
    I know it seems tempting, but pressing a button on your phone can let any residual moisture seep through, increasing your risk of damage.
  3. Dry the outside of the phone off.
    Quick. Grab some paper towels. Reach for the ShamWow. Roll a bunch of toilet paper into a ball or take the shirt off your back. Basically, do whatever you need to do to dry the phone off as thoroughly as possible.
  4. Remove the internal components.
    If your phone has a removable pack banel, take it off. Grab the battery, your SIM card, and/or your microSD card and dry them off completely. After all, even if you can’t save your phone, hopefully you’ll be able to save some of the valuable information you had stored inside. Place the components on a dry paper towel and put them off to the side.
  5. Give it a few shakes.
    There still might be some water hiding in the headphone jack or beneath any physical keys. Gently shake the phone to dispel as much of it as you can.
  6. Stick it in some rice.
    Now that you’ve gotten rid of all the water on the surface, it’s time to suck out the rest of the moisture you can’t see. Reach for the nearest bag of rice. Pour the rice into a container, and bury the phone and components somewhere in the middle. Move the phone around every couple of hours, just to make sure gravity is doing its thing.
  7. Wait. Continue waiting. Then wait some more.
    The best thing you can do at this point is to give your phone time to dry. The longer you wait, the greater the chance your phone will live to make another call. The minimum amount of time you should wait is a full 24 hours. You’re better off giving it 48 hours, or even 72, if you can hold out that long. It’s going to feel really strange being without a phone for so long. Use this time to catch up on all those things you’ve been meaning to do.
  8. The moment of truth.
    Take your phone out of the bag of rice. Dust off any starch, put all the pieces back together, and try to power it up. Hopefully your phone will turn on. If it doesn’t, you can try putting it back into the bag/rice for another day or so. But after that, if it still doesn’t I’m afraid you’ve got a dead phone on your hands. But check to see if the SIM card and/or microSD card still work if you have access to another phone. Hopefully you’ve managed to save at least something.
  9. Go to the books.
    I can’t verify this, but the chances of you winning the lottery are probably greater than your phone’s warranty covering water damage. Still, it can’t hurt to locate the original paperwork and check it out.
  10. Planning for the future.
    So how can you prevent this from happening again? Easy. Stop taking the phone into the bathroom. If that’s simply not an option, you can always purchase a waterproof case. Nowadays you can find one for just about every type of smartphone there is, though there aren’t many out there for feature phones. And if this is the sort of thing that happens to you a lot, you may want to think about getting a water-resistant smartphone. You still won’t be able to go deep sea diving with it, but it’ll almost certainly bounce back from a quick dip in the pool.

Original Post

 

Just another ShopRTO Home Lifestyle tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

ShopRTO’s tips to keeping your home warm and within budget

Simple tips to staying warm.

Sticks and Socks will warm my bones.

With the recent polar vortexes blasting through the country, ShopRTO.com offers affordable tips to stay warm.

With the recent harsh winter storms sweeping through the U.S., American’s gas bills are heating up to costly amounts. ShopRTO posts its top ten tips to staying warm without breaking the bank.

Check the sealing in key spots. Heat and air conditioning is wasted through windows seals, outside doors, cabinets and attic hatches. Inspect those spots and seal appropriately.

Check the attic insulation. Attic insulation should be at the same level with the  joists. Add some if need be but insulation doesn’t need to be higher than the floor joists. Use the Energy Star tips regarding DIY sealing and insulation.

Close vents in those rooms that are not used often. Many rooms are rarely used thus wasting valuable energy and money. Closing vents in those rooms will save money significantly.

Some simple tips ShopRTO recommends include wearing thick, wool socks. A person’s body doesn’t feel as cold when their feet are warm.

Place a rug down on hardwood or tile floors. Rugs help insulate the cold floors and leaves something warm under the feet.

Close shades on the shady side and open the blinds on the sunny sides.

Use the oven for the meals as the oven heat warms up the room and use blankets when sitting or laying around for long periods of time such as watching TV or sleeping.

ShopRTO’s best tips, though, are “hot cocoa“, “snuggling with the kitty cat or puppy dog,” and if that’s still not enough, “move to Florida.”

About ShopRTO.com:
ShopRTO provides affordable home decorating and lifestyle tips for Americans and when rent to own may be right for their home shopping choices.

Make a special Valentine’s Day at home

Home lifestyle tips for Valentine's day

Make a special Valentine’s day at home.

As long as you make Valentine’s day special then it doesn’t matter where you spend it. So why not make it special at home?

No waits, crowds or loud noises. And it might be different than the traditional going out thus making a home Valentine’s day the special one.

If you’re going to stay home and don’t want to look cheap or lazy then you better make it special so use these tips to guide you.

Start off with breakfast in bed. Breakfast in bed is being treated like royalty. But, make sure you use the good china, have a pretty flower and cloth napkins. Placing a nice or cute photo of you two or the family on the tray is always a sweet and personal touch.

Have a fireside picnic. Move the coffee table or small table close to the fireplace. Place a nice table cloth over and serve as fine dining. If you don’t have a fireplace then use candles and be smart with the design with different sizes or types. Scented candles are nice too. Utilize roses of course.

Rose pedals. Sprinkle rose pedals on the table or on the pathway to the bedroom or bathroom for the nice bath. Rose pedals on top of a nice, hot bath that you prepare makes a special gesture. There are many creative ways to use rose pedals and represents the perfect touch for the day.

Music. Make sure you turn all TVs off and play some music. Make a special playlist on the IPod that represent the music you two love along with some good ole fashioned love songs.

Have conversation. And not about the upcoming basketball game that your spouse cares nothing about. Re-live wonderful memories or talk about future ones such as planning a fun vacation. The key to a special conversation is to plan it. You obviously cannot script it but you can always plan the themes that will dictate an intimate conversation.

Make it personal. It’s one thing to have all of the Valentine Day icons but making it personal means it’s really special. One way is to create or find the photo album and have it laying on coffee table, couch or some place strategic. Take a walk down memory lane and watch the return on investment you’ll get that will way outweigh any flowers bought.

These are just a few tips to spending a wonderful Valentine’s day at home. Just remember that the real key is to make it personal and put the right amount of effort to demonstrate that your loved one is truly special to you.

Just another ShopRTO Lifestyle and Holiday Tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Broken New Year’s financial resolutions? Get back on track!

New_five_dollar_bill

Only a month in and you’ve broken your New Year’s financial resolutions

We all have good intentions, and then we mess up. Chances are you’ve already broken your vows to do better money-wise in 2014 and you’re not alone. But never fear, it’s not too late to get back on track with these helpful tips.

Broken vow #1: I will not live beyond my means.

What went wrong: You hit all those after-holiday sales, your credit card balances are rising and your bills are out of control.

Put the brakes on: Start by reviewing your budget over the past year to see where your money actually went, say personal finance experts. You could easily cut out up to $100 per month on unnecessary expenditures.

Broken vow #2: I will pay down my credit card debt.

Oops: You just couldn’t avoid the temptation of pulling that plastic out of your wallet. Instead of cutting your debt, your balance got even bigger.

Get plastic smart: Removing all but one low-interest credit card from your wallet, then take out a piece of paper and create four columns. List every card you owe money on, the amount, APR, and the dollar amount of the interest you pay each month just to service that debt.

Broken vow #3: I will start saving this year!

What went wrong: After paying your bills, there’s nothing left.

Get money smart: Think small. One of the biggest money blunders people make is keeping all of their dollars in one place, say consumer experts. When you don’t separate savings accounts from checking accounts, you’re more likely to dip into those funds and lose track of your goals.

Broken vow #4: I will pay more attention to my investments.

What went wrong: You have better things to do and it really doesn’t interest you.

Get money smart: Set firm dates to review your investments regularly and stick to the plan.

Broken money vow #5: I will finally get around to getting a will.

What went wrong: So many less depressing things to take care of?

Get money smart: Consider what’s at stake if you don’t have a will. The state – not you – will determine who gets what when you are gone.

FULL STORY 

Another ShopRTO Financial tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Virtual reality games are coming home

Virtual Reality computer games for the home.

Let your Avatar begin!

The next generation of virtual reality computer games are just around the corner so you better have your Avatar ready. Because other worlds will be waiting for you.

The Oculus Rift recently made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and is creating quite the stir for those computer gamers needing more. And, it looks like they may finally get it. With the advances in display, sensor and render technology virtual reality consoles may hit the consumer market at the end of this year.

Virtual reality games have been in its infancy for the past decade but took tens of thousands of dollars to buy and millions to make. Now that investment is paying off. The first version of consoles will cost around $1200 and then there’s the issue of how good is the software and its price.

Then there’s two different directions this VR technology can go. Those that are motion based using motion devices where you really move outside emulating moving inside the game or you are running through the world at great pace as you’re sitting on the couch like a blob with a controller. It will depend on the consumer and technology to see which one hits the ground running first (pun intended).

If you look at the history of computer games, though, the consumer demand is so high that bugs will be fixed. Then different companies will come up with different versions. Then software gaming companies will explode with every type of gaming experience you can think of. Then prices will drop. Then another gaming revolution will hit and, voila, another gaming universe begins.

In the meantime, I can’t wait to put a headset on, sit on my couch that turns into a spaceship and play asteroids.

Just another ShopRTO Computer Gaming tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Outdoor winter decorations after the holidays

Outdoor Winter Decorations

Lights make for great Winter decorations.

Holiday decorations are easy for outdoor decorating in the dark, bleak months of Winter but what about post-Christmas? Still need to keep the outdoors as fresh and pleasant as possible especially when the Winter blues are really weighing heavy.

Two of the most prominent themes are evergreen and light. The latest trends have been the winter urns and night lanterns. There are all sorts of winter urn decorations using the combination of evergreen bushes. decorative branches that are laced with pine cones and colored beads.

There are also many different kind of pots and urns to use that can be easily switched out according to seasons. And you can find those at any Lowes or Home Depot.

And for the evening, lights are the best way to brighten up the front of your home and hopefully even your spirit. The lantern cases in the Winter is usually bright colors. Many are white especially in those areas of much snow.

Strands of white lights are always good especially when aligned on a walkway so it looks winter decorative rather than being lazy and never taking down the Christmas lights.

In the south, there are many decorative flowers that are hearty and beautiful. Pansies and violets can be the most vivid. And then there’s sweet pea, honeywort, calendula, sweet alyssum, jasmine and honeysuckle.

But the best of the best outdoor winter decorations are snowmen and, if you’re really good, ice sculptures. But they won’t last that long unless you’re bunking with Santa in the North Pole.

Just another ShopRTO Outdoor and Home Decorating tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Upgrade your Super Bowl party with a big screen TV rental

Rent the big screen TV through rent to own

Go Super Bowl crazy and rent the big screen!

Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest party of the year for many Americans and rent to own stores could help make that party even bigger. Many Americans don’t know that rent to own stores are also rental stores. They’ll deliver, set up and pick up the Big Screen TV making it convenient and attractive for the Super Bowl party.

But make sure you secure that 60″ HD TV now because they can go quickly. If you do a one month rental then you can get the big screen for both the upcoming NFL Championship games and the Super Bowl while making sure you have that big screen for the big day. ShopRTO did some research, as should all consumers, regarding renting a HD or Plasma TV for the Super Bowl party.

Comparing several rent to own stores, renting a 60″ TV for one week can cost $35 -$50 depending on which brand. But, some rent to own stores only do monthly or have a one-month minimum rental so the monthly rentals for a 60″ Flat Panel TV can cost $120 to $180 per month.

If you go with the monthly rental then have them deliver the TV the Friday before the NFL Championship games. You get the big TV for the three biggest NFL games of the year and get to host two great parties. Also, split the rental costs with some of your friends/co-hosts and the price is that much better.

The NFL Championship games are the weekend of January 18-19 and the Super Bowl is on February 2nd beginning at 5:30 PM (CT).

Make sure you call ahead and compare different rent to own store’s prices and policies. During January and February, rent to own stores will have great sales and specials which could help reduce the rental price. No matter what, though, a Super Bowl party only works if there is lots of good food, mead and people who are there to just have fun, watch the commercials, the half-time show and then there’s a game in all of that as well.

Another ShopRTO having fun with a TV tip.

 

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Making family chores fun

choresChores and fun may sound like opposing ideas, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Ask any parent: It’s all in the approach. The  more parents can bring the kind of energy they bring to playtime to chore-time, the easier time they will have getting the kids to buy in. Of course, adjustments must be made for age differences, but the basic premise remains the same. Stay calm and keep it light!

Here are some helpful starting places:

1. Hide treats, stickers, or pennies in, on, or under knickknacks, then ask your child to dust. She gets to enjoy the rewards only when everything is dusted.

2. Post individual lists of chores kids can do (one for each child in your family). Whenever your child accomplishes a task, have her mark it with a sticker. Whoever has the most stickers at the end of the week gets the Helper of the Week award.

3. Play “Go Fish” with a basket of clean socks. Divide the socks among the players, leaving a pile to draw from. Each player, in turn, holds up a sock and asks another player if he has the mate. If not, the asking player must take a sock from the top of the draw pile. When finished, the player with the most pairs wins.

4. Turn any socks that stay single into child-friendly dust mitts. Insert child’s hand into clean but dampened sock and use it to remove dust from houseplants and furniture.

5. Have a scavenger hunt. Make a list of everyday items (newspapers, magazine, shoes, etc.). Set a timer for 5 minutes, then have kids collect stray items throughout the house. The winner is the child who picks up the most (and returns them to their rightful spots).

6. After dinner, do a “10-minute Tidy.” Set a timer and have family members scatter through the house putting away the day’s clutter.

7. Appoint someone to be Inspector D. Clutter. Armed with a laundry basket and plastic police badge from the dress-up box, this person roams the house and puts stray belongings into clutter “jail” (the basket). To set an item free, its owner (Mom and Dad included!) must do a chore.

8. Turn a bucket into a personalized cleaning caddy. Use permanent marker to write your child’s name on it and have him decorate its with other drawings. Store supplies such as sponge, dustrag and roll of paper towels, etc.

9. Show them the money? Some experts believe allowance should be reserved for teenagers. School-aged children will easily get behind the idea that chores are something you do as a member of the family — not for money. They’ll be excited just to show off their skill at completing a task.

Just another ShopRTO Having Some Fun in the Home tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

How to pick the right bunk bed

Bunk beds for the kids can be fun.

Choose the right bunk bed for your home.

There’s nothing funner than bunk beds when you’re a kid. The one who gets the top bunk is king of the mountain and let the games begin as they are boundless. Bunk beds are also good for college dorms and guest rooms as they are space savers, big time.

So, if you’re looking for bunk beds for your home, use these tips to make sure you buy the right one.

There are two different types of bunk beds – lofted and basic. And many sub categories within each of those types. Basic bunk beds are twin over twin or twin over full size. Loft style can be a bit more complex with a lofted bed over a study center or a fold out futon. Some can even turn into a three sleeper for sleep overs or to take out to the family cabin when you need to accommodate many family members.

Find the right style and there are plenty to choose from so spend some time doing your homework. Again, there are plenty to choose from.

You may want the kind that can be separated into two twin beds to give you that flexibility. There are the metal frames or all wood. Then there’s the cottage or country style look. Many kids want themed-looking bunk beds that look like a doll house or castle. And many have slides on them. How cool is that?

Measure the space both between the beds but also from the ceiling. The general rule of thumb is you want 2 to 2 1/2 feet of room between the bunks and ceiling. And that’s measured from the top of the mattress. That should give enough room to sit but, for some, not all the way.

Most bunk beds are 5 1/2 feet tall so fit fine for the average room. There are many furniture places and websites where you can customize heights especially if the bunk beds will be for adults. Again, measure the height of the room to prevent your bunk bed into a bonk bed. Measure floor space as well if you’re looking for those bunk beds that have a wider bottom to accommodate the ladder or for drawers and such.

Make sure there are guard rails on the top. Most will already have it but make sure anyway.

Rent to own stores have bunk beds if you need to rent one for guests that plan to stay for a month or more. In fact, many times red cross or disaster relief organizations will go to rent to own stores to rent bunk beds to help house those displaced from a hurricane, flood or tornado. That’s where rent to own really becomes a great option in the marketplace.

Just another ShopRTO home decorating and bedroom tip.

 

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

De-clutter your home for the new year

home organizing tips

Get organized for the new year.

One of the most common new year resolutions is to get organized so ShopRTO wants to help with the following tips:

1. One room at a time. Pick one room and stick with that room until finished. Don’t zig zag all over the home trying to do a little here and there. That strategy can overwhelm you to the point of just giving up. Find a room and, even in that room, find one section and start with that section then the next in the room until all is finished. Going section by section in one room, each room at a time turns an enormous task into many simple and easy tasks and a nice organized house.

2. Go with the “One in, one out” rule especially after Christmas. Every new item that goes into the home means a similarly sized item needs to be thrown out. Whether it’s a new tie or a new couch. Get rid of something of the same size and do it immediately otherwise (guess what?), your house becomes cluttered and with a bunch of junk you don’t use anyway.

3. Get a step stool. With one of those small but sturdy, fold-up stools you now have the reach to make those top shelves useful. If you can’t reach it then you don’t use it so if you haven’t used those items on the top shelf, junk them and put useful items up there and have them accessible with a step ladder that makes the top shelf actually useful.

4. Think charitable. Do you know how many families need home items from clothes to furniture so donate them. Solves two problems by clearing up space in your home and helping out a needy family. Oh, make sure you get a tax deductible receipt for the donation by the way. Why not?

5. Trust a trusted friend for those sentimental items. We can be so over-emotional about keeping that scrap of paper where our child pasted its first macaroni to but is it really a true memorabilia? A trusted friend will have the guts to tell you you’re a moron and to throw it away while keeping the true sentimental items. So invite your best friend over for a clutter intervention when it comes to the sentimental items.

Just another ShopRTO Get Your Life Organized and Home-in-Order tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Does your house dream in color? Here’s some ShopRTO color tips.

Tips for picking colors for your home

A little colorful advice for your home interior

Repainting a house can be a daunting task unless you hire it out of course. But the real work, effort and headache is picking the colors that will stay on those walls for some time. So take these tips with you to the paint store when ready to take that colorful leap.

Don’t get the blues for blue. They’re the latest neutral color. Try turning to blue and use it the same way some people might use brown or black. For example, paint a room blue, then mix blue upholstered pieces with white or gray pieces and add touches of yellow, green, and orange.

And when looking for neutrals, make sure you go one step more colorful than what you see on the paint chip.  That’s how you can ease your way out of the “safe” neutrals and remember most colors look darker on walls.

If you’re going with the traditional gray, notice that each gray as a hint of color or undertone. A gray with a blue undertone works well with lighter colored furniture such as white and tan. Whereas a gray with green undertones work well dark wood finishes. Grays with warm undertones means you’re at least veering away from the standard beige. And, besides, experts say the warm undertones advance peace and harmony. And we can all use some peace and harmony on our walls and in our homes.

If you’re really going out on a sunny limb and go with yellow, make sure it is a well lit room from natural light otherwise will make your room look dingy. The same works with pink. Those colors need natural light. And the room furniture should not match the yellow or pink on the walls otherwise it will look one dimensional and flat. Go with different hues.

If you go with a whole new look for your interior color, you might need to stage some home furniture for a short period of time or test it first. If so, go to your rent to own store and do a ‘try before you buy’ so you’re worry free.

Just another ShopRTO  home decorating tip.

 

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Can you rent to own Feng Shui for the home? And what is Feng Shui anyway?

Rent to own Feng Shui

Rent to own a stress free Feng Shui

Because rent to own home furnishings is renting without the obligation to own, finding the best Feng Shui for your home doesn’t have to be so stressful. Change furniture, lighting, and art in an instant without any penalty if you return the items and start over. And when you’re finally satisfied that your home is Feng Shui’d, then you are ready to own.

First of all, though, what is Feng Shui? Sounds weird. But, is it? Feng shui for your home is basically a philosophy of furniture placement, types of furniture, lighting, color, artwork, everything for your home that creates a flow and positive atmosphere. And, thus, a better place to live.

Experts say one of the first Feng Shui-ing tactics is to clear the clutter in your home. Then clear every piece of furniture and accessories in your mind or for real. You want to start with a clear mind and an empty room. Next step is to determine how the house flows. Open the windows to find the direction of wind and light through the house.

Monitor the lighting throughout the day to see if there are drastic changes between morning and evening. Another first step is to walk through your home as you naturally do when you enter the home, leave the home, go to the bathroom, preparing dinner, etc.

Each of those aspects set up the floor plan and when you’re doing these exercises, imagine each room without any furniture because you’re most likely are going to change the way the rooms are arranged. Or you’re going to change and replace the furnishings all together.

ShopRTO plans to explore the many aspects to decorating the home Feng Shui style. And touting the fact that Feng Shui, rent to own style, will guarantee a stress-free process for a positive flow to your home and wonderful place to live.

Just another ShopRTO Home Decorating tip.

 

ShopRTO guides consumers to the best tips when decorating their homes and promotes rent to own as one of the means when shopping for affordable home furnishings.

Holiday Shopping Tips

5-holiday-shopping-tips-to-stay-on-budget

The leftover turkey is wrapped up and stowed in your refrigerator, the Thanksgiving pies have been devoured, and you’re ready for a long vacation. Unfortunately, the Christmas shopping season kicks off with a vengeance even before you’ve had time to make that cold turkey-stuffing-cranberry-sauce sandwich. Don’t stress out yet—we’ve shared some tips for saving money and staying sane while navigating holiday shopping madness.

Stocking Stuffers

Carefully hung by the chimney with care, the stockings often hold the most wonderful surprises on Christmas morning. Petite and oh-so-cheap, we’ve spotted what we think will be the most treasured (and talked about) presents of the season.

Make a List

Write down everyone you plan to buy a gift for, no matter how small the gift may be. Include ideas of what to give each person, along with the maximum amount you’re willing to spend. Don’t forget to list the people who will receive holiday tips, such as your doorman, babysitter, and mail carrier. This will help you manage your holiday budget.

Start Early

Don’t wait until after Thanksgiving to start buying holiday gifts. Keep your eyes open all year round for items friends and family would like; it’s often when you’re not looking for something specific that you stumble across the perfect gift for Dad or your best friend Jenny. Once December hits, you’ll be glad that you already have some people crossed off your list. Just make sure to keep all your advance gifts in a designated (and hidden, if necessary) spot so that you don’t forget a purchase you made months in advance.

Do Online Research

If you’re unsure of which specific item to buy (for example, you want to buy your husband a digital camera but don’t know what brand or model is best), search for reputable online reviews. You’ll have to pay a small subscription fee, but Consumerreports.org has hundreds of expert reviews on everything from laptops to baby strollers to breakfast cereals. Or check sites with user reviews and ratings, such as Amazon.com or Cnet.com, to find out which products have the most positive feedback. To find the best online price, use a comparison shopping site, such as Pricegrabber.com.

Do It Yourself

There’s an abundance of homemade pickles, hand-knit hats, and handcrafted stationary these days, thanks to a growing obsession with all things crafty, artisanal, and homespun. If you’re creatively inclined, avoid mall madness altogether and bake a batch of cookies, sew personalized tote bags, or make beautiful earrings for friends and family. If you need to learn a new skill, look into classes in your neighborhood or invest in a how-to book—there’s one for just about every craft out there.

Just another ShopRTO Home Lifestyle and Holiday Shopping tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

ShopRTO Helps Families Prepare for Holiday Guests

Tips to hosting holiday guests.

Be prepared for holiday guests.

ShopRTO.com issues helpful tips to best prepare for large groups of overnight guests during the Christmas season.

Austin. TX – December 10, 2013

Holidays are the busiest time for overnight guests so ShopRTO offer these tips to best prepare and accommodate them.

1. Get air mattresses for extra bedding or rent extra bedding or furniture from the local rent to own store. Rent to own stores will deliver and pick up and the rental process is easy without any financial obligation beyond the rental.

2. Always keep the kitchen clean especially kitchen counters. The kitchen will be the most active area of the house through their stay.

3. Prepare menus for each meal well in advance so the kitchen is stocked and meals are easy to prepare.

4. Continually fill and clear the dishwasher.

5. Stock extra toilet paper, hand soap and paper towels that are easy to find.

6. Remove personal care items out of the bathroom to the bedroom to make for more room and time for guests.

7. Stock and organize the medicine cabinet. Make sure you have the basics like aspirin, hydrocortisone, antacid tablets, neosporin, band-aids, benadryl and rubbing alcohol.

8. Plan on many grocery trips. Keep extra cloth grocery bags in the car if you’re eco-conscious or live in a city that banned plastic grocery bags.

9. If your guests use more ice than your ice maker can handle, store extra ice in an ice chest.

10. Delegate small, easy tasks such as vacuuming, putting clothes in the dryer, chopping vegetables, etc.

11. Find an hour of quiet time each day.

12. Share menu plans and times so guests know how to plan their schedules.

About ShopRTO.com:
ShopRTO provides affordable home decorating and lifestyle tips for Americans and when rent to own may be right for their home shopping choices.

What’s the deal with 3D TV? Apparently, not much.

3D TVs or Traditional TVs

Are 3D TVs reaching out to audiences?

There’s either the current craze going on in the TV world or ‘waiting for the next craze’ going on in the TV world. Right now, it seems we’re waiting. Two years ago, TV manufacturers, retail shops, consumers and TV stations were preparing for the 3D TV craze. But, it didn’t happen. At least not yet or in the near future.

3D TV sounds really cool and exciting and maybe it will be but right now it’s not. The most recent example is ESPN canceling its 3D programming after this year. And, sports programming is the best predictor of what is hot in the TV market.

3D TV makes some people sick then there are glasses you have to wear. While new TVs being shipped are 3D compatible, the purchases haven’t jumped as much as thought in early predictions. However some have noted a lack of content as the major obstacle in 3D TV saturation. If TV shows won’t broadcast in 3D then why buy one.

However, some manufacturers offer 3D TV’s that can convert 2D to 3D allowing all 2D programming to be enhanced to almost 3D quality. This is probably the single most important feature of the top 3D TV’s.

As of now, the biggest trend is in LED TVs. Tomorrow, though, who knows. Experts believe 3D TV will catch on but right now the technology, programming and consumer demand remain flat. (Pun intended.)

Just another ShopRTO HD TV observation tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

These new mini stereo shelf systems are not your parent’s jam boxes?

Home audio systems have shrunk in size but not power

Boom boxes have come a long way.

Talk about a jam box on steroids. The new evolution of the mini stereo and audio shelf systems are amazing. So, you may have to re-think your strategy when acquiring your next home stereo system. Here are some good tips to consider.

1. What space do you need the music to cover? Because you will be amazed how much power small systems have these days.

2. Are you an audio snob? If not then the smaller shelf units can carry a wollop even in a large room especially if you buy some extra speakers.

3. What about wireless speakers? Wireless are great to eliminate tacky, cumbersome cords. They’re also great for audio strategy as you have the freedom to place the speakers in tight areas and throughout the room or house. BUT, they can be unreliable at times and not as durable. Make sure you do your homework. Either buy good, cheap ones that you know will be replaced in 3 years or go with the more expensive ones if you want longevity. Wireless speakers also turn your backyard into a wonderful listening experience.

4. What is your source? If you’ve joined the 21st century and don’t use those things called “CDs” then the shelf systems with iPod docks only are cheaper and can pack a powerful audio punch. And take up a small amount of space. If you’re even further in the 21st century and use your iPhone or smart phone for your music, it’s also your radio player AND charges your phone all in the same doo-hicky.

If you’re an audio snob then these mini shelf systems are good for other rooms. But, if you’re not and looking to jam up your main rooms or multiple rooms including the backyard then these systems will fill your needs. They’re cheaper, smaller, effective and look really cool.

Just another ShopRTO ‘music to my ears’ home audio tip.

Keeping you and your home warm this winter

ShopRTO home heating tips

Help! I’m freezing my #$@ off.

It’s that arctic blast blowing through your face when the idea of warmth becomes fairly important. Let’s just say ‘like life or death’ important. Get me home and inside! And warm!

So here are some ShopRTO affordable home warm-up tips to get your house cozy and toasty without melting the bank account.

I have to start with the funniest but best tips of all. Get some good socks! Nice, thick socks! It’s almost like ‘duh’.

OK. Now the practicals for home energy savings. Check insulation and make sure your home is air sealed so you’re not wasting valuable heat and energy. Here’s a great guide from the Department of Energy.

Close the vents in rooms you don’t use. Seal it if you can as well. That will help immensely in energy savings.

Open the blinds on the sunny side and close them on the shady side. Might as well use the sun when you can.

Share blankets and family members. When watching that movie with your hot chocolate (has to have marshmallows, by the way), have the family join you under the blanket and share some heat. Better yet, have your dog and cat also join you. Nothing better than snuggling with your puppy dog or kitty cat.

Cook at home and find recipes to use the oven. It’s amazing how an oven cooking warms up the kitchen in no time. You get a home cooked meal and a warmer house all in one meal.

Put a rug down. It insulates while giving the feet something to step on that’s warmer then cold tile or hardwood floors.

Move to Florida. I had to throw that in to see if anyone was actually reading this article to the end.

I hope you’re warming up to these ideas. Stay tuned for many more here at ShopRTO.com.

Just another ShopRTO.com home living tip.

 

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

News Release: ShopRTO.com Recommends Families Use Rent to Own Stores to Rent That Extra Home Furniture For Holiday Guests

rent to own stores are rental stores

The rent to own transaction is a rental first with the option to own.

Industry research show Americans don’t understand rent to own home furniture stores are rental stores with the option to buy.

Austin, TX (PRWEB) November 21, 2013

The upcoming holiday season means family travel and extended stays. Many families don’t have the furniture to accommodate the extra guests but rent to own stores can help through renting those extra beds, HDTVs or the Nintendo Wii for the kids.

While rent to own stores use the word own, the rent to own transaction is a rental first with the option to own through continued rental payments. The customer is never obligated to own that piece of furniture, refrigerator or washing machine.

The customer can rent the product as long as they choose and can return the product at any time for any reason. Rent to own stores will deliver and pick up the home furnishing as part of rental as well.

The ownership option is an added feature to the unique transaction. If the customer wants to own the product, they choose one of the many options to own. But, many Americans don’t understand that rent to own is a home furnishing rental store and the rental option is there for those special needs and times such as the holiday season.

Renting at a rent to own store has its seasonal ups and downs. Major sporting events prompt an influx of big screen HDTV rentals especially Super Bowl weekend. During summer, air conditioner and lawnmower rentals are big in the north.

Professional sports teams use rent to own stores for home furniture rentals during spring training and snow birds will rent their furniture and home appliances during the winter in the south.

Rentals have also been instrumental in helping families recover from natural disasters living in rented home furnishings in temporary housing.

About ShopRTO.com:
ShopRTO provides affordable home decorating and lifestyle tips for Americans and when rent to own may be right for their home shopping choices.

Make the most out of your kitchen space

ShopRTO's best way to organize a small kitchen.

Make the most from a small kitchen.

Your kitchen is where you make the family meals. It’s where you really wake up with several cups of coffee and, in most households, is the central gathering focus for the family.

So. maximize your kitchen space especially if you have a small kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s some tips to make the best use of your kitchen.

  • Here’s the first and most obvious. Organize according to uses. Put all cooking pots and pans together. Put baking and cooking materials in one cabinet such as flour, spices, sugar, olive oil, etc. Then put all other food items like your rice, canned goods, pasta, etc. in another.
  • Tier your spices. There are small three step tiered shelves that fit perfectly in a cabinet that maximizes the vertical space in one area. Some experts say to alphabetize them but I think that’s a little obsessive and weird. Put the most used spices in front – salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, etc. Come on, how many times do you use Tarragon? Put that one in the back when you use it that infrequent time.
  • If you have a cooking island, use hanging shelves for ladles, oven mitts, spice racks, etc.
  • If you have high vertical cabinets, get vertical dividers. They’re fairly cheap and store cooky sheets, serving platters, pans and such. You can even put hooks in the vertical dividers to fully maximize the space.
  • Rotating shelves within your cabinets. This way you’re not reaching in the back knocking things all over making a bunch of clanking noise.
  • You know that small sliver of space under the kitchen sink next to the water pipe? Get a narrow, vertical shelve to hold sponges, soap, dishwasher liquids and the like.
  • Pull-out shelves. They need to be tiered to maximize the entire cabinet.
  • I know you already have one but it needs to be just one – a junk drawer. The one where you put, well, your necessary junk in. We all have them and need them and we need to just come out of the closet (pun intended) and be proud but useful with our junk drawer but you need to whittle it down to one!

Those are enough tips to hopefully re-think how you use your kitchen space.

Just another ShopRTO home lifestyle tip.

 

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

ShopRTO.com Releases Christmas Holiday Shopping Tips

Black Friday Deals

Maximize your holiday shopping

ShopRTO offers the following advice to make Christmas shopping as productive and pleasant as possible.

Austin, TX (PRWEB)

Christmas shopping can be one of the most frustrating times of the year, so ShopRTO offers these Holiday shopping tips to best handle the busiest shopping days of the year.

Preparation is key. Long shopping lists mean some items and their specials must be sacrificed. Shopping during the Christmas season and, especially, “Black Friday” means crowds, full parking lots so much time is spent waiting. Maximize that small amount of time to its best advantage.

Prioritize big ticket items. Saving hundreds of dollars on a $1,000 3D TV is much better than a $50 on an iPad.

Coordinate with your friends and family members to distribute the list and stores. Assign each person to a certain part of your town, the shopping mall or different stores.

Be sure of the purchases. Many stores charge re-stocking fees especially high end electronics and computers. If there is uncertainty of Flat Screen TVs, computers and expensive home furniture, rent to own stores return policy is part of the rent to own transaction. There is no obligation or penalty when returning any item.

Have a parking strategy. Find an easy exit even if it’s a little longer of a walk. But make sure to dress warm for winter. Getting sick because of Christmas shopping will not make for a festive holiday.

Shopping for large items such as HD TVs, bedroom furniture, washer/dryer combos for a surprise present can be tricky. Ask the store if they will hold the items for delivery for December 26th. Prepare a nice voucher or card for under the tree.

Many stores have additional charges for holding and delivery. Rent to own stores offer delivery services free and are more customer service orientated so consider those stores when shopping.

About ShopRTO.com:
ShopRTO provides affordable home decorating and lifestyle tips for Americans and when rent to own may be right for their home shopping choices.

How to choose that perfect recliner

Recliners for the home.

I’m in heaven.

O’ the joys of kicking back in your recliner enjoying that game or movie anticipating the next great…zzzzzzz. Now that’s a good recliner! The kind that is so comfortable that it’s just as good as sleeping in your bed.

So, how do you pick that perfect recliner? First thing you always have to think about with recliners and furniture is how long do you plan to have it and how much are going to use it? Because if it’s going to be YOUR chair for a long time that’s used every night then price can’t be the driving force. It’s called an investment so price is third on the list.

First on the list is, unfortunately, size. You have to measure your room. If it don’t fit, you can’t sit. If you have a small room or an apartment then your choices are limited. So space is your first step.

Second step is comfort. This is the chair that you will pass out on every night so it has to be very comfortable. Try out every recliner in the stores and they’re like shoes. You will know the very moment you sit in it. No exceptions. Don’t think that you can mold it to your tush or make it comfortable over time. That could happen but don’t take the chance. Try every recliner and the one recliner to rule them all will be felt the moment you kurplunk in it when shopping.

Price. Now price comes into play. Recliners can be expensive. While this is third in the priority line, it’s still a factor. And, you’d be amazed how affordable good recliners can be .

Style and color. Recliners have an image of being the elephant in the room but not anymore. There are so many styles, colors, sizes that all are comfortable.

Nifty features. Recliners have come a long way, baby. Massage thingamijiggies in them. Full reclining positions. Adjustable head sets. Rocking and/or Gliding. Built in speakers, drink holders, ice cooler hidden inside, etc. And, some even can be easily disassembled for storage and moving.

Biggest tip is to SHOP AROUND. There are so many different brands and styles that the perfect one that fits all of the above exists. You just have to find ‘em. Researching on the Internet is a great start but (pun intended) your butt in the actual chair is the final word.

If you’re freaked out about not picking the right one then try before you buy at your local rent-to-own store.

Just another ShopRTO comfy furniture tip.

 

ShopRTO provides consumers home decorating and living tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Do I have my appliances replaced or fixed? Read these tips.

Tips to repairing appliances

When do repair or purchase hope appliances.

Repairing or replacing refrigerators, washers/dryers, dishwashers and stoves can pose a tricky situation. Appliances are expensive enough to warrant repairs but repairs can also be too expensive to be worth it. Where do you draw the line?

Obviously, those appliances under warranty are not a factor in this discussion. It’s those appliances that you’ve had in the 4-7 year range that leave you with that tough decision. Experts say the most dominant factor when making your decision is how old that appliance is and how expensive a model you have.

Consumer Reports conducted a study years ago that still helps today. They surveyed thousands of consumers who faced this dilemma and found these interesting tips and observations:

  • If the repair cost is more than one-half of the cost to purchase one then toss it and buy a new one.
  • Many respondents felt that appliance repairs would be too costly and too much of a pain-in-the-who-know-what that they didn’t even consider repairing and bought a new one. DO NOT do that. Appliance repairs can be easy and relatively cheap so always explore that option.
  • Do not repair anything that costs $200 or less to buy new such as a garbage disposal. Not worth it.
  • Most respondents had the best experiences with independent contractors. In these days, ask your friends and neighbors through Facebook or Neighborhood forums who the best appliance repair person is. You’d be amazed how quickly and good referrals you will get.
  • Most appliance repairs can be made at home. It’s not as inconvenient as you may think.
  • If you end up having to buy a new one, the good news is that they will be more energy efficient.

And, remember, if you’re left without an appliance for a couple of days, go to a rent-to-own store and rent one while you’re shopping around. Or, if you can’t buy outright consider rent-to-own. But only if it makes sense. Use ShopRTO’s best practices to see if rent-to-own is better than a credit card in your circumstance. And, if you want to buy used, go to a rent-to-own store as they can have some of the best “used” deals in town.

Just another ShopRTO lifestyle tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Home lighting tips to prevent some winter blues

Home Lighting tips

Light up the room during winter.

Live in Seattle and be drenched with the ‘drysmal’ mood for the winter months. How ’bout Erie, PA or Chicago? Frozen solid from wind and snow.

And that’s just a few places where Winter grips the land forcing you in your home for months. Watching a winter wonderland sounds good for a couple of days but there’s a reason the term “cabin fever” exists.

What to do with being indoors so much? Lighting, that’s what. You’d be amazed how you can lift the mood with some simple ShopRTO home lighting tips so let’s get started.

Track Lighting. You can add or subtract lights as much as the track can fit. And when it’s winter time, it’s time to add some. It’s great for spot lighting which is important for mood setting. Spot lights on artwork is great way for a lively mood and ambience. Unless the artwork is from Edward Munch, that is.

3-tier lighting. Make sure you have 3 levels where light emits. You need to have lighting that sits at waist level then head level then at the top of ceiling. (See ShopRTO lighting article for details.) If you are missing lights at any of those levels then get some.

Wall sconces. Especially if you can get interchangeable ones. You’ll want brighter sconces for the winter – yellow, white with color tints are good for winter then change them to bluer tones in the spring and summer. It’s also good to give your home a fresh change through the seasons.

Light bulbs. Get the light bulbs that have a whiter tint for a brighter room. Color is determined by the Kelvin rating on the bulb. The higher the Kelvin number, the brighter.

Fire. There’s nothing like fire and candle light to create warmth both literally and figuratively for the room.

Those are just a few. There’s going to be some light bulb changes coming up but that’ll wait for another ShopRTO article. In the meantime, lighten up. Winter doesn’t have to be that bad.

Remember, you can try before you buy with rent to own stores and they have plenty of lamps to choose from. That’s a cool option home designers don’t even know but now you do.

Just another ShopRTO shopping home decorating tip

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Just say “no” to bad customer service and experience

Customer Experience

Say “No!” to bad customer service

Just say “no” is the customer revolution going on right now. You, the shopper, are in full control of your home furnishing purchases. And, with a simple “no, I’m not going to shop here because I don’t need you” means that retail store has to answer to the revolution or die. And, you, the customer are the executioner.

You have all the information at your finger tips to make sure you have the best deal, price and product so why do you need a salesperson? How do you choose which store to shop? Do you need a store?

With home furniture, kitchen appliances, HDTVs and such, you still need someone to deliver and set-up. You need to make sure you physically sit on that living room furniture to make sure it looks and feels great because pictures on the net are very deceiving. You also need to make sure it’s going to fit the space you need. So, you home furniture shoppers need the brick and mortar store so now it’s a matter of choosing.

Price is now not much a function because you can walk in to any store, show them the price from the web and they have to match or they get to see your back as you walk out. Just say “no” and that store lost a customer, probably for life and a bad word-of-mouth that with a click of button can go to hundreds. And, with the likes of “Yelp” can go to thousands.

O’ retail stores bow down to the almighty customer. You are at our mercy in every fashion. And, the smart stores know this. So what do they do?

It’s called “Store Experience”. That’s the revolution that’s answering the customer revolution. Retail stores have to make sure their stores look great, fabulous, shiny; whatever it takes to bedazzle the customer to feeling good about shopping at that store. Customer service better be beyond recognition. That arrogance, disinterested sales person is a way of the past.

And, if you experience that lackadaisical demeanor for one instance, just say “no” and walk out immediately and let the store die so someone who understands our power will come in to serve us like kings.

Interestingly enough, one industry retail stores are looking at is rent to own stores. Their business model is fundamentally customer service. Their prices are higher but millions of customers keep coming in every day. And, looking at industry statistics, more and more are coming every day. Why? Customer service.

Because of that customer service model, you have retail stores such as Conn’s and Sears looking at rent to own stores to find out why they are growing customers and stores such as Sears are dying.

Wake up, shoppers. You have a power that has never existed in the marketplace and the more you use it the quicker you become royalty every time you walk in a place where you want to spend your hard earned money that they are begging for.

Just another ShopRTO shopping lifestyle tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Use product review websites before making those important home furnishing purchases

Home furniture reviews

Do your shopping homework through the web.

There’s nothing like touching, seeing up close, sitting, opening and even jumping on that next home furniture you plan to buy. But, do your homework prior. And, it’s so quick and easy now.

Here are just a few websites to use when shopping for your home furniture, HD TVs, ovens, etc.: Reviewed.com, HSN.com, CNet.com, GoodHouseKeeping.com and ConsumerReports.org. And those are just a few! Just google product reviews and it’s astonishing. Heck, there’s even ShopRTO.com to help educate you.

If you’re really obsessive compulsive when shopping, throw out a shout on your Facebook page and neighborhood forum to see what your friends and neighbors say. Word of mouth is still king in the shopping world.

It’s a brand new world full of home furnishing information that can make your buying decision as easy as a google search.

Just another ShopRTO home shopping tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Federal Reserve Board’s Credit Card Report Shows Americans May Be Turning to Debt-Free Options Such as Rent to Own and Used Home Furniture

Credit card options

Avoid debt with rent to own.

The Federal Reserve Board released its monthly report showing consumers cut back on credit card use for the third month in a row reflecting a debt-cautious economy. ShopRTO responds to this trend by educating consumers on other options such as buying used and rent to own.

Austin, TX (PRWEB) October 17, 2013

Home lifestyle website, ShopRTO, cautions Americans against further consumer debt during shaky financial times. In response, ShopRTO recommends consumers consider rent to own to buy used or to acquire home furnishings credit free.

ShopRTO recommends that the first and obvious tip is to save enough money to buy home furnishings outright. But, many Americans do not have this option especially when families must have certain items for the home such as refrigerators, beds and even computers.

Since current trends show Americans are rejecting credit card use, consumers should look at buying used or renting to own.

When going the “used” home furniture route, try rent to own stores. Rent to own statistics show more than 70% of consumers return the merchandise within three to four months leaving an abundance of barely used furniture, appliances, HDTVs and other home furnishings.

The key is finding the right store that provides the item needed. Call stores nearby and ask for the manager or owner. The manager and owner are the ones who have the most stakes in generating revenue and in power to providing the best deal.

When making the deal, make sure to include delivery in the price. Rent to own stores offer free delivery as part of their transaction but make sure it is included. And, if possible, negotiate better deals between two different rents to own stores to see if one will provide a better deal.

If you rent to own, go with the 90, 120 or 180 days same as cash option. Most stores offer a cash price a little above retail and credit is not extended therefore no debt is incurred. The trick is to make the necessary payments to make the most out of the deal.

If the cash price listed is significantly above retail then ask the person in charge to adjust it. Negotiations may be more difficult with corporate chains then with locally owned businesses so consumers need to be aware of that dynamic when shopping rent to own.

If you are unable to make the 90, 120 or 180 day payments then change to a traditional rent to own payment plan. The price will already be reduced due to previous payments. And, with rent to own, the customer is in full control of the transaction. And remember the golden rule of all transactions, the fewer the payments then the lower overall cost.

If the customer has to return or wants to return the product, credit was never extended therefore no debt incurred or negative impact to credit scores. Therein lies the significant difference between rent to own and a credit card.

If the customer has to return the product due to financial reasons, the rent to own store will keep the product or provide a similar product if the customer wants to begin re-renting the product without losing any previous payments.

About ShopRTO.com:

ShopRTO provides affordable home decorating and lifestyle tips for Americans and when rent to own may be right for their home shopping choices.

Click here for actual release.

10 Tips to Make Your Wardrobe Last

socksExtend the life of your favorite clothes and accessories with these key strategies.

Ironing, Shoes, Socks, and Jewelry

1. Iron clothing inside out. “Ironing can fade dark colors as well as create shine marks on fabrics with sheen, like gabardine, acetate, and polished cottons,” says Chris Allsbrooks, a textile analyst with the Dry Cleaning & Laundry Institute, in Laurel, Maryland. Avoid damage by using the appropriate heat setting and pressing the item on the reverse side. Or use a cloth between garment and iron. And, adds Boorstein, “never iron a crease on a black garment―it can leave a permanent line.”

2. Add sole protectors to your shoes. Have a cobbler attach rubber bottoms to shield leather soles from water absorption and general wear and tear. They cost about $20, but “they can extend the life of your shoes by years,” says Jim McFarland, owner of McFarland’s Shoes and Repair, in Lakeland, Florida.

3. Switch to wool athletic socks. Wool socks aren’t only for cold days. “A lesser-known benefit of wool is that it can help keep sneaker interiors stink-free, thanks to its natural ability to wick moisture away,” says Rodney Kott, Ph.D., a sheep specialist at Montana State University, in Bozeman.

4. Remove all jewelry before swimming. The chlorine in pool water wears away the surface and the shine, according to Krodel.

5. Zip up to avert snags. Your clothing goes into the wash perfectly intact. Later you notice a mysterious pull. “The teeth of zippers (especially those made of metal, as on jeans) or any kind of hook closure is typically the culprit,” says Boorstein. Next time close all zippers and clasps before tossing clothes into the washing machine (or, better yet, the hamper).

Cashmere, Heels, Pearls, and Stains

6. Hand wash cashmere. Repeated poor-quality dry cleanings can lead to fiber breakage. Plus, an old-fashioned hand washing leaves the cashmere considerably softer. Use lukewarm water and a mild soap, such as the Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo ($19 for 16 ounces, thelaundress.com), and lay flat to dry. Remove excess water by rolling the garment in a towel―never wring it.

7. Don’t drive in good heels. “The floorboard scuffs the heel, and the pedal scratches the toe,” warns Elena R. Aronson, a San Francisco–based stylist and personal shopper. Drive in simple flats, or try heel protectors by Smart Heel ($9, smartheel.com), which are plastic coverings that slide over high heels.

8. Stock up on underarm shields. To prevent armpit stains that crop up no matter how diligent you are about cleaning, Mary Lou Andre, author of Ready to Wear: An Expert’s Guide to Choosing and Using Your Wardrobe ($20, amazon.com), suggests creating a barrier between you and the fabric with adhesive underarm shields, which attach to the inside of the clothing (Garment Guard, $11 for five, solutionsthatstick.com). A sleeved tee layered underneath works, too.

9. Never hang pearls. “This weakens the silk threads that hold the necklace together,” says Helena Krodel of the Jewelry Information Center, in New York City.
Whites, Darks, Dryers, and Jewelry

10. Launder whites after every wear. It’s tempting to put a white blouse back into the closet after a spill-free wearing. After all, it looks spotless. But “body oils and perspiration, along with other time-released stains (like perfume, white wine, and oil splatters), will start to give a once-bright white a yellowish tint,” says Steve Boorstein, developer of the DVD Clothing Care (Day Light, $20, amazon.com).

Find More Tips at Real Simple
http://www.realsimple.com/beauty-fashion/clothing-care/20-tips-make-wardrobe-last-00000000007942/page4.html

Just another ShopRTO money saving and laundry tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furniture and more.

Know your beef

meatStreamline your order the next time you’re at the meat counter with these helpful tips:

Some tender cuts of beef need just a few minutes on a pan to approach culinary perfection, while others should be cooked slowly for hours to make a rich sauce or stew. The trick is knowing how to choose the right cut for the job.

1. Tenderloin

As the name suggests, beef tenderloin comes from the cow’s loin, and because it’s a muscle that doesn’t do much work, it’s remarkably tender.

•            While it’s sometimes sold as a roast, you’ll most often find it cut into steaks sold as filet mignon.

•            Tenderloin comprises part of the T-bone and porterhouse steak cuts.

The best ways to cook tenderloin are either roasting (if purchased as a roast) and grilling or broiling if purchased as a steak. Tenderloin is a relatively lean cut; be careful not to over cook it, as it will dry out quickly.

2. Brisket

This is a muscle that does a lot of work and can be tough since it contains a great deal of connective tissue. There is also a large amount of fat capping the top of the cut.

Because brisket is tough, it’s best to slow cook it and give it plenty of time to break down and soften. Braising brisket is the easiest way to get the meat fork tender. Throw it in a slow cooker for the same result. If you have access to a smoker, brisket is a perfect choice for this cooking method.

3. Rib-eye

The rib-eye steak can take many forms with many uses: If the bone is included, it’s a rib steak. If it’s cut away from the bone, it’s a rib-eye. The bone gives beef a stronger flavor, so this cut packs more flavor than a filet mignon, even if it’s a little less tender.

Because rib-eye steaks are so flavorful, they only need a little salt and pepper before you grill, broil or pan-fry them.

4. Ground Beef

The important thing to notice when selecting ground beef is the fat-to-lean beef ratio. This is usually communicated on the packaging by two numbers: beef first, fat content second. Don’t be afraid of fat! The higher the fat content in the ground beef, the juicier the end result will be.

•            Use ground chuck for dishes like hamburgers and chili.

•            Use ground round for dishes like tacos and stuffed peppers.

•            Use ground sirloin for dishes like meatballs and meatloaf when other ingredients are added.

5. Round

The round is commonly sold as rump roasts, round roasts, eye of round and round steaks. You’ll also find it already cubed as stew meat.

Although it’s often sold as roasts, it’s a lean cut that dries out easily, so this is a cut for slow cooking in a stew or braise.

Choosing Your Beef

Once you know what you’re making and the right cut for the job, choosing should be a breeze. Here are some tips to know and look out for:

Grass Fed vs. Grain Fed

Most cows are raised on grass at first and transferred to grain or corn later. Grass-fed beef, however, has spent its entire life on a pasture.

•            Grass-fed beef is generally leaner, and proponents claim it is more flavorful.

•            Grain-fed beef is fattier, which also means it’s more moist and juicy.

Dry-aged vs. Regular

Dry aging generally means the steaks have been hung in a climate-controlled case, allowing moisture to evaporate. This creates a more concentrated taste and allows enzymes to break down the tissues creating complex, rich flavors. Dry-aged beef is tender and delicious, but the process is time consuming, so keep in mind that it comes at a premium.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Grading

Grades reflect the degree to which the meat is marbled and the maturity of the animal, and are meant to give an idea of how tender the beef is.

•            USDA Prime is the highest grade and only a tiny percentage of meat receives this grade.

•            USDA Choice is the next grade down and represents most of the meat found at the grocery store.

•            USDA Select is below Choice and is generally leaner and tougher than the higher grades.

Original article here.

Just another ShopRTO Something Good in the Belly tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for kitchen appliances and more.

Need some storage room ideas for your home? Try some of these…

 

storage space ideas

Add shelves to maximize space.

As our population grows and space becomes more expensive and smaller, we have to create more clever ways to maximize the space to fit all of our stuff.

Try some of these ShopRTO tips to maximize the space in your home or apartment.

Look at your doorways and windowsIf there is some space on the sides and/or on top, you can frame them in to create shelves.

Place your books, knick-knacks, photos, decorative pieces or whatever fancies your taste.

How bout a wall desk mount? You mount a closed in cabinet that when you open the lid from the top, the lid becomes the desk.

Put your laptop or tablet on to check the weather, e-mails, fantasy scores on your way out.

Have some cubby holes on the side to store bills, your keys and what not. Then, you just close the lid and the clutter is closed up and looks simple and clean.

Storage behind doors. You can hang hooks, rods, pockets or any hanging storage device to put towels, linens, toiletries, shoes, etc. Works great on the back of closet doors to increase closet space.

What about a closet office? If you have a wide closet and are good at not accumulating too many clothes or junk, create a hidden office. You open up the doors and there is a table, filing cabinet and a work space.

Keep the doors open while working and shut when not. Sounds kind of Batman-like with a hidden room.

But the easiest is always hooks and shelves. You can place hooks and shelves almost anywhere. It’s all about using the vertical space of your room and sides of open faces of cabinets.

Our world is getting smaller and so is our space. Use these tips to create the most space you can get out of your home. Just another ShopRTO home decorating tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Do you have an All-in-One Desktop yet? It’s the latest computer market trend.

All-in-one desktop computers

All your work and entertainment in the all-in-one desktop.

Laptops, tablets and smartphones are the craze these days but the desktop computer is still ole’ reliable. Now with the new design and marketing of the “all in one desktop”, the desktop computer is no longer going obsolete. In fact, quite the opposite. They are the true entertainment/work system all-in-one.

They’re sleek, light and brilliantly crisp and clear. You can use it as a work computer, computer gaming through HDMI and Movie/TV viewing through the Internet. It’s a laptop with desktop speed.

One of the downsides is you get what you buy. Hardly any room for upgrade and they’re losing the Blu Ray addition with the supposition that people watch TV and movies through the Internet. Each PC company mirror their traditional philosophy. Macs are workhorses, reliable and more expensive. Whereas PCs are affordable but are more prone to being buggy.

If you’re in the market, do your shopping. Compare prices and features as there are a lot to choose from. Experts do recommend if you’re going to make that all-in-one computer purchase then go for the 23 to 27 inch screens to make sure your computer serves as a good TV monitor.

The desktop is not yesterday’s technology. Its all-in-one transformation keeps it as a mainstay for the home. Maybe, it’s the TV that’s going away?

Just another ShopRTO computer and computer gaming tip!

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Some inexpensive home decorating ideas

Inexpensive decorating ideas

Change a lamp shade for a cheap and easy change in the room.

Sometimes you need to freshen up the house. Make a change or two to shake things up. But, then, there’s this thing called money. That spoils all of the fun especially when you don’t have any. So here’s a few ideas to help change up some decor while not spending a bunch of coin.

1. Photos under the glasstop of your tables. If you have one of those coffee tables or kitchen tables with a glass top. Put some photos underneath. Photos of the family, the vacation or whatever that fits. It makes the table look lively, personable and can change in an instant.

2. Change your lamp shades. It’s quick, easy and cheap. Or, monogram them. Get some cloth letters at a fabric store and tape or sew them on the shade.

3. Change your numbers. Not your phone numbers, silly. Your house address numbers and the look, not the actual numbers. You don’t want to confuse the postman. Go to any hardware store or Lowe’s and they will have dozens and dozens of different styles of numbers.

4. Change your welcome mat and re-paint your front door. Voila! A new entry way. Try painting your door a bright color, too. Liven it up.

5. Change your shower curtain. I bet you’ve had the one you’re using way too long anyway. A new one makes a difference.

These small changes make a difference. Especially if you do them all at once. You will feel refreshed by your surroundings. Remember, you are a product of your environment so shake things up by starting in the home.

Just another ShopRTO inexpensive home decorating tips.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Pad Your Budget: Cut $50+ From Your Grocery Bill

BudgetAre you spending too much on your grocery bill? Here are some expert ways to save.

The US Department of Agriculture estimates that a family of two spends about $350 a month on groceries. (And that’s a thrifty budget!) We get it — it’s hard to feed yourselves on a tight budget, especially if you want to eat well (we’re talking nutrients, not loads of Bagel Bites). While many of us are inspired by those tales of women extreme couponing (thanks, TLC), not all of us can put in the time and effort it takes to stockpile 87 bottles of ketchup and 70 boxes of microwave popcorn.

So we asked Jeanette Pavini, household savings expert for Coupons.com, to break down the easiest ways to save. If you put these tips to work, you can easily save $50 a month on groceries. (That’s $600 a year!)

Pay Attention to Product Placement

Eye-level placement generally means “avoid” since companies pay to place products at eye level. A lot of times you can find the less expensive brands and best deals on the top and bottom shelves. Also, just because items are on a special display or at the end of the aisle doesn’t mean they’re the best value. Always check the price tag for the price per ounce to make sure you’re getting the most for your money.

Save Money on Meat

Compare cost per serving, not cost per pound. “That way you’ll be able to take into consideration bones and fat, which may mean that a much cheaper piece of meat is not really a good deal at all,” says Pavini. She recommends looking at larger whole cuts of meat, as they’ll usually be much cheaper than the same amount cut into smaller pieces. “You can always ask the butcher if he’ll cut it into small pieces for free,” she adds. If you have the room, you can freeze larger cuts as well. And when in doubt, use chicken. “If a recipe calls for duck, veal, rabbit or a game bird, you can oftentimes use chicken as an inexpensive substitute,” Pavini explains.

Pack a Punch With Produce

It’s hopefully a no-brainer, but plan your meals around what’s in-season. You’ll find cheaper prices and better quality. For fall? Stick to root veggies, butternut squash, figs and citrus fruits. The price per unit rule applies here: Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy items like potatoes, tomatoes, avocados and onions in bags versus individually. “For example, I saw avocados for $2.50 each, while a bag of four was going for $4,” says Pavini. And avoid precut produce. The convenience seems awesome (and the packaging is usually much more eye-catching!), but you’ll save a lot of money washing, peeling and cutting the veggies yourself at home.

Avoid Impulse Purchases

Avoid impulse buying and plan a menu. Try to incorporate ingredients into multiple meals so you don’t waste produce, dairy and other perishable items, says Pavini.

One big rookie mistake is letting yourself be pressured into buying in bulk to get the “sale price.” “If a sale says five for $10, don’t feel obligated to buy all five,” advises Pavini. Check the store policy — usually you’ll get the same discount if you buy just a single item. The same with limits — don’t take the number as a sign of how many you need to buy because you think that’s an indicator of a great deal. Oftentimes, a place might just be low on stock. Only buy what you need and will use.

SOURCE

Just another ShopRTO Financial Tip.

 

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

Host Your BBQ Like a Pro

BBQReady, set, grill. It’s football season and holiday are just around the corner. Time to host the best BBQ — we show you how.

Know Your Guests’ Stomachs

Now’s not the time to try out that artichoke-spinach soufflé you heard you can make on the grill. Most people come to a barbecue wanting one of two things: a burger or a hotdog. (Okay, and maybe a beer.) And make sure to have a few veggie burgers or other alternatives for vegetarians.

Let the Food Come to You

Unless you’re a masochist (or a control freak), a potluck is a great way to let go of some responsibility and also incorporate new foods into the mix. To make sure you don’t end up with eight desserts and one bag of chips (although, we’re not sure that’s such a bad thing), give each guest a category. For those noncooking friends, there’s always the category of “alcohol.” Make the barbecue even simpler by offering a “you bring it, we grill it” option!

Make it Fun For the Kids (of All Ages)

Always ask yourself what a child would enjoy, and use that as your reference point (let’s face it, adults love simple pleasures!). Have a deck of cards on hand, balls to toss around…you get the idea. For the actual kids, hula-hoops, sparklers, bubbles, and a game of Simon Says are all safe bets. Make s’mores (it’s an activity and a dessert.) For the young (but still under the age of 21) crowd, keep an outside game (such as bocce ball) for them to play away from the children and adults for a bit of independence.

Enjoy the Outdoors

Ask your friends to bring coolers if they have them, and make sure to stock up on extra ice. Keeping guests out of the kitchen will give you some peace of mind and will keep everyone interacting. Another bonus? Being prepared will save you a trip to the store mid-party (and will ensure you don’t miss out on the s’mores, which, let’s be honest, you’ve been looking forward to since we brought it up).

Plan for the Worst

You know everything doesn’t go as planned. Prepare for rain by having board games and other fun indoor activities at the ready. And if you don’t have enough space in your home to host guests in case of rain, don’t cram everyone in like sardines in hopes that “it clears up.” Propose a new location, or if need be, a new date. Send everyone home with a sampling of all the different foods — hey, they did come hungry!

SOURCE

Just another ShopRTO Lifestyle Tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

10 Budget-Friendly Ways to Transform Your Entryway

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It doesn’t take much to turn an entryway from a stark space into an inviting zone for everyone who sets foot in your pad. Get started:

Light It Up 
Dramatic lighting, whether it’s a chandelier, pendant, or sconces, totally sets the mood. If you don’t have high ceilings, try pinspot lighting over artwork.

Hang Something
Don’t save all of your cool art for the living room. Hang a single painting, a series of small prints, or a decorative mirror, which will make the room look bigger.

Give Life
A flower or plant eases the transition from outside in (and green always looks good). If your space is small, place potted blooms on a side table.

Add Color
Paint the walls a rich color, such as deep rust or teal, or paint the ceiling, depending on how it might work with your color scheme. If the ceiling is under eight feet tall, paint it a shade or two lighter than the walls; if it’s over eight feet, paint it a shade or two darker. Like neutral walls? Add color with a vibrant rug or artwork.

Keep It Clean
Designate a semi-hidden spot for weather-ridden accessories. Cubby holes beneath a console work well for shoes, and a tall (at least 18 inches) galvanized planter will catch your umbrella’s drip — and still look nice.

Don’t Forget The Mats
A washable doormat will keep you from tracking in mud. If you don’t want to leave it out all the time, store it in an oversize bin.

Get Pegged
Pegs are great for hanging coats and jackets. Space them six to eight inches apart.

Leave Room
Give yourselves around three to four feet of room to walk by one another. When buying furniture, remember to think small, like an eight-inch-wide table or shelf.

Have a Seat
A simple chair placed against the wall instantly gives the room a cozier look and makes taking off those trendy rain boots that much easier.

SOURCE

Just another ShopRTO Home Decorating Tip.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.

How to make a headboard out of duct tape

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Duct tape comes in a variety of colors and patterns, and it is readily available at most craft stores — kids love it! A roll costs about $3 to $4 and you’ll need about three to four rolls to make a headboard for a twin bed. You should be able to get a large piece of cardboard for free at a grocery or home improvement store.

Materials and Tools:

scissors
tape measure
hammer
duct tape — 3 to 4 rolls in different colors and patterns
large piece of cardboard
4 to 6 wire size (small) nails
Determine Size

Measure the area behind the bed to determine the size of the headboard.
Create Your Design

Draw out your headboard’s design on paper. Determine what colors and patterns to use.
Cut Cardboard

Measure and cut the cardboard to fit the size of the headboard.

Original article at DIY network.

Just another ShopRTO Home Decorating and Bedroom Furniture tips.

ShopRTO provides consumers home living and decorating tips and promotes rent to own as a shopping option for affordable home furnishings.