Making Memories – Camping With Kids

As a parent, do you have wonderful memories of camping when you were a child and would like to share those memories with your children? Maybe you have never gone camping, but it’s on your bucket list. It’s never to late to get started. If you are new to camping, try camping in your back yard: the kids will love it.

With camping season soon to get underway, don’t let another summer go by without spending time with your children outdoors, away from the distractions of technology.

Many parents report a growing concern of being unable to connect with their children without the distraction of smart phones, tablets and laptops. Going camping with your kids is an ideal way to schedule a break from technology; without a screen to interact with, children have to talk to you and each other.

Join The Fun
Celebrating its 10th year, the Great American Backyard Campout, held every year in late June, was organized by the National Wildlife Federation’s “Be Out There” campaign in the hope of encouraging families to spend time outdoors.

According to Anne Keisman, a spokesman for the campaign, today, children in America spend an average of less than 10 minutes a day outdoors. The shift to technology and the obsession with electronics and online games has contributed to a national health crisis. Health statistics reflect an alarming increase in childhood obesity, depression, ADHD, and behavior problems associated with a lack of exercise and fresh air.

Backyard camping, Keisman says, offers “a way to slow down those busy family schedules, enjoy being together, and appreciate the simple joys only nature can deliver.”

Although your goal is to get children outdoors and enjoying the wonders of a wilderness adventure, a “trial-run” in the backyard or a local park is an excellent way to practice setting up your campsite and making sure that you have included all necessary gear in your preparations. And as an added plus, it’s close to emergency supplies or home if your night is interrupted by a sudden thunderstorm and your tent camping attempt backfires.

If you are the kind of dad or mom that likes to do-it-yourself and teach your children new skills in the process, the planning and preparation can be a learning experience and a big part of the fun of your family camping trip. provides a helpful checklist of camping gear and supplies you will need for your backwoods adventure.

Make Camping An Educational Experience
In this age of ever-evolving technology, most children, even teenagers, are totally lost when it comes to reading a map or using a compass. Technology is a wonderful tool, but it is important to know what to do without a smartphone or how to find where you are going without the aid of a GPS. Camping in an excellent opportunity to teach children these rudimentary skills as well as basic first aid and how to identify edible plants and dangerous wildlife. When you do go camping, take only a fully charged cell phone restricted to use in an emergency only, leaving all other electronic devices at home.

Camping With Kids
Allow kids to be part of the planning process and take part in decision-making regarding your camping destination, the length of the trip, supplies, gear, recreational opportunities, foods and sights. Encouraging children’s participation helps build anticipation, engagement and excitement.
Spread out maps and talk with kids about where you plan to camp. Older children and teens can be in charge of their own packing. Have kids make a list and supervise to make sure essential items are not left behind.

The backcountry can be intimidating to anyone not used to spending time in nature. Tailor your trip to an age appropriate camping destination with recreational opportunities your children will enjoy.

Prepare For The Worst When It Comes To Weather
You don’t want to learn the hard way how miserable a trip can become if everyone is wet and cold. Be sure that each child has plenty of warm clothes, rain gear, hats, and a change of shoes. A helpful tip is to pack each change of clothing for the kids, including socks and underwear in a separate gallon plastic storage bag. This way, you always have a warm and dry change of clothing available.

Renovating Your Basement

If you are looking to increase the living space in your home, the answer might just be right under your feet. Remodeling your basement has the potential of uniquely transforming the look of your home. Although this has a unique set of challenges, with proper planning, it can be achieved. Here are some tips on how to remodel your basement into a functional living space.

Make a Family Room

The basement is a great place for casual social activities, a perfect spot where the entire family can get together and relax with a board game or a big screen television. Make it inviting and alluring, just like any other room in the home. Some new furniture, a great sound system and excellent lightening would be a great way to start.

Include a Bath and Bedroom

Adding a bedroom and a bath makes the basement an ideal suite for guests. The dimensions should be determined by who will use it. For a double bed, you will need a minimum of 125 square feet, for twin beds, 150 square feet will serve your needs. When adding a bedroom, be certain there is an emergency exit that leads directly outside.  A professional will need to be consulted in regards to adding a bathroom as specific regulations will apply.

Add a Kitchen

With a mini kitchen in the basement, entertainment gets easier. This would require access to hot and cold water, electrical outlets, exhaust vents, a small dish washer, under counter refrigerator and anything else that would allow for more comfortable living.

Design a Safe and Attractive Staircase

In most homes, there is a staircase leading to the basement. When remodeling, take the opportunity to improve the look of this entryway to your new living space. If it is not properly positioned, consider moving it to a better location. Consult with a designer or an architect for guidance on redesigning your stairway.

Add Windows

Adding windows is great for basements, but this task is better left to the professionals. If this is properly done, it will improve the ventilation, add light, and make it very comfortable. Adding windows may require digging a window well. A retaining wall made of masonry, limestone blocks, or treated landscape timbers should be added to the well. If properly done, it could also serve as an emergency exit.

Finish the Walls.

The walls of the foundation are usually made of poured concrete and reinforcement materials. Cover the walls with materials of your choice. Plywood, paneling or any material that would make the area more inviting.  For example, covering the walls in the living area with sheets of maple-veneer would add an arts and crafts feel to the room. There are many options and trained professionals that can help you achieve the look you want.

Finish The Ceilings

Basically, there are three options available to you when remodeling the basement ceilings, leave the pipes and duct work exposed, conceal it with a dry panel or hide everything with a suspended or drop ceiling.

Choose Comfortable Flooring

In most cases, basement floors are made of concrete, unless plywood sub-flooring has been installed. Concrete works with most floor finish choices like tile, carpet, vinyl and paint. For below grade installation, solid wood flooring is not recommended as it shrinks and expands causing gaps.   However, engineered wood flooring is recommended as it shrinks less.


Getting Started Investing in Real Estate

Rates are low, prices are right, and now is a perfect time to think about investing in real estate. Many would-be investors think real estate is a way to quick riches. Rapid monetary returns are usually not the case. However, the rewards can be substantial if you are willing be patient, do the necessary homework, and make a few good decisions along the way.

Before you start investing in real estate, here are a few things to consider:

• Start small: Don’t go large on your first investment. Take on a smaller investment first so you have the opportunity to make some mistakes that won’t cost you large amounts of money. Investing is a learning process.

• Don’t overpay: Do your research on your potential investment. Do full a full property evaluation; research the location, have a home inspection, and look into any liens and owed taxes. Always conduct an in-depth property analysis before negotiating any terms.

• Consider the margins: Paying the bills on an investment property is different than paying for your personal residence.  When you buy an income property to rent, you’re calculating how the income (rent payments) will help pay the mortgage and operating costs.

• Know your partners: Having a bad partner could be your biggest downfall. Try to team up with a more seasoned real estate investor to learn the ropes. It is also important to be comfortable with your partner.

Like all other businesses, real estate investing, requires a well thought out plan if you want to succeed. Weigh all the risks involved in real estate investing and develop a plan on how you will manage and overcome them before you get started.


Is A Stated Home Loan Right For you?

No income verification mortgage loans sound like a great idea. Also known as stated loans, these are easier to obtain than traditional mortgages. You won’t have to go through endless amounts of paperwork that traditional mortgages require. Think again. These types of loans are high risk and borrowers may have a hard time paying these loans back. Many lenders have removed these kinds of loans from their list of options. In certain circumstances, these loans can work for you, but you have to do your homework. 

Where Can You Get A Stated Loan?

Some lenders still provide these stated loans with no verification process required. Unlike earlier times, these loans are now pretty difficult to obtain. Typically, this type of mortgage is geared towards the self-employed and requires a large down payment. Also, the borrower must have a very good credit score to be considered for the loan. 

Are Stated Loans Unaffordable?

Since these loans come at very high interest rates, they are often seen as unaffordable due to the high monthly payment. Stated loans can have double the interest rate of what the current available mortgage rates are. However, if you don’t have many options, or are in a hurry to get a home and have money in the bank, it could work well for you.  

Could A No Income Verification Loan Be Right For You? 

If you really want a home loan, the first step is to be truly honest about your income. If you find a beautiful home and know that it’s out of your price range, you could risk defaulting on the loan. 

To truly understand what you can afford, you’ll need to figure out all of your monthly expenses including taxes, mortgage insurance, phone bills and grocery bills. This will give you a full picture of your finances. Once you look at all of these factors, you may find that it does make the most sense for you to get a no income verification loan. 

Deciding On The Type Of Loan You’ll Get

If you find that you need a lower monthly payment, it may make more sense for you to go after a traditional home loan. If you’re self-employed and know that your options are limited, a stated loan certainly is an option for you, you’ll just need to understand the risks of the entire process. You’ll also need to have a bunch of documents ready for the lender once you decide to go for the home loan. You can compare the costs of a no income verification loan to a traditional mortgage. Then, you can ask your lender what they’ll need from you in order to verify everything for the traditional mortgage. Any good broker can help you through your decision-making process. You’ll want to be well informed and compare all of the programs along with their fees. You should get recommendations on a lender who has the knowledge and experience to help you find the home loan that’s right for you.