Janet Laughead BHHS Commonwealth Wellesley MA


Image by Marina Pousheva from Shutterstock

One of the clear benefits of siding is to protect both the exterior and interior of the home. This protection is mainly against harsh elements. There are many siding options from which to choose, but the standard siding choice is vinyl siding. Homeowners looking to add this feature to their home will enjoy many benefits such as: 

Durability

Vinyl is extremely durable and long-lasting when professionally installed. Vinyl siding does not rust, corrode, or warp, and its design withstands the harsh elements. Another feature that makes vinyl siding a good possibility is it's impervious to pests, such as termites. Also, it is moisture resistant, unlike wood that is prone to rot or split.

Affordability

Another compelling reason why homeowners choose vinyl siding is the cost. Compared to other siding styles, vinyl is the least expensive, with a modest maintenance cost to boot. 

Low maintenance

The overall cost of maintaining vinyl siding is inexpensive. There is no need to paint, scrape, or apply a stain year after year. All you need is a gentle clean once a year with water and a mild mold remover or use a power washer to remove built-up mud and dirt.

Improve home value

Vinyl siding significantly increases your homes' equity. It beautifies the exterior of your home. It doesn't peel, chip or flake, which helps your home look well-maintained all the time. It can also improve your home’s value in the marketplace.

Quick installation

Vinyl siding is lightweight and often comes with pre-drilled holes for easy installation. As a result, the time required to install vinyl siding is minimal compared to the other options.

Color choices

Vinyl gives homeowners an extensive collection of options. It comes in a variety of colors and textures. Choose from narrow gauge triple-lap clapboard designs to wide-gauge Dutch-lap, faux-stone, or staggered shake styles. 

Vinyl siding is the best when looking for an excellent siding choice that is durable, affordable and easy to maintain. Visit your local building store to get more information about vinyl siding or consult with your home contractor for a recommendation.


Photo by Pushok via Pixabay

Do you buy plants for your home – just to find them shriveled up and browning just a few short days later? You may be purchasing plants that require too much care – or that are known for being tricky to keep alive.

Whether you’ve been cursed with a black thumb, have a busy schedule (that barely allows time to care for yourself, let alone plants) or are simply new to house plants, the following varieties may serve you best.

5 Plants that are Tough to Kill

Jade Plant: This emerald beauty looks stunning in just about any planter and is ideal for a desktop or tabletop. It is also nearly impossible to kill with neglect. The jade plant grows so well that simply poking a cutting of it into the soil will result in a new plant.

Air Plants: They don’t need dirt to survive – and need only occasional mists of water. If your plants die because you are too busy to care for them (or you simply forget about them) consider trying some air plants instead. These small beauties are particularly fun to work with, too. Tiny, artisanal pods, planters and baskets designed specifically for air plants can be found from a variety of vendors and make unique home accents.

Barrel Cactus: Most succulents are tough to kill, but this variety is particularly hardy. Round with large spikes, a barrel cactus stores water so it does not need to be cared for often at all. It also has natural defenses against pets and other plant predators, those spikes make it difficult and uncomfortable to pick up, but don’t cause lasting damage. Shallow roots make this one easy to transplant as it grows and ensure it can thrive even if left unpotted for days.

Aloe: This fast-growing, low care beauty has some medicinal properties, too. Just snap off a stem to treat sunburn or other mild burns. While aloe is incredibly easy to grow and care for, it is toxic to pets, so try this one as an office plant if you have pets at home. Short of setting it on fire, you can’t kill this one.

Spider Plant: This is a houseplant staple, and it is easy to see why. Spider plants are powerful air purifiers, very difficult to kill and even produce their own offspring. You can forget to water this one for days at a time (weeks in cooler weather) and it will not only survive, but grow and thrive. Spider plants are inexpensive and available pretty much anywhere plants are sold, so this is a solid choice if you are new to houseplants or have a few victims to show for your plant growing efforts.

Choosing one of these varieties can make it easier for you to enjoy the benefits of having houseplants, without the guilt that comes from throwing away another shriveled, dried up victim.


For most college students and recent grads, the prospect of buying a home seems slim and distant. With the cost of a college education growing each year and the price of houses inflating, it can seem daunting to begin to save for a down payment or build credit.

 However, there are ways to start planning now for buying a home, even if you are burdened with student debt and rising rent.

 In this article, we’re going to do just that. If you’re a recent grad or a current college student, read on for a guide to buying a home.

What do you need to buy a home

Once you graduate college you might be wishing you could have taken an elective called “How to Be an Adult 101.” There are many personal finance problems in life that just aren’t taught in school, from saving for retirement, to borrowing for a house or car, to investing in stocks and bonds.

So, what are the main things you’ll need to buy a home? Before you start applying for mortgages, you should know that just because you can get approved doesn’t mean you should buy a home.

Purchasing a home is a huge investment and one that most homeowners take decades to pay off. With high interest rates and private mortgage insurance (PMI), the cost of owning a home can be immense.

To avoid PMI and get a good interest rate, you’ll need a few things.

Credit score

Your credit score is one thing that lenders take into consideration when determining how risky it is to lend to you. They want to know that they’ll receive a return on their investment and that you won’t stop paying your mortgage. A good way to gauge this is by looking at your financial history.

Your credit score mainly takes into account the following five things:

  1. Payment history - 35%: Do you pay your bills (utilities, loans, etc.) on time each month?

  2. Credit usage - 30%: How much of your maximum credit have you used? If you max out your cards this can reflect poorly on your ability to manage money. However, if you don’t use any accounts you might have a hard time building a payment history.

  3. Length of credit history - 15%: The longer you’ve been paying bills the more trustworthy you are to lenders

  4. New credit - 10%: If you recently opened or attempted to open cards this will temporarily lower your credit score as it could be a sign of financial duress

  5. Types of credit - 10%: store accounts, credit cards, loans, etc. Having a variety of credit types will boost your score.

Having student loans as a college graduate can often give your credit score a leg up on others who don’t have a credit history. However, to boost your score you’ll want to keep making on-time payments and consider using a credit card if you can afford it.

Employment history

Most recent college grads cringe when they hear that their employment history is important to lenders. However, you might be pleased to know that being a full-time student is something lenders take into consideration.

They will, however, need to see employment history from your current employer, and the more you can prove that you have a stable job the better.

Down payment

One of the most important things you can do right now is to save for a down payment. Designate a portion of your paycheck each week to a separate savings account if you need to in order to hold yourself accountable. The bigger down payment you can make, the better your interest rate and the more money you’ll save over the length of your mortgage.

Finally, don’t let increases in your salary change your lifestyle. Staying frugal will help you avoid “lifestyle inflation” or spending more simply because you make more. Decide what you value, and choose purchases wisely.


Are you a minimalist? If you’ve heard this question recently, you may be wondering just what it means and how does it affect you. It is NOT a set of rules.It is NOT about how much you own.

It is NOT about how much money you earn. 
It is NOT about buying specific items or giving up certain things.
It is NOT about being frugal.
It is NOT throwing out all your belongings and sleeping in a yurt (unless that makes you happy).
It is NOT about living in a tiny house (although it can be for you).
It IS about quality over quantity; peace over disorder; satisfaction over extravagance.

Minimalism is a mindset about what we require to be happy and what only clutters up our homes and our lives. It is about getting rid of the unnecessary things that take up space, consume time, and contribute to frustration and exhaustion. You can be a true minimalist in a mansion, a townhome, an apartment, or a houseboat as long as what fills your space contributes to contentment and order rather than stress and chaos.

When it comes to buying a home, minimalists look for spaces that reflect their personality rather than the latest trend. A minimalist is a different type of homebuyer. Becoming minimalist might be right up your alley if you hate the over-stuffed closet or messy junk drawer, find yourself irritated by clutter and uncomfortable with a hodgepodge of decorative items you subconsciously think of as “dust collectors.”

While a form of minimalism is an architectural style commonly seen in Japanese design with an aesthetic toward simplicity and clean lines, most homes do not fit into this category. Does that mean you can’t have a minimalist lifestyle? Of course not. Just adopt minimalist concepts to fit into any living space.

One way to accomplish this is to reduce the amount of furniture you have in each room. Opt for the pieces that everyone uses and give away ones that only fill up space. Reduce window coverings to a minimum rather than the multi-layered blind-sheer-drape-valance style. Organize the items that you keep so that each has a home. Reduce clutter by highlighting one or two items of a collection and rotating special pieces instead of displaying them all at once.

Simplify in other ways by installing native grasses and plants, thereby reducing the need for lawn care and gardening. Add interest to your yard with hardscaping: rock gardens or paver stones in decorative patterns.

When seeking a new home visualize what makes you most happy as you walk through model homes and open houses letting your imagination discard what doesn’t fit. Help your real estate professional know about your aesthetic to have the best chance of finding your minimalist home.


Whether you've just moved into a new neighborhood or have lived there for decades, there are many advantages to maintaining friendly relations with neighbors.

If, on the other hand, you adopt more of an isolated lifestyle, then the experience of home ownership may be a lot less fulfilling.

Taking the time to have a friendly chat with your neighbors, once in a while, can be helpful both now and in the long-term. While not everyone has a gregarious, outgoing personality, making the occasional effort to say hello can open the door to a number of benefits.

Home Security: The best neighborhoods are those in which everyone looks out for one another. When you know your neighbors on a first-name basis, they'll be a lot more likely to keep an eye on your house and let you (or the police) know when they observe any suspicious activity. It's also nice to feel comfortable enough to be able to ask your neighbors to watch your property while you're away -- either for the weekend or when you're on vacation. Even in low-crime areas, burglaries and vandalism has been known to happen, so it's in everyone's best interest to know their neighbors and be ready to help. Although Neighborhood Watch groups are not active everywhere, there's no reason why people still can't be alert and responsive to loitering, trespassing, or other questionable activity.

Networking Benefits: You may not need a plumber, electrician, or a reasonably priced HVAC technician, right now, but sooner or later, you will -- guaranteed! There may also come a time when you need emergency child care or fast help jump-starting your vehicle. You're probably not going to approach your neighbors for help if you don't know them, but there's a good chance you will if you do have a rapport. By sharing information, resources, and recommendations with neighbors, you'll be paving the way for a mutually beneficial relationship. While you may or may not become best friends, it's nice to know that there's someone nearby you can count on for support and help.

Feeling of community: Although some neighborhoods have a more friendly, close-knit feeling than others, it's often easy to break the ice with neighbors when you're outside -- either doing yard work, walking your dog, or going for a stroll. By taking the initiative to welcome new people into the neighborhood, you'll not only have a positive impact on their lives, but you might even forge a new, long-term friendship. You can also make social connections by chatting with people at yard sales, block parties, or by joining and being active in neighborhood Facebook or Nextdoor groups. While it may feel easier to just keep to yourself and avoid venturing outside of your comfort zone, becoming part of a larger community in your neighborhood (and beyond) is often much more rewarding!




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