Your Home - Need Help With a Home Maintenance Project? Use Your Smartphone

Undoubtedly, if you have recently needed to speak with your primary care physician, you've been doing that on the phone or via an online meeting. Medical checkups are currently almost all virtual. If you are an active member of the workforce, Zoom meetings have become the new norm as well. But did you know there is now a virtual service that can help you with your home maintenance needs? Enter Hippo Home Care. A virtual tele-maintenance service, Hippo is now offering free help to homeowners so they keep their home working properly while we're all staying sheltered in place. 

According to the company, you can use their free tele-maintenance service to talk directly with a home maintenance professional whenever you have questions or issues in your home. They'll allow you to schedule a complimentary virtual 'house call' with a Hippo Home Care Pro that will help you solve your problem by phone or video chat. 

The company has completely shifted to a virtual model for the time being as a service to customers who might not be comfortable having strangers in their house during the pandemic. Customers can schedule a Virtual House Call to troubleshoot specific issues and also use the tele-maintenance service for a complimentary guided Hippo Home Care Home Checkup. 

The free service is available to anyone in the U.S. who needs help with home repair or maintenance. Homeowners can visit the company's website to schedule a time to talk to a certified professional. During the appointment, Hippo's Home Pros can "walk you through resolving issues yourself or recommend getting professional help." Calls are set in 30-minute increments, but, should the problem not be fixed, the call may be extended, or Hippo can arrange an in-home service from a local provider, if needed. Customers should be prepared with a general set of tools; screwdrivers, Allen wrenches, adjustable wrenches, and a cordless drill can typically do the trick.

Finances - Want to Raise Your Credit Score? Here's How

No matter what type of mortgage you are applying for, you can rest assured that the program is going to require a minimum credit score. Depending upon the type of loan and the amount of down payment, credit score minimums can vary. 

Most conventional loans ask for a minimum score of 620. If you're just starting out to establish your credit history, or if you have a credit history but it has a few blemishes on it, it's possible your existing scores are too low at the present time for the loan you're looking for. But there are some things you can do right away to nudge those scores back up. Even for someone with a score near 700, these tips can help as well. 

Make Your Payments on Time 

You of course want to always make every effort to make credit card and other loan payments on time. There is a key number of days though that you never want to extend past. That key number is 30 days past the due date. Let's say an account has a due date on the 5th but you don't get paid until the 15th. If you pay it on the 15th it won't be counted as a late payment on your credit report. You may have to pay some late payment penalties for making your payment after the payment due date, but staying inside that 30-day window will ensure that nothing gets reported to the credit bureaus. 

Keep Balances to About 1/3 of Your Total Available Credit 

Think paying off all your debt and keeping your credit card balances at zero is the way to go? Believe it or not, that's actually not the case. Your scores will actually improve if you show a small balance and a history of making timely payments. If there's no balance, there are no payments being made and therefore no history. Timely payments account for 35% of the total score, while proper balances make up 30%. You can tell right away that concentrating on these two tips alone will have the greatest impact, and that being sooner rather than later. For those with sterling credit, this category will carry the biggest punch. 

Keep an Eye on How Many Accounts You Have Open 

You also need to pay attention to how many credit accounts you have. When first starting out with credit accounts, there will be credit inquiries made by the creditors you're applying with. Most mortgage programs ask there be at least three credit accounts appearing on a credit report. Once you've reached these numbers, stop applying for more accounts and instead focus on using a small portion of your available credit and regularly making payments on time. Don't apply for additional credit. A few initial inquiries for credit won't hurt your scores, but multiple requests over an extended period of time will actually impact your credit score, driving it lower. 

This article is for information, illustrative and entertainment purposes only and does not purport to show actual results. It is not, and should not be regarded as investment advice or as a recommendation regarding any particular investment action.

Personal Interest - Want a Healthier Lifestyle? Try These Five Tips

We all have a vision of us being our best selves and want to know how to be healthy, but at times it can seem like an unattainable goal. Where do you even start? Do you need to overhaul your entire life in one shot? The answer, happily is no. When it comes to adopting new healthy habits and making them stick, there are lots of little things you can do that will make a big difference in the long run, without driving you insane. Instead of trying to upgrade your health with a huge makeover, start with these five small, practically painless tips for long-lasting results. 

Put your food away when you're done serving yourself 

When preparing your meals, put your serving of food on a plate and put away the rest. It's human nature to eat more if the food is sitting right there within reach. You can of course always make an additional portion if you are truly hungry, but you want to always make sure you are only putting more food on your plate because you are actually hungry and not because it's just conveniently in front of you. 

Drink a glass of water before each meal 

Drinking the amount of water you need each day is necessary for all of your body's systems to function smoothly, but it will also keep you from overeating due to hunger, making it easier to take a more mindful approach to your meals. As you are in the kitchen preparing your meal, start your meal out with an appetizer of a glass of water. You'll find you not only eat less overall, but find your meal that much more satisfying. 

Chew each bite thoroughly before swallowing 

Powering through your plate and not chewing can lead to bloating because of the extra air you're swallowing. The result is feeling way too full because you didn't give your body a chance to process the food before you polish off your plate. You completely miss out on the taste of the food and how good it actually was. If you are unsatisfied with the meal you just ate, even if you feel full, you are likely to seek out more food to eat. 

To combat this, chew slowly and completely. Enjoy the taste of each bit and swallow naturally and slowly, avoiding gulping down your meals. 

For Every Hour You Sit, Walk for Five Minutes 

Sitting all day isn't good for you. It's bad for your metabolism and it's bad for your heart. Physical activity is extremely important for your longevity. Having a busy work and home life can sometimes make it feel impossible to fit it in, but peppering movement throughout your day is much more doable. 

Many smartwatches and smartphones have apps built into them to remind you to get up every hour and get a little movement. Taking that break is not only important for your health, but also great to clear your mind and give you a “reset,” making you more effective when you sit back down to pick up where you left off with your work. 

If You Hate a Particular Type of Exercise, Find Something Else 

The key to being consistently healthy is picking an exercise activity you'll actually enjoy enough to continue doing. The types of exercise that make your soul want to die but has the maximum immediate caloric payoff will not help you in the long run. 

This kind of approach helps you get honest with yourself about where your motivation comes from. Getting to the bottom of this is key when trying to cement any sort of habit, especially physical ones like exercising. It's much harder to stick with despised activities than pleasant ones.

Thank you and have a great month!