Majority of Home Buyers Unaware of Down Payment Assistance Programs

Although there are hundreds of millions of dollars available for down payment assistance, 70 percent of U.S. adults are unaware of these programs for middle-income home buyers in their community, according to findings from the second annual America at Home survey commissioned by NeighborWorks America.

NeighborWorks organizations provided 6,000 people with more than $100 million in such assistance last year, and expect to make even more available this year.

Down payment assistance is especially helpful for home buyers who are unsure about affordability because of student loan debt.

C.A.R. [CA Association of Realtors] offers a resource to help buyers find down payment assistance programs. In California alone, there are more than 300 homeownership programs available, including direct down payment and closing costs assistance as well as mortgage credits of up to $2,000 for the life of the loan.

find out more —>

courtesy of:  CA Association of Realtors

Women Challenging Rules, Changing History

Anna Fisher, “the first mother in space”

first mother in

courtesy of:

10 Christmas Light Tips to Save Time, Money, and (Possibly) Your Life

Here’s how to light up your Christmas light display safely and economically.

Christmas lights can be modest displays to show good cheer, or million-bulb light-apaloozas that draw gawkers from near and far. Here are some tips on how to get the most from — and spend the least on — your holiday display.

1. Safety first. Emergency rooms are filled with home owners who lose fights with their holiday lights and fall off ladders or suffer electric shocks. To avoid the holiday black and blues, never hang lights solo; instead, work with a partner who holds the ladder. Also, avoid climbing on roofs after rain or snow.

2. Unpack carefully. Lights break and glass cuts. So unpack your lights gingerly, looking for and replacing broken bulbs along the way.

3. Extension cords are your friends. Splurge on heavy-duty extension cords that are UL-listed for outdoor use. To avoid overloading, only link five strings of lights together before plugging into an extension cord.

4. LEDs cost less to light. LED Christmas lights use roughly 70% to 90% less energy and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. You can safely connect many more LED light strings than incandescents. Downside: Some think they don’t burn as brightly as incandescent bulbs.

5. Solar lights cost nothing to run. Solar Christmas lights are roughly four times more expensive to buy than LEDs, but they cost zero to run. They’re a bright-burning, green alternative. Downside: If there’s no sun during the day, there’s no light at night. The jury’s also still out on how long they last; they’re too new on the market for results.

6. Dismantle lights sooner than later. Sun, wind, rain, and snow all take their toll on Christmas lights. To extend the life of lights, take them down immediately after the holidays. The longer you leave the up, the sooner you’ll have to replace them.

7. Plan next year’s display on Dec. 26. Shop the after-Christmas sales to get the best prices on lights and blowups that you can proudly display next year. Stock up on your favorite lights so you’ll have spares when you need them (and after they’re discontinued).

8. Permanent attachments save time. If you know you’ll always hang lights from eaves, install permanent light clips ($13 for 75 clips) that will save you hanging time each year. You’ll get a couple/three years out of the clips before sun eats the plastic.

9. Find those blueprints. Instead of guessing how many light strings you’ll need, or measuring with a tape, dig up your house blueprints or house location drawings (probably with your closing papers) and use those measurements as a guide.

10. Store them in a ball. It sounds counterintuitive, but the best way to store lights is to ball them up. Wrap five times in one direction, then turn the ball 90 degrees and repeat. Store your light balls in cardboard boxes, rather than in plastic bags: Cardboard absorbs residual moisture and extends the life of your lights.

Courtesy of:

World Famous FREE Museums Around The Globe! (Reykjavík, Iceland)

Reykjavik Museum of Photography

Reykjavík Museum of Photography is the only independent museum of photography in Iceland - free admission every dayfrom Foursquare

courtesy of:

$3.4M Federal Grant to Improve Health and Safety for Young Children

Standing outside a City Heights home recently upgraded to make it safer, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer today announced the City of San Diego has received a $3.4 million grant from the federal government to help improve the lives of residents in neighborhoods throughout the city.

The city has an estimated 310,000 homes built before 1978, the year lead-based paint was banned for residential use throughout the country. The grant will be used to eliminate lead paint and other hazards in those homes … The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and will be used by the City’s Lead Safety and Healthy Homes Program, which prioritizes homes in which children under the age of six reside or frequently visit … Lead-based paint can become a hazard if it is peeling, chipping, chalking, cracking or heat-damaged because that allows the toxic lead to be released into the home environment … Children under the age of six are at higher risk for lead poisoning because their bodies absorb more lead and their hand-to-mouth activities increase exposure. Even small amounts of lead can have severe effects on a child’s nervous system and can also cause brain damage, learning disabilities, hearing loss, and reduced muscle and bone growth … Grants ranging from $4,500 to $10,000 per unit will be available for owner-occupied residences and rental housing. Eligibility for the program is based on family size and income … For more information, please contact the City’s Lead Safety & Healthy Homes Program at (858) 694-7000 or or go to

read more —> 

Solar Christmas Lights: Should You Make the Switch?

Solar Christmas lights don’t cost anything to operate, but are they better than plug-in LED strings?

In the last few years, energy-efficient LED holiday lights have largely replaced more wattage-thirsty incandescent strings, resulting in significant savings — LED lights use 50% less energy than their incandescent predecessors, and they last up to 10 times longer as well.

Now there’s a newish kid in the string-light neighborhood: LED solar Christmas lights promise grid-free festive lighting.

Powering up Solar Christmas Lights

A string of solar Christmas lights uses a small solar panel for power; there are no extension cords that must be plugged into outlets. The panel — about the size of a hockey puck — powers rechargeable batteries that illuminate a 25- to 100-bulb string of LED lights.

Panels come with small stakes so you can put them in the ground, where they can take advantage of the sun. A fully-charged string of lights should glow for six to eight hours after the sun goes down.

Solar Lights vs. LED Plug-In Costs

Pricing for solar-powered and plug-in LED holiday lights runs neck and neck.

Compare purchase prices:

  • A 100-light string of miniature solar-powered LED lights costs about $20 to $40.
  • A 100-light string of miniature plug-in LED lights costs about $20 to $46.

Compare costs to operate:

  • Operating a string of plug-in LED holiday lights for 300 hours — more than enough time for an entire holiday season — costs about 24 cents, using an average energy cost of 12 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh).
  • Solar-powered Christmas lights, of course, don’t cost anything to operate. That means you’re saving 24 cents per year in energy costs.

Advantages of Solar Lights

  • No extension cords
  • No need for exterior electrical outlets
  • Withstand cold temperatures and precipitation
  • Zero cost to operate
  • Light output comparable to plug-in lighting
  • Green option


  • May not operate under cloudy skies
  • Unproven longevity (too new on the market for results)

Read more:


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 344 other followers

%d bloggers like this: