Picking the Right Plumber – Avoiding Scams and Pitfalls

There are few things more fraught with purchasing hazards then the dreaded home contractor, plumber or car mechanic.  These home services are always hard to source correctly due to their complex nature, the lack of definitive market prices, and the ignorance of most home owners with regard to the details of the work.

That’s why it pays to be cautious and take your time when selecting a plumber.  Albeit, you might not always have the time, as many plumbing emergencies happen without warning, but it will be worth your while to education yourself a bit before such an emergency arises.

Tip #1 – Educate Yourself

One of the key ways that a non-trustworthy plumber (or contractor) can take advantage of a homeowner is through misinformation.  The homeowner will always be at a disadvantage, but it makes sense to do some research regarding the issue, so at least you can know what you’re talking about.

Online forums and guides are a wealth of information on any topic, and plumbing is no different.  While you won’t be a master plumber (and you should not attempt to do your own repairs, as plumber/electrical can be very dangerous), you can at least hold a somewhat decent conversation.

Being prepared with a little bit of knowledge will signal to the plumber that you aren’t a rube ready to get ripped off, and will also enable you to make sense of the estimates.

To that point, our next tip…

Tip #2 – Get a 2nd (and 3rd) Opinion

It never hurts to get a second opinion, this is true at the doctor’s office as well as in your household.  When time is of the essence (such as when your basement is flooded, or you don’t have hot water) it may be difficult to get a second opinion, but it other cases it will pay to be patient and have multiple companies visit for a quote.

A standard rate for a quote from a New Jersey Plumber is about $100, while other home contractors might even provide free estimates.  Considering the costs of final projects could run upwards to $1000+ dollars (much more for roofing or complex plumbing jobs), the cost of additional quotes can be easily factored into it.

If you get similar prices and feedback from 2+ independent sources, you can feel more comfortable that it is an accurate assessment of the situation.  At this point you can go with the lowest price, or make a judgment call.

Tip #3 – Evaluate Online Reviews – But They Aren’t Gospel

The advent of online review sites like Yelp or HomeAdvisor has been a handy way for homeowners to evaluate a home professional before committing any money.  However, we must keep in mind that it’s also be a handy way for disgruntled people to slander companies online.

Furthermore, if you read through the reviews carefully, it’s likely you’ll start to notice some that don’t sound quite natural.  The value of good reviews is so great that many companies will do whatever they can to prop up their positive review stats, and reduce their negative ones.

What this means is that you should take online reviews with a grain of salt.  Don’t just take a 5-star (or 3-star) rating at face value; Read through the reviews themselves and make a judgement call around whether they are legitimate or not.


There’s not getting around it: A plumbing emergency is going to cost you money.  Furthermore, it’s better to pay an expert to do an outstanding job, then cheap out for an amateur that will cause more problems in the long run.

Getting yourself a bit educated, getting multiple quotes and opinions, and doing research online will help you make the best decision for your home.

Is An Undermount Bathroom Sink Right For Your Bathroom?

There is no question that the bathroom and the kitchen are the most used rooms in the house. These rooms are used by family, friends, and visitors. They are the rooms most seen, and they have a huge impact on the resale value of your home.

When it comes time to replace your bathroom sink you want a modern sink that fits best in your bathroom and in your lifestyle. Here are a few things to consider before deciding on a new sink.

  • How much room do you have?
    • If space is limited, you want as much usable countertop space as possible.
  • How many people use this room at the same time?
    • Do you and your spouse get ready for work at the same time?
    • Do you have children that sometimes need to share your bathroom?
    • Do you need a single sink or a double sink?
    • How much space are you willing to give up?
  • Is your family an “on the go” family?
    • Do you need a sink that is easy to clean and always looks neat?

When you consider all of these options, you may find the best sink for your bathroom is an undermount bathroom sink. As the name suggests, the sink is mounted below and fixed to the countertop.

The undermount bathroom sink has no rim to clean. As a matter of fact, it is the easiest sink to clean. There is no rim to clean and therefore no debris can be stuck in the seam. Cosmetics and toiletries are easily wiped away. Spills and drips are wiped right into the sink and less of the sink is visible.

Undermount bathroom sinks are the most trendy sinks available right now. They are in most newly constructed homes that are on the market and are often chosen in remodel and upgrade projects.

A professional can install an undermount sink quickly. However, do not attempt to install one on your own. Installation of this kind of fixture is very important. If it is not sealed and mounted properly it could leak and cause costly damages.

If you are remodeling your bathroom, you will want to speak to the professional about which countertop is most suited to the undermount sink. Undermount sinks work best with solid- surface countertops. A good quality countertop and undermount sink will give your bathroom an elegant and clean look. For the busy family, this is the best option. It will last longer and remain beautiful and in style longer than most other options on the market.


Now that the holiday season is here and Christmas is right around the corner, it is the perfect time to create new splendid memories. New York is one of the places where during this season it seems every street is decorated in red and white and celebrating the holidays.

For people visiting for the holidays, including those visiting from Jersey on a day trip, one of the best ways to get around in comfort and see all the pretty sites is with a limo or party bus tour.

Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink and Observation Deck

Here, you get to have a ninety minutes skating session for the rink at Rockefeller center. Doors are open to the public from 8:30 am. With the VIP option, after skating you get admission to top of the rock. You also get to bypass queues, get beverages and freshly baked cookies.

New York botanical garden

This is a place that is guaranteed to leave an impact on both the young and the old. You get to be entertained with an enchanting holiday train show, whereby model trains goes through a display of 150 landmarks each re-created with barks, leaves and other natural materials.

This year’s exhibition showcases midtown Manhattan’s skyscrapers and other different forms of architecture, showcasing the Empire State building, General Electric building and St Bartholomew’s church. It is advisable to always book in advance though since the tickets are often sold out.

Serendipity Bakery

For a chance to re-create your movie fantasy and enjoy delicious ice cream and desert, You can visit serendipity which has been the scene of several films including the movie it’s named after serendipity.

Union square holiday market. With more than 100 red and white booths, Union square holiday market has local artisan vendors selling handcrafted items from artwork to jewelry to various varieties of foods and beverages. It is a good place to visit when on the party bus tour.

Dyker Heights, Brooklyn

Each year, masses of people visit the Brooklyn nabe to witness some extraordinary Christmas lights. There are plenty of houses lit up in amazing displays of lights, moving figures, sound effects and fountains. The views are so spectacular that it’s hard to notice how fast time flies as you walk down the streets. If you plan on visiting, make sure you are warm and have good shoes with you because the lights go on for quite a distance.

Metropolitan Museum of art.

Mostly known as the met, the metropolitan museum of art is the largest art museum in the United States. With so many exhibitions and some of the greatest art in the world, the met visit is an experience you would not want to miss.

Wollman Rink, Central Park

This is a public ice rink in central park. If you are a home alone 2 fan, this is a place you wouldn’t want to miss out on visiting during your bus tour. It is quite an awesome skating experience with some good music playing. And if you don’t have your skaters with you, it’s no worries since you can always hire.

Best Family Hiking Trails To Consider

This is a guest post from my friend Lauren Webber over at the DaintyMom.com. Enjoy!

Hiking is an amazingly healthy activity to do especially with family and loved ones. It has numerous health benefits such as strengthening the core muscles, regulating blood pressure, and lowering the risk of heart diseases. Hiking even aids in controlling weight – especially if you use sugar-free snacks.

If you’re doing it with family and kids, what could be a better way to bond in a natural environment free of technological distractions?

To get a break from the daily hustle of life, you can choose one of the following hiking trails that are also perfect for kids…  Continue reading →

Daily Harvest Review: Can This Smoothie Delivery Service Save You Time & Make You Healthier?


Smoothies are a big deal. In fact, they are now a $5 billion a year deal, according to Technomic, and are served up more than one million times each year. People love smoothies because they provide an easy way to consume a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables – and they taste great. With Daily Harvest, the smoothie market just got a little healthier.

Created by a busy mom looking to find simple and convenient ways to eat better, Daily Harvest delivers superfood smoothie ingredients to your door. With a mission of making fresh, organic ingredients – chiefly, fruits and vegetables – both accessible and convenient, this well-reviewed company delivers whole food smoothies, oats and soups to your freezer. Daily Harvest’s produce is picked and flash frozen within hours (rather than days or weeks, like some freezer-aisle produce) at its peak of quality, without adding any preservatives or sugar, to enhance nutrient density and flavor. All you have to do is open your freezer, add liquid, blend and enjoy.  Continue reading →

Which New Jersey Colleges Are Giving Students the Most Debt

Below is a guest post.

Jimmy Houghton is a CFP with three boys in high school preparing to enter college. As they seek to find the perfect schools for themselves, he urges them to consider the costs of attending each. Aside from his work, he enjoys writing about personal finance and blogging.

College graduates typically fare better in the job market than those with only a high school degree. However, as many high school graduates looking at colleges quickly learn, the cost of education is skyrocketing. By many estimates, the average cost for both tuition and fees for the 2016-2017 academic year was around $34,000 at private colleges and about $10,000 for residents attending state public colleges. Non-residents at state colleges spent an average of $25,000. Those are all national averages, but it can be helpful to look at the variances between schools within a particular state as well.

Even more so, it can be helpful to take a look at how much debt graduates actually have when leaving school, since the average cost of attendance doesn’t give an accurate picture of which schools are more generous with scholarships, which are in areas that are cheaper to live in, or any of the other variables that make a noticeable difference to how much debt you’re likely to walk away with. If you’re wondering where New Jersey stands when it comes to the schools where students graduate with the most debt, here are the top five.

Stevens Institute of Technology

First on our list is Stevens Institute of Technology, which is a private college focusing primarily on research programs in engineering, science, and management. Part of the reason this school is number one on our list of schools that give students the most debt might be because of the high cost of tuition. To attend SIT during the 2016-2017 academic year came to around $50,000 for tuition and fees alone. One perk, though: each incoming student is given a free laptop that is preconfigured with software specifically tailored to his or her major. While this is a nice bonus, we can’t help but note that it’s a one-time perk that comes with a side of large student loan bills for the majority of its alumni. Unfortunately, a high proportion of students also use private student debt, in addition to federal student debt, thus increasing the long term interest costs for students. About three-quarters of its graduates have both federal and private student loan debt.

Bloomfield College

The second spot on our list goes to Bloomfield College, located in Bloomfield, New Jersey. Tuition, fees, and other expenses for the 2016-2017 school year come to $29,000, which is fairly reasonable considering the cost of tuition both nationally and within New Jersey. Its graduates’ average debt is $47,000 and about 95% of its graduates have student loan debt. Bloomfield College is a historically Presbyterian liberal arts college.

Georgian Court University

Georgian Court University comes in third, with 89% of their students graduating with debt averaging almost $41,000. That’s significantly more than their yearly combined tuition and fees for full-time undergraduate students, which comes to roughly $32,000 for the 2016-2017 academic year. GCU is a Catholic college founded by the Sisters of Mercy. Its daytime undergraduate student body was women-only until 2013, when the school became fully co-educational. Students at GCU attend the School of Education, School of Arts & Sciences, or School of Business & Digital Media.

Centenary College

Tuition and fees for 2016-2017 at the fourth school on our list, Centenary College, run $32,098 a year. However, a whopping 100% of their graduates have student loan debt (the highest on our list) and it averages $40,588 per person when their four years are up. Centenary is a small liberal arts college offering undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees, and it is located in Hackettstown, New Jersey.

New Jersey Institute of Technology

Last on our list is the New Jersey Institute of Technology, located in Newark, New Jersey. Unlike most on our list, this school is a public institution, and in-state tuition and fees comes to an affordable $16,000. Non-residents paying out-of-state prices were charged almost double that, however, with 2016-2017 costs coming in at $30,326. This college is a public research institution with programs in engineering, business, science, architecture, and technology fields. Of the five schools highlighted on this list, it has both the lowest average debt upon graduation ($37,195) and the lowest percentage of graduates with student loan debt (62%). In fact, among institutes of higher education in the entire state of New Jersey, it has one of the lowest percentages of graduates with debt, even though its average debt puts it on our top five list.

An Intro to BasicInvite.com

Below is a sponsored post.

Basic Invite is one company that’s passionate about giving you an easy way to create and order custom invitations, cards, and announcements that look amazing. With limitless options, you’re able to create a card that’s unique to you and fits your style exactly. They give you the control to make customizations, so the end result is ultimately in your hands.

Their shop provides customers with a wide array of categories to choose from, so you’re sure to find what you need for any upcoming events. You can order your entire wedding suite from them (including save the date cards, invitations, and enclosure cards), you can announce your baby’s birth with an amazing photo card, and you can even send out modern baby shower invitations with their unique designs. They even offer invitations for other types of parties, thank you cards, and options for businesses!

To give you a better understanding of exactly what Basic Invite has to offer you, keep reading to learn more about some of their available products and what makes them unique compared to similar companies.

Custom Invitations

Get people excited about your upcoming celebrations and invite them with a gorgeous invitation. Whether you need wedding invitations, birthday party invitations, or baby girl shower invitations, Basic Invite has plenty for you to choose from. Customize your invitation to your liking and then choose the perfect matching (or complementary) envelope and deliver it to your guests. An invitation that stands out is sure to get them excited for your event!

Basic Invite also allows you to get creative with the design template you choose, as you can make color edits to every element on the invitation. They even have options for every event in your calendar, such as graduation parties, Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah celebrations, and even baby shower invitations for twins. No matter what you’re looking for, Basic Invite is sure to have it!

Custom Cards

When it comes to cards for those important events in your life, you’ll find exactly what you need inside their online shop. They provide a variety of cards, including: holiday cards, graduation cards, and even baby shower thank you cards. If you do both invitations and thank you cards with Basic Invite, you can find matching designs to ensure everything fits the theme of your celebration.

If you’re preparing for a wedding, they even have designs for enclosure cards. If you need direction cards, RSVP cards, accommodation cards, reception cards, or registry cards, there are some great options for you. Think of Basic Invite as your one-stop shop for all your card needs! There’s no need to seek cards from another source, so you won’t have to worry about trying to match their design to someone else’s.

Custom Announcements

Need to make an important announcement? They’ve got you covered! In the Basic Invite shop, you’ll find templates for wedding announcements and also birth announcements. You can spread the news about you nuptials or your new bundle of joy in style with the help of their creative designs. There are a plethora of designs you can choose from, including many that allow you to upload your own photos.

Better yet, you’re able to customize each element of your chosen design to create exactly the announcement you had in mind. With so many color options and customizations to choose from, you can take their templates and make them unique to you. The entire process is much easier (and more affordable) than hiring a designer to do custom work for you.

What Makes Basic Invite Different From the Rest

When ordering from Basic Invite, you are provided with an almost unlimited selection of colors for your order. Whether you’re purchasing invitations, cards, or announcements, you can choose from a wide array of colors to create exactly the design that appeals to you. There are over 180 different color options to choose from, allowing you to change the color of each element on your design. This allows you to truly customize your creation so you can bring your chosen design to life.

They even provide over 40 different colors of envelopes. After all, the envelope your card is placed in is equally as important and should look great as well! With so many color options to choose from, you’re sure to find the right shade to pair with your design. This ensures your baby boy shower invitations, party invites, or other cards are exactly what you wanted. Each envelope is peel and seal, which is both quick and secure.

And, there’s no need to stress about what the end result will look like either. Basic Invite allows you to order a printed sample of the card you designed. This gives you the opportunity to see exactly how it’ll print and allow you to check out the paper quality all before you place your final order. By ordering a printed sample first, you can be sure you’re 100% happy with your design before placing a full order. If you receive a sample and you need to make some changes, you can do that easily.

You also have the option to use their free address collection service. It’s so simple to use. All you have to do is share a link, collect the addresses you need, and then you can receive free envelope printing. All of this is done through a stylish landing page that you’re able to create. It’s also safe, so your family and friends don’t have to worry about sending their personal information. This takes the hassle out of gathering addresses from your mailing list and makes the entire process stress-free for you! Plus, all of the addresses are saved in your address book for later use.

Whether you’re looking for custom invitations, cards, or announcements, Basic Invite is definitely a great place to turn. With all the design templates they have to choose from, it may even be a little difficult settling on a final option but that’s all part of the fun!

NYC Trip Planning Checklist

Hello ladies! In one week we take our annual family trip to New York City! We’ll be sightseeing, seeing a show, and visiting some relatives out there. The whole gang is excited to go.

Since I’m planning everything now, I figured I would share my planning checklist for anyone else who is going as well.

Hope you enjoy! 

Planning an NYC Trip

When you’re planning for a trip, there’s no doubt that it can be a pretty hectic and stressful time. You have to arrange for travel and accommodations, you may create a plan for what you want to do once you’re there, and you have to get everything packed and ready to go. There’s a lot of stuff to take care of before you leave and you still have to make sure you make it out the door on time.

If you happen to be planning a trip to NYC, we’ve got you covered with a few things you won’t want to forget about. They’re sure to make your planning and your overall trip go much, much more smoothly!

Start Planning Your Trip Before You Leave

New York City is a very busy place with a lot of sights to see. There are so many shops, restaurants, and shows to see that you will likely have a packed scheduled during your stay if you’re trying to fit everything in. To make it a little easier and to ensure your trip goes well, you should really plan everything before you catch that plane or train to the Big Apple.

So, are there any New York City hotspots that you’d like to see while you’re here? Make a list of all the places you would like to visit. You might want to do the touristy things like check out the Statue of Liberty or go to the top of the Empire State Building. You may want to dine at some of the city’s finest restaurants or shop at some of the best stores. A great NYC resource (and one of my favorite sites) is Gothamist.

No matter what you’re planning to do during your stay, it would be worthwhile to plan everything in advance. You can create your own itinerary and block off time for certain adventures each day to make sure you can fit everything in. (And if you can’t, it’s all the more reason to come back for another stay, right?) Also, if you hope to visit any popular restaurants, you will want to make a reservation before you arrive just to be sure you can get a table when you want one. And if you’re dying to see that Broadway show, secure your tickets prior to the trip!

Get a CityPass to See Popular Destinations

There are quite a few popular tourist destinations in New York and if you’re planning to visit any, you might want to look into getting a CityPass. For NYC, the CityPass has two options for visitors. You can get a pass that will allow you to visit six destinations, three of which will be chosen for you and the other three will be your own choice. This pass allows you to visit the Empire State Building, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You will then have a choice between the Top of the Rock Observation Deck or the Guggenheim Museum, the Statute of Liberty and Ellis Island or Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum or the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

The other CityPass option allows you to see three destinations of your choice from the ones listed above. It provides an affordable option for you to see some of the city’s most popular destinations.

Arrange for Luggage Storage

Do you really want to drag your suitcase, backpack, or any other luggage around the busy and crowded streets of New York City? Of course not! Instead of having the added stress of carrying your luggage around and worrying about it all day long, there’s a much easier option you should go for.

Be sure to check out my friends over at City CoPilot, they provide safe and affordable luggage storage for people traveling to NYC. So, let’s say you’ve arrived in the city, but there are still hours before your check-in time at your hotel or AirBnB. You don’t have to worry about taking your luggage with you everywhere while you kill time. You can drop off your belongings at one of their luggage storage facilities all over NYC. They have locations in the Lower East Side, Times Square, and Brooklyn!

You can feel secure knowing your personal items are safe in one of our facilities. Plus, you don’t have to worry about taking your luggage into stores or restaurants where they might get in the way or could be misplaced. Everything will be safe and sound in one of our locations for you to come back and collect later on.

Know How You’ll Get Around the City

While many things are within walking distance of where you’ll be staying, odds are that you will have to catch a a taxi or take the subway at some point. It’s a good idea to know how you’ll be getting around before you get there so you can set some money aside in your travel budget for transportation. You can choose to take a taxi cab, ride on the subway, or even order an Uber or Lyft. If you’re planning to use Uber or Lyft, you’ll want to make sure you have downloaded and familiarized yourself with the apps beforehand! On my last trip to NYC I hadn’t downloaded or used either app on my iPhone and had to spend 30 minutes setting it up so we could finally get a ride. Ugh!

You may also want to download a NYC transit apps to help you locate trains, find schedules, and more. It’s sure to make getting around the city much easier!

Let Your Bank Know You’ll be Traveling

There’s nothing worse than traveling somewhere, going to use your debit or credit card, and having it get declined by your bank due to suspicious activity. To avoid this happening, before you arrive in New York City, let your bank know that you will be traveling. Tell them which days you’ll be out of town and where you will be so they don’t flag legitimate usage as fraudulent.

Personal story… On a trip to California I hadn’t told my bank that we were traveling and they froze our card after we used it once! It was a real headache to figure out.

Pack Smart

And of course, you will need to get all of your belongings packed before you head out to catch your transportation to New York. In order to pack the right items for your trip, there are a couple of things to consider. What will the weather be like during your stay? Check the weather for the time that you’ll be in the city and pack the appropriate clothes for the weather.

You’ll also want to consider what you will be doing while you’re here. Do you have any fancier events to attend? Make sure you pack a dressy outfit that would be appropriate to wear. Also, if you’re planning to do a lot of walking, you’ll want to make sure you pack your most comfortable shoes so you can focus on just enjoying your trip and avoid any unnecessary foot pain.

And you just might want to leave a little extra room in your suitcase for all the shopping you’ll likely do during your stay!

How to Use Cold Emails to Find a Powerful Mentor


Search “why mentors are important” and you’ll find page after page of results detailing how mentors can help entrepreneurs avoid mistakes, learn the ins and outs of their respective industries, and make invaluable connections as they build their businesses. Cue the frantic onslaught of would-be entrepreneurs hurling emails at any high-level executive whom they hope might give them advice.  Continue reading →