6 Home Renovations That Pamper Pets Beyond Compare

pampered-pet

You know your pets are genuine members of the family when you start to think about renovating your house specifically to accommodate their needs. Of course you want your cat, dog, or any critter under your roof to be happy, so why not add a couple of amenities built just for him? And when the time comes to sell, your home will be extra appealing to other pet lovers. Plus today’s pet renovations have gone way beyond the usual tiny swinging door. Here are six of the newest house-trained trends.

A pet nap nook under the stairs

Consider making the area below your stairs into a fab pet nook, suggests Anna Shiwlall, a designer at 27 Diamonds in Los Angeles. “It’s usually just dead space if it’s not a closet, so talk to your contractor about cutting out this spot to make a comfy nest for your pup. Add lighting and then paint the inside a fun color. “You could also put up some fun wall decor, like bones for dogs or paws for cats, and pictures of foods they like, too.” Choose a cute bed or dog chaise that looks like a normal chaise—but smaller. It’ll give your furry friend a cool chill-out pit, and you a great conversation piece.

Spill-proof dishes

Along with tufts of animal fur, puppy kibble is the next biggest source of pet mess in most homes. The fix: a built-in feeding station that will store dishes out of the line of traffic and keep spills to a minimum. “You could also install concealed compartments in the kitchen to house your pet’s food bags and keep them from cluttering the pantry floor,” suggests Kathryn LaBarbera, president of Closet Factory. If you feed your pet in the mud room, add hooks over this spot for her leash, extra collar, and jackets. A cubby or shelf can hold pet meds, shampoo, and a jar of doggie treats. “Sliding wire baskets are also great for organizing toys, whether they’re in the mudroom or the living room,” says LaBarbera.

A doggy shower

A kitchen island pet crate

Matching beds

Pet sanctuary

The hot thing right now in home renovation is to create multipurpose flex spaces, reports LaBarbera. And that trend can benefit your furred or taloned loved ones as well. “From home offices that transform into guest rooms, courtesy of a wall bed, to laundry rooms that double as pet sanctuaries, the key is to figure out how to double up on these spaces,” she explains. For example, if you only do laundry once a week, you might want to design a spot for your pet to sleep underneath the cabinets so he’s out of the way of regular foot traffic, but can still get some peace and quiet.

Hurricane Irma’s storm path: What you should know

As Hurricane Irma barrels toward the northeast Caribbean, it has strengthened into a Category 5 storm.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center has warned of a growing possibility the hurricane could impact Florida later this week – as Texas and Louisiana are still dealing with the devastating aftermath caused by Hurricane Harvey earlier this month.

“Everyone in hurricane-prone areas should ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place,” officials said.

Here’s what you should know about Hurricane Irma and its trajectory.

Where is Hurricane Irma today?

As of Tuesday morning, Hurricane Irma is about 270 miles east of the Caribbean island of Antigua, according to an advisory.

It has maximum sustained winds of about 180 mph and was classified as a Category 5 – the highest rating for hurricanes – on Tuesday morning.

When is it expected to make landfall?

Hurricane Irma is expected to slam through the Leeward Islands in the West Indies, and tropical storm winds could begin to arrive in the area today, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Irma is also expected to impact the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, according to forecasters.

Additionally, Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Haiti are also in the projected path of Hurricane Irma, the National Hurricane Center said.

The Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys could be impacted by the storm later this week and weekend, but otherwise it’s too early to tell how Irma could impact the continental U.S., according to the National Hurricane Center.

A hurricane warning is currently in effect for more than a dozen island nations, including the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Antigua and Saint Martin.

The Dominican Republic has issued a hurricane watch for parts of the country.

What else should I know about the storm?

Hurricane Irma is classified as a Category 5 storm – meaning it is extremely dangerous. It brings with it life-threatening winds, storm surges and rainfall, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Authorities warned that the storm could dump up to 10 inches of rain, cause landslides and flash floods and generate waves of up to 23 feet. Government officials began evacuations and urged people to finalize all preparations as shelves emptied out across islands including Puerto Rico.

HURRICANE IRMA NOW POWERFUL CATEGORY 5 STORM

“The decisions that we make in the next couple of hours can make the difference between life and death,” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said. “This is an extremely dangerous storm.”

Residents on the U.S. East Coast were urged to monitor the storm’s progress in case it should turn northward toward Florida, Georgia or the Carolinas.

“It also has the potential to significantly strain FEMA and other governmental resources occurring so quickly on the heels of (Hurricane) Harvey.”

– Evan Myers, chief operating officer of AccuWeather

“This hurricane has the potential to be a major event for the East Coast. It also has the potential to significantly strain FEMA and other governmental resources occurring so quickly on the heels of (Hurricane) Harvey,” Evan Myers, chief operating officer of AccuWeather, said in a statement.

And while its impact on the continental U.S. isn’t fully known yet, Florida Gov. Rick Scott already declared a state of emergency Monday in order to ensure “local governments have ample time, resources and flexibility to get prepared for this dangerous storm.”

Mexico stirs up world’s largest batch of guacamole at 6,600 pounds

Holy guacamole!

Mexico is a country obsessed with breaking world records – albeit obscure ones – and on Sunday around 1,000 volunteers in the state of Jalisco stirred up the largest batch of guacamole ever. More than 600 students from a local culinary school and 400 people from a nearby town helped peel, mash and mix some 25,000 avocados to make 6,600 pounds of the green dip.

Jalisco’s governor was on hand to receive the official recognition presented by a representative from the Guinness Book of World Records.

The gigantic guacamole is only the latest in a slew of world records that has been set in Mexico over the last few years.

From the most people kissing simultaneously (39,897 people on Valentine’s Day 2009) to the largest pork taco (about 240 feet long and weighing 330,000 pounds in November 2011), the country under siege by a bloody drug war is on a mission to be known as something else: the country that has the largest, the biggest and the most of everything.

Besides holding the world’s record for most people kissing at the same time, the country also holds the record for the most people hugging at the same time. And a year before dancers in Guadalajara grabbed the 2011 folk dancing record, another local group claimed “most people twirling lassos simultaneously.”

And so hundreds, sometimes thousands, at a time descend on Mexico to try to break the record for the world’s largest zombie walk (about 9,800 people in November 2011) or the most mariachi musicians ever gathered in one place (about 549 in August 2009) or whatever record the country is trying to break at that moment.

Some, like former Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Jorge Castañeda, deride the world record push and say it is troublesome.

“As a people, Mexicans shun genuine competition,” Castañeda wrote in the Los Angeles Times. “Claiming Guinness records is a way of winning something without actually having to compete one-on-one.”

But others say that Guinness offers escapist fun. Consuming the world’s largest cheesecake distracts from Mexico’s real problems: the drug war’s rising death toll and the country’s rampant corruption.

Likewise, some believe Mexico’s record-seeking is a push for attention in a world that doesn’t take it seriously.

Guinness’s own analysis is less harsh.

Ina Garten can’t get enough of this seasonal fruit

One of the best parts of summer is all the fresh produce, perfect on its own or an excellent addition to any meal for an instant healthy update. And even though the season is coming to an end, Ina Garten seems to be taking advantage of these last few weeks by eating as much fruit as possible.

It appears that the Barefoot Contessa is especially fond of one fruit in particular: tomatoes. The celebrity chef took to Instagram recently to share her love of the fruit, posting images of several varieties of tomatoes along with a couple easy dishes to incorporate them.

Garten snapped a pic at the farmer’s market, showing cartons overflowing with fresh cherry tomatoes, which are a key ingredient in her Summer Garden Pasta. She shared the quick and delicious recipe on Instagram just a few days prior, which features cherry tomatoes, basil and garlic marinated in olive oil for four hours, tossed with angel hair pasta and topped with parmesan cheese.

 Image result for Ina Garten can't get enough of this seasonal fruit

The chef shared another classic tomato dish: caprese salad with sliced heirloom and cherry tomatoes, sprinkled with fresh basil. “THIS!!!! Dinner tonight!” she wrote.

Garten also prompted her fans to share their own favorite recipes featuring tomatoes. She posted a photo of a heaping plate full of colorful heirloom tomatoes, writing “I love when this …becomes.” Suggestions included a tomato grilled cheese sandwich, summer salad and tomato tart.

Tomatoes aren’t the only food Garten eats regularly. Earlier this year, she shared that she eats the same breakfast every day. “I’ve had the same thing for breakfast every single day for 10 years: coffee and McCann’s quick-cooking Irish oatmeal,” revealed Garten, adding that she cooks the oats with lots of salt so it doesn’t “taste like wallpaper paste.”

NASCAR driver Daniel Suarez loses Subway sponsorship after handing out Dunkin’ Donuts on TV

Daniel Suarez, of Mexico, talks with crew members after practice for the NASCAR Cup Series auto race in Brooklyn, Mich., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Subway has pulled its sponsorship of the #19 NASCAR driven by Daniel Suarez after the racer was featured in an NBC segment handing out Dunkin’ Donuts around New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The sandwich chain was three races into a four-race commitment to the Joe Gibbs Racing Team when it announced that it was terminating the sponsorship “due to circumstances beyond our control,” according to ESPN.

Suarez, the only Mexican-born driver in the Sprint Cup series and the first foreign-born driver to win a national NASCAR championship in the Xfinity series in 2016, rode around the campgrounds of the track in a golf cart with NBC host Rutledge Wood interacting with fans in the video, which aired in July.

Joe Gibbs confirmed that the video was the reason behind Subway’s move.

“That’s my understanding. That’s what I’ve heard,” Gibbs told NESN. “It’s a surprise because we only heard about it (Saturday).”

Subway doesn’t sell donuts, but it does have a breakfast menu, which makes the two competitors.

Suarez’ team will now need to find his car a new primary sponsor for the Alabama 500 on October 15th.

A few of Suarez’s NASCAR colleagues Tweeted their support for the 25-year-old driver.

Million-dollar startups: These firms scored big sales their first year

million dollar startups crowd cow 3

Longtime friends Ethan Lowry and Joe Heitzeberg were intrigued when a friend of theirs kept bragging about the incredible taste of beef he bought in bulk from a local farm. But when the two went to place an order, they learned they’d have to buy an entire cow — over 500 pounds of meat.

Why not “crowdfund” the cow, Lowry thought. That way, 50 people could each get a manageable 10 pounds of meat. They knew it sounded like a crazy idea, but if it went well, they thought, maybe it could even turn into a business. They found a farm, and emailed 100 friends. They sold out their first cow in 24 hours. So they decided to create Crowd Cow.

Within a few months of launching, the business had already generated more than $1 million in sales.

Crowd Cow partners directly with small sustainable farms that give their cattle ample grazing land. and never use growth hormones or unnecessary antibiotics. “When you buy from Crowd Cow, the site tells you exactly which farm your beef comes from, and all about the farm and farmer who raised it,” Lowry says.

Crowd Cow is available in limited cities in the West and Texas, and plans to expand nationwide at the end of May.

3 myths that could tank your credit score

Whatever your credit score is, it could probably be higher.

Many people are taking steps to improve their credit worthiness — but if they go about it the wrong way, misled by myths, they could actually hurt their scores.

Here are three myths that could tank your credit score — and below them, some misunderstandings about credit scores that could also hurt you:

Myth No. 1: Closing out credit card accounts will boost your score

Many people assume that if they close out a bunch of credit card accounts, their credit scores will rise. After all, having fewer cards means less possible debt, right? Well, not exactly. Check out the components that determine your FICO score, which is the most commonly used credit score:

  • Payment history — 35%
  • Credit utilization (amount owed vs. limit) — 30%
  • Length of credit history — 15%
  • New credit –10%
  • Other factors such as your credit mix — 10%

Closing credit card accounts can actually hurt your score. That’s because your score takes your “credit utilization” into account, comparing how much you have borrowed with how much you could borrow (i.e., all your various credit limits). If you close an account, you lose that credit limit, so your credit utilization ratio will rise.

For example, if you owe $4,000 and your combined credit limit is $20,000, your credit utilization ratio will be $4,000 divided by $20,000, or 20%. If you close an account and your total credit limit drops to $12,000, your ratio will rise to 33%.

Note that if you ever want or need to close an account, it’s best to close newer accounts, as older accounts are more valuable, demonstrating a long credit history. Or close ones with low credit limits. You’ll rarely need to close accounts, though. Just lock up some cards and stop using them. Or perhaps close out one account every six months or so.

Myth No. 2: Not using credit cards can boost your credit score

Another seemingly reasonable myth is that you’ll have a good credit score if you don’t use credit. That’s not the case because a credit score reflects how good a credit risk you are, and it’s based on your credit record — your history of borrowing and paying back money. If you haven’t done much or any of that — perhaps by not having or using credit cards and/or by not taking out a car loan or mortgage — then you’ll be a mystery to potential lenders. When you want to borrow money, they won’t be able to offer you the best interest rates, because they won’t know if you’re a good or poor risk.

Ideally, you want to be using credit and doing so responsibly. You should be paying off bills on time and in full when possible.

Myth No. 3: Only late payments of certain debts will hurt your score

You might assume that your credit score is only whacked when you’re late making mortgage payments or paying credit card bills or paying off other debts such as car loans. Not true. Just about any creditor can report you to credit agencies — landlords may report you, as might owners of a storage unit you rented and plenty of others to whom you owe money. Even a late or unpaid library fine can end up dinging your score, as can overdrawing on a line of credit at your bank that’s meant to protect you from overdraft fees.

Here are a few more credit misunderstandings that can hurt you:

Misunderstanding No. 1: Assuming you have a good credit score

Never assume that your credit score is good. Sure, you might be the most responsible credit user, paying bills on time and in full — but there might be an error on your credit report that results in a lower-than-expected score. It’s smart to check your credit report regularly, especially before you need to borrow money. Give yourself time to increase your credit score if you have to.

You’re entitled to a free copy of our credit report annually from each of the three main credit agencies — visit AnnualCreditReport.com to order yours — then check it for errors and fix any that you find.

Misunderstanding No. 2: Thinking that every time your score is looked up, it gets reduced

There’s actually some truth to this. That’s because there are two different kinds of credit inquiries — a “hard pull” and a “soft pull.” A hard inquiry involves a lender looking into your credit report because you are applying for credit — perhaps wanting a car loan, a mortgage, or a new credit card. Your consent will be required for this, and this inquiry is likely to shrink your credit score by a small amount — around five to 20 points. Note that if you’re shopping around with a bunch of lenders and they all pull your credit report within a few weeks, it will generally count as just one inquiry.

A soft inquiry, meanwhile, will not affect your credit score — which is good, as these inquiries generally happen without your even being aware of them. If you get credit card offers in the mail, for example, it’s likely that the card issuer has looked into your credit record in order to determine whether it wants you as a customer. Looking up your own credit report is another soft inquiry that won’t hurt your score.

Misunderstanding No. 3: Thinking that your low credit score means no loans

Even with a rather low credit score, you can still borrow money. But you’ll be offered much steeper interest rates than you’d get with a healthy score. Consider the table below, which shows you some recent sample interest rates from the folks at FICO that borrowers with various credit scores might be offered — and what kind of difference the rate will make in your payments. If you were borrowing $200,000 via a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, and you had a top FICO score, in the 760 to 850 range, you might get an interest rate of 3.568%, with a monthly payment of $906 and total interest paid over the 30 years of $126,051. If your score was 630, though, your rate would be very different, at 5.157%, with a monthly payment of $1,093 and total interest of $193,449. That’s $185 more per month ($2,220 per year) and a whopping $67,398 more in interest.

FICO score
APR
Monthly payment
Interest paid

760-850

3.568%

$906

$126,051

700-759

3.79%

$931

$135,080

680-699

3.967%

$951

$142,371

660-679

4.181%

$976

$151,294

640-659

4.611%

$1,027

$169,577

620-639

5.157%

$1,093

$193,449

CEOs call on Congress to keep DACA alive

Image result for CEOs call on Congress to keep DACA alive

Business leaders are reiterating their support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and asking Congress to step in after the Trump Administration formally said it is ending the Obama-era program.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Tuesday that DACA, which protects 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, “is being rescinded.” The Department of Homeland Security will stop processing new applications today.

The administration signaled its plan to end the program last week, and business leaders banded together to ask President Trump and Congress to reconsider. Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple (AAPL, Tech30) CEO Tim Cook and Snapchat (SNAP) CEO Evan Spiegel as well as hundreds of other executives signed a letter calling on the president to preserve the program.

The DHS said that it will continue to renew permits that expire in the next six months, giving Congress some time to figure out how to continue to protect current DACA recipients.

Here’s what CEOs and other leaders have to say.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg was one of over 400 CEOs to sign the letter asking Trump and Congress to save DACA. “This is a sad day for our country,” he said in a Facebook (FB, Tech30) post Tuesday following Session’s announcement. “The decision to end DACA is not just wrong. It is particularly cruel to offer young people the American Dream, encourage them to come out of the shadows and trust our government, and then punish them for it.”

Zuckerberg added, “It’s time for Congress to act to pass the bipartisan Dream Act or another legislative solution that gives Dreamers a pathway to citizenship.”

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg also posted a reaction on Facebook. “I’m heartbroken and deeply concerned that President Trump’s administration has decided to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program,” she wrote on Tuesday.

“Dreamers deserve to be protected and live without fear. I’m standing with them and their families today — and asking Congress to pass the DREAM Act or other permanent legislation right away to give them a much-needed path to citizenship.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook

In a letter to employees obtained by CNNMoney, Cook said “I am deeply dismayed that 800,000 Americans — including more than 250 of our Apple coworkers — may soon find themselves cast out of the only country they’ve ever called home.”

Dreamers, he said, “help customers in our retail stores. They engineer the products people love and they’re building Apple’s future as part of our R&D teams. They contribute to our company, our economy and our communities just as much as you and I do. Their dreams are our dreams.”

Cook assured employees that “Apple will work with members of Congress from both parties to advocate for a legislative solution that provides permanent protections for all the Dreamers in our country.”

Financial anxiety is bringing Millennials down

Financial anxiety is bringing Millennials down

Lots of folks worry about money from time to time. But there’s a difference between fretting over a larger-than-expected bill and spending a huge chunk of your waking hours stressing over finances.

Yet the latter scenario seems to characterize a significant percentage of working Millennials.

An estimated 28% of Millennials are experiencing so much financial anxiety, in fact, that it’s impacting their job performance on a consistent basis, according to a newly released Northwestern Mutual study. That’s more than twice the rate of the general population.

Furthermore, 23% of Millennials say that financial stress makes them physically ill on a weekly or monthly basis compared to just 12% of workers among all age groups. Talk about extreme.

What’s worrying Millennials?

Clearly, younger Americans have a lot weighing on their minds, but their top concerns center on:

Job loss

Savings (or lack thereof)

Income (or again, lack thereof)

What makes Millennials so susceptible to anxiety in these areas? Though younger workers aren’t always the first to go in a layoff situation, it stands to reason that someone with only a few years of experience might lose a job before a more seasoned employee when push comes to shove.

Plus, because Millennials are more likely to have higher levels of student debt than older workers, their ability to save well is somewhat limited. Finally, younger workers tend to earn the least, and are therefore likely to not only worry about how little they’re making, but have fewer options for increasing that number in the near term.

Finding solutions

If money-related anxiety is keeping you up at night, regardless of whether you fall into the Millennial category or not, there are steps you can take to gain more security.

First, your job. While it’s true that sometimes even the most diligent, experienced workers get laid off, you can minimize your risk by continuously growing your skills and proving your value at your current job. Get certified in something related to your field, volunteer for new projects at work, and be that person at the office who’s known for identifying solutions, not problems.

As far as savings go, you may need to put in some effort if you’re glaringly behind. A frightening 69% of U.S. adults have less than $1,000 in savings, while 34% have no savings at all. If you fall into either category, building a safety net over time can help reduce the extent to which your lack of savings makes you anxious.

To start, map out a budget that accounts for your current expenses, and find ways to cut corners, even if it means eliminating some luxuries for the time being.

Another option is to work a side gig, which can boost your income and help you build an emergency fund more quickly. Of the 44 million Americans who currently hold down a second job, 36% bring home more than $500 a month. That, combined with a few lifestyle changes, could leave you with enough cash to cover three months of living expenses in as little as a year’s time.

Finally, let’s talk income. If you’re a younger worker who’s just starting out, you may not have much wiggle room to negotiate a higher salary. But once you’ve put in your time in the workforce, you’ll have ample opportunities to increase your earnings, whether it’s finding a new job, or getting more money out of your current employer.

That said, before you resign yourself to your current income, make sure it’s in line with what similar professionals in your area are making. Sites like Salary.com let you compare your earnings to what others are making at your level within your field, so if you come to find that you’re being underpaid, you’ll have a leg to stand on when asking for a raise.

 

PayPal introduces a new cash back credit card

 Image result for paypal

PayPal is hoping to expand its membership by rolling out a new cash-back credit card.

The PayPal Cashback Mastercard, which is only available to PayPal members, gives cardholders 2% cash back on every purchase.

PayPal’s card is notable for the high amount of cash back it offers on purchases across the board. The new card also has no annual cash back limit, no minimum redemption amount, no restriction on how to spend cash rewards and no expiration on rewards.

While other cards offer a higher percentage of cash back, it’s usually only offered on certain categories of purchases like groceries or airfare and often comes with a cap on spending. Citi’s Double Cash card gives you 1% for purchases and 1% when you pay it back, rather than a full 2% all at once as the PayPal card does.

“It doesn’t seem like 2% is that much, but if you use that regularly it can really add up,” says Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com.

Even though upscale rewards cards like Chase Sapphire Reserve, American Express Platinum, Citi Prestige Card and the Bank of America Premium Rewards card get most of the buzz, most people just want cash back, says Schulz.

“People want a set-it-and-forget-it card that gives them a good reward and doesn’t make them do a lot of work to get it,” says Schulz. “This card shows PayPal understands that.”

PayPal’s other credit card is the PayPal Extras Mastercard. That card follows a typical 3-2-1 points system, in which customers get more points for things like groceries and gas. It also includes more points for PayPal and eBay purchases.

The Extras Mastercard is similar to credit cards offered by Amazon, which offer more points (up to 5% back) on Amazon purchases by Prime members.

The PayPal Cashback card is is part of a bid by PayPal to encourage members to seamlessly move between PayPal mobile pay and a credit card. The new card, which is available through Synchrony Bank, skips the rewards in specific categories and gives people what PayPal is hearing that they want: cash.

“By providing a simple way for people to earn cash rewards for the shopping they’re already doing, the PayPal Cashback Mastercard will give consumers yet another reason to shop with PayPal,” says Mark Britto, senior vice president, global credit for PayPal.

By putting the cash rewards on a PayPal account balance, the company is looking to get more people using their PayPal accounts more often. You must have a PayPal account in good standing that is linked to the card or the cash rewards you earn could be forfeited.

Cardholders are able to manage their accounts, redeem their cash rewards and even make payments all through their PayPal account. Approved card members can access their card before it arrives in the mail.