DIY…Landscape Lighting

I finally took a few hours and installed some landscape lights. I think it turned out nicely. They were installed to highlight the Coconut Palm Trees and the Royal Poinciana’s. Total costs were around $100 as someone generously gave me their old landscape lights which had LED bulbs in them and just needed a quick paint job. Costs about $4 a month in electricity to light 7 lights for 10 hours a night.  We will probably install a few smart switches to run them from dusk to midnight.  No need to keep them lit up all night while everyone is sleeping!
  

Alternatives to VRBO or HomeAway in Palm Beach County

vrbo-pga-national-jason-bloomIf you are looking to rent a home in Palm Beach County and do not want to use the VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) or HomeAway there are alternatives to these services.  The PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens offers a service call PGA National Home Rentals.   According to the website, the program not only offers vetted homes for rent but also allows interested individuals to purchase additional services from the resort such as Championship Golf, Resort Access, Spa Access, and other accommodations.

Summary: Jason Bloom reviews alternatives to VRBO or HomeAway in Palm Beach County including the PGA National Resort Home Rental Program.

Jason Bloom with some money saving tips for Palm Beach County Credit Card Users…

Palm Beach & Jupiter Residents can save money on their everyday spending with cash rewards credit cards.

In the Palm Beaches and Jupiter, FL as well as most other areas in the United States everyone is looking for ways to save money and gain returns on their investments.  Auditing your finances in Palm Beach and looking at how you spend your money can make a huge difference in how much you can save.  Using a cashback credit card is one way, if utilized properly, to gain 2% or more on almost everything you purchase

Everyone focuses on gaining returns on their investments.  Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, CD’s, CDARS, and Savings accounts are a few investment options everyone looks at when determining how to invest their money.  Although I am admittedly far from an investment expert I had a few ideas on how everyone could grow their personal  wealth with a few simple steps.  Many people are always looking at the Amex rewards programs, sky miles, and complicated rewards cards that give you 5% on gas, 2% on groceries etc. I believe a straightforward cash back card can sometimes be the best solution.

citi-double-cash-credit-card-jason-bloom-cfoLooking from a personal perspective and working as your homes Chief Financial Officer (CFO) one can obtain the 2% Cash Back Rewards card from Citibank as an example.  There are no annual fees and you receive 1% cash back on upon purchase and 1% cash back upon payment for a 2% cash back on everything you buy each month.  Obviously if you are not paying the card off monthly or there are surcharges above 2% to use it the 2% will mean little when paying the interest rates on the cards or additional surcharges.  If someone is using this card daily for all day to day purchases of gas, cell phone, cable, telephone, groceries, day care, etc it can add up quickly.

A few examples below.  If a family spends $1,000 / month on day care and the facility allows payment via credit card without surcharges you can earn $240 / year in cashback by utilizing the card each month.  If you apply this to your cell phone bill, cable bill, groceries, gas, and other expenses you can see how it can add up fast.  Gaining a 2% return on your expenses as well as your savings can add up quickly.

Most companies like DirecTV, Comcast, Verizon Wireless, all allow credit card payments without a surcharge.  If you are buying it anyways why not get the 2% cash back.

A few of the best offers in 2016 are reviewed below:

Best Cash Back Credit Cards

The information provided here is intended to help you understand the general issue and does not constitute any tax, investment, financial/accounting, medical, or legal advice. Consult your accounting, financial, tax, medical, or legal advisor regarding your own unique situation.

Jason Bloom visits the Jupiter Beach Resort in Jupiter for a Staycation

Jason Bloom’s staycation at Jupiter Beach Resort

Jason Bloom - Jupiter Beach Resort
Great view of Jupiter Beach Resort

JUPITER, FL Last week we decided to start blog entries on the different hotels and resorts in Palm Beach County I have had the privilege to stay at over the past few years.  I have decided to label it Jason Bloom’s Palm Beach County staycation guide.  Last week I wrote about PGA National Resort & Spa, in Palm Beach Gardens FL and this week I will be taking a look at Jupiter Beach Resort in Jupiter, FL.  I will mention that my review of Jupiter Beach Resort is a few years old as I haven’t been there since 2012.

Jason Bloom - Jupiter Beach Resort Pool ResturantJupiter Beach Resort is a hotel / resort in Jupiter, FL located on the ocean.  The resort has about 168 rooms, a bar, and a restaurant.  The most appealing thing to me is the views.  The resort has excellent views of the Atlantic Ocean.  The secluded pool and accompanying pool bar are also a great feature.  It was really nice to lay poolside for a long weekend and have lunch and a few cocktails at the bar.
Jason Bloom - Jupiter Beach Resort Weddings

The resort hosts a lot of weddings as well which we had the pleasure of attending a few years ago.  The food was very good and views outstanding from the patio area overlooking the pool and ocean.  It is a really nice venue for a wedding with the aforementioned views coupled with the cool ocean winds.

Overall the rooms were great, service was very good, food was nice.  All in all this was a very relaxing staycation in Palm Beach County that I would highly recommend.  We didn’t have a chance to checkout the Spa but I have also heard great things about it.

Author: Jason Bloom, in Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, and all of Palm Beach County

Photos Courtesy of jupiterbeachresort.com

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Jason Bloom talks DIY projects and how they can improve home value in Jupiter & Palm Beach

Accounting for Costs in DIY Is Vital to a successful project especially in Palm Beach County.

Palm Beach DIY with Jason BloomWEST PALM BEACH, FL Over the years Jason Bloom has done many DIY (Do it Yourself) projects including in Jupiter and West Palm Beach including bathroom tile, screen porches, showers, cabinets, painting, irrigation, electrical, etc.  Many of the projects have went well and turned out to be a significant cost savings.  A few, on the other hand, cost more than if a professional had been hired as learning as you are doing can be costly.  That being said, I a huge proponent of DIY projections.

Jason Bloom’s Tips For DIY:

  1. Understand the full scope of what you are doing before you start demolition.  I know from personal experience once you start demo it is too late to take it back and you will spend many nights and weekends finishing a project that you thought was a good idea at the time.  Make sure you really have the time to complete the project before you start it!
  2. Create a budget before you start the project and compare it to quotes by professionals who can complete the same work.  It is important to account for all costs and audit any unforeseen expenses.  Sometimes you will find it is less expensive to hire something out as the contractor already has the tools, equipment, and cost savings for materials that are not available to you.
  3. Make sure verify you do not need permits for the work you are performing.  Code enforcement showing up at your door stopping the project and imposing penalties and fees is not the time you want to realize you needed  a permit do that job.
  4. If you are not sure how to do something check out the internet first (or find a friend that does).  These resources  include youtube for instructional videos. These resources can help immensely as you can visually see different techniques for task completion.
  5. Research, Research, Research...this is where consulting a contractor first can come in handy to get a quote so they can point you in the right direction for what products and job scope you may have.
  6. Make sure you have the basic skills and physical capabilities to do it.  If you can’t hammer a nail it is probably best not to install that new wood floor.

A few projects that can be done on a DIY basis that have the potential to create a lot of value include:

  1. Flooring – Tile and Wood Flooring can be a great value add and can be installed by most determined DIYers.
  2. New Front Door
  3. New Garage Door
  4. Insulation Upgrades
  5. Replacing Light Switches, Ceiling Fans, and Electrical Outlets (Make sure the breaker is off)
  6. Sprinklers and Irrigation
  7. Landscaping
  8. Painting (This can be a huge cost savings and most people can do it without an issue.)
  9. Retiling your Bathroom (Sometimes you can make your bathroom look like a Palm Beach Resort Suite and others like the rest stop restroom.  You need to make sure you take your time and do it right the first time!)
  10. Repairing a minor roof leak.

A few projects completed recently.

You can save money and add value to your home by DIY so good luck!

Author: Jason Bloom, in Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, and all of Palm Beach County

Wal-Mart Savings Catcher

SC1Saving cash is a priority for all individuals and families including those in the Palm Beaches.  A simple app from Wal-Mart really makes it easy to find the best deals without going from store to store.  I have been using the app for about a month now and have been really impressed with it’s ease of use and very happy with the results that I have been seeing.  You can use the savings catcher to scan receipts from any Wal-Mart in the country.  We have used it in Jupiter, West Palm Beach, and Pinellas Park so far without any issues.

QRCodeWhere do I get it?

  1. Download the app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store for free.
  2. Set-up an Account on the App by simply providing your name and email address.

How do I use it?

  1. Start scanning receipts!!  You will notice a “Savings Catcher” icon on the app all you do is hit the icon and you will be able to scan your receipts.  If for some reason the barcode or qr code does not scan (mostly because the receipt printer is mostly out of ink) you can add the TC# and date manually.  The TC# is located between the Bar Code and the QR code on the receipt.SC3

What does it do?  

The app scans your receipt’s QR Code or Barcode and pulls up all items purchased on that receipt.  It then goes out to all advertised competitors which in our local market is mostly Winn-Dixie, Target, K-Mart, and Publix for grocery items and compares their advertised price to what you paid.  If the competitor price is lower you are automatically credited to your savings catcher account which then can be redeemed via electronic gift card (which never expires) or work through a third party service and have it sent via Amex gift cards.

 

Wal-Mart Provides a good video description of the Savings Catcher as well as more details on their site.  Wal-Mart Savings Catcher

Watch the savings add up!!

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I was very impressed with how easy it was to use the app and it makes grocery shopping so much simpler.  Many shoppers pull all of the ads and go store to store to find the best deals.  This really makes it easier to just shop and know you are getting the best deal.  I highly recommend the app

Author: Jason Bloom, in Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, and all of Palm Beach County

Palm Beach Blog

landscapingtrailwoodWelcome to the Palm Beach Today blog.  Over the course of the past several years, I have been engaged with some do it yourself projects as well as increasing professional knowledge with continuing education.  At many points during my educational experiences, I realized that there was not a good web resource for several of the items I had encountered and that common knowledge to professionals is not all that common for a do it yourselfer or non-professional.  I have always been a strong proponent of learning new things whether it be as simple as fixing a broken sprinkler head in the yard or as complex as staying updated professionally on the ever changing Accounting standards.

I have decided to use this venue as a way to look at my day to day experiences in the Palm Beaches and Palm-Beach-Gardens-930x363share some tips and tricks.  Living in West Palm Beach, Loxahatchee, and Jupiter over the past many years there has been an accumulation of knowledge that may be helpful to new comers to Palm Beach and long-time residents alike.  These experiences stem from a personal level as well as professional.

My professional background has enabled me to have diverse experiences throughout the years.  Starting out in the hotel industry when I was in college, I spent many years in the back of the house food and accounting_jason_bloom_palm_beachbeverage operations with some great operational experiences.  After realizing that there were jobs that didn’t require you to work every weekend, I elected to obtain my masters degree in Accounting and move into a more analytical role.  I have spent many years working in Accounting in Palm Beach Gardens where I hold/held many positions including the CFO role in several companies.

This blog will take a bit of a different approach and show what day to day life is like living in Florida.  The Florida lifestyle not only includes sun and fun but also going to work, mowing the grass, irrigation repairs, pressure washing, grocery shopping, etc not to mention all the family responsibilities.  Living in paradise is great when you have time to enjoy it but you still need to get your day to day work done.  Hopefully a few tips and tricks will save some time.