(Family Features) A new year brings new opportunities to refresh your living space and add new colors into your life. These five trends are all about incorporating more of yourself and your lifestyle into your home, whether it’s answering your need for a serene escape or dialing up the energy with vibrant surroundings.
Bring in Nature
Soothing earthy tones help bring a sense of calm and balance indoors. When designing with nature in mind, use gray-green tones to connect your aesthetic with the serene elements of the outdoors. Incorporate nature’s palette with greens in fabrics, accessories and even on the walls. Wood and stone materials naturally complement these shades for a look that’s cohesively pleasing and peaceful.
If you’re aiming to infuse some sophistication with an update to a favorite space, opt for a monochromatic look in a dark (almost black) hue. The approach is simultaneously bold and classic, but the secret to this trend is finding a shade that’s rich and deep, but not quite black, then complementing it with fabrics and furnishings that let the hint of color shine.
Connect with Your Inner Self
Creating a living space that is uniquely yours requires understanding your inner motivations, traits and talents. One source of personal inspiration may be your zodiac sign, a reflection of the earth’s orientation to the sun on your birthday.
The color experts at Valspar partnered with Ophira and Tali Edut of the AstroTwins to make it easy to explore the intersection of your character and style by explaining which 2022 Color of the Year best aligns with each zodiac sign. When you combine your sign with the convenience and advanced one-coat coverage of premium Valspar Reserve Interior Paint + Primer, available at Lowe’s, you can create a luxurious space that reflects the real you.
- Aries – Sunset Curtains: A warm and soothing color like this supports a transformational year full of new opportunities.
- Taurus – Gilded Linen: This clean, cozy color makes spaces feel open, perfect for celebrating togetherness.
- Gemini – Grey Suit: This is a color of warmth and versatility, a signature combination for Geminis.
- Cancer – Delightful Moon: A spirited, playful color inspires a year of growth and adventure.
- Leo – Mountain River: A dark and dreamy color invites inspiration for a year filled with abundance.
- Virgo – Subtle Peach: It’s the year of partnerships for Virgos; this harmonious color works well alongside others but can also stand on its own.
- Libra – Orchid Ash: A cool and breezy color keeps it simple so Libras can focus on a year of vitality.
- Scorpio – Fired Earth: This warm and approachable color is perfect for Scorpios who plan to bring new people into their lives this year.
- Sagittarius: Rustic Oak: A relaxing and comforting color that welcomes coziness in the new year.
- Capricorn – Blanched Thyme: For Capricorns, this is the year of variety, and this is a refreshing tone to support change.
- Aquarius – Country Charm: This hue provides warmth and stability for a year of productivity.
- Pisces – Lilac Lane: A playful pastel hue that brings softness along with optimism and renewal.
Add Comfort and Warmth
Treating your home like a sanctuary never goes out of style, and one way to create a soothing, inviting space is through the use of cozy neutrals. Whether it’s applied to a bedroom retreat or a more bustling space like the living room, a neutral palette can add to the allure of comfort and warmth. Keep the visual interest strong by incorporating subtle patterns, textures and layers of complementary neutral colors.
It may seem counterintuitive, but vibrant retro shades like orange and yellow, and even warmer neutrals, can help establish a calming vibe within your home. The throwback hues can help your mind connect to moments from the past when life may have been filled with less challenges. This trend with colors like Valspar’s Delightful Moon, Subtle Peach and Sunset Curtains is less about the actual look and more about the mood it evokes for you personally, so if a retro scene takes you to a happy place, this may be the right choice for your home.
Find more 2022 color trends and design inspiration at Valspar.com.
Brush on the Color
Using quality brushes can provide you with a smooth, professional finish, but depending on the surface you’re painting, different sizes and types of brushes can help you achieve the desired look.
Achieving ultra-clean edges and a smooth finish is the goal for DIY painting. Perfect for interior use with latex paints and stains, the Valspar Wall and Trim 3-Brush Multi-Pack is a convenient option that includes flat and angled brushes in multiple sizes. Those hard-to-reach corners may be tricky, but a proper angled brush can make all the difference.
Why you next car will probably be electric
(BPT) – Love them, hate them, or don’t really care, electric vehicles are beginning to take over transportation conversations and roadways, and soon, boats and planes. Already, there were 16.5 million electric cars on the road worldwide in 2021, three times more than in 2018, according to S&P Global. Though still in the early adopter phase, here are four reasons your next vehicle is likely to be electric.
Auto manufacturers are phasing out the production of internal combustion engine (ICE) models. General Motors announced in 2021 that the company will only sell vehicles that have zero tailpipe emissions by 2035, across all global markets. Similarly, leading companies like Ford committed to zero emissions globally by 2040 and no later than 2035 in key markets. Some states are making the same commitment. Through Michigan’s Healthy Climate plan, for example, the state is working to achieve economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050, including through electrifying vehicles and increasing public transit.
States are accelerating the push for EVs through legislation. The Air Resources Board is offering a Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, making new and used electric cars more affordable for consumers, as some states seek to ban the sale of ICE model vehicles. On the federal level, as part of a broad new Inflation Reduction Act — designed to address climate change, healthcare, and taxes — a new tax credit of up to $4,000 on used electric cars and revised tax credits of up to $7,500 on certain new EVs are available for prospective buyers to take advantage of. These legislative changes highlight the need for tangible progress in increasing the accessibility of EVs.
States are building out supporting infrastructure for EVs. All over the United States, you will find EV chargers popping up at local supermarkets, malls and sporting events. Michigan is taking it a step further by bringing chargers to state parks and working with public universities on pilot programs and research programs to improve battery design. The Lake Michigan EV Circuit Tour, for example, is a network of EV chargers that, once completed, will span over 1,100 miles of drivable shoreline around Lake Michigan throughout Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.
“We are going to see a huge uptick in EV adoption, especially as manufacturers continue to diversify the EV models on the market, lower prices for increased accessibility, and partner with states to ensure infrastructure is catching up with the high-tech innovation happening across the country,” says Trevor Pawl, Chief Mobility Officer for the State of Michigan. “It’s only a matter of time before your neighbors are driving one too.”
Beyond incentives and legislation, we’re still human and want to keep up with our neighbors and peers. EVs have been around for almost 30 years, with the first mass-produced, purpose-built modern electric car from one of the industry’s key players released in 1996 from General Motors. Soon, EVs will make up a majority of new cars available. And, with the many financial incentives and user benefits associated with making the shift to EVs, it may not take long for you to begin reimagining how an EV could fit into your life, too.
While your next car choice will hinge on a range of factors — lifestyle, brand preference, car features, safety ratings, availability and price — you may be surprised how many boxes an EV can tick. Even without gas, there’s a lot of sustainable power under their hoods.
Help for older adults on a budget may be a few clicks away
Help for older adults on a budget may be a few clicks away
(BPT) – Food and gas prices continue to rise, on top of record-high housing costs in many cities across the U.S. If you’re an older adult who is already living on a tight budget, today’s inflation can be particularly difficult. Fortunately, there are programs available that can help you save money on health care, prescriptions, food, utilities and more.
One of the easiest ways to find out if you’re eligible for benefits is to visit the National Council on Aging’s BenefitsCheckUp.org. The free and confidential tool connects older adults, people with disabilities and caregivers to benefit programs. The site is easy to use, even for people with minimal digital experience.
“It only takes a few minutes to learn about all the programs available and how to apply,” said Ramsey Alwin, president and CEO of NCOA. “For example, there are Medicare programs that can boost your budget by helping with prescription drug costs, as well as premiums, deductibles and coinsurance.”
There are thousands of programs on BenefitsCheckUp, including:
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which can help you pay for healthy food
- The Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy and Medicare Savings Programs, which can help people with Medicare afford their out-of-pocket health care expenses
- The Housing Choice Vouchers and Public Housing Programs, which can help with housing costs
- Supplemental Security Income, which provides cash for basic needs
- The Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides discounted internet services
- The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which can help you pay for home heating and cooling
Millions of older adults are eligible for, but not enrolled in these programs. In fact, NCOA estimates that $30 billion in benefits go unused each year simply because older adults don’t know about these programs — or how to apply.
BenefitsCheckUp.org will give you a personalized list of benefits you may be eligible for and the steps you need to apply, including links to the correct government agencies and applications. Just a few minutes could save you money every month.
Helping teens develop financial literacy
(Family Features) Developing financial knowledge and effective money management habits are important stepping stones for teenagers to become financially stable adults who aspire to build assets and achieve personal goals.
For example, most teens (88%) would like to own a home someday, according to a survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Junior Achievement USA and Fannie Mae. The survey of 1,000 teens ages 13-17 in the United States found most (85%) believe “owning a home” is part of “the good life,” compared to nearly as many adults (87%). However, fewer than half (45%) could correctly identify the definition of a home mortgage and 76% said they lacked clear understanding of credit scores.
“There’s been this theme that younger Americans aren’t interested in homeownership, but the results of this survey contradict that assumption,” said Jack E. Kosakowski, president and CEO of Junior Achievement USA. “Teens appear interested in owning a home someday but seem to realize they need more information on how to do it.”
To help teens gain a better understanding of financial decisions they’ll face in adulthood, consider these common terms.
While nearly all teens (96%) believe credit scores play an important role in the ability to purchase a home, approximately 3 in 4 (76%) said they understood credit scores only “somewhat,” “a little” or “not at all.” A credit score is a number from 300-850 based on a number of factors, including credit history, open accounts, total debt, repayment history and more. Lenders use credit scores to evaluate a person’s ability to repay loans.
A person’s credit score may also determine the size of a down payment needed when purchasing a smartphone or home, or the deposit needed for renting property or obtaining utilities and may impact interest rates and credit limits on credit cards. Generally, scores below 620 may require paying a higher rate, a shorter repayment term or a co-signer. Scores of 700 or higher are considered more favorable to creditors and may result in lower interest rates while scores higher than 800 typically provide the most benefits to consumers.
While a slight majority of white teens (52%) correctly identified the definition of a mortgage, only around a quarter (26%) of Black teens and fewer than half (41%) of Hispanic or Latino teens could do so. A mortgage is a type of loan used to purchase or maintain a home, land or other types of real estate. The borrower makes a down payment for a portion of the purchase price then borrows the rest from a lender. The borrower then repays the lender over a number of years – typically 15-30 – via a series of regular payments that are divided into principal (the money originally borrowed) and interest with the property serving as security.
Nearly all teens surveyed (97%) thought it would be helpful if schools offered lessons that explained homeownership, including mortgages. In response, Fannie Mae is supporting the development and deployment of Junior Achievement learning experiences for thousands of students annually in various age groups by integrating relevant content from its HomeView homeownership course materials and resources, which are designed with first-time homebuyers in mind.
“Young people today are the homebuyers of tomorrow,” said Jeffery Hayward, executive vice president and chief administrative officer, Fannie Mae. “By providing them access to quality, foundational education now, Fannie Mae and Junior Achievement are helping these future homeowners prepare for the mortgage and homebuying process when they’re ready to take that step.”
Visit ja.org for more tips and information to help teens improve their financial knowledge and reach their goals.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
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