About jgrimes

Jaime Grimes is the Content and Social Media Manager for Apartment Guide and an award-winning former journalist. Jaime has more than 10 years of writing experience, including daily newspaper, educational print pieces, online help copy, technical writing and corporate blog articles, including the Apartment Guide blog. Find Jaime on Google+

5 Smart Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund

If you've got some cash coming your way courtesy of the government, invest it wisely to benefit yourself the most.

If you’ve got some cash coming your way courtesy of the government, invest it wisely to benefit yourself the most.

Ready to blow that income tax refund before it even hits your bank account? Before you spend it, think first about all the smart things you can do with that money.

Financial professionals at LearnVest say when you receive a windfall, you should pay yourself 20 percent and put the rest somewhere that will better your financial situation, such as paying down debt, padding an emergency fund or investing for your retirement.

So after you’ve purchased a pair of shoes or gone out for a nice dinner, use the rest toward one of the options below, and set yourself up for a great year.

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How to Grocery Shop on a Budget

Save money on produce by purchasing it in season, and read the fine print when you see grocery store deals.

Save money on produce by purchasing it in season, and read the fine print when you see grocery store deals.

You could become an extreme couponer and purchase 72 bottles of yellow mustard that you don’t need, or you could save money while grocery shopping anytime by planning ahead.

The latter involves careful study of the grocery stores you frequent and possible store-hopping, but in the end, you can outsmart ever-growing food prices by following the tips below.

Plan around sales. Scour your local grocery stores’ sale papers on their websites, paying attention to their dates, and plan meals around what’s on sale. For instance, if you were planning on making a baked chicken dish, utilize on-sale chicken thighs instead of more expensive chicken breasts, and look up recipes for budget-friendly flank steak instead of ribeye. While you’re on those grocery store sites, look for printable coupons.

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How to Create a Kid’s Playroom

Summit Square Apartments in Rochester, MN

Summit Square Apartments in Rochester, MN

Most people don’t have a lot of spare rooms lying around, but you can create a kid’s playroom in space as small as a corner of your living room or as large as a guest bedroom. If an older child moved out of the house recently or you’re going back to an office setting after working at home, consider making the formerly used room a playroom for a younger child. The child will feel like the space is his own, all of his toys will be in one place and you’ll feel a sense of calm if he can do what he wants in just one area of the house.

Ideally, you’ll leave electronics, such as tablets, televisions and DVD players, out of this room so children can use their imagination, but you may opt to make the room a place where they can also watch movies, especially if you have an extra room to use as a playroom.

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In for the Eve: Create the Ultimate New Year Staycation

new year staycation

A staycation on New Year’s Eve involves snuggling up in your warm apartment and watching the festivities on TV. Sounds good to us!

While friends are out party-hopping, spending $100 per ticket to see a ball, peach or other object drop and trying to find a taxi on New Year’s Eve, you’ll be at home, watching all the action on television.

Maybe you don’t feel like fighting the crowds, spending too much money or freezing while standing in long lines, but whatever the reason, the warmth of your living room and comfort of your fleece socks sounds more enticing. Whether you have no parties to go to or just don’t want to leave your house, you can still have an amazing time staying in for the night with our tips below.

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5 Secrets for a Clutter-Free Holiday

Keep your holiday neat and tidy with five organization tips that will keep your home clutter-free.

Since Christmas is such a sentimental holiday, it can also be a time of high emotion, particularly if you’ve overspent on gifts, your family is staying with you and your pets are getting into all of the shiny holiday décor.

Lighten up this holiday season by getting rid of all unnecessary clutter before it begins, which will make you feel organized and leave more room for guests, gifts and all of their… baggage. Here are five secrets for making this one a clutter-free holiday.

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Holiday Wishes Come True: The Ultimate Gift Guide for Her

“Wow” her this Christmas with gifts she’ll love, including a sparkly phone case, dazzling jewelry and pretty bags.

The rumor is that women are hard to shop for, but as long as the gift is sparkly, vintage, stylish, pleasantly fragranced or practical, the lady in your life is bound to love it. Easy, right? Don’t worry; we’ve selected a number of gifts in a variety of price ranges to help you decide what to get the lady in your life, whether she’s a friend, girlfriend, sister, mother or spouse. No matter the budget, the perfect gift is available in your price range.

Under $15
Let her sparkle and shine this holiday season with all that glitters, particularly with the Glitter Notebook ($12.50), available in three colors, or the Glitter Case for iPhone 4 ($14.99 for pink), both from J. Crew.

Give a gal with a sweet tooth the gift of sugar with Fiona’s Candy ($12.95) from Williams-Sonoma. These 14-ounce vintage-style glass jars hold attractive, delicious candy in eight flavors, such as Champagne Bubbles, Gummy Flowers and Root Beer Drops.

It’s possible to give high-end cosmetics – when they come in cute miniatures. The Stila “Harvest” lip glaze trio at Nordstrom contains three flattering shades – one bestseller and two new, exclusive shades – for the bargain price of $12.

Under $30
The Voluspa “Maison Blanc – Pink Citron” two-wick candle ($16) at Nordstrom both looks and smells delicious. Any girl would love the vintage pink and gold container and the pleasant citrusy smell, and since the candle is 11 ounces, she can use it for a long time.

The sturdy, laminated cotton-canvas Printed Makeup Pouch ($20 and $25, depending on the color) from J. Crew is the perfect gift for the girl who craves style and organization. Sold in a black and white bow print and a red and pink striped print, this makeup pouch is also leak-proof.

For the gift that makes her say, “Wait, what is this?” and then “Cool, thanks!” check out the Charmed Hair Ties ($24) from Anthropologie. Sold in a set of three and in your choice of three coordinating colors per set, these jeweled hair ties are the perfect elegant accessory, and she’s sure to not already have them.

Under $50
The perfect wear-with-anything accessory, the Crystal Starlet Earrings ($35) from J.Crew will remind her of Old Hollywood. Whether she wears gold or silver, these earrings are designed to flatter with their dress-up or dress-down capability.

For the stylish hippie-chic chick in your life, purchase the Envirosax Market Bag ($39.95) from Red Envelope. This set of five attractive polyester, reusable bags solves the paper versus plastic dilemma, and each bag holds as much as two plastic grocery bags and up to 44 pounds. Plus, they’re machine-washable and waterproof.

Soft, feminine and universally appealing, the Philosophy Amazing Grace Layering Gift Set ($49.50) at Sephora is a great gift for any woman, especially one who frequently travels. The soap-and-water-scented set contains a combination shampoo, bath and shower gel, 2 oz. perfume and body butter.

Photo Credit: iStockphoto/sjlocke

Don’t Forget These Five Essentials in Your Apartment

Sewing kit

Don’t forget a sewing kit when you move into your first place.

As you prepare to move out of the house or dorm and into your first real apartment, you will have a long list of items you need to buy, borrow or steal. For starters, there is the furniture: a bed frame and mattress, dressers or drawers, a couch and other seating and a table. Then you’ll need staples like dishes and cookware and cleaning supplies.

In the midst of all this shopping and packing, a few things are bound to slip your mind. So before you move, make sure you have these five essential items often left out of a first apartment.

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Protect Your Holiday Gifts with a Home Inventory

Planning on racking up the gifts this holiday season? In case of emergency, inventory them and the rest of your belongings with an app on your phone.

Will you be receiving new electronics, jewelry or other big-ticket items as gifts this holiday season? And (hint, hint), will you also be getting the receipts?

The holidays are an ideal time to take a home inventory and make sure all your pricey new gifts will be protected in the event of a loss: a fire, a burst pipe due to freezing, a natural disaster or even theft.

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Don’t Be an Angry Elf: Watch the Top 10 Holiday Movies

Would you adopt this Christmas tree? Charlie Brown felt sorry for one just like it in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Few things make us feel the holiday season is upon us like seeing our favorite holiday movies, coupled with decorating the tree and sipping on hot chocolate or egg nog. These movies invoke a sense of tradition, calm us and remind us of Christmas memories with songs, humor and touching moments. Listed from newest to oldest release, here are our picks for the top 10 holiday movies.

Elf (2003)
When Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell) finds out he’s not actually an elf, he leaves the North Pole and Santa’s Workshop for New York in search of his dad, a not-so-kind publishing executive who’s on the Naughty List. While trying to win his father’s affection and put him on the Good List, Buddy meets Jovie (Zooey Deschanel), his coworker-turned-love interest, and teaches New Yorkers how to have Christmas spirit again.

Love Actually (2003)
Ten different storylines intersect in this British comedy centered on the five weeks until Christmas, in which romances are revealed and hearts are broken. The new Prime Minister has feelings for his catering manager, a struggling novel writer falls for his housekeeper, a man is in love with his best friend’s new wife and two people employed as body doubles find a personal connection even when they’re in awkward situations. Through these stories and more, learn why “love actually is all around.”

Home Alone 2 (1992)
You may not believe it, but Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) has once again been left out of his family’s Christmas travels, except this time he wasn’t left at home; he boarded the wrong plane. While the rest of the McCallisters go to Miami (“where they don’t have Christmas trees; they have palm trees”), Kevin is off to New York. He deviously checks into a swanky hotel, befriends a homeless woman and soon runs into the former Wet Bandits, now the Sticky Bandits. Thanks to his aunt and uncle’s home being renovated, Kevin manages to save Christmas and reunite with his family in true New York style.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Clark Griswold, the ultimate family man, wants the perfect Christmas tree, decorations and family gathering. Unfortunately, the multiple eccentric members of his extended family and two snobby neighbors threaten to ruin his plans, while his penny-pinching boss may thwart his mission to give his family the ultimate gift – an in-ground swimming pool. Thanks to comedic relief by Cousin Eddie and holiday décor that refuses to light, Clark’s Christmas is both hilarious and touching.

A Christmas Story (1983)
So popular that one channel plays it for 24 hours straight on Christmas Eve, “A Christmas Story” follows Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) in his pursuit for a Red Ryder BB gun. Despite repeated “You’ll shoot your eye out!” warnings and a series of mishaps that threaten to thwart his plans, including a run-in with a mean Santa Claus, Ralphie manages to have a good Christmas with his family.

Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
In the original cartoon version of Dr. Suess’ tale, a grumpy green grouch looks down on the noisy, joyful Whos of Whoville below, who delight in Christmas spirit and song. The Grinch enlists the help of his happy dachshund Max to steal all of the Whos’ Christmas presents and decorations, in hopes of snuffing out their holiday cheer. Instead, the Grinch catches some of that Christmas spirit himself.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Charlie Brown is depressed about Christmas becoming so commercialized, and his friends are doing nothing to prove him wrong – Lucy wants the biggest, fake tree for the Christmas play, the kids in the play want to modernize it and Snoopy is trying to win a neighborhood lights and decorating contest. When Charlie Brown rescues a scrawny baby tree, the only live one in the lot, the other kids laugh at him, but once he recites the second chapter from the gospel of Luke, the kids come around to the true meaning of Christmas and help Charlie Brown’s tree look fantastic.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
When Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) takes over the job as Santa at Macy’s flagship New York City store on 34th Street, he does such a great job that visitors to the store begin to question if he really is Santa. When Kris insists he is, a witch hunt ensues to prove Kris is mentally unstable and dangerous, while Kris works to restore Christmas spirit in Susan (Natalie Wood), the young daughter of Macy’s event director Doris (Maureen O’ Hara), who leads the charges against him.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Repeatedly honored as one of the best movies of all time, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is the two-plot story of how an angel earns his wings and a down-on-his-luck banker and family man learns to love life again. When George Bailey (James Stewart) tries to commit suicide on Christmas Eve, an angel shows him what life would be like if he was never born, and George realizes he had more influence on the good in his town and the world than he thought.

A Christmas Carol (1938)
Based on Charles Dickens’ novel of the same name, “A Christmas Carol” tells the story of wealthy-but-rotten Ebenezer Scrooge (Reginald Owen) as he reflects on his life, hosted by the ghost of Scrooge’s old business partner, who shows him his past, present and future. The past shows him when he was more innocent and kind, the present shows him how his treatment of employee Bob Cratchit has affected Cratchit’s own family and the future shows him dying alone and later being robbed and ridiculed. Overnight, the experience turns Scrooge into a generous, compassionate man, who embodies the Christmas spirit.

Photo Credit: iStockphoto/R_Koopmans

Trulia Forms Exclusive Partnership with Primedia to Unlock Rentals Marketplace

Trulia users and advertisers now get access to Apartment Guide’s extensive inventory of multi-family communities via leading mobile apps and website

  • New Trulia-PRIMEDIA Network allows advertisers to reach more than 32 million unique monthly visitors across Web and mobile platforms*
  • Trulia users will now have access to photos and floor plans from more than 20,000 multi-family apartment communities and approximately 5 million units from ApartmentGuide.com, in addition to Trulia’s current rental inventory
  • Agreement links content-rich inventory from Apartment Guide with Trulia’s transaction-ready audience, user-generated content, and data visualization and analytics technology

SAN FRANCISCO, November 29, 2012 – Trulia (NYSE: TRLA) and PRIMEDIA, parent company to Apartment Guide.com, today announced an agreement in which Apartment Guide’s leading collection of information and listings will be the exclusive multi-family inventory on Trulia. The companies have also agreed to join forces to form the Trulia-PRIMEDIA Network, with Trulia selling display advertising and other media products on behalf of PRIMEDIA.

PRIMEDIA is currently a leading marketing partner for multi-family apartment communities, an exceptionally important and valuable segment in the industry for both renters and advertisers. The company uses several leading channels to attract consumers to its vast supply of apartment community listings, including ApartmentGuide.com, Rentals.com, RentalHouses.com, and Rent.com, which it acquired in May 2012.

“We are very excited to provide Trulia consumers access to Apartment Guide’s comprehensive selection of multi-family listings and high quality content across its Web and mobile platforms,” said Charles Stubbs, CEO of PRIMEDIA. “Partnering with Trulia, also a leader in the mobile space, is very exciting for our valued customers.”

PRIMEDIA is committed to providing the apartment communities it serves with exposure to highly qualified renters across its own sites, as well as mobile, which now represents over 30 percent of the qualified leads it generates. PRIMEDIA has been a leader in mobile innovation by being the first to develop apps in the rental market for iPhone, Android, iPad, and Kindle Fire, resulting in over 55 percent year-over-year growth in mobile downloads with over 1.8 million downloads. Now, by publishing listings on Trulia, PRIMEDIA is providing its advertisers with another opportunity to connect with qualified consumers looking for a place to rent.

“Today, Trulia is focused on providing the inside scoop about neighborhoods and places to live across the country. Our partnership with PRIMEDIA is a major step in solving the fragmentation of the rental market by linking Trulia’s quickly growing, transaction-ready audience with premiere rental inventory,” said Pete Flint, Trulia’s CEO. “Further, the Trulia-PRIMEDIA Network enables us to offer our advertising partners access to one of the largest housing specific audiences online.”

Trulia continues to generate rapid growth in rentals, with monthly rental visits up 130 percent year-over-year and inquiries sent through Trulia up 200 percent year-over-year. Trulia has also built apps on both Android and iOS that have been downloaded 1 million times by renters since November 2011. These apps offer important features for renters, including real-time notifications when new properties that match saved search criteria become available. The apps allow users to quickly browse rental properties, gain insights into neighborhoods and schools and ultimately contact rental professionals with the click of a button.

About TRULIA, INC.
Trulia
 (NYSE: TRLA) gives home buyers, sellers, owners, and renters the inside scoop on properties, places, and real estate professionals. Trulia has unique info on the areas people want to live that can’t be found anywhere else: users can learn about agents, neighborhoods, schools, crime, commute times, and even ask the local community questions.  Real estate professionals use Trulia to connect with millions of transaction-ready buyers and sellers each month via our hyper-local advertising services, social recommendations, and top-rated mobile real estate apps. Trulia is headquartered in downtown San Francisco. Trulia is a registered trademark of Trulia, Inc.

About Apartment Guide
A 37-year apartment industry expert, Apartment Guide helps millions of consumers nationwide find an apartment through innovative Internet, mobile and social solutions. A trusted brand, it is a primary apartment search resource, offering potential renters content-rich apartment listings and information. For more information visit http://www.apartmentguide.com or advertise on Apartment Guide for listing information. Apartment Guide is part of the PRIMEDIA family of sites, which also includes Rentals.com, RentalHouses.com, Rent.com and NewHomeGuide.com.

About PRIMEDIA
PRIMEDIA helps millions of consumers nationwide find apartments, houses for rent or new homes for sale through its category-leading web sites and mobile applications, including ApartmentGuide.com, Rentals.com, RentalHouses.com, Rent.com and NewHomeGuide.com.  PRIMEDIA continues to simplify the consumer home search and drive leads that result in occupancies for property management companies, landlords, new home builders and real estate professionals.  For more information, visit www.primedia.com.

*Combined monthly unique visitors based on Trulia’s publicly reported average monthly unique visitors for Q3 2012 and PRIMEDIA’s average monthly unique visitors reported by comScore