22 Tips for Safely Navigating the Internet and Protecting Your Privacy

Safeguarding your online privacy and security is more crucial than ever. With cyber threats lurking around every corner, these 22 tips will arm you with the knowledge to navigate the internet safely, ensuring your personal information remains secure and your digital life is shielded from prying eyes.

Use Strong, Unique Passwords

Create complex passwords that combine letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using the same password across multiple sites to prevent a single breach from compromising all your accounts.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Adding an extra layer of security, 2FA requires a second form of identification beyond your password. This significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access to your accounts.

Regularly Update Software

Keep your operating system, browsers, and all applications up to date. Developers regularly release updates to patch vulnerabilities and strengthen security.

Beware of Phishing Scams

Be cautious of emails or messages that request personal information or direct you to suspicious websites. Always verify the authenticity of requests and never click on dubious links.

Use a Secure Connection (HTTPS)

Ensure that the websites you visit are encrypted, as indicated by “HTTPS” in the URL. This protects the data exchanged between your browser and the website.

Utilize Privacy Settings

Familiarize yourself with and adjust the privacy settings on social media platforms and websites. Limit what personal information is visible to the public and to third parties.

Avoid Public Wi-Fi for Sensitive Transactions

Public Wi-Fi networks are not secure, making it easy for hackers to intercept data. Avoid conducting banking or shopping transactions on these networks.

Use a VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encrypts your internet connection, hiding your online activities and protecting your privacy from eavesdroppers, especially on public Wi-Fi.

Be Cautious with Personal Information

Think twice before sharing personal information such as your address, phone number, or financial details online. Consider the necessity and the security of the platform.

Secure Your Home Network

Change the default name and password of your Wi-Fi network. Use strong encryption settings, typically WPA3 or WPA2, to protect your network from unauthorized access.

Check App Permissions

Regularly review the permissions granted to apps on your devices. Limit their access to only what is necessary for the app to function.

Monitor Your Digital Footprint

Periodically search your name online to see what information about you is publicly accessible. Take steps to remove or secure sensitive information.

Use Encrypted Messaging Apps

Opt for messaging apps that offer end-to-end encryption to protect the privacy of your conversations. This ensures only you and the recipient can read the messages.

Securely Store Sensitive Documents

Use encrypted digital vaults or secure cloud storage services to store sensitive documents. Ensure that these services offer strong encryption and password protection.

Enable Account Alerts

Set up alerts for your financial accounts and online services. This way, you’ll be immediately notified of any unusual activity, allowing you to act swiftly.

Use Antivirus Software

Install reputable antivirus software to protect your devices from malware, ransomware, and other malicious threats. Regularly scan your devices to detect and remove threats.

Be Wary of Free Downloads

Free software and files can sometimes contain malware. Download only from reputable sources and verify the integrity of the files.

Limit Use of Personal Details for Security Questions

Choose security questions for which the answers are not publicly available or easily guessed. Alternatively, use fictional answers that only you would know.

Dispose of Digital Data Securely

When disposing of or selling old devices, ensure all personal data is securely erased. Use data wiping software to remove data permanently.

Understand Cloud Storage Risks

While convenient, cloud storage can be vulnerable. Use strong passwords, enable 2FA, and encrypt sensitive files before uploading them to the cloud.

Educate Yourself on Cybersecurity

Stay informed about the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices. Knowledge is a powerful tool for protecting yourself online.

Advocate for Your Privacy

Be proactive in questioning how companies use and store your data. Support legislation and practices that prioritize and protect consumer privacy.

Tips For Dealing With Contractors During Home Renovations

We renovated our first home rather extensively. There were multiple timelines to be met and we had never done it before. We had ‘’home renovation virgins’’ written all over our faces and if we had allowed it, people could have very easily taken advantage of us. Thankfully we had done some homework and knew signs to look out for, combine this with basic common sense and we were able to accomplish tens of thousands in renovations and live to tell the tale.


Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up

This is your house after all. Though they are the experts but if they’re doing something you don’t like, or do like, speak up!They are working for YOU, not the other way around.

There were a few times when contractors offered their opinions about various things and we needed to be able to say ‘’thanks, but no thanks’’ many times. We were set on having hardwood floors in the kitchen yet our cabinet guy had more opinions to give than I’d like about the situation (he hated hardwood but wanted us to use bamboo or tile). It wasn’t until I finally reminded him that he was here to install the cabinets we bought and not the floor did his comments stop.

Shop Around and Negotiate

We redid our windows and siding with the house. There was a lot of selection and great variance in price for this job. We compared all the quotes and then looked up reviews on the various contractors, and when we finally made our decision we ended up with two different contractors, one to do windows, the other siding.

If you’ve ever done windows and siding reno, you can understand the convenience if having the same team doing both jobs so the timelines work out perfectly. Because they work in a weather permitting job, though they may have intentions of staring a certain day, if they are delayed on other jobs, chances are your home will be delayed slightly too. For this reason I really wanted to work with one team for the job.

I called one contractor we had decided to work with and simple asked if they would be willing to match the quote of the other company and not only did they meet it, they beat it by 5%. It never hurts to ask and definitely shop around. You need to have your homework done before trying to negotiate anything.

Stay on top of the project

Again, this is your house. Make sure you’re present regularly (without being overwhelming, they are there to work) and make sure things are getting done to your satisfaction. Mistakes do happen and if you’re not there often enough some are too late to fix.

I had a friend build a home where she paid extra to have the basement foundation raised to have extra-large windows installed, she didn’t see the concrete get poured and by the time she went over the structural framing had started, on her non- raised basement. They had to remove everything and come up with a compromise. Though it was technically their mistake she should have checked in. In the end, a solution was found but it wasn’t what my friend originally wanted.

Home renovations can be quite stressful; it’s your money and your home, so it is your responsibility to make sure things get executed as you want!

Have you ever dealt with home renos? How did it go?

3 Things You Can Do to Avoid a Housing Market Crash

When you’re in a tough situation, one that you cannot escape, many people feel compelled to shut down and to be angry at the situation.

The most successful people, on the other hand, know that they can learn something – even in a less-than-ideal situation. The same applies to the United States Housing Market Crash of the early 2000’s. With people losing housing left and right and the financial industry in tumult, it was difficult to focus on the things that we could learn from what was happening. But now that we are a few years away from it, we can learn several lessons from the events.

avoid housing market crash

Here are three lessons that we would be wise to learn from the Housing Market Crash.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgages Should Be Treated With Extra Care

If you’ve decided to go with an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage, after doing your homework and deciding that it’s the best option for you (and your family), there are some important things to know about this aspect of your financial life.

For one, Adjustable-Rate Mortgages can be dangerous. When your rate changes, if you aren’t financially ready for it, you can end up in a tough situation. So look at the rate changes and plan for them. It’s not enough to hope that you will earn enough to cover the increased payments – make sure that you can.

The second thing you should know about an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage is that it should have a major impact on your emergency fund. Depending on your financial situation, and your lifestyle and healthy, the amount that you should have in your emergency fund varies. But if you have an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage, that amount should increase substantially. This is because life is full of risk. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Car issues, medical bills (for you or a loved one), and unemployment could always be right around the corner.

Add on that an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage that just went through a rate change? You’ve got yourself a situation nobody ever wants to be in. So, be sure that your emergency fund can juggle emergencies and your Adjustable-Rate Mortgage, should the need arise.

Being Self-Employed Can Be Even More Financially Dangerous Than You Might Think

Deciding to strike out on your own can be scary, and it turns out that it might be even more precarious than you would imagine. Just before the Housing Market Crash, many people felt so financially secure that they decided to leave their jobs and work for themselves. Then all was well and good until the Crash.

Shortly after, many self-employed individuals found themselves in situations where a loan (whether small or large) would be helpful (if not necessary). Sadly, one of the first questions the lenders asked these would-be buyers was “where’s your proof of employment?” The end to that conversation, for many people, was a let down. They found that they could not borrow all (or any) of the amount that they wanted to borrow. And so they found themselves facing foreclosure, bankruptcy, and the need to find a new way forward.

Putting As Little Money Down as Possible Can Point to A Bad Situation

When someone has found a home that they are excited about, it’s time to sit down and do the paperwork and figure out how everything is going to work. Part of that process is figuring out how much money you will invest as a down payment. Now, it has become fashionable in real-estate (and life in general) for people to offer zero-money-down.

Though this can be attractive, it can be a trap. Zero-money-down today can mean large fees or larger costs later, because the lower your down payment, the more time you will spend paying for your home and the more you will pay in the end. If you do find the zero-money-down option attractive, it’s a good idea to consider why. If it’s because you don’t have the money to comfortably purchase the home, then it might be a good idea to look for a home with a lower price tag. Also, it might mean that it’s a good idea for you to wait a little longer, save money, and then have another look at the housing market when you’re at a better place in your financial life.

They say that those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them, and that smart people learn from their mistakes, but smarter people learn from the mistakes of others. During the Housing Market Crash, there were plenty of mistakes made. Keep the lessons about Adjustable-Rate Mortgages, how self-employment can affect your borrowing capabilities, and down payments in mind as you go into the future of real-estate, so that your next property purchase will be part of a wave of great financial decisions, not tragedy.