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There will be times in your life when you will question your thoughts or actions. To whom are you listening? This may be one of the most difficult questions you have to answer more than once in your life. However, when you determine the sources, your actions will make more sense.

You Have a Choice
The purpose of this question is for you to understand that you have a choice. You can listen to the rational voices or you can listen to the irrational ones. You can choose to listen to positive voices or negative voices. If you are faithful, you may be challenged with a choice between the ”angelic” voice or the ”devilish” voice. You will, however, notice in all of the above situations that you and you alone have the choice of which voice to listen to.

Choice is Accompanied by Responsibility
When you have the ability to choose, you must also accept the responsibilities that come along with your choices. Some choices may not result in favorable outcomes. Understanding this and learning from the lessons that such choices may carry will enable you to grow and thoroughly improve your decision-making skills in the future. Don't fall prey to the blame game. Too often, many will listen to the ”wrong” voices and make decisions that are detrimental not only to themselves but to those around them. Blaming others or circumstances does not remedy the situation. However, owning up and taking responsibility will empower you and help you move on.

Let Go and Move On
Letting go may seem very difficult, moving forward even more so. However, it can be done and many more times than once. Depending on the voice you are listening to, you may be challenged with letting go. Whew! Is that difficult? Oh yes, and I would be misleading you if I told you that it is an easy decision. Again, you will always be faced with decisions in your life. Some may be as easy as choosing flats over high heels or a striped tie over a solid. It may become a bit more difficult when choosing fresh fruit or a decadent pastry and even more difficult when the decision concerns the welfare of your family. The point is that you and only you can choose what voice to listen to. This little voice in your head that is directing you toward making or not making a huge investment is one that cannot be easily shut off.

I'm not here to tell you to shut it off; I'm here to simply tell you that we all have the same little voice in our heads. You are not alone on this adventure called life.

You must take responsibility for your actions.

You must learn from your choices and never, ever stop learning.

Those who think they know it all are the ones who will have difficulties owning up or taking responsibility for the choices they have made. You can be different! Correction, you MUST be different. You were created for greatness, and once you accept this as truth, you will understand the reasons behind the choices you may have made or will be challenged with in the future.

So my question for you stands: to whom are you listening?

Not having hot water is not fun. If left unchecked and your pipes freeze it could mean even bigger troubles. So is this something you should try and fix yourself or a project best left for the pros?

Getting Your Gas Water Heater Back On:

  • Check to make sure the gas is actually on.
  • Check the pilot light.
  • If out, follow the instructions on your heater to relight it.
  • If the pilot light won’t stay lit, you can replace the thermocouple (the copper wire hanging down to the pilot light) for less than twenty dollars, using only a small adjustable wrench.
  • If this doesn’t fix your problem, call a plumber.

How to Fix Your Own Electric Water Heater:

  1. Check that you have electricity and breakers haven’t been tripped.
  2. If that didn’t solve it, make sure to turn off the breakers to the water heater before going any further!
  3. Remove the access cover on the water heater and locate the reset button. If you are lucky, you will only have to reset it and turn the power back on, and you’ll be all set in an hour.
  4. If not, power off the electricity again, get your hands on a voltage meter, locate the heating elements, and check for continuity in the circuit. If this fails, you’ll want to replace both elements. This requires draining the tank and possibly a special socket that can be found wherever you buy the elements.
  5. If the elements are fine, it is probably your thermostats that are the issue. These can be quickly and easily changed by removing the wires and connecting new thermostats.

Only attempt these DIY projects if you feel comfortable. Dealing with gas and electricity can be deadly. However, with a little effort you can also save yourself a lot of money.

Whether you just have a free weekend and a few hundred dollars to tackle one room or hundreds of thousands to give your entire home a new look, the following eight steps will help you make your money go a lot farther.

1. Begin Your Wish List
Pick out design styles you’d like , and listing all of the things you would remove, change, or add if you could.

2. Identify Your Real Budget
Come up with a realistic budget with which you are completely comfortable.

3. Price Shop
Look up prices of everything on your wish list and get several quotes.

4. Prioritize
Make a list of what you can really afford and which items are the most important.

5. Create Your Re-Decorating Plan
Include tasks, items to purchase, timelines and the order in which things will be done.

6. Be Ready to Make Smart Adjustments
Invest in big items that will last or add to the value of your home and make adjustments to the other items on your list. Don’t keep stretching your budget; make trade-offs instead.

7. Plan for Overages
Allow for 10–25% in extra expenses.

8. Be Willing to Work in Phases
Don’t run yourself ragged, break up your ideas into phases.

This is the ideal solution for sprucing up your home to prep it for sale, wowing visitors, or even just fighting off the winter blues.

1. Rearrange
Start by rearranging. Make your spaces flow better and give the appearance of greater openness. Decide which items need to go or to be upgraded.

2. Where’s the Focus?
For each room, choose focal points that you will center your budget on; for example, the fireplace mantel, dining room table, or master bed.

3. Use what you’ve got
Artwork, kids’ creations, sculptures, and heirlooms can all be used to fill these focal points without breaking out the credit card, and all while providing a more personal feel.

4. Let the Style Go Wild
If trendy and exotic is what you are looking for, then think window treatments, lighting and shades, or replacing hardware to breathe new life and class into your home.

The forced-air gas furnace is the most common heating system in North America. It has undergone many improvements over the past few years making them efficient, quiet and reliable.

Efficiency
Most of the heat generated when a gas furnace burns goes into the house, but some of the heat goes up the chimney. Furnace efficiency refers to the amount of heat delivered into the house relative to the total amount of fuel energy used. Another way to look at it: if you burn $1 worth of gas and you get 80 cents worth of heat into the house, your furnace is operating at 80% efficiency. This quotient is often called AFUE, or annual fuel utilization efficiency.

Furnaces are classified into three efficiency categories, each correlating to a specific design: conventional, mid, and high efficiency designs.

Conventional
A conventional furnace is the oldest type and is generally 55% to 65% efficient. In other words, a great deal of heat is lost up the chimney during the operation of the furnace. Conventional furnaces are no longer made but many still exist in homes.

Mid
Improvements in design led to the mid-efficiency furnace, operating at around 80% AFUE. The big development, the induced draft fan, sucks the combustion products through the furnace and discharges them into the flue. No longer reliant on natural draft to run, the heat exchanger design was optimized in order to extract more heat before the combustion gasses went up the chimney.

High
Further developments in furnace design led to the modern high-efficiency furnace, operating at an AFUE of 90 to 97%. A high-efficiency furnace has two heat exchangers, the second’s job being to condense the gases, thus extracting most of the heat that would otherwise have been lost up the chimney.

Other benefits of a high-efficiency furnace:

  • Does not require a chimney: since most of the combustion gases are condensed and trickle down the drain, the remaining (fairly cool) gases can be vented through a plastic pipe directly through the wall of the house.
  • Doesn’t burn house-hold air: combustion air is drawn directly from the outside through one plastic pipe and a second plastic pipe discharges the remaining combustion gas to the exterior.

Ever find yourself becoming resentful or upset because you have too much on your plate? Ever find yourself bitter about doing what you “have to do” instead of what you really want to do?

Five Ways to Reduce Stress and Create More Peace:

  1. Simplify your methods so the task isn’t so challenging.
  2. It’s OK to say no if you can’t do it comfortably or happily
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  4. Reduce your to-do list—some items just aren’t that critical.
  5. Make trade-offs—block more “me time” next week and don’t let it be interrupted.

4 More Ways to Reduce Stress and Create More Peace:

  • Simplify your methods so it isn’t so challenging
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • Reduce your to-do list – some items just aren’t that critical
  • Make trade-offs – bock more ‘me time’ next week and don’t let it be interrupted

We are now so obsessed with material belongings that there are even television shows about hoarders who jeopardize their homes and health with their compulsive buying habits and yet still can’t bear to give up any of their possessions.

Of course, your situation may not be this dire, but if you want to spruce up your home, a good start may be getting rid of some of the clutter. How many things do you own that you haven’t used or worn in the last three months? You probably don’t need them.

Feeling wealthy and great about yourself shouldn’t rely on keeping up with the Jones’s. What can feel a lot better is the peace of mind of having a little more living space, knowing that you are financially secure, and having time to relax.

Wouldn’t it be satisfying to be able to experience more: doing more, creating more amazing memories, and spending more time with those you love?

Living lighter can be incredibly freeing. Ask “homeless” billionaire Nicolas Bergguen, who refuses to even rent or buy a home and travels the world with his belongings in a paper bag.

Look for these signs of trouble:

  • Wood rot: If you see wood rot, it could be worse than you think. Rotted connections such as the ledger board and house connection could lead to deck collapse.
  • Good connections: Check the points of connection between major components such as the deck and the house, the guardrail and the deck, the beams and the posts, and the posts and the pier. You should see plenty of metal brackets and bolts, not nails.

If in doubt, have an expert look at your deck. For example, it is very difficult to inspect the deck-to-house connection because it is not easily accessible. Of course, it helps if you know what you are looking for.

There are over forty million decks in North America, with over one million built or rebuilt each year. With care, a deck can last many years and provide a safe place to enjoy the great outdoors.

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