RoomSketcher-Take 1

There is program after program out there for creating lay outs, making new builds, and to design staging for a home. But none I’ve found free or paid are like RoomSketcher. (http://roomsketcher.com)  This program prices any where from free to $49 for a year (personal use) or around $99 for a year to use commercially. (price varies based on need) It makes it easy and affordable for anyone on any budget to design a room or new home without going broke. It can be used by novices (like myself) or contractors, real estate agents, or interior designers. (you know, the professionals 😉 )

I have been using it for a little while now. I am still finding new features each day that I didn’t know were there before and have thoroughly enjoyed being able to figure it out and also find new ways to furnish our house and also dream a little and start designing a new home. We are in the process of looking for a new apartment or house as well, so I’ve found houses I liked and played around with different furnishings there too-but of course, just a dream! (hey, a girl can do that, right?)

I was given the opportunity to try Room Sketcher VIP ($49-http://www.roomsketcher.com/vip-en001/) a year for a few months (I believe 6-but I may be wrong…don’t quote me) to test it out and share it with you all, my favorite readers. It has been an enjoyable experience!  I find new features and options each time I use it! And the premium gallery photos look great and I can save them to my computer to “reference”  them or share.

livingroom2

The VIP version of Room Sketcher allows me to create a floor plan, furnish my floors with real furnishings and appliances, take 2D and 3D pictures of the lay out, take a 3D tour, and so much more! One thing that makes it even cooler is I can start the floor plans and decorating online, and if I’m in a waiting room or appointment I can check out my projects and brainstorm ideas of how I’d like to make changes or additions in the RoomSketcher app and then go home and use those ideas on my computer.  (found in GooglePlay or the Istore) The app comes in handy when I want to show off my progress as with VIP I can view all of my projects.

Above you’ll see a 2D version of my living room. I cut out the kitchen portion and added a door to the hallway so I could accurately lay out the area.  It shows our three windows, the closet inside our door, and our front door as they sit. It’s like a small scale version of our current living room. I liked this feature because it shows all of the furniture without any of the extra “clutter” of the full layout (I am not a simple woman LOL)  since  I tried to make it as close to how I’d like it or have it as possible.

 

livingroom

 

I actually absolutely love the 3D layout feature even more. You get a full top view of the space including appliances. (in fact, I just noticed I forgot curtains!)  I designed it full with a sectional, side chair, even down to the magazines and art work on the wall. It only took a few minutes to scale the house and I could choose from feet or meters making it easy that way as well as I can measure which ever way I prefer.  I found out there are more ways to rearrange our space than I thought and was able to find a great way to set it up where we would have plenty of space but still get to use the pieces we really love. (and I do LOVE this sectional couch)  You can  even see a 3d tour of the room. I shared a link below for demonstration. That feature makes it easy to see everything going on in the room.

 

http://applet.roomsketcher.com/widget/?ctxt=rs_com&l=en&w=home360&gid=12477840

 

original2

This 2D is of a new house build (it’s still in the works-so forgive the  “clutter”, I’m working on changing the rooms up or figuring out the best layout for what we want…)  Again, it shows the rooms, furniture, even the appliances and cars. (hard to see, but there’s a moped too 😉 )  Here you’ll see the furnishings for a living room, bathroom (which I haven’t yet resized), kitchen/dining room (I think I’ll separate those as well), and even the outdoor set up from a sand box to a pool and lounge chairs etc.  The 2D is a great way to see the layout-but even more exciting to see is the 3D. It really brings it into perspective and pulls it together. It really makes it easy to visualize what it is going to look like when it is done. (down to the very last detail…)

roomsketch1

Not only can you take a 3D photo of they lay out or even a specific feature of the room (and you can make a Gallery too), but there is a walk through capability too. You can actually walk through the room as an avatar as though you were touring the house for real. Above you can actually see the lady avatar standing next to the island where I left her right before taking this screen shot. You can also tour without an avatar, or their is an airplane icon that allows you to circle around the building from above making it possible to get the best views of the layout as possible.

roomsketch2

Here you’ll see an birds eye view of the bathroom as though you are only peaking in. You see my shower, makeup table (going to remove that-it’s just a guest bath anyways!), the sink, and you can see I even was able to add the “small details” such as toilet paper, towel racks, and toothbrush holders etc. There are TONS of options to choose from-I have yet to see them all, I am constantly finding more options! I love the fact I can look at each room in a myriad of ways, and even take pictures that I can go back and compare with to see what I like best. (note: pictures/360 video tours take what they call credits-VIP you only get 20, so use them wisely!)

roomsketch4

This is just another view of the layout. Here you can see that I took the picture while circling around it in the airplane mode. I could choose to zoom in or zoom out to get a more specific view of what I wanted to see and I can use the navigational buttons (found under the zoom line) to look forward, backwards, or circle around at my own pace.

originaloriginal1

Here you can see two views of the same house design with furnishings, but as you can see, they look very different. The first view is flatter, less vibrant, lacking detail, and while it still gives a great idea of what the house could look like, it is just a basic look. On the right, (or the second picture) you can see detail, from brighter colors to more distinct detail and a further look at size, thickness, a full feeling of what the house can look like. You see everything down to the throw pillows and bananas on the island. It is clear, concise, and visually appealing. The 3D feature of  Room Sketcher is almost the selling point of signing up for the VIP account with Room Sketcher. It is a great program to begin with, but the added features available with the VIP account are the icing on the cake.

roomsketch5

With hundreds of furniture and appliance options, this program isn’t just helpful, it’s fun! You can decorate everything any way you want and even add books to the bookshelves and a tv to the living room. (a wall unit, or a “table” unit on a tv stand…or whatever) You can see what a room would look like with a fireplace or insert, or what kind of couch looks great with what carpet and lighting fixtures or even “tear your current home down” and redesign it in your free time.

This program has been great to use and I can see where it would be great for amateurs like myself or professionals looking for a great program to do the hard work for them. (measuring etc) while they can sit down with clients and offer a 3D view of what they would like to do or have. Interior designers can get great use from this program as well with all the real furnishing options they offer (they even pop up who it’s made by in the side window-see the pic above). It’s easy, it’s well made, it’s colorful and fun to use, and it’s got a great appeal to it visually that other programs don’t offer. (especially without spending an arm and a leg)

If you are looking to move into a new home, build a new home, or even redesign/redecorate your current home, this program is perfect to meet all your needs! You can try it out in the free version to see how you like it, but the best features are found in the VIP format for $49 for a full year. (that’s only $4 a month!)

Check it out here:

http://roomsketcher.com

View more pictures of my current plan below: (premium pics only available with VIP-http://www.roomsketcher.com/vip-en001/)

room room1  room4 room5 room6 room room1

More Home 360 views!

http://applet.roomsketcher.com/widget/?ctxt=rs_com&l=en&w=home360&gid=12485287 (current living room)

http://applet.roomsketcher.com/widget/?ctxt=rs_com&l=en&w=home360&gid=12482413 (simpler, closet, no downstairs bath)

http://applet.roomsketcher.com/widget/?ctxt=rs_com&l=en&w=home360&gid=12485287 (kitchen)

http://applet.roomsketcher.com/widget/?ctxt=rs_com&l=en&w=home360&gid=12485301 (updated house living room)

 

 

*Follow me on this journey as I post new photos/tours over the next couple of months! 🙂

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Financial Empowerment: Realign Your Finances to God’s Will

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The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters.”  Psalm 24: 1-2

Finances can be a myriad of things-overwhelming, overflowing, non existent, or so many other things. Like many of you I have felt the weight of our finances on my shoulders. I must admit, I blamed God to a point, wondering why He would allow us to struggle so much and why no matter what we did, we never seemed to “get ahead”. I have had money “over flowing” (not that I was rich, so to speak, but certainly living within my means…) and we have had nothing-living day by day off of what others could offer us and staying with family. Through it all, God has been there-pulling us through, but that does not change the way I know I felt-the misconceptions held, and the major financial mistakes made during these times.

The book Financial Empowerment: Realign your Finances to God’s Will is an eye opening, and equally helpful book that I wish I had been able to read at the worst of times, but am grateful to have read even now, living between having nothing and true prosperity. It is more than just a book about finances and how to live a prosperous life.

It begins by talking about why we would want, or need, to talk about our finances. It goes on to talk about who the source of our money is and how we need to trust God as our source-while often we don’t.  The first two chapters really set the stage for the entire book. If you are a Christian reading this book-expect to feel convicted on certain topics, and to feel led to do exactly what God has asked us to do from the very start-Trust.

The next chapter touches on what wealth is, why to work, and how to “create” wealth.  It breaks each topic within each chapter down into “sections” and gets very specific. One thing that really touched home to me, as a Stay -at – home mom was when it talked about WHY we should work. I may not go to an outside job, but what I do around the house is still important, and often I forget why I even bother. (especially when things build up again and again) The chapter talks about how work is God and reaps rewards, and how it is God’s assignment to us.

The book moves on to tithing, saving, investing, and how to spend. Each chapter breaks down it’s specific topic and gives tips that are easy and fun to do along with realistic and feel “personalized” for it’s readers. I really liked chapter 7 because I have a tendency to spend outside my means and it gives practical tips to help eliminate excessive spending while still allowing me to feel comfortable with it or as though I am not necessarily spending less-though I really am…

Before the book moves to it’s final chapters, it discusses giving , debt, and lending and it’s effects on finances. Giving is truly an act of faith and this book does a great job of presenting this important topic. I can attest (and sadly admit) to the fact that there have been times I have wanted to give, but didn’t trust God enough to provide what we needed if I did and missed an opportunity for blessing and to bless another person. It talks about how to give and what giving can accomplish and asks the important question of “Why Christians, but not givers?” (something I have often considered…)  On the topic of debt it talks both about being the effect of debt, and God’s way OUT of debt. It goes right into a chapter about lending and the do’s and don’ts and what it takes to lend the godly way.

It’s last chapters talk about a financial plan, how to keep it in perspective, and how both righteousness and riches tie into each other. It discusses how to plan finances and how it is a lot like planning for a trip, God’s plan, why we often don’t plan, (I tend to fall into the “My goals are too big”  category) how to keep track of money, and taking the steps to financial success. Not only does this book address finances, but also relationships and the importance of not only managing finances, but also take control of other aspects of life such as spiritual life, health, and career.  I liked chapter 12 because it can be difficult keeping things in perspective, especially when in a “pit” of sorts. It is easy to let money control our actions, whether we have none or are overflowing, and it effectively explains how to master money without being controlled by it.

This entire book is a great standard of how to treat and control finances and get on track while doing it God’s way. It is chock ful of supporting scriptures (in NKJV) and is clear and concise. This is a book anyone needing clear, easy to follow directions and tips on ways to effectively get finances under control and manage money the godly way.  I highly recommend this book to any Christian looking to prioritize finances or those who are struggling to get by.  This book has been a huge help in our home and I plan to keep it around because it has tips, ideas, and advice for any financial state.

 

 

Book Description:

Authored by Pamela Carmichael, “Financial Empowerment: Realign Your Finances to God’s Will” provides both sound biblical basis and practical solutions to put your finances in order.

Pamela Carmichael can identify with your financial challenges. She knows what it’s like to be faced with limited funds as well as having more than enough. However, in the midst of financial turmoil, she has learnt to take God at His word and apply His money principles to experience financial freedom.

In this award winning title, “Financial Empowerment”, Pamela explores nine key areas of personal finance – creating wealth, tithing, saving, giving,investing, spending, borrowing, lending and planning. She examines the issues and misconceptions most experience in their finances and provides help with Biblical and practical solutions.

Financial Empowerment is the road map to personal and spiritual growth, financial well-being and a lifetime of empowerment through Godly principles.

Reviewed by Danita Dyess for Readers’ Favorite
As a reviewer of numerous Christian publications, I can attest that “Financial Empowerment” is exceptional. Carmichael’s 27 years of Christian service echoes page after page. I was impressed with the depth and breadth that she lovingly demonstrated about specific areas, e.g. God’s assignment of work, leaving an inheritance and using your money to help others.

-Pastor Cavour Blackman, New Wine Ministries
I found Financial Empowerment to be very Bible-centered, informative and challenging especially at a time when money is such a major issue with world-wide economic problems. It’s a very practical guide to help the reader glean financial principles in times like these.

-Carol A. Pitt, Caribbean Chapters Publishing
Understanding personal finance and having the discipline to manage a budget and save for the future are key factors toward achieving personal life goals, but knowledge and understanding about our spiritual well-being and our creator who makes all things possible are even more fundamental to our overall prosperity. This book reinforces the knowledge of how we are blessed and become wealthy through a commitment to and belief in God, who is our source.

From the Author

This book will help you to:

  • Recognize that God is the Ultimate Source for every need in your life
  • Identify the reasons for the financial challenges you face
  • Apply God’s solution to improve your personal finances
  • Identify and appreciate the benefits of doing things God’s way
  • Bless yourself and others through the practice of Godly financial principles
  • Shatter the perception or stronghold that God does not delight in your prosperity
  • Take steps towards financial freedom

With His will in mind as you manage your finances, God will empower you. You will be able to:

  • Attach eternal value to your money by funding ministries that spread the gospel, feed the hungry, educate and empower those who need hope and a future
  • Bless yourself by being free financially, thus having little or no debt
  • Make sound financial decisions knowing how to give, save, invest, or lend using Godly guidelines
  • Change lives (yours, your family’s and others) for good because God’s wisdom will guide you
  • Become the wealth creator and wealth distributor God intended you to be

 

Where to Buy:

Financial Empowerment: Realign Your Finances to God’s Will

 

 

Win your own copy of Financial Empowerment: Realign Your Finances to God’s Will!! Enter Here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

How to Save

Yep-it is official. Not only do I stink at keeping up with what week we are on, but I am equally as bad at updating on the 52 week challenge each week as well! I apologize!

I must admit that money isn’t my most favorite topic-I actually avoid it often because honestly, despite needing to think about it and to use it wisely, it is not something I like talking about. I mean, face it, money may literally grow on trees, but it doesn’t grow in our pockets as easily or without proper preparation and thought.

 

So, what are some good steps we can take to save our hard earned money?

First of all: Stop accruing more debt! No more buying things you can’t afford, or honestly, probably don’t even need. No more maxing out credit cards or borrowing money. Now is the time to get in control of your spending.

I must admit, this is a hard one for my husband and me. We often will get so close to being out of debt, and we will get distracted by something we think we want or need, and often, we are back where we started. It is a nasty habit, and one we need to break before we have no way to retire, or nothing left to give to our children. And of course, we want to live in a house someday-so getting out of debt is one of the first steps to take to reach that goal as well.

Secondly: Stop spending. Now, this goes along with number one, but it is so much more than that. In a world/country full of credit cards, financing options, and loan companies promising low rates or 0% apr, it can be hard to quit shopping. It can be so deceiving to get such a great offer in the mail to find out later (when 12 months is up) that 0% is 23% which is what most store credit cards and new credit card offers are starting the Variable interest rates at currently. Credit cards make spending easy because you think you aren’t really spending the money now, when honestly, you are, and often much more once you pay the interest. The best step to take is to cut down spending, or cut the cards altogether.

*DO NOT Cancel your cards-that can hurt your credit, something they don’t tell you when you open up your line of credit. Simply cut your cards, or your spending, and eventually the account will close itself without affecting your credit monumentally, or ou will have the cards available for when an emergency arises. (and I am NOT referring to that awesome flash sale or a truck sitting in a driveway for sale ;p)

 

Thirdly: Spend your money on what’s necessary like grocery, utility bills, gas etc…( cable TV is not one of them) Make an adjustment. Look at your monthly spending and cut back on some things. Like stop eating out, print out coupons from the internet before going to grocery shopping, window shop instead of splurging .(that last one is like smelling chocolate instead of eating the whole candy bar-but will truly benefit in the long run)   You will be surprise how much you can save monthly if watch your self closely.

Fourthly: Establish an Emergency fund. So, it can be argued that this should be done before paying off debt-but it is extremely hard to form an emergency fund when you are paying off a large amount of debt. Instead, I recommend doing BOTH. It is super easy to have your pay roll automatically take out five-six percent per paycheck and deposit it into your savings, or pull out a specified amount each week and put it to savings and still make payments to each debt you are working to pay off. It is doable. If you can’t come up with your own creative way of doing it, the 52 week challenge could be just what you need to get at least a small amount of money in the bank.

Make sure you use a separate account for savings so you aren’t tempted to spend it instead of save it and keep in mind the ideal emergency fund will have about six months of monthly living expenses saved in it-this can take years-so don’t stress if you feel it isn’t happening fast enough. You will get there!

Fifth: Take control of your debt. Below I will list some easy steps you can take to do so-remember-you’re debt belongs to you, but it does not define you.

  • Sit down and write down just what you owe and for what. Be specific. While you’re at it, be sure to list how much the minimum payment of each debt is.
  • Put them in order from lowest balance to highest balance. Also keep in mind interest rates.
  • Set aside a specific amount of money designated to paying off debt.
  • Take a look at all of your debts and pay the minimum payment to each of your debts except to the smallest debt.
  • Every single penny you have left over-put towards your smallest debt. It may seem backwards, but paying off the smaller debts frees up more money to pay the larger debts and also gives a feeling of satisfaction when it gets fully paid off. (that feeling will keep you going)

Although not all of these feel like they are directly related to saving, they are. The less we spend and the less debt we create and/or have, the more money we will have available to save.

Why Save?

We save for many reasons. We may save for a special purchase, special outings or dates, vacations, emergency funds, to buy a house and/or car, or for retirement. We all have our reasons. Some are more “important’ than others, but it is all up to us why we save.

My goal is to save for a  house and for an emergency fund, then eventually retirement. These are my own personal reasons.

What are yours? Do you have a special trip you want to take? Or something you want to buy? Share below-I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

As a reminder, this week we are on week 15. So when your paycheck comes, $15 should be added to your account. The total saved so far will be $120.

Are you up to date? How are you doing at keeping up and keeping track?

Do you have any great ideas on how to make this work, or do you use this with your kids?

Leave your comments and thoughts in the comments below. 🙂

 

Keep Saving and God Bless!

Sarah

Week 10 Going on 11

Okay, so it is very safe to say I have been terrible at keeping you up to date on this challenge. The truth is, I find it confusing to remember what week I am on sometimes. I don’t have the chart in front of me, and I think I may need to write down what each week is on the calendar.

However, this week on Friday (or Thursday-depends on your pay day) we should all be up to $55 dollars in our savings account and adding $11. So, despite forgetting we are up to $60 in our 52 week challenge savings and will be adding $11 on the 22nd.

I am going to continue doing this challenge through the end of the year, but my honest opinion is that saving would be easier, more efficient, and more yielding, if we were to set up direct deposit of 5 or 6% of our paycheck each week.

For example, if we made $600 a week, it would be easy enough to set up direct deposit of 6% and in return we would be adding $36 a week. Or $144/$180 a month (based on four or five week month)  That is a whopping $1,872 in comparison to $1,378 and you didn’t even have to remember or lift a finger. That’s a difference of $494. And we aren’t even considering over time, bonuses, or raises!

Anyways, this program (52 week challenge) is great for newbies to saving, or those looking to get better at it/save for a trip/special treat etc . I recommend trying it for yourself and seeing what you think of it. Feel free to give your thoughts in the comments below, or send me a message.

Don’t forget to save your $11 this week!!

52 Week Challenge

So here it is. The 52 Week Challenge. For research purposes, I am going to do this as a way to save for Christmas next year.

How it Works: Each week you save the amount of money for the number of the week. For example: Week 1-$1 or Week 36-$36. Below is a chart to follow. In a later post I will post ways to remember what week you are on and exceptions that can be made. (such as you know the next week you won’t have the money so you want to save it this week etc)

Image

As I take this journey I will record my opinions on how it does or doesn’t work, pros and cons, ways to change it up, and many other thoughts and ideas.

I would like to note this is all based on opinion. If it doesn’t work for me or my family, that does not immediately mean it will not work for you and yours. I hope that you enjoy your journey into the 52 week challenge!

God Bless,

Sarah

 

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