Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Eyes on The Road! New Hands-Free Ordinance in Austin

January 4th, 2015, Posted By Austin Housemates

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Remember all the smart phones that came out last year, right on time for the holidays? The iPhone 6 dropped in September and Samsung released both the S5 and the Note4 in time for Christmas. Perhaps that’s what inspired the City of Austin to adopt a new, hands-free ordinance in 2015. That’s right. This update in local law was inspired by the fact that Austin is, more often than not, the leading city in Texas, and this is the city’s chance to inspire updates in safety laws throughout the state. Our new law started on the first of January.

As of January 1st, it will be a ticket-able offense to ride your bicycle or drive your car while on any hand-held device. The keyword here is “hand-held”, as mounted GPS and backseat DVD players are perfectly street-legal. The new cell phone ordinances in particular aim to reduce the number of accidents caused by a moment’s distraction. Over the past 3 years, over 400,000 cyclists and motorists were killed by people using their phones. So whether you’re reading the map or texting your eta, the police will not discriminate. The fine is steep, but the Austin government sees it as an “effort to refocus drivers on the task of driving”.

This should all be obvious, right? Keep your eyes on the road, and don’t risk it. Your life is worth more than a $500 fine, and that will still sting your wallet as you come down from all that holiday partying. For more information on the fines and list of hand-held devices that are no longer allowed in the front seat, visit the City of Austin site.

How You Can Make Chores Fun

December 3rd, 2013, Posted By Austin Housemates

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You may have at some point encountered resistance in getting the household chores done while living with other people. Whether it’s your own family or your Austin roommates, there’s always a bit of a challenge in getting things done that seem like a nuisance, right?

 

But what if it could be fun?

What if it was a game or a challenge?

What if you could win your favorite prize for just doing the simple housework that needs to be done anyway?

 

Enter: www.ChoreWars.com – the solution to adding some fun and friendly competition to your tedious tasks:

Chore Wars aims to make chores fun by incorporating them with an online role-playing game designed to reward chore completion with a bit of challenging fun. You can assign characters to each member of your household, and in turn, each character receives experience points for every chore they complete.

 

If you’ve got a household full of willing and on-board players like any of your Austin roommates, who just need a little extra motivation to get their chores done, Chore Wars might just be the thing for you.

 

At the end of the week, prizes could be awarded such as: player with the most points gets free drinks, gets to skip a week of chores, or maybe the player with the least points has to buy drinks for everyone in the house! Prizes can be anything – so get creative. Remember, this should be fun!

 

If the game concept doesn’t sound fun or appealing to your household, check out Chore Buster if you just need help delegating and organizing the household chores.

 

Chore Buster allows you to organize your chores – all for free.

 

The program lets you enter in the people and the chores needed to be done, specify how hard the chore is and how often it should be done, then automatically generates a fair schedule of chores to be done and emails it to you either daily or weekly. That’s it – an easy system allowing your household to stay accountable and on track with what needs to be done.

 

One of the hardest parts about living with other people can be dealing with each other’s different personalities and preferences on cleanliness and organization. Chore Wars and/or Chore Buster can help take the frustration out of tedious tasks and instantly make it fun and doable.

 

Give them a try – your household will be cleaner, and more organized in an efficient way!

How to Earn Money in Austin When in a Financial Pinch

October 10th, 2013, Posted By Austin Housemates

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With the economic downturn and jobs in high demand, many people are looking into less conventional ways to earn some extra cash – and fast. This city is full of opportunity – you just need to know where to look!

 

Here are some easy ways to earn a little extra dough in Austin, Texas:

 

Sell your clothes – Have you recently gained weight, lost weight, or do you have clothes that you simply don’t wear anymore?  There are many clothing resale shops in the Austin area that will buy your gently used clothing and accessories.  Some of these shops include Buffalo Exchange, located on Guadalupe Street, and Plato’s Closet, which has two locations in Austin and one in Round Rock. These shops will buy your clothes in exchange for cash or store credit.  Don’t expect to get retail prices for your clothes.  You will probably get a quarter of what you bought them for but still, it is better than leaving them simply sitting in your closet.  Also, you will get more value in store credit than you will if you opt for cash, so consider this if you know you will end up spending money to buy more clothing.

Be a study volunteer – There are many companies who utilize volunteers for research purposes.  One of the biggest in Austin is PPD, a pharmaceutical research organization. The University of Texas Department of Psychology also uses paid volunteers.  The compensation for these studies varies, but some studies can pay as much as $2000 to participants.  Contact either one of these organizations to learn more. Also, check Craigslist.com, where many of these companies post ads daily searching for paid volunteers.

Recycle – Drink a lot of soda?  Turn your extra cans into cash by donating them to Cash 4 Cans.  At around 66 cents per pound of aluminum cans, don’t expect to get rich from a couple of 12-packs, but those cans can really add up.  If you don’t drink a lot of canned beverages, you could even find them in trash cans or on the side of the road, mostly along busy highways.

Rent out a room – Do you have an extra room in your home?  With Austin being the fastest growing city in the US right now, many people are actively seeking an affordable place to live.  Visit Craigslist to post your room for rent, under the housing section in the “rooms/shared” subsection to find some Austin roommates.  Some tips?  Keep your ad short and simple.  People are more likely to read and respond to shorter ads, and if they need more info, they can email you through Craigslist.  Also, include a picture.  Posts with pictures are much more likely to be followed up on. You choose the price, but research other Craigslist ads with similar features and square footage to your room to make sure your price is competitive.

Donate plasma – If you are a healthy individual over the age of 18, chances are that you are eligible to donate plasma. Plasma is the part of the blood that remains after white blood cells, platelets, and other cellular components are removed, and is used to create therapies that cure many life-threatening diseases.  To donate, you will have a needle placed in your arm that will remove the blood to create plasma.  Each session lasts about 1 – 3 hours.  Compensation varies, but expect to earn about $20 – $30 a visit. BioLife and DCI Biologicals are both donation centers located in Austin.  Contact either one of them to set up an appointment.

Sell at a flea market –The Airport Pulga Flea market, located on Highway 183, 2 miles south of the Austin-Bergstrom Airport, allows you to set up a booth to sell your goods, whatever they may be.  If you are into crafting, this is a good way to sell your creations. You can also buy goods wholesale to resell at the market. You can find many wholesale items here: http://www.wholesalecentral.com.  

Temp – Consider using a temp agency to find a temporary job.  Temp agencies provide temporary employment in most career fields.  Compensation depends on the position. There are dozens of temp agencies in Austin, but Burnett Staffing and Austin Reliable Staffing are both great options.  Contact them for more info.

 

Don’t forget to look around your local neighborhood, as well. Many people are in need of a helping hand here and there with their landscaping, DIY house projects, and fast cleaning services. The Craigslist “gigs” section is also a great resource for last minute jobs – take a look around and you’ll see lots of possibilities for making a little bit of extra cash.

How to Make the Most Out of a Small Space

September 18th, 2013, Posted By Austin Housemates

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Organizing a small space can feel overwhelming when there’s not much room to work with. Especially if it’s your bedroom – a place meant for rest, relaxation, and de-cluttering your mind. However, a smaller space also has its benefits – less space to clean and usually a lower rent or mortgage. Making it feel comfortable can often be tricky – but not for long!

 

Here are 4 useful tips to make your peaceful abode feel like the spacious sanctuary that you deserve:

1) Keep only the necessities. Take a look around your room – do you see a few piles of clutter here and there, or perhaps covering the entire floor? It’s time to remove it. Clearing your floor of unnecessary objects can be hard, yet so valuable. Having a clear floor will open up the room and create the illusion of more space – not to mention allow you more room to move around, as well as more room for your roommates to hang out with you as well.

2) Take advantage of the space under your bed. This is a great place to store winter clothes in the summer and summer clothes in the winter, leaving you more room to use in your closet year-round. Grab a few clear plastic containers at The Container Store or Bed, Bath & Beyond that can slip right under your bed. Under the bed storage can also be a great option for shoes and suitcases.

3) Choose lighter colors. We don’t always have options for the paint in our bedroom if renting or staying somewhere temporarily, however we can control our decorations. Darker colors can make a room seem smaller – even cave-like. If you’re prone to blacks and browns, try those colors on your pillows or throw rugs and keep the lighter and brighter colors to your walls and the major focal points of the room.

4) Choose your furniture wisely and put it to work! One of the quickest ways to make a room look smaller is with big, clunky furniture. So, depending on the size of your room, choose 2-3 necessary key pieces such as a dresser, armoire, or desk. Then utilize each piece in more ways than one. For example: Your dresser can also become an entertainment center by placing your TV on top. If you choose not to have a TV, this space is also a great area for toiletries and/or makeup, books, and odds and ends. The more ways you can use your furniture, the more space you’ll clear up thereby making your room looking larger.

 

A small space can definitely be a challenge. But it’s important to know you can always organize and condense your room with these simple adjustments! Besides, having a small bedroom can be cozy, warm and inviting.

Try these 4 tips today to make your room feel unique and transformed into the larger space you desire, and share with your Austin Roommates as well!

How to Be Social in Your New City – Austin

September 18th, 2013, Posted By Austin Housemates

Austin

 

Moving to a new city can be exhilarating: new and fun things to do + see, fresh routines to be made, hidden favorites to be found, and tons of great possibilities to create new friendships throughout the city, like with your Austin Roommates, for example!

But moving to a brand new place like Austin can also be nerve-wracking and overwhelming for some – especially if you may not know a lot of people or have any friends or family close-by. There’s so much to do, discover, and enjoy you might have a tough time knowing where or how to start.

If that sounds like you, check these out:

5 Ways to Be Social in your New City of Austin:

1) Join meetup.com: a social website made specifically for getting people together to share, learn, or do something new. Meetups are happening around the world and are a fantastic way of meeting new people, getting acquainted with your city, and creating fun new friendships. Even if you’re shy or not much of a social person, meetup.com is guaranteed to have something to interest you. A plus: Membership is free! Have your roommates join you!

2) Join a gym. Active enthusiasts often thrive in groups! Check out places near your work or home to find like-minded people. Many people enjoy working out with friends and making it their social hour. If gyms aren’t your thing though, search for running/Frisbee/golf + more groups! You name it and Austin is sure to have it. This might be a great activity to do with your roommates so you can get to know each other better.

3) Start a book club. For the more introverted and reserved types who enjoy small potlucks and meet n’ greets, a book club can be a fun, low-key, and stress-free way to meet some people who share a similar interest with you. If you can’t find one on meetup.com, try Google – your new best friend at finding pretty much anything and everything Austin!

4) Check out activities on livingsocial.com and groupon.com. For an inexpensive time, try purchasing an event voucher from one of these websites. Livingsocial and Groupon are awesome ways at trying an activity for half the cost. See if you like it – there’s not much to lose! Activities like SUP, Work-Out Classes, Wine-Tasting Classes, Boating, Golfing, Ziplining + more can all be available at one time or another for half the cost. New outings can equal new socializing for a fraction of the regular cost. Sign up for the free emails so you can see what’s available right away!

5) Volunteer. There are a number of ways to get involved around Austin. If you have a special place in your heart for animals, children, or the elderly, offer your services a couple hours a week and find yourself with new friends and a great purpose! Volunteer Match can get you started: http://www.volunteermatch.org/search?l=Austin%2C+TX%2C+USA

 

Whether you’re new to the social scene, prefer intimate one-on-one gatherings, or thrive on group events, don’t worry – there is something for everyone in Austin. Pretty soon, you’ll be a social butterfly dispensing advice to the newbie Austinites!