Zen Your Space

6 Ways Your Living Room Is Stressing You Out—and How to Make It Zen

By Jamie Wiebe 

In a perfect world, your living room should be a space for relaxing, entertaining, or playing with the kids—a one-stop shop to hide away from the worries of the day. So why do some of us end up avoiding this space at all costs?

It turns out, your living room decor choices (or lack thereof) could be stressing you out. Stop the tension in its tracks by making these easy design changes, which promise to smooth your mood and transform the space into the laid-back paradise you deserve.

1. Clutter

You had to know this would be the first thing we’d call out: It’s OK for your living room to look lived-in (it is in the name, after all). But too much “living” can leave a space looking like a junkyard. And, you guessed it: Mess and stress are psychologically linked.

“The living room is a notorious catchall and, as humans, we love to dump our stuff there,” says Leigh Spicher, the national director of design studios at home builder Ashton Woods.

Spicher’s living room has “beautiful architectural finishes, large windows, and a glorious brick fireplace”—but she doesn’t notice those things. Instead, she sees the toddler toys, dog bones, shoes, remote controls, magazines, and more.

Improve your mood: Tuck away games and books in built-ins, and choose furniture with storage so you can easily keep odds and ends out of sight.

2. Sounds and smells

Clutter isn’t just visual. “It’s also found in other senses, such as noise and scent,” Spicher says.

Think about your living room: Do you have a Sonos and a television? Do your kids watch YouTube on their tiny screens while you’re watching “The Bachelorette” on the big screen? All that noise keeps you on edge and prevents relaxation—no matter how many glasses of rosé you down during the show.

Think beyond the audio, too: “Avoid numerous scents,” Spicher says, “especially unnatural scents, such as plug-ins.”

Improve your mood: Pick one primary scent—ideally a natural one, like your favorite potpourri—and make sure to play only one audio source at a time. Really, try it.

3. White fabrics

You might love the all-white look, but a living room isn’t always the best space for stark, minimal decor.

“Yes, we all want our living room to be nice and perhaps a bit more formal than the rest of the house,” says designer Mark Cutler. “But stay away from white fabrics or you’ll constantly be worried about spills and stains.”

Darker colors cover up messes and allow you to live in your living room—not just tiptoe through the space.

Improve your mood: Of course, if you can’t live without all-white decor, go for it. But consider your limits: Will you feel stressed out whenever a guest sips red wine or coffee? Are you willing to drop everything and scrub away whenever you spot the slightest bit of dirt? If not, consider a darker decor scheme.

4. Bare windows

Even if you’re tucked away deep in the woods, it’s hard to shake the spooky sense that you’re being watched when there’s nothing between you and nature.

Full-strength, unfiltered sunlight causes stress, too. (Think about your living room heating up with the afternoon sun, or not being able to see your TV due to a full-screen glare.) Covering up your windows returns your sense of control, and helps your living space feel private and personal.

Improve your mood: “Don’t skimp on blinds, curtains, and shades,” says Nicolette Powell, an interior designer at Oasis Rug & Home. “They bring style to a living room, and they’re functional.”

5. Artificiality

If you’ve been feeling a little on edge lately, take a look around your living room: Are you missing some greenery?

“If we omit natural elements in our living room, we are inviting stress in,” Spicher says.

Improve your mood: Add more plants. If you’re allergic to greenery or just not a fan of the look, there are a number of other options. Consider adding a small water element, like a fish tank, or starting a fire in the fireplace. Mixing natural elements throughout your decor—think stone, metal, and wood—adds that outdoorsy feel, too.

6. Lack of design

“Living rooms are often left as an afterthought and simply built as a big box,” Spicher says. But “if there’s one room in the home that needs design and organization—besides the kitchen—it’s the living room.”

So ditch the unadorned white walls and dull decor. But beware of designing for someone else, or blindly copying what you see on Pinterest. If you pick decor that doesn’t suit your lifestyle or tastes, you might feel like you’re occupying someone else’s space—and that can be downright stressful.

Improve your mood: Consider what makes you feel the most Zen. Comfortable couches? Bright colors? Bold patterns? Play it up. Craft a well-designed space that’s tailored to your desires, and turn a stressful, empty box into a retreat you adore.

Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to help. We are but a call or click away!

The Caton Team is comprised of Susan and Sabrina Caton – a mother/daughter in law team.  We are full time, local Realtors with over 35 years of combined Real Estate experience.  How can The Caton Team help you?

I read this article at: https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/living-room-design-stressing-you-out/?identityID=9851214&MID=&RID=353497822&cid=eml-2018-0629-WeeklyNL-blog_5_livingroomstressout-blogs_trends

Remember to follow our Blog for the local real estate beat, a pulse on the San Francisco Peninsula at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office: 650-365-9200

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Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/sabrinawendtcaton

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susancatonrealtor

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Effective. Efficient. Responsive.  What Can The Caton Team Do For You?

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The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts and the information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. 

The Worst Mistake You Can Make Before Selling Your Home

The Worst Mistake You Can Make Before Selling Your Home

By Audrey Ference 

If you’ve ever gotten ready to sell a home, you know that in order to fetch top dollar, you need to get your place in good shape. But that costs money—hiring contractors, painters, and other pros—so you might be wondering: Why not save some cash by tackling a few of these fix-its myself?

That’s fine and good if you know what you’re doing. But unless your DIY skills are fairly advanced, experts agree that this is one of the biggest mistakes a home seller can make. If you bungle the job, you might end up making things worse, and shelling out even more money down the road.

“You have to ask yourself: Is it likely to do more harm than good?” says Dan Bawden, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers.

To help you separate the tasks you can tackle from those best left to the pros, here are some DIYs to avoid when preparing to sell your home.

Drywall repair

If you have rooms that need a fresh coat of paint, go for it, says Bawden. But if you have cracks in the drywall from a shifting foundation or a little depression from years of doorknob slams, it’s worth it to hire a pro.

“In my house, I wouldn’t do the Sheetrock,” says Bawden. “I’d hire someone to fix plaster or drywall. If you don’t get the texture just right, when you paint the wall, the repair is going to stick out like a sore thumb.”

You don’t want your “fix” to look worse than the original problem. Contract out the drywall repair, then DIY the paint job afterward.

HVAC

“I’ve been in the construction business for years, and I don’t mess with anything inside an HVAC,” says Bawden.

The heating and cooling systems in your house are complex, and often connected to both electrical and gas. Making a mistake could mean blowing out the entire system, setting you up for a much more expensive repair in the end.

Furthermore, you’d better believe that potential buyers are going to have their inspector go over the HVAC as thoroughly as possible. Even something relatively simple such as installing a smart thermostat can fry your wiring if done incorrectly. When it comes to your heating and AC, approach with caution.

Dishwasher installation

Unlike installing a refrigerator, stove, or washer and dryer (which can often be a simple DIY task), installing a new dishwasher is complicated.

“The complexities involved with setup, such as installing water and drainage lines under the kitchen sink cabinet, are best handled by a professional,” says Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter plumbing.

Doing this job wrong could mean flooding your kitchen, which will ruin your floors and more. And besides, most big-box stores offer installation for a fairly reasonable price if you’re buying new units, or a plumber can handle it for $150 to $500.

Tree removal

“Even if it’s not a really massive tree, you’d be surprised how hard it is to dig around the roots,” says Bawden.

It’s also dangerous, especially if you don’t have the tools professionals would use to remove the upper part of the tree before taking out the stump. Do you really want to be that person who puts a tree through your own roof because you were too cheap to hire a tree removal professional? (No, you don’t.)

Siding and window fixes

Bawden cautions against DIY siding or window replacement, because water can seep into the walls if you don’t reseal the layers properly. It might not be noticeable at first. In fact, you may sell the house not even realizing there is a problem, but down the line, mold and water damage will start to appear.

Not only is that bad karma, it could also be what Bawden calls “lawsuit city.”

Advanced electrical

While replacing a light fixture or ceiling fan could be fine to DIY, experts draws the line at any electrical work involving the breaker box. Not only could you hurt yourself, you could also create a fire hazard, especially if your home isn’t brand-new.

“Older homes do not usually have safety devices like ground fault circuit interrupters, making it especially dangerous,” explains Shawn McCarthy, owner of Handyman Connection of Colorado Springs.

“You reach the limit pretty quickly,” agrees Bawden. “Anything that involves running new wires or repairing faulty wiring should be left to a professional.”

Aside from the risk of fire or injury, serious electrical work done by an unlicensed electrician could have code problems, meaning you’re likely to get a thumbs-down from the inspector later anyway.

Roof repairs

Even if it’s just a little fix that the average DIYer could easily do (e.g., hammering down a shingle or two or replacing chimney pipe roof flashing), be cautious.

“It’s very easy to get disoriented,” says Bawden, especially on a peaked roof. This is why even pro roofers always use a harness in case of falls, so unless you take similar safety measures, steer clear.

Plumbing

Some plumbing tasks are doable: Fixing a running toilet or snaking a slow drain should be in pretty much anybody’s comfort zone. The problem with attempting bigger DIY plumbing tasks, though, is that you often don’t quite know what you’re getting into. Disassembling leaky or blocked undersink pipes, for example, seems simple enough. But according to James, “Pipes are complex and very tricky to reassemble, particularly when they’re in close proximity to other plumbing components and machinery, such as dishwashers or garbage disposals.”

He notes that what might appear to be a straightforward problem, like low water pressure or a fractured pipe, could actually be a symptom of a larger issue with your system. Plumbing has a way of getting out of hand—i.e., broken pipes, flooding, and worse.

 

Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to help. We are but a call or click away!

The Caton Team is comprised of Susan and Sabrina Caton – a mother/daughter in law team.  We are full time, local Realtors with over 35 years of combined Real Estate experience.  How can The Caton Team help you?

I read this article at: https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/selling-your-home-diy-repairs-to-avoid/?identityID=9851214&MID=&RID=353497822&cid=eml-2018-0629-WeeklyNL-blog_2_diyrepairsavoid-blogs_sell

Remember to follow our Blog for the local real estate beat, a pulse on the San Francisco Peninsula at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office: 650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

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Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/sabrinawendtcaton

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susancatonrealtor

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Effective. Efficient. Responsive.  What Can The Caton Team Do For You?

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts and the information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. 

 

Will First-Time Home Buyer Demand Withstand Rising Rates?

Will First-Time Home Buyer Demand Withstand Rising Rates?

Written by Mark Fleming

Given the strong likelihood of rising mortgage rates in 2018, many savvy real estate market observers are curious how rising rates may impact demand, especially among millennial first-time home buyers. As part of our quarterly First American Real Estate Sentiment Index (RESI), we recently surveyed title insurance agents and real estate professionals across the nation for their perspective on how sensitive they thought first-time home buyers were to rising mortgage rates and at what rate they would withdraw from the market.

“Continued positive economic news and confidence that buyers will remain undeterred, even if rates exceed 5.5 percent, bode well for the real estate market in 2018.”

Rising Rates and the First-Time Home Buyer

According to the title agents and real estate professionals surveyed, nearly 87 percent of first-time home buyers were in the prime home-buying age of 26-35, which corresponds with the millennial generation.

On a national level, the title agents and real estate professionals surveyed believe that mortgage rates would need to hit 5.6 percent, 1.0 percentage point above the current rate, before first-time home buyers withdraw from the market. We asked the same question in the first quarter of 2017, and title agents and real estate professionals cited 5.4 percent as the mortgage rate at which first-time home buyers would withdraw from the market.

The increase in the perceived mortgage rate tipping point for first-time home buyer demand indicates that survey respondents may see more runway in the current housing market. This may indicate they realize that the housing market is more resilient to mortgage rate increases than they thought a year ago.

Even though the Fed is widely expected to raise the Federal Funds rate multiple times this year, most forecasts suggest mortgage rates will just reach 5 percent. Based on our second quarter RESI results, purchase market demand should not be materially impacted by any modest increase in mortgage rates.

The No. 1 Obstacle to Home Buyers: Limited Supply

However, while rising interest rates may not deter first-time home buyers, lack of inventory might. When asked what the primary obstacle to becoming a homeowner was, 35.3 percent of title agents and real estate professionals responded with limited inventory of homes they like. The second most cited obstacle was overall affordability (30.1 percent), followed by down payment (28.3 percent). The housing market is facing its greatest supply shortage in 60 years of record keeping, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. The ongoing housing supply shortage will make it difficult for first-time buyers to find a home to buy, even when they are financially ready.

“Title agents and real estate professionals do not believe increasing mortgage rates will have a significant impact on the housing market in 2018. Continued positive economic news and confidence that buyers will remain undeterred, even if rates exceed 5.5 percent, bode well for the real estate market in 2018,” said Fleming. “However, more than a third of title agents and real estate professionals see limited supply as the primary obstacle to first-time home buyers.”

Purchase Market Outlook Remains Positive

Title agents and real estate professionals maintained an overall positive outlook for the purchase market, though the outlook for purchase sales growth was slightly less positive year over year. However, as might be expected, the outlook for growth in refinance transactions declined.

The title agents and real estate professionals surveyed expect residential house prices to increase by 4.2 percent in the next year. This is up 0.7 percentage points from last quarter, and 0.1 from the previous year. The expectation for further price appreciation is not surprising, given the market dynamics at play in the housing market today that are preventing more existing homeowners from selling their homes and potentially alleviating some of the supply shortage.

 

For Mark’s full analysis of the second quarter RESI, the top five states for residential transaction growth and price growth outlook, and more, please visit the Real Estate Sentiment Index.

Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to help. We are but a call or click away!

The Caton Team is comprised of Susan and Sabrina Caton – a mother/daughter in law team.  We are full time, local Realtors with over 35 years of combined Real Estate experience.  How can The Caton Team help you?

I read this article at: https://blog.firstam.com/economics/will-first-time-home-buyer-demand-withstand-rising-rates?utm_campaign=FA%20%7C%20Economics%20Blog%20-%20Monthly%20Round%20Up&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=64181355&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–t8MufJaTshHGX2xbKYmGp04uOXLm_4npweGd_dsN5WjK6tJD2iDkRa-z5_UXxvd-oV2yDMTNe9ByLXmnmlr2BYqBDcA&_hsmi=64181355

Remember to follow our Blog for the local real estate beat, a pulse on the San Francisco Peninsula at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office: 650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

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Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

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Or YELP me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/sabrinawendtcaton

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susancatonrealtor

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Effective. Efficient. Responsive.  What Can The Caton Team Do For You?

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts and the information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. 

What’s the Outlook for Housing Market Potential Amid Rising Mortgage Rates?

What’s the Outlook for Housing Market Potential Amid Rising Mortgage Rates?

Written by Mark Fleming

With the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) decision to increase the Federal Funds Rate last week, the prospect of higher mortgage rates remains top of mind among real estate professionals and continues to generate headlines. Yet, changes to the short-term rate matter little to the housing market.

“The likely rise in mortgage rates is not the worry for first-time home buyers, but whether they can find something to buy in today’s supply-constrained market.”

It’s important to remember that mortgage rates, particularly the popular 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, are benchmarked to the 10-year Treasury bond. While Federal Funds Rate hikes don’t directly drive up the yield on the 10-year Treasury, higher inflation expectations certainly do. The Fed’s decision to raise rates for the sixth time in a year and a half was primarily viewed by experts as a reaction to the possibility of higher inflation due to continued improvement in the labor market and economy in general.

 

Follow the 10-Year Treasury for a Read on Mortgage Rate Trends

Consider that, since the end of the recession, the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, on average, has stayed 1.7 percentage points higher than the 10-year Treasury bond yield. Today, the 10-year Treasury yield sits at 3 percent, which implies a mortgage rate of about 4.7 percent, given the trend since the end of the recession.

 

As long as economic fundamentals remain positive, it is reasonable to expect greater concern about inflation, which will likely influence the 10-Year Treasury to move higher and mortgage rates along with it. The Fed is also likely to increase the Federal Funds rate in response to inflationary concerns.

 

Outlook for Market Potential Amid Rising Mortgage Rates

But, will higher mortgage rates curtail demand for housing? Our Potential Home Sales model estimates the market potential for existing-home sales based on market fundamentals, including the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage rate. According to the model, the market potential for existing-home sales based on current fundamentals is 6.11 million at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR). If the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage rate increases to 5 percent, which most economists agree is likely by the end of 2018 or early 2019, the impact on the market potential would be a modest decline to 6.10 million existing-home sales, according to the model.

 

How does a rising mortgage-rate environment have so little impact on the pace of existing-home sales? The reason mortgage rates are rising – positive economic conditions – is also causing household income to rise, which helps offset the increase in borrowing costs from higher rates.

 

Additionally, home buyers can adjust to higher mortgage rates by substituting a lower rate adjustable-rate mortgage for the fixed-rate mortgage or buy a less expensive home. In other words, the housing market is flexible and can adjust to moderately higher mortgage rates without significant impact.

 

The likely rise in mortgage rates is not the worry for first-time home buyers, but whether they can find something to buy in today’s supply-constrained market.

May 2018 Potential Home Sales

For the month of May, First American updated its proprietary Potential Home Sales model to show that:

  • Potential existing-home sales increased to a 6.11 million seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR), a 0.8 percent month-over-month increase.
  • This represents a 63.8 percent increase from the market potential low point reached in February 2011.
  • The market potential for existing-home sales increased by 4.4 percent compared with a year ago, a gain of 255,100 (SAAR) sales.
  • Currently, potential existing-home sales is 1.17 million (SAAR), or 16.1 percent below the pre-recession peak of market potential, which occurred in July 2005.

 

Market Performance Gap

  • The market for existing-home sales is underperforming its potential by 4.7 percent or an estimated 289,000 (SAAR) sales.
  • The market performance gap decreased by an estimated 36,000 (SAAR) sales between April 2018 and May 2018.

 

What Insight Does the Potential Home Sales Model Reveal?

When considering the right time to buy or sell a home, an important factor in the decision should be the market’s overall health, which is largely a function of supply and demand. Knowing how close the market is to a healthy level of activity can help consumers determine if it is a good time to buy or sell, and what might happen to the market in the future. That is difficult to assess when looking at the number of homes sold at a particular point in time without understanding the health of the market at that time. Historical context is critically important. Our potential home sales model measures what we believe a healthy market level of home sales should be based on the economic, demographic and housing market environments.

 

About the Potential Home Sales Model

Potential home sales measures existing-homes sales, which include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate based on the historical relationship between existing-home sales and U.S. population demographic data, income and labor market conditions in the U.S. economy, price trends in the U.S. housing market, and conditions in the financial market. When the actual level of existing-home sales are significantly above potential home sales, the pace of turnover is not supported by market fundamentals and there is an increased likelihood of a market correction. Conversely, seasonally adjusted, annualized rates of actual existing-home sales below the level of potential existing-home sales indicate market turnover is underperforming the rate fundamentally supported by the current conditions. Actual seasonally adjusted annualized existing-home sales may exceed or fall short of the potential rate of sales for a variety of reasons, including non-traditional market conditions, policy constraints and market participant behavior. Recent potential home sale estimates are subject to revision in order to reflect the most up-to-date information available on the economy, housing market and financial conditions. The Potential Home Sales model is published prior to the National Association of Realtors’ Existing-Home Sales report each month.

Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to help. We are but a call or click away!

The Caton Team is comprised of Susan and Sabrina Caton – a mother/daughter in law team.  We are full time, local Realtors with over 35 years of combined Real Estate experience.  How can The Caton Team help you?

I read this article at: 

Remember to follow our Blog for the local real estate beat, a pulse on the San Francisco Peninsula at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office: 650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

HomeSnap: http://www.homesnap.com/Sabrina-Caton

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit our INSTAGRAM page:  http://instagram.com/thecatonteam

PINTREST: https://www.pinterest.com/thecatonteam/

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Or YELP me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/sabrinawendtcaton

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susancatonrealtor

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Effective. Efficient. Responsive.  What Can The Caton Team Do For You?

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts and the information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. 

How to wipe out student debt…

Crowdfunding, volunteering, trivia — and other unexpected ways to wipe out your student debt

  • More employers are looking into offering student debt assistance.
  • Yes, volunteering can bring you debt relief.

As student debt grows, so do the plans to squelch it.

Some of the ideas are pretty creative: New Jersey, for example, is considering establishing a lottery for borrowers burdened by student debt. Other ways of getting money to eliminate your education debt don’t rely on luck, but rather require rolling up your sleeves or knowing historical facts.

Keep in mind, however, that these endeavors aren’t free aid. The funds are taxable, even money from an organization in return for volunteer work.

“All money you receive for volunteering or win on a trivia app or lottery is considered income by the IRS,” said Mark Kantrowitz, a student loan expert.

Here are some of the ways to get other people to pay off your debt.

1) At your job

Currently, just 4 percent of employers offer student debt assistance. But that’s changing as more employers come to realize education debt is a problem for many of their workers, said Katie Berliner, account executive at YouDecide, a benefits firm.

“In order to attract and retain talent, employers are looking at offering contributions to people’s student loans,” Berliner said.

Companies that have offered their employees help with their student loans include Aetna, Penguin Random House, Nvidia and Staples.

Fidelity announced recently that 25 employers — including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, New York Air Brake and Millennium Trust — plan to implement its student debt employer contribution program, with 9,000 employees expected to enroll by the end of June. (Fidelity also offers a student debt benefit for its own employees.)

“Do a quick Google search and find the employers who are out there doing this,” Berliner said.

Most likely the company you’re interviewing with won’t offer the benefit, but that shouldn’t stop you from asking about it, Berliner said.

“In the course of the interview, there comes a point where the interviewer says, ‘Do you have any questions?'” Berliner said. “It would not be out of line to say: ‘I want to get your perspective on whether you think this a valuable benefit.'”

2) By volunteering

Some organizations will help you pay off your student loans if you offer to do volunteer work.

Check out sponsorchange.org, where you can search to help in fields like disaster relief or politics, and will receive payments to put toward your education debt in return.

Starting in June, borrowers can enroll with Shared Harvest Fund. Users create a profile and list the social causes they’re interested in, such as gender equality or homelessness. You’ll work on projects for nonprofits and businesses and receive a monthly stipend of $250 to $1,000.

Although the work will start off in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, “eventually, people can live in Arkansas and do work for a nonprofit in Los Angeles,” said NanaEfua B.A.M, founder of Shared Harvest Fund.

3) Apps/online

Some people are turning to charity for help with their student loans, by detailing their story on a crowdfunding website like GoFundMe or YouCaring. One debtor, Andrew Daniel Rocha, managed to raise more than $5,600.

Keep in mind, Kantrowitz said, “these campaigns don’t seem to be successful unless the story is really compelling.”

Givling is an app that lets student loan borrowers play trivia, with the winning team each week earning roughly $5,000 per person. “Some people are not the best trivia players, but they’re motivated to get help with their student loans,” said Seth Beard, Givling’s chief marketing officer.

The app ChangeEd will put your spare change toward your student loan payments. For example, if you buy a coffee for $1.75, 25 cents will go toward your debt.

You can register your student loan account with Gift of College, an education registry, and then share your profile with friends and family, who can contribute funds directly to your debt. Nadine Perry, director of marketing at Gift of College, said: “Wouldn’t you rather get Aunt Emma to kick in toward your student loans than give you another ugly sweater for Christmas?”

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