Sarah Landrum

Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and blogger. She is also the founder of the career and lifestyle blog, Punched Clocks. For advice about creating a career you love and are excited about, subscribe to Sarah's newsletter and follow her on social media.
Get a Green Clean: How to Disinfect Your Whole Home With Tea Tree Oil
Are you tired of your home smelling like chemicals when you clean? You shouldn’t have to leave the room in the middle of scrubbing down the counter because the smell of bleach is singeing your nose hairs. A better way to deal with this is concocting your own cleaning products with the use of natural ingredients and essential oils, including tea tree oil.
May 23, 2023
The Ultimate in Emergency Prep: How to Put Your Life in a Backpack
If you had to leave home—right now—because of an emergency, what would you grab?
Sep 30, 2020
Money Mistakes That Will Make it Really Hard to Buy a Home One Day
The real estate process begins well before you make your short list of dream homes and start attending open houses—and it can end there, too, if you’re not prepared. Many people worry about saving enough money for the down payment, but there’s more to learn about the process of buying a home, requirements for loan approvals and how to overcome obstacles to home ownership. Weigh your financial history carefully, because with the right knowledge comes home-buying power.
Apr 7, 2019
Walk-Away Warning Signs: 5 House Hunt Deal Breakers
Before the deal is finalized, it’s important to ensure your dream home won’t come with any hidden surprises. When home shopping, things aren’t always what they seem. Some surface issues are more damaging to the value of the home than they seem, while others are easily fixed. Before you are knee deep in paperwork or empty your wallet for rounds of inspections, consider these five clear warning signs screaming at you to walk away.
Mar 2, 2019
13 Ways to Clean Your Whole Home with Apple Cider Vinegar
This fermented wonder is useful all over the place—just check out the following cleaning methods that incorporate apple cider vinegar.
Jan 19, 2019
The Life-Changing Magic of a Well-Stocked Emergency Fund
Emergency situations can really throw you—and your wallet—for a loop. Whether you’re hurt, you’ve lost your job or your car goes kaput, having a stash of do-not-touch money can keep a bad situation from getting worse. Here are some of the immeasurable benefits of keeping an emergency fund. They all add up to one thing: Irreplaceable peace of mind. As of July 2015, eight of every 10 Americans were in debt.
Sep 9, 2017
The #1 Thing You Can Do to Save Money on a Home (That Half of Buyers Don’t Do)
There’s so much to think about when buying a place of your own. From the house-hunting process itself to the price negotiations to the inspection, it’s almost instinctive to cut corners and take shortcuts wherever you can. But there’s one place where a little extra effort in your house hunt could pay off in major dollars. It’s a fact: 47 percent of homebuyers don’t shop around for mortgage lenders, and it costs Americans a collective 9 billion dollars per year.
Jun 29, 2017
Summer Projects That Will Give You Good Return on Investment
You don’t have to do a total renovation to increase the value of your home. Simple home improvement projects — like landscaping, new doors or shutters, or just a new paint job — can do wonders, majorly transforming the look of your house and bumping up its value. It’s well-agreed that boosting your home’s curb appeal will pay off when it’s time to sell — though estimates range from 100 to 1,000 percent ROI.
Jun 23, 2017
Homebuyer Beware: Misleading Real Estate Photography Tricks
An online listing for a house is a lot like an online dating profile. You wouldn’t ever lie — better to set honest expectations — but you sure as hell are going to make your situation look as good as possible. That means flattering angles, ruthless editing and, yep, maybe a little Photoshop. If you’re browsing home listings to find your dream home, here are a few things to be wary of when it comes to real estate photography.
Jun 21, 2017
What First-Time Buyers Should Know About Big-City Real Estate
A (sort-of-serious) theory: The ease with which you can get around your city without a car is inversely proportional to how easy it will be to get your hands on real estate. When you live in a massive metropolis with a few million other people, trains can be easy to come by, but affordable starter homes are not. But if you know that homeownership is something you want for yourself—and you’re not willing to move out of the city to do it—all hope isn’t lost.
May 28, 2017
Extreme Ways (That Work!) to Curb Your Spending
When you’re living paycheck to paycheck and paying down debts, the conventional advice for saving money only gets you so far. Sometimes, more extreme measures need to be taken. Just as choosing paper over plastic at the grocery store is better for the environment, choosing cash over credit cards is a safer bet when you go out—especially anywhere you’re likely to impulse buy.
May 9, 2017
101 Ways to Boost Your Budget and Save Major Money
There’s never a bad time to go over your budget with a fine-tooth comb and find everything that’s draining your resources for little in return. Of course, it’s not always an easy task to pinpoint the places where you could be saving — and that’s where we come in. Here are 101 of the many, many ways to minimize your excess spending, maximize your budget and move your life a little bit closer to stress-free.
May 1, 2017
7 Things You Should Always Pay for With a Credit Card (and a Few Things You Should Never)
Credit can be a great tool, if used wisely—and that means avoiding sticking yourself with debt that will take decades to pay off. Follow these guidelines for what to charge and you can make your credit cards work for you, not against you. Certain purchases can be to your advantage to put on your credit card. Here are seven of them: You should always consider buying big ticket items, like your refrigerator or your laptop, with your credit card.
Apr 21, 2017
Worth a Look: 6 Perks & Benefits Your Health Plan May Cover
You probably only think to take out your health insurance card when you’re sick. Surprisingly, though, your plan is there for more than illnesses and checkups. It turns out some health plans cover unexpected services that might seem more like luxuries than benefits.
Apr 19, 2017
Here’s How Much the Richest Americans Spend on Housing Each Year
What item in your monthly budget do you spend the most on? Well, if you’re like most Americans, it’s housing. American families, no matter how big or small they are or where they might fall on the economic ladder, spend most of their money keeping a roof over their heads. But the very richest Americans spend way more money doing it than the rest of us.
Apr 2, 2017
Negotiation Tricks to Get You More Money at Your Next Job
Do you give yourself enough credit for your career experience? Only 37 percent of people negotiate their salaries. Fourty-four percent don’t even bring up the subject of salary negotiation. And the thing is, fear is the only thing holding you back. Salary is a scary topic to broach, but it needs to be done. (You deserve it!
Mar 19, 2017
The Nitty Gritty: 3 Too-Real Ways Young People Are Making Homeownership Possible
The reality of owning a home isn’t as simple as it used to be decades ago. Many first-time home buyers are now waiting longer than they ever have, around six years, before shifting from being a renter to being a home owner. (And rates of homeownership are down further than they have been in nearly fifty years.) For many potential home buyers, unsurprisingly, the down payment is their biggest obstacle. Housing prices have gone up while household income has remained relatively stagnant.
Mar 13, 2017
The CYA File: Stuff You Should Always Store Safely
A sticky situation can get even worse when you’re short on the necessary paperwork to get you unstuck. And then you create more chaos as you try to track down old receipts or records, combing through piles of paper and endless emails. Did you throw it away? You wouldn’t have thrown away something that important, would you? Did you decide that last year’s apartment lease just wasn’t sparking enough joy? Don’t let worries get ahead of you.
Mar 7, 2017
5 Foolproof Strategies for a Mess-Free Dog Bath
Your dog needs a bath. You don’t. You also don’t need a wet bathroom floor. Or muddy paw prints all over your carpet. And certainly no stand off pitting damp-and-grumpy you versus grouchy-and-dripping-wet Fido. Instead, you can make doggy bath time stress-free and mess-free. Follow the five tips below to keep your home and your pet nice and clean.
Mar 3, 2017
Protect Your Paycheck: The Bare Bones Basics You Might Need to Re-Learn
Everyone makes mistakes with spending and saving, especially if you’re starting a new job (or your first job). But even those of us who’ve earned (and spent) a few hundred paychecks in our lives might need a refresher course on the basics of smart budgeting (or at least a kick in the pants to stop with the bad habits already!). The best way to get back on track with good spending habits is to start right at the source—your paycheck.
Feb 23, 2017
Toss & Keep, Garage Edition: How to Clean Up the Messiest Place in the House
Your garage is guaranteed to be the messiest place in the house —a place to ferret away junk and keep closed and off-limits when company comes over. It’s a holding vault for the kids’ old toys and items you borrow from neighbors and plan to return…eventually. What do you toss*, and what do you keep? How do you organize it all so the clutter never takes over again? Here’s a handy guide to see you through the decluttering process.
Feb 17, 2017
How to Make Buying a Home a Less Stressful Experience
Looking forward to making one of the biggest, most exciting purchases of your life? Of course you are! Stressing about finding the perfect home at the perfect price at the perfect time for the biggest purchase of your life? Of course you are. A life event as monumental as buying a home will always come with a side of stress. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to make that stress a lot less.
Feb 17, 2017
Real Estate in Real Life: What You Can Do Online vs. In-Person
It’s one thing to buy a shirt online that you’ve never seen or tried on in-person. It’s another thing entirely if you try to apply that buying technique to a house. Looking at online listings is a helpful first step in the home-buying process—with the key word being “first.” Buying a home without viewing it yourself in person (and preferably with a skilled realtor) is just asking for a raw deal.
Feb 7, 2017
A Glossary for Beginner Buyers: Real Estate Terms Every Aspiring Homeowner Should Know
Looking to buy your first home? Struggling to make sense of an avalanche of new terminology? You’re not alone. Taking your first foray into the world of real estate can feel like being dropped unceremoniously into a foreign country. You’re disoriented, bewildered and you don’t speak the language. If that weren’t enough, it can feel like everyone around you expects you to be fluent from minute one.
Feb 3, 2017
Improv Comedy Tricks That Help You Get Ahead in Real Life, Too
Have you ever given a well-timed response or innovative idea on the spot at a business meeting or dinner party? Everyone nods in approval and laughs at your funny story. The boss gives you a raise and the hostess at the dinner party slips you her most treasured secret recipe. The light reflects off your brilliant white teeth and sparkling eyes that seem to know everything, yet assume nothing. This could happen… maybe if you were a hero in a movie. But you’re not.
Feb 3, 2017
It’s Not Too Late: Make Sure Your Car is Ready for the Worst of Winter
Many areas of the country have been seeing unseasonably warm weather this year, but most forecasters agree that it’s not yet time to hang up our coats. So use this comparatively mild weather like a snooze button for winterizing your home-away-from-home. If you haven’t prepped your car for winter yet, now is the time to get it done. Winter is here. The extreme temperatures and other environmental factors can wear your car down faster than you can say “Is it Spring yet?
Jan 28, 2017
10 Natural Cleaning Recipes Everyone Should Know by Heart
Is your cleaning mantra “When in doubt, douse it in bleach”? While you might feel confident your house is sanitary and squeaky clean, you can’t always trust that your health isn’t suffering—the problem with many household chemical cleaners is that they’re actually toxic to your health. Instead, you might want to try borrowing a greener, cleaner recipe from your grandmother.
Dec 16, 2016
Excess Baggage: What to Ditch When Your Bags Are Overweight
You may have packed lightly and organized on the way to your destination, but it never fails: excess baggage follows you home from vacation like a lost puppy. You invested time in finding all those sand dollars, and there was this perfect little gift in the window of the most adorable shop ever, begging to be taken home to Mom. Now, these perfect little gifts laugh mischievously as you stare at your suitcase in dismay. But that’s not the only problem. Your bags are overweight.
Dec 16, 2016
Who Not to Tip this Holiday Season (And How to Thank Them Instead)
‘Tis the season for cheer and goodwill to all, but the social rules for tipping get confusing. Many people like to give freely with the thought that tips should represent an entire year’s worth of gratitude for great service, but sometimes, giving a cash tip is ill-advised or problematic for the recipient. When it comes to certain professional or public service officials, ethics and legal restrictions can get in the way of your kind gift.
Dec 15, 2016
The Small-Space-Living Pet Lovers’ Guide to Dealing with Dog Stinkiness
No matter how much you love them—and, oh, how you love them—dogs get stinky. Between the dander, the slobber, the dear-god-what-did-they-eat and the I-can’t-believe-what-they-rolled-in, dogs have a unique way of filling your home with unwelcome odors. Those smells are bad enough when you have a few thousand square feet to spread out in, but when your home is on the small side, odors become especially odious.
Dec 15, 2016
Grappling with Gratuities: A Brief Guide to Tipping
The holidays are a season meant for showing gratitude. With gratitude, comes gifts and tips. And with that comes confusion. And that confusion doesn’t end when the holidays do. There are many rules based on social etiquette about how to tip, who to tip, why and when. These vary by financial circumstances, generations, region and upbringing. You want to show appreciation for services and kindness rendered to you throughout the year, but the whole tipping process is confusing.
Dec 11, 2016
Why Big Bills and Thoughtful Gestures Matter When You’re Tipping
The holiday season is in full swing, and it’s time to start making those lists of who to buy for and what they might want—including the people in your life who offer their services to you all year round. It’s important to show your appreciation and maintain a good rapport for the professionals who support your life, family and home—and that doesn’t mean you just stuff some dollar bills in an envelope and slap it on the counter the next time you see them.
Dec 9, 2016
Dirty Desks: Cleaning Hacks for Your Cubicle
Whether you work in a tiny cubicle, the corner of your bedroom, a spacious corner office or a fully customized home workspace, your desk is likely a source of both stress and germs. Okay, forget “likely.” We’ll leave as a “maybe,” but your desk is “definitely” a source of germs. You probably have a routine for cleaning your home and a rough idea of when things need to be washed or scrubbed. But your workspace?
Dec 4, 2016
The Messes You’ve Been Missing: 10 Hidden Places to Check for Dog Hair, Dirt and Stains
Dogs are messy, no doubt about it. In fact, when you’re a dog owner, it feels like you’re constantly cleaning—every day finding new, surprise places where dog dirt seems to accumulate. If you’re a new dog owner—or you’ve just been blissfully unaware of some of the hidden areas that have been hoarding hair and filth—here’s a list to get you started. Pay extra attention to these spots the next time you’re cleaning.
Nov 8, 2016
The Mistakes You’re Making With Your 401K
Just having a 401K is a good start. But it’s what you do with it that has a major impact on your retirement. You’re the one in charge of it all, but saving for the future doesn’t have to be another dread on your financial checklist. With a little solid advice, you’ll be well on your way to conquering common 401K mistakes and closer to your retirement dream.
Nov 2, 2016
Get Off the Internet! 10 Things You Can Clean in the Next 15 Minutes
Are you still online? You’ve been here for hours! Those listicles can be addicting, but you’ve got to come up for air sometime. Stretch your body a bit. Get something accomplished. Hey! How about doing a little cleaning? You can get some serious sprucing-up done in just 15 minutes. Then you can watch YouTube videos with abandon. Promise. When people come to your home, do they know you have pets? It’s likely not because of the wagging or purring.
Sep 18, 2016