Buying

Tips for a First Time Home Buyer

Purchasing your own home is a big life decision, and should never be taken lightly. This is an experience that can be nail-biting and stimulating all at the same time. With that being said, you should always look into a few things before actually deciding to make the plunge. Here are some tips for first time home buyers to create a learning curve and smooth the overall process of buying your first home:
buying a house
1. Examine Your Debt (And Pay It Off!) – Ask any homeowner and most of them will tell you that they spent time saving money to make a down payment on a home rather than paying off debts, which are now causing them to struggle to make their monthly mortgage payment. You don’t want this to be you. So, instead of saving money for the down payment, pay off your debts. At the very least, pay them down significantly, so they won’t be such a burden once you do purchase that new house of yours.

2. Determine What You Can Afford – You need to have a long, hard look at your finances before making any significant purchase, such as a home. You need to also see how much you can borrow from the bank for such a purchase. In addition, you need to determine how much you realistically save for a down payment. When figuring up your down payment, make sure that you’ll have enough left over to cover any closing costs that may be necessary on your part. Keep in mind that your home insurance, mortgage payment and home taxes should not exceed 30% of your home’s gross income.

3. Examine Your Credit Report – It is important that before you purchase a house that you fully examine your credit report to find any discrepancies and have them taken care of immediately. Discrepancies can hurt your credit a little or a lot and it is a chance you aren’t willing to take when you start searching for your dream home.

4. Bad Credit? – Not everyone has perfect credit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t buy a home. There are programs set into place to help those in such a predicament in their lives. These are government insured loans that are provided by the FHA, Federal Housing Administration. With an FHA loan, you may only have to put down around 3.5 percent, which is great for lower income families; however, more and more individuals are being required to put down 10 percent, especially with a credit score lower than 580.

5. Consider Foreclosures – As a general rule, there is nothing at all wrong with a foreclosure. It is simply a home that someone was unable to continue making payments on and the bank took it as their collateral. You can usually purchase these at a discounted rate, but you must act fast! Plus, you might want to make sure your real estate broker specializes in foreclosures, as it will make the process a lot easier.

6. Tax Credit – Be sure to claim that tax credit on next year’s tax return!

Now that you know a little bit about it, start planning and searching for your new home. Don’t expect to come across your dream home on the first day of home searching. It will likely take time, but after all, time is something you have, as you don’t want to rush into anything. Happy home searching!

I Love It Not…

Valentine’s Day, for some, is fondly referred to as Single’s Awareness Day. So what do all singles people do on Valentine’s Day? Well, they can wallow in self-pity or bitterness, or they can do something that shows how much they care about themselves.  What is even better is that it can be inexpensive too.

1. Polish Party.

Get a few of your single girlfriends together, bring all the nail polish you have, and take turns giving each other mani’s and pedi’s while bad mouthing all the boys who have done you wrong and what celebrity got arrested the night before.  You will not only get some polish powered confidence, but some much needed girl time therapy.  What will this cost you? Nothing, unless you need to pick up some new polish!

2. Bubble Bath… That’s Right.

Stop by your local bath and body shop and pick up some bubble bath in your favorite scent.  Nothing says relaxation more than a bubble bath.  Now light some candles, grab a book, or just turn on some soothing music and take some time for yourself.  The max this one will cost you?  $15. Try it out, you will not regret it.

3. Need a Good Cry?

Pop in Dirty Dancing or Marley and Me and enjoy some of what I so fondly refer to as movie medication.  Get your favorite drink and snack ready. Put on those pajama pants that fit just right and those fuzzy socks that you love so much and over medicate yourself to your single heart’s content.  Using Red Box?  This one will cost you a max of $5 for the movie and $20 for your drink and snacks.  Indulge a bit.

4. Go Home!

If you are a college student like me and going home is a rare luxury, plan ahead and make the trek back home.  Be around people who truly love you, aka, your parents!  If your parents are like mine, they will smother you in hugs, candy, and free food (something every college student loves.)

 

Valentine’s Day does not have to be Single’s Awareness Day.  Make Valentine’s Day about you, and tell Single’s Awareness Day where to shove it.

Five Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bills

Gas prices keep rising and lowering (but definitely more rising). Our utility bills continue to increase, as does the overalls cost of living especially while food prices steadily continue to increase.

cut grocery bills

With that being said, we are looking for ways to save money and one of the easiest ways to save some quick cash is probably a way that you have never thought of before. Cutting your grocery bills will save a tremendous amount of money and it’s easy!

Here are five ways to cut your grocery bill, which means more money in your pocket for your mortgage payment, your utilities, or even a luxurious day at the spa (or golf course for you men out there!):

1. Clip Coupons – While it may not seem like 50 cents here and 75 cents there will save you money, it will if you know what to do and when. You want to save coupons and use them at the store when the store is having a sale on that particular item. In some stores, you can double or triple your coupons saving you that much more! Here’s how it works: let’s say you pay $2.50 for Prego spaghetti sauce and your favorite grocery store has it on sale for $2. Let’s say you have a coupon to receive 75 cents off that can of spaghetti sauce and let’s go on to say that the coupon doubles at the store for a total of $1.50 off the $2 sale price. That means you are paying only 50 cents for an otherwise $2.50 can of Prego spaghetti sauce. It pays to learn how to clip coupons and use them efficiently. Note: you can get easily coupons in your Sunday paper or online with the click of a mouse! And don’t forget to always be on the lookout for “Buy One, Get One Free” specials at the store and coupons. Match them together and that’s some savings to brag about (maybe even completely free!).

2. Stockpile During Sales – When items go on sale, stock up on them. Use your coupons, too. This means you will need to have plenty of room in your pantry – or somewhere! – so that you can store the additional items, but when the price goes up, you won’t need it saving you money on your grocery bill.

3. Purchase Store Brands – We don’t always have to have name brand stuff, do we? Sure, it’s nice sometimes, but store brand food is generally just as good and you can save a ton of money. This doesn’t only pertain to canned goods, this also relates to fresh fruits and veggies, frozen foods, baked goods and much more! In some cases, the store brand foods taste better than their name brand counterparts!

4. Avoid Convenience – Don’t purchase already cut-up carrots that are pre-packaged when you can purchase carrots individually and cut them up yourself for a lot cheaper. Avoid pre-made foods because in the long-run, you will save more cooking it from scratch at home rather than purchasing it in the frozen section especially in the long-term. Same goes for pre-cooked foods. It’s just better to buy the ingredients separately and make it at home. Next time you want the same meal, you’ll already have some of the ingredients on hand thus saving money!

5. Make a List – We all know that we spend more money at the grocery store when we go in without knowing what we need. By making a list of the things that we need (and sticking to it!), we are saving a ton of money on items that the household doesn’t really need such as extra junk food, an apple pie that looked too good to pass up, etc. So, check your fridge, pantry and cabinets before heading to the grocery store and make that list of the things you need to avoid excessive, unnecessary costs.

Utilizing the above-mentioned five ways to cut grocery bills, you will save a huge amount on your grocery bills each week. In fact, you will probably save more than you could have ever imagined you could save. When you go to the grocery store, make sure you are equipped with these five shop smart ways you can save money.

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Are you searching for an apartment or place to live?  Do not let your pocketbook be the only thing that holds you back.  There are a few very important aspects that you need to remember when picking out a house or apartment that can end up saving you and your pocket book a little bit of stress.

1. Home Improvements

Does the house or apartment need some tender loving care? Or more like some major repairs?  Either way, hope is not lost.  Take a look at what you will have to spare after you buy the home or apartment. Will there be enough there to make the changes you want? Changes that will really make you happy with this place and make it a home? If yes, sign on the dotted line!  If no, do not stop the search quite yet.

2. Location, location, location

If you are a college student, think about public transportation, work, and class. How far away are you?  There is no such thing as too close but there is such thing as too far.  You do not want to overdo it on gas money, nor use all that time commuting to and from your desired location.  Think about it.

3. Go Green!

Take a look at the environmentally friendly aspects that the apartment already has or can easily be adapted to.  Not only is it good for the environment, but often times going green can also save you some green.  Solar panels? Expensive, but they eventually pay for themselves.

 

Just a couple things to think about ya’ll.  Do you have any tips that need to be shared? Let’s hear them! Comment below!

Coupon Basics: Values of Coupons

The first article in the Coupon Basics series, “Types of Coupons,” hashed out the vital differences between manufacturers coupons and store coupons. But knowing which type of coupon you have before you is just the first part of the process; next you have to examine the value so you can be sure to use them.

Couponing

The best kinds of coupons are those that offer a free item, though these are the most rare. Freebie coupons are manufacturer coupons, typically often offered for new products. The manufacturers are willing to give away free products in hopes that you’ll get hooked and keep buying full priced products down the line. You can often get these by joining company email lists, checking company websites or by engaging with social media profiles of your favorite products and companies.

Single product coupons offer a set amount of money off the purchase of a single product. These will read something like “Save $1 on any one [product]” or “receive 50 cents off one [product]” Just be aware of the fine print, as you may be required to buy a certain size, variety or flavor of the product in order to use the coupon.

Multiple product coupons function like single product coupons, except they require that you purchase a set number of items, greater than one, to reap the benefits. Coupons like this will read “Save $1 on two [product]” or “Save $1.50 when you buy any three [products].” These coupons often allow you to pick from multiple products produced by the same company, or to mix and match various sizes, flavors or varieties of the same products.

BOGO coupons, or buy one get one coupons, are like a combination of freebie coupons and multiple product coupons. These coupons entitle you to a free or discounted product when you purchase the minimum number specified on the coupon. These will read like “Get one [product] free when you purchase two or more [products]” or “Buy three [products], get your 4th for $1.”

These Catalina coupons can have many different values, but usually come in two varieties: purchase or product. Purchase catalinas offer you money off your next purchase, regardless of the products that your next purchase contains, but they must be used at the same store where you earned the reward. If you receive a product catalina, for money off your next product order, the opposite is true; these are like manufacturer coupons and can be used at any store that sells the product in question.

Once you can differentiate between the various types of coupons and can easily understand the values of the coupons before you, you can move on to part three in the Coupon Basics series: Combining and Maximizing.