Spring Parties on a Budget

Apr 16
Category | General

Spring in New England has been slow to arrive, but that doesn’t mean the calendar isn’t full for the months ahead. Baby showers, bridal showers, family bbqs, graduation parties; they are all around the corner. If you are hosting any spring gathering, you know that the cost adds up quickly, so here are some great tips to save you some cash without skimping on the fun!

Create a Budget Friendly Menu:

We all want to impress our guests with the spread, but certain foods are just cheaper than others. Think of items where a little goes a long way, like pasta salads, potato salads, or less expensive items you can throw on the grill. For example, choosing bbq chicken over steaks or burgers. When it comes to snacks and apps, stick to the easy ones like large bowls of chips and salsa or chopped vegetables and dips. Nobody will care if there isn’t an impressive spread of artisan cheese.

Let Others Chip In: How many times have you hosted a party and your guests ask, “what can we bring?” And how many times have you replied, “nothing at all, we have it covered”? Don’t do this! People want to contribute to parties and you should always let them. Don’t be shy to ask somebody to bring a salad, or bring their favorite wine or beer. You’ll make them feel included and relaxed as your guest.

Choose the Right Serving Items: Depending on the type of party you are having, you might save money by using the glassware and real plates that you own. While the convenience of serving paper products is appealing, the cost can add up, not to mention the waste. Trust that adults can handle real glass for their drinks and real plates for their food. If kids are in the mix, maybe only get paper and plastic for them.

Time of Day: Let’s face it, afternoon parties are just more casual than evening parties. The expectation of food and drink is much more low key and you can get away with finger foods, and a lighter spread. Allow the laid-back vibe of an afternoon party to take the stress of your wallet.

Whatever tips you implement to save yourself money on your next party, just remember to have fun. The most important part of any gathering is spending time with family and friends. People will remember the good time they had, not what was served or what the decorations looked like.

Congratulations! You have closed on your new home and probably have a list a mile long of things you want to get done. While you might be tempted to dive into unpacking, these 5 tasks should be your top priority: 

  1. Change the Locks and Security System – the previous owners could have made copies of keys for family members, dog walkers, etc. so changing the locks will give you peace of mind. In addition, make sure any security systems are updated with your names, contact information and new codes. The code to automatic garage key pads should also be changed.  
  2. Change your address and register to vote – update your address with USPS to start receiving mail at your new home. You can also register to vote with in your new town. If there is an election within the first 60 days of your move, you can vote at your old polling location or mail in an absentee ballot.
  3. Register and License any pets – Some towns have a specific time of year when they push to have all pets licensed. However, if you can remember to take care of this and update the address on any ID tags, it will save you a headache and possibly a licensing fee later. If your pet is microchipped, don’t forget to update the address on file so your furry friend will be returned to you in case of an emergency.
  4. Change your License and Registration – Most states require you to update your license and registration within 30 days of a new move. Some DMV locations offer an online change of address service. If you’ve changed states, your car will need to be registered within 60 days.
  5. Update Insurance Policies and Bank Accounts – Insurance rates can vary depending on location, to make sure to update all insurance policies immediately after your move. Any other important accounts, including your bank account should be updated as well.

5 Benefits of Owning vs. Renting

Apr 3
Category | General

If you are one of the many people weighing the pros and cons of renting vs. buying a home, there are several things to consider before making a decision. After working through the various cost comparisons, deciding on a location, and researching the market values in that area, you might find yourself still on the fence. Owning a home can come with a lot of benefits, some financial, and some simply based on personal preference. Below are 5 reasons why owning your own home might be the right move for you this spring:

  1. The money you spend is an investment – when you own your own home, you are essentially depositing a monthly payment into a building bank account. Every monthly mortgage payment you make builds equity. When you rent a home, the owner of that property is benefiting from your monthly investment.
  2. Freedom to do what you want – a huge advantage to owning your own home is that you can do whatever you want to do it. There are no restrictions when it comes to paint colors, repairs and upgrades, what kind of pets can live there, how often you can have guests, etc. Nothing is more frustrating than handing over a large sum of money every month to then be told how you can and can not live in your own space.
  3. Fixed costs –  If you opt for a fixed-rate mortgage, your monthly payment will not change. Renters are at the mercy of what their  landlords decide, unless they are living in a rent-controlled building. If you know that you are going to be in one area for a long time and choose a 30-year mortgage, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your rate will not increase.
  4. Building credit – Once of the best ways to build your credit score is by paying a monthly mortgage payment on time. Since you cannot self-report rent payments to credit bureaus, you might miss out on the opportunity to increase your credit score.
  5. Taxes – As a homeowner you can deduct the interest paid on your mortgage from your taxable income and therefore save yourself money. Newer mortgages with higher interest payments each month yield the best tax breaks.

There is a lot to be said for owning your own home, primarily because it is a long-term investment that essentially forces you to save over time. As always, it is best to consult with a mortgage professional to discuss the details of your individual circumstances and determine which loan product is the best for you.

We all dream of it; owning our own vacation home, maybe somewhere on the beach or a ski condo we can bring the family to. While owning a second home in an ideal location can be a great long-term investment, there are certainly things to consider before committing to the purchase.

Commitment to Location: With so many vacation rental sites that allow you to hop from destination to destination, owning a home in one solitary location is a big commitment. Make sure that you are head over heels in love with where you choose to buy your second home and have spent a significant amount of time there already.

Remember, it is Still a House: Just because your vacation home is the destination for relaxation and having a good time, don’t forget the amount of maintenance that comes with owning a home. Some houses may require several days of preparing it for a particular season. Keep in mind some of your vacation days will be spent working on the house just as you do at your primary residence.

Who Will Be There When You Are Not?: The additional costs of a vacation home can often be offset by making it available to renters. Take into consideration who would manage the property when you weren’t there. Are you close enough to act as landlord and prepare it for when guests arrive? Or will you need to hire a management company? Take into consideration the time that you want to spend in your home. If you make it available to renters, are you willing to give up some of the peak season, depending on the location of your vacation home, in order to ease the financial burden?

Travel Time: Similar to loving the location of your second home, it’s also important to consider how difficult the journey to it will be. Are you able to hop in the car and drive a couple of hours to be there, or do you need to get a flight whenever you want to enjoy it? Nothing ruins a vacation more than wasting a day or two just to get to your destination. Be realistic with how often you will be able to use your vacation home.

The kitchen is the heart of any home and is typically the first room homebuyers consider investing in. Kitchen remodels can range from simple to extravagant and the amount of money spent can greatly vary. Regardless of the level of upgrade you plan to do, consider these helpful tips to help you save and plan for the perfect kitchen. 

Save on Plumbing: The number one tip for saving money in a kitchen remodel is to leave the plumbing lined up the way it is. Moving water and gas lines is very expensive; if you can avoid this cost, you’ll be off to a great start. 

Keep the Cabinets: If your existing cabinets are in good condition and made of quality materials, then consider refreshing them instead of replacing them. New cabinets are one of the highest costs when remodeling a kitchen. You can repaint your cabinets, update the fronts, or add new hardware.

Match the Appliances: These days, most companies offer matching sets of dishwashers, ovens, and refrigerators, which can give your kitchen an expensive look for less. Make sure you don’t buy separate pieces from different manufactures and do your research on affordable appliance options.

Find Free Services: Many large home improvement stores offer computerized design services that help with layout and style. Oftentimes the planning help is free, and they can also assist with installation and project management.

Keep a Fixtures Budget: At the end of your kitchen renovation, you want to make sure there’s enough money left over for the finishing touches. Fixtures like drawer pulls and cabinet handles should be a priority in your budget planning. Not skimping on these items will give your renovation a polished and complete look.

By following these tips you’ll be enjoying your new kitchen in no time, with a little extra cash in your pocket!

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