Save Money on Your Move

Mar 12
Category | General

Let’s face it, moving is a chore! Even if you have great friends willing to help you out in return for beer and pizza, the actual cost of a move can add up quickly. If you’ve got plans on the horizon to pack up, take note of these great ways to save you as much money as possible.

Look for Materials Online
Purchasing new moving boxes and packing supplies can certainly cost a lot. If you spend some time searching online, you can probably source what you need. Check sites like Craigslist and your local Facebook groups as they tend to update regularly.

Clean Out
Use your move as the perfect opportunity to go through your belongings to see what you can get rid of. Unload the extra weight and start fresh in your new home with less clutter. You’ll save on packing supplies, and your moving estimate.  

Save Your Receipts!
If you are donating large bags of items as you declutter from your existing space, keeping an itemized receipt for tax purposes is a great idea. Find the value of your items on the Salvation Army Donation Value Guide and see how much you can deduct at tax time.

Get More Than One Estimate
Schedule at least three moving companies to give you an in-home moving estimate. Check out their reviews and ratings to determine which company is going to be the best fit for you and then try to negotiate cost by sharing the other quotes you received.

Set Up Your Change of Address
Going online to setup your change of address through USPS can automatically get you $750 in coupons from places like Home Depot, Pottery Barn, etc. Use these savings to set up your new home when you arrive. You can register your change of address up to three months prior to your move.

Find a Place to Stay
If you need a temporary housing situation while you move, look for hotels that have flexible cancelation policies. That way, if there’s any issue with your plans, you won’t be out any extra money. Avoid home rental reservations that have strict policies.


Homebuying Warning Signs

Mar 5
Category | General

Going on house tours in search for your next home can be a lot of fun. After scanning the listing photos, you finally get to see the property in person. Chances are the new kitchen catches your eye, or the layout seems perfect. Very few people take the time to investigate a home thoroughly when they go to see it for the first time, when this happens to be the best opportunity to identify warning signs that could end up costing you a lot of money in the future. We have identified a few key things to keep an eye out for when looking for your next home.

Cracks in the Foundation: A walk around the outside of a home is just as important as the walk inside. Be sure to take note of any visible cracks or damage which could mean costly structural repairs in the future. Also look for run-off water from the yard that could lead to basement flooding.

Mold: Mold can be an easily managed issue, or it could mean big trouble and high cost. Basements and attics are more typical locations for mold, but if you see any on carpets, walls, or around cooling units, there could be major issues with interior walls and structural supports.

Roof Condition: A roof can last a long time, up to 30 years if it’s well taken care of. But if you notice on your home tour that the roof is sagging in spots, or the material its made of looks cheap, it could mean that you will be replacing it sooner than expected.

Faulty Electrical Work: During a home showing, realtors tend to turn a lot of lights on to make the home feel more welcoming. If you notice that they are off, go ahead and test out the switches. If the lights flicker or they don’t go on at all, chances are the home has faulty electrical wiring that will need to be replaced.

Windows: You probably wouldn’t think to inspect the windows when looking at a home, but it can save you a lot of money in the long run. Don’t be afraid to open them up and look for signs of water damage or corrosion. Replacing one or two windows isn’t that big of a deal, but a whole house will be a big investment.

Many of these issues you may not notice at first glance. Utilizing the first showing as an opportunity to “kick the tires” on your potential new home can save you major money down the road. Furthermore, while a home inspection is not mandatory, it’s invaluable, and can help identify any of these warning signs you might have missed.

The purchase of your first, or even a new home is one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your life. It’s easy to get distracted by all the listing photos available as you scroll through or Zillow, and while a great kitchen is important, it’s the information you won’t find in a photo that can really help ensure you’re making a solid investment for years to come. Here are 5 things to consider when finding the right location for your new home:


  1. Increased Household Incomes – look at census data to help find the median household income in a neighborhood you might be considering. Surrounding yourself with neighbors who make a higher salary means there’s more likelihood they can afford home renovations. If the houses around you boost their value, the prices for the neighborhood increase.
  2. School Ratings – Even if kids aren’t in the cards for you, or they have already grown and moved out, the school district ratings in your new neighborhood play a significant role in home prices. School ratings are commonly listed online, but you can dive even deeper into research to find test score averages and AP enrollment numbers if you’re interested.
  3. Home Prices on the Rise – one of the best indicators of a great neighborhood is climbing home values. If you can find a location where they are increasing higher than the national average, then you are hitting the right spot. Investing in a neighborhood with a proven track record of profitable real estate sales means you are likely to have the same success should you choose to put your home on the market.
  4. A Friendly Community – how many times have you heard a friend talk about buying the perfect house only to find out their neighbors are a nightmare? It is an extremely worthwhile investment of your time to check out your community in person before purchasing a home. Consider visiting the park, restaurants, historical society, etc. of your potential neighborhood to meet some people. Don’t be afraid to ask them what they love most about living there. You can even be so bold as to knock on the neighbor’s door to see what they’re like.
  5. Proximity to Amenities – take note of how often you typically drive to the bank, or your local grocery store, shopping malls, etc. How feasible is it if you were located 20 minutes away from these basic amenities? Sometimes location is one area that ends in compromise, but it’s worth clocking the distance before making a final decision on your new home.

Spring is around the corner, which means June brides will be heading down the aisle in no time. While the wedding might be planned, the honeymoon details could still be lingering. Let’s face it, going on your dream honeymoon can cost a lot, some couples skip the whole idea all together due to finances, which is too bad, because life only gets more hectic. Here are a few tips to help you save so that you’ll have an amazing trip to look back on a few years from now.

1.) Maximize your credit card: this doesn’t mean max it out, as in put the whole trip on the card. Instead, find a card that offers the best rewards towards your trip. If you are choosing a destination that will involve a lengthy flight, find a credit card that offers the best miles return. Then, start funneling your purchases through that card so that you are racking up as many miles as you can to use towards upgrades or free tickets.

2.) Delaying is a good idea: most couples that do decide to go on a honeymoon leave immediately after the wedding, sometimes while their guests are still enjoying the reception. By delaying the trip for a month or two, you can save an average of 60% of your income to put towards the dream vacation. With the extra cushion, you might be able to get a nicer hotel, or spend on experiences without worrying as much about budget.

3.) Use a travel agent: Once you have done initial planning of your own choosing the destination and setting the budget, using a travel agent who has connections abroad could get you a cheaper deal on different accommodations. Their job is to have contacts in other parts of the world, so investing a little in their services could go a long way for your trip.

4.) Off season is best: this is a well-known trick that can sometimes be tempting to ignore. Find the best time to travel to your dream destination when tourism is at its lowest. Your airfare will be significantly lower, as will hotel rates. This can help with eating at popular restaurants or visiting famous sites without fighting large crowds.

5.) Add it to the registry: it’s now more common that ever to register for help with your honeymoon instead of a silver serving platter you’ll never use. Many registry sites have an option for guests to contribute financially to the trip, or to buy you activities and excursions that you pick out. Don’t feel guilty asking for the trip of a lifetime over flatware.

The popularity of shows like Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, and all other things HGTV have people scrambling to make their modern farm house dreams come true. The reality of these reality tv shows, however, is that the average person does not have the money, time, or professional help to update their homes accordingly. Luckily, there are ways to make a big impact on a small budget by following these five steps:

Step 1: Need vs. Want
If you’ve invested in a home, you likely have a handful of solid, expensive, and lasting items in your possession. Take inventory of what you already own before hitting the stores. Plan for what you want to purchase and set a budget.

Step 2: Go in Stages
Secondary to evaluating what you already own vs. what you need to buy, try to plan a remodel in stages. Maybe the artwork and curtains in your living room can wait a while, but the couches desperately need to be replaced or updated. Don’t feel obligated to do it all in one chunk.

Step 3: Choose Your Color First
One of the best investments in renovating a room or changing your home decor style is to switch up the wall colors. When you determine your color palette, the rest can fall into place over time. Whether you go light and neutral or bold and daring, a fresh coat of paint can make a huge impact.

Step 4: Go Second-Hand
That old saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is so true. By joining your local buy, sell, trade sites on Facebook, you have access to an endless revenue of furniture, accessories, light fixtures, and textiles. People who are trying to offload their belongings to make room for their own new things are willing to sell for a bargain. You’ll be amazed at the high quality items that are available on these sites for a lot less than they are in stores.

Step 5: Buy Online
With sites like Wayfair, Overstock, and World Market, the amount of choices online greatly outnumbers what you can find in stores. The prices are also phenomenal. While buying large items unseen might feel like a risk, there are usually extensive customer reviews and lots of real-life photos available for most items. By doing the proper research and taking your time, you can save a lot of money buying online. Returns are usually easy, too!

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