Archive for August 2013

Buying vs. Renting: Which is right for you?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Buying vs. renting... how do you know which is right for you?


In my area rent is very high, and in most instances you can own something for about the same monthly payment as you pay in rent. Of course, this varies by area, but here in Louisville that seems to be the case. This makes the idea of buying seem very desirable to the majority of people. While home ownership is a wonderful thing, it is not right for everyone. There are many factors you should consider to determine whether buying or renting is right for you at this time in your life.


Your Financial Situation

 Do you have debt?

It seems these days most people have their share of debt. In a perfect world, you would have no other debt when you buy a home. However, I realize not everyone is willing to wait until they are debt free to buy. If you have debt and are looking to buy, I say proceed cautiously. Be absolutely sure you can manage your other debt repayments on top of your mortgage & still have plenty of wiggle room each month. Be sure to have a plan in place to eliminate your debt quickly. Consider paying off other debt before buying a home.

Do you have an emergency fund?

An emergency fund of 3-6 months of expenses is ideal, but obviously the exact amount depends on your personal situation. This should be a fund set aside for emergencies only. This acts as a cushion if you have job loss, medical issues or another emergency pop up & will help you cover your mortgage & other expense until you get back on track.

Do you have money saved for a down payment in addition to an emergency fund?

Having a substantial down payment (10-20%) can help lessen your monthly mortgage payments by reducing the principal loan amount. Putting 20% down can also eliminate PMI which can add up to an extra couple hundred dollars a month on top of your regular mortgage payments. No fun :(    What is PMI? PMI is Private Mortgage Insurance. You are essentially paying for insurance for the lender, that way if you default & get foreclosed upon, the lender is protected. So you get nothing out of this deal, it's just an extra payment.


Can you qualify for a mortgage?

All of the above factors are great for you to take into consideration, and once you have those answered, it's time to answer the tougher question: can you qualify for a mortgage? You can speak with a lender in order to determine if and how much you qualify for. I always recommend working with a local bank or mortgage broker, it makes the entire process run more smoothly. And remember, just because you get approved for a certain amount doesn't necessarily mean you should spend that entire amount. If you're self employed or have no credit score, you will need to find a lender/broker that will do manual underwriting.

Your work situation

Are you stable at work?

Do you work for a company in which you feel secure? Are you self employed and certain you can create income for yourself? These are all good questions to ask before making the leap into home ownership.

Are you able to provide employment & tax information for the last couple of years?

Assuming you will be getting a mortgage, you will have to provide lots of information upfront in order to qualify. Be prepared to submit employment history, tax information & bank statements for the last couple of years.

Your personal situation


Are you ready for responsibility?

With homeownership comes a higher level of responsibility. Be sure you're ready for it. You may have to make some touch choices when it comes to prioritizing. Every once and a while you may have to choose between going out with friends or staying home to cut the grass. You might have to cut out the daily lattes & shopping trips in order to save up for a new dishwasher...

 

Are you prepared for home maintenance?

Obviously there are tons of different types of 'homes' and with each type comes a different level of maintenance. However, no matter what type you choose, a certain level of maintenance comes with owning a home. Are you ready to take on (or pay to hire out) services such as mowing the grass, repainting the siding, or fixing a broken toilet? All of these become your responsibility once you decide to own rather than rent. No more calling the landlord to solve the problem.

Do you plan on staying put for at least 5 years?

The general rule of thumb for buying a home is to plan to stay put for 5 years. There are no guarantees, but at this point you should have some equity in the house & at least be able to recoup selling costs (commission, closing costs, repairs, etc.) If you plan on moving within this time frame, it may not be a good idea to buy.

Owning a home is a wonderful opportunity as long as you make sure you a ready to make the plunge. That time may come at different times for different people. There is no specific age, income or situation that dictates when that right time is for you.

Do you currently own or rent? What other factors are keeping you from buying a home?

xo
Sam

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Things I'm loving at the moment...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Happy Friday everyone! I spent this morning catching up on emails & doing some computer work, then I got to have lunch with a great business contact, a local mortgage specialist in my market. It's great to meet & share ideas with like-minded people in the same industry. Plus she's young & enthusiastic, so we have a ton in common.

This afternoon I'm working on my monthly newsletter, but then when Jason gets home I'm making tacos & we are just going to hang out at home tonight & be lazy.

Anyway, here are some things I'm loving at the moment...


Chai Black Tea at home lattes
Mmmm. So good! I just use private selection [aka Kroger brand] chai black tea, steep it in hot water, add some milk, cinnamon & stevia & I'm good to go.



Pure Barre
I am absolutely loving this workout! I don't so much love the price tag, but if you watch out for deals, it's doable. I got to take a class last night with a friend and our favorite instructor & lets just say I'm definitely feeling it today!



Catching up on my kindle
I think I've had too much reality tv lately. Yes, it's possible. So this week I've really been enjoying catching up on my reading in the evenings. I'm finishing up The Beach House: A Novel by Jane Green, and then once that's finished I'm starting Sharp Objects: A Novel by Gillian Flynn. Can't wait! Did you know now that most libraries allow you to check out books to your kindle? Mine does! Or of course you can get on amazon as well.

Carrie Beth Taylor Art
I'm absolutely loving this girls art! Check her website out here! Aren't these custom cards adorable? I found them on her Facebook.




Dan Miller podcast
Dan's podcast, 48 days is awesome & so inspiring. His whole concept is '48 days to the work you love'. Check out more on his website, and definitely download his podcast. He also has a few books, 48 Days to the Work You Love: Preparing for the New Normal, No More Dreaded Mondays: Ignite Your Passion - and Other Revolutionary Ways to Discover Your True Calling at Work, and most recently Wisdom Meets Passion: When Generations Collide and Collaborate.



Million Dollar Listing
I just love this show! Tell me I'm not alone here. LA in my opinion, is way better than NY, but I like them both. I can't imagine earning a commission check that big, that's for sure! I am in love with Josh Flagg's grandma. She is pretty awesome!


Well, I'm off to make my afternoon chai tea latte! Hope you enjoy your weekends lovelies!

xo
Sam

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Kitchen Remodel Plan

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lately we have been revisiting the idea of re-doing the kitchen. Right now our kitchen looks a little something like this...

 
Nope, didn't bother to pick up. Sorry!
 
There are certain things I like about our kitchen, but there are numerous things I would change. However, with a limited budget, we will address the major issues & go from there.

Likes:
- Overall shape of kitchen, layout of cabinets & appliances.
- Kitchen table
- The fact that we have an island
- Natural light
- Window above the sink
- Storage space

Dislikes:
- Color (mustard yellow sounded like a good idea once upon a time)
- White appliances
- Countertops (currently Formica)
- Cabinets (oak, blahh)
- Cabinet handles
- Our broken sink
- The absence of a backsplash
- Light fixtures

The problem with re-doing a kitchen is that it costs lots of MONEY! Jason & I are talking about a plan of action, and so far here is what we are thinking of doing. We plan to do this in the most frugal way possible without skimping or DIYing something we shouldn't.

We are using these images for cabinet inspiration...

 
 
Hopefully the end result looks somewhat like this as far as color goes, obviously our cabinets are not this modern,
but it will still be a drastic improvement.

The Plan:
DIY: Stain cabinets a dark espresso color using this method from the blog Monica Wants It.
- DIY: Replace cabinet hardware with something more modern & sleek.
- DIY: Attempt to spray paint existing cabinet hinges to save money.


 
 

- DIY: Paint the walls a very light gray to brighten up the space.
- DIY: Install backsplash, either subway tile or something like this... I do love the chic & clean lines of both, so we'll see.


- DIY: Replace light fixtures. Do away with the fluorescent fixture near the island, unless it turns out to be a mess to patch the ceiling, in that case we will just replace with a more attractive option. Replace or paint fixture above kitchen table. Replace recessed lighting over island with hanging pendants.

- HIRE OUT: New countertops. Jason really wants granite so this will be one of the big expenses. There is no way we could install this by ourselves, so this will be left to the professionals. We are thinking a lighter color granite on the main countertops, then a contrasting darker color for the island.

- DIY: New appliances. Our appliances are functional, but boy are they ugly IMO. Hopefully we will be able to sell them on Craigslist for something though. We plan to replace with stainless steel appliances, and luckily our neighbors retired from GE, so they are sharing their discount with us. Thank you neighbors!

- HIRE OUT: New sink. Our faucet is broken right now, but since we are getting new countertops we will have to change out the style of our sink at that point, so we are dealing with it until then. We may do ourselves, but if the countertop installation guys can install, we will just go that route likely.

- HIRE OUT: We have the island, which we want boxed in & faced in stone, then we also have the wall with desk area. For this wall, we want to stain the lower cabinets to flow with the rest of the kitchen, but remove the upper cabinets. We want this entire wall faced in stone, and then above the desk area, we want open floating shelves.

For the floating shelves I like the idea of styling with a combination of leaning framed artwork, stark white dinnerware & glassware, & then fun bright pops of color.

- DIY: New curtains for sliding glass door.

We haven't gone through an entire budget yet for these improvements, but that is the next step in our plan. I plan on ordering the cabinet supplies first, as I can get started on that project whenever. If the stain is an epic fail, we will rethink our cabinets & go with a painted white finish, but keep the rest of the overall plan intact.

See my Pinterest inspiration board here.

I will keep you guys updated on progress & our budget once we pull everything together.

Have you ever re-done your kitchen? What was your biggest splurge & biggest save?

xo
Sam

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Lifeway Kefir Smoothie

Monday, August 19, 2013

So I picked up this new product to try - thanks to Influenster - called Lifeway Kefir. It's a strawberry probiotic smoothie. I had a hard time finding it at the grocery at first, but it was in the health food section near produce. I really wanted to try the frozen version of this, similar to frozen yogurt, but my grocery didn't carry it. So I ended up going with the smoothie.



So far I've only tried this straight out of the bottle (be sure to shake good!) but I'm not crazy about the consistency. I think I'm going to try mixing it with ice & fruit to create a thicker fruit smoothie. The taste is pretty good, definitely strawberry. If you like regular yogurt, you would probably really like this. I'm a bigger greek yogurt fan simply from a consistency standpoint.

What are probiotics?

According to the mayo clinic's website, probiotics are a good form of bacteria that can aide with the following:

Although more research is needed, there's encouraging evidence that probiotics may help:
  • Treat diarrhea, especially following treatment with certain antibiotics
  • Prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
  • Treat irritable bowel syndrome
  • Reduce bladder cancer recurrence
  • Speed treatment of certain intestinal infections
  • Prevent and treat eczema in children
  • Prevent or reduce the severity of colds and flu
Probiotics are most often found in yogurt & kefir.

*I received this product complimentary from Influenster's VoxBox program.

Do you like yogurt? Have you tried Kefir?

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Life Update & Comfort Zones

Hope you all had a great weekend! Mine was spent doing a little bit of shopping, a little bit of work & a little relaxing.

Friday Jason & I grabbed dinner at a local bbq place after he wrapped up a golf game, then Saturday Jason decided to golf again, so I went shopping with a new friend of mine who is actually from Brazil. We went to one of the malls where there is a HUGE F21, and she was telling me how in Brazil, Forever 21 is very expensive, compared to very cheap here. It's fun to learn about where she is from & all of the differences. Later on Saturday we ended up going to a bonfire at a friend of mine from high school's place. It was good catching up with some people I haven't seen in a while for sure.

Sunday we ended up sleeping in a little then I had to get up & go talk to some friends about the possibility of selling their home & moving up into something a little bigger, so we will see what happens there.

I've been really thinking a lot about how stepping outside your comfort zone can lead to greater success in all areas of life. Think about it -- if you push yourself beyond your limits in exercise, you will be successful, but you have to push through a little discomfort. If you eat healthy despite being used to eating junk food every day, by stepping outside your comfort zone that will in turn help you become successful. The same thing goes for social & even business life. Stepping out of your comfort zone helps get results.


So, in hopes of picking up more real estate business, I've really been forcing myself to step out of my comfort zone a little more. Jason & I were at lunch one day, and we were seated outside on the patio with only a few other diners surrounding us. Well, at the next table over, there were two girls about my age discussing homeownership, looking for the perfect home, etc. I overheard their conversation & contemplated whether or not I should hand them a card on my way out. I didn't want them to think I was eavesdropping or something, but I decided to go for it.

I usually keep some really nice postcards in my purse with my picture & company logo that advertise my services, so when we got up to leave I simply walked by & said I overheard them discussing houses, so if I could be of any assistance I would love to help. Then I left my card & was on my way.

Will they call? Who knows. Probably not, but maybe so. Maybe they are looking for a realtor & needed somewhere to start. But the answer is ALWAYS no if you NEVER ask.

From now on when I'm at the grocery, a restaurant, the post office, a bar... I'm going to put myself out there more & see what happens. Because really what's the worse that could happen?


How do you step outside your comfort zone?

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20 Habits of Rich People [Tom Corley]

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

You guys all know that one of my favorite things to do is listen to Podcasts. I listed to a wide array ranging from financial, self improvement & entrepreneurial, all to comedy, lifestyle & heath & fitness.

If you need some recommendations, some of my favorite podcasts are:
48 Days with Dan Miller
Jillian Michaels Podcast
The Adam Corolla Show
Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend
Dr. Drew
Balanced Bites

When I'm doing stuff throughout my day like driving, walking with Kobe, cleaning or working out, I like to multitask. Podcasts are not only entertainment for me, but also serve as a daily dose of self improvement. I often get introduced to new products, books & websites this way.

While listening to The Dave Ramsey show podcast a while back, he mentioned a book by Tom Corley called Rich Habits, where he outlines 20 things the rich do every day.



Now 'rich' means a lot of different things for different people. For me it means being financially independent & responsible, having balance, and having a general sense of self worth & success. Living comfortably & responsibly. It's not necessarily about reaching a certain salary or net worth.

I thought it would be fun to see how many of these things I do each day & what I still need to work on. I'm nowhere near reaching my ultimate financial goals, but practicing these things should help me keep on track.

Here is a little background about what Tom had to say & how he conducted his research...


"My name is Tom Corley.  I am the author of Rich Habits - The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals (www.RichHabits.net). I spent 5 years studying the daily activities of 233 wealthy people and 128 poor people.  What I discovered was that wealthy people have vastly different daily habits than poor people.  In fact, I tracked 140 daily activities that separate the wealthy from the poor and in this article I will highlight 20 of these activities. These Rich Habits are the financial equivalent of the Holy Grail. Because there is no research like this of any kind, these discoveries are revolutionary and will challenge everything you thought you knew about becoming wealthy.  The Rich Habits will transform your life from one of financial failure to one of unlimited financial success beginning in as little as thirty days. I will show you how easy it is to reinvent yourself in these 30 days.  In order to become wealthy you must learn how to walk in the footsteps of the wealthy and this means …... "

 20 Things the Rich Do Every Day

1. Eat Healthy: 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day. 23% of wealthy gamble. 52% of poor people gamble. I definitely eat a mostly healthy diet & don't gamble except maybe like $5.

2. Focus: 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.  I would say my focus is pretty good on reaching my business, fitness & overall life goals. Would like to focus more on my blogging goals.

3. Exercise: 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically 4 days a week. 23% of poor do this. I exercise between 4-6 days per week, not even including my daily walks with Kobe.

4. Listen: 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% for poor people. Not audiobooks, but I'm counting podcasts & talk radio because it's focused on self improvement.

5. To-Do: 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% for poor. Oh yeah, to-do list all day every day.

6. Read: 63% of wealthy parents make their children read 2 or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% for poor. Well, I'm not a parent, but I do not read 2 non-fiction books a month. Would like to start a goal for reading maybe one per month. Starting with this book & then Jon Acuff's book Start.

7. Volunteer: 70% of wealthy parents make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% for poor. I am not volunteering right now but have been thinking about starting at the Humane Society. I need to call this week.

8. Call: 80% of wealthy make hbd (Happy Birthday) calls vs. 11% of poor. I text or facebook mostly, not sure if that counts.

9. Write Goals: 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% for poor. I do make a rough business plan each year, but I need to start a goal journal where I write each day.

10. Read: 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs 2% for poor. I read blogs & articles & that totally counts.

11. Speak Your Mind: 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% for poor. I'm pretty good at speaking my mind but there is always room for improvement here.

12. Network: 79% of wealthy network 5 hours or more each month vs. 16% for poor. I network with people I know, but I need to join a young professionals network & go to events.

13. Less TV: 67% of wealthy watch 1 hour or less of TV. every day vs. 23% for poor. Epic fail. I watch tv a lot at nights, but it's mostly in the background while I'm doing other things.

14. No Trash TV: 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% for poor. Another epic fail. Maybe I will be in that 6%?? Can't give up RHOC. Come on now.

15. Rise Early: 44% of wealthy wake up 3 hours before work starts vs.3% for poor. Yes! I love my morning alone time to read, drink coffee and get outside & walk.

16. Teach: 74% of wealthy teach good daily success habits to their children vs. 1% for poor. I don't have children, but will totally teach them when the time comes.

17. Good Habits: 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% for poor. Definitely. You create your success.

18. Bad Habits: 76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck vs. 9% for poor. Or your create your failure.

19. Improve & Learn: 86% of wealthy believe in life-long educational self-improvement vs. 5% for poor. Definitely. Even though I didn't go the traditional educational route, I am constantly learning & improving.

20. Read:
86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% for poor. I love reading & couldn't live without it.
 

My Take

So my score is a 12/20. Definitely room for improvement. I would like to focus on improving more on volunteering, networking & writing down goals. For now I'm willing to keep my reality TV habit, I don't think it will prove to be that detrimental to my success ;)

I definitely agree that all of these could do nothing but improve your chances of success. I'm a true believer that exercise & healthy eating helps in all aspects of your life, along with being organized & maintaining a to-do list.

What did you score out of 20? Can you improve on some things? What are your strong points?

xo
Sam

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