Diane Kelly - KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY / Metropolitan


The factor that has the most impact on your home search is your finances. You’ll need to save a significant amount of money. It’s not easy to save when you have continuous monthly bills and responsibilities. Read on for tips on how to get your finances under control in order to save the amount of money it takes to buy a home.  


Do A Budget  



Once you have decided to buy a home, the first thing you should do is take a good look at your finances. A budget is critical when you buy a house because it tells you how much you’ll have to spend on your mortgage. Doing this ahead of time will allow you to maximize your income and make adjustments ahead of time as needed. Don’t forget that even though you’re buying a home, you still need some savings in addition to all of your other monthly expenses. Your budget should be outlined as follows:


  • Necessities
  • Monthly utility spending 
  • Insurance bills
  • Entertainment expenses
  • Grocery spending


Basically, you want to write down how much money is coming in and where all of the money is going. That’s a budget in a nutshell. See where you can cut back. What you’re left with is the amount you can save each month. You may want to do this on a percentage basis rather than a flat dollar amount. 


Get A Separate Account


The most straightforward things to do when you start saving for a home is to put all of your money for your house fund into a separate account. This way you can automatically transfer money in, and you’ll be less likely to spend any of the money if you don’t see it.


Sacrifice The Small Things


Can you take some hand me downs for your kids? Maybe you can start packing a lunch for work instead of buying lunch. Can you cut the cord on cable? It may be hard to sacrifice small luxuries, but these expenses can add up. If you cut these out of your budget, you’ll have a little more wiggle room to save for a home purchase. You’ll be surprised how much money you can save just by doing little things. Your morning latte is probably around $5. You could save at least $25 per week by merely making coffee at home! That’s a saving of over 1,200 per year!   


While saving for a home can seem overwhelming, if you take it in small chunks, you’ll be see the results of your efforts rather quickly. 



What will boost your home's value? You want to add a sunroom but will that bring in the biggest bang for your buck? How about a new bathroom? It's a common question that many homeowners ask. What will we get back when we sell? This can be a hard question to answer but luckily Bankrate.com and Remodeling Magazine has come up with a list of the worst home fixes for the money. Here are the six improvements that ranked dead last nationally when it comes to getting those renovation dollars back at resale. 1. A Home Office-The standard home office renovation is this year's biggest loser in the resale value sweepstakes. Nationally, homeowners spent an average of $28,888 and can expect to recoup about 45.8 percent at resale, according to the report. If you want to enjoy a home office opt for something that is easily converted back into a bedroom or den. 2. Backup Generators-This only usually brings about negative thoughts like does this home loose power often? On average, when homeowners have a heavy-duty backup power generator installed, they spend about $14,718, according to the report. The average amount of the price recovered at resale time: 48.5 percent. 3. A Sunroom-While the thought is sitting and enjoying a sunroom may sound lovely to you but the addition of a sunroom is often more than you can recoup. The national average for a sunroom addition is $75,224, according to the report. Homeowners can expect to recoup about 48.6 percent when they sell. 4. A Master Suite-It is the price tag of this addition that can also leave sellers in the red. For a super-deluxe master suite addition -- which adds square footage and uses only top-dollar materials -- the average cost is about $232,062, according to the report. Sellers can expect to recover about 52.7 percent at resale. 5. An Extra Bathroom-Wait kitchens and bathrooms sells houses or that’s what people say. Bathroom additions are very expensive. For a moderately outfitted addition with synthetic stone or plastic laminate surfaces, plan on the cost about $21,695, according to the Remodeling report. Go upscale, with finishes like premium marble or fine tile, and you can easily spend in the neighborhood of $40,710. You can plan on a return of about 53 cents on the dollar. Look for less-expensive way to get the same results. Try reconfiguring your existing space to add a bathroom for less. 6. A Dream Garage-The price tag for a top-of-the-line detached two-car with all the trimmings is about $90,053, according to the report. This is a garage that is completely top-of-the-line. You can expect to recover about 53.6 percent of that when you sell. Instead go for function over form and stick the basic garage if you plan on a garage project.  

Groceries can be one of the biggest monthly expenses in a family's budget. It seems the prices just keep going up and up but there are ways to slim down your weekly grocery bill. Here are some strategies to help you save at the grocery store. Make a list: If you want to avoid impulse make a list and stick to it. If you don't have a list you will buy items that you simply do not need. You may also forget to purchase the items you need causing unnecessary trips back to the store. Look for expiration dates:  Avoid buying items that will go bad quickly. Pay attention to expiration dates especially on things like milk, meat, eggs, and yogurt. Look for meat markdowns: Butchers mark down their meat either early in the morning or in the evening saving you 30 to 60 percent. If you ask most butchers will tell you when they mark down their meat. Buy in bulk: When you find things like cereals, tinned goods, rice, beans, pasta, coke, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, toilet paper etc. on sale buy in bulk. You might also want to shop at warehouse stores for these items. Buy generic: Generic store brands can save you money. Most generics are just like or very close to the name brand product without the hefty price tag.

If you are looking for ways save money, cutting back on grocery expenses is often an easy way to reduce your spending. Here are ten tips to master frugal grocery shopping. A little planning can save you some big bucks over the long term. 1. Make a list. Before you head out to the store, prepare a list of everything you need, making sure you have everything needed for your weekly menu. Before you leave, check to make sure you don't have it in your pantry, fridge or freezer. Stick to that list and don't buy anything else. 2. Plan a menu. Plan a weekly menu for each week. This way you will know exactly what to buy. Be sure to plan a leftovers night. 3. Don't shop hungry. When you're hungry, everything looks good. When you shop hungry you'll end up spending a lot more. Eat first and then you will be able to stick to your list. 4. Set a budget. When you go to the store, know exactly how much you can spend. Then try your best to stick within that limit. Keep a running tally as you shop to ensure that you're within your budget. 5. Create a grocery spreadsheet. Keep your grocery receipts, then enter into a spreadsheet. This will be your price and comparison list. Use it so you know when bulk or sale items are a good deal. 6. Cook and freeze. Plan to cook a big amount of food and freeze it for multiple dinners. A great idea is to use one Sunday and cook a week's (or even a month's) worth of dinners. Plan 5-6 freezable dinners and cook them all at once. 7. Shop for specials. Every store has specials. Be sure to look for them in the newspaper, or when you get to the store. Don't buy things you don't use just because they are on sale; make sure you will use the items. 8. Buy store brands. Brand names are often no better than generic, and you're paying for all the advertising they do to have a brand name. Give the store brand a try, and often you won't notice a difference. 9. No "one-item" trips. They waste gas, and almost inevitably, you buy more than that one item. If you plan ahead, make a weekly menu, and shop with a list, this should drastically reduce the number of trips you make for a small number of items. 10. Stock up. Sale items can be a great deal. If it's an item you normally use, buy a bunch of them.

Kitchens sell houses. So having a great looking kitchen is important if you are thinking of putting your home on the market or maybe you just need a fresh new look. Cabinets are one of the biggest expenses in a kitchen remodel but with a little elbow grease and creativity, you can update your kitchen cabinets without going through the hassle of an entire remodel. Here are some tips on how to make your kitchen look like new with a cabinet facelift. Give the wood a Good Cleaning You will be surprised what a good scrubbing can do. Heat, water, grease and food residue all take a serious toll on your cabinets.
  • If you choose to remove the doors, label or number them so you'll put them back in the right place.
  • Make sure to test any kind of cleaner before using it on the entire cabinet. Cleaners with large amounts of alcohol may cause the wood to dry and crack.
  • Clean and Update the Hardware Hardware gets greasy and grimy so make sure to clean those too.
  • Soak the hardware in a soapy-water solution for 30 minutes.
  • Scrub lightly with a soft brush and rinse.
  • Let dry and apply the proper polish.
  • You may decide instead to replace the hardware. In choosing the finish for your hardware, think about what style will look best in your home. Add Some Detail Add some detail to drab cabinets with moulding. Applying a contrasting finish or color is a quick and inexpensive way to change the look of your cabinets. Stripping and Refinishing If after cleaning your cabinets still need some help, you may decide to refinish or paint them
  • Make sure to remove all the cabinet doors and number them.
  • Liquid strippers work best, but be sure to use the gel or semi-paste types.
  • Place doors on a vertical surface. The finish won't drip as much.
  • Let the stripping agent do the work and start with an inconspicuous area.
  • Patch any conspicuous holes, scratches and nicks with wood filler. When dry, sand lightly to smooth out the patch. Before painting, sand lightly and prime.
  • Before painting remember that the wood expands and contracts with the seasons, which will cause the paint bead to separate and expose unpainted wood. So with a little hard work you can have a whole new look to your kitchen in no time.



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