Tom Curran's Blog
You’ve been thinking it for a while: “I really should start putting some money aside for a down payment.” But, you just can’t seem to find any wiggle room in your budget.
You’re not alone. Saving for a down payment isn’t easy. Especially if you’ve got rent, car payments, student loans, and are trying to put money aside for retirement.
In today’s post, we’re going to talk about how to make a game plan for your down payment. This way, you can start saving immediately, bringing you closer to your goal of homeownership each day.
Step 1: Give each dollar a job
The first rule of budgeting is that you need to know where each dollar you earn ends up. From there, you can start re-allocating funds to the things you want to save for.
There are many apps and tools available to help you out with this process, including YNAB (You Need A Budget) and Mint. If apps aren’t your thing, you can always use a simple spreadsheet.
First, account for all of your income. This could include your salary, rental income, or other forms of money that you have coming in.
Next, detail each of your weekly and monthly expenses. Everything from groceries to the internet bill and retirement contributions.
Step 2: Reassess your expenses
Now it’s time to make some tough decisions. Are there ways you can cut down on your weekly or monthly expenses? Maybe you aren’t using that Amazon Prime membership as much as you thought you would. Or, maybe you’ve decided you don’t really watch anything on cable but the news. There are a number of ways one might cut back on their monthly bills.
Get creative with family plans, bulk shopping for food, or cooking budget-friendly meals. All of these savings will add up quickly.
Step 3: Pay off small debts with high interest
Let’s face it, if you have thousands of dollars in student loans, you might not be able to aggressively pay them down by the time you want to move out of your apartment.
But, for small debts (under $1,000 credit card debt, for example), you could save more in the long run by paying them off and avoiding interest payments.
Step 4: Be smart about your savings
With the right savings account and credit card, you can earn money through savings interest and through cashback rewards on credit cards.
First, find a savings account with the highest possible interest rate. These can often be found from choosing an online bank who doesn’t have the overhead of running branches.
Next, direct deposit a set amount of your paycheck each week into that savings account. This way, you can be sure that you won’t dip into your down payment savings.
To generate additional income, you can use cash back rewards from credit cards for things like groceries and gas. Choose a credit card that offers the best cash back rewards for things like groceries and gas purchases. The key here is to only use your credit card on necessities and to always pay off the card in full at the end of each month.
If you follow these four steps, you should be able to streamline your down payment savings process and start saving right now.
Many buyers are searching for a home with an attached garage. It helps to keep cars out of the sun, rain, and snow. An attached garage allows you to walk directly from your vehicle into your home without worry.
Garages used to be detached. These structures offered many benefits to homeowners that seem to be forgotten. As cars became more popular and larger, families began to own two cars at their properties. When this became common, so too did the attached garage.
While an attached garage is seen as a luxury and often a necessity, the good points a detached garage have shouldn’t be overlooked.
Attached garages can be converted into living spaces. This affords you as a homeowner much more room without the need to move. Homeowners can then build a detached garage for storage or the placement of a vehicle.
Other Advantages To Detached Garages
A detached garage adds character to a home. Many buyers complain of tired suburban architecture, where the garage often becomes somewhat of a focal point for the front of the home. Detached garages can be more pleasing to look at.
You’ll also have a bit more wiggle room as to how you design your home. If you build a detached garage, it can be placed at an angle on the property. The garage can also be hidden in the backyard, or designed to look like a smaller version of the larger house. A path can even be built through the yard to the garage to bring a design to the entire yard.
Another advantage to a detached garage is that toxic fumes from your vehicle won’t get into the house. Homes with detached garages can often receive green points for environmentally friendly building practices. There’s also less of a risk posed to you and your family for things like carbon monoxide poisoning. You can’t leave a vehicle running very long in an attached garage without that risk.
A detached garage also affords the possibility of adding living space above the garage. It can be a great play space for kids or a game room for adults. You can even build a home office in the upstairs portion of the garage. The area will indeed be quiet if placed strategically. If the attached garage is new construction, you can run wild with it. The design is up to you and the possibilities are truly endless.
While many buyers search for a home with an attached garage, detached garages can have many pros and allow great flexibility to you as a homeowner.
145 Ice House Road, Taunton, MA 02780
We’ve all seen the way landscaping and decorating trends can sweep through a neighborhood. Some are practical, like planting drought-resistant vegetation. Others are purely aesthetic choices.
In this article, we’re going to break down some of the latest trends in landscaping. Who knows, you might be inspired to get out and revamp your front or backyard with one of these ideas. Read on for some of the latest and greatest landscaping techniques for your home.
Landscaping you can eat
One trend that is making a comeback is growing herbs and vegetables. We’re not talking about a backyard garden in a chicken wire fence (although those are great, too!)--what we’re referring to is planting herbs and colorful lettuces right in your front yard. Well-placed plants look natural and can save you money at the grocery store at the same time. Just make sure they’re planted in soil appropriate for growing vegetables.
Similarly, many people are rediscovering the native fruit trees, bushes, and vines of their area. Adding these items to your yard will give you something sweet to eat and also a sense of pride in your region. So, find out which fruits and vegetables grow well in your area and find some to compliment your yard.
We’ve all seen the headlines. Climate change is upon us, and water shortage is one of the chief long term concerns. To save water and keep the front yard looking manicured, many people are turning to vegetation that can resist long periods of time without water.
There are drought tolerant plants in almost every family of flora. From flowers to shrubs and even grass. However, many homeowners in areas warm areas prone to drought are opting out of grass completely in favor of stone pathways lined with hardy, yet beautiful, cacti.
Actually comfortable outdoor seating
The days of uncomfortable plastic and metal chairs are numbered. Waterproof outdoor seating has improved immensely in the last few years and a greater number of people taking advantage of it.
Another indoor comfort that is taking root outdoors is the use of varied lighting techniques and colors to create different moods, be it calm or whimsical.
Let it grow
Many homeowners, fed up with having to mow their lawn every weekend instead of spending it relaxing, are opting to let their grass grow out. Planting shade-giving trees, incorporating natural boulders, and creating stone walkways give a wild, but pleasant feeling reminiscent of an English garden.
Where there is grass, it is often left to grow to “meadow” length to complement the natural feeling of the rest of the yard. Planning out such a yard, however, takes time, or you could end up with a backyard that looks like it just hasn’t been taken care of.
What are your favorite backyard landscaping trends?
Everyone loves pampering. Your home is no different. A little pre-snow cleanup gives your house that extra special attention it needs. Giving your home some special treatment will reward you with comfort, less clutter and a bright, clean environment.
Autumn Clean Up
During warm weather, dust, dirt, and sand sneak into corners and crevices. Attack the tight spaces between garden sheds and fences with an intense burst of water to dislodge debris. Rake decaying leaves and foliage away from your foundation. Clean out your gutters. Clogged gutters during a heavy rain may put your roof at risk of water damage. Call a gutter service if it is too dangerous or difficult for you to reach. In fact, this might be an excellent time to have your roof inspected too.
Check Your Outdoor Equipment
If you have cold-weather equipment in the garage or other storage, now is the time to clean it. Get it serviced and check it for rust, salt or de-icing residue and prepare it for the weather to come. Clean up your gardening equipment too. Storing away your spring and summer paraphernalia gives you more space to set up outdoor decorations. Remember to schedule the reverse in the spring: clean and stow your wintertime equipment in preparation for spring.
Take a moment to change out the contents in your car trunk. Switch out bug cleaner for anti-freeze and stow your summer beach gear. Change out that sun-shield for an ice scraper and replace your wiper blades. Add a winter survival kit (blankets, a candle, lighter, gloves, sand, and road flares) for a little added precaution.
Clean the Outside
Whether you have brick or stucco, vinyl siding or cedar shakes, soot, grime, mold, and mildew can build up. Clean vinyl siding using a soft cloth or brush and a mixture of 70% water with 30% white vinegar. Alternatively, use a mix of an oxygen-based bleach with a powdered household cleaner. Other biodegradable cleaners, especially if they are gentle, will work well too, but avoid harsh detergents or abrasive scrubbing. Make sure you carefully follow the advice of your siding manufacturer.
For stone, stucco, or bricks, use a power washer, but watch the PSI since too strong a stream may dislodge the mortar or loosen stucco. Remove mold, moss stains and mildew with specially formulated chemicals for your exterior type.
With a clean exterior, your house is ready for any hits from winter weather. As a bonus, if you’re placing your home on the market this winter, your extra efforts outdoors will make it stand out. For more winter curb appeal ideas, talk to your real estate professional.