3 Important Considerations If You're Thinking of Buying a House
Buying a house is such an important milestone in one's adult life...but how do you know when it's the right time?
My husband and I lived in an apartment for our first two years of marriage. We loved the location and the overall charm of our rustic apartment, but when we started to run out of space and wanted to grow our family, buying a house seemed like the next natural step. However, speaking from experience, making the leap to home ownership can be terrifying and confusing. If you jump too soon, you could set yourself up for buyer's regret and disaster.
Especially with this past year being so volatile and difficult, how can you tell if you are really ready to take the leap? If you're considering home ownership in the next year, I've put together three questions I would recommend asking yourself before you take that next exciting step.
1. Can you afford to buy a house right now?
As a planner and a worrier, this was the first question I was concerned with when we started thinking about buying a home. It is so important to make sure you are at a place financially to make such a big investment. For us, we were in comfortable, stable jobs when we made the leap. We also started to realize that spending more on rent was actually a detriment because we weren't building any equity.
Once you know you have the financial means to pursue home buying, it is so important to know what you can actually afford. According to My Home by Freddie Mac, you should plan on spending no more than 28% of your monthly gross income on housing. Once you figure out this number, start doing some research in your area. What is the typical cost of a home in your area?
After your preliminary research, you can start to do some more number crunching. Take the average home price and figure out the estimated monthly payment by putting in your figures in a Simple Mortgage Calculator.
If you've already spotted a dream home you love, you can also use this calculator to see what the minimum income you would need to make to afford it would be. Number crunching can be scary and daunting, but it is so important to look at the cold, hard facts. All of these tools, though, make it easier than ever to figure out if you can actually afford to buy that house of your dreams.
2. Are you ready for the responsibility?
Owning a home comes with its own additional responsibilities. If you are used to renting, you may be used to picking up the phone to call a landlord to deal with any repairs or maintenance. Once you own a home, it's all on you.
A month after we bought our home, for example, our $800 water heater broke. That was an expense we hadn't budgeted for, and it really taught us very early on that homeowning is expensive. It is important that after you buy your house, you still have money in reserves for extra expenses. You can check out some average costs of House Maintenance Projects just to help you get an idea of how much you should have set back for surprise expenses.
Don't forget, too, that there is a time commitment that comes with these maintenance jobs. If your job requires many hours or a lot of travel, you may want to add this into the equation when deciding if it is the right time to buy a home.
3. Do you have the time to commit?
The home buying process can be intense. From scanning potential properties to the actual process of buying, you need time to be able to do it right. Be certain that if you are going to take the leap into homeowning, you are ready to put time into the process. This is a big step, and you want to make sure you don't cut corners.
Be sure to research the home buying process from start to finish so you know what to expect. For example, I didn't realize that my lender would require paystubs and financial information for the previous year. It took me some time to get those documents together.
All in all, buying a home can be scary. However, taking the leap can also lead to a rewarding, fulfilling life. I am so glad we bought our home when we did because it has helped us build the life we have always dreamed of.
Finding Affordable Gifts for the Gamer on Your List
Anyone else have a hubby or significant other who is obsessed with gaming?
Anyone else struggling with gift ideas for the holidays, birthdays, or just because?
My husband is a tech-obsessed guy who is always wanting new equipment and tech options. It can be hard, though, getting him what he wants on a budget. But then came Monoprice.
If you haven't heard of the site Monoprice, you'll definitely want to check it out. They specialize in home improvement items, but I love that they have a lot of tech and gaming equipment because this is exactly what my husband loves. They have all of the hardware, cables, and tech equipment you need for your equipment. I love that they have very practical items like wall mounts and adapters, but fun stuff, too. They even have gaming systems like the Nintendo Switch, which are so hard to find at some of the big box stores.
I love that they have all sorts of other fun stuff, too, that isn't just gaming or tech related. From camping items to various hobbies, they have stuff for everyone on your list without the high prices of some of the other tech stores you might shop at. They also have so many home improvement type buys, so you can get your house in tip-top, high-tech shape. Plus, they have a whole section devoted to free shipping, which I find really convenient (I hate paying shipping!).
If you do end up shopping their site, Slickdeals is a really nice place to check because they will show you some awesome Monoprice coupons that you can use for your order. They are a great go-to for promo codes for all of your favorite stores. I've mentioned them before because I really do find their site so convenient! It's my go-to for getting the best online deals and prices. I love the alert feature on Slickdeals, too, so I make sure I don't miss a discount at my favorite store.
Have you shopped at Monoprice? Tell me in the comments what your favorite item was that you bought there.
3 Reasons You'll Love Chewy If You Have Pets
As many of you know, I'm pet obsessed. We have a mastiff who is basically my child (and shows up in all of my books) and six rescue cats. We have a full house, which means we're never done buying pet supplies.
I've tried so many companies and sites over the years for my pet supplies, but one of my all-time favorites is Chewy. Whether it's scheduling auto shipments for the items you regularly need or finding fun gifts to make every special occasion great, Chewy has literally everything you could need for your pet. Here are some of the reasons I absolutely love Chewy, and why you should check them out.
1. The most amazing variety of pet supplies
I love that I can find anything I could ever want on Chewy. I mean, they have the regular items that I use a lot and put on auto-ship: vitamins for Henry, cat litter, cat food, dog food. But the other reason I love their site is that they have really unique items.
I have a cat who is finicky with the litter box, so we had to have one in a very conspicuous area. I found one on Chewy that looks like a potted plant (Like seriously...people have complimented our plant in our home it looks that good). They have so many unique items just like this. Our mastiff also takes vitamins that are really hard to find, but Chewy has them so I was able to auto-ship them. I love this feature because it is convenient but also you can save money from an auto-ship on the items you use all the time.
From items for your pet's health to fun items, Chewy has so many more options than any other pet store.
2. Amazing Deals and Prices
Whenever I need an item, I always go to Chewy first because they have way lower prices than their competitors. The auto-ship option saves me money on the regular items, but they also have so many sales. I am always able to find the items I need for way cheaper, such as their pet crates and carriers as well as dog beds.
I love that they offer free shipping over $49, too, which is really nice and a good threshold, I think. You can also find great coupons to get extra off your order. Slickdeals is a great place to look for Chewy coupons because they always have the best deals. They are my go-to for promo codes for the site, and I love that you can actually even set up a notification at Slickdeals so you don't miss a new Chewy discount. With as much pet stuff as I am always buying, this is such a helpful feature that ensures I buy at the best time.
3. Awesome Customer Service
Chewy is there 24/7 to answer questions, which is a really nice feature. They are so helpful if you are looking for an item or have an issue with a shipment. I have never had an issue, and my items always ship so fast.
I love, too, that Chewy really loves their customers. They do fun things like send out random pet portraits to their customers. I actually got one of my mastiff, Henry, last year, and it was such a nice touch. It actually was handpainted.
They are quick to respond to emails, and if you have some sort of issue, you can rest assured that they treat their customers well.
Have you shopped with Chewy? Tell me in the comments about what your favorite items are to buy from them.
2020 has been a year that has transformed the workplace... and potentially business casual attire forever. As a teacher who has spent many months this year working from home, I've definitely transformed my style over the year.
I know that at first, working from home makes it tempting to bust out the sweatpants and live in loungewear. However, I quickly found two things:
1. Sweatpants really don't inspire confidence sometimes.
2. I missed wearing my nice dress clothes.
Now, listen: It's fine to be comfortable while you're working. It's also fine if you feel your best in sweatpants, truly. But if you find yourself in a slump when working from home, I'd suggest checking out your outfit. We all know that when we feel confident in our looks, we just feel better the whole way around.
Still, it can be hard to feel inspired to dress your best when your meetings consist of Zoom calls, and no one ever sees you except from the shoulders up. How do you find a middle ground? How do you dress for the job you want while also being comfortable?
This fall, I feel like I turned a corner in my work-from-home wardrobe and found ways to balance it out. Here are my top five tips for fashion if you're working from home.
1. Experiment with bright colors and patterns.
Let's face it: Those little zoom squares make it easy to feel washed out and dull, especially with harsh lighting or fuzzy computer cameras. Use this time at home to experiment with bold colors, colors you typically wouldn't wear, and fun patterns. I'm not suggesting breaking out the Tropical bird shirt in the back of your closet for that investment meeting. But this is the time to try new colors and new styles. I have found that bright red and blue really liven up my look on camera.
2. Invest in jackets.
I blame the show What Not To Wear for my obsession with jackets (Clinton Kelly and Stacy London always talked about how they add structure to an outfit). I love that a jacket takes me from casual to professional in one second. I also love that if you are squeezing in a lunchtime workout, you can toss the jacket over your solid color exercise tank or top and pull it together for a meeting in less than a minute.
One of my favorite jackets is the Lauren Conrad Jean Jacket from Kohl's (I'm not sponsored by LC... I wish haha). But I also have a few moto jackets, a few bright jackets, and a few just fun jackets to mix it up.
3. Play with fun accessories.
Do you have some sparkly earrings that are "too much" for daytime office lights? Do you have a bold necklace or a lipstick you have been dying to try?
The distance created with online meetings lets you experiment without the fear of getting odd looks all day. I have been wearing my bolder jewelry and makeup. I've been experimenting with my James Charles Morphe eyeshadow palette more as well. I've been embracing bold because on the Zoom square, it's really hard to look overdone.
I have found that playing up my fashion and experimenting has kept it interesting and given me a judgement-free period to try new trends I wouldn't have.
I've read so many articles about how you should wear dress pants or jeans everyday at home to keep yourself motivated. I do think there is some truth to the point of wearing "real pants" to stay motivated. However, do I wear dress pants everyday?
I suggest mixing it up. On days I have a lot of difficult work to do, I'll wear jeans or nice pants. I'll go all in on the workwear so I trigger my brain to work hard. But other days? Nice leggings suffice for sure.
I also make Fridays leggings day no matter what. I think it's perfectly fine to be comfortable and enjoy the perks of being home.
4. Mix up your bottoms.
5. Wear perfume.
There's something about an expensive perfume that makes you feel confident. I've been wearing perfume everyday from home just because it makes me feel better about myself.
I am a commitment phobe when it comes to expensive scents, though. That's why I love Sephora. Anytime you order from them, you can choose two samples...and they almost always have perfume samples in tiny vials that last quite a while. I rely on these to mix up my daily scent, which also keeps it fun.
At the end of the day, fashion is always in the eye of the beholder. But I hope if you are working from home, you're using this as a chance to mix up your look and experiment--because that's what keeps it interesting. What are your best fashion tips for working from home? Tell me below!
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