Ned Mahoney'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.
Home is, first and foremost, a place of rest and relaxation. It’s where we come home to after a stressful day to be with our family, our pets, or our favorite books and television shows.
But sometimes, the home also has to double as a place of work. Whether you have a job that allows you to work from home, or you just need a quiet place to sit down to pay bills or do taxes, at some point your home will need to be a place where you can focus. That’s where the home office comes in.
Designing and decorating a home office is different than the rest of your home. You’ll have to create a balance between being comfortable and but also uncluttered. You want to give it your personal touch, but at the same time avoid filling it up with distractions. Finally, you’ll have to think about your personal requirements for a home office. Will it be used often enough to merit a dedicated room in your house? Or can your office items fit right into your bedroom, opening up space for things like children’s play rooms and spare bedrooms.
The bare necessities
There are a few things that nearly all home offices will have in common. We’re talking desks, organizers, office supplies, etc. However, it’s easy to get carried away with file organizers or containers filled with 10 different sizes of multicolored paperclips. One of the benefits of cloud computing and paperless billing is that all of your important paperwork can usually now fit in one small folder.
So, before you start picking out organizers, go through your important papers and find out what you can shred and what needs to be saved. Tools like Google Drive allow you to scan documents right with your smartphone camera and store them safely and securely in the cloud. That means fewer papers and less money spent on organizers and staplers that will just clutter your desk.
What kind of worker are you?
A hard one, I’m sure--but what type of environment helps you be the most productive? Are you better off tucked away in a dark corner surrounded by pillows and blankets, or do you work best in a well-lit room sitting upright at a clear desk.
Before you start decorating and arranging furniture in your office, take into account your needs. There’s no use spending money on a large wooden desk if you work better curled up on the couch.
If you fall asleep and lose focus in the dark, consider arranging your desk next to a window or even purchasing a UV light for rainy days or dark nights. These will help you stay refreshed and alert to tackle whatever tasks you have before you.
Use space wisely
If you have a lot of items to store, consider a desk with drawers or a cart that you can push out of the way. This will help you from letting your desk get overcrowded.
When it comes to furniture, shop modular. Space-saving furniture can make a world of difference in a home office, which tend to be one of the smaller rooms in your home. Cube bookcases that let you choose a size are excellent for home offices because you can buy only as many as you need. You can always add more cubes later on.
Similarly, desks can also be modular and adjustable. One great option for home offices is a wall-mounted fold up desk. This will allow you to open up the room when you’re not using the desk if your office doubles as a home fitness room.
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Home maintenance plays a key role in ensuring your house will impress both now and in the future. If you establish a home maintenance budget today, you can reduce the risk of spending too much to find ways to keep your residence looking neat and tidy.
Ultimately, creating a home maintenance budget can be simple – here are three tips to help you craft an effective home maintenance budget.
1. Assess Your Home Maintenance Needs
Home maintenance generally varies from house to house. Thus, the home maintenance needs of a mansion owner are unlikely to match those of a condo owner.
Think about what types of home maintenance that you need to perform. That way, you can determine exactly what you'll need to do to maintain your residence for years to come.
It often helps to examine each room of your house, as well as your home's exterior. Then, you can better understand different aspects of your home and what you'll need to do to achieve the optimal home care results.
2. Make a Home Maintenance Checklist
A checklist is a terrific option for any homeowner who wants to limit his or her home maintenance expenses. This checklist will enable you to determine the home maintenance tasks that you'll need to complete and the expenses associated with them.
For example, if you want to maintain a lush garden in your backyard, you may need to purchase assorted gardening supplies. Conversely, if your bedroom has carpet, you'll want to pick up a vacuum that you can use to keep the carpet dirt- and dust-free.
It also may be a good idea to update your home maintenance checklist regularly. If you perform home upgrades, your home maintenance needs may change. As such, you'll want to revise your home maintenance checklist to account for various home upgrades over time.
3. Establish Home Maintenance Priorities
Whereas cleaning your swimming pool may need to be done periodically during summertime, mowing the front lawn likely needs to be done much more frequently. Fortunately, if you have home maintenance priorities in place, you can budget your time and resources appropriately.
As you craft your home maintenance budget, you should consider your home care expertise as well. If you don't feel comfortable performing certain home maintenance projects, it may be worthwhile to hire professionals to complete these tasks for you. And if you decide to hire professionals, you probably will need to account for additional costs in your home maintenance budget.
With a home maintenance budget, you'll be better equipped than ever before to ensure your house dazzles day after day. Plus, if you decide to sell your house, you'll be in a great position to maximize its value.
Lastly, if you plan to list your home, you may want to contact a real estate agent sooner rather than later. This real estate professional can help you prepare your residence for the housing market and provide expert home selling tips. As a result, a real estate agent will make it easy for you to list your house and enjoy a quick, profitable home selling experience.