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Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri & Al Mussi on 2/7/2017

Buying your dream home should be simple. Unfortunately, challenges may arise during the homebuying journey, particularly for those who fail to budget accordingly.

Establishing a budget before you begin your home search is paramount. With a budget in place, you can explore houses that fall within your price range and move closer to finding a great residence that you can enjoy for years to come.

Ultimately, creating a homebuying budget can be easy – here are three tips to help homebuyers establish budgets.

1. Consider your utility costs.

Although you may be able to get pre-approved for a mortgage and determine exactly how much you'll need to pay for a house, you'll still need to account for utility expenses month after month.

Electricity, heat and other utility costs can add up quickly. However, a diligent homebuyer should have no trouble estimating his or her monthly utility fees.

Examining your current utility expenses can help you understand how much you may wind up paying in utility charges at your new address. Also, don't forget to consult with your real estate agent, as this professional may be able to provide details about the average utility costs associated with a particular residence.

2. Manage your debt.

If you decide to purchase a "fixer-upper," i.e. a home that requires extensive home repairs, you'll likely need to commit substantial time and resources to complete home renovation projects. Thus, you'll want to consider any home repair tasks that you may need to complete at a new address and budget for them before you make an offer on a house.

In addition, knowing your credit score can help you understand your debt. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion), and each report will provide information about any outstanding debt. That way, you can learn about your debt and find ways to minimize it prior to purchasing a residence.

3. Account for closing costs and miscellaneous expenses.

Home closing costs will include your loan origination, title insurance and appraisal fees and often range between 3 percent and 7 percent of your total loan amount. You'll want to account for these expenses as you establish a homebuying budget to ensure you can secure your dream house without delay.

Spend some time learning about all of the expenses that may impact your monthly home expenses too. For example, if you purchase a condo, you may face monthly homeowners association fees in addition to your mortgage costs. Or, if you plan to have a baby in the near future, you'll want to consider how the costs of raising a child may impact your ability to cover your mortgage expenses.

If you ever have concerns or questions about establishing a homebuying budget, be sure to consult with your real estate agent. Remember, your real estate agent is available to help you in any way possible and will do what it takes to ensure you can establish the right homebuying budget.




Tags: budgeting   Buying a home  
Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri & Al Mussi on 9/13/2016

These days keeping track of your money can be a hassle. Between all the different ways you can spend your money it’s easy to lose track of your spending. Luckily there are some great apps for money management. Below are a few favorites— all rated with 3.5 stars and up. LearnVest: LearnVest is a money management platform, but it’s also much more. You can link up your various accounts to keep track of your spending, savings and goals (that you set). But the best part about this app are the articles you receive via email from them. The articles that they send are full of helpful information related to early retirement, saving for your wedding, how to pay down debt, rebuilding bad credit, smart saving, and so much more. Every article is worth the read. This app is available on iOS. Mint: Mint is a well-known money management platform. You can hook up your bank accounts, credit cards, 401k and loans and set up budgets. The app utilizes graphs to show you how you spend your money and provides you with bill reminders. It will even give you your net worth. The only downfall to the app is that it has a difficult time connecting to small banks’ online banking systems. This app is available on iOS and Google Play. Daily Budget: This is a do-it-yourself app. If you are one that is weary about putting your personal banking information onto your phone then this is the money management app for you. You plug in your income, reoccurring expenses and it gives you a daily budget. You can add in additional income and expenses as they occur. But, you will have to pay for the full version if you want to utilize all income and expense categories. This app is available on iOS. Comparable apps are available on Google Play. Prosper Daily: This app’s main emphasis is on protecting your accounts. You can link up your bank accounts and credit cards and approve or deny charges as they occur. But, it is also good for a high level review of your accounts. You are able to view your balances on your credit cards and checking account all in one place. Another pro of this app is that you are able to categorize your charges making it easy to keep track of what you are spending your money on. One of the great new features now available is the ability to view your credit score. And beyond that it provides insight into why your score is the way it is and how to improve it. This app is available on iOS and Google Play. These apps will aid you in getting in front of your spending and back in control of where your money is going. Be sure to take full advantage of the offerings that each app has, as it will only benefit you in the long run.





Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri & Al Mussi on 6/7/2016

It is great to have a room renovation every once in a while but painting and changing the look of a room can be costly and time consuming. Here are three quick and simple ways to change the look of your room without busting the budget.

  1. Window Treatments are one of the quickest, simplest and most affordable ways to change the whole look and feel of a room. If you prefer to take the focus away from the windows, choose neutral colors, and a simple style. If you would like to create a dramatic look and emphasize the view, choose more color or a bolder style in the window treatments. A layered look with sheers or a top treatment will also do the trick.
  2. Lighting can definitely add color. A simple solution would be to add colored bulbs to some of your light fixtures. Incandescent lighting can also add more warmth, and accent lighting can highlight an area of the room. Transform a room’s mood with dimmers, uplights, and sheer textile lampshades. Wall sconces, floor lamps and even candles can also change the look of a room.
  3. Artwork can change the look without busting the budget. Artwork can be from a local gallery, children’s drawings or just what you already have hanging around the house. Choose pieces that showcase intense colors but also work well with the existing pieces in your room. Try moving your current artwork around. Photos, vases, and other collectibles can give new life to a room. Group them in sets of three or five for an instant eye-catching display.
The possibilities are endless. You can infuse a lot of color into any room without once having to pry open a paint can or spend a fortune. Have fun!  





Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri & Al Mussi on 8/11/2015

Is there really a secret to saving money? It may seem as though it is mystery how your bank account ends up empty every month but there is no mystery to it. While it may be no secret there are three important tips you can follow to help you put more money in your pocket. The challenge is to follow the tips in order to be successful at saving money. The rest is up to you.

1. Create a Budget

You need to know where your money is going. Once you have established where you spend your money you will be able to find places to make cuts. The first thing to do is figure out how much is being spent on housing, utilities, groceries, debt, and entertainment. Once you know where the money is going you will be able to set limits for problem areas. This is the money that you will apply to secret #2.

2. Pay Yourself First

This is a huge secret, pay yourself first. Yes, before you dole out money for bills as soon as your paycheck hits your account; deposit a specified amount into savings. It doesn't matter how small the amount is, at least you are saving. Even better , create an automatic savings plan that will automatically deposit money into your savings account before you even have a chance to spend it. This can be done right through your employer’s direct deposit or with a recurring transfer with your bank.

3. Spend Less Than You Earn

If you don't learn to obey this rule you will never be able to save money. You simply have to spend less money than you earn and there’s no way around that. If you are spending more than you earn you are borrowing money and thus putting yourself into debt.  




Categories: Money Saving Tips  


Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri & Al Mussi on 5/12/2015

What's for dinner? That is always a tough question when its 5:30, you have just walked in the door and all you can find is a box of cereal. Avoid ordering out or a dinner malfunction by keeping your pantry stocked with a list of staples that will help you make a variety of meals in a jiffy. 1. Canned chicken: At first it may not sound so appetizing but with a storage life of up to a year, canned or pouch chicken can be a lifesaver. Mix it in with casseroles, stir-fries, creamy salads, or even shredded as a topping to a baked potato. You won't know the difference. 2. Pasta: It doesn't matter what kind; spaghetti, linguini, rotini, penne, macaroni,–the list goes on. Pasta is best served to add bulk to a meal. Pasta can be an alternative to rice which can take longer to cook. Add pasta to soups, sauces, with cheese or vegetables and you will have a home-style meal in minutes. 3. Jarred Tomato Sauce: You have the pasta in the pantry so having a quick jar of sauce is a no-brainer. It's not your mother's homemade sauce but it will do in a pinch. Tomato sauce is actually very versatile and can also be used in soups, stews, and chili recipes. 4. Rice and Grains: Grains can be used as a quick side to any meal or bulk up any dinner. Stock up on quick-cooking rice, bulgur, and barley. Serve grains with a simple stir-fry or mixed with veggies and an egg for an easy fried rice dish. Mix flavored rice boxes with ground beef for an easy, one-meal dish. 5. Canned Beans: Beans are high in protein; they have a long shelf life and can be a part of lots of different dishes. Heat and mash them for a filling soup or drain and mix them with canned veggies for a light and flavorful dip or vegetable salad. Any kind of beans will do; Black, Pinto, Cannellini, Great Northern, or Garbanzo, just choose your favorite. 6. Canned Vegetables: It is so difficult to use fresh-bought produce before it wilts. Canned vegetables to the rescue, they last much longer. Combine an assortment with broth and seasonings for an easy vegetable soup or add them to pastas, dry soup mixes, casseroles, or rice. 7. Canned Salmon and Tuna: Protein is good for you and helps fill you up. Canned salmon and tuna can be used for easy meal ideas. Serve in salads, pitas, pasta dishes, burgers, loaded potatoes, croquettes, and even as light appetizers or snacks. 8. Canned Tomato Products: Canned tomato products can be turned into so many things. Stock up on paste, stewed, diced and whole tomatoes. Diced tomatoes make a great queso dip when added to melted cheese. Add to ground beef and taco seasoning for a zesty burrito supper, or to a skillet with seasoning for a homemade pasta sauce. Use stewed tomatoes in soups and stews. 9. Peanut Butter: Everyone loves a PB&J sandwich, but peanut butter can be used on the dinner table for Asian-inspired flavor in dips, sauces, and stir-fry. Try it for a snack spread on celery stalks or apple slices, or as a spread with multigrain crackers. 10. Canned Fruit: Fruit for dinner? Why not? Jarred cherries, canned fruit, including pineapple, mandarin oranges, and even fruit cocktail can be used as a healthy and lean side dish. Try serving grilled pineapple with chicken, add mandarin oranges to salads, and fruit always makes a great dessert.




Tags: budgeting   pantry   dinner help  
Categories: Help Around the House