To buy or not to buy? That is the question.

 

May 8, 2020

20 Ways to Save Money and Stretch Your Household Budget

 

 

 

 

These days, it seems like everyone’s looking for ways to cut costs and stretch their income further. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce your household expenses without making radical changes to your standard of living. When combined, these small adjustments can add up to significant savings each month.

 

Here are 20 things you can start doing today to lower your bills, secure better deals, and begin working toward your financial goals.

 

1. Refinance Your Mortgage - For prime borrowers, mortgage rates are at or near historic lows. Depending on your current mortgage rate and the terms you choose, refinancing could save you a sizable amount on your monthly payments. There are fees and closing costs associated with refinancing, so you’ll need to talk to your lender to find out if refinancing is a good option for you.

 

2. Evaluate Your Insurance Policies - If it’s been a while since you priced home or auto insurance, it may be worthwhile to do some comparison shopping. Get quotes from at least three insurers or independent agents. Try bundling your policies to see if there’s a discount. And inquire about raising your deductible, which should lower your premium.1

 

3. Bundle Cable, Phone, and Internet - You can also save money by bundling your cable, phone, and internet services together. Shop around to see who is willing to give you the best deal. If switching is too much of a hassle, ask your current provider to match or beat their competitor’s offer.

 

4. Better Yet, Cut the Cord on Cable - In many cases, you can save even more if you cancel your cable subscription altogether. An antenna should give you access to the major stations, and many of your favorite shows are probably available on-demand through a less expensive streaming service subscription. 

 

5. Revisit Your Wireless Plan - You can often save by switching from a big brand to an independent, low-cost carrier. If that’s not feasible, ask your current provider for a better deal or consider downgrading to a cheaper plan.

 

6. Adjust Your Thermostat - Turning your thermostat up or down a few degrees can have a noticeable impact on your monthly heating and cooling costs. To maximize efficiency, change your filters regularly, and make sure your windows and doors are well insulated. 

 

7. Use Less Hot Water - After heating and cooling, hot water accounts for the second-largest energy expense in most homes.2 To cut back, repair any leaks or dripping faucets, install low-flow fixtures, only run your dishwasher when full, and wash clothes in cold water when possible. 

 

8. Lower Overall Water Consumption - To decrease your water usage, take shorter showers, and turn off the sink while you brush your teeth and wash your hands. If you don’t have a low-flow toilet, retrofit your current one with a toilet tank bank or fill cycle diverter. And irrigate your lawn in the morning or evening to minimize evaporation.3

 

9. Conserve Electricity - Save electricity by shutting off your computer at night and installing energy-efficient LED light bulbs. You can minimize standby or “vampire” power drain by utilizing power strips and unplugging idle appliances.4

 

10. Purchase a Home Warranty - While there is an upfront cost, a home warranty can provide some protection and peace of mind when it comes to unexpected home repair costs. Most plans provide coverage for major systems (like electrical, plumbing, and HVAC) and appliances (such as your dishwasher, stove, or refrigerator). 

 

11. Outsource Less - From lawn care to grocery shopping to minor home repairs, we pay people to do a lot of things our parents and grandparents did themselves. To save money, try cutting back on the frequency of these services or taking some of them on yourself. 

 

12. Prepare Your Own Meals - It costs nearly five times more to have a meal delivered than it does to cook it at home.5 And home cooking doesn’t just save money; it’s healthier, cuts down on calorie consumption, and can offer a fun activity for families to do together.

 

13. Plan Your Menu in Advance - Meal planning is deciding before you shop what you and your family will eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It can help you lower your overall food bill, eliminate waste, and minimize impulse purchases. When possible, buy produce that is in season, and utilize nutrient-rich but inexpensive protein sources like eggs, beans, ground turkey, and canned tuna.

 

14. Plant a Garden - You can save even more on produce by growing it yourself. If you have space in your yard, start-up costs are relatively minimal. Gardening can be a rewarding and enjoyable (not to mention delicious) hobby for the whole family. And it could save you around $600 per year at the grocery store!6

 

15. Review Memberships and Subscriptions - Are you paying for services and subscriptions you no longer need, want, or can utilize? Determine if there are any that you should suspend or cancel.

 

16. Give Homemade Gifts - Who wouldn’t appreciate a scratch birthday cake or tin of cookies? And if you enjoy crafting, Pinterest and Instagram are full of inspiring ideas. Show your recipient how much you care with a homemade gift from the heart.

 

17. Minimize Your Debt Payments - The best way to reduce a debt payment is to pay down the balance. But if that’s not an option right now, try to negotiate a better interest rate. If you have a good credit score, you may be able to qualify for a balance transfer to a 0% or low-interest rate credit card. Keep in mind, the rate may expire after a certain period—so be sure to read the fine print.

 

18. Get a Cash-back Credit Card - If you regularly pay your credit card balance in full, a cash-back credit card can be a good way to earn a little money back each month. However, they often come with high-interest rates and fees if you carry a balance. Commit to only using it for purchases you can afford.

 

19. Ask for Deals and Discounts - It may feel awkward at first, but becoming a master haggler can save you a lot of money. Many companies are willing to negotiate under the right circumstances. Always inquire about special promotions or incentives. See if they are able to price match (or beat) their competitors. And if an item is slightly defective or nearing its expiration date, ask for a discount.

 

20. Track Your Household Budget - One of the most effective ways to reduce household expenses is to set a budget—and stick to it. A budget can help you see where your money is going and identify areas where you can cut back. By setting reasonable limits, you’ll be able to reach your financial goals faster. 

 

 

Want more help getting a handle on your finances? Use the budget worksheet below to track income and expenses—and start working towards your financial goals today! Please reach out to me for a downloadable version.

 

 

 

HOUSEHOLD BUDGET WORKSHEET

 

Expected

Actual

Difference

HOUSING

Mortgage/taxes/insurance or Rent

 

 

 

Utilities (electricity, water, gas, trash)

 

 

 

Phone, internet, cable

 

 

 

Home maintenance and repairs

 

 

 

FOOD

Groceries

 

 

 

Restaurants

 

 

 

TRANSPORTATION

Car payment/insurance

 

 

 

Gas, maintenance, repairs

 

 

 

OTHER

Health insurance

 

 

 

Clothing and personal care

 

 

 

Childcare

 

 

 

Entertainment

 

 

 

Gifts and charitable contributions

 

 

 

Savings, retirement, college fund

 

 

 

INCOME

Salary/wages

 

 

 

Tips and other

 

 

 

MONTHLY TOTALS

Total Actual Income

 

Total Actual Expenses

 

ADDITIONAL SAVINGS

 

 

 

WE’RE HERE TO HELP

We would love to help you meet your financial goals. Whether you want to refinance your mortgage, save up for a down payment, or simply find lower-cost alternatives for home repairs, maintenance, or utilities, we are happy to provide our insights and referrals. And if you have plans to buy or sell a home this year, we can discuss the steps you should be taking to financially prepare. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!

 

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

 

Sources:

 

  1. Insurance Information Institute -
    https://www.iii.org/article/twelve-ways-to-lower-your-homeowners-insurance-costs
  2. Department of Energy -
    https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/water-heating/reduce-hot-water-use-energy-savings
  3. Money Crashers -
    https://www.moneycrashers.com/ways-conserve-water/
  4. Harvard University -
    https://green.harvard.edu/tools-resources/poster/top-5-steps-reduce-your-energy-consumption
  5. Forbes -
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/priceonomics/2018/07/10/heres-how-much-money-do-you-save-by-cooking-at-home/#2c53b2f35e54
  6. Money -
    https://money.com/gardening-grocery-savings/

 

Posted in Blog
April 6, 2020

#StayHome

 

Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many of us are spending a lot more time at home. We’re all being called upon to avoid public spaces and practice social distancing to help slow the spread of this infectious disease. While it can be understandably challenging, there are ways you can modify your home and your lifestyle to make the best of this difficult situation.

 

Here are a few tips for creating comfortable and functional spaces within your home for work, school, and fitness. We also share some of our favorite ways to stay connected as a community, because we’re all in this together … and no one should face these trying times alone.

 

 

Begin with the Basics

 

A basic home emergency preparedness kit is a great addition to any home, even under normal circumstances. It should include items like water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, first aid kit, and other essentials you would need should you temporarily lose access to food, water, or electricity.

 

Fortunately, authorities don’t anticipate any serious interruptions to utilities or the food supply during this outbreak. However, it may be a good time to start gathering your emergency basics in a designated location, so you’ll be prepared now-—and in the future—should your family ever need them.

 

Ready to start building an emergency kit for your home? Contact us for a free copy of our Home Emergency Preparation Checklist!

 

 

Working From Home

 

Many employees are being asked to work remotely. If you’re transitioning to a home office for the first time, it’s important to create a designated space for work … so it doesn’t creep into your home life, and vice versa. If you live in a small condominium or apartment, this may feel impossible. But try to find a quiet corner where you can set up a desk and comfortable chair. The simple act of separating your home and work spaces can help you focus during work hours and “turn off” at the end of the day.

 

Of course, if you have children who are home with you all day (given many schools and daycares are now closed), separating your home and work life will be more difficult. Unless you have a partner who can serve as the primary caregiver, you will need to help manage the needs of your children while juggling work and virtual meetings.

 

If both parents are working from home, try alternating shifts, so you each have a designated time to work and to parent. If that’s not an option, experts recommend creating a schedule for your children, so they know when you’re available to play, and when you need to work.1 A red stop sign on the door can help remind them when you shouldn’t be disturbed. And for young children, blocking off a specific time each day for them to nap or have independent screen time can give you a window to schedule conference calls or work uninterrupted.

 

 

Homeschooling Your Children

 

Many parents with school-aged children will be taking on a new challenge: homeschooling. Similar to a home office, designating a space for learning activities can help your child transition between play and school. If you’re working from home, the homeschooling area would ideally be located near your workspace, so you can offer assistance and answer questions, as needed.

 

If possible, dedicate a desk or table where your child’s work can be spread out—and left out when they break for meals and snacks. Position supplies and materials nearby so they are independently accessible, and place a trash can and recycling bin within reach for easy cleanup. A washable, plastic tablecloth can help transition an academic space into an arts and crafts area.

 

 If the weather is nice, try studying outside! A porch swing is a perfect spot for reading, and gardening in the backyard is a great addition to any science curriculum.

 

In addition to creating an academic learning environment, find age-appropriate opportunities for your children to help with household chores and meal preparation. Homeschooling advocates emphasize the importance of developing life skills alongside academic ones.2 And with more meals and activities taking place at home, there will be ample opportunity for every family member to pitch in and help.

 

 

 

Staying Fit

 

With gyms closed and team sports canceled, it can be tempting to sit on the sofa and binge Netflix. However, maintaining the physical health and mental wellness of you and your family is crucial right now. Implementing a regular exercise routine at home can help with both.

 

If you live in a community where you can safely exercise outdoors while maintaining the recommended distance between you and other residents, try to get out as much as possible. If the weather is nice, go for family walks, jogs, or bike rides.

 

Can’t get outside? Fortunately, you don’t need a home gym or fancy exercise equipment to stay fit. Look for a suitable space in your home, garage, or basement where you can comfortably move—you’ll probably need at least a 6’ x 6’ area for each person. Many cardio and strength training exercises require little (or no) equipment, including jumping jacks, lunges, and pushups.

 

And if you prefer a guided workout, search for free exercise videos on YouTube—there are even options specifically geared towards kids—or try one of the many fitness apps available.

 

 

Socializing From a Distance

 

Even though we’re all being called upon to practice “social distancing” right now, there are still ways to stay safely connected to our communities and our extended families. Picking up the phone is a great place to start. Make an effort to reach out to neighbors and loved ones who live alone and may be feeling particularly isolated right now.

 

And while parties and playdates may be prohibited, modern technology offers countless ways to organize networked gatherings with family and friends. Try using group video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts and Zoom to facilitate a virtual happy hour or book club. Host a Netflix Party to watch (and chat about) movies with friends. Or plan a virtual game night and challenge your pals to a round of Psych or Yahtzee.

 

There are safe ways to connect offline, too. Rediscover the lost art of letter writing. Drop off groceries on an elderly neighbor’s porch. Or organize a neighborhood “chalk walk,” where children use sidewalk chalk to decorate their driveways and then head out for a stroll to view their friends’ artwork.

 

Of course, there’s one group of people who you can still socialize with freely—those who reside in your home. Family dinners are back, siblings are reconnecting, and many of us have been given the gift of time, with commutes, activities, and obligations eliminated. In fact, some families are finding that this crisis has brought them closer than ever.

 

 

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

 

Even with all of the tools and technology available to keep us connected, many of us are still feeling stressed, scared, and isolated. However, you can rest assured that you are not alone. We’re not only here to help you buy and sell real estate. We want to be a resource to our clients and community through good times and bad. If you and your family are in need of assistance, please reach out and let us know how we can help.

 

 

 

Sources:

1.      CNBC -
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/16/how-to-work-from-home-with-your-kids-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.html

2.      TheHomeSchoolMom.com -
https://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/benefits-of-homeschooling-2/

Posted in #StayHome
March 2, 2020

Home Decor Trends 2020

 

 

Redecorating my space can give you a whole new outlook and can help lift your spirits after a long day. Spring is the perfect time to change things up, especially after all that spring cleaning you’ll be doing (ha).

 

Here are a few new trends to help fuel your next home project.

 

 


Photo by Tina Dawson on Unsplash

Down to Earth

 

Recent years have seen our society confronting climate change and embracing sustainability, and now home decor is starting to take on a more environmentally conscious approach! This amazing biophilic design style is awesome, and personally, I can’t get enough. Recycled wood is being used for tables, chairs, and flooring to promote a clean, environmentally friendly approach to style. 2019 saw a big push toward energy efficiency in your home, and now it's time to get back and give back to nature. You can even incorporate this style with some plants; not all of them require a green thumb! And bonus: they can help clean the air and provide a safe, healthy environment for you and your family.

 

 


Fiercely Feminine

 

Don’t put that Millennial Pink away quite yet, we’re continuing right through to 2020 with this lovely trend! Even if you aren’t ready to commit to a hot pink, you can incorporate the trend with different shades like blush, taupe or copper, which can all add a trendy layer to an otherwise neutral room.

 

 


Elle Decor

Wallpaper, Wallpaper, Wallpaper!

 

I had no idea how into this particular trend I would be until I saw it in person. Whether you’re into florals, art deco, gold foil etc., there is probably a style that's just right for you. Who says it needs to stay in your living areas? Use it as a fun update for your powder room! To keep a pattern from looking dated, look for bold, contrasting colors instead of pastels or an exaggerated floral pattern. Plus, there are plenty of low-commitment, or rental (hey, let’s change that) friendly options out there.

 

 

Photo by Jason Pofahl on Unsplash

Bold, Beautiful Backsplash

 

Add some flavor to your kitchen or bathroom with a patterned backsplash! Your options range anywhere from a blue floral to offset your neutral cabinets, to a geometric, art deco pattern! 

 

 


Photo by Federico De Luca on Unsplash

Mixed Metals

 

Somehow, home decor and fashion trends are going hand-in-hand these days; I’m talking mixed metals, y’all. Having various silver, gold, copper or black, elements sprinkled throughout your space can give a luxe, yet unplanned look, in the best way possible. However, be careful to only mix two to three metals in one space because it can be a bit overwhelming in one room. 

 

 


Zio and Sons

Back to Black, Baby

 

As someone who almost exclusively wears black, (it just works, okay?) I was basically born for this trend. Black walls, finishes and furniture can give your home a high-end feel. If you’re not ready to totally commit, or you’re concerned about your space looking small, work it in with contrasting colors, or as an accent. You can update your all white cabinets with black handles, incorporate black and white patterns in your pillows or blankets, or paint only one wall in an otherwise light room. 

 

Regardless of what your vibe is, I hope this helped you come up with some fun new ideas. You have options, so get creative and have fun!

 

We would love to see pictures of your space incorporating these trends! Tag us on Instagram: @SuCasaGroup

Posted in Blog
Jan. 4, 2018

Upsizing Your Home?


 

Unfortunately our homes don’t always grow with us. What may have initially worked fine for a single person, a young couple’s starter home, or a family with a newborn can quickly become too small as families expand and multiple generations live under one roof.

Remodeling and adding to your home is one option for creating more space, but it can be costly, and the size of your property may be prohibitive. That’s when moving to a bigger home becomes the best solution.

 

Where do you need more space?

The first thought when upsizing your home is to simply consider square footage, bedrooms, and bathrooms. But it’s important to take a more critical approach to how your space will actually be used. If you have younger children (or possibly more on the way), then focusing on bedrooms and bathrooms makes sense. But if your children are closer to heading off to college or starting their own families, it may be better to prioritize group spaces like the kitchen, dining room, living room, and outdoor space—it’ll pay off during the holidays or summer vacations, when everyone is coming to visit for big gatherings.

 

Moving Outward 

If you need more space, but don’t necessarily want a more expensive home, you can probably get a lot more house for your money if you move a little further from a city center. While the walkability and short commutes of a dense neighborhood or condo are hard to leave beyond, your lifestyle—and preferences for hosting Thanksgiving, barbecues, and birthdays—might mean that a spacious home in the suburbs makes the most sense. It’s your best option for upsizing while avoiding a heftier price tag.

As always we are available to price your current home or you can click HERE on our easy home valuation tool to see how much your home could be worth.

Give us a call us at (720) 339-4272 to start your upsizing search today!

 

Su Casa Group

Posted in Blog
July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

Get Local Market Reports Sent Directly to You

You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates