Tag Archives: Real estate

How to Save for a House and a Wedding at the Same Time

If you and your partner are planning a wedding and purchasing a home together, there are large expenses to take into consideration as you save up for both milestones. Couples are spending an average of $33,391 on their wedding, and first-time homebuyers are spending $18,000 on average for a home down payment ($10,512 with FHA loans).

With the average engagement period of 14 months, young couples may feel pressured to save up for both big-ticket events in a short period of time. Here are a few financial planning tips so you and your partner can strategically save for the wedding and home you both have always dreamed of:

1. Choose a Priority
With two large costs looming on the horizon, you and your partner need to sit down and decide if one takes priority over the other. If it’s the house, then plan for a smaller wedding or a nuptial celebration later on down the road.

“I’ve worked with a lot of couples who have saved for both, and it’s because one partner wants the wedding and the other partner wants the house,” says Kristin Carleton, a financial advisor with Towne Investment Group. “When you have one partner who really plans for the house and the other who is planning for the wedding, you end up trying to do both at the same time.

“You generally have to make a choice,” Carleton adds. “It’s very difficult to save for a big wedding and a large down payment at the same time.”

2. Set a Budget
First and foremost, you and your partner need to sit down and set a realistic budget for both the wedding and the house, so you know the exact amount you need to save.

“Part of that process should be talking to a mortgage broker or banker to find out what program you can fit into and how much of a down payment you want to put down on a house,” says Carleton.

Inquire with your mortgage broker on what terms you and your partner qualify for in a mortgage loan—for example, whether you need to put down 20 percent, or if you can put down 5 percent because you qualify for a first-time homebuyer program.

If family members are helping out with the wedding costs or down payment, be clear with them and communicate the amount of money that you will need.

3. Factor in Personal Finances
Once you have set your wedding and house budgets, organize your personal financial budget. Figure out how much you and your partner should spend and save each month, along with where you can make sacrifices.

Make sure that you are able to pay for your necessities (such as rent, utility bills and groceries), and consider what you can live without. This may mean no more happy hours with friends, Friday night dates or romantic weekend getaways until after the wedding and the move.

4. Open Savings Accounts
To stay organized, open two different savings accounts: one for the wedding and the other for your down payment.

“Otherwise, you are hiring the florist for the wedding and you go way over budget because you see an account with $20,000,” says Carleton. “I suggest that couples set up a direct deposit program straight from their paychecks before they have a chance to spend it.”

Separate accounts will ensure that you and your partner are saving money consistently from month to month. Unlike a down payment, which is a one-time expense, a wedding requires lots of smaller expenses that add up quickly—everything from the dress to the catering fees to the wedding rings. Giving your wedding its own savings account allows you to keep an eye on how much you’ve spent so far.

5. Adjust Your Timeline
Your budget is going to determine your timeline for your wedding date and house purchase. Be realistic and break your goal down month by month to figure out a workable timeline. Don’t set a high number and expect to get to it without a reasonable plan. For example, if you need to save $60,000 and you can put away $2,000 a month, it will take two-and-a-half years to hit your goal. Carleton also advises factoring in several additional months of saving, just in case hidden expenses pop up along the way.

6. Hold Yourself Accountable
After planning out your budget and timeline, you both need to keep each other on track.

“This is a really good exercise for couples to start communicating frequently,” says Carleton. In other words, it’s perfect practice for marriage.

“It’s a good way to set goals and see how you do working towards a big goal,” Carleton adds.

Additionally, budgeting apps like Mint and computer programs like Quicken are easy-to-use tools that can keep you on track toward your financial goal.

“The last thing I would say in terms of keeping people accountable is to make sure that you are on the same page,” says Carleton. “I think it’s important that each person gets spending money built into the budget. Spend it with no questions asked, and make sure your budget is realistic.”

By Marissa Hermanson,  a wedding and lifestyle writer

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Top 10 Most Expensive Mistakes You’re Making on Your Home

Homes cost a lot of money to maintain. But are you spending extra money unnecessarily on upkeep? Here are 10 of the most expensive mistakes you could be making in your home.

1. Using Traditional Light bulbs

If you still have incandescent light bulbs in your home, you could be throwing a lot of money away every month on inflated electric bills. Over its life span, an incandescent bulb can use $180 worth of electricity. A CFL will only use $41 worth of electricity over the same time period. Even better is the LED bulb, which only uses $30 per bulb. Think what replacing every light bulb in your home could do to your home’s bottom line, plus being better for the environment!

2. Ignoring a Leaky Faucet

A leaky faucet that drips one drop per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year, which is enough water to take more than 180 showers. Some of us live in areas where water is plentiful, but for those of us in areas plagued with drought, this could be costing you a fortune. Fix or replace your leaky faucet and save a ton on your water bill.  Plus it could be causing more damage elsewhere.

3. Using the Wrong Air Filter Size

We all sometimes forget to change out the air filters for our HVAC systems or accidentally buy the wrong size. But using the wrong filter or a dirty filter can increase your power bill and cause expensive problems for your furnace down the road. Use the correct filters for your system, and set a reminder to change them after the recommended amount of time. You won’t regret it.

4. Not Customizing Temperature

Invest in a customizable thermostat. If you’re away at the office all day, you can program your heater to shift down a few degrees while you’re gone and then shift back up shortly before you return home. Heating or cooling an empty home wastes a lot of money in energy costs.  So easy to do!

5. Not Adjusting Air Vents Properly

Is one room in your home hot, while the others are cold? Oftentimes homeowners will crank up the air conditioning in the whole house to combat hot temperatures in one area. Instead, adjust air vents to direct the flow of air more evenly throughout your entire home. Professionals will come regulate this to ensure that your entire home is receiving the same amount of air conditioning or heating.

6.Over Watering Lawn

Many homeowners have their sprinkler systems programmed to come on in the early morning hours for optimum lawn health. This can become a problem, however, if you’re never around to see what you’re actually watering. A broken sprinkler head could be causing a fountain, or the trajectory of your sprinkler may be directed at a fence instead of your lawn. Periodically run your sprinklers during the day so you can see how they are performing when you’re not around.

7. Water Heater Temperature Set Too High

Unless you have a tankless water heater, your water heater is keeping the water in its tank hot 24/7. If you don’t keep an eye on the temperature as each season changes, you may be paying too much to heat your water. Decrease the temperature in the summer, and bump it back up when winter comes.

8. Leaky Windows and Doors

Leaky windows and doors are great places for cold, winter winds to enter your home. Many homeowners simply ignore them and crank up their heaters. Caulk leaky windows and put rubber seal around doors to keep winter winds out and warmth in.

9. Paying a Handyman

Don’t pay a handyman for a job that is simple enough to do yourself. If you’re unsure of how to do something, look up video tutorials online. Doing simple tasks yourself can save you a lot of money.  You’ll be surprised how easy some things are!

10. Ignoring Curled Shingles

It may be easy to ignore problems on your roof, but it will only lead to bigger problems later. If you see any possible issues with your roof, repair them as soon as possible, as this will save you significant costs later.

Use these 10 tips to cut maintenance costs on your home today.

By Cary Teller, RISMedia’s Housecall