When Should You Rent Instead of Buy?

When Should You Rent Instead of Buy?

To rent or buy? That is the question. Deciding whether to rent or buy your next home or apartment is a major financial decision that can have a lasting impact on your financial wellness and wealth management. Buying is not always the right decision, even though it may be touted as the better option. There are plenty of reasons why renting may be a smarter decision. Here are a few great reasons to rent instead of buying property.

When You’re in a Place Temporarily

If you know that you will only be living in a particular city or neighborhood for a temporary period before moving again, then it is probably best to rent instead of buying. Unless you are planning on living somewhere for five years or longer, buying is too big of a commitment to make to a property. Home ownership is costly, it involves down payments, mortgages, property taxes, homeowners’ association fees, and maintenance. And then, when you decide to move and sell, you may be stuck with a home on the market for a long time, which costs lots of money. If you are somewhere temporarily, you should stick to renting.

When You Don’t Want to Deal with Maintenance

Owning a house means owning its problems. And houses come with a lot of problems. Maintenance and repairs will be your responsibility, and your responsibility exclusively. This means time and money spent keeping your home livable if you own it. When you rent, those problems are your landlords, not yours. By renting, you don’t have to worry about property management. If a maintenance or repair issue crops up, then all you must do as a tenant is inform your landlord and they are required to handle it in a timely manner. This can save you time and money if you don’t have the time or effort to keep up with maintenance.

If You Don’t Want to Take on Debt

Owning and buying a home, unless you are a millionaire or richer, is going to mean taking on a large amount of debt. That is what a mortgage is, borrowing money from the bank, that you then must pay a payment on every month. This means that you will be taking on a few hundred thousand dollars in debt, or more. While debt is not always a bad thing, in certain situations you don’t want to take on debt, even if it is leveraged to increase your wealth. When you are trying to avoid debt, renting is your better option.

Renting versus buying has long been the debate on how to live. But there are reasons why you would choose either route. If any of these three reasons hit home with you, then it may be in your best interest to rent rather than buy.

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How to Make the Best Decision When Becoming a Homeowner

How to Make the Best Decision When Becoming a Homeowner

If you’re considering purchasing a home, you want to take this important financial step carefully and well. While focusing on putting your best foot forward, though, it’s easy to realize that real estate investments aren’t among your “comfort zone” of things you’ve done before! You want to make sure your investment grows and is cared for, and especially that you are careful with your own finances. How can you make the best decisions about becoming a new homeowner?

Work With Professionals

While there are some individuals experienced enough to not need additional help when making real estate purchases, you definitely want to find a great real estate agent. What should you look for? Somebody who is experienced in the area in which you want to purchase is key. Find someone who understands what you need for your family, like if you need a fenced yard because you have children, or no second story because of a disability. A good agent can help you through inspections, appraisals, and the final closing with a real estate lawyer, so you know your home is not only purchased, but safe and prepared for you.

Don’t Buy Too Much House

A house is the biggest investment you’ll likely ever make.  You don’t, however, want it to be too big. Likewise, you should remember that if you have three bathrooms, you have to clean three bathrooms. Having a family with sufficient space is better financially in the long term than a family that has a great deal of space. It’s okay if children share bedrooms, and it’s okay to stay within your budget.

Don’t Have Too Much Debt

Banking institutions recommend that your mortgage be no more than 28% of your monthly gross income, but there’s a caveat. While they might happily give you a loan for as much as you qualify for, banking institutions do not factor in things like medical debt (or future medical needs), or educational debt. You need to factor your debt into your purchase needs, to make sure your investment stays safe.

Your future home is waiting, but don’t feel pressured to purchase too much or to spend outside of your capacity. Work with qualified professionals who have your best interest in mind. Then, when you sleep in your new home, you know you can sleep peacefully, having made a good investment!

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What You Should Know Before Planning a Dinner Party at Home

What You Should Know Before Planning a Dinner Party at Home

Dinner parties can be a lot of fun. It’s a great opportunity to get together with friends, catch up, and just spend some time having fun. Hosting one can be a bit stressful though. There’s a lot more work that goes into it than just showing up and enjoying yourself. If you’re planning to host a dinner party at your home, there are some things you definitely need to consider well in advance.

Plan Your Menu

This is arguably the trickiest part of putting together a dinner party. You want everyone to enjoy the meal you put together, and that can feel like a lot of pressure. This is where knowing who you’re going to invite can come in handy. If one of your guests is vegan, take that into account when planning your menu. The same goes for any other dietary restrictions your guests might have. The easiest approach may be to pick your protein and then plan your side dishes around it, keeping any restrictions in mind so everyone has something they can make a meal of.

How to Get Deals

This is where planning in advance can really pay off. Throwing a dinner party can get pretty pricey pretty quickly. Scoring deals on various items can really help cut down on some of the costs. Once you have an idea of what your menu is going to look like, take some time to shop the sales at the grocery stores in your area. You may be able to find different ingredients at reduced prices. Clip coupons and take advantage of deals. Identify the ingredients on your menu that have a longer shelf life and those that need to be gotten fresh. That way you can reduce costs further by making sure you don’t have to buy something more than once because it went bad before you got to use it.

Sending Out Invitations

No one’s going to come if they don’t know there’s something to come to. That’s where sending out invitations comes in. The formality of the event will dictate what sort of timeline you should use when sending out your invitations, but about three weeks in advance should be good. It will also have some sway over what sort of invitation you should send out. If it’s a casual get together, a phone call, electronic invitation, or a pre-printed invitation work just fine. More formal events warrant a more formal invitation.

It’s the Details That Matter

The details can make a huge difference in the experience your guests have. Remember, humans tend to be very visual creatures, and we tend to eat with our eyes rather than our mouths or stomachs. That means that the way you present your food matters. Toothpicks add detail to your food presentation that will impress people. They can be great for appetizers and larger dishes that you want to keep intact, like a kabob or a large burger.

Remember to think about the other senses as well. The lighting can have a huge impact on the atmosphere, as can any background noise. Adjust your lighting accordingly, and carefully consider your choice of music if you choose to have any playing in the background. Think carefully about any non-food scents you might introduce as well. You don’t want them clashing with the delicious aroma of the meal you’re about to serve.

Timing the Dinner

The timing of your dinner matters in more ways than one. First, be careful about selecting the time you intend to serve dinner. It should make sense for the meal you’re serving and the date you’ve chosen (so probably don’t go for 4pm in the middle of the work week). From there, think about what sort of experience you want your guests to have in the time leading up to the dinner. Do you want to involve them with preparing the food? Do you want them to mingle while you put the finishing touches on the table? All of that will depend on the timing you choose for your dinner. Just make sure you don’t leave them without something to do before dinner gets underway.

Creating a Comfortable Space

Dinner parties should be comfortable for your guests, which means one of your jobs is to make sure that your home is a comfortable place for them to be. Carefully consider how much space you have in relation to how many people you want to invite. Too many guests will be cramped and crowded. Too few and things may get awkward and uncomfortable unless everyone is already very good friends. Speaking of which, have a plan for guiding the conversation. Preventing awkward silences from developing is one of your responsibilities as the host.

Giving yourself plenty of time to plan and prepare is the key to throwing a successful, fun dinner party at your home. If you’ve never hosted before, feel free to reach out to a friend or two and ask them for some help. That can go a long way towards relieving the stress you might feel by trying to handle all of it by yourself. Just make sure you can count on the people you ask for help. You don’t want to find yourself left hanging because someone fell through on what they were supposed to do at the last minute.

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Tips Everyone Should Follow When Shopping for Clothes

Tips Everyone Should Follow When Shopping for Clothes

Let’s be honest, shopping for clothes can be the best of times and the worst of times. If you don’t know what you’re looking for or don’t feel confident in your body, it can be super frustrating to spend many hours trying on different outfits. However, when you find clothes that do make you feel happy and confident, it can help you to feel better each day. If you’re anticipating a clothing shopping trip, here are a few tips that you should follow.

Set a Budget

First off, it is important for you to set a budget for yourself, especially if you’re not buying clothing for a specific event or purpose. If you just go shopping and don’t put a limit on yourself, you might end up spending way more money than you originally wanted to. Setting a budget for your clothing shopping can also help you to determine how badly you want to buy a certain item, and can help you to prioritize what you really need. For example, if there is a really nice pair of shoes that you’ve been looking at that are out of your budget, rather than spending more than you should, you can find a similar pair of shoes that fit your budget and feel better about your purchase.

Shop During Deals

Next, it is great to shop for clothing during deals. There are clothing sales that happen all throughout the year depending on what stores you shop at. However, there are often pretty big sales that happen around the holidays, since lots of people will be gift-giving for loved ones and want to get good deals. There are also often sales on clothing as seasons end or in the off-season. For example, if you’re wanting to buy a new swimsuit, you’ll probably be able to find a cute one on sale during the winter, as opposed to the summer, when they’ll be in high demand and will likely be full-priced.

Compare Pricing

A good skill to develop while shopping is to compare the pricing of similar clothing items. If you shop looking for deals, good prices, and expensive brand dupes, you’ll end up with fashionable and cute clothes without having to spend an extreme amount of money to update your wardrobe. For example, Target often has clothing dupes for stores like Free People. If you compare the pricing of the Free People product to the Target dupe product, you’ll be able to save a lot of money shopping at Target.

Know Your Size

Even though this might seem sort of obvious, it is so important to know your size before you go shopping. Sometimes, people feel uncomfortable measuring themselves or don’t realize when they gain or lose a bit of weight, which can make it difficult to buy clothing. It is especially important to know your size if you are shopping online for clothing, as you won’t be able to try on the clothing item before you buy it. For example, you should measure yourself before buying dresses so you can avoid having to return it.

Don’t Impulse Buy

One weakness that many people have while clothing shopping is impulse buying. Lots of people impulse buy when they aren’t planning on buying clothing, but see a sale that they feel like they have to take advantage of. However, the problem with shopping like this is that you can often end up with clothing items that you don’t love and don’t want to wear often. Even though not all impulse buys cost a lot of money, it can still be wasteful if you don’t end up wearing the clothing item.

Avoid Flash Trends

Another pitfall that you want to avoid while clothing shopping is flash trends. Similar to impulse buys, flash trends refer to clothing items that are momentarily trendy but that won’t turn into items that you’ll wear long-term. They might get worn one or two times, but will spend most of their time untouched in your closet before you throw them away and they get sent to a landfill. It is important to avoid these types of purchases, not only because they waste your money, but also because they can harm the environment if they get thrown away.

Shop in Person

As one last word of advice, you should try to shop for clothing in person when possible. Online shopping has absolutely exploded over the past few years, and online giant stores such as Amazon are working hard to sell lots of clothing online. However, the issue with buying clothing online is that you can’t always guarantee that it will fit, look the same in person as it did on the website, or suit your body type. Often, people end up returning a lot of the clothing that they buy online. So, in order to avoid this issue, try to shop in person when possible.

Now that you’ve learned a few of the best tips for clothing shopping, you’re ready for your next shopping spree. Keep these tips in mind to be able to make smart purchases that will be worth your money while fitting in your budget, and that will be worn time and time again. This will help you to develop a wardrobe that will help you to look forward to each coming day.

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Home Items You Can Get at a Thrift Store

Home Items You Can Get at a Thrift Store

Thrift shopping is the perfect activity to find unique items, furnish your home, and stay environmentally friendly. What was once used by someone else can be brand new to you for a fraction of the original cost. Many homeowners underestimate the number of diamonds that can be uncovered while thrift shopping. This article will discuss ways you can give your home character and items you can get at a thrift store.

Wall Art

Current trends have a variety of frame types, sizes, and pieces on the wall of a home. You could go upscale and spend a lot of money to fit current trends. Or you could find very similar and likely just as valuable items for a significantly lower price tag. Most thrift store inventory is ubiquitous prints, word art, and wine by numbers. But there are always diamonds to find in the stacks of frames. You can always paint or change out the artwork in the frames to better match your home aesthetic.

Dishware

Thrift shops are great places to find whole sets of dishes for as little as $20. At a thrift store, you can also go for the coordinating but not matching aesthetic by looking for similar pieces. Mismatched dishes add a homey and cozy vibe to your kitchen. You can find many pieces for your kitchen at a thrift store, but be aware that some dishware should only be bought new. Perhaps the biggest advantage is the greater sense of calm if a dish does break; there is no need to worry because you didn’t spend an exorbitant amount of money on the dish.

Lamps

As with most other home decorating elements, vintage lighting is in style. Purchasing brand new or truly vintage lighting can be expensive. However, there are some amazing finds that are often overlooked that you can get at a thrift store. Most thrift stores have multiple outlets in their lighting section. This is intentional so you can test the lamp before taking it home. When looking for floor lamps, you may have to go multiple times as floor lamps tend to be less common at thrift stores. But lamp bases are almost always in stock. Give your lamp a bit of a clean and add a new shade to give it a natural place in your home.

Furniture

One of the most amazing things about buying furniture at thrift stores is that you can turn it into anything you want. The key to finding good furniture is looking for items that have “good bones”. Make sure the materials are high quality. Take care of your furniture according to its materials needs. For example, you should keep wood furniture out of the sun to prevent damage to it. With a little creativity and effort, old furniture can be repurposed into something new. A rickety old nightstand can look like a designer piece with a little paint and elbow grease.

Books

Part of the value of books depends on its demand and desirability. When books go out of print, their desirability significantly increases. It can become almost impossible to find a copy of your favorite classic. Classic books of all genres find their way into thrift stores. Most of the time the person who donates their book doesn’t even realize what they are giving away. Books can be a great decorative piece and educational piece in your home. Look for books written by well-known authors, first editions, first prints, books in great condition, and special editions to truly maximize the value of the books you purchase.

Toys

Kids outgrow toys quickly. One month they are into trains, the next it’s cars. They can also quickly get over older toys they once loved because they are too “big” for them! With the quick cycle your kid goes through toys, it can feel like a waste purchasing new toys so often. Purchasing toys at a thrift store is an economical way of providing toys for your children. Just because something was loved once, doesn’t mean it can’t be loved again. You certainly want to disinfect the toys you bring home, but you will find their enjoyment and cost much more compatible.

Seasonal Decor

Seasonal décor is another category that can often feel wasteful. These items only come out once a year and remain hidden for the rest of it. Purchasing seasonal décor at thrift stores is a year-long endeavor. Keep your eyes open for Christmas, Easter, and Fall decorations all year long. You can get uniquely personalized items that add character and cheerfulness to your home without breaking the bank.

Shopping at a thrift store is a lot like a treasure hunt. You won’t always find something, but when you do it will be a hidden gem. Give your home character by shopping for home items that you can get at a thrift store.

Check out this article on the big expenses that come when your kids become teenagers

How to Save Money During Your Holiday Shopping

How to Save Money During Your Holiday Shopping

The holiday season is one of the most magical times of the year. People are kinder, more generous, and it offers a great opportunity to show your love and appreciation to those around you. And one of the most established traditions of the holiday season is gift giving. But gift giving can easily become a huge expense, and this expense can make it difficult for many to give the gifts they want. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few ways that you can save money during your holiday shopping this year.

Use Coupons

Coupons are basically free money. When you use coupons to save money on your holiday shopping, you are honestly just manifesting additional money, and making the holiday season less expensive for you. Look online and check in-store flyers for coupons on items from electronics to wine and cheese. If you can’t find a good gift with a coupon, then you aren’t looking hard enough. Search far and wide, you will be blown away by all the options and variety that there is amongst coupons out there during the holiday season.

Look For Holiday Deals

If you aren’t finding any specific coupons that are speaking out to you, then you should look for specific holiday deals. Around the holidays, many stores and retailers participate in holiday deal days, where almost everything in their stores is on a steep discount for the holiday season. This is a great time to buy almost anything, including mattresses. Mattress deals can last far into the holidays starting around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Look online or ask a store associate in person when they are anticipating having their holiday sales and plan your shopping accordingly, you could save hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Make Gifts at Home

Another great way to save money with holiday shopping is to make gifts at home when you can. While this isn’t always doable for every present you hope to give, sometimes doing a little something homemade special can help you save some money here and there on fluff items that you don’t need. Making CD’s, a painting, a handwritten card, or a scrapbook are all great and thoughtful homemade gifts that your loved ones are going to cherish.

Holiday season means gift giving season which means shopping season. And the cost of holiday season shopping can very quickly add up if you’re not careful. Try these three tips to help you save some money on your holiday shopping this year.

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