The purchase of your first, or even a new home is one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your life. It’s easy to get distracted by all the listing photos available as you scroll through Realtor.com or Zillow, and while a great kitchen is important, it’s the information you won’t find in a photo that can really help ensure you’re making a solid investment for years to come. Here are 5 things to consider when finding the right location for your new home:
- Increased Household Incomes – look at census data to help find the median household income in a neighborhood you might be considering. Surrounding yourself with neighbors who make a higher salary means there’s more likelihood they can afford home renovations. If the houses around you boost their value, the prices for the neighborhood increase.
- School Ratings – Even if kids aren’t in the cards for you, or they have already grown and moved out, the school district ratings in your new neighborhood play a significant role in home prices. School ratings are commonly listed online, but you can dive even deeper into research to find test score averages and AP enrollment numbers if you’re interested.
- Home Prices on the Rise – one of the best indicators of a great neighborhood is climbing home values. If you can find a location where they are increasing higher than the national average, then you are hitting the right spot. Investing in a neighborhood with a proven track record of profitable real estate sales means you are likely to have the same success should you choose to put your home on the market.
- A Friendly Community – how many times have you heard a friend talk about buying the perfect house only to find out their neighbors are a nightmare? It is an extremely worthwhile investment of your time to check out your community in person before purchasing a home. Consider visiting the park, restaurants, historical society, etc. of your potential neighborhood to meet some people. Don’t be afraid to ask them what they love most about living there. You can even be so bold as to knock on the neighbor’s door to see what they’re like.
- Proximity to Amenities – take note of how often you typically drive to the bank, or your local grocery store, shopping malls, etc. How feasible is it if you were located 20 minutes away from these basic amenities? Sometimes location is one area that ends in compromise, but it’s worth clocking the distance before making a final decision on your new home.
Spring is around the corner, which means June brides will be heading down the aisle in no time. While the wedding might be planned, the honeymoon details could still be lingering. Let’s face it, going on your dream honeymoon can cost a lot, some couples skip the whole idea all together due to finances, which is too bad, because life only gets more hectic. Here are a few tips to help you save so that you’ll have an amazing trip to look back on a few years from now.
1.) Maximize your credit card: this doesn’t mean max it out, as in put the whole trip on the card. Instead, find a card that offers the best rewards towards your trip. If you are choosing a destination that will involve a lengthy flight, find a credit card that offers the best miles return. Then, start funneling your purchases through that card so that you are racking up as many miles as you can to use towards upgrades or free tickets.
2.) Delaying is a good idea: most couples that do decide to go on a honeymoon leave immediately after the wedding, sometimes while their guests are still enjoying the reception. By delaying the trip for a month or two, you can save an average of 60% of your income to put towards the dream vacation. With the extra cushion, you might be able to get a nicer hotel, or spend on experiences without worrying as much about budget.
3.) Use a travel agent: Once you have done initial planning of your own choosing the destination and setting the budget, using a travel agent who has connections abroad could get you a cheaper deal on different accommodations. Their job is to have contacts in other parts of the world, so investing a little in their services could go a long way for your trip.
4.) Off season is best: this is a well-known trick that can sometimes be tempting to ignore. Find the best time to travel to your dream destination when tourism is at its lowest. Your airfare will be significantly lower, as will hotel rates. This can help with eating at popular restaurants or visiting famous sites without fighting large crowds.
5.) Add it to the registry: it’s now more common that ever to register for help with your honeymoon instead of a silver serving platter you’ll never use. Many registry sites have an option for guests to contribute financially to the trip, or to buy you activities and excursions that you pick out. Don’t feel guilty asking for the trip of a lifetime over flatware.
The popularity of shows like Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, and all other things HGTV have people scrambling to make their modern farm house dreams come true. The reality of these reality tv shows, however, is that the average person does not have the money, time, or professional help to update their homes accordingly. Luckily, there are ways to make a big impact on a small budget by following these five steps:
Step 1: Need vs. Want
If you’ve invested in a home, you likely have a handful of solid, expensive, and lasting items in your possession. Take inventory of what you already own before hitting the stores. Plan for what you want to purchase and set a budget.
Step 2: Go in Stages
Secondary to evaluating what you already own vs. what you need to buy, try to plan a remodel in stages. Maybe the artwork and curtains in your living room can wait a while, but the couches desperately need to be replaced or updated. Don’t feel obligated to do it all in one chunk.
Step 3: Choose Your Color First
One of the best investments in renovating a room or changing your home decor style is to switch up the wall colors. When you determine your color palette, the rest can fall into place over time. Whether you go light and neutral or bold and daring, a fresh coat of paint can make a huge impact.
Step 4: Go Second-Hand
That old saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is so true. By joining your local buy, sell, trade sites on Facebook, you have access to an endless revenue of furniture, accessories, light fixtures, and textiles. People who are trying to offload their belongings to make room for their own new things are willing to sell for a bargain. You’ll be amazed at the high quality items that are available on these sites for a lot less than they are in stores.
Step 5: Buy Online
With sites like Wayfair, Overstock, and World Market, the amount of choices online greatly outnumbers what you can find in stores. The prices are also phenomenal. While buying large items unseen might feel like a risk, there are usually extensive customer reviews and lots of real-life photos available for most items. By doing the proper research and taking your time, you can save a lot of money buying online. Returns are usually easy, too!
Lindsay Horbatuck's Banana Bread!
On today’s episode of Norcom Cooks, Lindsay Horbatuck shares her recipe of banana bread with us. As an avid basketball player, Lindsay would eat bananas to fuel herself for her workouts. When the bananas became too ripe, she would make banana bread!
This is also a wickedly delicious and healthy treat you can make for your upcoming Halloween parties.
3 ripe bananas
1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Peel bananas and with a fork, mash the bananas until they become a smooth consistency.
On a medium speed, mix the softened butter, egg, sugar, vanilla extract, baking soda and sea salt.
Your mixture should now have a smooth consistency.
Add the flour slowly and gradually.
Here, you will fold in the chocolate chips.
Spray your four small loaf pans with a non-stick cooking spray and pour the batter into your pans.
Bake the loaves for 30 minutes.
Set aside to cool on a rack for 15 minutes.
Remove bread from pan and cool completely before slicing.
It’s almost time for the ghouls and goblins (princesses, too!) to make their way to our doors and treat themselves to some candy. It’s an exciting time of year for kids and we want to ensure that everyone is kept safe. This is a traditional holiday that no one wants turned to tragedy.
It’s a great idea to take some precautionary measures to keep our trick-or-treaters safe this Halloween. Here are a few tips to do just that.
When planning your child’s costume, be sure it fits properly, is bright or reflective and opt for flame-resistant, if possible. There are costumes that have capes or tails, which can easily catch fire if there are any open flames nearby.
Masks may not fit properly and can obstruct your child’s view of the street when he or she are walking to the next house. If that worries you, try to use face paint instead so that nothing is blocking their vision.
Be sure that any costume extras, like swords, are made of soft, flexible material. Kids like to play pretend and we don’t want them to hurt each other by mistake.
While preparing the safety of your child’s costume, you should also think about other ways to keep them away from harm:
Go trick-or-treating before it gets dark out so that it is easier for motorists to see them, especially if they’re crossing the streets.
Visit familiar homes and friendly neighborhoods. Well-lit homes are most likely welcoming trick-or-treaters and some neighbors might already be outside waiting to hand out some treats.
As soon as your child comes home with their treats, be sure to inspect them before they eat them. Unfortunately, there have been instances where treats have been tampered with and we want to make sure our kids don’t get hurt or sick.
Halloween isn’t just for the kids. If you want to join in on the fun, plan a family costume. Go out as a superhero team or characters from your child’s favorite TV show and enjoy the night out as a family and have some fun. Your children might even share their treats with you!