Pam Spiros' Blog
We live in a world of convenience and endless choices. To watch a TV show, you can find it on cable, Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, and more. Sometimes, all of these options make it easy to spend more than necessary on monthly services.
If you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future, one way to save a bit more each month is to cut corners wherever possible.
In today’s post, I’m going to cover some tips that will help you start saving toward the down payment on your first home.
Cutting down on monthly services
They’re enticing, the myriad of entertainment services that we can now take advantage of. For a seemingly low monthly cost you can have hundreds of channels through cable. However, many cable users have noticed that their cable bill keeps creeping up each year and the service doesn’t get any better.
One way to start saving more each month is to ditch cable altogether. For news and the weather, there are many websites available. And, some local news stations stream live on their websites for free.
But, what about watching your favorite TV shows and movies? One of the world’s best kept secrets is that of interlibrary loans. Most public libraries are part of a system that allows you to get books, games, movies, and TV shows shipped to your local library for free. You simply reserve the latest season of Game of Thrones and wait for an email from your library.
Another issue many people have with monthly entertainment services is their tendency to add up. Reassess your monthly bills. If you’re paying for Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, do you really need all three?
Be smart about your savings
To save effectively, make sure your savings account is seeing a high return on its interest rate. Online banks tend to have higher returns than their brick & mortar counterparts, and most people don’t need to make regular visits to a bank anymore anyway.
Similarly, for credit cards, choose one with cashback rewards. Only use your credit card for necessities, like groceries and gas. Then, pay off each statement in full each month. Once you get your rewards, use them for more groceries and gas or put them in your down payment savings account, if possible.
Don’t forget about CDs (certificates of deposit)
One of the most effective ways of saving for a down payment is a certificate of deposit. CDs are perfect for down payments because you aren’t able to withdraw from them until they have matured--i.e., until you’ve reached your savings goal. They can be set for 6 months, a year, or more, and they tend to have higher returns than savings accounts.
Using a combination of these methods will help you start saving more each month so you can achieve your dream of owning a home sooner.
Perhaps the only downside of living in a relatively secure, desirable part of town is that you might let your guard down completely. When that happens, especially on a regular basis, you're creating a vulnerability that could eventually be taken advantage of. That's why is pays to be consistent when it comes to locking doors, teaching your kids good security practices, and always making your home appear as if someone's home.
Your home IS your castle and -- short of building a moat -- there are a variety of practical measures you can take to keep it safe and secure.
- Install a burglar alarm or home security system. There are a lot of options for making your home more burglar-proof, such as installing video surveillance cameras, window and door alarms, or a whole-house alarm system that alerts the local police department or alarm monitoring service of a break-in or other security breach. Virtually any security steps you take will help "tip the scales" in your favor, but a professional advisor from a reputable home security company can assist you in identifying potential vulnerabilities and choosing the options best suited for your budget, your degree of risk, and your comfort level.
- Plan ahead when going on vacation. Allowing your mail or newspaper deliveries to pile up on your front steps or driveway is like extending an open invitation to burglars who might be scoping out the area. Temporarily suspending your deliveries while you're away is a good starting point for keeping your house looking occupied in your absence, but you might also ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye out for unexpected deliveries. If you really trust them, you could even give them a key to your house, in case they're inclined to water your plants and take care of your pets! (That would eliminate the need and expense of sending your dogs and cats to a pet-boarding facility.) One tactic that a lot of homeowners forget about when they're going away for a few days (or even just overnight) is to hook up an automatic timer to a few of their lights. That simple step will help ensure that their house isn't pitch black at night. There's also the more expensive strategy of having a home security system that can be activated and monitored from your mobile device. Do-it-yourself installation kits are available, but some homeowners prefer the technical support features that come with a professional home security service.
- Outside lights can be a deterrent. A few motion-activated outdoor floodlights placed in strategic locations around your home can significantly reduce the risk of night-time prowlers staying on your property for very long. Since one of their primary objectives is to remain undetected and low profile, bright spotlights that turn on when they approach the house will often be enough to send them on their way.
55 Longbow Road, Danvers, MA 01923
55 Longbow Road, Danvers, MA 01923
Moving is an exciting time. Whether you’re moving across town, state or country you get to create a clean slate to build your home and life upon. But for children, this can be a confusing and scary time. Routine and familiarity are comforting for children and a move shakes up the very foundation they are used to.
But you don’t have to leave your child in the dark. There are several things you can do to help better prepare your child for the big move. By taking the time to spend with your child discussing the changes ahead. As you start house hunting and throughout the moving process involve your child where possible.
Keep an open dialogue with your child. Ask them what they are excited for and what their fears may be. Collect books either from the library or for your family bookshelf on stories about moving. Reading stories helps children process their feelings and become more familiar with the process. Using storytime is a great way to create a natural conversation about moving with your child.
If possible bring your child to walk or ride their bike around the new neighborhood. Take note of any parks, playgrounds or schools in the area your child may be interested in. If they have a hobby such as dance or soccer look up information about the classes and teams. Talk about the similarities and differences they will experience.
Take the time to research information about the new school they will be attending. What will be the same? What will be different? Ask if your child has any specific questions for you to seek out answers while you do your research to help ease them into the transition.
Assure your child they will be able to stay in touch with friends and family. Collect contact information from their friends as well as the form of communication their parents are comfortable with. Offer options like sending letters, scheduling video chats and visiting the area.
Even if you’re child is especially excited about the move it’s a good idea to keep things as similar as possible. Refrain from changing out furniture and bedding right away. And if possible maintain your usual schedule throughout the days and weeks ahead. Sticking to a familiar routine will be soothing for your child as they transition to their new environment.
Moving is a big change for children and often their first major life transition. And while they may feel confused or scared you can ensure they feel understood. By keeping an open conversation with them throughout the process you can cater to bother their excitement and fears. A new home can create both a clean slate and more importantly an opportunity to bring your family even closer together.