Thinking of Buying a Home? Prep Now

This post is sponsored by Diamondlinks. Any opinions expressed are my own. 

In my life, I’ve bought 3 homes.  The 1st one was we built, the second one was a starter home and fixer upper for my husband and I. We went through a realtor on that one, the 3rd one is the home we live in now both the seller and the buyers (us) didn’t use a realtor.  My husband and I agreed. We don’t ever want to buy a home again unless it’s a house or a condo on the beach.

The home buying process is stressful! All the red tape, the waiting, the inspections, finding the right place, lining up help to move, the fees. Ugh, yea I remember the stress. But you can help cut down on the stress by doing some of these things.

  1.  Get pre-approved for a mortgage.  This isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be approved once you finally find the home you want but it gives you an idea of how much you’re likely to be approved for. This also helps speed up the actual mortgage process when you do find your house.
  2. Compare the different types of loans out there. When we bought our current house a VA loan ended up being the best deal for us since my husband is an army veteran.  With our previous house we used a first time home buyers loan which was better at that time.  There are even bad credit loans for those that are working on their credit. Hey mistake happen in life.
  3. Research the area(s) you are considering.  In our area, where we live the school was the best in the tri-county area, we were close to both mine and my husband’s family, taxes were lower, crime rate was low, and we got more home for our budget than we would have in a neighboring town.
  4.  Research the house you’re going to buy.  If it’s been on the market for quite some time you may be able to negotiate price, having fees taken care or, or things like throwing in the appliances a little easier.  On the other hand if it’s just listed and you know it’s what you want call as soon as possible. The home we’re in now is perfect for us. My husband and I both knew it was what we wanted.  I was the first person to call, we were the first people to tour it. They had 5 more people waiting to tour it. The sellers we eager to sell as they owned several other properties and had issues with a renter they had here. So we put an offer on the house that day and right at the price we wanted.
  5.  Decide what is a MUST for your home and what is optional. For us, my husband needed a garage. We needed more bedrooms since we had our 4th child. We also needed a bigger yard for the kids to actually play outside. We also needed more than one bathroom.  I wanted a bigger kitchen with more storage.  Using that base idea we were able to narrow down our search by searching number of bedrooms and the town we wanted to live in.


A Personal Story: Bad Financial Advice and Debt Consolidation

This post is sponsored by Diamondlinks. Any opinions expressed are my own.

I’m going to tell you a personal story.  I’ve told some of my financial journey on this blog before. I wasn’t always so savvy with money. It took me learning the hard way then educating myself to fix it. I’m going to tell you a story about a piece of bad advice I once got from a realtor when we were trying to buy a house about 15 years or so ago.

It started off with me and my (now ex) husband living in a small apartment in SC with a new baby. My husband, of the time, had just got promoted but didn’t get as much of a raise as he thought he would get. I was trying to be a stay at home mom with my son.  Mostly because we had just moved to SC and I needed to get my OT license squared away in SC.  Long story short, we started getting behind on credit card and student loan payments. I talked to one of the credit card companies and they suggested I try credit counseling.  I was willing to give it a go and so was my husband.  So we did. It rolled everything together and made things much more manageable for us. Yes they did roll a fee into the payments but it made it better for us to budget and were were able to get back on track.

 

Fast forward a couple years and we want to build a house in Elgin, SC.  We were still paying on the debt consolidation and doing well with it. The our realtor, (who seemed  a bit uppity) kind of looked down on us for being in debt consolidation. She told us that we needed to get out of it because it was slowing our credit down and it wouldn’t look good on our mortgage application (even though we had already been paying on it for about 2 years and only had about a year or so to go.  Well we really wanted to buy a house and we figured she was probably the expert on this so we got out of the debt consolidation.

Well all that money we paid in then basically meant nothing after that. Creditors were calling us trying to get their money. We were overwhelmed everyone wanted all their money right now!  Hindsight being 20/20 we should have never bought a house anyway but we ended up being approved for a mortgage through Countrywide.  Yep the mortgage lender that ended up getting in all kinds of controversy now long after.  We were in over our heads.  Honestly I think that whole thing sealed our financial doom at the time. When I look back on it, I wish we would have stayed in the debt consolidation program, paid off our debt, and been denied for the mortgage and just stayed in an apartment. Especially, again with hindsight being 20/20, my ex and I ended getting a divorce not long after anyway. And NO it was NOT all financial related.

The reason I’m telling my story is that you have to find what works with you in your budget. Sometimes debt reduction can be just what a person need to get back on track.  You might pay a little longer but in more manageable payments or in some cases maybe help you erase some debt. Companies like Nationwide Debt Reduction Services even offer ways to  help with student loan debt.

Bottom line is, I don’t think there is a cookie cutter way to get out of debt. I think you need to do your research and decide what’s best for you.

 


Five Ways To Save Money, Even When You Have Kids

Saving money when you were single wasn’t so hard. It just meant visiting the coffee shop a few less
times a week. All that changes when you have kids.
Any parent will tell you that saving money becomes an uphill battle the instant that first little bundle of joy is born, and it only gets worse as they age. Many parents throw their hands up in defeat because it’s just easier to keep chugging along instead of taking the time to find ways to save a little cash.It doesn’t have to be hard! With these five tips, you’ll find that saving money when you have kids is easier than you thought.

Mother strolling with newborn

Look for Ways to Reduce Fees
People without kids pay all kinds of fees, but if you have children, you end up paying even more. No
matter where you are in life, it pays to look for ways to reduce fees.
A few ideas include:
 Using a low-fee money transfer service, like Remitly, to send money to children and family in
other countries
 Reduce subscriptions, like TV, music, and gaming services, that the kids don’t really use
 Help your college student find student loans with the best interest rates
Shop the Sales and Buy Second Hand
Kids grow like weeds. The second you buy a new dress for your toddler or a new pair of shoes for your
teen, they have already outgrown them.
You’re just throwing money down the toilet if you buy new, full-price clothing for your child. Instead,
buy items second hand. Because babies and toddlers grow out of clothes so quickly, you may even find
stuff that has never been worn before.
If you have a tween or teen that can’t fathom buying stuff at the thrift store, shop the sales instead.
Look for coupons and consider loading up on clothes at the back to school sales. You can save a bundle if
you go shopping on the back-to- school tax-free weekend!

Limit Pay-To- Play Extracurricular Activities
It is important for your child to be involved, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend hundreds or
thousands of dollars on extracurricular activities.
Limit pay-to- play extracurricular activities by allowing each child to choose one thing they are passionate about that you’re willing to pay for. Then, get creative with free or low-cost activities in your area that might include:
 Boy or Girl Scouts
 Arts and crafts at the local rec center
 Gardening club
 Sewing class
 Mathnasium, or another academic club

Just because your kid should be involved in activities outside of school doesn’t mean every minute of their day has to be planned! There’s nothing wrong with spending lazy afternoons and evenings playing at the playground and watching movies, especially since it will save you a ton of cash.

Reduce Gifts
It isn’t uncommon for parents to get excited on birthdays and holidays where gifts are the norm.
Unfortunately, many parents go into debt trying to create the perfect Christmas experience for their
children.
Tons of gifts are fun in the moment, but a few thoughtful gifts are more meaningful than a truckload of presents. Reduce what you purchase for your little ones and they’ll be more likely to remember what you bought them years later.
Another idea is the four-gift rule. On Christmas, you purchase something to wear, something to read, something they want, and something they need. It will force your kids to think about what they really want for Christmas, and it will keep you from going into debt whenever the holidays roll around.

Learn to Say No
Saying no to kids can be hard. Especially if they’re having a meltdown in the grocery store and their
favorite treat will make the crocodile tears disappear right away. However, it’s much better to say no toy our kids.
By saying no, you’ll teach your child that it’s okay to say no, and it will help your child deal with
disappointment. It can even teach your child to retain their creativity as they age.
The best part about saying no is that you’ll save wads of cash, and you no longer have to worry about being held hostage in the toy store when you learn to say no.
Saving money when you have kids doesn’t have to be as hard as you thought. Although it does take
some determination and forethought, with these four tips, you can continue bulking up your bank
account even if you share your home with little ones.


5 Ways To Save Money On Your Family RV Road Trip

If you’re a frugal person and if you’re planning a family RV road or camping trip, you’ll
probably find this article to be of much use to you.
Even though an RV trip should be cheaper in contrast to other travel options (such as flying and
staying in hotel rooms), that doesn’t mean that it’s an inexpensive endeavor. On the contrary, it
still is expensive.
Fortunately, there are a variety of methods you can use to save money on any RV road or
camping trip, and by using more than just one of these methods your savings can really add up to
a significant amount.

Here are five ways you can save money on your family RV road trip:

1 – Actually Plan Ahead
There’s just no better money saving tip than this one: actually plan ahead. Those who plan ahead
have much greater odds of saving cash versus those who just rent the first RVs or campgrounds
they see.
This means actually doing your research and learning about every RV that is available to rent so
you can compare rates. The same goes for renting campgrounds. A seemingly minuscule
difference of ten or fifteen dollars for daily rent can really add up, especially if your trip is going
to be a long one.

2 – Travel During Shoulder Season
‘Shoulder season’ simply refers to the time of year when travel costs, including rent and fuel,
tend to be much lower. It’s also known as the ‘off season.’ As an added bonus, you’ll also have
to contend with smaller crowds, which can always help make your trip more enjoyable.
Examples of shoulder season include late spring or early fall, when the large crowds are less
likely to travel than they are during the summer. Yes, this means that the weather may not be
quite as nice, through it may be worth to you if it means saving a lot of money.

3 – Avoid RV Parks and Campgrounds
Who says you have to stay at RV parks and campgrounds? Not only are RV parks often very
busy, which means you may not get all the privacy you desire, they also cost money.
A night at a decent RV parks with amenities such as laundry and Wi-Fi should cost between $30
to $50 a night. That’s cheaper than most hotel rooms, but it’s still an expense that can add up. A
week long stay at a RV park priced at $35 a night will cost you $245, for example.

In contrast to this, boon-docking (or parking your RV on public parks outside of RV parks)
doesn’t cost you anything. Sure, you don’t get all of the same luxuries that certain RV parks
come with, but what you do get is more space alone to yourself and possibly several hundred
dollars of saved cash in your wallet. Is it worth it? That’s up to you.

4 – Don’t Eat Out (At Least Not Often)
Eating out constantly is one of those seemingly harmless expenses that can really start to add up.
If you’re serious about saving money on your trip, then bringing your own food and preparing it
in the kitchen your RV provides you with will be a much more cost efficient option.
Not only that, but you can also prepare foods that are already cheaper to make. For example, it’s
probably cheaper to make chili and soup that feeds everyone versus making cheeseburgers for
each individual person.

5 – Compare Fuel Stations
Fuel is one of the largest expenses of any RV trip and you simply can’t avoid the fact that
motorhomes are not the most fuel efficient vehicles on the planet.
But what you can avoid is paying for fuel at a gas station that is priced higher than another gas
station just around the corner.
When the time comes to fuel up, use a fuel app to research all fuel stations within a certain mile
radius. Even if the difference between stations is only one to two cents a gallon, that can really
add up when you consider the fact that RV’s hold a lot of gallons (as in around a hundred and
fifty on average)

Saving Money On Your Family Trip
These are just a handful of the ways you can save money on your RV trip. Using each of these
methods together, you should easily be able to save several hundred dollars, if not over a
thousand, for the trip.

 

Guest Post by Susan Melony


Saving Money at the Pharmacy

This post is sponsored by Diamond links.  Any opinions expressed are my own.

Sometimes going to the pharmacy can be stressful, especially if you’re just starting on a new medication or refilling a medication you already know costs way too much. If you don’t have prescription drug coverage with your insurance, it’s even worse.  Some people just forgo filling needed medications because they simply can’t afford it.

I wish I could tell you I have the answer to make all your prescriptions affordable but I don’t.  I do know (and use) a few ways to help save you some money.

Whether you have insurance or not, a pharmacy discount program like SingleCare can help.  I actually asked my pharmacist at one point if those discount programs were any good. She said it can helps save some money for those without insurance. For those with insurance often times it’s just cheaper with the insurance.  She said they can check both though just to save you the most money.  Pharmacy discount programs sometimes offers coupons like this  dymista coupon , for instance, where you can also compare and contrast prices at different pharmacies.

Another option, ask if a generic drug can be substituted.  Not all name brand drugs have a generic equivalent especially if they’re newer drugs but it can’t hurt to ask.  This could be big savings for you if they do.

If there isn’t a generic equivalent for your name brand drug, check the drug’s website.  A pharmacy tech actually told me about this one.  My one son needs an epipen. I have insurance so I really wasn’t paying all that much compared to what I heard some were paying.  She told me to check the epipen site to sign up for their epipen savings card program.  You get a card to show to your pharmacist for a discount.  This actually saved me about $20/month!  As I started searching I found many of the name brand drugs had a similar program.  I was on Lialda for a while for my Ulcerative Colitis and they had a savings card as well.

Another trick I’ve learned, see if there is another option to fill your medication. What I mean by this is…when the epipen prices increased I heard people were being charged as much as $600 for one epipen.  That was horrifying to me since people being prescribed an epipen really really need it. Without the consequences could be fatal.  A medical friend told me that you can ask the pharmacist for a vial of epinephrine and syringes and they can teach you to deliver the epinephrine that way.  While this idea wouldn’t be appealing to me I heard the cost is much less than an epipen.

Some pharmacies offer free or very low cost antibiotics now too.

I’d love to know what ways you’ve found to save at the pharmacy!