Financial Tips You Should Know Before Buying a Home


If you’re considering buying your first home soon, then you’re likely a little daunted by what lies ahead. When you understand a few fundamentals about the home buying process, however, buying a home need not be something you harbor anxiety over. Here are some basic financial things that you should know before you go out and buy your first home.

The ideal down payment is 20%.

There are a number of reasons that putting 20% down on a home is advantageous. First, it’s instant equity, and it makes you a more appealing home buyer to mortgage lenders. Second, you’re more likely to secure a lower interest rate. Third, you won’t need to take out quite as much on loan. And fourth, you can avoid paying mortgage insurance (more on than below).

A down payment is a good investment.

On a related note, it’s important to consider why putting your money toward a down payment might be better than, say, going with a zero-down loan and investing the money you would have spent on a down payment. The benefits mentioned above should give you an idea. Moreover, if you were to invest your down payment instead, you’re more likely to lose it in stock market fluctuations.

You may need to pay mortgage insurance.

In fact, if you’re planning on putting anything less than 20% down on your home, you should assume that you’ll be paying for mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance essentially exists to allow homebuyers to put down less than 20% on a home; it helps to offset losses if for some reason a homeowner is unable to repay the mortgage loan. Mortgage insurance typically costs about $55 per month per $100,000 financed, but it can cost much more. You can read this article to learn more about mortgage insurance.

Don’t spend every dollar you qualify for.

Coming down in price will generally give you more options on the market, and it will grant you precious freedom later as you seek to make upgrades to your home.

Flaws found during the home inspection can affect price.

Your home inspection should be thorough, surveying even portions of the home that are advertised as “new.” And if any flaws are discovered in the home during the inspection, you can use them to your advantage when negotiating price. If a roof is advertised as new, for example, when in reality there is simply a newer layer of shingles over an older layer, you might be able to negotiate a lower price for your home.

You should create a bid strategy beforehand.

Sticking within your budget can be difficult, and making big financial decisions once you’re already emotionally invested in a home is never a good idea. It’s always best to come up with a bidding strategy beforehand to help eliminate stretching yourself financially later. You might, for example, decide to low-ball it with your initial offer, agreeing to offer $1,000 over any competing offers up to a particular dollar amount. So if you’re starting with a $400,000 offer, you might decide beforehand that you will bid $1,000 over any higher offers, up to your $425,000 budget.

There are other costs you haven’t considered.

Buying a house involves much more than simply acquiring a loan and settling on a monthly mortgage payment amount. It’s even much more than paying your principal, interest, homeowners insurance, mortgage insurance, and HOA fees each and every month. There are additional costs to buying a home that you probably haven’t considered, such as home inspection costs, survey costs, property taxes (often prepaid at closing), government recording charges, appraisal fees, lender’s origination fees, title services, etc. Many home buyers call these things “hidden costs,” but they really are a part of the home buying process for everyone.

Don’t forget those general costs of homeownership that you’ll be paying as well. If you’ve never had need for a lawn mower, for example, and now you are going to have a backyard, a lawn mower investment is in your near future. If you’re not used to paying for kitchen appliance repairs, now is a good time to get ready. If you’re getting more space than you’re used to, you’ll probably be buying some new furniture. Or if there are areas in your home that you’re planning to fix up, you’ll have to plan for that financially, as well. Owning a home requires more upkeep than renting one does, so be sure to do what you can to give yourself a financial cushion in that respect.

By: Maurine Anderson

Styled by Five: Goldie’s


I keep planning on staying consistent with my posts but these summer months are getting crazy. But at least you can look forward to some consistency with series, because those are things I don’t skip over. This month we styled a dress from Goldie’s – and this was just one of many beautiful options they had!

I originally just had on the white shoes and the dress fro my look, but then I decided to layer on one more item because I sort of felt like the dress needed a little more and also that the other Styled by 5 ladies might give you the short sleeved look. I am glad I went with my gut, because I always think it is nice to see how sleeves from items wear under cardigans and jackets and I was the lone wolf showing you that option. I wanted to keep the blue as the standout on the outfit so everything I paired in was white. White shoes and a white cardigan do to give the blue a little more pop.

Dress: Goldie’s
Cardigan: Lucy and Lyla
Shoes: Burlington Coat Factory

Since we are all sharing the same piece on a different body type here is a reminder of my sizing – I am 5’9″ and I generally wear a 10/12 – 10 on a good day, 12 on a not good day… you understand, right? So I ordered this dress in a large. I wasn’t totally sold on the dress based on the photos I saw beforehand, but I like it a lot better in person. The photos don’t do it justice. The dress fit like a glove, so if I lose a tiny bit of weight it would probably fit more comfortably, but I do like the fit. I love sharing my style with you, but I also want you to see clothing I style in other body types so you can find what is best for you. So feel free to check out how Kaylynn, Bethany, Jacque, and Lauryn styled this outfit as well! And watch for a new piece of clothing styled by 5 every month.

Transform Your Garage into an Entertainment Cave


Does your garage see infrequent use, or do you and your family need some extra space to entertain in? Transforming your garage into an entertainment cave is a great way to make use of your garage space while affording you and your family some extra room inside your home. And while this can be a major home renovation project if you desire to convert your garage into a living space for the long-term, this project need not be over-the-top if all you need is a space to sit back, relax, and enjoy some fresh air. Here are some tips on transforming your garage into a space for entertaining.

Remove any hazards. First things first—it’s important to remove any potential hazards from your garage as you make it a safe entertainment space for you and your family. This article lists important hazards to be aware of, including paint, gasoline, strong chemical cleaners, garden tools, hardware tools, and more.

Refinish the floor. Most garages are finished with concrete that has a tendency to attract dirt and debris—not to mention get your feet dirty. Make your garage more habitable by refinishing the floor. You don’t necessarily need to get carpet or hardwood here; rather, you can opt for epoxy coating or acid staining, which will transform the concrete that already exists on your garage floor. Epoxy coating and acid staining both have the power to give your garage a more homey feel, with many options for customization, without requiring too much of a transformation. (Keep in mind, however, that if your garage is going to become more of a long-term space for entertaining guests, or if it’s going to be home to some expensive electrical equipment, you may need to raise the floor by installing a concrete “topping slab” over the existing concrete.)

Invest in area rugs. Once you have your floor refinished, you’ll definitely want to invest in some area rugs to help make your garage floor more comfortable and inviting.

Upgrade to an insulated garage door. It’s highly important to make temperatures in your garage as stable as possible, and one way to do this is to ensure that your garage door offers ample insulation against extreme temperatures. (This is assuming that you’re not finishing the garage door space instead with large windows or folding glass doors.) Foam-injected core garage doors are some of the most effective against extreme cold and heat, and opting for doors with windows can help make your garage feel more like an actual extension of your home.

Insulate the walls. On a similar note, you’ll want to insulate and finish the walls in your garage if they happen to have been left unfinished. This will help stabilize temperatures in your garage significantly and make it a space that people actually want to stay in. Insulate the walls, finish with drywall, and paint them just as you would in any other area in your home. If your garage has any additional wiring needs (a new 20-amp circuit, for example), don’t forget to take care of those needs before closing up the walls.

Plan for heating and cooling. What are you going to do to heat your garage during the winter and make it cooler during the summer? If your garage is going to maintain it’s identity as a garage while still offering a comfortable space for entertainment, then this isn’t too much to worry about. While it’s sometimes possible to extend your HVAC system into your garage, it’s usually more cost-effective to opt for less permanent options like space heaters, wall mounted AC units, and window AC units. Whatever you decide, be sure that your garage features adequate ventilation.

Install a sound system. Want another way to truly set your garage apart from the rest? Consider installing a built-in sound system—perfect for entertaining with music or a projector movie system. You’ll want to opt for higher tech equipment here, such as built-in wall speakers like these ones. A typical home theater sound system features five satellite speakers and a subwoofer, while a sound system made just for playing music throughout a space can be a little more simplistic.

Add a fridge. Many standard-use garages have refrigerators in them for storing extra drinks and perishable items, and this is a scenario where you’ll definitely want to be sure your garage has a fridge. A fridge in your garage is perfect for holding drinks and snacks for guests.

Bring in furniture. Finally, you’ll want to bring in comfortable furniture to complete the space and make it prime for entertaining guests. If your garage is still primarily a garage that only serves as an entertaining space every so often, you’ll want to opt for foldable chairs and tables. If it will primarily host your family and guests, however, then you should consider living room type furniture, a coffee table, and some end tables for holding drinks and snacks.

By: Maurine Anderson

The Bachelorette Season 12: Episodes 3-6


I have failed you. I have failed you all. I am so sorry. I did all this stuff to become the Bachelor franchise expert for my family and friends, and then I just went and abandoned you like a jerk. I apologize and if you never read another Bachelor franchise post from me I understand, but I also really hope you keep reading them. Because I will be sad if I lose you. Okay. Apologies out of the way. Let’s get on to all my thoughts and feelings from the last few weeks.

Basically this post could go one of two ways. I could recap everything or I can just tell you what I am thinking. And since recapping everything would take longer than what you are probably willing to read. I am just going to word vomit – that doesn’t sound too appealing, does it? – all the things going on in my head about Bachelorette.

First. I am really sad about Derek leaving because I actually really liked him… and had predicted he would go a lot further, thanks for busting my bracket Derek. But I can totally see why she sent him home. He was very needy. No one with that blue of eyes should ever feel needy. Obviously girls will just love him simply for eye color. Anyway – when he got home I went and found him on Instagram and PMed him to see if he would go out with my friend. Fingers crossed he actually answers. They would look cute together.

Big Bad Chad. GOOD BYE CHAD. What more can I say? Oh…. I know. I think ABC made a really good job of making you look nuts. I think you are two parts man needing anger management and one part man that is extremely sarcastic but comes off like a lunatic. Thank you for playing right into the hands of all of America. We appreciate it. We also appreciate you sharing your sheer disdain for the Bachelorette on your Instagram account. If you haven’t seen it – you gotta check it out. He also has since found Swimmer Robby’s ex girlfriend and posted photos making out with her on his account. Class act.

Okay… those are mainly the two guys that have left that I felt I needed to talk about. Moving forward to thoughts on those still left.

Chris Harrison. Yes, I consider him a contestant because he is single and I am still secretly hoping for a contestant to be like “forget all these dudes, I am going for Chris!” Keep up the good questions, Chris. And the date cards. We like that about you.

Alex. Oh little Alex. He is a handsome dude and seems totally normal height until you pan across the group and see the camera drop down so you can see his whole face and not just his forehead. I just wish that he didn’t have little man syndrome. I feel like he is just as bad as Chad, but since he is like friendly sometimes too the guys picked him. And also the Bachelor probably didn’t feel like they could make a midget an extremely short person the villain. However, I really hated his reaction to getting a rose last week. Dude, just be happy you got one because I thought she was sending you packing. I feel like his angry mannerism of getting what he called a “pity rose” was foreshadowing for the crazy that is about to come.

Chase. You seem great. You also seem slightly boring. And while I like you, I also don’t feel like your story is super strong right now. Which is why you will either disappear or you will end up winning like Catherine did. I wish you luck.

James Taylor. Such a solid guy. I wish that he was handsome enough to be the next bachelor because I think the world would love him. I am honestly surprised Jojo has kept him this long because he seems to goofy for her. But I will accept that she has. And I also thought you should all know we looked it up – he has a real job in addition to his singing and song writing.

Jordan. Well obviously when you smile the world smiles with you. Except for James. He will throw you under the bus. I wish upon you a better haircut. And I really hope that you dont have a girlfriend at home like the previews are hinting you might. That would not please me.

Luke. My favorite. Some people think he has creepy eyes and I just think he has a heart of gold. He has taken Derek’s spot in the final two for me. One part because I have always liked him and one part because Derek is gone so someone needed to fill the slot. However, I don’t love that you are always posting weird things on your Instagram. Okay, not weird, but not cool.

Ken… I mean Robby. He really does look like a Ken doll. I hear you left your girlfriend at home – via Chad – and now Chad is making out with her – also via Chad. I am interested to see how this one plays out for you. I feel like you are there as a fake and phony and we wish we never laid eyes on you! But seriously… he is there for the followers. Also, your Instagram is too perfect and we spotted your girlfriend on there before Chad announced it.

As you may have noticed by now… we spend out time watching the Bachelorette also looking them all up on social media – mainly Instagram. Because that is where the real dirt lies. I am looking forward to the drama coming our way. And that is how I feel. So tell me, who are your front runners? How are you feeling about the remaining crazies?

PS. Did you see the Bachelor in Paradise cast is starting to be announced? I cannot wait.

How We Wore It: Summer Workout


Welcome to July. And with July comes another How We Wore It! In case you need a refresher, this is how it works. All of us were given the same “inspiration outfit” and we were asked to create our own take on it once we let our creative juices flow. Any outfit can be inspired by the colors, the patterns, the pieces, or the textures is fine. So our how we wore it is coming from the inspiration side – with things we already have! Because not many people have the luxury to just go buy a new outfit based on what they see on Pinterest, so you have to work with what you have. First up is the look we used for our inspiration.

So I picked this outfit for our July styling because I feel like summer is the time when most people dress down – whether they are working out or not they end up in yoga pants to go run errands, lounge around the house, or actually work out. I, for one, have been trying to utilize the summer months to work out more. But I am also one to wear my workout gear to baseball games, errands, and trips. So I decided this would be a fun look to run with!

Workout Top: Eleventh Avenue
Leggings: Old Navy
Sneakers: DSW
Hat: H&M
LipSense: Purple Reign

Alright – so I really wanted to add a colored accent like Looks for Lovelies had, but plot twist – I have no colored things for working out in. So I added the color to my lips with a little LipSense. I went with the greys and blacks theme all the way through. I was going to do more blacks with my grey black pattern legging, but the tied grey shirt just felt right. So I paired my workout look with my grey high tops and a black hat. And called it good! And then I really did workout in this outfit to teach my UJam class. Just saying!

Want to see more Looks for Lovelies inspired outfits? Check out how all these babes styled their look – Ruth from My Little Nest / Jenn from What You Make It / Kiana from Glitter & Donuts / Jessica fromMason Jars and Lemon Bars / Alyssa from Pinsent Life / Sierra from Sierra’s View / Madeline fromCaseyLand / Riley from Riley Jo Blog / Samantha from The Samantha Show / Jen from Jam tart boutique / Beverly from What a Day / Brooklyn from Brooklyn Jolley / Amber from Amber Nicole blogs / Erica from Good Job Momma / Shelbie from 365 With RyGuy and I / Jenn from Give This Girl Coffee / Kelsi from Lovestrong / Justine from Little Dove / Chelsea from Tessa Marie / Monica from It’s All About. Want to be one of the 15 How We Wore It stylists next month? Don’t forget to sign up!

Braving the Sun with Lime Ricki


When I was younger I would have done anything for a tan. I laid out when on vacation, I went into tanning beds, I was always looking for a good tanning lotion – tans were so important. I remember standing around with a girl on my dance team talking about the best ways to get tan during our breaks one time. She always looked so good and I wanted to be tan too. But as I get older, I have learned to embrace my white skin. More often than not I am white as white and it looks like I could possibly be wearing tights. Part of this is because I work full time so my outdoor days are far and few between – and the days that I do get to go on vacation, I end up opting for the cable and air conditioning. But then then something changed….

Swimsuit: Lime Ricki
Kimono: Honey & Lace
Sandals: Target

A few weeks ago I got a spray tan for Miss Idaho and I realized… wait. I really like being tan. I don’t mind being white. But I really like being tan. So I have decided to brave the sun a little more, with SPF of course, in my Lime Ricki swimsuit – best fitting swimsuit I have gotten this year, btw – to get some natural color. But of course, I will still pair that sunlight with spray tans when I can. But I am looking forward to more days outside. It felt really good to be out in the sunshine over the weekend! Where do you fall on the pale to tan scale? Have you been finding more ways to get outside lately?
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