Friday, January 30, 2015

Rethink Cleaning Your Home

Keeping your home up is quite a chore—literally!!! But, it does not have to be all frowns and gloom. There are various ways to get the chores done but without piling it all into a whole day of cleaning. You have worked hard to earn that weekend, why waste half of it slaving away to clean your home? Since most of us cannot afford maids, we have got to find a better way to lessen the stress of cleaning a house but still maintain the neatness we all strive for.

There are a couple of tricks I use to lessen the burden. And while nothing can prevent you from having to clean the house completely, there are definitely ways to make it a lot less of a stress than what you are currently dealing with.

The best way I find to ease cleaning stress is to never truly stop cleaning in the first place. It sounds odd, but it works in the long run. By keeping a daily list of small (no more than fifteen minutes) tasks, you would be surprised at just how much of a difference it makes at the end of the week. For instance, for today, I will wash a load of laundry while I get ready for work. Around an hour later, the clothes are ready for the dryer, and I toss them in as I walk out the door. Upon returning from work, I just have to fold the load, no more than fifteen minutes.

Another day, I will wipe down all sinks and countertops, or dust all ledges. No matter what the exact task is, spreading out your workload throughout the week might sound like no fun, but you will be grateful on Saturday when you have just that less left to do. Try it out for yourself! It is a little hard to get into the habit, but it will become second nature the more you do it. All in the hopes, that you can enjoy spending a little more of your Saturday with your loved ones, rather than with a jug of bleach.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Tax Time Tips

Tax time is fast approaching. And while you are busy filing those tax returns, it is important to know whether or not you are getting the best refund possible. And unless you are trained in the matters, it is often hard if not impossible to know if you got the most out of your refund.

Do not fret! We have compiled a quick checklist you can use to help you make sure you have checked as many nooks and crannies of tax law as possible, to get the biggest refund possible!

1.     Some Basics: Organization is key to a smooth tax filing process. No matter what breaks you are eligible for, if you cannot find the information to prove you deserve the break, it will not matter. Take a day before you start your return just to put everything in order so you will know where to go for certain documents.
2.     Check your deductibles: Some of the biggest deductibles are being left on the table by most families, which result in giving up as much as $6200 in tax refunds. (For example, the most commonly unused tax credit is the Earned Income Tax Credit. This credit is designed for lower income households and can offer up to $6200 back in refunds based upon your eligibility. Another commonly unused credit is the Saver’s Credit. This deductible is for those who opened up a 401K or and IRA. This credit allows for up to $1000 in deductibles that would end up right back in your pocket—but you have to know to file for it.
3.     Consult a professional: While online companies are expanding with online tax returns, this is often the least effective way to get a good refund. While fast and easy, computers operate online tax programs. These programs take everyone through the exact same process, asking the exact same questions, and giving the exact same deductibles. Speaking with a person, however, you can fully share your year-in-review. You can go over specific events that could lead to deductions and it is possible through conversation, your accountant will find deductibles you qualify for. Let’s face it, the taxing process is one huge gray area of what applies/what does not apply, and computers were not made to operate in gray areas.
4.     Do your taxes early: Not only will finishing early get you a refund quicker, but it relieves the stress of doing taxes most people carry all the way until April. Stress is a silent hindrance that could negatively affect you in subconscious ways, so nip it in the bud and file early.

Filing taxes does not have to be an uphill battle. The best way to handle it is with a diligent hand and eye, along with someone to go back behind you to fill in the cracks you missed. You worked hard for your employer all year to earn that money, do not let the government take it without a fight!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Prep For New Homeowners

Owning your very own home is an amazing accomplishment and is no small feat. You have worked hard, paid your dues, and are now reaping the benefits of all of that brow sweat. But with owning a home, comes great responsibility. A home is no small job. A home requires money, attention, and maintenance. It can seem like a lot, but luckily you are not alone. Use the following topics to get a good idea of everything involved with owning a home, and figure out exactly what you are getting yourself into.
Most importantly, the biggest decision to make is exactly where you are going to live. This is a little prior to the actual owning and upkeep of a home, but it is important when dealing with houses. Before you buy, make sure you love. How much can you afford? What features are, for you, a must-have? Do you already have a real estate agent in mind? Owning a home is all about planning and preparation, so start getting into the habit now of asking questions and considering all outcomes. Once you have decided on all your qualifications, you can find your home.

Once you have found the home of your dreams, it is time to get you a deed! Purchasing a home will require loan approvals, offers, and lots of signatures. After navigating the long road to ownership, you now have a house all to yourself. It is now time to get your home up to your standards. Arrange insurance coverage for whatever you have not covered already (flood, earthquake, whatever you made need for your area.) Cover your bases. Know where local emergency services are and what to do if something strikes. Having all these things completed covers you for virtually any disaster, and will keep you and your family in the best shape possible in case something happens.

Aside from natural disasters and other weather related phenomena, there are other things to watch out for when owning a home. Termites and mold can raze a home if unchecked, so regular inspections and treatments are needed. Your yard will need at least weekly upkeep, and there are monthly utility, insurance, and tax fees on top of your normal monthly expenses, so careful management is required.

Owning a home is one of life’s biggest responsibilities but also one of the most satisfying. Having a space to retreat to and call your own truly makes it worth all the struggles that go into it. A lot of these things might seem to be overkill or unnecessary, but you will be thankful for knowing when the situation strikes. And you will be thankful for preparing early despite not thinking you need to. Life throws many unexpected punches and when it comes to owning a home, makes no exceptions. But you can pad any punch that is thrown, all it takes is a little brain power and elbow grease!

Friday, January 9, 2015

2015 Predictions

It’s the new year again, and with that new year, it is time to look forward to 2015 to speculate how the year will turn out. has just released their top predictions for the housing market in 2015, and building upon what we saw in 2014, housing is expected to continue to grow slowly but steadily as it has.

2014 was the first year we saw true recovery form the housing market crash nearly a decade ago. With steady job growth and increases to the national GDP, the housing market saw its first steady pickup in years. expects that trend to grow throughout the next year.

The top predications for the housing market are centered around pre-existing home sales and the millennial generation. Households have shown improved growth and at higher pace than has been the past few years. Researchers expect a massive move of the younger generations out of parents’ homes, college dorms, etc. into houses, since they can finally afford to (the majority of which they expect to go into the pre-existing homes.) Millennials might have money to now move out, but not build a home.

Home prices are expected to increase this year as well. Not as many homes are expected to be built. Rather, they will be bought. Lower inventories will push prices higher. Mortgage rates are expected to start going up mid-year and end the year at 5%. This, however, is expected to push overall home affordability down. Experts are hopeful a continued increase in worker wage will help offset that downside.

Overall, the housing market looks like it will still be in recovery mode for the majority of 2015. Still, the markets show vast improvement from where they were years ago. We will continue to monitor the markets and hopefully we can all make 2015 the year housing came back!

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year's Resolution

2015 means a new year and a new you! Most take this time to list out everything they want to change or do for the upcoming 365 days. So we thought, why not help you out when it comes to making that list by sharing our resolutions for the upcoming 2015 year. We are hoping to breathe new life in 2015, and are hoping you will join us for the ride!

1.     Get Organized
Organization is a key component to most people’s sanity, whether they know it or not. It had been scientifically proven that increases in clutter also coincide with increases in stress levels for most people. So make 2015 a year of organization! You might not notice it instantly, but a slow change in the way keep everything will ultimately lower stress levels. Just imagine being able to find your keys in the exact, same spot every time you needed them!  Organization will eliminate small nuisances such as these, which would normally add up to a lot of stress over time.

2.     Reduce Debt
This is a resolution for almost everyone, us included. Debt is never a good thing, no matter how you spin it, so make 2015 about getting rid of the collection calls, past due bills, and (hopefully this does not apply to you) red letters from certain government agencies. Reducing debt though is more complicated than just paying back bills. Reducing debt is a lifestyle change that is no easy feat. However, the reward for your sacrifice will be greatly worth the wait.

3.     Join the Community
You are surrounded by your neighbors everyday for a good majority of your life, so why not get to know them? To seclude yourself in your house not only creates a wall (literally and figuratively!!!) between you and your neighbors. But stepping out and getting to know the people around you forges powerful bonds between you and those who live around you. Making friends can never be seen as bad, so why not give them a chance?

4.     Renovate
2015 is a time for changing, so that should apply to your house too! It does not have to be a major change, but something as simple as a screening in the back porch, or installing new windows can have a big change on how you view your home. Although renovations are costly, there is always a way to figure out tips and tricks that can cheapen the process. Treating yourself in the new year is important as well. Being happy at home ultimately leads to being happy in other places.

5.     Stay Energy Efficient
It is hard to avoid the news of climate change these days. Devastating typhoons, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, and much more swarm the television these days to point where it is unavoidable to see the impact human kind is having on this planet. Take 2015 to make the switch to a more energy efficient lifestyle. You might be thinking that one voice does not matter, and one person changing will not be enough to change the world overnight, but it is one less unrecycled cardboard box, one less plastic water bottle chucked into the ocean, one less stack of paper sitting in a landfill waiting to decompose.

Change is hard, if it were easy, there would be no such thing as a New Year’s Resolution. But it is not out of reach. You have the power to change in your life what you do not want. You have the mind to set the goals and drive to achieve them. Do not let 2015 be another year of stagnation. Look up, move forward, and meet 2015 and all it has to offer.