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Posted by Dorothy McLaughlin on 10/13/2018

These days keeping track of your money can be a hassle. Between all the different ways you can spend your money it’s easy to lose track of your spending. Luckily there are some great apps for money management. Below are a few favorites— all rated with 3.5 stars and up. LearnVest: LearnVest is a money management platform, but it’s also much more. You can link up your various accounts to keep track of your spending, savings and goals (that you set). But the best part about this app are the articles you receive via email from them. The articles that they send are full of helpful information related to early retirement, saving for your wedding, how to pay down debt, rebuilding bad credit, smart saving, and so much more. Every article is worth the read. This app is available on iOS. Mint: Mint is a well-known money management platform. You can hook up your bank accounts, credit cards, 401k and loans and set up budgets. The app utilizes graphs to show you how you spend your money and provides you with bill reminders. It will even give you your net worth. The only downfall to the app is that it has a difficult time connecting to small banks’ online banking systems. This app is available on iOS and Google Play. Daily Budget: This is a do-it-yourself app. If you are one that is weary about putting your personal banking information onto your phone then this is the money management app for you. You plug in your income, reoccurring expenses and it gives you a daily budget. You can add in additional income and expenses as they occur. But, you will have to pay for the full version if you want to utilize all income and expense categories. This app is available on iOS. Comparable apps are available on Google Play. Prosper Daily: This app’s main emphasis is on protecting your accounts. You can link up your bank accounts and credit cards and approve or deny charges as they occur. But, it is also good for a high level review of your accounts. You are able to view your balances on your credit cards and checking account all in one place. Another pro of this app is that you are able to categorize your charges making it easy to keep track of what you are spending your money on. One of the great new features now available is the ability to view your credit score. And beyond that it provides insight into why your score is the way it is and how to improve it. This app is available on iOS and Google Play. These apps will aid you in getting in front of your spending and back in control of where your money is going. Be sure to take full advantage of the offerings that each app has, as it will only benefit you in the long run.





Posted by Dorothy McLaughlin on 10/6/2018

Most people love the idea of working from home. You have access to whatever food you want for lunch, you decide when to get out of bed, and whether or not it's worth getting dressed for the day. While it does have many benefits, working from home has one huge disadvantage: distractions. Making your home office, living room, or bedroom a productive place to work is difficult, but it can be accomplished. Ultimately, your productivity is a matter of motivating yourself to work. But being in the right environment is still vital to creating a distraction free workplace. Whether you're self-employed, have a hobby that requires a home office, or just need a quiet place to do some paperwork, having a minimal home office can be vital to getting the job done. In this article, we'll cover all the elements needed to creating a simplistic workspace where you'll feel comfortable but still focused enough to work.

Setting the mood

Are you the type of person who works best in a well-lit room or do the lights need to be slightly dimmed? Depending on your preferences, you might want to choose a room that receives a lot of sunlight or convert part of your basement to an office. When it comes to wall and furniture colors, studies have shown that different colors can affect our mood. Depending on the atmosphere you're going for, you might choose white, light grey, or light blue wall colors. Bold colors will probably be too distracting and bright red colors can even be anxiety inducing. Try building a color palette online and deciding which color combinations you would enjoy for the walls of your office.

Avoiding distractions

You want your office to be sparsely decorated and free of distractions like games, phones, food, etc. However, for some people an empty room is even more distracting than a cluttered one. A good way to fill up the room without adding distractions is to incorporate plants and simple artwork. When choosing plants for your office, consider the amount of sunlight the room receives. It's possible to incorporate plant life without having to worry about moving them to receive sunlight. Similarly, there are cacti, succulents, and terrariums that require little upkeep and watering. You don't want to give yourself excuses for not working by telling yourself you need to water the plants.

Setting up your desk

Being productive is all about having a routine. You want your desk to help you stick to that routine. That means it should have everything you need to work and little, if anything, else. Aside from encouraging you to focus on your work, having a cluttered desk can also make it difficult to find what you need like a lost pen or a certain important piece of paper. Once you have your desk set up with what you need, be it a laptop, power cord, lamp, etc., then it's your job to keep it that way and avoid any rubbish from building up.




Tags: home office   office   minimalism  
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Posted by Dorothy McLaughlin on 9/29/2018

Purchasing a home is a life-changing decision, and as such, should not be taken lightly. Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to prepare for the homebuying journey, such as:

1. Determine Where You Want to Live

There is no shortage of high-quality houses available across the United States. Now, you just need to determine where you want to reside, and you can hone your house search accordingly.

Think about your long-term plans as you consider where you want to live. For instance, if you enjoy life in the big city, you may want to search for houses in or near the city of your choice. On the other hand, if you want to start a family in the near future, you may want to explore residences near parks and other family-friendly attractions.

Ultimately, it helps to narrow your home search to a few cities and towns. Because if you know where you want to live, you can quickly navigate the homebuying journey.

2. Establish a Budget

A budget is a must-have for any homebuyer, at any time. If you know how much you can spend on a house, you can search for residences that fall within your price range.

Oftentimes, it helps to meet with banks and credit unions before you launch a home search. These financial institutions can teach you about different types of mortgages. Then, you can select a mortgage that suits you perfectly.

Don't forget about home inspection, closing and other property buying fees, either. If you account for these property buying costs, you can ensure you have the necessary funds available to cover them.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a difference-maker for a homebuyer. He or she is happy to teach a homebuyer about the ins and outs of the real estate market. As a result, a real estate agent will help you become a homebuying expert.

Typically, a real estate agent offers recommendations and insights throughout the homebuying journey. He or she first will learn about you and help you establish homebuying expectations. Next, a real estate agent will help you kick off a search for homes in your preferred cities and towns. When you find your dream residence, a real estate agent will help you craft a competitive offer to purchase this home. And if your offer to purchase is approved, a real estate agent will help you navigate the final stages of the homebuying journey.

Furthermore, a real estate agent can provide assistance any time a homebuyer has concerns or questions. A real estate agent strives to help you make informed homebuying decisions. Thus, he or she will do whatever it takes to educate you about the homebuying cycle and ensure you are ready to find and buy your ideal residence.

Simplify the process of finding your dream home – use the aforementioned tips, and you can prep for the homebuying journey.




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Posted by Dorothy McLaughlin on 9/22/2018

In this day and age, there’s no reason to have to worry about forgetting to pay your bills on time. There’s also no reason to have to write a check or even log into a website each month to pay your bills.

Using a combination of digital tools, it’s possible to fully automate your bill-paying process so that you can spend less of your free time trying to remember your passwords and entering debit card numbers and more time doing the things that make you happy.

Benefits of auto-pay

There are plenty of reasons to automate your household bills. More free time and less time stressing about money are two of them. But, did you know that automation can also be a great way to help you boost your credit score?

Late payments on mortgages, student loans, utilities, internet, and cable bills can all negatively affect your credit score. By setting up auto-pay, you can make sure you make your payments on-time, helping to build your credit.

Another huge benefit of bill automation is that you can actually earn money and other rewards by making on-time payments.

For example, setting up your bills and utilities to charge to a credit card with cash back rewards can help you earn money by paying your bills. The one caveat is that you need to make sure you pay off your credit card balance in full each month. How do you do that? With auto-pay!

Where to automate

As I mentioned before, many monthly bills can be charged to a credit card which you can use to earn rewards. However, you won’t be able to use a credit card for all of your bills. Mortgage payments, student loans, auto loans, and oftentimes utility companies will require a checking or savings account with a routing number.

In these cases, it’s still possible to set up auto-pay through either the company’s website, or through your bank’s bill-pay feature.

Need help with a list of things you could be automating? Consider setting up auto-pay or bill-pay for these services:

  • Cable

  • Internet

  • Cell phone

  • Electricity

  • Entertainment (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Spotify, etc.)

  • Rent

  • Mortgage

  • Student Loans

  • Insurance

Automation of the future

So, we’ve covered some of the most common ways to automate your home expenses. However, recent technologies are making it even easier to run your home and keep up with the bills.

One new innovation is Amazon’s Dash button. This service enables you to just tap a button on your smartphone or tablet whenever you need to order new pantry items for the home. Alternatively, you can subscribe for common household goods like cleaning productions, paper towels, and dish soap so that you never run out. And, with Amazon Prime, you don’t have to worry about shipping costs.


Between home automation and auto-pay, you should be able to make your home significantly easier to manage and reduce the amount of stress related to paying the bills.





Posted by Dorothy McLaughlin on 9/15/2018

For home sellers, a seller's market is ideal. Ultimately, this type of housing market empowers home sellers to maximize the value of their residences, and for good reason.

Typically, a seller's market is defined by several key traits, including:

1. Shortage of Quality Houses

A seller's market often features a shortage of quality houses, which means many home sellers frequently are able to set higher initial asking prices for their residences that they would in a buyer's market.

Although a seller's market may enable home sellers to get more for their houses, a home seller still must find ways to generate interest from prospective homebuyers.

For example, a home seller who revamps his or her home's exterior will be able to boost the residence's curb appeal. As a result, this home may generate greater interest from homebuyers than other residences that are on the market, increasing the chance of a quick home sale.

2. Abundance of Homebuyers

A seller's market may feature an abundance of homebuyers who are ready to make their homeownership dreams come true. As such, a home seller may receive offers as soon as his or her residence becomes available. And in some instances, a home seller might even get multiple offers that exceed his or her initial asking price.

Oftentimes, a seller's market provides increased confidence to home sellers. Conversely, it is important to establish realistic home selling expectations, regardless of the market conditions.

For instance, a home seller who prices his or her residence too high from the get-go is unlikely to generate significant interest – even in a seller's market. Thus, this home may remain on the market for many days, weeks or months, and a home seller might need to lower the price eventually.

On the other hand, offering a competitive price, i.e. a price that corresponds to the prices of similar houses in a particular area, is ideal. If you provide a competitive price on your home from day one, you should have no trouble receiving plenty of interest in it, especially in a seller's market.

3. Consistent Supply of Dependable Real Estate Agents

Real estate agents are happy to help home sellers maximize the value of their residences in a seller's market. These real estate professionals may possess many years of industry experience, which means that they likely understand the ups and downs of the real estate sector. Therefore, real estate agents can offer practical tips to ensure that you can stir up substantial interest in your home, get the most for your house and accelerate the home selling journey.

Perhaps best of all, your real estate agent will be happy to respond to any concerns or questions as you add your home to the housing market. This real estate professional works for you and will do everything possible to ensure you get the best results.

Ready to add your home to the real estate market? Employ a real estate professional, and you can move one step closer to optimizing the value of your house.




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