Homes of Distinction Realty



Posted by Homes of Distinction Realty on 4/30/2017

If money is tight right now, or if you're just trying to live frugally, there are a number of ways to save money without having to drastically change your lifestyle. One of the best way to save money is by going through all of your recurring bills to see where you can eliminate or reduce spending. In our age of user-friendly, advanced technology, there are more services available to us than ever before. You can call an Uber with one tap on your phone or order more laundry detergent by clicking the Amazon Dash button in your cabinet. With services this readily available to us, it's hard not to sign up. Read on to learn how to save some money on your monthly services without having to sacrifice too many of life's comforts.

Utilities

There are countless ways to save on water, heat, and electricity. Yes, you can turn down the heat in the winter time and take shorter showers, but there are less commonly known ways to save as well. For example:
  • Keep multiple electric-powered items plugged into one power-strip and power off the strip overnight. This will stop those items from consuming electricity in standby mode
  • Insulate your windows in the winter time by using caulking, weather stripping, and shrink wrap your windows with heat shrink film to keep the heat in
  • Some Saturday afternoon make a checklist of all of your home's lightbulbs. Then go out and replace them with energy efficient CFLs and LED bulbs
  • Hang clothes on the line in fair weather and wash your clothes in cold water; much of the energy consumed by washing clothes goes to heating the water up first

Monthly services

Remember when there were only a few good shows on TV and paying for cable was the only way to watch them? Now any given household can have Netflix, Amazon Streaming, HBO Go, and countless other monthly services for watching TV. To save on watching your favorite movies and television, try these tips:
  • Ditch Netflix DVD services or expensive premium cable channels and rent from your local library system. Through inter-library loans you can get the newest movies and TV shows shipped to your library for free
  • Cancel your cable bill and try a cheap service like Hulu. If you're worried about missing the news, use websites or news apps on your smart TV to keep up to date on the issues
  • Negotiate rates with your provider. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call to learn about better options. Since many people are taking the internet-only approach, cable companies are desperate to maintain customers
Saving on telephone bills:
  • First, ditch the landline. You probably only get telemarketers calling there anyway; what do you have to lose?
  • Use a family plan and calculate your data usage. Make sure your family is on wifi whenever possible. You can save up to $30/month just by having a lower data plan
  • Negotiate with your provider. Reminding your provider that you have other options when it comes to cell phones can get you a better rate.
General tips and tricks:
  • If you have a student email address (.edu) this can be used to gain discounts from a number of monthly services
  • Ask your providers to apply promotions to your account. If you see that something you pay for is running a deal, call and ask if you can have the rate as well. You're a loyal customer after all
  • If you've built up good credit, look for lower interest rates online. There are apps and websites dedicated to finding you better deals





Posted by Homes of Distinction Realty on 1/8/2017

Depending on where you live, groceries can be one of the top expenses in your household. Frugal shoppers have found many ways to save at the grocery store over the years, from coupons to price matching. However one of the best ways to save money on groceries and household items is to bulk buy. When you buy items in bulk you give up a small amount of storage space at home, but you gain savings in return. Plus buying in bulk means you're using up less packaging in the long run, helping the environment out as well. Here are the items you should buy in bulk and the items you should avoid.

Food

Whether you have a BJ's or Sam's Club membership or if you seek out good deals online or at your local grocery store, there are a number of food items you can buy in bulk to save money.
  • Cereal. Buying oversized boxes of cereal, especially knock-offs of name brands can save you more than 50% on prices.
  • Rice and beans. Buying food staples in bulk are a great way to save at the grocery store. Rice and beans can be used in any number of dishes for tastes from around the world. They offer meals high in fiber and protein and rich in nutrients.
  • Oatmeal. Large boxes of dried oatmeal will allow you to save money and make your own creations. Add dried or frozen fruit, nuts, cinnamon, or yogurt to your morning oatmeal to keep things interesting.
  • Frozen vegetables. Not only are frozen vegetables cheaper and more convenient, but they often contain more vitamins and nutrients than fresh vegetables because they are frozen immediately after being harvested.

Other home goods

Hand soap. Rather than buying new containers of hand soap every time you run out, wasting money and plastic, buy one large bottle of your favorite soap and refill the bottles in your kitchen and bathrooms. Trash bags. Trash bags bought in bulk don't take up much more room than smaller boxes and you'll get much more for your dollar. Toilet paper. Buying toilet paper in bulk will save you a lot of money. Try storing the huge pack in the basement rather than the bathroom closet, keeping just one or two extra rolls in the bathroom to save space. Toothpaste and toothbrushes. Toothpaste is a well known bulk-buy, but toothbrushes bought in packs of 2 or more are also a great way to save. Set a reminder in your phone to change toothbrushes at least once every three months.

Things not to buy in bulk

Condiments. The temptation is there to buy a huge bottle of honey mustard and save a few cents. But unless you eat it every day, odds are your condiments will expire before you use them and take up a ton of room in your refrigerator. Plastic tupperware. Rather than buying cheap plastic tupperware at the grocery store every few months, buy one good glass set that will last years. Fresh fruit. It's tempting to buy that huge bag of clementines, but you'll be kicking yourself when they start to rot and hardly any have been eaten. You're better off stopping at the store and buying small amounts of fresh fruits when you want them rather than assuming you'll eat them.  





Posted by Homes of Distinction Realty on 9/25/2016

Stopping by local garage sales in search of bargains and treasures is a lot like panning for gold. Some days you'll be sifting through a lot of rubble before you discover the hidden gems. Other days, you'll hit the mother lode, right away! Whether you're looking for cheap books, antique furniture, unique jewelry, retro clothing, statues, gardening tools, or gently used toys, you can expect to stumble upon some very interesting and worthwhile items -- usually at extremely low prices. Keys to Bargain Hunting Success Many people who attend garage sales on a regular basis seem to have developed a system to ferret out what they're looking for, spot bargains, and negotiate the lowest possible prices. They often don't even get out of their cars if the items displayed fail to catch their interest. Yard sales attract a wide variety of people, but the ones who find the best stuff at the lowest prices know the value of persistence, getting an early start, and advance planning. Many are quite adept at surfing the Web, clippings ads, and using social media to find promising yard sales to check out. The Seasoned Garage Sale Hunter In addition to a natural curiosity about the unexpected treasures they might find in their travels, they recognize the following underlying truths about garage sales.

  • There are two main reasons that people hold garage sales: to make extra money and to get rid of things they no longer need or want. In most cases, they're highly motivated to make sales and do not expect to rake in boatloads of money. If they happen to be in the process of selling their house and getting ready to move, they should be especially motivated to clear out all their garage sale inventory. The last thing they want to see is an interested customer with a wad of cash in their hands walk away because the price wasn't right. If you make a reasonable offer, chances are they'll either accept it or make a counteroffer. By cultivating some basic negotiating skills and learning to have fun with it, you can pick up some amazing deals in your neighborhood.
  • At first, going to garage sales may seem like a hit-or-miss proposition. However, persistence pays off. Good timing, a little bit of luck, and being in the right place at the right time will eventually work in your favor. It's sort of a "numbers game," so if you plan to visit a few different yard sales in one morning, you're bound to find all kinds of worthwhile treasures and bargains.
  • If you know what you're looking for and have a pretty good idea of what its worth, you'll be in a good position to make reasonable offers and walk away with exceptional deals.
Whether you're looking for a used guitar, an inexpensive desk for a college student, or some hard-to-find first-edition books, you never know what you're going to discover when you dedicate a Saturday or Sunday morning to some serious garage sale shopping!





Posted by Homes of Distinction Realty on 8/28/2016

Who wouldn't like to pay off the mortgage early? Getting rid of mortgage debt will allow you the security and the psychological benefit of owning your home free and clear. There are lots of ways to accomplish these goals. Here are some suggestions on ways to get rid of your mortgage debt. Compare the options and do what works best for you. 1. Add more money to your monthly payment. This will help pay down the principal balance shortening the length of your loan. When you pay more on your principal is gets lower, and the lower your principal gets, the more every payment from then on is applied to principal, as less goes to cover interest expense. 2. Refinance. Refinance your mortgage to 10, 15 or 20 years. Your payments will be higher on a 15-year loan, but often the rate is lower and the loan is paid off much quicker. If you are afraid to take out a 15- year loan take out a 30-year loan, but make payments as if you had a 15-year loan. 3. Make biweekly payments. Most banks have a biweekly payment plan. Since there are 52 weeks in the year if you pay half your regular mortgage payment every other week, you'll have made 26 half-payments, or 13 payments. There are options when it comes to owning your home free and clear. Just decide which one works for you and be on your way to being mortgage free.





Posted by Homes of Distinction Realty on 2/7/2016

Moving can be an expensive endeavor. Even if you decide to rent a truck and move your belongings yourself there are lots of other expenses that can add up. Luckily, there are a few simple ways consumers can save money hauling their belongings from their current home to the next one. Purge your things. Instead of moving things that you don't use sell or donate them. If you decide to donate items to charity, you could save lots of time and even get a tax deduction. Move on a less popular day. The most popular time to move is at the end of the month. Since most closings happen and leases are up at the end of the month there’s more competition for the trucks and moving crews. Moving at the end of the month will also cost you more. Choose your moving date midweek, closer to the middle of the month. Packing materials like bubble wrap and foam peanuts are costly. If you are packing your own items use things you have around the house like bed linens, towels and clothing to pad your items. You can also use newspapers and tissue paper from gift bags. Be careful when using newspaper as the newsprint will smudge on dishes and other items. Don't buy moving boxes check Freecycle and Craigslist for free ones first. Ask around, your friends may have boxes suitable for moving.