7 Simple Steps to Purchase Your Family Home

7 Simple Steps to Purchase Your Family Home- Chic and Domestic
7 Simple Steps to Purchase Your Family Home- Chic and Domestic
7 Simple Steps to Purchase Your Family Home- Chic and Domestic 7 Simple Steps to Purchase Your Family Home- Chic and Domestic[/caption]

Getting closer and closer to closing, I feel like I’ve learned so much during my journey from renting, to becoming a homeowner by 25. Especially with being a young couple, we can’t afford to make mistakes… at least not too many mistakes. I’m having a great time being able to share every tidbit of my experience, tips, and some hiccups that we’ve encountered along the way, and if I can save someone else a little bit of trouble on their own journey, even better!

Many people don’t think that they’re capable of home ownership, and other people have no idea where to even start. It’s a lot of overwhelming information in the beginning, but nothing that you can’t get past with some research and preparation. SO, without further ado, here are my 7 Simple steps to take before purchasing your family home.

1. Take a Homebuyers class
Whether you plan to start your home buying journey next month, or next year, I would highly recommend taking time out to take a homebuyer’s class in your community. It will be a great tool to put you in line with home buying terminology, local lenders, grants and down payment assistance, and some courses will even match your saving contributions during the timeline of the course. Taking a class gives you so much information to absorb to get on the right track, and it could even put you on notice of alternative purchasing options.

2. Check Your Credit
I know I know, sometimes it’s scary to see where your credit currently is, but if you’re looking to purchase your home in the future, you want to know your credit score! You don’t want to come to a lender without some idea of what your FICO scores and mortgage scores are. You don’t want to multiple inaccuracies on your credit report, and you also don’t want to be running your credit multiple times if you don’t have to. I recommend using My FICO to check your fico scores for a small price when you know that you’re serious about getting your home.

Check out my post on how to build and boost your credit score here!

3. Save
Whatever path you take to purchase your home, you will need to SAVE! Save, save and save some more. There are so many monetary things that come up during the home buying process, and you want to be prepared or somewhat prepared for them all. You might need to save for a down payment, closing costs, a home inspection, unexpected repairs after closing. Just save, save, save. There are many ways to get around some of these large expenses, but they aren’t always guaranteed, and you don’t want anything to put a halt to your home buying momentum.

4. Research Home buying Do’s and Do Not’s
There are so many resources and communities to give you an inside scoop on home buying Do’s and Do Not’s. This is why I’m here, to provide you with additional information, and give you a piece of my personal home buying experience. Join a Facebook community, google your own questions, or of course make sure you’re subscribed to Chic and Domestic as I share my experience of how I became a homeowner by 25.

Check out my post on Home buying Do’s and Don’ts here!

5. Research Local Lenders
There are plenty of big name lenders out there, and local credit unions are also an option, but I find from my personal experience, and by researching and talking to other people who have become homeowners that having some information on local lenders is key. Local lenders specialize in your local market! Who knows the local market better than them? Research some local lenders with great reviews, or ask around about other’s experience with local lenders.

6. Find a real estate agent that works FOR YOU
Your real estate agent is a key component in this process. You want to make sure that you find an agent that really works and advocates for you, and someone that you feel like you mesh well with. Don’t be afraid to find someone new if an agent isn’t working for you. This will most likely be one of the largest purchases that you make in your life, and you want to make sure that you feel secure in your purchase.

7. KNOW YOUR STUFF
Be sure to immerse yourself in information so that you really know your stuff! Know the things that you want in a home, know the things that are most important to you (Large backyard, large kitchen, smaller home, specific neighborhood, move in ready, a specific school district). Research and know about your options for mortgage loans (FHA, USDA, and Conventional). Know the steps that you’ll need to make to buy, and how to look for red flags, and if there is ever anything that you don’t know, never be afraid to ask questions. No question is too silly or too small when you’re spending your money.

Be sure to subscribe! You don’t want to miss more of my homebuying tips, and updates on my own personal journey to becoming a homeowner at 25.

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3 Keys to Master Your Family Finances

3 Keys to Master Your Family Finances - Chic and Domestic
3 Keys to Master Your Family Finances – Chic and Domestic
3 Keys to Master Your Family Finances - Chic and Domestic
3 Keys to Master Your Family Finances – Chic and Domestic

We all want to be able to stay on top of our family finances, correct? There is no better feeling than being ahead of your finances, and successfully placing your money where it needs to go every month. I get a lot of questions about what to do when you need to get control of your finances, or even if you’re starting at the beginning and looking to tackle your family finances head on. First things first, everything will always be trial and error, and everything will always have room for adjustments. Lucky for you, if you start with these 3 keys to success, you’ll always find success!

Prioritize

This will always be the most important step in mastering your personal finances for your personal situation. No person or family will be the same, but a general key to success is to really plan and decide what is most important to you. Some families will have to focus more on sustainability and simply making sure that their financial input is enough to cover their financial output if they’re dealing with a tighter budget, other families will prioritize things like savings for the future, family outings, travel, or a little bit of everything. As long as you can pin point your family priorities this will set you up to make logical decisions about your money.

Save

Saving is a must! There are no if ands or buts about it. If you want to put your family in good financial standing, be sure to always make it a point to pay yourself first. Even with a smaller income, single income, or being a family that lives paycheck to paycheck, there is always room to save something on payday. I had to learn this over time. I had to personally change my mindset when my family budget was tighter. Just because my bills were being paid, didn’t exempt me from being hit with an unexpected emergency, so really having at least some sort of emergency fund or sinking fund was a necessity.

Find out how we saved our $1000 emergency fund here!

Budget

Learn how to BUDGET. Never be afraid to approach and re-approach your budget. If you want to be able to master your finances for your family, my biggest advice would be to always know your numbers. Budgets are something that will always change, but once you learn how to set up a budget once, going back in to make adjustments will come easy. In order to master your money, learn how to create a budget! Know what numbers you’re bringing in every month, know what your various monthly expenses are, and know your priorities.

Learn tips on how to create your own family budget here!

Be sure you’re following me on Pinterest to check out all sort of great pins on Financial Fitness, Frugal Living, and Domestic Life on a budget.

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How to Build and Boost Your Credit

Purchasing Your Family Home: How to Build and Boost Your Credit - Chic and Domestic
Purchasing Your Family Home: How to Build and Boost Your Credit – Chic and Domestic
Purchasing Your Family Home: How to Build and Boost Your Credit - Chic and Domestic
Purchasing Your Family Home: How to Build and Boost Your Credit – Chic and Domestic[/caption]

*This post contains referral links. I may be compensated for your clicks!*

I’ve learned so much on our home buying journey, so of course I’ve decided to drag all of you along with me! Whether you’re planning to purchase a family home in the near future, or even if you’re planning to buy again, and you want to do it better this time around, I’m ready to share a few ways to assist in building and boosting your credit score for your next big purchase.

An important behind the scenes steps for home buying is securing that strong credit score. After all, this is what lenders look at to decide how likely you are to pay them back. You basically want your credit score to say, “I utilize my credit wisely, I’m good about paying back what I owe, and I even do it all in a timely manner.”
I’m no credit expert, but these are just some of the steps I took that worked out great for me.

Check Your Credit Report
First step is credit building. If you’re starting from the bottom, or if you’re just unsure of where you stand credit wise, a good first step is checking your credit report. Even if you think that you know what’s happening on your credit report, your best bet is to check. Things could be reporting inaccurately, you could be a victim of identity theft, or you could have old debts that you may have forgotten about. Check it, Check it, and Check it again!
Annual Credit Report, Credit Karma, and Experian will get your full views of your report, FOR FREE. Do note, Credit Karma uses vantage scores. Most mortgage lenders use FICO scoring to determine your credit worthiness. Use Credit Karma to keep up with your report only.

Disputes and Debt
If by any chance you have inaccuracies on your report, now is a good time to report them. Look into debt validation letters, and what sort of things you can dispute for. You want to get the ball rolling on this, but you also want to do it accurately, as it can take up to 30 to 45 days for a full investigation of the dispute. A good source that I used was knowledge from Financial Common Cents.

If you have a few accurate, but negative items on your report. It’s best to get them taken care of as soon as possible. Not everything will be deleted after payment, which sucks, but that’s okay. You still want to pay the debt down or pay it off because your debt to income ratio will be a big part of buying your family home. Paying down this debt will do nothing but help you.

Check out a few ways to tackle your debt here!

If your credit needs a boost, or is simply nonexistent I would suggest doing a few things. One being, apply for credit!

Self Lender
Self lender has been GREAT to me. I try to tell people about it any chance that I get because it’s really been nothing short of amazing for my credit. It’s an online CD account for savings. It helps with boosting your credit score by reporting on time payments (as long as your payments are ON TIME) but even better it holds your monthly payments for savings and distribute it back to you at the end! You’re basically getting a credit boost for an installment loan, but you’re really just saving your own money.

You don’t get a ding on your credit report for an inquiry, and it starts reporting almost immediately. I personally saw a credit boost of 50 points within the first 30 days of reporting, and 5 or 10 point raises after that. They have a few “loan” options depending on how much you can afford to save every month, and how quickly you plan to reach your savings goal. One is for as little as $25 a month.

Receive $10 FREE towards your own personal savings here!

Secured/ Unsecured Credit Card
A good starting place for credit building is getting a credit card. Secured cards or great for people with no credit history. You use your own money for a deposit, that deposit usually helps to determine your credit limit, and after 6 months of on time payments that deposit is usually returned to you.
Unsecured cards involve no deposit, but in some instances they’re harder to get approved for if you have limited or negative credit history. Different credit cards companies have different requirements and perks so if you’re going this route then just be sure to find a card that bests suits you.

Utilization %
If you choose to get a credit card to build a credit history, remember to keep your monthly utilization low. 30% is preferred for overall utilization. An even better rule of thumb is never, never ever, NEVER spend more than you can afford to pay by your due date. Of course things happen, and credit cards are good to have in emergencies, but when you’re looking to purchase a home in the future, the last thing you want to do is rack up unnecessary debt.

Know your cycle dates
Cycle dates are key when you’re looking for a credit boost. Your credit cards will be reporting to the big bosses, (the credit bureaus) after the closing of your cycle dates. Remember, your utilization should always be no more than 30% but if you want to see the most rewarding credit boosts, try to pay your cards down between 8% – 10% by your cycle date. If you don’t know your cards cycle date, don’t be afraid to ask!

Pay by your due date
Never, ever, miss a credit card payment if you can help it. This is something that will mess up all of your hard work in an instant! A good way to avoid credit card debt is to use what you can afford, a good way to avoid high interest is to pay your balance in full by your due date, and a good way to build a positive credit history is to make on time payments.

And there it is! Using these simple things will help you to start building a positive credit history. Before you know it, you’re going to see your score rising, which should help you tremendously with becoming an owner of your family home.

Check out how we managed to save a $1000 emergency fund here!

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How To Save a $1000 Emergency Fund

How to stop dipping into your savings. Changing your mindset. Customized Savings.
How To Save a $1000 Emergency Fund – Chic and Domestic

How to stop dipping into your savings. Changing your mindset. Customized Savings.

*This post contains referral links. I may receive compensation for your clicks*

If you’re one of my loyal subscribers, it’s no secret now that my family is on the yellow brick road to home ownership, but before going all in, it was important to first tackle a few other things along the way. The most important thing you can do for yourself as an adult, or just someone out here pretending to adult, is to save an emergency fund for a rainy day. This comes in handy not only for someone in the market for a home, but for anyone. After all, no one in the world is exempt from unexpected emergencies.

It always seems that everyone’s biggest hurdle is either starting a savings, consistently saving, or remembering that your savings isn’t for that new pair of shoes. Savings is for saving, and not touching until you’ve reached your goal, or until absolutely necessary.
We had to first change our mindset and remember to pay ourselves first. Treat your savings as if it’s equally as important as any of your other bills, because after all, it is! It quickly became mandatory for us to save every week, because having that cushion for “what ifs” was just as important as keeping our lights on.

I’ve saved large lumpsums before, but simply moving money from my checking to my savings wasn’t hard enough to access. Like many others, I was finding myself constantly transferring money back and forth. I was saving, but just as quickly as I was saving, I was spending. This go around I opted for trying out an app like Qapital to save and control my savings.

If you try it out today with my referral code you’ll be able to receive $5 FREE towards your first savings goal. Check it out here.

Qapital is an easy to use app that transfers money from your bank account to a separate Qapital savings account. It’s been very easy to use so far, and I’m able to keep “rules” set so that I can save as little or as much as I want to. I’ve been able to cash out on two of my savings goals and the process was also very quick and easy to have my money returned to me.

My current favorites are the “round up” rule that saves the change every time I swipe my card for purchases, and the “set it and forget it” option that sets up daily, weekly, or monthly deposits to my Qapital savings account.

Along with these rules there are various options for savings that you can choose from.

Saving a percentage of your check
For saving percentages of your check weekly or biweekly. There’s even an option for adjustment based on the total of your check.

A guilty pleasure rule
For making a payment to your savings whenever you buy a guilty pleasure that you’re trying to resist.

Spend less rule
Where you set a budget for yourself, come in under budget (Hopefully), and the Qapital app automatically saves the difference.

Freelancer rule
Where you’re able to tuck away the required 30% every payday, so that you’re prepared for Tax Day.

52 week challenge rule
The Qapital app automatically saves the weekly requirements to complete the 52 week challenge for savings.

And other customizable rules.

With the use of this app I was able to see my savings grow while I essentially did what I was normally doing. Before I knew it, it was telling me that I had reached 50% of my $1000 savings goal, and after that it became addicting for me to check it every week, and add whatever extra money I could. We are now working on our 3 month reserves goal, and our 6 month reserves soon after!

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10 Ways to Cut Your Household Expenses

With our new year already in full swing, everyone is interested in getting their fresh start, decluttering, organizing, and cutting their expenses to better be able to keep themselves on the straight and narrow for the next 12 months. I am definitely one of those people! I try to stay focused on my fabulously frugal goals always, but having that cliché “New year, New me” feeling really kicks that into high gear. I always get a ton of questions about ways to cut back and save less, but most of the time the outlook is only about cutting a monetary number in half, or decreasing the value of a bill.

I’m here to share 10 ways to cut your household expenses, just by making a few simple lifestyle changes, and switching up how you look at your everyday life.

1. Reuse, Repurpose, and Do It Yourself

Every Frugal OG knows the life of reusing, repurposing, and learning to do things yourself! This is a very broad category for frugal living, but it can definitely be applied nearly everywhere. Apply this philosophy to furniture, car maintenance, carryout containers, mason jars, beauty and grooming, simple home renovations, the list goes on. Don’t get me wrong, because I’m not saying that you should be so frugal that you’re electrocuting yourself, or causing a home flood for trying to do it all yourself, but a little research and a Youtube video or two could definitely get you out of a few costly expenses, and it could also have you on the road to learning a new trade, or creating yourself a side hustle.

2. Cut the Cable, Cheaper Phone Plans, Read for Fun

Cut back on electronics! Taking up reading instead of watching is an easy way to cut an expense. The less tv you’re watching, the less you need tv and cable at your disposal. I was one of those people that always said that I couldn’t do it. I would NEVER get rid of my cable. I’m a stay at home mom, and after a long day sometimes a girl just needs a good dose of trashy reality tv! However, I did it. I’ve done it. I invested in a fire stick, and I’ve always been a faithful Netflix and Hulu user, so I’ve been happy with the household expense difference ever since. This expense cut won’t fit everyone, but this is normally a BIG expense that can make a difference if it’s an option for you. There are now so many options to still get access to great shows or the channels that you enjoy. A great way to cut electronic expenses are cheaper phone plans, and no contract phones. I’m still team iPhone, I haven’t had to give up smart phone life (I’m a blogger, so it isss actual conducive to my business) and I’m not trapped into a contract, and I can upgrade whenever I want, and I’m more likely to do so when I actually have the money.

3. Utilize Your Local and Public Resources 

While you’re cutting cable and becoming a reading warrior, you should also learn to use your public resources; like the library. The library has options for books so you can save a few pennies before purchasing your own. It also has movies for rent while you’re learning to live your new cable free life. Also, did you know that a lot of local libraries provide cool (and FREE) events for your littles throughout the month? While you’re looking for kid friendly fun, you can also look for local Rec and Community Centers and invest in an affordable membership. Many places will work with you and base your monthly cost off of your household income.

4. Buy Reusable vs Buying Disposable

I like plastic and paper plates just as much as the next person that occasionally hates washing dishes, BUT it really doesn’t save you any money at all. I remember living in my first apartment with my husband and never buying real baking dishes. I only needed them once in a blue moon, so I always chose to buy disposable instead. Years later .. still never bought a baking dish! The amount of times I ended up using a disposable option, I could have just bought a reusable dish (or two) with all of that money instead. Plates, utensils, water bottles, whatever the case may be, buy them all reusable, and not disposable.

5. Cook at Home, Cook From Scratch, Plant When Possible

My favorite thing to talk about when it comes to saving money on groceries and cooking is to start Meal Planning. I have a great break down for it here on my blog. Planning your meals helps to prevent over spending, cooking those meals from scratch help cut costs on premade and prepackaged items, and learning to be sustainable with your fresh produce by learning to plant your own saves cost (and possibly even your health) on your fresh ingredients.

6. Laundry Times, Laundry Temps, Laundry Frequency

I’ve heard once that doing dishes, laundry, and using your electric essentials between certain hours of the day can actually help to lower your energy costs. It didn’t make sense to me at first, but I became genuinely curious so I started to research it. I even went as far as trying it out for a while and really going over my energy bill at the end of the month and surprisingly I actually saw a difference. I started cautiously doing laundry after 7pm, which was the little energy trick that I picked up. I also washed in only cold water, and tried to decrease our laundry frequency (which is surprisingly hard with a family of 5!) but I tried to make it work.

7. Paying Off Credit Cards to a $0 balance

Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise that massive credit card debt is absolutely necessary for daily living. It’s NOT. I do however believe in them for emergency purposes (Although emergency savings should always come first) and building some sort of credit history, but if you’re looking to decrease your household expenses, a great way to do that is to pay down the unnecessary debt that’s wallowing over your head. Once it’s paid off, stick to the 30% utilization rule, and keep your monthly payments low.

8. Buy Used Cars

I know it seems nearly impossible with all of the fancy and flashy cars on the road, but say it with me, and more importantly start saying it to yourself when it’s time to car shop, “The value of a new car depreciates as soon as you drive it off of the lot.” More importantly, after you’ve paid a car payment between $300 – $400 for a year or two, how’s it feel knowing that it still won’t technically be yours to own until another couple thousand dollars are paid? New cars also mean higher required car insurance, on top of your regular gas and maintenance. Buying used isn’t always a taboo. It shouldn’t be. Any car can break down, any car can throw you curveballs, but a car that’s bought outright makes it yours. Yours to sell with no lien, and yours to junk if need be with no burden of still paying a remaining balance. One of the worst feelings is having something happen to your car and still having your loan creep over your head for something you aren’t even enjoying anymore.

9. Date Nights In

My husband and I are just natural homebodies (A match made in heaven!) so it’s always been pretty easy for us to get creative and just enjoy time together from the comfort of our own home. No lines, no crowds, and no extra spending! If you’re a couple that naturally likes to be out and about, that’s fine too. To cut back on expenses, start incorporating more nights in by renting a movie at home vs seeing one in theaters, or cooking your own romantic dinner together vs sitting down at a restaurant. For the times where you do want to get out of the house, check Groupon for local events in your area, or opt to grab cheaper prices by doing a lunch date vs a dinner date.

10. Kids Day “Out”

This same concept of “Date Night In” can even be applied to fun times for the kids. Let them do movie night in the living room, where you create fun treats, and make them their own movie boxes for snacking. You could also plan a scavenger hunt around your house or backyard, do a paint night for kids where you invite a few other friends over, and if the weather permits, the backyard possibilities could be endless for affordably fun times.

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