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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My Top 5 Cloth Diaper Brands

My Top 5 Cloth Diaper Brands - Chic and Domestic

I had such a hard time collecting my top 5 cloth diaper brands. And yes, I’ve tried out that many. Diving into the cloth diaper world can be completely overwhelming if you let it be, and I know that personally, I had no idea where to start in the beginning. My biggest help was choosing at least one cute print that I was in love with, and going from there. Cloth diapering can be a lot of trial and error in the beginning, but having prints that I loved really helped me stay motivated to make it work. It’s like those favorite pair of jeans that you’re determined to hop back into after pregnancy. They’re cute! They’re perfect, you could never give up and let them go to waste.

1. Alva Cloth Diaper

Alva Cloth Diapers definitely make my number one choice. They probably take up the majority of my cloth diaper collection. They’re in the lower price range (between $5 – $10) and they carry a TON of beautiful prints for little ones. I also love how easy they’ve been to purchase when I’m looking for new prints. They sell directly through their website, and they’re also available on Amazon. I was originally hesitant to purchase from them, thinking that maybe I should bite the bullet and spend more for quality, but we diaper 3 littles on a daily basis and these bad boys have held up GREAT. The pockets are a good size for stuffing the diapers, and we have never had any leaks, and no need for repairs as of yet. I’m nothing less than pleased with every purchase thus far.

2. Bitty Bum Baby

I can’t say enough about Bitty Bum Baby. I only own 3 of their diapers so far, but their prints (can you tell I’m a print snob?) are completely adorable. I was actually extremely pleased to find out that they’re a small owned business. Not only was I able to shop small, but I was also able to support a local business in the process. She had great customer service, and I love the relatable story behind her business being that she’s a work at home mom. The pocket size was perfect and I also got a few organic hemp inserts during a sale. When I say these inserts are my favorite hemp inserts, I mean it. No exaggeration. The diapers go for only $6.50, so right up alley for a mom trying to cover 3 booties.

3. Mama Koala

I could start by telling you that Mama Koala is the place to be if you’re looking for a wide variety of prints, but I’m sure you could have guessed that. I feel like Mama Koala Diapers are probably a great option for smaller babies. My twins always had the tinniest little legs, and even though these don’t have the hip adjustments like a lot of my other diapers, they still manage to fit them perfectly. I like the large pocket opening, but I must say I wish it elastic on both sides of the opening. It hasn’t been an issue for us thus far though, so no worries. I got my first set of these for $40 from Amazon. It came as a 6 pack with 6 inserts. All beautiful prints.

4. Lighthouse Kids Company

As much as I love my lower priced diapers, I had to give a little love to Lighthouse Kids Company for their amazing diapers. I only have one, (yes one) single diaper in my stash, but it’s been so sturdy and reliable. I love the elastic around the waist of the diaper, it’s equip with adjustable snaps, and hello guys, the prints! A downside is that I only see these diapers retail for around $20, which is more than I normally spend considering I try to buy multiple diapers at a time, but I would totally pay for the quality. Another downside is having access to these diapers to purchase them. I’ve yet to discover a direct website for them, they’re only located at other stores around The U.S and Internationally. So, while it is one of my favs, and I would totally recommend the purchase if you find one, I can’t say I see myself adding too many to my stash in the future.

5. Bum Genius 5.0

I didn’t start my journey buying a lot of Bum Genius diapers, even though I’ve always heard great things. It was just that they’re priced between $15- $20 and that wasn’t something I wanted to spend just in case the cloth life wasn’t for me. Now, being more experienced with cloth diapers, I’ve finally purchased a few and I love them. They’ve been great overnight diapers, the adjustable snaps are great, and the solid colored diapers are vibrant. I really feel like they provide enough options to fit just about any cloth mama, and her preferences for her little one.

 

Interested in more of my cloth diaper posts!? Looking to get into cloth diapering all together? Check out Part 1 of my “All About Cloth Series” to get you going, OR, read all about “What’s In MY Diaper Bag. Cloth Edition.

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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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How to Create a Household Budget

Creating a budget that works for you, Where to start, and What it takes to make it last.

With the start of a new month, it feels like the perfect time for a fresh start with everything. It’s like a breath of fresh air. A clean slate. Maybe last month your finances weren’t quite where you wanted or needed them to be. That’s fine, no problem. That just means it’s time to create a household budget that you can stick to.

Most people think budgets suck! “Eww, what’s a budget?” “Budget? HA. We’re too rich for a budget.” WRONG. No matter how much money you have coming in, if you can’t account for every dollar you’re spending, you probably either aren’t spending it wisely, or you my friend are more than likely spending money that you don’t really have. Instead of viewing budgeting as a negative thing, view it as more as a critical tool to help you reach your financial goals.

Your finances are extremely important, but budgeting can, and more than likely will be a trial and error experience. What works for you may not work for someone else. Everyone’s pennies are different, and everyone’s expenses vary. The only things that will be the same for everyone is that everyone will have expenses. Unless of course, you’re just living off of the land, creating your own textiles, sewing your own clothes, and walking or riding a bike wherever you need to travel. And, everyone will need some sort of income to pay those expenses.
Now is the perfect time, now more than ever, to find what works for you and really start to concur your finances.

What a Budget Does

Budgets give you the tools you need to plan for how you will be spending over a period of time (usually month to month), how you can or will be saving over a period of time, and it can also be used to keep track of your spending patterns so you can start to see exactly where your money goes.

Where to Start

For most people, finances are scary, but it’s vital to keep your financial house in order. At some point, you need to think of your family finances like a business. You need to be detailed, accurate, and as thorough as possible. If you have your last 2 or 3 months of income statements, bank statements, or copies of your bills, start there. Gather this information to review so you can get a better idea of your average income, and expense numbers.

1. Record your average monthly income
Record the average monthly take home pay for your household. This is where being detailed and thorough comes in handy. If you have your last few paystubs or bank statements, this should help to give you an average number of what you’re bringing home per week, biweekly, or monthly. Use this to determine what your total monthly income number is, because this is what you’ll be using for your budgeting since you’re recording expenses on a monthly basis.

2. Create a list of household expenses
Now that you have a clear idea of what money you have coming in, create a list of household expenses. Everything that you can think of. Don’t just include household bills, (mortgage payment, car payments, auto insurance, groceries, utilities, entertainment) and then forget to include expenses like your actual household items. Cleaning supplies, sponges, rags; if you change them out monthly, toilet paper, paper towels, all of these things are also considered household expenses, because these are things that you will inevitably need in your home every month.

3. Categorize your list of household expenses
Separate your expenses into two categories: fixed and variable. Your fixed expenses will be the things that stay relatively constant each month. Things that are usually a requirement to your everyday living like, rent or mortgage, car payment, cable/ internet, credit card payments if you have them. You won’t really find these expenses sporadically changing.
Variable expenses are your expenses that may change from month to month. Items like gas, groceries, entertainment, and even your grooming (hair, nails, haircuts) budget. These expenses may or may not be essential to your everyday living, but these are normally the things that are easiest to make changes when in need of cutting back.

4. Total your monthly income and expenses
After totaling both your income and expenses, you should have an end result that shows more income than expenses. This means that you’re bringing in an adequate amount of income to cover your monthly expenses. Pat yourself on the back, that’s great! This means that you can start using your excess money to use for a designated savings of your choice, and or extra splurges and entertainment. If your results show that your expenses are higher than your income, no worries. This just means that you’ll have to do some adjusting to your budget and expenses.

5. Make adjustments to your budget
If you have accurately listed all of your expenses, the end goal should be having your income and expenses either be equal, or have an increase in your income amount. If you happen to have increase in your expense number, you should look at your list of variable expenses first to either decrease costs, or cut them all together. You currently can’t afford it. Since these expenses are typically non-essential, it should be easy to find ways to bring you closer to your income number, whether that be decreasing your grocery budget, finding a cheaper hairstylist, or decreasing how often you’re getting your nails done. Another great thing to look out for when decreasing expenses would be things gym memberships and subscription services.

6. Review your budget (Trial and Error)
Now that you’ve created your budget, here is when the trial and error comes in. It’s important to go back and review your budget, weekly to make sure that you’re staying on track with expenses and saving, but you should also look over your budget again after your first official month using it. Sit down and compare what you planned for expenses, versus what you actually spent. This will help to show you where you did well, and where you might need to make improvements. If there is a large difference between what you expected and the reality, then you might need to increase your budgeted expenses accordingly. If there is a slight difference, that’s still okay. Trial and error. Just work harder throughout the next month to stay within budget. Soon you’ll be budgeting and spending like a pro!

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