Saying Goodbye

photo (2)

I got the dreaded phone call yesterday. I actually missed the call so the the veterinarian left me a voice mail  informing me that Ruby’s biopsy results were back and they were troubling. My sweet girl has cancer. It’s not like I thought she was immortal but when are you ever ready to say goodbye to someone you love?

Ruby has been with us since hubby and I got married (he adopted her about five years prior) making her almost 9 years old. She has been through everything with us. Ruby served as a constant stress-relieving energy.  She reminds us to live in the moment. Not to worry. Not to hold grudges. To have fun. To be free. To love.

We will be meeting with our vet tomorrow. Our number one concern is that she is pain-free. We want her to continue to life her life peacefully. I anticipate we will be making some very tough decisions.

My hope is for anyone reading this is that they embrace the day. Get off your computer (or tablet or phone!) and make memories with the ones you love. Life is brief and your memories are truly priceless.

Advice for Young, First-Time Home Buyers

advice for young first time home buyers

My husband I were 23 when we purchased our first (and current) house. We were very young and very excited home buyers. Despite having student loan debt, we were determined to follow our dreams and become home owners. When the time came to get serious about buying a home, I was a little overwhelmed. There are so many things to consider as a young, first time home buyer. Here are a few things I wish I knew before I started house hunting:

1) Closing Costs

Closing costs are the fees charged by lenders for the purchase of the home. Closing costs are not cheap! They can cost up to 5% of the selling price of the house. Just keep this in mind when you are getting ready to purchase a house and trying to calculate how much your mortgage will be. I think it’s easily overlooked during the process.

You can’t really avoid closing costs but they can be a great bargaining chip when negotiating an offer. When we purchased our house, the sellers would not budge on price but they did agree to cover closing costs. Score!

2) Repairs and Maintenance 

I did some research and discovered that most people say to budget about 1-2% of the selling price of the house each year for repairs and maintenance costs. After two years of being a home owner, this estimate has been pretty accurate. Over the last two years we’ve re-coated the wood floors, replaced the washer and dryer and water heater. There are still many things I would like do including a kitchen and bathroom remodel!

The key point to remember is that you will be paying more than just your mortgage each month for your housing costs. When you are trying to figure out how much house you can afford, make sure you budget for repairs and maintenance.

3) Getting Qualified for a Mortgage

Despite only having a few months of work history and a boatload of student loan debt, we were shocked with the amount of mortgage we had been pre-qualifed for. It was a lot more than we were planning on spending.  For a split second I was excited thinking about what a nice house we could get.. Maybe we could get that three car garage and finished basement after all. Then I came back to reality.

Don’t be tempted to live beyond your means just because a mortgage company is willing to give you a “big” loan. Remember lenders don’t know your budget or how much you can afford. Only you know what is best for you and your family.

4) Get advice from people you trust 

Getting ready to commit to buying a house and all the responsibilities that come with being a homeowner is a big deal. It’s stressful and overwhelming. I highly recommend that you take advice from people you trust.  When we found a house that we liked, we asked my parents to come with us when we went to a second showing. I was shocked at all the things my parents noticed about the house. “Liz did you see that crack in the ceiling? It looks like water damage.”

“UMMM NO?!”

My parents are experienced homeowners and it seemed like they had a trained eye for looking at houses. At 23, my husband and I knew nothing. Make sure you can find someone you trust for both advice and support during the home buying process.

Are you getting ready to buy your first home? If you already own a home, what is one thing you wish you would have done differently when purchasing your first home?

June {in Review}

june in review

This is my flower pot at the front door. This summer I decided to purchase the individual flowers and plant them myself. Usually I buy the already potted flowers. I don’t think this DIY method really saved money, but it was fun picking out the flowers and planting them! Anyways, now that July is half over, I figure it’s about time to talk about June. My, how fast time (especially summertime) flies.

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Experience Budget Freedom and iPad Mini Giveaway

The Lemonade Stand

Mention the word budget to some people and it’s like you uttered a nasty word. I feel the exact opposite. Budgets represent freedom versus restriction to me. And just like Liz does, I believe when you budget properly, you can budget for more, rather than less.

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My Top 4 Favorite Games

favorite games

One of my favorite frugal activities is playing games. I think it’s an activity often overlooked and underrated. However, every time I start playing a game, I’m surprised by how much fun I’m having. By the way, I’m talking old-school, zero technology games. My parents never let us have game systems growing up so I never got into them. I have really come to appreciate the joy of playing a game. Add a bowl of popcorn and/or a beer and I’m set. Today I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite games:

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