Connie Dunlap's Blog
If your household budget seems a little tight, lately, there may be several ways to ease it.
It's amazing how many people do not keep track of where their money goes, which is often the reason it disappears so quickly!
Another piece of the puzzle is the fact that we're all creatures of habit. With few exceptions, most of us go through the motions of our lives on auto-pilot. In some ways, that works to our advantage, but in other ways, it can hinder our progress.
Saving Money Begins With Awareness
One approach to reducing stress and improving the quality of life is to save money and curb expenses, whenever possible. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to deprive yourself or your family of anything you need or want. What it does mean is eliminating spending that is wasteful, unnecessary, or redundant.
The first step involves sitting down and creating a household budget on your computer. There's no need to purchase and learn any fancy software. Many people are comfortable with creating budgets and other documents on Excel spreadsheets or Quicken, while others prefer setting up simple tables on a word processing program like MS Word. The interesting thing about creating a document with your monthly expenses and income on it is that it provides a visual depiction of your cash flow. In other words, it shows where, when, and how your money is coming and going!
Analyze and Take Action
After you've identified areas in which you can cut back without causing any hardship, the next step is to actually implement those changes. If you weren't able to identify any sources of wasteful, unnecessary, or excessive spending from creating a budget, then take a look at your monthly invoices for items like credit cards, cable TV, cell phones, and other services.
By examining the services you're paying for, you may realize you're paying for more than you need or even use. Sometimes by switching your service plan to a more basic option, you can save hundreds of dollars a year. In the case of credit cards, if you've been paying your bills on time and not making a habit of maxing out your account, you may be able to request and receive a lower interest rate. This is yet another way to reduce your expenses and keep more of what your earn. Comparing insurance plans and switching to a more economical plan or provider is another strategy for reducing costs and easing budgetary strains.
There are also free worksheets, budget calculators, and other resources online that can help you take charge of your spending and saving habits. Setting financial goals, establishing priorities, controlling impulse buying, saving a portion of your income (especially bonuses, tax refunds, and raises) and keeping track of your spending on a daily basis are also key parts of an effective money management plan. As a side note: If you need to consult with a reliable credit counselor for help, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission provides helpful information.
In certain states, attorneys are almost required in order for you to purchase a home. In many states, real estate matters can be handled completely by the real estate agent themselves along with a title company. An attorney’s presence is not required in these states. This is when hiring a real estate agent is most important.
Buying A Home With An Agent
You can either get your own buyer’s agent to represent you, or you can use the seller’s agent to help you seal the deal. It’s a good idea to have your own agent to represent you, but you have the right to use either option. A buyer’s agent has a duty to keep the buyer’s best interests in mind and to keep all of the buyer’s information private and confidential.
It’s important to find your own buyer’s agent before you even start the house hunting process. Your agent can be a valuable resource in helping you to choose the right home for you and your family. If you decide to use the seller’s agent, their loyalty will be divided between the sellers and you. This is a fine choice as it will be balanced. However, you may want an agent who is completely dedicated to you so that your needs and interests are adequately represented.
If you have a question as to whether an agent is actually representing you as a buyer, the seller, or both, it should be clearly stated in writing for you. This way there will be no questioning as to whom is being represented by who.
Buyer’s Agent Duties
Having a buyer’s agent is a great resource for you. An agent will be able to help you search for properties. The agent can help you to see properties in person if you are unable to make it to an open house. Buyer’s agents also can provide market analysis to help discover a home’s value. They’ll also strategize with you on negotiating. Other things that the buyer’s agent can assist you with are:
- Presenting your offer
- The home inspection
- The application for a mortgage
- The completion of the purchase and sales agreement
- Attend the final walkthrough at the closing
Finding a buyer’s agent is an important part of buying a home. The agent can help you throughout the entire process from finding a home to closing on a home. Your agent can even give you recommendations on everyone who may need to be involved on the road to home ownership including attorneys, inspectors and contractors. It’s important to have someone around who knows all about real estate and can understand every step of the home buying process.