Claire LeBlanc - REALTY EXECUTIVES



Posted by Claire LeBlanc on 6/24/2020

Image by Wellnhofer Designs from Shutterstock

When youíre relocating you search for a property and learn the real estate market in your new area. Are you also looking at what the general cost of living is in your new city? The cost of living can be very different from state to state and city to city. Here are some common daily expenses you may want to research as part of your relocation planning. 

Groceries

The cost of groceries and home goods can vary drastically from place to place. If youíre moving to a new city or state your general cost of goods may increase or decrease depending on where you move. This is a cost many people donít consider when thinking about the affordability of a new area. The price of milk might be 50% more or even double the cost from where you live now. The same shampoo you purchase in California might be half of the cost in Arizona. A change in sales tax will also make a difference in what you pay for goods. To gather information about how this may impact you, check into a few retail stores in your target area (or online if you canít be local) and make some price comparisons based on the products you purchase regularly.

Transportation

Gas prices can make a difference to your monthly costs. On the coasts, prices can be as high as $4.00 or more per gallon, but in the Midwest and South prices can be under $2.00 a gallon. If youíre moving to a location where gas prices increase consider those additional fill-ups when determining what commute you can manage. Is it most cost-effective for you to live further away from your workplace in a less expensive home? Does it make more sense to find a home closer to work allowing for a shorter commute or the use of a public transportation option? Consider also the amount of time youíre willing to spend on your commute each day.

Food and Entertainment

The amount you spend on entertainment and dining each month may change when you move. In some places a higher minimum wage is set for service industry workers, so a lower tip percentage is common. In other locations the service industry wage is quite low, so a higher tip percentage is the norm. Explore the activities you enjoy while you house hunt to get a better idea of what differences you might experience in your new location.

Services

Finally, the cost of general services can affect your bottom line. From your new hairdresser to housekeeping services to home repair companies you could see a change in pricing. If you frequently use these types of services or would like to, consider how the average cost for them fits into your monthly budget. 

These cost differences may not seem like a big factor, but they can impact your monthly expenses. If youíre moving to a more affordable place you may save enough on basic goods and services that you can increase your mortgage budget. However, if youíre relocating to a city with a higher cost of living, you may need to revisit your monthly budget to see what you can really afford.




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Posted by Claire LeBlanc on 12/19/2018

Home prices may vary greatly throughout the country. But, buying a home is most likely the largest purchase you will make in your life.

Deciding just how much to spend on your home isnít just a matter of numbers--it also depends on your lifestyle and long-term goals.

In todayís post, Iím going to give you a few ways you can help determine how much is a safe amount to spend on your home so that youíll feel confident moving into the home buying process that youíre making the best decision for you and your family.

Mortgage as a percent of your income

Like most large purchases, buying a home typically isnít dependent on the amount you have in the bank. Rather, it depends on several factors including your income, credit score, and the type of lifestyle you want to maintain.

One of the simplest ways to determine how much house you can afford is to figure out what percent of your monthly income your mortgage and insurance will be.

For most homeowners, a mortgage payment that is 25% of their income or less is ideal. So, if you earn $6,000 per month, you donít want your monthly mortgage payment to exceed $1,500.

This ď25% ruleĒ does have one flaw, however, and that does not--and cannot--account for each individualís financial circumstances.

Letís say, for example, that you earn $6,000 per month, but that you have a large monthly car payment and are trying to aggressively pay off your student loans. You might find that paying another $1,500 toward a mortgage on top of your current bills is bringing you over budget, especially when combined with your other monthly expenses and retirement contributions.

Plan for homeowner expenses

Another caveat to determining how much to spend on a home is that the home itself will require a budget for maintenance. When renting an apartment, repairs are mostly the responsibility of the landlord or property manager.

Homeownership, on the other hand, requires you to make the repairs yourself or hire a professional. And, if you neglect these repairs, you might find that they cost you even more in the long run or drive down the value of your home.

Create a comprehensive budget

Throughout a given personís life, theyíll experience raises, promotions, layoffs, medical expenses, childcare costs, and any other number of financial changes. While it isnít possible to foresee all of the financial fluctuations youíll experience in life, it is always helpful to have a comprehensive budget.

What do I mean by ďcomprehensive budgetĒ? The goal of a good budget is to know where each dollar of your income is currently going and to have a plan for each cent that you make. This is a proactive approach to budgeting that will give you an exact number for the amount you can afford when it comes to a mortgage payment.

Within your budget, itís vital to account for things like an emergency fund, retirement, savings for vacations, and so on.

If you take this due diligence, not only will you have a better sense of where your money goes, but youíll also be confident in knowing exactly how much you can spend on a home.




Tags: Buying a home   budgeting  
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Posted by Claire LeBlanc on 10/10/2018

A lot changes when you move into a new home. For the first few weeks youíll most likely be focused on getting everything arranged and put away in their proper locations. Youíll be adjusting to your new work commute, meeting the neighbors, finding out where to shop, and so on.

Itís easy to forget about updating your budget during the first couple of months in your new home. However, if you want to be mindful of your spending and gauge the true cost of living in your new home, itís essential to start tracking expenses and creating your budget as soon as possible.

In this article, weíre going to show you how to make a new budget for your new home so that you can start accurately planning your long term finances. That way, you and your family can rest assured that you arenít living above your means in your new home and can stop stressing about spending.

Cost of living changes

When most of us move we think about the change of our mortgage payments, property taxes, and home insurance. However, there are several smaller changes that will occur in your day-to-day spending habits that you might not think to update in your budget.

First off, make a note of how much youíre spending on transportation (whether itís train fare or gas for your car) in your new home and adjust this on your budget. This is hard to predict before you move since you canít be sure of the traffic patterns until your first trip to the office.

Next, make a list of your monthly services, including utilities. Weíre talking about internet, cable, trash and recycling, heating and electricity, and so on. At the end of the first month, add each of those to your budget and decide if you want to spend less on any of them.

One surprise expense that many people have when they move is the cost of internet. Your old plan at your former residence might not cut it if you move to an area with different coverage.

Furnishing your new home

Even if youíre moving with most of your furniture and appliances, there will likely still be expenses that youíll need to plan for in your new home.

It might be tempting to make all of these purchases at once so that you can feel like your move is ďcomplete.Ē However, the best course of action is to include these items into your monthly budget so that you are prepared for emergency expenses.

Decide which items you need the most in your new home, and prioritize purchasing those on the first month. Youíll likely realize after just the first couple of nights in your new house which items you need now and which can wait.

Budgeting apps and tools

Everyone has their own preferred method of record-keeping. Some people keep their budget in a notebook or planner, whereas others like to use an app that they can access on their phone or laptop.

There are dedicated budgeting apps and web applications that link to your bank account and tell you how much left you can spend that month and if there is an issue with your budget. Several such apps are available for free in both Android and Apple app stores.

For a simpler budget, you can simply use the spreadsheet application of your choice (Excel, Numbers, and Google Sheets are all sufficient).

Regardless of what tool you use, make sure you check in on your budget frequently to ensure youíre sticking to it and making adjustments as needed.




Tags: budgeting   budget   moving  
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Posted by Claire LeBlanc on 9/17/2014

It is great to have a room renovation every once in a while but painting and changing the look of a room can be costly and time consuming. Here are three quick and simple ways to change the look of your room without busting the budget.

  1. Window Treatments are one of the quickest, simplest and most affordable ways to change the whole look and feel of a room. If you prefer to take the focus away from the windows, choose neutral colors, and a simple style. If you would like to create a dramatic look and emphasize the view, choose more color or a bolder style in the window treatments. A layered look with sheers or a top treatment will also do the trick.
  2. Lighting can definitely add color. A simple solution would be to add colored bulbs to some of your light fixtures. Incandescent lighting can also add more warmth, and accent lighting can highlight an area of the room. Transform a roomís mood with dimmers, uplights, and sheer textile lampshades. Wall sconces, floor lamps and even candles can also change the look of a room.
  3. Artwork can change the look without busting the budget. Artwork can be from a local gallery, childrenís drawings or just what you already have hanging around the house. Choose pieces that showcase intense colors but also work well with the existing pieces in your room. Try moving your current artwork around. Photos, vases, and other collectibles can give new life to a room. Group them in sets of three or five for an instant eye-catching display.
The possibilities are endless. You can infuse a lot of color into any room without once having to pry open a paint can or spend a fortune. Have fun!  





Posted by Claire LeBlanc on 6/11/2014

If you are looking for ways save money, cutting back on grocery expenses is often an easy way to reduce your spending. Here are ten tips to master frugal grocery shopping. A little planning can save you some big bucks over the long term. 1. Make a list. Before you head out to the store, prepare a list of everything you need, making sure you have everything needed for your weekly menu. Before you leave, check to make sure you don't have it in your pantry, fridge or freezer. Stick to that list and don't buy anything else. 2. Plan a menu. Plan a weekly menu for each week. This way you will know exactly what to buy. Be sure to plan a leftovers night. 3. Don't shop hungry. When you're hungry, everything looks good. When you shop hungry you'll end up spending a lot more. Eat first and then you will be able to stick to your list. 4. Set a budget. When you go to the store, know exactly how much you can spend. Then try your best to stick within that limit. Keep a running tally as you shop to ensure that you're within your budget. 5. Create a grocery spreadsheet. Keep your grocery receipts, then enter into a spreadsheet. This will be your price and comparison list. Use it so you know when bulk or sale items are a good deal. 6. Cook and freeze. Plan to cook a big amount of food and freeze it for multiple dinners. A great idea is to use one Sunday and cook a week's (or even a month's) worth of dinners. Plan 5-6 freezable dinners and cook them all at once. 7. Shop for specials. Every store has specials. Be sure to look for them in the newspaper, or when you get to the store. Don't buy things you don't use just because they are on sale; make sure you will use the items. 8. Buy store brands. Brand names are often no better than generic, and you're paying for all the advertising they do to have a brand name. Give the store brand a try, and often you won't notice a difference. 9. No "one-item" trips. They waste gas, and almost inevitably, you buy more than that one item. If you plan ahead, make a weekly menu, and shop with a list, this should drastically reduce the number of trips you make for a small number of items. 10. Stock up. Sale items can be a great deal. If it's an item you normally use, buy a bunch of them.







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