MortgageReal EstateVA Loans

Give Yourself a Financial Break as a Military Veteran

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Take advantage of special home loans if you’re currently serving in the military or have served in the military. You could qualify for mortgage cost savings as an active duty member or as a reservist. Specific mortgage cost savings that you could qualify for include a zero down payment, low interest rates, a cap on how much you have to contribute to closing costs and foreclosure protection. However, serving in the military isn’t always a home loan savings slam dunk. Preparation and the right documents are important. So too are the following actions.Prepare to Meet and Negotiate with Mortgage LendersReview your credit reports with the three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Clear up discrepancies, including erroneous charges, collections and other late payments that you previously resolved. Pay down debt. Set a goal to pay off credit cards, especially high interest credit cards. Avoid opening new credit card accounts.Lenders are going to take a pulse on your overall financial health. High debts could indicate that you’d struggle to pay your mortgage should even one event change in your life. High interest credit cards could also lend the appearance that your credit isn’t good enough for you to qualify for low interest credit cards, so again, pay off high interest credit cards early.If you receive a housing allowance, provide this information to lenders. A housing allowance is a benefit that active duty military members receive but may overlook when applying for a home loan. Should your spouse and you both serve in the military, the combined amount of your monthly housing allowance should be higher than if you were single. Contact your military human resources department if you’re unsure how much you receive in a monthly housing allowance.Get your financial records in order, meaning that you get paper copies of bank or credit union statements, a copy of your Statement of Service, DD-214 (if you’re retired), paystubs, tax returns and paperwork on existing loans including any small business loans you took out to start a company. Before you meet with lenders, determine how much house you can afford. Take advantage of online mortgage calculators.Factors to include in your calculations when you’re determining how much house you can afford are monthly homeowner’s insurance premiums, homeowner’s association fees (if they apply), the down payment you’re going to put on your new home, property taxes, repairs, closing costs and inspection fees. If you’re thinking about buying an older home, consider increasing the amount you’ll spend on repairs annually.Documentation together, it’s time to start the loan pre-approval process. Meet with lenders who are approved by the Veterans Administration to offer mortgage cost savings to retirees, reservists and active duty members. Do this before you meet with realtors, as getting pre-approved for a loan can yield you greater mortgage cost savings. Use your military housing allowance to prove your loan repayment power. Prepare to negotiate with lenders to get the best interest rates and mortgage premiums that you can.In addition to your financial records, other factors that lenders will review about you include your marital status and your length of service. Lenders may focus on whether you just joined the military, are soon to be discharged or if your military job requires you to relocate often.

Mortgage

Start Saving on Home Costs

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Your mortgage isn’t the only expense that can put a hole in your wallet. There are several hidden costs that come with owning a home. If you’re not aware of these costs, they can sneak up on you and quickly put you in a position where you can no longer afford your home. However, if you are caught by surprise when these bills arrive, there are seven steps that you can take to reduce the costs.

7 easy ways to save money as a homeowner

Utility bills are one of the biggest expenses that you’re responsible for as a homeowner. If you’re like many Americans who own a house, included among your utility bills are electric, telephone, gas, water and cable bills. By themselves, these bills equally add up to $250 to $300 a month.

Save money on utility bills by cutting out a service that you don’t use or moving to a less expensive service provider. Other ways to save money on utility bills include moving to a lower priced telephone package and only paying for cable channels that you actually use.

Here are six more ways to save on home expenses:

  • Water your lawn during the evening. It helps the earth to absorb water better, eliminating the need to use more water during the heat of the day to keep your grass from turning brown.
  • Perform regular maintenance on your house. Clean the gutters and repair cracks in your driveway and sidewalk when you see them instead of letting these damages get so big that they cost you hundreds of dollars to fix.
  • Rid of pests immediately. Pests can chew through your walls and damage furniture.
  • Work with your homeowner’s association to have them care for property around your home. Don’t take these projects on yourself if you don’t have to.
  • Bundle your homeowner’s insurance with your auto and life insurance. Ask the insurance company agent to give you a discount based on where you work and how long you have been a customer. Some employer’s offer discounts on insurance to their employees.
  • Install your own security alarm system. Depending on where you live, a security system that you buy from a housewares store might do the trick.

Another way to save on the cost of owning a house

Regardless of where you live, property taxes will probably rise at some point. The best way to save on property taxes is during the home buying process. Ask your real estate agent to find you a house that’s located in a thriving area that doesn’t have an enormous property tax attached to it. Let your real estate agent do the legwork for you. Don’t just look for a house that’s located in an area that has reasonable property tax rates. Go with a house that’s in an area that doesn’t experience frequent property tax increases.

If you’re a first time homeowner, you might be shocked at the hidden costs of home ownership. The sooner you familiarize yourself with the additional costs,the sooner you can prepare to meet the expenses. Knowing about the hidden costs of owning a house could also prevent you from getting in over your head and taking on more mortgage than you can afford.

Bedroom DecorationBedroom Design

Arrange Your Bedroom For Your Needs

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Especially if you’re starting in a room from scratch, it can be hard to figure out where you should place everything in a room. Your bedroom can be one of the most challenging rooms of the house to decorate. If you break down the room into small pieces, you can create a bedroom that’s right for you. Bedrooms need to hold more than just a bed. In today’s world, a bedroom can become a very multipurpose room.

Think Of The Components Of The Room

Bedrooms tend to be more of a multi-functional in a home due to the shifting nature of families. You do everything in there from sleep to watch television to get dressed in the mornings and evenings. This means that you’ll need some or all of the following in your bedroom:

  • Storage for clothing
  • A comfy bed
  • A media Center  
  • A chair
  • Home office supplies
  • Bookshelf
  • Television stand

Whatever purpose that your bedroom has to serve is what you’ll need in the room. This all depends upon the size of your home. You’ll have to arrange the room accordingly after these parameters are set. Your bedroom should feel personal; a place of self expression and comfort. Your bedroom is the place where you can display little pieces of your life. These should include personal photos, antiques, and all of your favorite things. This helps to make your bedroom your own. It will become a peaceful sanctuary that you love.  

  

Focus On Function

If your bedroom is well-lit and well arranged, the room undoubtedly will be more comfortable. The easier it is for you to find things and use the room the way it needs to be, the more comfortable you’ll be. While your bedroom should look nice, it’s yours to use. Your bedroom is the room of the house that should provide the most comfort for you. 

Get Creative

When it comes to the way that you arrange your bedroom, you can get as creative as you want. If you’re short on space, don’t hesitate to push the bed against a window. If you’re tired of the same old same in the bedroom, shuffle the furniture around. If you ensure that you have adequate lighting and seating in the room, you can do anything with it!

Don’t Multipurpose The Room If You Don’t Have To

Although it’s nice to have access to everything in one room, bedrooms work best when they are singularly purposed. You’ll sleep better and get more rest if you keep things like computers and televisions out of the bedroom. You can easily arrange a bedroom when you keep your own desires at the heart of the design.

InsomniaSleepSleep Better

Improving Your Sleep At Home

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We’ve all had those times when we can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep. If you recently moved to a new home or if you’re on vacation, the new environment or mattress can make it difficult to fall asleep.

It’s even more frustrating when you’re in the comfort of your own home but are still having trouble sleeping.

In this article, we’re going to give you some tips and habits you can build to help better your sleep. We’ll talk about ways to get to sleep on time, how to improve your sleeping habits, and how to sleep through the night.

Getting to bed on time

Most of us live busy lives that make it hard to unwind at the end of the day. Others simply have a hard time calling it quits on the show or movie they’re watching when they should be getting some sleep. Either way, it’s essential to build a good bedtime routine to make sure you’re falling asleep at an appropriate time each night.

To start, you’ll want to make sure you assign yourself a bed time. Though bed times seem like a rule for children, it can help adults vastly improve their sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each morning reinforces your body’s natural sleep cycle.

To ensure you go to bed on time, you can set a reminder or alarm on your phone for a half-hour before you need to be in bed. This will give you time to finish what you’re doing and get ready for bed.

There are also apps that will help you do this, which we’ll talk about in the next section.

Monitor your sleep

Sleep is deeply important to how we function throughout our day. A poor night’s sleep is a short-term hindrance, putting us in a bad mood or making it difficult to focus. But, in the long run, lacking sleep is a health risk that has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other serious illnesses.

The takeaway? We should all take sleep seriously. To do so, a good way is to monitor your sleep. One easy way is to download an app that does just that. For iPhone users, the pre-installed Bedtime feature (part of the Clock app) is a simple way to set reminders and gain insight into your sleeping habit.

A more thorough way to monitor your sleep is to keep a sleep journal or to buy a smartwatch that tracks your sleep for you. Regardless of your method, keeping tabs on your sleep quality will help you prioritize your health and wellness.

Quick tips for improving your sleep

  • Go to bed at the same time each time

  • Avoid bright screens (phone, TV, laptop) for an hour before bed

  • Read, knit, or do some other relaxing hobby before bed

  • Don’t eat for two hours before bed

  • If you can’t sleep, try listening to calming music or a guided meditation

  • If you’re a light sleeper, try wearing comfortable earplugs and an eye mask to bed

Interior DesignMinimalism

How To Recreate Nordic Style In Your Home

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Want to get the sleek and stylish Scandinavian look in your new home? It’s much easier than you might think. And it doesn’t require buying all your furniture from Ikea. I’ve got a few tips for you to create a warm, welcoming home that could grace the pages of any home design magazine.

When attempting to recreate this look most go wrong by painting everything black and white. The real secret to this look, however, is in the details. Less is always more so a serious decluttering project will start you off on the right foot. And don’t think that the only way to recreate this look is to replace all your furniture. In fact, working with existing pieces will make the look feel more natural and unassuming.

You probably already know to reach for shades of grays, whites, and creams when choosing your color palette. But having some color is crucial. Blue is the perfect addition of color for this look especially for a sofa, some throw pillows or your kitchen table chairs. When adding other colors do so sparingly to really make a statement. For example, a yellow lamp in the kitchen, green chairs in the dining room or pink throw pillows on the couch.

To avoid a cold, sterile environment natural elements like wood, stone, and glass add warmth back into the room. Copper and gold accents also warm up a room while keeping a modern touch. Think a natural wood table top where the grain takes center stage or copper hardware that pops when placed against blacks and whites.

Give your space a welcoming homey feel by reaching for texture to create visual interest. Think furry pillows, woven textiles, and chunky knits. Monochrome artwork breaks up blank walls without looking out of place and furniture pieces are the main attraction. There’s no need for knick-knacks here, in fact, they’re best donated or stored away. To stay true to this look each piece you add to the room should have a function.

Another key to this look is lighting. During the day you want to let in as much of it as you can. While curtains and blinds are often skipped altogether pleated and roman blinds maintain privacy and a clean look. When choosing curtains stick to your neutral palette and avoid prints or dramatic drapery. For the night you can create perfect ambiance with string lights and paper lanterns. As a bonus, a paper lantern floor lamp pulls double duty by adding natural texture to the room.

The sleek clean lines of Scandinavian design, especially those you see in catalogs, can seem impossible to replicate. At least not without replacing everything you own. But the truth is it is easily achievable to recreate with your existing furniture. With a little creativity, a few cans of paint and a lot of decluttering you’ll have a cozy, modern home before you know it.