Barbara Cleland Realty Group's Blog
If you're not one of those people who "seizes the moment" when you have the chance to save money, it might pay to establish some new bargain-hunting habits. When you adopt the mindset of a frugal shopper, you'll become more effective at stretching your household budget and having more money left over after paying the bills. One costly mistake a lot of people make is to wait until they urgently need something before buying it. Under those conditions, the pressure is on and your choices for saving money are usually limited. If your priorities include saving money, getting the best deal, or stocking up for future needs, then buying things when they're on sale is often the way to make your funds go farther. Here are a few examples of opportunities that can pass you by if you don't take advantage of them while you can:
- Going out of business sales: There are a lot of reasons a store might be closing its doors, but in many cases that closure could mean substantial savings for you and your family. If the manager's objective is to liquidate as much of the store's inventory as possible, then you could easily negotiate incredible bargains. Although a store's signs and ads might be more promotional than factual ("Everything must go! No reasonable offer refused!"), if they're selling things you need or anticipate needing, it's probably worth stopping by and checking out the sale.
- End of season sales: When a season or major holiday comes to an end, you may not be in the mood to buy a discounted snow-blower, lawn mower, or Christmas decorations. However, if you can afford it and you know it's something you're going to need next year, it may make sense to buy it now and enjoy the savings later.
- Scratch and dent sales: Consumer products like household appliances can be quite expensive if you don't look for sales, compare prices, and take advantage of money-saving opportunities. If a retailer is willing to reduce the price of an appliance, a furniture set, or a piece of home office equipment because of a cosmetic flaw or some other minor issue that won't affect it's performance or quality, you might be able to get an exceptionally good deal on the item. Sometimes asking a store manager if they have any unadvertised discounts or distressed merchandise can result in unexpected savings.
- Surplus merchandise, overstocks, clearance sales, and closeouts: Theoretically, you should be able to save a bundle of money when you shop at stores advertising clearance sales and surplus inventory. Although results may vary depending on the nature of the sale, it often pays to keep an eye out for clearance or surplus inventory sales when hunting for good bargains.
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.
Whether your adult children have left the nest or you recently decided to "upsize" to a larger house, you're now faced with the minor "problem" of what to do with that extra space. While some homeowners just use it for storage or guest bedrooms, there are plenty of other possibilities that are well worth considering.
Exercise room: In spite of the many proven benefits of regular exercise -- ranging from increased strength and endurance to weight control and slowing down the aging process, many people have trouble getting started and staying motivated. It's a lot easier to come up with a laundry list of excuses than join a gym and stick with an exercise program. It's surprising how many people actually join a health club, but then stop going after the novelty (and their enthusiasm) wears off.
However, when you create a dedicated fitness space at home, most of your former excuses no longer hold water! With a home gym or exercise room, you not only have convenience, privacy, and 24/7 availability, but there are no parking issues, traffic problems, membership fees, or noisy weightlifters. If you prefer a regimen that's less vigorous, there's always the option to use the room for yoga, tai chi, and meditation.
Home office: With more homeowners telecommuting, consulting, freelancing, blogging, and starting ecommerce stores, it makes sense to set aside a dedicated space in your home for business and career development. A home office is also a quieter place to go for other tasks, such as paying bills, applying for jobs, social networking, catching up on your email correspondence, or planning your next vacation.
Home library: If you or any of your family are avid readers, a room with lots of built-in shelving, comfortable furniture, and adjustable lighting would be the perfect place to curl up with a good book and a hot cup of tea. Not only would a home library be the ideal environment for reading, studying, or doing research, but it might even encourage your children to cultivate more of an appreciation for reading and learning.
Craft room: Whether there are artists, embroiderers, or jewelry makers in your household, a special room for artistic endeavors lends itself to creativity, while helping to keep craft supplies and projects confined to one area of the house! A craft room can also be ideal for storing gift-wrapping supplies and holiday cards.
Music room: If your family is musically inclined, a separate room for practicing instruments is beneficial to both budding musicians and those who want to watch TV, do homework, or have quiet conversations elsewhere in the house. A dedicated music room can also be a good spot for making music videos, recording music, and having jam sessions.
As you can imagine, extra space in your house gives you and your family the opportunity for more physical, intellectual, and creative development. Designating a spare room, a finished basement, or an attic area for artistic expression or personal development may even encourage others in your family to discover and cultivate their hidden and emerging talents!
If you want to sell a house in a buyer's market, it pays to allocate the necessary time and resources to differentiate your home listing from others. Because if you create an informative and engaging home listing, you should have no trouble stirring up interest in your residence, even in a buyer's market.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you differentiate your home listing in a buyer's market.
1. Consider the Buyer's Perspective
In a buyer's market, a homebuyer has no shortage of high-quality residences at his or her disposal. As such, you'll want to consider how a buyer may approach your residence and tailor your house listing accordingly.
Think about what led you to purchase your residence in the first place. Then, you can create a home listing that highlights your house's distinct features.
For example, if your home boasts a large, luxurious in-ground swimming pool, you may want to include details about it in your home listing. Or, if your house is located just minutes from many popular attractions, you may want to incorporate this information into your house listing.
2. Be Honest with Buyers
Your goal as a home seller is to craft a house listing that showcases your residence's features. At the same time, you'll want to be honest with buyers to help them make an informed decision about whether to pursue your home.
A detailed home listing that includes accurate information about your house is paramount. Because if your listing is misleading or inaccurate, it may cause problems down the line.
Remember, any problems with a house likely will be identified during a home inspection, a key step in the homebuying process. And if you try to hide these issues, it may slow down or stop a home sale from happening. Conversely, if you are honest with buyers from the beginning, you can make it easy for them to determine whether your residence is the right choice.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
A buyer's market can be tough to navigate, regardless of where you live. Luckily, real estate agents are available to assist sellers in any buyer's market, at any time.
With a real estate agent at your side, you can craft a home listing that hits the mark with the right groups of homebuyers. In fact, a real estate agent will guide you along the home selling journey and help you identify and address any hurdles along the way.
Typically, a real estate agent will learn about your home selling goals. This housing market professional then can help you put together an in-depth home listing that highlights the key features of your house. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will share this home listing with dozens of buyers, thereby increasing the likelihood of a quick, profitable home sale.
Ready to list your house in a buyer's market? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can create a top-notch home listing that helps your residence stand out from the competition.