Tuesday, January 28, 2020
House and Home Real Estate Market
Today’s sky-high real estate market can make buying a first home seem like a distant dream. Don’t be discouraged. It might take a bit more planning, but you can do it. Good financial strategy and some real estate research can help you get into your first home sooner than you’d think.
Your first priority is to get your financial basics in order. Reach out to your bank or a financial planner to help you make a plan. A financial expert will be able to find a strategy that best suits your goals. You will also need to plan for your down payment. Many first-time buyers find this intimidating, but good old-fashioned saving is a great start.
Make sure your monthly budget allows you to put some money into savings, and work with your financial planner to help your savings grow as quickly as possible. Government programs are also available to help first-time buyers. You may be able to use savings from an RRSP or other resources — check with your bank for the programs and requirements in your region.
Reaching out to family can also be a win-win, but approach these arrangements with caution. Ensure any loan terms are realistic and clearly set out, and treat these arrangements with the same respect you would give a business agreement.
Once you have your finances in order, look for locations that will get you the best bang for your buck. Skip the high-priced, trendy spots where you’ll pay a premium without necessarily getting a better home. The best deals are often hiding under tacky décor: if you can look past the cosmetic hang-ups and make sure the house is structurally in good shape, you may have a great opportunity in the making.
The main thing is just getting started. Find a realistic strategy that will get you into a home, and then work your way up to that dream home. Think of real estate as a process. You may need to start small or look outside your ideal neighbourhood at first. But once you own a home, you’ll be building equity and value, which sets you on the path to your forever home. (NC)
Monday, January 20, 2020
House and Home
These days there seem to be appliances that can do it all. From self-cleaning fridges to washing machines with Wi-Fi capabilities, the options seem endless. But with so many models and features, how do you know which one is right for your home?
Measure: The first step is to measure the size of your space. Figure out how wide and deep each appliance needs to be, and don’t forget about depth. The height and width of an appliance are easy to remember, but countertops are not always the same depth, so you’ll need to make sure your new selection will slide in just right. Once you know what fits, you can start to narrow down some options.
Explore: Even if you’ve updated your appliances in the last five years, you’ll be surprised by just how much the products have advanced. Some appliances are quieter and more energy efficient, others are smart appliances that connect to your home’s Wi-Fi signal. Take your time to explore the different options available and go to see some in person. Visiting your local Best Buy can be a great resource for unbiased, knowledgeable advice.
Read reviews: Appliances are often big purchases. Read reviews before you make your decision. Small design details can make a big impact on your everyday life. Sometimes other reviewers will notice something about a product that isn’t apparent in a fact sheet or in the product specifications.
Get smart: Making the leap to connected appliances can seem intimidating, but it’s a great way for you to monitor your home utility usage and even gain control of your appliances directly from your smartphone. (NC)
Wednesday, January 8, 2020
A budget is the foundation of financial well-being. And with good reason. It’s a simple but highly effective way to make sure you live within your means, and it allows you to have control over your finances.
Research backs this up. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has found that when people start using a budget, they make better financial decisions and improve their financial well-being. They are better at keeping up with their financial commitments and reducing their spending when money is tight.
Today, only about half of Canadians report having some type of a budget. Some use traditional methods, such as handwritten lists, or even savings jars and cash envelopes. Others use digital tools such as spreadsheets, mobile apps or financial software.
Whichever method you use, a good budget must clearly show your sources of income and monthly expenses. This will help you achieve your financial goals, including finding ways to get rid of your debt and saving more money for things that are important to you, such as retirement or your kids’ education.
A budget is especially important if you have trouble paying your bills and do not know where your money is going every month.
If you don’t know where to start, there are plenty of free online tools to help you get your finances under control, including a new budget planner from FCAC.
This interactive tool has many features to help you better identify your priorities, needs versus wants and how to save money. It also lets you compare your spending habits with other Canadians in similar life situations. You can save and update your budget online at anytime, or simply download an interactive spreadsheet.
Fair warning: this can be a sobering exercise, especially when you are face-to-face with how much you spend at the local coffee shop every week. But the time and effort that goes into making a budget is well worth it.
With a good budget in hand, you will not only find yourself doing a better job of taking charge of your finances, but you’ll also be closer to achieving your life goals and dreams. (NC)
Wednesday, January 8, 2020
Community News and Events
Inside my January newsletter you'll find events happening in Burlington and tips for homeowners, as well as a delicious recipe to help us start the new year off right!
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Monday, December 9, 2019
Community News and Events
December's only getting started! Here are some local events to keep you in the holiday spirit all month long!
Santa's Signature Experience
Weekends in December
Royal Botanical Gardens
Visit Santa before he heads back up to the north pole before Christmas! This all-ages event offers a fun holiday experience for the entire family. Your purchase of a ticket includes a return trip on the RBG Express, a hot beverage and cookie, as well as fun storytelling and crafting with Santa’s little helpers. For more information, visit rbg.ca/holidaytraditions.
Winter Lights at the Rock Garden
December 20 – 23
Royal Botanical Gardens
Visit the Royal Botanical Gardens this winter by enjoying a leisurely walk through the historical Rock Garden at night. Walk through the thousands of lights and lit walkways that lead you through a winter wonderland with classic Christmas music, festive drinks and tasty treats! Enjoy this special holiday evening with your loved ones while getting into the Christmas spirit. For more information, visit rbg.ca/winterlights.
Burlington Festival of Lights
Until January 8
Spencer Smith Park
For 24 years, Burlington’s waterfront has been aglow with 60 magical displays at Spencer Smith Park. Enjoy this family tradition and take a stroll along the lakeshore this holiday season! Open daily from 4 p.m. to midnight. For more information, visit http://burlingtonfestivaloflights.com.