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Budgeting 101: How to Plan Your Budget Around Your Monthly Mortgage Payments
By Peta-Gay
August 31, 2017

If you've decided to invest in a home, you might be wondering how to make all the expenses work from the groceries to your mode of transportation to all those little things that quickly add up. Fortunately, it's easy enough to ensure you have the money each month by calculating your expenses and ensuring there's a little wiggle room in the leaner times. Here are the details on how to begin with your mortgage budgeting plan.

Calculate Your Monthly Payment

Whether you've just purchased a home or are trying to determine if your dream home is right for you, it's very important to establish approximately what your monthly payment will be. It's important to have a mortgage cost that is sustainable, so add up your payment, home insurance, property taxes and your interest rate. While this should give you an estimate, you'll want to ensure you add extra room if you are taking advantage of an adjustable rate mortgage.

Determine Your Necessary Expenses

It's easy to be idealistic and assume that you'll be able to come up with the money for your ideal home, but it's very important to keep your feet on the ground and be realistic about your budget. Once you've determined your payment, calculate the average amount for your utilities, transportation costs and any debt you have. You'll also want to add in groceries, toiletries, and extras like gym passes, meals or entertainment. By adding up your monthly payment and your expenses, you should be able to determine if a house is realistic for you.

Leave A Little Extra

If your expenses and your home costs add up to balance out, that's great, but it's also important to leave some wiggle room in your budget for the other things you'll need. While you'll want to ensure you're saving money for the future, if you have any short-term life goals like a travel destination or going back to school, you'll need to leave a bit for the month-to-month. The unexpected can occur at any time so you'll want to have some leverage for the times when the car breaks down or there's a medical issue.

When investing in a home, it's very important to know that you can make the monthly mortgage payment and still have enough left over to pay your expenses and save for down the road. If you're currently preparing to buy, you may want to contact one of our trusted real estate professionals for more information.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, ABR®, CMR®, MRP®, PSA® is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed Property Manager & REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8585 Fort Smallwood Road Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

Squad Goals: 4 Steps to Throwing a Patio Party Your Friends Never Forget
By Peta-Gay
August 29, 2017

Summer may be the season for swimsuits and beachside barbecues, but it's also a great time to get your friends together for a party in your own backyard. Whether you're ready to show off your new home or are just looking for a good reason to celebrate the season, here are some ways to ensure your party is one that will make the summertime memorable.

Choose Dollar Store Decorations

When it comes to throwing the best party, nothing will work to create an atmosphere like the decorations! Instead of heading to the party store, take a trip to the dollar store where you'll be able to find a variety of fun stuff for an inexpensive price. To have a theme that will work, just ensure that you stick with a color pattern so your guests won't be overwhelmed.

Prep The Food Options

Planning the food for a big patio party can sometimes be difficult, but by determining a theme and getting prepared ahead of time, you should have a good handle on the offerings. Whether you opt for a Mexican theme with tacos and nacho chips or a barbecue with beer and brisket, preparing what you want to serve ahead of time will make party time more manageable. It's even better if you can prepare a few items ahead to make the day a little smoother.

Pick The Right Tunes

Putting the tunes on full blast might seem like a summertime solution, but this can scare away your guests and negatively impact the conversation. In addition to making sure that the music is at an appropriate volume, it's also good to offer up a lot of classics your guests will know. If conversation is at a standstill, a great song will get them into the partying spirit. 

Mix It Up

Many people have a variety of different friends they share interests with, but it can sometimes be hard to get them all in a room together. Fortunately, a fun party is the ideal time to get people talking and make your crowd mix! There's no assurance that everyone will become friends, but there's bound to be some fun conversation.

Throwing the best summer party might seem like a high-stress situation, but by picking the right tunes and sticking to a theme, you'll have a party your friends will remember. If your party is a pre-home selling celebration, you may want to contact one of our real trusted estate professionals for more information.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, ABR®, CMR®, MRP®, PSA® is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed Property Manager & REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8585 Fort Smallwood Road Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

Recently Lost Your Job? 3 Tips for Managing Your Mortgage When You Are Out of Work
By Peta-Gay
August 28, 2017

The financial responsibility of a monthly mortgage payment can be stressful on its own, but you may be even more concerned about your home investment if you've recently lost your job. Fortunately, there are some things you can do and places you can turn if you're not yet certain where your next paycheck will come from. If you're struggling with newfound unemployment, here are some important steps to take.

Shake The Piggy Bank

Most people struggle to save, and that means they don't necessarily want to dip into savings when it comes to financial difficulties. Unfortunately, if a job does not appear quickly, you may have to rely on the money you've accrued to help you out. It's important to look at how much savings you have and determine how long it will last. Instead of just calculating your monthly payment and leaving it at that, be realistic and include all your applicable living expenses to see how much leeway you have.

Reach Out To Your Lender

It may seem like mortgage lenders will not be concerned with your plight, but it can be to your benefit to reach out as soon as you think there might be a lapse in payment. While it's possible your lender may be able to offer you some type of payment plan if they're provided with a timeframe for payment, they will be impressed with your ability to communicate effectively. If you have a solid credit history and have made all your payments on time, contacting your lender may buy you a little bit of more time.

Contact Your Government Agency

If you've used a government agency to secure your mortgage, there's a good chance there may be a program available that will assist you in getting through this financial time. Whether you've worked directly with the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, you may be able to find an opportunity in your unemployment that will cover your loan amount for you. It's just important to be aware of any financial consequences once you're back on your feet.

It can be very stressful to pay down your mortgage while you're out of work, but you may be able to get through it by being aware of your financial picture and communicating with your lender. If you're currently struggling with your mortgage, you may want to contact one of our local mortgage professionals for more information.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, ABR®, CMR®, MRP®, PSA® is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed Property Manager & REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8585 Fort Smallwood Road Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

Going Green(er): 3 Common Waste Items You Had No Idea You Can Recycle
By Peta-Gay
August 25, 2017

It has never been more popular to abide by a green lifestyle and develop sustainable living practices that will help the planet. Fortunately, while you may be used to recycling cardboard boxes and giving away your clothes, there are probably a few household items you didn't even know you could recycle! If you're wondering what to do with some of your old, used items, here are a few things that may be ready for re-use.

Re-constituting Your Lenses

It's common to think your eyeglass prescription only works for you, but an easy way to re-use old eyeglasses is to take them to your local eye glass store or even to the doctor's office so that they can make use of them. Not only will someone in need be able to use the frames that you've provided, your lenses may be donated to another person with a similar prescription who will truly appreciate what they've been given!

Old Phones & Electronics

It can be tempting to throw out an old phone with a shattered screen or an aging laptop that no longer turns on properly; however, with technology being obsolete as soon as it hits the market, it's more important than ever to recycle these items. Old technology like iPods, iPhones, cell phones, chargers and digital cameras can be taken to your local Staples and recycled as part of their e-waste program. Before discarding any electronics, you may want to consider other local places that offer recycling for your old toys.

Improving Your Oil Change

While there are many renewable solutions on the market, oil is still the most common resource when it comes to powering the transportation of the world. Fortunately, while an oil change may be necessary maintenance on your car now and then, you can be more environmentally friendly by going to an auto repair place that recycles and re-refines your oil. Before you make a trip to your old auto body shop, look at Motor Oil Recycling Locations on Earth911 for some options in your area.

It's easy enough to compost food and throw your cardboard boxes in the bin, but there are many common waste items that can be re-used in your local community. If you're looking for ways to go greener as you plan a move to a new home, you may want to contact one of our trusted real estate professionals for more information.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, ABR®, CMR®, MRP®, PSA® is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed Property Manager & REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8585 Fort Smallwood Road Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

Understanding Your FICO Score and Why Small Credit Mistakes Can Cause Huge Headaches
By Peta-Gay
August 24, 2017

Many people all over the world are dealing with issues involving debt or poor credit history, but most aren't necessarily aware of what exactly makes up their credit score. Unfortunately, it might seem like it's the big stuff that counts when it comes to credit, but little things can have a significant impact on your financial health. If you're looking to improve your understanding and your finances, here's what you need to know about small mistakes and your FICO score.

Making Late Payments

The due date on your bills might seem like an advisory, but whether we're talking about a student loan, a credit card payment or your telephone bill, late payments can add up. Your payment history constitutes 35% of your total FICO score, which means that even a couple late payments can have a marked impact on your overall credit. Instead of leaving this to chance, set aside a day each month before your bills are due to ensure they're all paid.

Applying For New Credit

It's often the case that a store will offer special deals if you sign up for their own in-house credit card, but this can cost you big since the amounts you owe make up 30% of your credit score. Because lenders will often assume that you've run out of credit if you apply for a new card, new credit can be a red mark against your FICO score for a time. It's also important to realize that closing off an old, unused credit card can bump up your owing balance, so you may want to keep them active temporarily. 

Forgetting Credit Altogether

It might seem like the best possible option for avoiding credit issues is to avoid using credit altogether, but your credit history constitutes 15% of your FICO score. This means that you should have at least one credit card in your possession so that you can use it to build a history of lending success. While you won't want to use more than 30% of your credit limit, it's important to have proven experience with paying back your lenders.

Many people think that bad credit is the result of overspending and huge debt amounts, but your FICO score is largely determined by your payment history and your available credit. If you're trying to improve your financial outlook in preparation for buying a home, you may want to contact one of our trusted real estate professionals for more information.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, ABR®, CMR®, MRP®, PSA® is Founder & Principal of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed Property Manager & REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8585 Fort Smallwood Road Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com