Category: House and Home

Bedroom Makeover Fit for a Queen (And on a Beggar’s Budget)

It’s the one room of our home most of wish we could spend more time in: the bedroom. After all, it’s where we sleep, dress, and ahem…get romantic. But quite often the bedroom gets regulated to the back burner when we start refreshing the look of our home.

If your bedroom is in need of a makeover, you may be tempted to start with buying all new furniture. But that move isn’t always affordable; a full set of bedroom furniture can set you back anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000.

Fortunately, it is possible to get a bedroom makeover on a budget by making some simple changes and knowing how to score a bargain. Here are some tips on how you can get the bedroom of your dreams on a budget!

First, Clear the Clutter

You can’t effectively redecorate any room without removing all unwanted items and clutter first. Clearing this away will help you see the space more effectively. Now is a good time to sort items to be donated, recycled, or thrown away.

While you’re cleaning the bedroom, you may want to think about making it a sacred and relaxing space. Many people avoid putting a television set in their bedroom for this reason. Removing the TV or any kind of entertainment center will also free up more space for you to work with.

Get to Painting

One of the quickest and most affordable changes you can make to your bedroom is to give it a fresh paint job. Darker colors will make a room seem smaller while lighter shades will open it up and reflect natural daylight better.

So if you’ve been sleeping in a bedroom with dark colored walls, painting it a lighter shade can work wonders. Neutral tones such as cream and light grey will allow for greater versatility when choosing window treatments and bedding.

Be sure to clean the walls first and remove any traces of cobwebs, dust, and dirt before beginning the paint job.

Another option is to cover just one wall with textured neutral colored wallpaper. Today’s wallpaper designs come in convenient stick-on sheets that eliminate the hassle of having to moisturize them before applying. These textured styles lend themselves naturally to modern bedroom design.

Shop at Affordable Home Stores

There are so many stores dedicated to affordable homewares and furniture that there’s really no excuse not to check them out. Home Goods, Marshall’s, and World Market are just a few places where you can find furniture and home decor for affordable prices.

Don’t forget online home shopping giant Wayfair, which has every furniture style you can think of for less money. If your bedroom is on the smaller side, seek out multi-functional furniture that does double-duty as sneaky storage spaces.

Update Your Bedding

Something as simple as buying new bedding can refresh your bedroom’s look. There are so many colors, patterns, textures, and styles in bedding now that it’s easy to find something that not only feels comfy to sleep in, but modernizes your sleeping space.

Purchase a complimentary accent pillow or two and a warm throw blanket and your bed will look and feel as good as new.

Add Personal DIY Touches

There’s a lot of simple do-it-yourself projects that you can incorporate into the bedroom for little money.

Don’t have a headboard for your bed? Attach a simple shelf the same width as your bed a few feet above it and use it to display framed photos, a floral display, or other decorative touches.

If you’re tired of the hardware on your dresser and nightstand, you can easily swap them out for knobs and pulls that are more your style. You can also lean a ladder against the wall next to your bed and use that to hang blankets and clothing on.

You can also devote a corner of your bedroom to your favorite hobby. If you’re an avid reader or knitter, consider making a cozy nook in one corner of the bedroom. Include a comfortable chair, blanket, small table, lamp, and a bookshelf to store your favorite reads or storage for your yarn.

Part of your bedroom can also serve as a mini office or inspiration space if you spend a lot of time on your computer. Set up a small desk and chair and consider hanging a board over the area where you can pin ideas or appointments you need to remember.

Don’t Discount Walmart and Target

Many national big box stores such as Walmart and Target have upped their furniture game in recent years. You may be surprised by the selection, styles, and yes-quality-of the furniture pieces these two retailers now offer.

Walmart in particular has a partnership with Better Homes and Gardens, the iconic home decor magazine. The store sells a line of BH&G furniture that includes mid-century modern pieces that look like they’re straight out of Mad Men. Even if that’s not your style, you’re sure to find one you love on the website or in stores.

Did we mention that these pieces are affordable? This BH&G Flynn mid-century modern nightstand retails for only $169.00, a fraction of what a similar looking designer piece would sell for. It contains mahogany and weighs in at a solid 42 pounds.

These stores are also great resources for affordable bedroom accessories including bedding, pillows, artwork, throws, and more. Definitely consider them if you have enough in your makeover budget for new bedroom furniture.

Are You Excited For Your Bedroom Makeover?

These ideas just scratch the surface of the endless possibilities you can explore for a budget bedroom makeover. We hope they have inspired you to start making a few changes!

Have you enjoyed reading this post and learning about these tips? Here at Thrifty Momma Ramblings we’re all about teaching others how to be stylish and enjoy life on a budget. Be sure to visit our other frugal living posts for more home decorating tips!

What Is the Best Security Camera System for Your Home? A Product Review Guide

Protecting your family is your number one priority. That’s why you need a sufficient and reliable security camera system in your home. A security camera will notify you of intruders and could even scare them away before they even try to enter your home.

Most home security cameras are equipped with night vision and motion sensors for optimal protection. Some are designed to work both indoors and outdoors while still others even offer time-lapse recording so you can see what was happening on your property when you weren’t looking.

So, what’s the best security camera system and why? We’re here to tell you.

Keep reading for a comprehensive breakdown of eight of the best home security systems available today. 

What is the Best Security Camera System to Protect Your Home?

If you’re looking for protection from more than a standard burglary, you may consider LifeShield for your home security. It also shields against fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. You can get the best protection for a great value on your home or apartment that includes security cameras.

LifeShield boasts ‘quadruple defense’ with four layers of protection even if your internet is down, power is out and phone lines are dead, you’ll stay protected.

Otherwise, there are some basic security camera models on the market that will suffice if you want to protect your home on a budget. Here are eight hot models in the order of cost:

Wyze Cam V2

For an inexpensive, yet reliable security camera model, the Wyze Cam V2 doesn’t get much better. It’s a small camera loaded with features like sharp 1080p video and motion and sound-triggered recordings. It also comes with free local and cloud storage.

One drawback to this device is that it doesn’t integrate with other smart home devices nor does it support IFTTT. If you’re looking for this support, it may be wise to think about a bigger model.

Wyze Cam Pan

As one of the less expensive cameras on the market, the Wyze Cam Pan is loaded with features including motion tracking, pan and tilt, and IFTTT and Alexa support. It offers crisp 1080p video on free cloud and local storage. It also comes with a built-in CO2 alarm.

Installation is easy. All you have to do is download the mobile app, create or sign in to your account and off you go. Once setup is complete, your new camera will keep a close watch on your home.

Tend Secure Lynx Indoor

One of the more affordable models on the market, the Tend Secure Lynx Indoor security camera retails at only $40-$60. It’s also easy to install featuring sharp 1080p video and face recognition. You’ll also appreciate the motion sensor capability and free cloud storage, not to mention, two-way audio.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive security system that pulls all the stops, this is a great choice. 

D-Link Full HD Wi-Fi Camera DCS-8300LH

Starting out at less than $100 for a unit, the D-Link Full HD Wi-Fi Camera is a great choice for budget shoppers. It serves up 1080 p video with free cloud storage and includes local storage. This device supports IFTTT integrations and Alexa and Google voice commands.

The bottom line is that this is a relatively affordable home security option packed with features that you’ll use like motion and sound alerts as well as integration with other connected devices.

iSmartAlarm iCamera Keep Pro

One way to make your home smart is to invest in the iSmartAlarm iCamera Keep Pro. It starts the trend toward a pricier model at around $100-$200 MSRP. But you’ll absolutely love the sharp image quality, mechanical pan and tilt, and free cloud and local storage. 

Some reviewers said the pan and tilt feature is a little slow but you’ll have to decide for yourself. Otherwise, enjoy the many features it comes standard with such as IFTTT integration and motion tracking.


Ring Spotlight Cam Battery

The Ring Spotlight Cam Battery is easy to install and completely wireless. One drawback is that it requires a subscription to view recorded video, but the video quality is sharp.

The bottom line on this model is it’s IFTTT capability as well as working with Alexa smart home devices. It offers motion detection and triggered recording that won’t let you down. All of this for around $200 and you’ll be on your way to securing to your home.

Nest Cam IQ

The Nest Cam IQ is a pricier home security system, but for good reason. It’s loaded with features like a 1080p video that offers automatic zoom tracking and facial recognition. It also has sound triggered alerts and motion detection with two-way audio.

One of the most popular features includes interoperability with other smart home devices.

You can find the Nest Cam IQ for around $300 at select retailers.

Netgear Arlo Go

If it’s time for a whole house upgrade, then you can’t forget to include an updated security system like the Netgear Arlo Go. It’s designed for outdoor use so it’s weatherproof with excellent 1080p video quality. It also supports IFTTT and Alexa voice commands.

One of the major drawbacks to this system is the price. You can find it for about $400 on Amazon and other retailers. The bottom line is that this is a completely wireless system that works well with other smart home devices.

Final Thoughts

Finding the best security camera system to protect your family doesn’t have to be overwhelming and confusing or stressful. Just keep this list in mind when you start shopping so that you’ll have a reference to help you make your final decision. 

Securing your home is one of the best things you can do for your family. Why not save a little money doing it?

If you have questions or comments about how to save the most money on your next security camera system, feel free to contact me! I am all about the thrifty lifestyle and here to help in any way I can.


Survival Tips: How to Remodel a Bathroom on a Budget

Are you gearing up for a bathroom remodel?

A bathroom renovation is one of the most popular home improvement projects. Unfortunately, it can also be expensive. With so many materials and fixtures, you can easily run up a high bill if you’re not careful. 

But this project doesn’t have to be overwhelming or stressful. We want you to be excited about your new bathroom and do whatever possible to stay on budget. You can get your dream bathroom without spending your life savings. 

Read on for some survival tips for how to remodel a bathroom on a budget.

Make a Plan and Stick to It

It may sound counterintuitive, but if you’re not familiar with the remodel process, working with an interior decorator or architect can help you save money in the long run. Yes, you’ll have to pay their fees and that’s an added expense, but they will help you stick to a plan and a budget which can be invaluable. 

A designer or architect can work with you to figure out the best approach to the remodel and how to do it in a cost-effective manner. They’ll also have access to vendors where they can likely get discounts on materials and even labor. 

They’ll be able to give you options along with the pricing so you can make the most informed, budget conscious decision. Many times when people work with an architect or designer they become aware of options they didn’t even know existed and would not have found on their own. 

Construction can be a lengthy process and once it begins, you can find issues you weren’t expecting. A professional can help you troubleshoot these problems and stay on track so you come in on budget and on time. 

Don’t Relocate Plumbing 

Moving plumbing fixtures like toilets, sinks, and baths can be a huge expense. It’s a much bigger undertaking than simply replacing the materials you have in your bathroom with new ones. You’re reconfiguring the layout of your bathroom and workers will have to do this from the inside out. 

Going into the walls and relaying or redirecting pipes can be more disruptive to your project that you were planning.

Figure out a way to accomplish the look you want without relocating major plumbing appliances. This way you don’t have to cut corners when it comes to the finishes you want and you won’t blow your budget on things you can’t see! 

Keep Some of the Good Stuff

If you live in an older home, take a visual inventory of the items in your bathroom that may be worth keeping around. Do you have cool vintage tile around your bathtub or shower? Does your vanity have a funky vibe that gives character to the space?

A bathroom remodel doesn’t have to mean overhauling the entire thing. You can make some of those vintage pieces or statements feel fresh just by changing the area around it. 

Don’t Go Crazy on Tile

No matter how you cut it, tile is expensive. Not only are you paying for the tile itself which can get very pricey, but you’re paying for the labor to install it carefully. Try to limit the amount of tile you use in your new bathroom and find other materials instead. 

You don’t need your bathroom tile to be the center of attention. Try wood paneling on the walls and painting them a different color than the drywall to make them pop. 

Pick a couple of places you want to invest in the tile like the floor, the shower or bathtub walls. 

If you found a pricey piece of tile you absolutely can’t live without, consider making it the accent piece in between less expensive and neutral pieces of tile.

Cut Back on Countertop Costs

If you’re committed to purchasing a high-quality countertop, there are ways to do so without breaking the bank. First, try to avoid selecting a neutral color. These are the most popular and therefore typically priced higher since they’re in high demand.

Selecting a color outside of this palette could save you some money. You can also select a slightly imperfect piece of marble, granite or quartz slab. This means the piece will have a mark or crack in it but it will be sold at a discounted price. 

If you can find a piece where the imperfection won’t catch the eye, you may not even know it’s there at all once it’s installed.

A Little Paint Can Go a Long Way

If finances are limited, don’t forget that a new coat of paint can reinvigorate your bathroom and make it look completely different. If you’re worried about the cost of new countertops, flooring and more, try this approach first. 

If this is the only investment you’re planning to make on your new bathroom, don’t cut corners. You should hire a professional to do the job since it will involve getting around lots of small, detailed areas. 

Be sure to invest in a high-quality paint. Bathrooms are prone to moisture and mold, so cheaper, low-quality paint will be more susceptible to water damage. 

New Fixtures Are an Instant Facelift

Along with a fresh coat of paint, new fixtures are an easy and inexpensive way to upgrade your bathroom. The good thing about a bathroom is that there are so many fixtures! 

Not only can you replace faucets and handles but you can also replace towel racks, towel hooks, and light fixtures. It may sound minor but these subtle changes can have a big impact on the appearance of your bathroom. 

It’s All in the Details

The details in your bathroom like the grout and caulking can give away its age and serve as a reminder it’s in need of some TLC. Regardless of what renovations or upgrades you decide to do to your bathroom, don’t overlook this area. 

These materials get mildew, water damage, rust and more. Grout and caulk are inexpensive materials and can be applied by a handyman or even by you. Cleaning up these lines in the bathroom and adding a little sparkle will make a big difference. 

Your bathroom will look refreshed and ultra clean. 


If your home was built a long time ago, there is a pretty good chance you have some of the original tile or fixtures in your bathroom. If they look damaged or old, don’t just toss them aside in favor of purchasing all new items. 

Some of these are antiques and can be refurbished to shine like new while still keeping a lot of the charm and integrity of the space. If the overall look of your home has a vintage, antique feel, keeping the bathroom in the same vein will make it work with the rest of the house.

There are companies who specialize in giving these pieces a second life and refurbishing them to their original glory. 

They can fix cracked or dirty tile on countertops, showers, and floors and restore your original bathtub without having to replace it. Going this route will save you money and you can focus on the things that really need replacing like that old sink and shower head. 

Consider Buying Used

You can purchase major and minor bathroom items used and save more money. Sites like Craigslist and eBay sell used toilets, bathtubs, mirrors, sinks, and fixtures that are in great shape and you’ll always spend less than if you buy them new.

If you don’t want to buy the major items used, you can also buy accessories like lighting, handles, towel racks and more. 


Do you look like a completely different person in your bathroom mirror than in any other mirror in the house? This is probably because there’s terrible lighting in your bathroom. Fix it!

Investing in some new lighting can not only change the appearance of your bathroom but also your experience there. No one likes bad lighting and spending time getting ready in a poorly lit space won’t make you excited about a new bathroom.

Be sure there’s plenty of lighting and your bathroom is bright. This will also make it seem fresh and bigger. You can find great lighting by scouring sales or at home improvement stores. 

If it’s in the budget, you may want to consider putting in a skylight in the bathroom or adding in more windows for natural light. Windows will also help keep the bathroom dry and mold free so it serves two purposes. 

How to Remodel a Bathroom: Get Started Today!  

A bathroom remodel should be an exciting process and it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. You can achieve the look you want and love your new space by utilizing some of the tips above to save money. 

The first step in how to remodel a bathroom is to create a budget and a plan so you know exactly what you’re doing before you get started. This alleviates some stress and makes the whole experience less overwhelming. 

Check out the rest of our blog for more money saving tips




Decorating Porches and Pathways: How to Stamp Concrete the DIY Way

stamp concrete

Outdoor spaces are often sought after in new homes. This isn’t surprising given the many health benefits of being out in Mother Nature.

Do you have an outdoor space that is looking a little sad due to old or damaged concrete? Is this the main reason you’re avoiding hosting a summer party?

Don’t worry. Do you want to get that beautiful stamp concrete look without the financial blow to your wallet? Keep reading for all the tips and tricks you need to know!

Choose the Right Color and Texture

Before you jump into mixing concrete, think about your space. What color or style would play well with the environment? If you have a minimalist style home, choosing bright orange or blue is likely the wrong choice.

No matter your specific tastes, there are many decorative concrete options for you.

Easy to Follow Steps for Stamp Concrete

It seems more complicated than it is. Follow these simple steps to get a beautiful surface that will last.


Get your existing concrete area clean before taking any further steps.

It has to be squeaky clean so the new layers will adhere to one another. This means any remnants of paint must go. If you are struggling, consider using a diamond blade with a grinder.

Power wash as the last step to remove any remaining debris.


Mix one part muriatic acid with eight parts water. This solution will etch the concrete. Spread it with a broom and be careful, as the solution can cause burns.

Once the fizzing stops, add a second solution (eight parts water, one part ammonia) to the concrete. This will neutralize the acid. Power wash the surface once more.

Prep Porch and Skim Coat

In preparation for the skim coat, tape off any edges next to doors and your home. Follow manufacturer directions for your specific skim concoction.

Once mixed, apply the skim coat to wet concrete. Work away from the house. Let this coat sit for a few hours.

Apply Finish Coat

Once the skim coat has set, you will apply both the finishing layer and a textured layer. The textured layer will be thicker, as this is what you will be stamping the pattern into.

Be careful to spread the layers nice and even across the entire surface.

Stamp, Wait, Color and Seal

After the texture layer has set, start from an edge and stamp the pattern you’ve decided upon. Pay attention to placement. Alter the direction and orientation to ensure a random look.

Let it dry between six and eight hours. Once it is dry, smooth any noticeable bumps and edges. Once you are happy with the appearance you can grab the paint!

Tape off the house and doors. Apply a stain using a pump sprayer. You likely will need to use a primer before applying the color. Wait around an hour between paint coats.

Avoid letting paint pool in any puddles and clean up spills immediately.

Put Your Personal Stamp on the Project and Enjoy

As you can see, it 100% is possible to create a stamp concrete look on your own!

Looking for even more DIY projects you can do around the house? Check out these 10 simple remodeling ideas!

Time for a House Upgrade: Top 7 Home Updates You Need

On average, homebuyers are expected to stay in a single-family home for 13 years. First-time buyers usually stay for 11.

Before you even think about selling, you want to enjoy the space you call home.

The overall design of your home will have a great impact on your mood and family dynamics.

If you’re sitting here reading this, it may be time for you to invest in a house upgrade. But where do you even start?

Below you will find 7 minor changes and major fixes that can make your home feel refreshed and renewed.

1. Revamp the Color Scheme

One of the easiest ways to shift the mood in your home is to paint the walls. Any designer or artist will tell you that color has a profound impact on our lives.

Individual experiences with color will be shaped by your upbringing and other factors. Still, it is an important tool in communicating some of our more unconscious feelings.

If you want a room to feel more relaxing, choose shades of blue and grey. If you want a room to influence more excitement, choose reds and oranges.

If you wish to go beyond the walls, consider changing out some furniture and fixtures.

My favorite color schemes are those that present high contrast and draw attention to a particular area of the room. For example, an indigo living room with a sunset orange sofa.

2. Replace Your Old Carpets

If your carpet is worn out and matted, it can make your whole life feel worn out. A new carpet is warm and fluffy on the feet.

This can inspire a clean, welcoming feeling that you may not even realize you’re missing.

If you do plan on selling, potential buyers will be more likely to choose a home with carpets that look new and clean. They don’t want to have to worry about replacing them right away.

3. Energy Efficient House Upgrade

Replacing your old fixtures can be a costly investment. However, over time, you save money on energy bills and help protect the planet.

With the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, you can gain up to a 30% rebate on qualifying expenditures when you convert to solar energy.

These updates can also improve your home’s resale value. First-time buyers are especially attracted to the potential long-term savings offered by energy efficient homes.

Energy efficiency goes beyond the energy source and includes insulation and flooring. Materials like cork are relatively cheap and can keep your feet warm on cold winter mornings.

Before you take this leap, make sure to do your market research to make sure your investment is worth-while.

4. Landscaping

Landscaping can be a hassle, especially if you live in areas that are prone to drought or flooding. You will want to manicure your yard to suit the climate in which you live.

This can be a fun DIY project in the spring, and it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.

You can find fabulous yard decorations at almost any thrift store. You may want to do some price shopping and research before you choose the plants.

Add some gnomes or lawn totems for cheap and easy improvements.

A beautiful front yard can really improve the curb appeal of your home. It can make it feel more enchanting when you and your guests enter.

5. New Lighting Fixtures

In addition to replacing old incandescent bulbs with more energy efficient ones, such as LEDs, change out the old fixtures.

Add a bit of glamour to your kitchen with a chandelier. Brighten up your living space with recessed lighting fixtures.

Put your design and lighting skills to the test. You can go as fancy or modest as you wish. It’s your home.

Quit living in the dark ages and bring in the light!

6. Take a Look Outside

Don’t neglect the exterior of your home. Beyond landscaping, look at the walls.

Is the paint peeling? Does your house need a powerwash?

An exterior upgrade could be as simple as repainting the trim or as complex as completely replacing the siding. Either way, you can attract more potential buyers with a clean and spiffy exterior.

You may even wish to add a front porch or walkway. These features are sure to attract more money.

7. Finish the Basement

Many times, basements go underutilized. Beyond storage, they can be turned into fabulous living spaces.

You can turn a dingy basement into a bonus room or an apartment that you can rent out.

This can be a big investment but may be a great addition to your home. It may become your teenagers’ favorite place to hang out with friends.

If you’re trying to add storage space, you can better utilize the space with overhead storage and shelving.

As with anything on this list, you can go as big or as small as you prefer. You can read more here about how to improve the space and add value to your home.

8. New Kitchen Cabinets

Does your kitchen feel like a black hole with no life? You don’t have to completely replace all of the cabinets. Maybe your cabinets could use a new paint job.

To many, the kitchen is the center of attention in the home. Food is everything.

You can brighten up your kitchen with a new paint job. This can quickly be done in a weekend, especially if you employ the help of the whole family.

If the structural integrity of the cabinets is suffering, consider replacing the hinges and handles. This can really improve the look and functionality of the cabinets.

Updating Your Home for You

Your home is one of the most important spaces in your life. A house upgrade is a worthwhile investment for you, your family, and future resale value.

While some updates can be big and costly, some can easily be done on a weekend for little money.

You deserve to live in a home that you enjoy. You can learn more about cost-effective home improvement and thrifty living on our site.

How to Make the Home Buying Process Nice and Easy as a Single Mom

home buying processAre you a single parent looking to purchase a home?

As a single mom, you may feel that you have enough on your plate. Buying a home may feel all daunting, especially when you are daily responsible for your child’s welfare.

Luckily, it is entirely possible to purchase your dream home even if you are doing so solo. Read on for insight into the home buying process for single parents!

1. Know Your Budget

It’s vital to identify your financial standing before you start browsing properties on the market. This means assessing income sources, assets, and current outstanding debt. These numbers will help you ultimately determine your maximum budget for purchasing a home.

If you currently own a home, it may be wise to initiate the selling process sooner rather than later. This can help you nail down your budget even more precisely.

Click here if you’re thinking, “I need to sell my house fast!”

Be realistic when identifying your budget, and be liberal (rather than conservative) when calculating your monthly financial obligations. It may also be wise to check in on your credit score’s health.

A higher credit score will boost your eligibility for securing a mortgage with good rates.

2. Know Your Mortgage Options

As a single mom, you may be heading straight for a conventional home loan. However, single parents are at a disadvantage in that they typically do not have a co-signer (i.e., a spouse or domestic partner).

For this reason, it may be harder to secure a conventional mortgage. Yet you do have options when it comes to mortgages.

FHA and USDA loans, for example, cater to individuals of a certain income bracket within more rural areas of the U.S. VA loans may also be an option if you or your family have served in the military.

You may also wish to consult a lender to learn more about your financing options as a single parent.

3. Ask Friends for Lender Referrals

There’s nothing worse than navigating the home buying process alone. Reach out to family members and friends to ask for lender referrals.

Because there are so many lenders out there, referrals can save you both time and money. After all, your friends have already done the work of finding and selecting a reputable lender if they are current homeowners!

Browse consumer reviews online to learn more about what it will be like to borrow from specific lenders. Prioritize the ones that are reputable, certainly, but also don’t neglect locally-based lenders.

4. Meet With All Prospective Lenders

Once you have your list of prospective lenders, be sure to meet with each one in person (or over the phone). When meeting with lenders, clearly state your needs as a single parent.

Ask the lender for advice about which mortgage may be right for you, and be sure to pre-qualify for mortgages with lenders you like.

Pre-qualification will make the home buying process easier and faster. It will also help you compare rates from different lenders.

5. Work With an Agent You Like

Start browsing properties only once you’ve been pre-qualified for a mortgage. When doing so, work with an agent with a positive local reputation.

The best real estate agents will be attentive to your specific needs and supportive at every step of the home buying process.

Final Thoughts: The Home Buying Process

The home buying process can be intimidating, especially if you are navigating it alone! Luckily, even as a single mom, it is possible to purchase a home without too many headaches.

Be sure to identify your budget and mortgage type ahead of time. Ask your friends for lender referrals and be sure to compare offers from multiple lenders.

Get pre-qualified for a home loan before you start looking at properties, and be sure to work with a real estate agent you trust!

At Thrifty Momma Ramblings, we know that life can be challenging as a single mom. Find more personal finance tips here!

1031 Exchange Rules: How You Can Save Money When Selling a Property

1031 exchange rulesIt’s really nice to make a massive profit when you sell real estate.

But it’s not so nice when you have to fork over a huge chunk of those profits over to the IRS come tax time.

That’s the reality of selling real estate, particularly as it applies to investment properties. More specifically, capital gains taxes usually have to be paid on any gains – or profits – of a real estate deal. If you sell an investment property for a profit, odds are you’ll have to pay capital gains taxes on it.

Or do you?

Luckily for real estate investors, there’s this little thing called a “1031 exchange” that allows investors to avoid having to pay capital gains taxes when they sell their properties.

But it’s not so cut and dry. There are certain requirements that investors have to meet in order to take advantage of such a tax perk.

Let’s dive into 1031 exchange rules to see what they’re all about and how they can help you save tens of thousands of dollars when it comes time to sell any one of your investment properties.

What Are 1031 Exchange Rules?

Section 1031 of the IRS tax code allows investors to defer paying any capital gains taxes on the proceeds of the sale of real estate if the profits are put towards the purchase of a “like-kind” property.

Basically, like-kind means similar and can include just about any other type of real estate. That means you could realistically exchange an office building for a single family home.

But you wouldn’t be able to use the proceeds of the sale of real estate to be put towards buying a car. They’re not “like-kind.”

As long as the purchase of another investment property is done within a certain period of time, a 1031 exchange can be put into effect.

What Qualifies as a 1031 Exchange?

In order for you to be able to take advantage of a 1031 exchange, the property being sold must be an investment property. The transaction is not meant for homeowners who are buying and selling their primary residences. Both properties must be investments.

That said, homeowners who are selling their primary residences may also be subject to capital gains taxes if they don’t meet certain criteria. They can avoid paying up to $250,000 for single owners or $500,000 for married owners who have filed their taxes jointly. Still, 1031 exchanges are not meant for primary residences and are only meant for investment properties.

Further, the property that is being purchased needs to be worth more than the one that’s being sold. If you end up paying less for the new property, you’ll be paying taxes on the difference.

Types of 1031 Exchanges

There are three different ways that a 1031 exchange can take place:

  • Simultaneous exchange – This happens when a property is immediately exchanged for another.
  • Deferred exchange – This involves selling a property first then buying another property in its place after a certain amount of time using an exchange facilitator.
  • Reverse exchange – This occurs when the replacement property is bought first. with the help of an exchange titleholder. Then the current property is sold afterward.

It’s always important to use a qualified 1031 exchange facilitator for deferred or reverse 1031 exchanges. That’s because you’re not allowed to take possession of the proceeds of the sale before the exchange is complete.

There are even rules governing who can be an intermediary. For starters, you can’t use the same one that you used in the previous two years. You also can’t act as your own exchange facilitator.

Time is Ticking When it Comes to Finding a Replacement Property

In order to take advantage of 1031 exchanges, you can’t just take your time finding another property to purchase in its place. Instead, there is a certain amount of time that you have to find a like-kind property.

More specifically, you’ve got 45 days to identify a new property that you want to purchase. When you do, you’ll then have 180 days to complete the purchase.

A Maximum of Three 1031 Properties Can Be Identified

It’s pretty common for real estate investors to choose more than one piece of real estate that they have their eyes on. That’s because real estate deals typically take a long time to close, and any delays can creep up that would make them go past the 180-day mark.

By choosing more than one property, it’s more likely that at least one of the deals will go through. But only a maximum of three potential properties can be identified, as long as you close on one of them.

Further, any number of replacement properties can be identified as long as their combined market value doesn’t exceed 200% of the property being sold. For example, if you sell a property for $300,000, the combined market value of your next purchase can’t be more than $600,000.

How Are 1031 Exchanges Reported Come Tax Time?

You will have to pay the tax on the original profits of the sale of the property plus any additional gains since the purchase of the new property. A 1031 exchange is reported on IRS Form 8824 and submitted with your tax return for the year that the exchange took place.

Make sure you consult with a tax expert to ensure that all the rules are followed so the exchange doesn’t fall through.

For more information on 1031 exchanges, read more here.

Final Thoughts

1031 exchange rules are definitely complicated. That’s why it’s important to speak with an experienced tax associate to help you navigate all the ins and outs of 1031 exchanges.

These are handy tools that can help you save a ton of money. But you need to follow the rules closely in order to avoid getting dinged by the IRS.

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