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Tips for Buying High Quality, Affordable Furniture

People that are trying to buy new furniture or redecorate their homes may be in for a sticker shock when they go shopping.

Furniture prices have steadily risen. On average, you can expect to spend $800 on a sofa and $400 on a coffee table.

When furniture prices are that high you may feel like you need to hold off on your latest home decor project. Luckily for you, there are ways you can find furniture that will fit your budget.

Tips For Finding Affordable Furniture

After you’ve spent months searching for affordable furniture you may think that the term is an oxymoron, but it’s possible to find nice furniture that won’t break the bank.

If you’re ready to have stylish furniture for bargain prices, make sure you follow the tips in this post.

Visit Thrift Stores

Thrifting isn’t just for people that want unique clothing anymore. Thrift stores are goldmines for affordable furniture.

A lot of the furniture you’ll see in thrift stores has been donated but is still in relatively good condition. The furniture may be gently used, but you won’t have to worry about that showing if you put a little work into it.

Thrift store furniture is ideal for people that like DIY projects. If you don’t mind doing some minor refurbishing, thrifting could be what you need to furnish your house.

Check Out Estate Sales

Estate sales are designed to unload property fast. If you make a habit of going to them, you’ll be able to find the affordable furniture you want in no time.

One of the benefits of going to estate sales is that you may be able to find matching items. It isn’t unusual for some people to sell entire dining room sets or a set of bedroom furniture.

If you’re a fan of vintage looks, make sure you go to an estate sale. Some of the furniture can be decades old, and could have aesthetic look you’ve been going for.

Have A Flexible Style

There’s nothing wrong with having a look in mind for your furniture, but if your style is too rigid you could have trouble finding what you need.

If you’re willing to go for furniture that’s high quality, you can’t go wrong regardless of the style it’s in.

Be open to trying new looks and styles. There’s a lot of vintage furniture that’s affordable that’s just as stylish as something brand new.

Think Small

If you’re looking for affordable furniture, big box stores and mainstream places won’t be helpful.

Small stores and local retailers can help you find unique furniture, and help you save money when you go shopping.

Niche stores tend to be smaller, and can also give you the kind of furniture you’re looking for. If you love the style of American Country furniture, you can find a retailer that just specializes in that style.

Keep Quality In Mind

Remember, affordable furniture doesn’t mean that you have to buy poor quality sofas and tables.

Before you purchase anything make sure to give the item a thorough inspection.

If you’re buying a table, all legs should be firmly attached and shouldn’t wobble. Wood should join in the corners and shouldn’t be held together by glue or flimsy screws.

Turn over cushions before you purchase chairs and sofas and look for signs of damage. Rips and tears can be repaired with some stitching, but uncoiled or loose springs will never be comfortable to sit on.

Think About Your Lifestyle

If you want affordable furniture, you’re going to want things that will last. This is why it isn’t just important to consider quality, you should also take your lifestyle into consideration before you go shopping.

The light colored leather sofa that’s 40% off may look great until you consider the active young kids in your home.

Stain resistant fabrics like linen and tweed may be best for people with pets.

Are you about to embark on a big home remodeling project? You may want to wait until your done before you start shopping for furniture.

When you take your lifestyle needs into consideration, you’ll make sure that you get furniture that will stand the test of time. You won’t have to go furniture shopping for awhile and can save your money for other home decor needs.

Be Prepared To Haggle

So far we’ve suggested a lot of different ways to find the furniture you need. One of the benefits of not shopping with traditional furniture is that you’ll have more room to negotiate the price.

If you walk into any box store or chain, the prices are set. Private sellers are much more willing to be flexible when it comes to price.

Before you go shopping, take time to learn a bit about the right way to haggle. Be prepared to walk away from a few things, and that some people may not be willing to go to low.

The key to haggling is to stay realistic. Don’t expect people to be willing to drop 60% off of a nearly new couch or coffee table. Aiming for a 10%-20% reduction should be enough.

Time Your Shopping

Sometimes you can’t wait to go shopping, but if you want to get truly affordable furniture you’ll time when you shop.

Going towards the end of one season and beginning of a new one ensures that stores will be trying to get rid of last season’s merchandise.

Many stores are willing to drastically mark down their prices so they don’t have to worry about furniture taking up space.

This is an excellent way to furnish backyards and patios. Going shopping towards the end of the summer season can help you get affordable outdoor tables and chairs.

Next Steps

Now that you know how to find affordable furniture, it’s time to start beautifying every part of your home.

Read our post on cheap decor hacks for your home. Also be sure to check out our giveaways page to see if there’s anything you can use to help you save money.

What You Need to Know About Bad Credit Home Loans

Did you know research shows the average credit card interest rate is 13.66% in the U.S.? And the average debt held by balance-holding households is over $16,000.

With these staggering statistics, it’s no wonder many people don’t have the most stellar of credit history.

Let’s take a look at 7 things you need to know about bad credit home loans.

1. Obstacles That Make it Difficult to Buy a House With Bad Credit

We’d all like to be debt-free. That’s just not always the reality of our situations.

When you have a bad credit score, it can be easy to feel like you’ll never be able to purchase a home. But that’s not true.

There are challenges to be aware of that come along with bad credit. Here are a few you need to have on your radar.

Denial of a Mortgage Loan

We’ve all made mistakes with our money. And your credit score is a constant reminder of these mistakes.

A good credit score is considered 750 or above. And a score that looks like this will get a buyer approved for a mortgage easily.

However, a credit score below 670 is grounds for denial of a mortgage for most mortgage lenders.

Denial of the Best Interest Rates

A high credit score will also get a home buyer the most competitive interest rates around. While lower credit scores leave a lot to be desired in this area.

Whether you’re wanting to do home buying or condo buying, a credit score under 670 will make it incredibly hard to complete the process. This is where bad credit home loans can help you out.

2. Ways You Can Compensate For a Low Credit Score

You can repair your credit. But it sometimes seems to take forever. While it’s good to routinely work on this, there are also other ways to make up for a low score. A few situations that can compensate for a low credit score are:

  • A substantial amount in your savings
  • High current income
  • Potential for promotion with present employer
  • Paying comparable amount as rent
  • High down payment plan
  • Consistent and solid employment history

Of course, these factors are not always possible to salvage your bad credit score. But meeting even one of them will help your odds.

3. Finding Lenders That Work With Buyers With Bad Credit

There are lenders who work with first-time home buyers and those with bad credit by offering bad credit home loans.

Federal Housing Administration

The Federal Housing Administration offers an FHA loan for those with a poor credit history. These loans provide low down payment and low credit options.

The FHA loan can be available to those with a credit score of 580. This loan provides a low down payment of 3.5%.

If your credit score is between 500 and 579, you may still qualify for an FHA loan. But you’ll typically be offered a 10% down payment to compensate for the low credit score.

Requirements for FHA Mortgage Loans

To qualify for an FHA loan, you’ll need to have:

  • A 580 FICO score or above
  • Confirmable income
  • Steady employment with a minimum of 2 years in the same type of work or with the same company
  • 3.5% down payment
  • Zero late or defaulted payments within the past one year

FHA Loans With No Credit History

If you’ve never had a line of credit in your name, a lender may be willing to use alternative credit valuations. These may include areas such as rent payments, phone bills or utility bills to support a solid payment history.

For this alternate option to be valid, you must have 12 months straight with zero delayed payments.

These FHA loans are ideal for first-time buyers with a poor credit history. But remember, the ultimate decision to qualify you for a loan remains with the individual lender.

VA Loans For Veterans with Poor Credit

The VA loans provide veterans with the option of receiving financial support in purchasing a new home.

The VA loans provide 100% financing and zero monthly mortgage insurance premiums. These loans also offer flexible credit score requirements.

4. Gather Quotes

Before making a decision on which loan to agree to, shop around for the best deal for your situation.

A good rule of thumb is to obtain at minimum 3 quotes from various lenders. Compare the interest rates, required down payments and loan fees.

Fear of Lowering Your Credit Score

Oftentimes, prospective home buyers are worried that shopping around for the best mortgage loan deal will negatively affect their credit score. But not to worry.

FICO provides a one month window for you to rate-shop. During this time, all inquiries from mortgage companies will register as only one inquiry.

So, you can let go of the hesitation for fear of impacting your credit score.

5. Down Payment Assistance and Grants

As a first-time home buyer, you may qualify for assistance with the down payment or a grant.

If you receive low or moderate income, you’re in the running for this type of assistance. It often aids in covering the cost of the down payment and some of the closing costs.

6. Local City and County Home Buying Assistance

There are home buying assistant programs in nearly every city and county. You can check the city or county’s official website for any available options.

As with any of the other loan options, you’ll be required to meet specific criteria. Most financial assistant programs through your city will require you to complete a home buyer’s educational course, as well.

7. Bring Your Credit Score Out of the Red Before Closing

There are a few ways you can rapidly enhance your credit score. You can:

  • Bring your credit card balances down to below 10%
  • Ensure all current payments are made promptly
  • Don’t apply for credit
  • Contest any false content on your credit report

Before you apply for bad credit home loans, bring your credit score out of the red as quickly as possible.

Bad Credit Home Loans

Having bad credit doesn’t mean you’re stuck. We all have times when it feels like we just can’t crawl out of an overwhelming situation.

But you can at least arm yourself with the facts to stay informed.

These are our top tips for buying a house with a bad credit home loan. What would you add? Comment below!

Basement Design Plans for Organization and Functionality

basement design plansIs your basement wasted space? Do you wish you could create a useful room that’s both organized and functional?

There are lots of awesome ways to make use of your basement. And none of them involve filling it with boxes of junk, old bikes, or broken pieces of furniture.

Take some inspiration from the basement design plans below. These can turn your disorganized basement into a functional space the whole family can enjoy.

Read to start? Let’s do this!

Playhouse Basement

Need more space for the kids to play? Turning your basement into a playhouse is a fun, creative way to make use of your space.

Use siding screens to separate the basement into two halves – a garden and a playhouse. You could also add doors and windows to complete the look.

Install fencing outside the playhouse to section the rest of the basement into different zones. You could use a picnic bench for activities, put down green carpet to look like grass, or decorate the walls with painted trees and sky.

Inside the playhouse, install storage for books and toys and provide plenty of beanbags for the kids to relax on.

A converted basement is the perfect place to store loose toys and keep kid-related messes contained.

Gaming Basement

Are you a big kid at heart? A games collection can quickly make your living room seem cluttered, and too many wires around the TV isn’t a good look.

Converting your basement into a games room is the perfect solution.

Install built-in, wall-to-wall shelving to store video games, consoles, and memorabilia. Use a large media cabinet to house your TV and favorite systems.

Hang game art on the walls and use dimmable lighting to create the right atmosphere. Add some comfy seating, and you’re good to go!

Art Studio Basement

Have you always longed for a proper place to practice your art? Are you sick of painting at a wobbly kitchen table?

Employing a basement renovation company to turn your basement into an art studio is the perfect solution.

Stick to rustic walls and flooring and install plenty of good lighting. You might also look at plumbing in a sink if you’ll need access to water. There’s no need to section off the room – leave it as one large space that can be filled with supplies.

This is one of the easiest basement design plans, and also one of the most rewarding.

You’ll have the freedom to work on large projects and store unfinished pieces. You can also experiment with new techniques without worrying about making a mess.

How to Choose the Right Basement Design Plans

Before you settle on one of our basement design plans, you need to think carefully about what you want to get out of the room.

Do you need extra storage space? A place for your noisy teenager to play video games? Or a studio for your art? Having a clear picture will help you decide on the right plan.

Make sure you get a balance between organization and functionality by installing smart storage systems. You’ll also want to leave plenty of space in the center of the room to make it feel welcoming.

Want more advice on organizing your life with DIY? Check out our blog for more handy tips.

8 Tips on How to Save Money on Exterior Renovations

exterior renovationsIf you’re currently considering exterior renovations, it’s likely that you are envisioning dollar signs disappearing right before your very eyes.

It’s true that renovations can cost large chunks of money. This can make the entire process more stressful and difficult than anyone wants it to be. But it’s nice to redesign your home, and sometimes renovations are impossible to ignore, especially when disaster strikes.

With a little bit of extra help, however, those costs can be minimized.

Continue reading to learn more.

1. Plan Ahead To Keep Labor Costs Low

Being able to give your contractor a detailed idea of what exterior renovations you want to have done will go a long way in keeping costs much lower. The work will go faster and easier, making it a better job for everyone involved.

Plus, if you leave certain things for the renovators to figure out, it may end up costing you more as their idea of what is an acceptable cost may be very different from your own.

Exterior renovation services, such as Ross Services, want to do their very best for you. So make sure to be ready with a game plan to make the entire process cheaper and less stressful for everyone.

2. Avoid Purchasing Customized Items

It is much more affordable to buy items such as windows or paneling off the shelf of your local materials store than to dole out extra cash for something made to order. Although that customized triangular window might look really nice in your foyer, it also will cost you a lot more money than a normal rectangular window. Both for the window itself, and to get that oddly-shaped window installed.

Stick to the basics, and your costs will be much lower.

If you have your heart set on getting some customizations, you should keep them to a minimum in order to keep expenses as low as possible.

3. Gather the Needed Materials Yourself

Getting the materials for your exterior renovations is a necessary part of the entire project. However, getting them delivered right to your door is a luxury that will add a lot of expense to the overall budget.

Instead of ordering for the materials to be delivered, go and pick them up yourself to save extra money. This way you can ensure that the materials are exactly what you want for your project and that you’re getting the best price at the same time.

Just remember to bring these materials to the renovation site before the contractors get there. Otherwise, you might just be paying them to stand around waiting!

4. Explore Other Ways to Bring in Natural Light

Big open windows are quite beautiful, but they aren’t the only way to get natural light into places like your chic kitchen or your comfy living room. There are other options that won’t require you to cut out a hole into the side of your home.

An item called a “light tube”, for instance, is installed between the rafters of your roof and will help bring in natural sunlight into your home. And, it’s much cheaper than installing a whole new window.

Also, you won’t have new windows to wash during your regular cleaning routine. Less cleaning for similar results sounds like big savings in my book!

5. Spend a Little Now to Save Big Later

In order to save money during a such a large project like exterior renovations, you need to find all of the little ways where spending more now will actually save you money in the long run.

Let’s look at the siding on your home for a good example. You can save money buying just plain siding, but if you spend a little extra on the pre-painted and pre-primed version, you’ll actually save time and money.

That extra sturdy siding won’t need re-painting nearly as often as the plain siding, which ultimately saves you money. Try to find situations like this one in order to maximize your savings.

6. Try Demolishing on Your Own

It’s not recommended that you demolish interior walls without experience or knowledge, due to all of the potential electrical wiring or plumbing you could damage. However, for exterior renovations, you don’t have to worry quite as much.

Decks, especially, are quite easy for homeowners to demolish on their own without the need to hire a demolition team. Putting in some hard labor yourself will save you a lot of money.

Plus, it could be a new way to work out a little bit of stress at the same time.

7. Visit a Building-Supply Auction

Auction houses are like little treasure boxes that most people ignore. If you want to save extra money on your exterior renovations, you can’t ignore auctions any longer.

There are a lot of unused building materials just waiting for a new home. Things like lumber or siding, even sets of windows or deck furniture could be available in one of these auctions.

Don’t let the savings available at an auction pass you by. Find out where the nearest auction is, and give it a try.

8. Start Your Renovation During Contractor Downtime

Exterior renovations services have their own busy schedules to contend with when they pick up new projects. When they’re at their busiest, that is also when they are at their most costly.

If at all possible, wait until your contract has slower business before beginning your own renovations. Often a contractor will offer a small discount if you hire them during these slow times.

The busiest times for renovations are generally around the warmest summer months or around August or September when kids are beginning school again. Try to plan your renovation around these times in order to save the most money and hopefully get a discount at the same time.

Exterior Renovations Don’t Have to Empty Your Bank Account

While it’s true that your renovations will still cost you a bit, with the help of these tips, that sum of money can be significantly reduced. It’s all about getting the most bang for your buck.

This way, you can enjoy the perks of a newly renovated home, without the stresses of having spent a bit too much money in the process.

Do you have your own method for saving money on renovations? Contact me and share your wisdom!

How to Start a Mortgage Savings Account

first time home ownerYour first home purchase is on the horizon, but to get there you’ll need a hefty down payment. Have you considered setting up a mortgage savings account?

Saving up for a down payment can seem daunting, but many new home owners are accomplishing this task. In 2016, 35% of home purchases were made by first-time buyers.

With some dedication, you can join them and finally move into your very own home.

How much will I need to save?

Most lenders want a decent-sized down payment before they’ll consider lending you the rest of a property’s value. They are likely to ask for a payment in the region of 20% of your property’s value.

If you’re a veteran, you can get special VA interest rates to help you on your way. If you qualify for a VA loan, you may also find that you can buy a home with little or no down payment.

Opening a mortgage savings account

If you don’t already have one, go out and start a mortgage savings account. Whatever you do, don’t touch the money in the account once it’s paid in. It’s for your house.

Set up regular payments from your bank account on the days you get paid to move a set sum into your savings.

This is an effective strategy. If the money is moved before it’s in your palm, you won’t be tempted to spend it on something else.

If you get a pay raise at work, don’t forget to put some of the extra income into your savings. If you never had it in your pocket, how can you miss it?

How am I going to save up?

Live frugally

One of the best ways to save money is by cutting back on luxuries.

Instead of buying brand-name items, buy store-brand products instead. Rather than spend money on a gym membership, buy some weights or get your exercise by doing outdoor activities.

Frugal living can save you a huge amount of money in the long run. All the small changes really add up.

Earn cash on the side

There are a number of surveys, product tests and other schemes which are always on the lookout for new participants.

There’s also the option of working a part-time job in addition to your main job. One in five Americans makes money outside of their day job. Join the ranks and build your mortgage savings more quickly.

Save a bit extra as you go

Here’s a simple system you can use to top up your mortgage savings account each week. Take all of your pocket change each week and put it toward your savings account.

You’ll be surprised how fast this can grow your savings pool.

How to keep motivated

The best way to keep motivated is to think about how good it’ll feel when you finally have a home to call your own.

If that doesn’t work, think about all the rent you won’t have to pay a landlord.

It might take you a little while to save up, but with some sacrifice, you can make it.

You’ll be putting in an offer for a new home before you know it.

5 Expert Tips for Moving on a Budget

moving on a budgetDid you know the average American household spends over $12,000 on a professional move?

Of course, the cost of moving varies greatly depending on several factors. The distance between locations and the weight of your belongings both play a role. However, the fact still remains that a move isn’t exactly cheap.

Fortunately, moving on a budget is a lot easier when you have the right plan in place. There are many steps you can take to ensure you’re not spending too much money.

Here are 5 pieces of advice you need to know before relocating. Read on to learn how to save big on your moving expenses!

1. Leave the Cheap Furniture Behind

It can be tough to sell your old home since it holds so many cherished memories. Similarly, your furniture can have a lot of sentimental value as well. However, moving on a budget requires making some tough decisions.

In most case, it’s not wise to drag along your cheap or old furniture. If the furniture is cheap, it won’t cost you much to replace, and if it’s old, you’ll have to replace it soon either way. All in all, you’ll save money by leaving the heavier pieces behind.

2. Don’t Skimp on the Truck

Most of us are always looking for the best new deals. As a result, small moving trucks seem like such an enticing choice. After all, they’re a lot cheaper, and you’ll somehow find a way to make everything fit anyway, right?

In reality, skimping on the truck can actually cost you more money. If you end up making multiple trips, you’ll have to cover the gas. Therefore, make an informed decision rather than simply choosing the least expensive truck.

3. Research All Your Options

One of the biggest mistakes many movers make is that they don’t research all of their options. They see one appealing price and get tunnel vision.

Before you make your final decision, look at multiple moving companies. To make sure you’re getting a good value, read online reviews as well. Also, make sure the companies have good standings with the Better Business Bureau.

4. Never Buy Boxes

One thing is for certain: you’re going to need a lot of boxes when you move. That said, there’s no reason to spend your money on boxes. Ask your friends if they have any to give you, or check the back alleys of clothing stores.

Additionally, look for creative ways to save space when packing everything. For example, see if you can fit some smaller items inside your washing machine.

5. Try Moving During Winter

Not everyone can control when they move. Sometimes, you have to get to your new job immediately. Other times, you want to get situated in your new home before the kids start school.

However, if you can help it, try to move during the winter. Professional movers offer the biggest discounts from December through February. Conversely, moving during the summer will hit your wallet the hardest.

Final Thoughts on Moving on a Budget

The tips outlined above can help you put together a plan for your next move.

When moving, make sure you do your best to avoid rush hour traffic so you can save you a bit of money on gas. Also, consider using USPS to ship your books in bulk.

Do you have any other useful tips for moving on a budget? What are some mistakes you made with moving in the past? Feel free to share with the rest of us by leaving a comment below!