Ann Bennett - KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY / Metropolitan

Posted by Ann Bennett on 5/28/2017

When you're a new homeowner, it's hard to refrain from walking down the aisle of Bed Bath & Beyond and dumping everything you see into your cart. Initially, when making a shopping list for your new home it will seem like you need everything  and you need it now. It doesn't always make sense, however, to go on shopping sprees and starting several different renovation projects at once in your new home. Whether you need to be conservative with your money or you want to take your time and furnish one room of your house at a time, creating a household spending budget can be an invaluable tool. In this article, we'll cover how to make your own personalized household budget that you and your family or housemates can use to keep yourselves accountable when it comes to making your new house uniquely your own.

Set priorities

Moving into a new home can be sort of like camping out for the first few nights. Many of the basic things you take for granted might not be unpacked  or set up yet. Other items you might still need to purchase. This is a good reminder of which items matter the most when moving into a home. When you prepare to make your budget, think about the items on your list that are the most vital to your daily life. This may be different for each person. If you're an avid yoga practitioner but your yoga mat got ruined in the move, buying a new one might be higher up on your list of priorities than the average person who occasionally stretches. The best way to find out what items are high up on your list is to go through a few days in your new home and write down everything you need, then arrange it in order of importance. From there, we can start setting your budget.

Budgeting tools

Depending on how comfortable you are with technology, you have several options when it comes to ways of keeping a budget. In your Appstore you'll find a plethora of free budgeting apps that all fit a specific need. One of the most popular, Mint, connects securely with your bank account and lets you set up several budgets. It will track your income and spending and categorize your purchases automatically (groceries, gas, bills, etc.). You can set a "household" budget in Mint and make sure all your home purchases go into that category. If you're more inclined to using a spreadsheet, you can use Google Sheets, or a program like Excel to create your budget. The benefit of using Google Sheets is that it is easily shared and synced with others, allowing you to collaborate on the budget together. Your final option is to use a good old fashion hand-written budget. If you don't want it to be forgotten, you could hang it on the refrigerator or write it on a whiteboard hung somewhere highly visible in your house.


The hardest part of budgeting is committing to it. You and your housemates will need to work together to make sure you keep track of your purchases and take the time to plan out your budget, be it weekly or monthly. The best way to do this is to set a reminder in your calendar for a budget planning day once per month with your housemates. Decide what needs to be purchased and who will be buying it. Once you've made a habit of keeping your household budget, you'll be on your way to completing your home in a way that makes sense for you financially.

Tags: apps   budgeting   home   budget   house   tips   advice   appstore  
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Posted by Ann Bennett on 12/18/2016

What's for dinner? That is always a tough question when its 5:30, you have just walked in the door and all you can find is a box of cereal. Avoid ordering out or a dinner malfunction by keeping your pantry stocked with a list of staples that will help you make a variety of meals in a jiffy. 1. Canned chicken: At first it may not sound so appetizing but with a storage life of up to a year, canned or pouch chicken can be a lifesaver. Mix it in with casseroles, stir-fries, creamy salads, or even shredded as a topping to a baked potato. You won't know the difference. 2. Pasta: It doesn't matter what kind; spaghetti, linguini, rotini, penne, macaroni,–the list goes on. Pasta is best served to add bulk to a meal. Pasta can be an alternative to rice which can take longer to cook. Add pasta to soups, sauces, with cheese or vegetables and you will have a home-style meal in minutes. 3. Jarred Tomato Sauce: You have the pasta in the pantry so having a quick jar of sauce is a no-brainer. It's not your mother's homemade sauce but it will do in a pinch. Tomato sauce is actually very versatile and can also be used in soups, stews, and chili recipes. 4. Rice and Grains: Grains can be used as a quick side to any meal or bulk up any dinner. Stock up on quick-cooking rice, bulgur, and barley. Serve grains with a simple stir-fry or mixed with veggies and an egg for an easy fried rice dish. Mix flavored rice boxes with ground beef for an easy, one-meal dish. 5. Canned Beans: Beans are high in protein; they have a long shelf life and can be a part of lots of different dishes. Heat and mash them for a filling soup or drain and mix them with canned veggies for a light and flavorful dip or vegetable salad. Any kind of beans will do; Black, Pinto, Cannellini, Great Northern, or Garbanzo, just choose your favorite. 6. Canned Vegetables: It is so difficult to use fresh-bought produce before it wilts. Canned vegetables to the rescue, they last much longer. Combine an assortment with broth and seasonings for an easy vegetable soup or add them to pastas, dry soup mixes, casseroles, or rice. 7. Canned Salmon and Tuna: Protein is good for you and helps fill you up. Canned salmon and tuna can be used for easy meal ideas. Serve in salads, pitas, pasta dishes, burgers, loaded potatoes, croquettes, and even as light appetizers or snacks. 8. Canned Tomato Products: Canned tomato products can be turned into so many things. Stock up on paste, stewed, diced and whole tomatoes. Diced tomatoes make a great queso dip when added to melted cheese. Add to ground beef and taco seasoning for a zesty burrito supper, or to a skillet with seasoning for a homemade pasta sauce. Use stewed tomatoes in soups and stews. 9. Peanut Butter: Everyone loves a PB&J sandwich, but peanut butter can be used on the dinner table for Asian-inspired flavor in dips, sauces, and stir-fry. Try it for a snack spread on celery stalks or apple slices, or as a spread with multigrain crackers. 10. Canned Fruit: Fruit for dinner? Why not? Jarred cherries, canned fruit, including pineapple, mandarin oranges, and even fruit cocktail can be used as a healthy and lean side dish. Try serving grilled pineapple with chicken, add mandarin oranges to salads, and fruit always makes a great dessert.

Tags: budgeting   pantry   dinner help  
Categories: Uncategorized  

Posted by Ann Bennett on 11/13/2016

These days keeping track of your money can be a hassle. Between all the different ways you can spend your money it’s easy to lose track of your spending. Luckily there are some great apps for money management. Below are a few favorites— all rated with 3.5 stars and up. LearnVest: LearnVest is a money management platform, but it’s also much more. You can link up your various accounts to keep track of your spending, savings and goals (that you set). But the best part about this app are the articles you receive via email from them. The articles that they send are full of helpful information related to early retirement, saving for your wedding, how to pay down debt, rebuilding bad credit, smart saving, and so much more. Every article is worth the read. This app is available on iOS. Mint: Mint is a well-known money management platform. You can hook up your bank accounts, credit cards, 401k and loans and set up budgets. The app utilizes graphs to show you how you spend your money and provides you with bill reminders. It will even give you your net worth. The only downfall to the app is that it has a difficult time connecting to small banks’ online banking systems. This app is available on iOS and Google Play. Daily Budget: This is a do-it-yourself app. If you are one that is weary about putting your personal banking information onto your phone then this is the money management app for you. You plug in your income, reoccurring expenses and it gives you a daily budget. You can add in additional income and expenses as they occur. But, you will have to pay for the full version if you want to utilize all income and expense categories. This app is available on iOS. Comparable apps are available on Google Play. Prosper Daily: This app’s main emphasis is on protecting your accounts. You can link up your bank accounts and credit cards and approve or deny charges as they occur. But, it is also good for a high level review of your accounts. You are able to view your balances on your credit cards and checking account all in one place. Another pro of this app is that you are able to categorize your charges making it easy to keep track of what you are spending your money on. One of the great new features now available is the ability to view your credit score. And beyond that it provides insight into why your score is the way it is and how to improve it. This app is available on iOS and Google Play. These apps will aid you in getting in front of your spending and back in control of where your money is going. Be sure to take full advantage of the offerings that each app has, as it will only benefit you in the long run.