Feel Good Fix – January 2016

Nowadays it’s nearly impossible not to feel overloaded, stressed out, or just simply like you have no time for yourself. There’s no time to stop, relax, take a break; but the everyday hustle can be detrimental to your mood (among other things). So, we’ve decided to help you find ways to improve your mood with our monthly Feel Good Fix! Think of it as a monthly homework assignment… for yourself. You can do it just one day out of the month, or every single day if you can. It’s all up to you and when you feel you need that extra boost of happiness.

Happy New Year!!!

Congratulations, you made it through the holidays! And we’re SURE that after a couple weeks of either visiting or hosting family and friends, you are all set up and ready to conquer the new year, right?! Yeah, didn’t think so. The holidays tend to be a stressful time of year, which is why our previous fixes were all about taking a break from the crazy. But this month’s fix is about taking action – this month, we want you to de-clutter!

The new year brings a sense of new beginnings and gives us an opportunity to re-evaluate how we want to live our lives. We make resolutions, we get motivated, we set out to make changes. One of the best things you can do before you begin anything is de-clutter and organize yourself for success. If your goal is to get in shape, organize your pantry and workout space. If you are looking to pay off some debt, then organize your finances. It also helps tremendously to do a general cleansing of your environment (home, office, car) to get a sense of preparedness. When things are a mess, you don’t feel ready – or motivated – to do the things that need to be done. Once things are in order, you have nothing left to do but tackle those lofty goals! Take the time this month to break down the necessary areas of importance and clean out the junk, organize, and plan – then get ready to make it a fantastic new year!
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Moving Mishaps

Moving. It’s a part of life. Arguably, one of the worst parts. I haven’t met a single person that actually LIKES to move (and I don’t think I ever will). The truth is, whether it’s a room or a house, moving sucks. Whether guy or girl, we simply have way too much STUFF! And no matter the time you take, the steps you go through, the “great advice” you follow, or how many friends you invite over for a “moving party,” it never seems to be a pleasurable experience.
Since we’ve recently moved into our new home, I will share with you some of my biggest blunders while moving, in the sincere hopes that it will help some of you avoid the pain I had to endure.
1. Don’t pack after getting home from work. Seriously. What were we thinking?! In an effort to get as much done during the week as we could, we thought it would be a great idea to pack a few boxes of non-essentials throughout the week. Sure, it sounded like a great idea at the time. Only, what’s the first thing you want to do when you get home from work? I’ll give you a hint: NOT packing. Take a day, take a weekend, take a whole week! Just don’t ever think that you’ll get out of work with enough motivation to get some packing done in the few hours you finally have to yourself.
2. Don’t enlist friends who don’t want to put in work. Ok. I know these are your friends, your besties, the people that tell you all the time that if you ever need something, they got you. But honestly, it’s not their move. Plus, they probably hate packing just as much as the next person, and you probably only offered pizza and beer. The truth is, we all have plenty of friends that say they’ll help, but in reality they’re just trying to be nice and secretly hoping deep down inside that you never ask them for it – because, let’s be honest, we’ve done it to some of our friends ourselves. You probably have one, maybe two friends who you can really (and I mean REALLY) count on for the heavy shit – both literally and figuratively – and those are the friends you can call on for ACTUAL help. These are the ones that will follow your system, take initiative, and kick you in the ass when you need a boost to keep moving. These are the ones that will make sure things get done because it’s for you, and that’s the only reason they’re there to help.
3. Don’t pack crap. This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but let’s recap anyway. I THOUGHT I was being really good about getting rid of stuff we didn’t need in our new home. The truth of the matter is, after a couple weeks of “trying” to sort and pack everything, I got fed up and just boxed up whatever was around. If I wasn’t sure I was going to need/use/want it, I packed it up and brought it with me anyway. What was the result? I ended up packing crap. It has since turned into “garage crap” or “extra room crap”. Do yourself a favor, get rid of everything. If you know you’re looking for a new house, start getting rid of stuff you don’t use the MINUTE you start to look at listings. Don’t wait until two weeks before your lease is up. Start now.
4. Don’t assume one label is enough. Have you ever seen a “Fragile” box that was only marked on one side? Neither have I. So why did we assume labeling our boxes on the top was enough? I have no idea. Even now, we still have boxes that just say “Kitchen” in the garage with no idea what it ACTUALLY is. Is it food? Is it cookware? Cups? Plates? No one knows! Label your boxes on ALL sides. Be specific. This way, no matter which way the box is facing, everyone knows what’s in it. This also makes unpacking easier because you’ll know what boxes to put away first. (Related tip: If your penmanship is more suitable for writing prescriptions, try pre-printed labels. You could also try color coded labels to see things at-a-glance.)
5. Don’t pack your closet. Wait. What? Yes, don’t do it. At least, not the conventional way. This is actually something I did right and I saved a ton of time and space doing it this way. Now, when I say “closet”, I mean your clothes only. What we did was get heavy duty trash bags and we bagged the clothes like they do at the dry cleaners (with more than just one piece per bag, of course) and tie them at the bottom. We would grab them by the hangers and stack them in the truck to transport to the new house. Benefits: your clothes are still on their hangers and protected from dust during the move, there are fewer boxes taking up space in your truck, and it’s easier to put all your clothes away once you get to your new closet! Setbacks: you have a ton of trash bags with holes in them. (Related tip: I also don’t pack drawers that have clothes. Take the drawers out and load them in your car while the moving truck takes the furniture piece.)
6. Reserve a truck ahead of time. It might sound like a “duh” thing to do, but guess what…. yeah, that happened. Did you know that the most popular time to rent a moving truck is the last weekend of the month? Do you want to know why? Because there are hundreds of people all over the city with leases ending that are using the last weekend to move to their new place. Can you guess when we decided to move? Yep, that’s right. The last weekend. So please, reserve your truck ahead of time. If you want to avoid the weekend hassle altogether, then move right smack in the middle of the week, when people are busy working.
7. Hire movers! If you don’t want to have to worry about any of the steps above, then hire movers. I had priced a couple of places and considered it more “cost effective” to do it ourselves. It was going to cost a fortune! Yea… well… thinking back, I would have paid that and then some to be rid of the never-ending headache it was to move into our new house. There are companies out there that literally do it all. They’ll pack it, load it, take it to your new place, and unload it for you! If you know you’re going to move soon, start a fund for your movers immediately. It will take a lot of the pain out of moving.
8. Don’t forget, you’re not just moving your things. It doesn’t hit you until your boxes and furniture are cluttered all about the house. You’re tired from all of the heavy lifting, the long drive, the back and forth of it all. All you want is a shower and to cozy up to some take-out and a rerun of your favorite show when you realize… you forgot to transfer the cable service! In our case, we had to cancel our original provider and schedule an installation. (We assume the previous owner of the house never watched TV a day in her life because there hadn’t been cable here for over 20 years.) Services like power and water are usually the first ones you think of when you move, but don’t forget the services that make your life easier. This is especially important if you have small children – we went through movies like water before we were able to get our cable connected. Make sure to schedule the cancellation/activation or transfer of these services at least two weeks ahead of your moving date to allow for appointment scheduling. This way, you can have your new house and enjoy it too.
Melissa

NACA Part Three – My Experience from Beginning to Almost End

In this final installment of my experience with NACA (the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America), I will review the steps I went through after our mortgage counseling.

After many months of budgeting, planning, taking care of open credit report issues, ensuring all bills were paid on time, and most importantly, saving – my husband and I were finally able to say we had checked off all of the “to-do’s” on our action plan.

This. Was. Not. Easy.

It was WORK to budget and stick to that budget. It was WORK to make sure all of our bills were paid on time and that the right amount of money was going into our savings account monthly. It was WORK to negotiate with creditors or have errors on our credit report corrected. Although this was a lot of work, it brought about a growth, maturity, and unity in my relationship with my fiancé. We were working diligently to ensure that we had a solid start to our marriage and a solid foundation to grow upon.

The application process was a few weeks of stress and panic. We had to make sure all documents in our file were up-to-date. As previously mentioned, one of the standout differences of the NACA program was that they underwrite upfront for an APPROVAL, not a pre-approval which is standard with many conventional and FHA loans. At the time of our application, it was a bit of a hectic time as the bank that backed the loans for NACA was being transitioned from one institution to another.

We signed a STACK of forms. No sarcasm. A STACK… I should have hugged a tree as I left the office since a tree gave its life just for us to have a STACK of mortgage application forms to sign.

We followed up frequently. (Don’t be THAT person that follows up every two hours. Be reasonable.) We QUICKLY submitted documentation that was requested of us. It was nerve-wrecking. Let’s be honest. You are being judged. Not only are you being judged, it is by someone you have never met or seen before and you don’t have an opportunity to explain, encourage, or separate yourself from the crowd. Yet, when that approval comes in… It is OH… SO… SWEET. You feel as if you have overcome a major hurdle. You finally have a sheet of paper with your name and a bank’s name on it, and that sheet of paper says that bank will back you for a mortgage.

NACA requires that the realtors used for the house hunting process take a course and be registered with NACA, as the realtor needs to be familiar with the restraints and style of mortgage provided by NACA. We requested a realtor we had met at a NACA event and hit the ground running.

House hunting is NOT easy in South Florida, especially when you are on a budget. I will not bore you with the details, but I will give you the facts that you need to know…

  • NACA allows you to use 10% of your mortgage amount for repairs/upgrades to a home (so long as that additional 10% falls within your approved mortgage amount).
  • NACA does not allow you to incentivize a buyer on your offer. You can’t say, “Hey… we’ll pay you an additional 1% in cash at closing.”
  • Most importantly, NACA does not allow you to take out a mortgage above the appraisal amount. This is logical, but since NACA doesn’t let you pay (even out of pocket) above the appraisal amount this becomes an issue, especially in hot real estate markets where most people offer above asking price.

Here is what happened with my fiancé and me: We made an offer on a home of approximately $260,000, and the owner accepted that amount. We went through the inspection of the home (which was passed with flying colors), and then we moved on to the appraisal.

That is when everything basically fell apart. It was the downfall of the process. When the appraisal came in, the house appraised for approximately $235,000. NACA would only approve a mortgage for the $235,000 appraised amount. The $25,000 difference was too great of an amount for us to negotiate down or come to an acceptable agreement with the seller. The seller was adamant on selling for $260,000.

My fiancé and I had to walk away from purchasing a home about a week before we would have closed. It was also the week of my fiancé’s birthday. It was also exactly 4 months before our wedding. For approximately 2-3 weeks, we were about as depressed as you could get.

The fault in my situation is that NACA should not be used in hot real estate markets where buyers are a plenty and sellers are scarce. In our market, it is very common for homes to go for slightly above appraisal. Additionally, NACA’s appraisal dispute department was a nightmare to deal with. We had an extensive list of comparable homes that reflected the home was worth more than $230,000, yet they were not trying to find a way to help a customer who has worked so hard and had also referred several friends to the program.

There are certain neighborhoods where sellers outnumber the buyers. In THOSE markets, I’m sure NACA is most effective. The buyer can set the terms with the sellers.

I’m sad to say that my fiancé and I were not able to buy a home. Because it was so close to our wedding, we had to rush to find a place to rent. A year later, we are still renting. It’s a vicious cycle, yet we are already preparing ourselves to buy a home in a year or so using all of the lessons we have learned.

NACA was a great program and a great experience, but for our specific situation, it was not a happy ending.

-Angie

Home Is Where The Couch Is.

 

This is totally not my present living room. Just the floor display of the sofa we DID order.

 

In the fall of last year, my husband and I moved in together about 45 days before our wedding day. That was a narrow window, especially with all of the last minute wedding tasks to accomplish. Before we lived together, I lived with my family, he lived with his.

Combined, the furniture we owned was a full-size bedroom furniture, a large desk unit, and a nice wood kitchen table with chairs. The expenses of the wedding, honeymoon, moving, and holidays were a hit to our finances. We did not have the luxury of running to the furniture store, right after moving in together, to buy all of the items we needed. Yet, we were so incredibly happy to be together. (Yes, incredibly cheesy moment. I call them “velveeta” cheesy moments.)

Little-by-little we have begun to purchase our furniture, and make our residence feel like a HOME. I am currently writing this from the delicious comfiness (is that even a word? Now it is…) of our king-size bed. This was our first major furniture investment, and it has been wonderful.

The problem, however, is that our living room has actually been more like the dogs bedroom/hubby’s video game room. We have only had one recliner and a tailgate chair in the living room since moving in. I kid you not. That room just wasn’t a priority for us.

As of today, that has all changed. We just finished ordering our living room sofa. It didn’t seem like a big deal at first, then I got to thinking… I get to have movie nights with my husband. I get to entertain guests. I get to fall asleep on a comfortable sofa while watching TV. I get to curl up and read.

The living room is one of the social epicenters of a home. Second possibly to the kitchen. My husband and I now get to enjoy all aspects of our home, and all get to share that space with others.

Our environment has an impact on so many aspects of our daily lives: physical health, stress levels, overall happiness, etc… Slowly, but surely, my husband and I are molding our home into our place of joy, relaxation and love.

The Morning Routine…

I have a declaration of love I would like to share with the entire world…

WORLD, I LOVE MY BED!

I truly do. I love it so much, that it breaks my heart to have to leave it early in the mornings!

I know many people hit the SNOOZE button once in a blue moon just to get a few more minutes of rest, but my SNOOZE usage is excessive. I have two alarms set on my phone and I snooze them about 5 times. It takes me a good 30 minutes to get out of bed in the morning. I just can’t help it! This morning all the stars aligned! My bed was so soft, my sheets had the fresh just-cleaned scent, I was warm, and I was in the most COMFORTABLE position. I was on a cloud! Then it all had to be ruined by my alarm.

I even try to make my alarms annoying enough to get me out of bed! I have the “there is a nuclear meltdown occurring just down the street” alarm tone on my phone. Still. My bed. ❤

I’m not even too cranky in the mornings. I’m just not incredibly alert, awake and roaring to go. Give me 30 minutes to try and remember my name, the date, and where I am.

I’ve laid off drinking coffee, but I was never one to go running to a coffee pot early in the morning either. I would pick up a latte close to the office and use it as a jump start to get to work.

So for now… I sit here at the office daydreaming about my bed… The fluffy pillows… The soft sheets… *drool*

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Closet Adjustment

Today I did a tiny bit of closet adjustment… What kind of adjustment? Well, my goals extend far out beyond just the plain (and boring) “weight loss”… I want to be just a more fabulous version of me. In order to make that happen, I need to feel and look the part.
I’m not attempting an overnight make over… But sometimes you just need to look in your closet and do away with the ugly, the frumpy, the ill-fitting, and *hopefully* too large clothing that’s stored away in there…
I took out about 10-12 items of clothing and in searching hanger-to-hanger, I found a few items I completely forgot about and LOVE!
I’m hoping to continue with my closet adjustments every two months or so, while adding a few new pieces occassionally…
Now if only I could have more room for shoes…

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