10 Awesome Real Estate Tips for Home Sellers – Redfin

When you bought your first house, you likely felt excitement with a hint of nervousness and maybe you even had a “What have I gotten myself into?” kind of moment. However, those emotions passed and you settled in and made that house your home. Whether you’ve stayed in this home for a couple of years or a couple of decades, when you decide it’s time to sell, you might experience a very similar emotional roller coaster, especially in today’s housing market. To ease your stress, here are 10 awesome real estate tips that will help you get started and possibly even take some of the emotion out of the ride.

An agent discussing with a couple great real estate tips to consider to help them sell their home.

An agent discussing with a couple great real estate tips to consider to help them sell their home.

Tip #1 Find the perfect listing agent 

Probably the best real estate tip there is: find a dedicated, responsive, and knowledgeable real estate agent – someone you can trust to guide you through every step of selling your home. A good seller’s agent will make informed recommendations about a listing price, advise you on which repairs will help you sell your home, and make recommendations about decluttering, staging, and maximizing your curb appeal.

A good seller’s agent shines the most when it comes time to negotiate an offer. The goal is to make sure you earn top dollar for your house and to sell it quickly. This process starts by honing in on the right listing price. 

  • If your home is priced too high it will likely sit on the market and possibly longer than most homes in your area. This may cause prospective buyers to second-guess its value.
  • If your home is priced too low, you could leave money on the table and diminish the equity you’d bring to the purchase of your next home.

Your ideal selling agent will have well-developed instincts for what the real estate market is doing in your area. Take your time and speak to several agents to find someone you can comfortably work well with and will work hard for your interests. 

Tip #2 Determine the best time to list your home

Reliable real estate wisdom suggests that spring into summer is when most people start hunting for a new house. Buyers will typically research properties online months before touring their first home in person. This way they can understand how much house they can afford in neighborhoods that appeal to them most. 

Usually, the end of March or the beginning of April is considered the start of homebuying season. However, this year’s homebuying season seems to have hit early as nearly half the homes listed mid-January into February went under contract in under two weeks. Meaning we are currently in a seller’s market and you don’t have to wait to fetch top dollar for your home.

Getting a 3D walkthrough scan of your home is a great real estate tip that will help you sell your home.

Getting a 3D walkthrough scan of your home is a great real estate tip that will help you sell your home.

Tip #3 Professional photography and 3D walkthroughs are key

Many real estate agents now offer 3D tours of their listings. Virtual walkthroughs are a massive advantage for both buyers and sellers. Buyers can “shop” any time of the day or night, and sellers can “show” their house 24/7. It also cuts down on showings to only the serious buyers. If a buyer is genuinely interested, they will view the virtual walkthrough (probably several times) and then request a showing. 

Professional photography is another great option to show your home in its best light.. Homes listed with high-quality, professional images are known to sell quicker and for more money. A professional real estate photographer will capture each room at the best angle, and highlight its best features. You can also request photos shot at dusk with both interior and exterior lights shining. It’s all about painting those special pictures in your buyer’s mind. 

If you’re selling a luxury listing with a view or large plot of land, consider drone photography to fully capture everything your property has to offer.

Tip #4 Handle the repairs from a pre-listing home inspection

It might be tempting to put off small repairs and let the next owner handle them. Unfortunately, if you list a house with evident and necessary repairs, prospective buyers will also scrutinize your property more closely for larger deferred maintenance issues. If you want to be proactive, one of the best real estate tips for selling your home is setting up a pre-listing home inspection

When you choose to fix everything the inspector finds before you list your house, you gain valuable peace of mind during the closing process. Your buyer will most likely want their own inspection as part of the sales contract, but when that inspector finds everything is in perfect order, your buyer will have confidence in the sale.

Tip #5 Boost your curb appeal

It may feel counterintuitive to work on the outside of your home as you get ready to sell. But when you keep up with lawn maintenance, pull weeds, fix the fence, power-wash the siding, and clean up the cobwebs, your property will stand out and really “wow” prospective buyers. 

Think back to the last time you drove around looking at houses for sale. If the house looked like it was in rough shape on the outside, most of the time, you probably didn’t bother to request a showing. Good curb appeal will draw buyers into your home. They will start to envision themselves playing basketball, grilling in the backyard, or relaxing on the porch. You want to help buyers fall in love with your house and curb appeal will help you do that. 

Tip #6 Declutter… and then declutter some more 

It’s no secret, we all accumulate stuff. However, you want potential buyers to be looking at your home, not your belongings. So another great real estate tip is to have your home appear move-in ready so homebuyers can see themselves – and their things – in your space. To do this, you’ll need to be relentless about removing as many personal items as possible and commit to a minimalist lifestyle, at least until you go under contract on your house. 

Of course, you have items you use daily and weekly. Keep those accessible but out of sight if you can. Remove anything seasonal, like decorations, extra blankets, or anything you won’t use for months. Renting a storage unit or on-site storage container could be helpful and allow you to eliminate extra furniture and other items from your home until you move into your new space. It’s all about perception. A house with minimal furniture, unstuffed closets, tasteful artwork, and a general lack of surface clutter will look clean, spacious, and appealing. 

Staging your home is a great real estate tip to consider when selling your home.

Staging your home is a great real estate tip to consider when selling your home.

Tip #7 Stage your home

One of the most important real estate tips is staging your home. Key staging tactics involve placing furniture and throw pillows invitingly. You can also set a dining room or kitchen table. And placing a vase or two of fresh flowers around the home is a nice touch. The purpose of staging is to show buyers the home’s potential. You want all the main rooms – kitchen, dining room, living room, bathrooms, and master bedroom – to create the feeling that they are already home. 

Tip #8 Always be ready for a showing

When you list your home, you could get calls from agents within hours regarding potential buyers who want to see your home. It’s easier to handle those calls if you do your best to keep your home “show ready.”Of course, that involves keeping the home clean at a minimum. Before you list the house, do a good deep cleaning in every room. 

Be sure to give extra attention to air vents and ductwork by cleaning out the dust and any debris stuck in the vent. Dust all remaining furniture and artwork. Wash the windows and glass doors so they sparkle, and run the vacuum to help refresh the carpets.

Finally, use an odor remover to eliminate any pet odors or lingering smells from last night’s dinner. You can make an incredibly positive impression if the only scent a buyer remembers is the smell of fresh-baked cookies or fresh flowers. 

Tip #9 Accommodate requests for last-minute showings

Unfortunately, buyers are not always available to see the home when it’s most convenient for you. Here’s a list so you can easily clean up and be out of the house in 20 minutes. 

  • Place any dishes in the dishwasher.
  • Wipe down the bathroom and kitchen countertops.
  • Wipe down the toilet seats.
  • Grab a bin and place any loose toys or books inside.
  • Toss any stray clothing in the laundry hamper.
  • Close all the closet doors.
  • If you have paperwork or other clutter on the countertop, tuck it out of sight in a drawer, or worst case, make an organized pile. Organized is better than scattered. 
  • Make the beds.
  • Sweep the floors. 
  • Take out the garbage as you leave and bring your pets with you.

And real estate tip #10 Respond to offers in a timely manner

Be respectful of all reasonable offers. You know what price you’ll accept and on what terms, including what you’d be willing to negotiate on if asked. Most contracts expect a response within 48 hours, but why wait? Respond with a counteroffer or acceptance as soon as a good offer comes in. 

Selling your first house is not easy. But with these 10 real estate tips, moving on to the next chapter in your life can be just as exciting.

Source: redfin.com

10 Awesome Real Estate Tips for Home Sellers

When you bought your first house, you likely felt excitement with a hint of nervousness and maybe you even had a “What have I gotten myself into?” kind of moment. However, those emotions passed and you settled in and made that house your home. Whether you’ve stayed in this home for a couple of years or a couple of decades, when you decide it’s time to sell, you might experience a very similar emotional roller coaster, especially in today’s housing market. To ease your stress, here are 10 awesome real estate tips that will help you get started and possibly even take some of the emotion out of the ride.

An agent discussing with a couple great real estate tips to consider to help them sell their home.

An agent discussing with a couple great real estate tips to consider to help them sell their home.

Tip #1 Find the perfect listing agent 

Probably the best real estate tip there is: find a dedicated, responsive, and knowledgeable real estate agent – someone you can trust to guide you through every step of selling your home. A good seller’s agent will make informed recommendations about a listing price, advise you on which repairs will help you sell your home, and make recommendations about decluttering, staging, and maximizing your curb appeal.

A good seller’s agent shines the most when it comes time to negotiate an offer. The goal is to make sure you earn top dollar for your house and to sell it quickly. This process starts by honing in on the right listing price. 

  • If your home is priced too high it will likely sit on the market and possibly longer than most homes in your area. This may cause prospective buyers to second-guess its value.
  • If your home is priced too low, you could leave money on the table and diminish the equity you’d bring to the purchase of your next home.

Your ideal selling agent will have well-developed instincts for what the real estate market is doing in your area. Take your time and speak to several agents to find someone you can comfortably work well with and will work hard for your interests. 

Tip #2 Determine the best time to list your home

Reliable real estate wisdom suggests that spring into summer is when most people start hunting for a new house. Buyers will typically research properties online months before touring their first home in person. This way they can understand how much house they can afford in neighborhoods that appeal to them most. 

Usually, the end of March or the beginning of April is considered the start of homebuying season. However, this year’s homebuying season seems to have hit early as nearly half the homes listed mid-January into February went under contract in under two weeks. Meaning we are currently in a seller’s market and you don’t have to wait to fetch top dollar for your home.

Getting a 3D walkthrough scan of your home is a great real estate tip that will help you sell your home.

Getting a 3D walkthrough scan of your home is a great real estate tip that will help you sell your home.

Tip #3 Professional photography and 3D walkthroughs are key

Many real estate agents now offer 3D tours of their listings. Virtual walkthroughs are a massive advantage for both buyers and sellers. Buyers can “shop” any time of the day or night, and sellers can “show” their house 24/7. It also cuts down on showings to only the serious buyers. If a buyer is genuinely interested, they will view the virtual walkthrough (probably several times) and then request a showing. 

Professional photography is another great option to show your home in its best light.. Homes listed with high-quality, professional images are known to sell quicker and for more money. A professional real estate photographer will capture each room at the best angle, and highlight its best features. You can also request photos shot at dusk with both interior and exterior lights shining. It’s all about painting those special pictures in your buyer’s mind. 

If you’re selling a luxury listing with a view or large plot of land, consider drone photography to fully capture everything your property has to offer.

Tip #4 Handle the repairs from a pre-listing home inspection

It might be tempting to put off small repairs and let the next owner handle them. Unfortunately, if you list a house with evident and necessary repairs, prospective buyers will also scrutinize your property more closely for larger deferred maintenance issues. If you want to be proactive, one of the best real estate tips for selling your home is setting up a pre-listing home inspection

When you choose to fix everything the inspector finds before you list your house, you gain valuable peace of mind during the closing process. Your buyer will most likely want their own inspection as part of the sales contract, but when that inspector finds everything is in perfect order, your buyer will have confidence in the sale.

Tip #5 Boost your curb appeal

It may feel counterintuitive to work on the outside of your home as you get ready to sell. But when you keep up with lawn maintenance, pull weeds, fix the fence, power-wash the siding, and clean up the cobwebs, your property will stand out and really “wow” prospective buyers. 

Think back to the last time you drove around looking at houses for sale. If the house looked like it was in rough shape on the outside, most of the time, you probably didn’t bother to request a showing. Good curb appeal will draw buyers into your home. They will start to envision themselves playing basketball, grilling in the backyard, or relaxing on the porch. You want to help buyers fall in love with your house and curb appeal will help you do that. 

Tip #6 Declutter… and then declutter some more 

It’s no secret, we all accumulate stuff. However, you want potential buyers to be looking at your home, not your belongings. So another great real estate tip is to have your home appear move-in ready so homebuyers can see themselves – and their things – in your space. To do this, you’ll need to be relentless about removing as many personal items as possible and commit to a minimalist lifestyle, at least until you go under contract on your house. 

Of course, you have items you use daily and weekly. Keep those accessible but out of sight if you can. Remove anything seasonal, like decorations, extra blankets, or anything you won’t use for months. Renting a storage unit or on-site storage container could be helpful and allow you to eliminate extra furniture and other items from your home until you move into your new space. It’s all about perception. A house with minimal furniture, unstuffed closets, tasteful artwork, and a general lack of surface clutter will look clean, spacious, and appealing. 

Staging your home is a great real estate tip to consider when selling your home.

Staging your home is a great real estate tip to consider when selling your home.

Tip #7 Stage your home

One of the most important real estate tips is staging your home. Key staging tactics involve placing furniture and throw pillows invitingly. You can also set a dining room or kitchen table. And placing a vase or two of fresh flowers around the home is a nice touch. The purpose of staging is to show buyers the home’s potential. You want all the main rooms – kitchen, dining room, living room, bathrooms, and master bedroom – to create the feeling that they are already home. 

Tip #8 Always be ready for a showing

When you list your home, you could get calls from agents within hours regarding potential buyers who want to see your home. It’s easier to handle those calls if you do your best to keep your home “show ready.”Of course, that involves keeping the home clean at a minimum. Before you list the house, do a good deep cleaning in every room. 

Be sure to give extra attention to air vents and ductwork by cleaning out the dust and any debris stuck in the vent. Dust all remaining furniture and artwork. Wash the windows and glass doors so they sparkle, and run the vacuum to help refresh the carpets.

Finally, use an odor remover to eliminate any pet odors or lingering smells from last night’s dinner. You can make an incredibly positive impression if the only scent a buyer remembers is the smell of fresh-baked cookies or fresh flowers. 

Tip #9 Accommodate requests for last-minute showings

Unfortunately, buyers are not always available to see the home when it’s most convenient for you. Here’s a list so you can easily clean up and be out of the house in 20 minutes. 

  • Place any dishes in the dishwasher.
  • Wipe down the bathroom and kitchen countertops.
  • Wipe down the toilet seats.
  • Grab a bin and place any loose toys or books inside.
  • Toss any stray clothing in the laundry hamper.
  • Close all the closet doors.
  • If you have paperwork or other clutter on the countertop, tuck it out of sight in a drawer, or worst case, make an organized pile. Organized is better than scattered. 
  • Make the beds.
  • Sweep the floors. 
  • Take out the garbage as you leave and bring your pets with you.

And real estate tip #10 Respond to offers in a timely manner

Be respectful of all reasonable offers. You know what price you’ll accept and on what terms, including what you’d be willing to negotiate on if asked. Most contracts expect a response within 48 hours, but why wait? Respond with a counteroffer or acceptance as soon as a good offer comes in. 

Selling your first house is not easy. But with these 10 real estate tips, moving on to the next chapter in your life can be just as exciting.

Source: redfin.com

The Less You Own, The Less That Owns You

The less you own, the less that owns you. Minimalist living has changed my life for the better. If you are interested in having a minimalist house and life, then you must read this!

The less you own, the less that owns you. Minimalist living has changed my life for the better. If you are interested in having a minimalist house and life, then you must read this!I haven’t always been a minimalist, nor have I always been interested in minimalist living. I used to purchase crazy amounts of clothing, random items for my home, wasn’t interested in becoming a minimalist, and so on.

I hoarded lots of items, hoping that one day I would find a use for them. I often thought that I needed things, so I would purchase crazy amounts of them even though I should have put my money to better use.

Then, around two years ago, I realized that I had too much stuff and that I had an unhealthy relationship with material things.

Over the past two years, I have donated or given away the majority of my belongings. I now pretty much only have the things I need to get me through the day or week ahead. There is no extra, and before I purchase anything, I always think about what use I’ll get out of it.

After all, I travel full-time and there’s only so much I can carry. Plus, getting rid of the majority of my belongings has been hard, stressful, and tiring, and I definitely don’t want to experience that ever again!

I know that not everyone wants to be a minimalist. And, I’m not pushing it on anyone. I know that buying stuff isn’t all bad, and there are many material things that make life easier and better.

Instead, I want to introduce people to the idea of minimalist living, especially since the average person has lots of extra stuff in their lives that they don’t need. This can lead to debt, buying things just to impress others, wasting time, and so on.

Plus, being a minimalist has changed my life for the better, and I believe that it can help others as well.

I used to spend a lot of time thinking the things I bought and spending all of my money on new things, but I am far from that now.

It’s easy to get lost in the idea of spending money on things to fill your life, and the average home size has changed to make it only easier to feel like you have to buy more than you need. Consider this, the average home size in 1950 was less than 1,000 square feet. Fast forward to 2013, the average home size has increased to nearly 2,600 square feet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Clearly, we used to make due with less, and there are still many reasons for minimalist living:

  • Minimalist living can help you save more money. Minimalist living most likely means that you’ll be buying less stuff. Instead, you’ll only buy what you want and what you truly need.
  • Minimalist living means less clutter. Clutter can take over a person’s life. You may feel stressed out, tired, like your things are taking over your life, and more.
  • Minimalist living can give you more time. By living with less stuff, you can spend less time on cleaning, maintenance, and repairs. The more things you have, the more things that you’ll need to clean, maintain, and repair. Just think about what you could do with all of that extra time!

Here is how minimalist living has changed my life:

Clothing doesn’t define me.

By being a minimalist, I’ve definitely realized that I don’t need much in order to be happy. Before, I thought that I needed all the clothing in the world in order to be happy, but now I know that I really don’t need much.

In fact, I hardly ever purchase clothing, and I’ve been wearing nearly the same things for several years.

For me, it’s all about buying things that are more “classic,” won’t go out of style, things that I actually like instead of what’s trendy for that month, and so on.

It feels great when you realize that you don’t need all of that extra stuff in your life.

Instead, purchase what you want and need, rather than thinking about keeping up with others all the time or thinking that emotional spending is something that will help you.

Minimalist living gives me more time.

Minimalist living allows me to have more time to spend on other things.

Just think about it: The more things you have, then the more time you have to spend on using it, maintaining it, repairing it, cleaning it, and so on.

I would much rather live with less than think about all of the things that I own that need work done to them!

Related blog posts about minimalist living:

With minimalist living, I’ve realized that I don’t need much.

Before I was a minimalist, I kept a lot of things because I thought I needed them for the future. On a regular basis, I probably only used around 25% of the things I had in my house.

In reality, it was probably even less than the 25% figure that I just said above.

I know I’m not alone, and many people keep items because they think they might need them in the future. You know the feeling– you buy something, don’t use it right away, and years later you find it but just can’t throw it away in case there is some circumstance where you need that exact item.

If this is you, then you should put a timeline of no more than one year on the item. If you don’t use it in that timeframe, then there’s a big chance that you’ll never need it or will even miss it that much.

Instead of buying items that you rarely use, you may want to think about renting or borrowing them from someone else.

When I think about how much stuff we gave away, I honestly can’t even remember half of the things. I realize now how little we really needed, and those things definitely did not make me happy if I can’t even remember them!

I save more money by living with less stuff.

Now that we live with less stuff, we are able to save a great deal of money. Instead of thinking that we need everything that exists, we are now much more realistic about our needs and realize that there’s a lot of clutter in the stores that no one really needs at all.

Plus, now that I realize how much money I’ve wasted over the years, I am able to say “no” at the store when debating about whether or not I should purchase a certain item, especially one that might create clutter.

I can also walk into a store and only buy exactly what I need, even if that store is Target!

I have so much more control over my spending and that has saved me a lot of money.

Related:

I understand now that I don’t need things to make me happy.

Having more things doesn’t make you a happier person. Things don’t make you a better person, they don’t make you more successful than others, or anything else.

In fact, in many circumstances it’s far from that.

I know this because I have less stuff than I have ever had, and I am happier than ever.

Plus, when was the last time you heard someone say “I’m so glad I bought all those pairs of pants 35 years ago!” or “I’m so glad I had all of those things decades ago!”

You should only own something if you truly want or need it. Who cares about what everyone else has!

A minimalist house allows me to travel.

Unless I maintain my minimalist lifestyle and house (well, RV), then I wouldn’t be able to travel full-time. It would be quite hard and not nearly as enjoyable if I had a bunch of things holding me back.

I really, really love and enjoy being able to travel full-time, and it is one of the best benefits of living minimally.

Do you think minimalist living could change your life? Why or why not?

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Source: makingsenseofcents.com

You CAN Reach Retirement! Avoid These Top 5 Retirement Mistakes

retirement mistakes

retirement mistakes

Wondering what retirement mistakes will ruin your retirement? Here are the biggest retirement mistakes we all make.

Have you ever checked in to see if you are on track for retirement? I know this can feel like a daunting task, but preparing yourself for retirement can help you save more and avoid common retirement mistakes.

For some, retirement means quitting their job after 40+ years, but it can also mean working towards early retirement, in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and so on.

I know that’s not for the “average” American, but by avoiding some of the retirement mistakes I will talk about today, you can start preparing for retirement at any age.

Related: How To Save For Retirement

The thing about retirement is that sadly many out there are not saving enough money. In fact, according to Zacks Investment Research, 72% do not save enough for retirement each month.

Also, according to surveys done by Bankrate, 20% of people aren’t saving any money, and 61% of Americans have no idea what they will need to save for retirement.

These numbers are very alarming.

Saving money in general is an important thing to do, but if you don’t want to work for the rest of your life, saving for retirement should be something that you are thinking about. And, I believe that saving for retirement is possible if you start working towards it and avoid retirement mistakes when it comes to planning and saving.

While many believe the economy ruins their chances for retirement, in reality most retirement mistakes come from specific beliefs people have about retirement. Some of these beliefs come from expectations of what their budget will be during retirement, that they can rely on their pension or social security, and more.

There are many reasons for why a person might not be saving for retirement, and by looking at the various retirement mistakes you might be making, I feel that more people can be aware of and overcome their retirement preparation problems.

Here are five retirement mistakes and how they might be hurting your chances for retirement:

1. You ignore saving for retirement altogether.

Many people skip out on saving for retirement for several reasons, including:

  • Believing you don’t have enough money to save for retirement.
  • Thinking that you’re too young to care about retirement or that it’s too late to start.
  • Relying too much on pensions and social security.

No matter how young or how old you are, you should be saving and preparing for retirement. You never know when you will need it, and I am all for a person being in charge of their own retirement plan instead of relying too much on other sources of retirement (such as relying on social security 100%).

Millennials are especially at risk and according to an article by Business Insider, a shocking 40% of millennials have nothing saved for retirement. This is a scary number because these people will all have to retire one day and I’m not sure what they will do when the time comes.

But, it isn’t just young people who aren’t saving for retirement. Bankrate found that only 60% of people aged 45-54 have some type of retirement savings. You can read more crazy retirement statistics here.

It is important to realize that part of the reason for these low savings rates is that many are currently living paycheck to paycheck, which makes it hard to even approach saving for retirement. Fortunately, you can start investing with very little money, and you can learn how to start investing for beginners if you are wanting to start planning for retirement.

There is never a bad time to start saving for retirement, and you can correct this retirement mistake by starting today.

Side note: I highly recommend that you check out Personal Capital if you are interested in gaining control of your financial situation. Personal Capital allows you to aggregate your financial accounts so that you can easily see your financial situation. You can connect your mortgage, bank accounts, credit card accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, and more. And, it’s FREE!

2. You take on debt for others and don’t think about your future.

I talked about this topic in the post Should I Ruin My Retirement By Helping My Child Through College? This is a hard thing for a lot of parents especially as student loans are out of control, and I am hearing from parents nearly every week saying that they cannot afford to retire because they are paying for their child to go to college.

If this is your situation, I want you to STOP making this one of your retirement mistakes. Unless you are on track for retirement, I honestly think you need to seriously start prioritizing your future. Your child will be fine without your monetary support.

There are lots of ways to support your child through school that don’t involve leveraging your future for their education. You can help them find a job, find scholarships, be an emotional support, and more.

You can take out loans for college, but you cannot take out loans for retirement.

3. You think you’ll never have to retire.

Recently, I read an article about someone who made hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, had a monthly budget of around $30,000 (yes, MONTHLY!), and yet hardly saved anything. This person said they didn’t really feel the need to save for retirement because they enjoyed their job so much. That’s just crazy!

See, even wealthy people make retirement mistakes.

Assuming you will love your job forever can be a huge mistake. While it’s great that you love your job now, it’s hard to judge what you will love decades down the line.

Also, you never know if something will come up in the future that will completely prevent you from working, such as a medical issue or some sort of major life change. Beyond realizing that you will need to prepare for retirement, an emergency fund should be something you already have or are working on – emergency funds are there to protect you from the what-ifs.

Related articles:

4. You miscalculate how much money you’ll spend in retirement.

For some reason, many people just assume they will spend less money in retirement, but that is not always the case.

While you might find some ways to save money on things like commuting expenses, work clothes, lunch if you weren’t bringing it, you will probably experience a very similar budget to the one you had while working.

You are still going to spend money on housing (even if you pay off your home completely, you will still need to pay property taxes, utility bills, etc.), food, clothing, entertainment, and so on.

Many retirees also take up new hobbies or activities. And, some retirees just have more time to pursue things they’ve already been doing, which can add up to a lot of extra expenses.

Plus, medical expenses may come up, you might decide to travel more, and like I said, the truth is that retirement spending is not usually much different than what you are currently spending.

Some make plans to become super frugal after they enter retirement, but life doesn’t always work out so perfectly. To make sure this isn’t one of the retirement mistakes you are making, I recommend starting to cut down your budget now.

By living frugally before you retire, you will be able to save more, will have less expenses going into retirement (the less money you spend, the less you need in the future), and you might even reach retirement sooner. Really, if you cut your spending now and become more frugal, you will be used to living with less. I’ve been living a more frugal and minimalist lifestyle since we moved onto our boat, and it can be a life changing thing.

5. You use your retirement funds for expenses other than retirement.

This is one of the worst money mistakes out there, and unfortunately many young people are making it. I’ve actually heard far too many stories about people taking money out of their retirement funds in order to pay for a vacation, a timeshare, pay off low interest debt, and more.

When preparing for retirement, this is a HUGE mistake.

While I don’t know everything about taking money out of retirement funds, I do know that this can usually hurt you more in the long run. Taking funds out of a retirement account can lead to large penalties and paying extra towards taxes.

The other thing about saving for retirement is that the longer you have funds invested, the more you will have for retirement. Compound interest is a powerful thing, and if you are taking money out of your retirement account it means that you don’t get the full benefit of it.

You should always just use your retirement funds purely for retirement. If you are struggling with debt or need help differentiating between wants and needs, it’s time to make a change. Don’t wreck your future by making this huge retirement mistake.

What retirement mistakes have you seen? Do you think you will have enough money to retire and how are you preparing for retirement? What age do you expect to retire?

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Source: makingsenseofcents.com

Lessons Learned from 6 Years Without a Car

If you’ve ever considered going car-free, I’m here to tell you to take the plunge.

Over the last 6 years I’ve lived in 3 different cities, sans car (much to my suburban mother’s amazement). I got rid of my car in my early 20s, the moment I found a job that was walking-distance from my first studio apartment in Seattle.

Being car-free isn’t always easy. Little trips can be a hassle, and getting out of town for the weekend is more complex. But I’ve found it makes day-to-day life more carefree. If you’re walking, biking, or bussing around your city, you get to discover things you never would in your car, save a ton of cash, and live a little greener.

Here’s what I’ve learned from years without a vehicle:

Designing your life, car free

When you don’t have a car, you’ll consider drastically different factors when you look for a place to live.

Here are the top priorities I looked for in a new place, in order of importance:

  • Grocery store proximity – I can get a new job that’s closer, but I can’t build a new grocery store. Sure, you can get food delivered, but I prefered to save money and get a little exercise doing my own shopping. I tried to keep my grocery runs to a 10 minute walk or less.
  • Neighborhood walkability – You can get a general idea of how walkable things are on Walkscore. If you browse a few neighborhoods, you’ll quickly see the difference between suburban sprawl and easily areas where you can cover most of your errands on foot or bike.
  • Commute options – Are you close to a bus line or, better yet, a transit hub? Limited transit options may not be a dealbreaker, but you should at least be sure your regular routes are covered.

These criteria often led me to centrally located spots—downtown hubs, or neighborhoods that are fairly self-contained. That meant higher rent, but the money and time I saved not driving made it worthwhile.

Enjoy that extra $$

When you get rid of your car, suddenly you’ll notice hundreds more dollars in your pocket every month (surprise!). I owned my vehicle outright, but was still paying ~$300 per month in parking, gas, and insurance. Gross.

I chose to put that cash in savings. Even as an entry-level receptionist, I suddenly had extra money to add to my retirement and my emergency fund.

Getting rid of the car built my cash cushion in two ways — lower monthly expenses, and less risk. An accident or a mechanical failure could set you back at any time, making it tough to plan. A flat monthly bus pass is a much more predictable expense than car ownership.

Creative transportation options

One of the lovely parts of not having a car? You get really creative about transportation. Here are the best resources I’ve used in my time without a car:

  • Cycling/Bikeshare – Biking isn’t for everyone, but if you’re brave, it’s a beautiful way to get around the city and stay crazy fit. Many cities are jumping in on the bikeshare trend – so you don’t even need to know how to change a tire. Wear a helmet!
  • Fancy bikes – Too tired to ride? Electric bikes. Need to take it on the metro? Foldable bikes. Need to haul stuff? Cargo bikes.
  • Carpooling – As a formerly car-free person, I’m now living my values as a carpool mom. See if your company can connect you to a pool through Zimride, or hop in a carpool through the Waze app.
  • Car2GoCar2Go is a pretty cool alternative car sharing service. Free parking, you don’t need to find designated spots. Just leave it wherever! Perfect for one-way trips.
  • Scooters – Don’t hate, those little scooters littering the sidewalks are a really fun solution for the last mile of your trip. You can buy your own if sharing hasn’t hit your town.
  • Trains – We may not have amazing bullet train service, but Amtrak is still a wonderful way to see the scenery. It’s more comfortable than the bus (dining car!) and not much more expensive.
  • Car rental – If you’re keeping a car for rare weekends away, you’d save a ton of money just renting instead. Bonus: no maintenance, and you always drive a late model.
  • Peer-to-Peer car rental – This is kind of a wild thing, now you can rent cars from people on the internet with Turo. It’s cheap, but I’ve had mixed luck with the vehicles there. Rent at your own risk.

If you need to test the car-free waters, give some of these alternate transportation methods a try. That way you can find out what works before you take the plunge. Even if you keep your wheels and reduce the amount of time you spend driving alone, that’s a win for the planet, and for a more connected city. Happy non-driving!

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Source: mint.intuit.com