Monday, November 23, 2009

Do good this Thanksgiving

A few more sites that let you do good by helping charities at no cost to you:

Help Feeding America Take a food related trivia quiz and Kraft Foods will donate to Feeding America

Good Egg Project Pledge to eat well and contribute to your community and one egg will be donated to Feeding America.

I'm a big fan of Feeding America this holiday season. They distribute food to a network of food banks all over the country, usually food that would otherwise go in a landfill. I love charities that help the hungry and the environment at the same time.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Saving for a house

Now that we're finally getting settled in and planning to stay in one place for a while, we've been talking about buying a house. Especially now that the tax credit has been extended to June, we've been trying to accelerate the efforts. I'm trying to put all the pieces together, ask all the right questions, and do all the right things, but it seems like there's a lot to know. My first inclination is to just pile up as much money as possible and wait, whereas my husband's inclinations is to get out there and look at houses and talk to mortgage people as soon as possible. I have a feeling there must be a balance somewhere in between. So for right now the goals are as follows:

1. Save at least $30,000 for a down payment. We can do this by allotting as much as we can out of our monthly budget to savings, and also by putting all extra income and windfalls directly into the savings account. In order to do this soon, I'm going to step up my efforts to find a "real" job, get as many hours as I can at my part time job, and max out as many of my extra cash opportunities as possible.

2. Talk to a few mortgage brokers to see how much we qualify for, if there are any issues with our credit we need to clean up, and what the best mortgage rates are going to be.

3. Look at some houses in the area to get a more concrete idea of how much we can expect to pay. We've already checked some listings online and been to a few open houses, so we have a rough idea, but we're going to try to do this a little bit more.

4. Make a budget based on our current (fixed) income and our estimated house payment, and spend at least 3 months living on that budget, putting the difference between our current rent and the estimated house payment directly into savings. This will assure us that we can afford to make the house payment, even without any increase in income.

I know there's more to it, but this is where I'm going to start from. Time to get things moving a little.