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In Lifestyle on
September 13, 2017

Why investing in travel improves your life

As you probably already know, I love to talk about money.  I am “all about” saving and setting yourself up to have a successful financial future. However, there is one area in particular where I find it so important to invest some of your hard-earned money. That is, in the area of travel

I have been fortunate enough to travel more than the average twenty year old. When I was thirteen, my grandmother took my cousin Laura and I to explore Holland for the first time. She wanted us to get the chance to see where she came from and meet our Dutch family. It was at that time I fell in love with the country and the people. Ever since I was young, the importance of travel was ingrained in me.   

Six years ago, I had a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to travel abroad to The Netherlands, to live and work for my family’s company. At the time I was not happy in my current job and wanted any excuse to get up and leave. I emailed my cousins over in Europe, asking if I could come over to learn about the ‘ins and outs’ of their company and to my surprise, they said yes! 

I lived in the Netherlands for nine months in total and during that time I was able to explore so much of the beautiful world we live in.  On weekends and time off from work, I would visit as many new cities as I possibly could. A lot of the places we explored by bike, as Holland is famous for cycling, which made sightseeing so much more fun and enjoyable. Luckily, I had met some wonderful people there who were more than happy to drive me around and explore their own country with me. 

Travel can be such an eye-opening experience. It gives you the opportunity to view the world around you through a different lens and a wider scope.  When you travel, you have the opportunity to build memories, and memories are moments you will remember for the rest of your life. The younger you start, the more stories you will have to tell later on about all of your adventures!

It’s important to set money aside for these sort of things. You don’t need to have $2,500 to be able to tour Europe right away, but you can start locally. For example, grab your girlfriend and take a weekend trip to Niagara Falls (if you’re an East Coast girl like me!) Now…that’s what I call a $500 well spent.When I spend money on traveling, I know that I am putting my money to good use.  You are paying for an experience and you will remember that experience forever. 

When Landon gets older, I will encourage him to travel, to take any opportunity to study abroad, visit friends in different states and tour this beautiful country of ours. There is so much to see and only so much time to do so.  

Traveling has many benefits, but here are the biggest ones, no matter how far, or how close, you travel. 

  • 1. You’ll find a new purpose.
  • 2. You’ll appreciate your home more.
  • 3. You’ll realize that your home is more than just where you grew up.
  • 4. You’ll realize how little you actually knew about the world.
  • 5. You’ll see that we all share similar needs.
  • 6. You’ll realize that it’s extremely easy to make friends.
  • 7. You’ll experience how interconnected humanity is.

 

Where is your favorite place you have traveled?  Leave me a comment below! 

This post was written by Jess, but first seen on Society Letters here.

 
 
In Lifestyle on
September 6, 2017

10 tips that will land you your “dream home” on the first try

This whole house-hunting thing isn’t quite as easy as I thought. In fact, it is a lot less glamorous than others make it out to be- at least in our case. This past week we made a very tough decision, to walk away from what we thought was our “dream home.” Not only were we disappointed and upset, but we were left feeling discouraged and turned off about the entire home buying experience.

A few months back we started our house search, we found a home that we thought was too perfect to be true. We put an offer in right after seeing it because we were so excited about the property. We were quickly shut down by our offer and were told that we could only get this home if we paid the full asking price – which was far above our affordable price range, lesson learned.

Then came the house on Westgate Drive. The moment we walked onto the property we knew it was just perfect. We wanted it so bad. As we walked through the house, I could literally see us there. I could envision Landon on the floor playing in our family room, see TJ cooking in our gorgeous kitchen, or playing bocce ball with our family in the gigantic backyard. That night we put in our initial offer, which shortly turned into an increased bid to full asking price. The sellers bit and accepted. TJ and I were so excited. Our family and friends couldn’t have been happier for us. This house was the perfect starter home.

We went through the process rather quickly, from attorney review to inspection; we wanted to get the ball rolling. Our inspector told us how great of a home we were purchasing and that he would give it a 9/10 rating! Wow, didn’t we luck out? We were a few weeks away from closing and had our final inspection scheduled for the septic system. Unfortunately, this report did not come back as great as we had hoped. To make a long story short, we found out that the septic tank was 50 years old and needed more repaired than the sellers were willing to admit. They refused allowing us to run a test to check that the system was functioning as it should be, and it was so discouraging. Why won’t they run this test? Don’t they want to sell this house? As time went on and letters went back and forth between lawyers, we quickly realized where this was heading. After lots of prayer, countless conversations and a whole lot of “sitting on it”, we knew what we had to do. Walk away. We couldn’t be left with a house that was going to put us into debt and leave us house poor.

Through these last several months we have learned a lot about what really goes into purchasing a home. We are now much more prepared for when we begin our search again. I wanted to share this helpful advice with you, so that you can be better prepared than we were when purchasing your first home.

Below I share 10 things that I learned from loosing our “dream home”. I hope that as a first-time home buyer, these tips will help you land your “dream home” on your first try.

  1. Buy within your means

The first house that we put an offer in was far above the range that we could actually afford. We thought, “If we come in with a low ball offer, we can make it work.” If you have to “make it work” it may be out of your manageable price range. Try to be realistic and live within your means. You don’t want this house to be a financial curse, you want it to be a blessing!

  1. Do your research

Do a drive by. Check out the area before; look at the house, neighborhood, schools, location to local stores, etc.

  1. Budget

This is a must. Go through your expenses in detail. Factor in the cost of taxes and do not forget the cost of PMI if you do not put down 20% (this can and will add up fast!)

  1. Create an Emergency Fund

You will need some ‘touchable’ money set aside in case of emergency. One of the houses we were looking at needed a new roof within 5 years and also a boiler within the year. You need to anticipate these expenses. Also set aside money for closing costs and inspections- they can get pricey.

  1. Write a letter

When putting in your offer, I suggest that you get personal. We wrote a letter to the seller introducing ourselves and giving them a glimpse into who we were and why we loved their home so much. It worked. We even got a reply letter back a few weeks later, they loved it.

  1. Find a good realtor

Your realtor places a big part in you finding your dream home. They make appointments for you and follow up with your lawyer to make sure things get done quickly and on time. You want a realtor who is reputable, has been recommended and has sold a handful of houses. You want someone knowledgeable and resourceful.

  1. Research your professionals

You will need to hire lawyers and inspectors during your house hunt. Check out reviews and see what others are saying about them. Ask friends and family for their recommendations. To be honest, we didn’t do much research ourselves. We chose the first person who was recommended and went with them. Looking back, I wish we paid more attention and did more research before selecting our professionals.

  1. Be willing to wait

Buying our first home really tested my patience. Things take time. If you know this from the beginning you will be better prepared to wait.

  1. Don’t get too excited (right away)

From experience, things may or may not work out. Be hopeful but also keep in the back of your mind that things could potentially fall through. I’m routing for you though 😉

  1. Do not be discouraged

If your first house does not work out, there will be others. Do not settle on a house that leaves you stuck in a rut. Right before we walked away and cancelled our contract, we debated ‘trying to make it work.’ We were settling. We wanted to do anything just to keep the house. We soon realized, it wasn’t worth it. Do what is right and feels right in your gut.

 

Even though we lost our “dream home” we still feel encouraged that our perfect home is still out there waiting for us! We have gained a lot of knowledge in this process and we now feel better prepared for the next offer that we plan to make! Oh perfect home, where are you?

In Lifestyle on
July 12, 2017

My top 10 affordable swimsuits for summer

Summer is officially upon us! It is time to flaunt that golden tan as you walk along the sand, hearing the waves crashing at your feet. Ok, I’m ready for a trip down the good ‘ole Jersey Shore! Since you know how much I love to save money, I thought I would share with you my top ten favorite affordable swimsuits for women. It always bothers me when I go to purchase a suit and it ends up costing me a fortune! One of the bikinis that I bought this year cost me $60 and it was from Target (aren’t they supposed to be cheaper?!) I feel like baiting suits are getting more and more expensive with each summer that goes by. Well… don’t worry anymore– I have done the research for you! Without further ado, here are my top AFFORDABLE picks for this summer!

 

1. Sexy Ruffle Off-The-Shoulder Floral One-Piece Swimsuit – $18.99

If you follow along on my instagram, you have already seen me ‘repping this gorgeous pastel swim suit.

I have gotten so many compliments on it! I love how perfectly it fits and contours my curvy body.

Hallegave Women's Fashion swimwear sexy bikini Halter Straps Swimsuits Bathing Suit,Yellow,Xlarge

2. V Neck Floral Print Short Sleeve One Piece  $18.99

This swim suit was inspired by my friend Deb (@deborahstachelski)

She recently got this swimsuit and man does it look good on her!

I love how it zips in the front, allowing you to control how much cleavage you want to show off 😉

*the colors are much more vibrant in person*

 

 

3. Vintage Polka High Waisted Bathing Suit – $25.99

This is a cute option for someone wanted some coverage or to hide some belly (or stretch marks)

I love the color combo! Perfect for a hot summer day. Drink please…

CHERRY CAT Two Piece Swimsuit Super Cute Beachwear Bathing Suits (Rose Red&Navy,XL)

 

4.  One-Piece Pin Up Halter Retro Vintage Bathing Suit – $21.99

This suit comes in a bunch of different colors.

It looks very comfortable and is a great option for someone wanting full frontal coverage.

I feel like red is a color that looks good on blonde and brown haired women.

Put some red lipstick on and BAM!

Annigo Womens Retro Vintage One Piece Swimsuit Halter Shirred Details Monokini

 

5. Ruffle Off-The-Shoulder One-Piece Bikini   –  $24.99

I love the elegance and sexiness of this suit.

It is classy and is a very creative design that I have never seen before!

Tengweng Women Leaves Print Flouncing Off Shoulder Swimsuit High Waist Bikini Set L CUTQ01

 

6. Deep V-neck Cross-Back High Cut One Piece Monokini  –  $10.99      

You seriously cannot beat the price of this bikini!

I love the color combo and pattern.                    

The back criss-crosses and ties and has a dramatic look that I love.

        Summer Bay Womens Deep V-neck Cross-Back High Cut One Piece Monokini Swimsuit Pattern Swimmwear

 

7. Leaves & Stripe Halter One-piece (Padded with Cutout in back) – $29.99

I am definitely obsessed with the palm leave look this summer.

I love the contrast with the pink and green and strip combo.

The slit in the center gives a sexiness to this one-piece!

Cupshe Fashion Women's Leaves Printing Stripe Halter One-piece Padding Swimsuit with Cutout (L)

 

8. Boho Style Striped Polka-Dot Halter Bikini – $13.68

This option is a super cute design for someone looking for a 2 piece set.

Love black and white polka dots and the halter look of this suit.

Niveltm Sexy Boho 2pcs Bikini Set Polka Dots Striped Halterneck Swimwear(M)

 

9. One-Piece High Waisted Halter Swimsuit – $15.99

I told you I was obsessed with leaves this summer.

I just love this combo. This suit is so ME!

Women's Sexy Leaves Printing Striped Halter Padding One Piece Swimsuit Cutout

 

10. Push up 2 piece padded bikini – $12.99

This is a sexy option for those of you looking to show a little skin.

There is something about a yellow suit in the sunshine & a golden tan that I find so attractive.

 Nulibenna Push Up Two Piece Bikini Swimsuit Candy Patch Padded Swimwear Yellow Medium

 

Hope you all liked these super cute suit options that I came up with.

The best part about them, is that they are ALL AFFORDABLE!

 

Now who is ready for the beach? (insert emoji of girl raising hand)

 

 *This post may contain affiliate links*

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