Annemarie Torcivia - RE/MAX  Trinity

Posted by Annemarie Torcivia on 3/5/2018

There are more cleaning supplies on the market than ever before. If you walk down the cleaning section of Target you'll find an array of brooms, scrubbers, and solutions that are all variations on the same simple ideas. Furthermore, these products have begun capitalizing on single-use components like a sweeper with throwaway pads or disposable dusters. All of these expenses add up and before you know it you're spending up to $70 each month just on cleaning supplies. Fortunately, many frugal consumers have noticed this trend and have come up with creative ways to save money on cleaning. In this article, we'll cover some frugal cleaning products and solutions that will save you a ton of money at the checkout line.

Sweeping, dusting, and mopping

Let's face it, the Swiffer is a great invention. It mops, sweeps, and dusts without the mess of a bucket of water. Plus it's lightweight and versatile making it useful for many surfaces around the home. The down side? Having to buy all of those expensive replacement pads. If you're like me, you feel a twinge of guilt whenever you throw out at item that seems wasteful. For me, cleaning supplies are the epitome of wastefulness. So, instead of using the throwaway pads you could do a a few things. First, you could buy a reusable pad online. Some are designed to fit various sweepers. Alternatively, there are some cloths that you can buy at your local dollar store that will fit onto your sweeper just fine. Once one gets dirty, put the next one on and sink wash them all when you're done. The other option is to knit or crochet your own sweeper cover. There are lots of patterns online that will help you get started, plus a hand-made cloth adds more meaning to the mundane work of sweeping the house. For those spots you don't dust with your sweeper-duster (like a TV, or the tops of picture frames), you could always dust with your used dryer sheets that you'd otherwise just toss in the trash. Keep them in a bag in your cabinet so you remember to use them.

Go paperless

Paper towels and napkins are always expensive and seldom on sale. Plus, all that paper usage does a number on the environment. Instead of reaching for a paper towel at dinner, keep a stack of microfiber cloths, handkerchiefs, or hand towels. When this isn't possible, like in the case of a big cookout, use choose-a-size paper towels to get more usage out of a roll. And speaking of choosing a size, the next time you buy sponges or "magic erasers," cut them in half to double the length of time you can use them.

Cleaning solutions

Making your own cleaning solutions has many benefits. First, you get to save money because the supplies tend to be cheap, household items. Second, you get to avoid all of the harsh chemicals that are often added to commercial cleaners, helping your health and the environment. Third, you can make them in bulk and not have to worry about them running out. Recipes for homemade cleaning solutions and air fresheners are abundant online. In general, however, they rely on a few simple ingredients: water, vinegar, baking soda, and some type of citrus like lemons, limes, or oranges.

Posted by Annemarie Torcivia on 1/22/2018

Many first time home buyers think of the age of a home like a time bomb. With age comes costly repairs and renovations that are often avoided (or at least prolonged) if you buy a newer home. While it is true that older homes are prone to needing more upgrades, they also have many advantages over newer homes. What you don't often hear is that if an old home is maintained properly, it can be as good if not better than living in a newly built one. Old homes often come with perks that are forgotten or ignored in the buying process. In this article, we'll go over some of the best reasons to own an old home, and some of the things to look for when house hunting.

1. With age comes wisdom

Old homes are filled with history. From the people who built and lived in the home, down to the tiny architectural details, these houses will shed light upon what life was once like in your neighborhood. For those eager to learn about the history and culture of their neighborhood, it has never been easier to access historical data from internet archives or your local library. Aside from being historically significant, old homes are also aesthetically interesting. Depending on the architectural style and location of your home, it could have been built using any number of materials and techniques. Today, mass production has made home-building much more streamlined and efficient. Unfortunately, that has come at the cost of some originality in style.

2. Cost

In many instances, old homes are cheaper to buy than new ones. One reason is that sellers assume that buyers will have to pour money into the home to keep it updated and adjust the asking price. Another is simply that your average homebuyer values new homes over old ones. If you enjoy older homes, that gives you a financial advantage. For those homebuyers interested in do-it-yourself repairs and upgrades, buying a "fixer upper" is a great way to save money. However, be aware that some repairs should be better left to the professionals, especially when dealing with hazardous materials like lead paint and asbestos.

3. Location

America is a young country. So the oldest homes tend to be built in centralized and urban areas. That often means easy access to things like grocery stores, schools and highways. Aside from being convenient, old neighborhoods also tend to have developed communities and landscapes. The streets are probably lined with aged trees that provide plenty of shade, and there's a greater likelihood of having nearby parks or ponds.

4. Prime land picks

Older homes tend to have the best plots of land because, well... they got the first pick. As a home buyer, this could be a huge if you're looking for a larger backyard or one with great natural features like aged trees and natural bodies of water.   When you're out hunting for new homes, don't look past the older homes. You might find that they have many benefits that are great for you and your family.  

Categories: Uncategorized  

Posted by Annemarie Torcivia on 10/9/2017

When you drive through a new housing development does it seem like all of the homes are enormous compared to when you were growing up? You're not alone. In fact, over the last 40 years, average home sizes have increased by over 1,000 square feet. In other words, you could fit an entire small house inside of the amount homes have grown in size.

Why do Americans love huge houses?

It's counter-intuitive that home sizes should keep growing larger. Bigger houses mean higher prices, more maintenance, and more expensive utilities. To understand why, we need look no further than the automobile industry. In spite of the fact that larger vehicles cost more to buy, use more gas, and do more harm to the environment, people still buy bigger and bigger trucks and SUVs. There are a few reasons why. One is that they can afford to (or they can at least afford the payments). Another reason is cultural. For the most part, bigger meant better in American culture--until recently. Recently, many Americans have begun saying they would prefer smaller sized houses. That desire hasn't entirely caught up to the people building the homes, however. And even as simple living trends and the "tiny house" phenomenon gain traction, building contractors still stand the most to gain from large houses and the people with the money to build houses continue to build big to stay aligned with the other homes in their neighborhood. There are other obstacles in place for people who want a smaller house. Some counties around the U.S. now enforce minimum square footage requirements to uphold the building standards of the area. So, people hoping to move to a particular suburban area but don't want a huge house might be out of luck.

How big of a home do I need?

There are a lot of things to consider if you're buying a home. Size and cost often go hand-in-hand, but even if you can afford a larger home, do you really need the space? Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine how large of a house you really need:
  • Do I or will I have a family? Kids need space. They need bedrooms and places to play. The size of your family is going to be a huge factor in choosing the size of your home.
  • Do I need all this stuff? Many people use their homes like storage containers. Think about the last time you moved and what you brought with you. Now determine how often you used the things you brought. Odds are you have a lot of items just sitting around taking up space that you don't really need.
  • Do I have hobbies that take up a lot of space? Woodworking, working on cars, playing drums... these are all examples of hobbies that call for some leg room.
  • Am I a dog person? Just like kids, pets tend to take up some room. Larger dogs and energetic dogs require more room, both outside and inside the house.
  • Do I have time to keep up with the maintenance? Bigger houses means more windows to clean, more toilets to scrub, more grass to mow... you get the idea. You might find that you'd rather have a beautiful and well-kept small home than a hard-to-maintain huge one.

Posted by Annemarie Torcivia on 5/1/2017

Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life, financially and otherwise. When you buy a home you're deciding on the region you want to live in, where you might want to raise children, and the people you'll live around for likely many years. You're also signing up for all of the responsibilities that come with a home: utility bills, issues and repairs, cleaning the house, maintaining the yard... the list goes on. So, before plunging into a mortgage, check off all the items on this checklist to determine if you're ready for home ownership.

The First Time Home Buyer's Checklist:

  1. I know where I want to live. Determining the location of your home is one of the most important factors that goes into home buying. Most decisions are influenced by your job/career, but things like family, friends and weather are all important things to consider. Aside from knowing where you want to live, you'll also need to know how long you want to stay. As a general rule, if you don't plan on staying in your home for at least 5-8 years it could be cheaper and easier to rent until you find somewhere you'd like to settle in.
  2. I have my finances under control. You don't need to be wealthy to buy a home, but you do need to have a strong understanding of your personal finances. In a spreadsheet, write down your total savings, monthly income and monthly expenses (including groceries, transportation, bills, and loans). Find out what type of mortgage and downpayment you can afford at your income level.
  3. My income is dependable. When you apply for a home loan the bank will look into this for you. But you should also want to make sure you can continue to afford your mortgage payments. How dependable is your job? Are there a lot of job opportunities in your field and in your area? These are all questions that help you determine the stability of your income.
  4. I have a good credit score. Your credit will be a big factor in getting approved for a home loan. Building credit seems complicated but it's based on four main things: paying bills on time, keeping balances relatively low, having a long record of repayment, and not opening several new cards or taking on multiple loans in a short period of time.
  5. I'm pre-approved for a loan. Getting pre-approved isn't mandatory, but it offers many benefits. First, it shows lenders that you are a safe person to loan money to. Second, it will give you insight into what banks think of your finances and will give you an idea of what price range you can safely buy in.
  6. I'm prepared for the responsibilities of owning a home and willing to learn. If you're handy around the house and can fix anything, that's great. What's more important, however, is that you have the time and willingness to learn new skills that will help you become a good homeowner.

Posted by Annemarie Torcivia on 4/10/2017

If you're anything like me, your household pet is like a member of the family. Most of us have a soft spot for our pets. When they're hurt we feel their pain. When they're sick we get worried sick about what might be wrong. A difficult part of owning a pet is that since we can't verbally communicate (aside from some commands and accolades) we aren't able to always read how they're feeling. Fortunately, much work has been done when it comes to understanding the nonverbal languages that our animal companions speak. Reading body language and understand your dog's bark and cat's meow can help you be a better pet owner and a better companion to your dog or cat. In this article, we'll let you in on some little known facts about what the body language of your pet means.

Do you speak dog?

Our canine companions tend to let us know how they're feeling. When they're scared they lower their tail and cower. When they're happy they attach us while licks. However, there are many misconceptions about the body language of dogs. Here are some important ones every dog owner should know:
  • Yawning. As humans, we yawn when we're tired. Dogs also share this trait. But if you own one you've probably noticed them yawning much more frequently than we do. This is because they also yawn when they're unsure of a situation, if they're around someone new, and if they're trying to diffuse tension.
  • Whale eye. This is phenomenon occurs when your dog tilts her head and stares out of the corner of her eye, exposing the whites of her eyes. This can be mistaken for a "cute puppy" look, but it normally means they are afraid.
  • Face-licking. As humans we tend to see face-licking as a sign of affection. In dogs, however, it is more likely a friendly sign of appeasement. It is usually seen in puppies and if it carries on into adulthood it can be problematic if your dog frequently licks other dogs' faces who might not appreciate the gesture.
  • Tail position. Horizontal can mean the dog is alert. Facing upwards can mean dominance and aggression. Tail down can mean the dog isn't feeling well or is sad. Tail tucked can mean fear and aggression.

What's your cat thinking?

Cats tend to be a bit more subtle in their communication than dogs (with the exception of when they're hungry and meowing incessantly). However, if you pay attention you can still get a glimpse into how your cat is feeling. There are three main indicators you should notice when trying to read your cat: the tail, eyes, and ears.
  • Tail. A cat's tail will tell you a lot about their mood. A tail standing up and wagging means a cat is happy. However, a straight up, rigid tail can mean a cat who is aggressive. Similarly, a cat who is thumping their tail or waiving it with force can also be trying to show dominance and aggression.
  • Eyes. Cat's eyes are very intense and expressive. Dilated pupils and a focused look can mean the cat is surprised or scared, but can also mean it is hunting something. Relaxed pupils, blinking eyes, or closed eyes, however all mean that the cat feels comfortable and not threatened.
  • Ears. Ears pointing up are somewhat ambiguous; it can mean playfulness or attentiveness. Ears pointing back, however, are a sign of fear and aggression.

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