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‘Home Ownership’ Category

  1. Uninsurable Ball Of Fluff?

    August 24, 2015 by admin

    This TR Family had been with Progressive Insurance for about a decade.  When we recently purchased our new home, it was a no-brainer to stick with Progressive for our homeowner’s insurance.  We had never had an issue with their service.  In fact, when we had an unfortunate car collision about a year ago, Progressive’s handling of our accident was stellar.

    We paid the annual fee for our homeowner’s insurance and were quite content for two months, when we got an odd email from Progressive indicating that our policy would be canceled.  Thinking this was some sort of miscommunication, we immediately phoned Progressive.

    We were told that we hadn’t provided any proof of our dog’s breed and our policy was going to be canceled.  Since we received NO request for dog information from Progressive – other than when we applied for our policy, we had NO idea they needed further information from us.  We immediately supplied what was requested: a picture of our dog and a statement from our Vet as to the breed.

    Here is the picture we provided:IMG_1039

    Along with our Vet’s disclosure.

    We are very proud owners of our rescued pup, Molly.  The organization that we used to adopt Molly referred to her as a “Spanador” as they thought she was half lab and half spaniel.  Since she is a rescue, no one could say with 100% accuracy her definite lineage or breed.  But she is a slightly overweight ball of love that has never had anger issues and has never bitten anyone.

    According to Progressive Insurance’s management, not being able to pinpoint Molly’s breed beyond a shadow of a doubt meant that we were no longer insurable.  Our policy was canceled effective immediately and there was no recourse.

    Here are the undisputable facts:

    • Progressive Insurance does not care how long you’ve been a loyal customer
    • Progressive Insurance discriminates against certain dog breeds
    • Progressive Insurance has an impossible set of criteria for any adoptive dog/rescued dog family to fulfill
    • Progressive Insurance will cancel your insurance on the spot regardless of your loyal history and regardless of initially accepting your payment and contract. Remember- their agent that opened our homeowner’s policy did NOT ask for any further information about our pup!

    We are very glad that we found out we were giving our business to a company that isn’t dog friendly.  We would not want to patronize Progressive Insurance had we known these facts.  And we are thrilled to now have our insurance relationship with State Farm.

    Rescue families and friends of rescues and strays be warned!  Do your research and ask pointed questions about dog ownership when searching for home insurance.  And have a back-up plan just in case you find yourself suddenly invited out of your Insurance company.

    We urger you to spread the word!  If you love stray and rescued animals and support those who take them in- make sure all your friends know that Progressive Insurance will cancel policies based on the unknown parentage of those pets.  We’ve had great luck with State Farm taking care of us and our harmless dog.  What other companies can you help us identify as pro-rescue pet?  Help spread the word and support companies that support rescued pets!

  2. Shop Local

    July 27, 2015 by admin

    IMG_1508We recently had the unfortunate experience of discovering that our dryer wasn’t heating up at all during any selected cycle.  Our clothes were wet and cold when the finish bell sounded.  And since we aren’t interested in purchasing a new dryer at this point, we needed to figure out if it could be fixed.

    *Our home came with a 1 year home warranty which covers all the major appliances.  We will discuss this home warranty soon, but for now we’ll just let you know this repair route hit a dead end.

    Our internet research indicated that our dryer’s symptoms were pretty common and could be repaired. TRDad doesn’t have a lot of experience just yet on fixing appliances.  He and Bluey did some exploratory poking around the machine but came up short.  We were going to have to locate a repairman.

    We knew that the big chains, like Sears, had repair services.  But we were a little wary of price and convenience.  Our trials on getting the dryer repair set up through our home warranty had left us stranded on Saturday and our clothes were piling up.  We turned to Google and crossed our fingers.

    Luck smiled upon us and we located Gary’s Appliance Repair.  We had little to go on as this business had no homepage and only a few simple online reviews.  But one phone call had Gary heading to our home.  He arrived within 30 minutes of our initial contact!

    Gary rolled into our driveway in a very old mini van.  He looked to be on the tail end of sixty, had suspenders attached to his work pants, and was very friendly.  Gary didn’t mind our pets or our inquisitive and talkative Bluey.  He hummed a little tune as he got right to work on our dryer, quickly identifying the issue.IMG_1511

    No more than 30 minutes from Gary’s arrival, our dryer was repaired.  Since Gary was so friendly, TRDad now has a much better understanding of how to go about fixing the dryer in the future.  And Gary’s invoice was incredibly reasonable- no emergency weekend fee involved!

    We highly recommend Gary’s Appliance Repair if you live in our area.

    Do you typically reach out to locally owned and operated services or do you go right to the national chains?

  3. Home Sweet Home

    June 14, 2015 by admin

    modrnbunglow_22190_mdWe own a home!

    It’s true.  This TR family has completed our home purchase and will soon be completely moved into a house of our very own.

    At first glance you may not consider this to be the most frugal decision.  Buying a home is a huge expense, but home ownership is actually a significant part of our journey towards controlling our expenses.

    It is easy to miss the mark on this goal and end up overextending your budget.  But if you are careful and do your research, you can indeed save money every month by buying a house.  There are many online calculators that will help you begin to determine how much house you can afford.  Be careful!  The principal and interest mortgage payment is just the start of the true monthly cost.  You should also factor in taxes and insurance (Get online estimates or help from a mortgage professional to estimate these costs in your area).  Now you will have a better idea of your base per month cost of owning a home.

    Of course, utilities and repairs also factor into the bottom line.  In most areas, you can get a history of a properties average heating and electric costs from the power utility.  You can also get estimates for costs of water, sewer or sanitation costs from your local municipal offices.  Make sure you are using all of these figures to calculate a realistic budget for yourself.

    Now that you’ve identified what you can afford, begin to seek out any assistance your city or state might offer.  We are lucky to live in an area that has many resources for home owner assistance in the form of grants or forgivable loans.  These resources are available at local state and federal levels, depending on your income, family-size, veteran status, etc.  You may also have opportunities to work with Community Development organizations that will allow you to purchase on land contract or at well below market values.  Do your research!

    Work closely with a trusted mortgage originator to talk you through the pros and cons of different mortgage loans: FHA vs Veterans vs Standard, etc.  You may or may not qualify for numerous types of mortgages that could have different impacts of what you can afford, or are allowed, to purchase.

    We are very fortunate to be saving over $300 dollars every month by purchasing our own home and we couldn’t be more excited to dive into the numerous (and never ending) home repairs/remodels/maintenance.

    Tip: Put a portion of your savings into a “home” account for future expenses so that you aren’t hit hard by an unexpected repair.

    If you think home ownership is out of your reach, we encourage you to take a second look..

  4. People In Your Neighborhood

    April 22, 2015 by admin

    65084_town_mdFinding a new home is as much about finding the right neighborhood as it is about finding the right house.  Maybe more.  After all, you can make direct improvements to your house- add rooms, change windows, even tear the whole thing down and start over again.  But making changes to your neighborhood is a much more difficult endeavor.

    So while you are driving around looking at different houses, pay attention to the neighborhood.  What do you see?  What types of activities seem common?  Are people out tending lawns and gardens?  Are kids biking and skating around?  Is anyone shooting hoops at the basketball court?

    Do your best to try to find a home in a neighborhood where the neighbors are doing the types of activities you’ll wish to do.

    Figure out what you like in a neighborhood.  Are you hoping for active and chatty neighbors and noisy kids?  Or do you want seclusion and the quiet of your own abode?

    For us, we are seeking out an active family-friendly place, where we and our kids can get to know the neighbors.  So when we drive through a neighborhood, like the one we are moving to, and see kids on roller skates and families working on the front lawn, and lots of homes with basketball hoops- we know we are seeing good signs that this is a place where we will thrive.

    You are buying a home to live in for many years- maybe decades.  Make sure it is situated in a neighborhood you like.

  5. House-apalooza!

    April 8, 2015 by admin

    house_3_mdHouse hunting is a full-on task.  It takes a lot of energy and organization to find a new home.

    Spoiler Alert:  We found our new home and we are happy to share our path to picking the perfect place.

    Our process included seeing over a dozen houses before we could really zero in on the best one for us.  In our case, we were working with a short time frame so we saw fifteen houses in two days, and then went back the very next day to see six more!  But among all of them, we found our house.

    Why so many houses?  We needed to see the range of options available to us in our price range.  The geographical area we were interested in combined with our price range left an awful lot of homes to choose from- homes in many different styles and conditions.

    To make sense of all these visited houses, we made a chart showing the various attributes we most desired.  Our chart included the number of bedrooms, dining space, yard space, neighborhood and a few other categories.

    Note:  Your chart for Your House will be different.  Think carefully about what you want in a house.  Is location your prime consideration?  How badly do you need a deck?  Or a garage?

    The more houses we looked at, the more clearly we were able to identify which ones held the most interest.  We looked at a house we loved: great price, great location, cute layout.  But as we compared it to other homes on our chart, we saw that it’s lack of a dining space really mattered to us, despite its other clear benefits.

    By seeing so many houses in a short period time we were able to figure out how some houses just didn’t measure up to want we wanted.  By the time we’d seen all of them, the winner was pretty clear.  And we made the call to put in our offer.

    It takes a lot of work to find the right house for you.  Be prepared to see many homes, including some that don’t even look that good on paper.

  6. Downpayment Assistance

    March 18, 2015 by admin

    HouseBuying a house is a huge investment with a significant out of pocket initial expense.  If you are like us, you may be renting mostly because coming up with the several thousand dollars for a down payment is a difficult, if not impossible task.  There are always pressing reasons popping up to bite into your attempted nest egg.

    But if home ownership is a goal of yours, you may be able to get assistance at raising the funds to buy a house.  Here are a few we have located so far:

    Follow these links to find programs that are specific to a city, county or state:

    The Homebuyersroundtable will direct you to several different options for home buying assistance.  Check each link to see if you qualify for the specific programs.

    The US Department of Housing and Urban Development‘s website can direct you to assistance in your area offered at a national level.

    The First Time Homebuyers website will point you to even more programs- especially programs designed to aid members of specific professions, like teachers or firefighters.

    Keep in mind:  Many of these offerings have income caps, or other financial requirements. And there may be additional steps that include out of pocket expenses- like a home ownership education class- that you may or may not be able to recover later.

    Your mortgage lender should have knowledge of your areas available programs. But don’t be afraid to press them for the information you desire.

  7. Our Latest Big Thing

    February 27, 2015 by admin

    farmhouse_1_mdWe have recently been thrown into a home search.  With our landlord unexpectedly selling the property where we live, we’ve been given notice to find a new place.  We’ve been renting for five years, so our first plan was to find another rental property.


    In a twist of life events that surprised this TR family, we are instead cautiously moving forward with exploring home ownership.  This is a nerve wracking experience as we are financially conservative and solidly working class.

    We have been renters for many years following some significant life events that left us financially devastated.  Our climb to recovery has been slow and steady.  We’ve been back on our feet for a few years now.  And when we examined the amount of money we throw away by renting (more than 1200 a month!), it seemed ludicrous not to try out home ownership.

    Obviously, we want to stay well within our means.  No palatial spread on acres of land is in our immediate future.  So how do we do it?  How do we find that perfectly sized, affordable home that is within our current school district?

    We began by reaching out to a mortgage lender to assure that we would indeed qualify for a home loan.  This involved a lot of gathering of documents and precise communication about our borrowing goal.  We then began investigating our market.

    There are a few critical pieces to our search of homes- and (do a google search for your county’s property assessment and tax information ).  These two sites give us a wealth of pertinent information about any property that piques our interest.

    As with any big project, we are keen to stay organized and focused to successfully find a new home.

    We print out properties that we want to pursue and keep them tabbed in a 3-ring binder.  We plan to utilize a rating system to determine which homes should be visited first.  We’ll make notes within the binder after our walk through of each property.  Our hope is that this will streamline our decision making and ease some of the stress involved in finding a suitable house.

    Stay tuned!