In this week’s episodes, we’re buying a home! Or at least thinking about what we need if we were to buy a home. In today’s episode, I’ll be sharing some advice for making the most of your home inspection.
In this week’s episodes, we’re buying a home! Or at least thinking about what we need if we were to buy a home. In today’s episode, I’ll be sharing some advice for working with a realtor.
In this week’s episodes, we’re buying a home! Or at least thinking about what we need if we were to buy a home. In today’s episode, I’ll be sharing some tips for thinking through your homebuying timeline.
In this week’s episodes, we’re buying a home! Or at least thinking about what we need if we were to buy a home. Listener and former student, Arhely, asked for tips and tricks during the home buying process, and I’m excited to share the stuff I couldn’t just Google on the internet when I bought a home.
In today’s episode, I’ll be sharing about the FIRST step in buying a home: determining what features you want and what features you need.
A LOT of people skip this step when homebuying—honestly, I did with the first two houses I owned. But, similarly to our Renter’s Life episode, Weighing the Cost of Your Rental, you need to name what you need to get from your home purchase. The only catch? This time, skipping this step could result in a long term commitment to a complicated partner (you know, it’s a house relationship metaphor). So it’s even more critical to get as specific as you can about what you want and need in a home that you’re buying before you talk to anyone else about your purchase. If you’re buying a home with a partner or spouse, I still recommend starting this process individually and then collaboratively building a list as a couple. So, what do we need to consider? We’re going to look at four categories:
Financials, Layout, Lifestyle, and Resale.
First, financials. I’m going to make a big statement here—if you don’t understand the financials of buying a home, wait to buy a home. Get really nosy with a family member or friend who is buying a home and ask to sit in on as much of that process as possible. Knowing your credit score, what kind of loan you qualify for, what that monthly mortgage payment will look like, what homeowners’ insurance will cost and how frequently you’ll be billed, and the cost of fees and services—you know, stuff like your realtor’s fees, cost of hiring movers, what you can expect in property taxes, and inspections—these things all impact your financial future greatly. Take time to learn before you commit to buying a home. Don’t assume that everyone else knows and you don’t—ask questions of people who are on your homebuying team, and that’s literally everyone who is helping you buy a home. Also understand that the things you name in the next categories are financial decisions. Compile all of the money information into one place, like a trusty spreadsheet, and revisit and adjust as much as necessary until you really, really get it.
Next, Layout. This is where everyone starts, right? A three bedroom, two bathroom house with a backyard. A condo with a view of the mountains. A little cottage in the woods. Whatever you’re considering, take a moment to write down why you’re deciding on certain layout features. Perhaps you want a garage because you live somewhere that scraping ice off of your car adds 20 minutes to your commute in the winter. Or maybe you need to be able to see your little rascal kids from every angle of the kitchen or living room because the last time you couldn’t didn’t turn out well. Perhaps your company is moving to working from home forever and you now need a home office. Write down all of the layout needs and all of the “why’s.” People will ask you to compromise here, so it’s nice to revisit a list of reasons as you’re making these considerations.
Next is Lifestyle. You might be able to afford a larger home in a suburb of your city. But that means it might take you half an hour to get to a single restaurant you need, which means you’re likely only going out every three months. Perhaps you want to go all Gaines with it and get a fixer upper but work a job that demands 60 hours a week. Or perhaps you need to live in a location where there are a lot of trees and a pond so you can enjoy birdwatching daily (this is officially a requirement of my homeownership list, by the way). Lifestyle requirements not only add to the quality of your life, but they impact your willingness to host people in your home and the overall joy you’ll receive from your investment. Buying the home that everyone else seems to want in the neighborhood that everyone else is in doesn’t always equate to a good investment if you can’t enjoy it for the years you’ll live in it.
Finally, consider resale value of your home. Now that you’ve looked at your priorities, research what makes a home valuable in the long term. I once bought a home that was on the border of a flood plane—something I would have literally never thought about—and the potential resale value was affected by this. But even if this is the home of your dreams, there may come a day where you HAVE to sell, and the last thing you want is to lose gobs of money on a home. However, I still think that it’s critical to consider all of the other categories first.
Okay, to recap, before telling your parents or your coworkers you’re buying a home, you need to know in writing: your Financials, Layout, Lifestyle, and Resale information. Then, get feedback on what you’re looking for buy comparing your list with online sites, friends, and family.
Knowing what you want to buy in a home will help narrow down options tremendously and frankly, eliminate a lot of stressful in the moment decisions. You can do it, I can help, and I would love for you to share your lists in these four categories with me! Send it to nowthatimnotyourteacher (all one word) @gmail.com.
In February, we’re talking all things Household Management, and focusing in this week on The Invisible Chores. Today, I’ll share some tips about planning entertainment.
Listen, nobody told me that when I became an adult, I would have to entertain myself. I don’t think the thought ever crossed my mind as a kid that all of my family vacations were planned, that my parents made arrangements for friends to come over, and even the TV was chosen for me based on the limited selection of what was on at the time. We live in an age where entertainment is abundantly available, even in the middle of a freaking pandemic. Prioritizing and planning entertainment might sound a little over-the-top type A for most people, BUT consider for a second what hours you’ve wasted watching the same thing on repeat without intentionally choosing to. Yeah, you know you have. I have, too.
This year I took up journaling, and one of the pages I set was a first-half entertainment and culture page, where I listed out TV shows I wanted to try, albums or composers I wanted to listen to, museums I hope to visit, hikes I want to explore, and books I want to read. It’s really easy for me to flip on the same thing I’ve been watching because I don’t want to take time to find something new. It’s FREAKING EXHAUSTING to make all the decisions all the time. But spending ten minutes making lists about what I want to consume in a place where I can easily access them has helped me keep fresh entertainment coming my way in an otherwise stagnant season of life. It’s also helped me feel free to cancel certain subscriptions and take on others—switching our streaming indulgences to HBO Max, for example, has introduced me to amazing shows I had never before watched like The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, and even the limited Raised by Wolves. You can always switch from service to service if you want, rotating through when you get bored. We’re in a world of month-to-month payment and contract free life, which is amazing.
As I mentioned, I also keep cultural experiences on my list. I work in the arts and went to school for music, so it can actually become easy for me to seek out entertainment that is unrelated. But finding new music outside of the sphere I work in breathes fresh life into my love of what I do. Additionally, art museums have always been a place of calm and rest for me, so making a point to visit them when I could just as easily stay at home is a treat. Planning for entertainment can help bring you back to who you are and who you want to be.
Most of my entertainment is consumed alone or with one other person, but it can be fun to connect with others around the same entertainment experience. I’ve watched a few seasons of the bachelor both in person and simultaneously at a distance with friends and it’s brought us closer together. I recently joined a book club, and it was a different experience reading a book knowing I would be talking about it with others who had read the same thing around the same time I had. I also like to have games on hand for two to four players, because I love some friendly competition. If I didn’t plan to have the games on hand, the laughter of playing them with friends and family wouldn’t happen.
Whether you want connection or solitude from your entertainment, excitement or rest, making a plan for it can help you achieve your entertainment goals and make time for the fun stuff of life.
How do you plan for entertainment in your home? Let me know on Instagram @nowthatimnotyourteacher, and if you connected with this episode, I would love for you to share it with a friend.
In February, we’re talking all things Household Management, and focusing in this week on The Invisible Chores. Today, I’ll share some tips about hiring your dream team.
This topic sounds like it comes with a lot of privilege and in some ways it does. But I truly ask that you keep an open mind with me to figure out what you can outsource to other people and businesses to help streamline your life. I’ve been in situations where I have struggled to buy groceries, so I really do get being financially spread thin. But I still wish that I would have invested sooner in my team of professionals earlier than I did.
I’ve been hearing buzz over the past year that I’m truly grateful for—buzz that reminds us that we are not all required to be experts in every area of our lives. Praise. Praise. Praise. I am not an expert in any aspect of my car, including driving it. So, when I found a mechanic in Yukon, OK, that I trusted, who respected me, and who advised me with kindness and understanding of my finances, I brought him into the fold of being a part of my household team. He was someone that I could go to, by default, to check things out before I went on a solo road trip, to change my oil without messing anything else up, and to even help me patch that one tire while I was saving up enough to buy a new set. I’ve been a little lost since he sold the business, but my car and I are grateful for the years we had with him and his team, because they knew something I didn’t want to take time to learn.
Hiring a team of professionals as your go to doesn’t mean that you have a butler or live-in chef. It means that you have help with the things you could be doing better. Today, I’ll run you through what my team has looked like over the years, and add some suggestions for other life situations.
My team has included takeout restaurants, starting with the little Thai place I ordered from weekly when I was 16 and progressing to the pizza place down the street. Paying a few regular places for food is having making a meal taken off of your metaphorical plate and passed off to someone on your team. Food prep is an easy one most of us overlook.
But moving to more serious items, I try to keep a team of healthcare and wellness professionals that I trust on rotation. This has been tricky with moving cities, but in my hometown, where I have lived the most life, I had a medical team of a Physician’s Assistant who I trusted with my overall health, an optometrist who didn’t make fun of my passing out when I got my eyes dilated, a dentist who I could comfortably talk money and health priorities with, and a therapist who took me seriously and gave serious back. I hired them to be the professionals they are with my health, because I took time to find people who know better than I do. And yes, I saw other doctors before I settled on them—you can ask for someone new until you find someone you trust.
Similarly, I have a highly intelligent vet that I love and who loves my animals on my team. Even beyond that, I have made a point to only take my dog to the one nail trimmer at Petco who has ever snuggled him with love. She’s on my team, too.
Hiring a financial coach last year has saved me more money than I’ve spent on her fees. And I mean LOADS more. I wish I had invested in a financial coach when I thought I had no money, because what I’ve learned from her is that the sooner you get financial help, the better your finances are. I chose a coach versus an advisor, since often advisors have financial incentives to steer their clients one way or another. I wanted someone who could teach me to make these calls for myself, and she’s been great. However, speaking of finances, keep a point person at your retirement investing firm that you can ask questions of and learn from. If you don’t trust them, you can ask to be transferred to a different manager.
I don’t have kids. But if you do, keeping a few babysitters on your team, even if they’re family members, is building your team. Additionally, I keep up with cleaning my home in a way that currently suits my life, but it can be useful to hire a housekeeper to do a deep clean before a special event, when you’re moving, or frequently enough that you don’t have to spend your time and energy there.
Getting help from others is part of being a well-functioning adult. So even if you trade skills with a friend (you help her set an investment strategy, she helps you clean your house), I strongly encourage you to think through what your strengths and weaknesses are in your household functioning, and build a list of your dream team. Set a goal to find these people, and build your community of success one person at a time.
Do you have a team member that you wouldn’t give up for the world? Tell me about them on Instagram @nowthatimnotyourteacher, and if you connected with this episode, I would love for you to share it with a friend.
In February, we’re talking all things Household Management, and focusing in this week on The Invisible Chores. Today, I’ll share some tips about sending things off through the mail.
When I was a kid, administrative household tasks like paying the bills and preparing things to send through the mail were done behind closed doors. I get why—these things are relatively boring to kids and require focus. But this resulted in my showing up at the post office one day, hoping to mail something in the wrong kind of envelope, without any postage in hand. The person at the post office was really kind about it, and took some time to walk me through what I needed to do differently, but I was still embarrassed and I sill wish that had never happened.
Today we’ll talk four categories of mail supplies that every adult should have on hand so you’re prepared to do unexpected mail tasks at the drop of a hat, but not over purchasing every little thing.
These four categories are: Information, Contents, Containers, and Payment.
Let’s start with category 1: Information. So many times I have found myself looking for the same address repeatedly. I am not the kind of person to keep a hard copy address book, because I am the kind of person who ruins people’s address books by moving every year. So, I have a spreadsheet (I’m sure you’re shocked). I keep a spreadsheet in my Google Drive with full names, birthdays, complete addresses (with street, city, state, and zip code columns). I send birthday cards out to some people in my life, and Christmas cards to the same group, and keeping this list digitally allows me to update info when a friend moves. I save business addresses that I need into the contacts list in my phone, or I just google them. Having a system of some sort, whatever sort works for you, is critical for not hating mailing things.
Category 2: Contents. The contents can be the forms you had to print out and mail for that retirement transfer or student loan forgiveness refund. They could be the only check you’ve mailed in years to put a deposit in on that rental home. They could be a really cute tap dancing cat card that you’re sending to your niece for her birthday. Forms and papers don’t need anything additional with their contents as longs as they have all of your contact information on them (so, that would be your name, address, and phone number). But if you’re sending money of any kind, you need to be able to tuck it into a blank notecard or wrap it in a printed letter. So, you’ll need a stash of blank notecards around. I keep a very small amount of these (like, a dozen a year) for sending money just-in-case. I’m going to be your pushy aunt for a second and tell you that YOU NEED TO KEEP THANK YOU CARDS AND ACTUALLY SEND THEM OUT WHEN SOMEONE DOES SOMETHING NICE FOR YOU. I keep about a 24 pack of these annually and use them allllll up. I keep professional Thank You cards, because I send more work-related than gift related cards, but you do you. Finally, I buy birthday cards quarterly for my birthday card list, and keep them at home so I can keep up with things more conveniently than running to the store for every individual birthday.
Category 3: Containers. You’ll need to have a container for your contents. We most often think of envelopes, and you should keep a small stash of standard letter-sized envelopes around. I just bought my second 50-pack of these in my adult life, and I’m 31. So don’t go crazy. But when you need them, it’s annoying to not have them. Blank notecards, thank you cards, and birthday cards will all come with a sized-to-fit envelope. Note that weird shapes of cards could require extra postage—this is usually marked on the envelope, so just be mindful when you’re purchasing. For mailing packages, I save up to 3 small and medium cardboard boxes at a time from packages I order to repurpose. If you online shop, ever, there’s no reason to buy new boxes for shipping. Bubble envelopes are the only container I make a special purchase for, because I use them so rarely, I’m willing to pay to not have to store them. Plop your item in the container, pad it with a little packing paper (aka paper bags from the grocery or that crumpled up love letter your ex sent you), tape it up, and slap the address and return address on it in a way that’s clearly visible and secure.
Category 4: Payment. For letters and cards I keep a rotation of pretty forever stamps around, because it makes me happy to essentially use grown up stickers featuring winter birds, orchids, rivers of the world, or vintage Santas. I try to swing by the post office and get these in person when they’re not too busy, but you can order them online, too. For all other types of payment, I just take my package to the post office, FedEx, or UPS—whatever is most convenient for that day’s other errands—and have them price it out for me by weight. So, remember, books are freaking expensive to mail because they’re heavy.
And that’s it, friends. I keep all of my mail supplies in a plastic shoebox that I got for $2 at Target, with the exception of the broken down boxes, which I’ve started tucking under the guest bed. Having these supplies on hand has made it less of an ordeal to mail something, and simplicity is important to my actually doing things like complete official forms and get my money where I want it. I hope that you’re able to find a little joy mailing physical things in a digital world, too.
What have you had to unexpectedly mail recently? Let me know on Instagram @nowthatimnotyourteacher, and if you connected with this episode, I would love for you to share it with a friend.
In February, we’re talking all things Household Management, and focusing in this week on The Invisible Chores. Today, I’ll share my grocery planning strategy as it stands now.
Much like my calendar, I’ve gone through several versions of grocery planning. My personal favorite was when I stopped grocery planning and went to the grocery store every day or every other day on my way home from work to get the freshest produce, meat, and dairy products for just the one meal I was cooking that night. I know this sounds luxurious and it is—I lived less than three minutes away from a great grocery store and I didn’t have to deal with children. It was an easy stop on the way home.
Then the pandemic happened and groceries became, you know, a THING.
Leisurely grocery shopping is something that I dream of again in my near future, but for now, I still am looking at a once-weekly grocery haul, which is often actually the preferred shopping rhythm for a lot of people. But I was paying a LOT of money for a LOT of food that was going VERY bad early on. So, it took me nearly six months, but I’m finally back in a grocery planning rhythm that works for me, and that I hope you can take a few strategies from as well.
Step 1: I plan my meals on my calendar. Right on my freaking Google calendar. As I’ve mentioned before, most of my recipes are digital, so I just pop the links right onto the meal. It also helps me visualize the time it will take to cook a meal in comparison to other events going on. I plan in nights to forage the fridge and eat leftovers, and I eat the same thing for breakfast and the same thing for lunch every weekday for at least a week at a time to save money and decision energy. Since I keep a digital calendar, I have automatically set several meals that I know will be favorites to repeat every six weeks. It’s a nice thing when I see “Oh, it’s potato soup week” or “shrimp alfredo coming up!” It also helps me see if I’m eating enough fruits and veggies in relation to the other meals that week. All in all, I’m a pretty big advocate for grocery planning on a calendar.
Step 2: I go through the next week’s calendar and grocery shop online. I split my screen and order meal by meal. I’ve found that ordering my groceries from home keeps me from impulse buying, helps me cost-compare (you know, they’re not hiding something on an endcap or putting it at eye level), and is actually much faster than I anticipated since it saves my previous favorites.
Step 3: I choose delivery or pickup. Either way, it goes onto my calendar.
Step 4: I clean my kitchen before groceries arrive. I hate hauling in a lot of groceries only to find there is no counterspace available for them. Trust me. Trust me.
Step 5: Store your food, stick to the plan. It might be tempting to order takeout every night that week. And while it may be okay to indulge one night when you can freeze the ingredients, food waste is expensive and a big pet peeve of mine. If you regularly don’t eat all of your planned meals, adjust your plan accordingly for more takeout or convenience meals. It’s fine, just pay attention and adjust as you go.
I’m currently doing Walmart Grocery delivery, and I am hardcore missing my smaller grocery stores. I recognize this is a season of life and anticipate finding a new small grocery this summer. But for now, this is my rhythm and I’m sticking to it! What’s your grocery rhythm? Let me know on Instagram @nowthatimnotyourteacher. Also, we’re celebrating one month of NTINYT this week! If you’ve connected with an episode, I would love for you to share it with a friend. We’ll see you back here tomorrow!
In February, we’re talking all things Household Management, and focusing in this week on The Invisible Chores—you know, the stuff that was never on a chore chart when you were growing up, but still has to get done now.
With every move I’ve made and ever step I—just kidding. No Police. But really every time I’ve had to move I’ve encountered different invisible chores. Even taking out the trash is different in an apartment versus a home. Various ways of saving money are often invisible chores—think clipping coupons or taking time to call your insurance company and ask what discounts you qualify for. Hell, even decorating a home is a skill and a type of chore that can be one and done or a seasonal shift. It took me years to recognize that, along with doing the dishes or sorting my laundry, all of the other things that it takes to keep a home are chores too.
In my experience, simply knowing that the chores needed to get done wasn’t enough. I had to make it personal and find external motivation to get things done. So when it comes to strategizing your home’s chores, I recommend blocking off half an hour for making your plan. Here are the steps to take:
Step 1: Make two columns on your list: One-and-done items and recurring tasks. Sort chores into these two categories as you go.
Step 2: Make a list of everything that’s incomplete in your home. No judgement allowed, just put it on your list. These are the chairs you were recovering or the pile of books at the foot of your bed that you meant to alphabetize but then, you know, Instagram happened.
Step 3: Make a list of everything that annoys you in your home. This is honestly where my list furiously blooms. Visible cables on the floor. That water bottle rolling around in the back of your car every time you turn a corner. The newspaper that you cancelled that keeps showing up anyway. Write it all down.
Step 4: Make a list of things that have financial and personal deadlines (aka consequences). When these are annual things they always creep up on me (hi vehicle tag renewal) or the people to whom you want to send birthday cards this year. Write it all down, and include the due date if you know it. If you don’t know it, make a note that finding the due date is a to-do item on this list.
Step 5: Deep breathe and look at your list because this is all stuff you’ve been expecting yourself to do without acknowledging that it takes time, energy, and thankless work.
Step 6: Add in the chores you think of doing as chores.
Step 7: Plan for action. Recurring items can go on your calendar and give you reminders when it’s time to get it done. Pick 5 one-time chores to get done this week and dive into that list. For critical tasks, enlist the support of a friend if that’s your thing—I have a friend who I’ve given permission to slap me if I don’t complete tasks in a set timeframe. I don’t really advocate physical violence, but I will say that it’s highly motivational for me to get things done because she gets super excited when she gets to slap me. However you plan for action, you now see what you need to do, and you have a strategy for getting it done.
What are some of your invisible chores? Let me know on Instagram @nowthatimnotyourteacher. Also, we’re celebrating one month of NTINYT this week! If you’ve connected with an episode, I would love for you to share it with a friend. We’ll see you back here tomorrow!
Now That I'm Not Your Teacher is a podcast that offers insight about the real world stuff that teachers often want to say, but either don't have time to or really shouldn't.
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