Thursday, July 21, 2016

Step 1 of Buying a Home

My fiance and I have been talking about buying our first home together for awhile now, and I realized coming into this whole process, that buying a home was the first "adult activity" that I really felt I knew absolutely nothing about!

Now this was hard for me, because I have always prided myself on being quite knowledgeable, or at least simply catching on quickly to most other "adult" things that I've done.  Renting a house, going to college, getting a job, buying a car, moving across the county, getting engaged, paying bills and loans, understanding credit, creating a budget, ect.. no problem!  These things were a piece of cake.  Even having my first child has come so naturally that the overall stress level of "not knowing" has been kept at a minimum.

Buying a house, though, this is completely foreign.  We are just at the beginning of that journey, and I still know nothing about it, but I thought, hey, if I know nothing, chances are, many of my readers could be in a similar boat!  So I thought I'd share our journey with you all, hoping that it might give a tiny bit of insight to someone out there whose feeling similar to me!

This first post will summarize the conversations you should be having before you begin your process, and then lastly, it will outline what our first real step looked like with a loan officer.
I recommend that you start by simply talking about it!  Before we had our daughter, we used to take drives on Sundays around different neighborhoods and talk about what we liked or didn't like in a home.  At the time, it was just for fun, but now that we're actually considering buying, I'm super glad we've already had tons of those types of conversations!  So even if you're not considering buying yet, watch some HGTV, search, take some drives with your partner, and start finding some common ground.

You also should be having conversations about where you'd like to live.  It's hard to buy a home when you're unsure where you want to dig your feet in.  So, we've had many conversations about careers, our families, dreams, and preferences.  While we love where we are now, we've tried to balance all of these factors and have chosen a new location to move to when we buy.

This is where we hit our stand still, though.  I had no idea how to get the whole process rolling from there.  So, I started asking around, I talked to my mother, my sister, friends, and coworkers, until someone finally directed me in a way that made sense.  Most of everyone's advice was to go to bank and see what you get pre-approved for.  It really is solid advice, but I needed more.  I needed someone to tell me when I should start the process, who to contact, and what that contact would actually do for me.

Step 1

A coworker of mine finally said the things that "made sense."  She told me that my first step should be to contact a loan officer.  She told me to ask him about how much we could currently be pre-approved for, and then ask for pointers on getting approved for a mortgage.  Whether it be the specifics on cleaning up your credit or what debt you need to pay off, a loan officer will be able to give you advice on getting the mortgage you want.  She then gave me the contact information to a reputable loan officer, who she knew.

So, I contacted Dale Prisk, who is a loan officer with Pacific Union Financial.  He told me that much of your loan approval amount depends on what your monthly payments are.  I was nervous because I had just traded in my vehicle and my new loan is for $10,000 more than what I owed on my previous loan, but he assured me that, since my monthly payment only went up $20/month, it wouldn't have a super large effect on anything.

Next he told me that there are certain aspects of your credit that have a larger influence over loan approval than others.  For instance, some debts may be easier and more beneficial to pay off than others.
Dale had me fill out an online application form, which didn't take too long (I did it over my lunch break).  He is going to evaluate our credit, debt, and income, and then will get back to us with pointers on what we should be doing to clean up our credit or which debts to pay off in order to help us get approved for our loan.  Just so you know, this does require a hard credit pull, which will ding your credit slightly, but Dale said that between today and the time of actual purchase, the small credit ding will not end up being an issue.  Keep in mind that we are about 6 to 10 months out from the time when we'd like to purchase a home.

So that's where we're currently at.  It's only the first baby step, but I am totally relieved to finally feel as though I got my first bit of usable information on how to start the whole process.

I asked Dale if I could share his professional contact information in my blog for my readers who find themselves in a similar situation as us, and he said yes, so feel free to shoot him an email or give him a call.  His contact information is at the bottom of this post.

My main concern was actually that by starting the process, I would find myself stuck in it; however, that's not true, this first step is completely non-committal, and understanding your finances is beneficial even if you don't end up buying.

If you are considering buying a home within the next 6 months to a year, I highly recommend contacting a loan officer now; that way you have plenty of time to clean up credit or pay off debt if need be.

I'll be blogging about our entire process of buying a home, step by step.  If you want to be sure you don't miss any of those major steps, make sure you subscribe to my blog.

Also, if you have any questions or want clarification on anything, just comment and ask, I'm more than happy to be completely open about our process and finances.  Also, I have great tips on budgeting, so if you need help there, please reach out to me!

Dale Prisk | NMLS#1265947Loan Officer

Pacific Union Financial, LLC
100 N Main Street

Fort Atkinson WI 53538
920-397-3165 (Office)
414-721-1070 (Cell) (Email)

Live with what you love.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Crock Pot Mac & Cheese Recipe


2 cups of elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons real butter
1 cup of milk (I use 1%, but you can also use 2% or whole)
1 can condensed cheddar soup
2 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream (I use reduced fat, but you can use any kind you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt (Optional - I don't use salt in mine)


Spray crock pot lightly with cooking oil.  If you use a crock pot liner, then just spray the liner.

Boil macaroni for 6 minutes and drain pasta.

Melt cheese and butter together.  This can either be done using a medium saucepan, or in the crock pot on the "high" heat setting.  It takes longer to melt it in the crock pot, so if you choose to do it this way, then start melting your cheese and butter a little earlier)

Mix other ingredients (milk, cheddar soup, sour cream, and pepper) in bowl.

Add cheese and butter to crock pot.  (If melting in saucepan)

Turn crock pot temperature to "low."

Add other mixed ingredients to crock pot.  (It's okay if cheese is not completely melted in crock pot at this point)

Stir cheese, butter, and other ingredients together.

Add the pasta and lightly stir again.

Cook on low for 1.5 hours, stirring frequently (approximately every 20 minutes).

Live with what you love.

(The picture used is not an actual picture of my mac & cheese.  The reason for this is that I decided last minute to share my recipe for National Mac & Cheese Day, but I do not have any pictures from past times of having made it.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Carpet Tiles - For a Trendy, Modern Look!

If you're looking for trendy flooring, that is also easy to maintain, carpet tiles may be just what you're looking for!

Carpet tiles have been very popular in businesses, but they have also found their way into the homes of those who desire stylish and modern, yet practical flooring.

They are perfect for high traffic areas, or areas in which people bring food or beverages, which is the main reason they are so commonly seen in college campuses and restaurants. Pet owners and families with children also find carpet tiles to be a low maintenance option for their homes. So what makes carpet tiles so great?

Benefits of Carpet Tiles

Carpet tiles are very pet and child-friendly! They are easy to clean, and if a tile is ruined, you are able to replace just one tile, instead of the whole floor! If need be, you can remove a tile to rinse it with water, as well.

Carpet tiles can also be useful for uniquely shaped rooms. If you have a room that has an awkward layout, carpet tiles are super easy to cut down to fit around any shape.

The ease of installation is another reason many people have opted for carpet tiles. It won't cost you much to have an installer put these in your home or business. Or if you feel like taking on a project, chances are you could successfully install these yourself! The benefit here is that they don't require professional fitting like regular carpet does.

Carpet tiles are also extremely versatile. If you are going for a more laid-back type of space, or something neutral for your home, you can go with a solid colored tile or a very simple pattern. If you want to spice it up a bit, or go for something really modern and trendy, you can go with a fun pattern or funky colors. There's tons of different design styles when it comes to carpet tiles, so they really can fit the taste of anyone.

Another added bonus: carpet tiles are easy to take with you when you move. This is especially great for renters!

Check out some different styles carpet tiles can bring to a space:

Neutral Colors
Source: FLOR

Funky Color Pop
Source: CS4 Flooring

Fun Patterns
Source: Pinterest

I absolutely love how stylish these area!  The low maintenance and easy cleaning are simply bonuses!  What do you think?  Would you put carpet tiles in your home or business?

All carpet tile recommendations can be found or matched at CS4 Flooring & Design

Live with what you love.