EXISTING HOME SALES ON RISE

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Increased inventory levels in June helped push existing-home sales to their highest levels since October 2013, according to a recent report by the National Association of REALTORS (NAR). Existing-home sales, which include recently purchased single family, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops rose 2.6 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted 5.04 million units for the year.

Existing Home Sales By Region

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun believes the market is moving in the right direction. “Inventories are at their highest level in over a year and price gains have slowed to much more welcoming levels in many parts of the country. This bodes well for rising home sales in the upcoming months as consumers are provided with more choices,” he said. “On the contrary, new home construction needs to rise by at least 50 percent for a complete return to a balanced market because supply shortages – particularly in the West – are still putting upward pressure on prices.”

Nationally, total housing inventory increased 2.2 percent during June to 2.3 million units. The median time for homes to sell was 44 days in June, down from 47 days in May. Forty-two percent of June home sales were on the market for less than a month.

StLouisHomesByGina.com  636-229-8746  *Property Search Link*

Tips for Sticking to Your Budget: Getting Clothes Shopping Under Control

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By Erin Roberts

Sometimes getting a bargain isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. There are tons of tips out there for getting a deal on your clothes shopping — shop off season for coats and swimsuits, swing by the store on a Wednesday morning to scope out the new markdowns, use the department store’s extra percentage off coupon, etc. Sure, these are great tips for saving money when you buy clothing, but not particularly helpful if you’re buying up the deals willy-nilly without an eye to how these items fit into your life. I’m all for saving money, but sometimes shopping smart, and for the right items, is more of a savings than any trick for getting a bargain.

Here’s my strategy for thoughtful shopping and putting an end to my own bargain-hunting, over-buying ways.

  • Evaluate what you have. Pull everything out of your closet and drawers and spend an afternoon playing dress up. Do you really wear all of these items? Donate anything that doesn’t fit, or that simply doesn’t suit you any longer, and separate out anything that’s in need of repairs for a future trip to the tailor.
  • Identify your “basics”. We’ve all seen lists over the years which claim every wardrobe needs a foundation of basics like a white button down, a blue button down, a black dress, a pair of black pants, and so on. It’s a great idea, but everyone’s “basics” are going to be different. Whether it’s jeans and striped t-shirts or pencil skirts and button downs, or even floral dresses and bright blazers, determine what items you wear day after day, and invest in high-quality versions of these items.
  • Make a list. I carry a list in my wallet of clothing items that my wardrobe is lacking and allow myself to buy anything from the list at any time. These are typically items that are replacing older “basic” garments in my wardrobe that have either worn out or no longer suit my style. Right now my list consists of thin black pants (I’ve been without black pants for over a year, I can’t seem to find any I like!), non-skinny jeans, a white t-shirt that is not transparent, tan heels, white tennis shoes, and a dark color knit dress. I keep this list with me to remind myself when I’m out that these are items that I decided I needed while at home, actually looking at my wardrobe. There is a reason these items are on my list and a tangerine silk cocktail dress for an as yet unknown event is not.
  • Allow for fun purchases. Set a limit for yourself of how many fun, non-basic items you’re allowed to buy. I tend to allow myself 2-3 non-basic purchases for each season (summer/winter), but I don’t invest the same kind of money in these purchases as in my basics. While I love the new floral sundress I purchased last month, I am simply not going to wear it with the same frequency as my basic navy shift.
  • Follow the “one in, one out” rule. Full disclosure, I hate this rule, I hate it with fiery passion, but it’s a good one and I try to force myself to stick to it. Whenever you buy something new, something old needs to go. This is easy when you’re buying replacement basics from your list, but a bit harder when one of your fun purchases means getting rid of something that isn’t directly being replaced. I certainly struggle with this rule, but I try to follow it at least 80% of the time. I have to admit that the idea of having to get rid of something has stopped me from making a purchase more than once!

What are your tried and true tips for getting the most out of your clothing budget?

The Gina Koerner Team   www.StLouisHomesByGina.com   636-229-8746   “Changing Lives… One Home at a Time”

Our Future Entrepreneurs

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By CNN Money

Lizzie Marie Likness
Company: Lizzie Marie Cuisine
Age: 11

An aspiring chef since age 2, Lizzie Marie Likness is well on her way to becoming the next generation’s Rachael Ray.

At age 6, Lizzie Marie Likness yearned to take horseback riding lessons. She wanted them so badly that she offered to help foot part of the bill.

When her parents asked where she would get the money, she replied,”I’ll sell healthy homemade baked goods at the local farmer’s market.” From that moment on, Lizzie became the founder of Lizzie Marie Cuisine.

”Lizzie Marie Cuisine is unique because I teach kids how to have fun cooking healthy meals and how to live healthy,” said Likness. “My company teaches people that it’s not all about eating healthy, it’s also about living healthy.”

A few short years later, word about her original recipes and ability to empower young people had spread beyond her local community. She soon began receiving invitations to demonstrate her cooking prowess alongside celebrity chefs at major live events, such as Taste of Atlanta.

She also was asked to become a spokesperson for the American Heart Association’s ”Go Red For Women,” campaign, and the Atlanta Falcons’s ”First Down For Fitness Program.” She also has appeared as a guest on the ”Rachael Ray Show.”

Today, Likness is the star of the WebMD Fit Channel’s series, ”Healthy Cooking with Lizzie.” She also just signed a branded entertainment and TV development deal with N.Y.-based production company, DBG, and global digital marketing agency, Digitas.

The mini-preneur, who hails from Georgia, expects to launch a series of healthy cooking cookbooks, packaged food products, and new digital media shows in the near future.

Her best advice: ”The greatest reward is doing what you love for the good of others.”

The Gina Koerner Team   www.StLouisHomesByGina.com   636-229-8746   “Changing Lives… One Home at a Time”

July Special Expenses: Don’t Blow Your Budget

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By Dave Ramsey

Making a rock-solid budget is key to getting out of debt and saving money. But just like Independence Day—which comes at the same time each year—there are always expenses that pop up regularly to blow your budget like a big fireworks finale.

This year, be ready. Go ahead and work special expenses into your July budget now and don’t get stuck picking up the pieces in August.

Cookouts: The mother of all cookouts is your Fourth of July party. After all, it’s the day the country was built around! So if you’re planning on putting some boom in the sky, put some money in your budget.

Pest Control: In case you haven’t noticed, the bugs are out—from giant mosquitos to ants by the dozen. Now is the time to schedule your next visit from the exterminator. And heads up, he usually doesn’t work for free.

Vacation Extras: You’ve planned your vacation, but maybe you forgot about all those little extras like parking, tipping and rent-by-the-hour beach chairs. Factor in the fees now so they don’t take away from the fun stuff later.

Wedding Gifts: Before you RSVP to that next wedding celebration, make room in your budget for a special guest named George Foreman and his great line of kitchen appliances. Showing up without a gift is typically frowned upon.

Camps and Mission Trips: It’s great that your kids are getting away to serve and grow, but it’s not free. From bug spray to shower shoes, there’s plenty more to buy. And don’t forget their pocket money!

Pet Boarding: Hiring a pet sitter or boarding your animal isn’t a cheap endeavor. Make sure your four-legged family member has a safe and trustworthy caretaker while you’re away.

Houseguests: It’s fun to be with your family during the summer—until they eat you out of house and home. If your in-laws or cousins are planning a visit, be sure to beef up the grocery and entertainment budgets now.

Sweet Splurges: It’s way too easy to drop $20 at the gourmet yogurt or ice cream shop. Multiply that by two outings per week, and bye-bye food budget (and waistline)! Treats are fine, but not every night.

The point is this: Spending just a few minutes looking ahead to the next month can save you money and peace of mind. So take a moment to decide what else needs adding to your July budget. Then stick to it!

It’s time well spent, and the results might just, well, blow you away.

The Gina Koerner Team   www.StLouisHomesByGina.com   636-229-8746   “Changing Lives… One Home at a Time”

How to Be a Tourist in Your Own City: 8 Fun, Affordable Ideas

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By ADRIENNE BREAUX


Low budgets and a lack of time can put a dent in the fun of summer traveling, without doubt. But just because you can’t go far doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. Lovingly called a “staycation” by some, we call it being a tourist in your own city. Here are eight ways how to do it.

1. Head to any hotel or motel lobby or welcoming center
Find one of those brochure kiosks in a local hotel or motel lobby, and take home a few for local attractions or activities that grab your attention, especially the ones that seem like something you wouldn’t normally pay attention to. Ask someone behind a desk for what they recommend to tourists who have one day to spend in your city or town. And then be sure and call and ask if there’s a discount for locals or residents (you’d be surprised to learn how many places offer discounts like that!).

2. Get a friend to show you around like you’re a tourist
Call up a friend you know who usually loves showing visitors around town and ask them to take you to some of their favorites places that make the city you live in special! They may take you to a place you would have never thought about visiting.

3. Move through it differently than you usually do
Consider taking a tour on a bus (in Austin we have these things called duck tours, and I couldn’t recommend more) or some other form of transportation. You’ll see your city with fresh eyes when learning about interesting points and fun historical facts. Bonus points if you can find — and take — a Segway tour.

4. Take cheesy photos of yourself in front of tourist spots
That well-known statue in your town square. A view from the park downtown. The famous graffiti. Your city’s welcoming sign. Even if you’ve already seen a lot of your city’s tourist spots, embrace the cheesiness of visiting them again by taking photos of yourself in front of them.

5. Grab a meal at the most touristy restaurant in your town
Get the dish they swear they’re the best at making and that your city’s known for. Revel in its tasty (or greasy) glory. But also take a look around when you get there. I’ve found a lot of the touristy spots actually have cool history to them, with old photos decorating the walls and stories about your town waiting to be discovered.

6. Do something outdoors that only your city can offer
Is your neck of the woods known for fly fishing? Do it. Your city the home to the world’s largest urban bat colony? See it. Tons of farms open their “doors” during particularly lovely parts of the seasons? Take advantage! Is there a public fountain or water feature that you can take the kids to? Have fun! Chances are there’s something outdoorsy your city does well and promotes to tourists; discover it.

7. Cheer on a local sports team
You can go to a game, or even find a popular sports bar to watch a game on a TV, surrounded by passionate locals and tourists alike. It’ll give you a good feeling of the spirit of your city.

8. Embrace a bit of history
Depending on the size of your city, there might be a museum that illustrates an exciting part of your hometown’s history that might be worth checking out. Think about stopping and reading any roadside markers with interesting historical facts. And check to see if your city has any historical collections at local libraries — sometimes you can find a whole collection of cool photos showing what your city looked like years ago.

Looking for ideas for kiddos in tow? This post is about things to do in Los Angeles, but might give you some ideas of places to check out with your kids in your city. More inspiration for being a tourist can be found here, too.

The Gina Koerner Team   www.StLouisHomesByGina.com   636-229-8746   “Changing Lives… One Home at a Time”

Budget Decorator: 15 No-Cost Ways to Invigorate Your Space

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By Laura Gaskill
Got the itch to make some changes around the house? Before you head out shopping or hit the online stores, why not first see what can be done with what you have? Sometimes all it takes is a bit of inspiration to see your space with fresh eyes. Let these 15 ideas spark your imagination and motivate you to see your own space anew.

The Look for Less: Emma’s Bedroom on a Budget

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By SHIFRAH COMBITHS

Paint can be one of the most budget-friendly and impactful decorating decisions. The ceiling in Emma’s bedroom imbues the entire room with cool, confident color, keeps the mostly white palette from being too staid, and sets the tone for the rest of the room’s decor. To re-create this room on budget, check out the following finds.

  • Shallow Sea paint by Behr, approx. $25-27/gallon
  • OFELIA VASS white duvet cover and pillows Full/Queen, Ikea, $49.99.
  • Scour Ebay for a blue ghost chair. If you’re doing a children’s room and a smaller chair is an option, consider this Kids Ghost Chair, via Houzz, $110.
  • Union Jack Throw Pillow, Zazzle, $33.95.
  • Room Essentials 5-Head Floor Lamp in Pink, Target, $19.99.
  • Consider spray-painting a thrifted brass chandelier white with these instructions from HGTV.
  • MICKE white desk, Ikea, $89.99.
  • An Ikea RENS Sheepskin or two thrown over an armchair is a great budget-conscious option for the fur armchair.
  • Adele Waste Basket, Bed Bath & Beyond, $9.99.

The Gina Koerner Team   www.StLouisHomesByGina.com   636-229-8746   “Changing Lives… One Home at a Time”

20 Things the Rich Do Every Day

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By Tom Corley

1. 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day. 23% of wealthy gamble. 52% of poor people gamble.

2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.

3. 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically four days a week. 23% of poor do this.

4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% of poor people.

5. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% of poor.

6. 63% of wealthy parents make their children read two or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% of poor.

7. 70% of wealthy parents make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% of poor.

8. 80% of wealthy make Happy Birthday calls vs. 11% of poor.

9. 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% of poor.

10. 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs. 2% of poor.

11. 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% of poor.

12. 79% of wealthy network five hours or more each month vs. 16% of poor.

13. 67% of wealthy watch one hour or less of TV every day vs. 23% of poor.

14. 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% of poor.

15. 44% of wealthy wake up three hours before work starts vs. 3% of poor.

16. 74% of wealthy teach good daily success habits to their children vs. 1% of poor.

17. 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% of poor.

18. 76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck vs. 9% of poor.

19. 86% of wealthy believe in lifelong educational self-improvement vs. 5% of poor.

20. 86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% of poor.

The Gina Koerner Team   www.StLouisHomesByGina.com   636-229-8746   “Changing Lives… One Home at a Time”

THE BEST MEMORIAL DAYS SALES TO HIT THIS WEEK

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By Jaymi Naciri

Memorial Day weekend is just about here, and that means packed cars, family picnics, and all-day get-togethers, all wrapped up in the remembrance of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country.

It also means great sales – which will come in especially handy if you happen to be the one hosting the weekend festivities. So we’ve gathered together some of the best home items on sale this week in this Memorial Day Edition of Steals & Deals.

Here is the best of the week for home…

Yosemite Home Decor 18-Gauge Double-Basin Undermount Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink

You may not have time to redo your kitchen before this weekend, but if it’s in your future plans, check out the Yosemite Home Decor 18-Gauge Double-Basin Undermount Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink, part of Lowes’ Memorial Day Sale. Regularly $268.20, it’s 45 percent off this week, priced at $146.67.

We’ve been checking out this ThresholdTM Lowry 2-Piece Upholstered Patio Club Chair Set since it was priced at $403.20. Now offered on clearance at Target for 30 percent off at $282.24, we just can’t wait any longer.

Target also has select toys on sale this week at buy one, get one 50 percent off. Frankly, we think this sale is perfectly timed for kids who are going to be out of school on Monday.

If you need an outdoor dining set, Home Depot may have your solution. Certain patio items are offered for up to 40 percent off during their Memorial Day sale.

This Hampton Bay Cedarvale 7-Piece Patio Dining Set with Nutmeg Cushions was $899 and is now priced at $539.40 – 40 percent off – this week. It just may be the perfect set for your Sunday brunch, for this weekend or any this summer.

Maybe you’re planning an outdoor get-together of the more romantic variety. If you decide you need to add some easy ambiance to your outdoor space, these Solar LED Fairy Lights, just $28, down 72 percent from $99 on crowdsavings, can do the trick.

The Gina Koerner Team   www.StLouisHomesByGina.com   636-229-8746   “Changing Lives… One Home at a Time”

 

Save Money on Summer Entertainment & Activities

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FamilyPicnic

By: Take Charge America

Many consumers spend more money during the summer because we’re surrounded by more temptations. Too hot? Head to the cool mall. Kids bored? Head to a theme park. Summer blockbuster? Have to get to the big screen. You get the gist…

To help you save more money, we’ve compiled some cost-conscious tips and affordable alternatives to popular summer activities:

  • Don’t Eat Out, Eat Outside – “Eating out” doesn’t have to mean eating in a restaurant. On a warm summer night, hit up the grocery store and purchase treats for a picnic or barbeque. You could supply a week’s worth of picnics for the cost of one date night at an upscale restaurant. Plus, picnics and outdoor dining can actually be more intimate and enjoyable.
  • Sign up for Group Deals – Group deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, which offer big discounts to local hotspots, are gaining huge followings. Sign up for daily emails and learn how you can save 50 percent or more on spa treatments, restaurants, community classes, leisure activities and more.
  • Skip the Big Screen – You don’t really need to see movies on the big screen if money is tight. For around $10 a month, you can watch all the movies you want with mail order subscription services, such as Netflix. Host a marathon movie night where you and a group of friends catch up on old movies or TV shows. Marathons last longer, and microwaved popcorn cost pennies in comparison.
  • Seek out “Staycations” – You don’t have to travel far for some R&R. Many resorts and spas offer “staycations” with big discounts for local residents. You get all the amenities without transportation costs and travel time. Search resort websites and discount travel sites like Expedia, Orbitz and Priceline. If you do plan on traveling, learn how you can save more money on your summer vacation.
  • Take a Trip to the Library – Remember those days before computers, cell phones, hand-held games and iPods? Many kids swarmed public libraries during the summer. You can spend hours browsing the children’s book section. Libraries also host author readings and other events popular with kids. Check with your local library for a community calendar.
  • Enjoy the Great Outdoors – There are a ton of activities you can take advantage of outside. Try fishing, Frisbee, camping, swimming, biking, star gazing or get creative with a scavenger hunt or homemade obstacle course.
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