23rd Annual Best of Missouri Market

Tags

, , , , , , , ,


DATE: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2014 UNTIL SUNDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2014

VENUE: MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN

CATEGORY: ANNUAL EVENTS

festivals_parades_default_2

Over 120 Missouri food producers and craftsmen offer fresh produce, baked goods, fresh and dried flowers, herbs, handcrafted items, baskets, wooden toys, custom jewelry and more. Live music and a Kids Corner with cow milking, pumpkin decorating and barnyard animals. Held rain or shine under tents. 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. (4); 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (5-6) http://www.mobot.org/, (314) 577-5100 or (800) 642-8842

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

Retire a Millionaire on Just $35 a Week

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


By Dave Ramsey

Not everyone has a big cushy salary. Plenty of folks out there work hard just to make minimum wage. Or maybe you make a decent salary but have suffered financial setbacks due to emergencies. Heck, even providing for a family of four can be expensive!

But that doesn’t mean you can’t save money for a comfortable future.

retire

A Surprising Formula for Success

Typically, we talk about investing in percentages: Dave recommends contributing 15% of your household income into tax-advantaged retirement accounts to retire comfortably. Everyone’s 15% is different and may be big or small depending on your salary.

But what if we broke it down into a number that’s easy for everyone to relate to—a figure that could easily cover a dinner out or a week’s worth of daily super-sized lattes?

Let’s see what kind of future $35 a week could afford you if you invest in good growth stock mutual funds. That would be 15% of an approximately $12,000 salary—$3,000 less than what you’d bring home in a year if you worked 40 hours a week at the federal minimum wage.

—In 20 years, you could retire with $110,000 to $150,000.
—In 30 years, you could retire with $330,000 to $490,000.
—In 40 years, you could retire with $890,000 to $1.5 million!

Keep in mind, this example doesn’t take annual raises into account. You’re not stuck at today’s income. Work hard for your money and you’ll get raises along the way. Imagine how your nest egg could look if you increase your contributions as your income grows!

Don’t Have 40 Years to Invest?

That’s okay! It just means you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and give it everything you’ve got in the time you do have.

—Pick up the pace. Add oomph to your retirement savings by bringing home a little extra bacon and rolling it into your nest egg. If you doubled down and contributed $70 a week, you could retire with $230,000 to $290,000 after 20 years and $660,000 to $980,000 after 30 years.

—Work a few extra years. There’s no rule that says you have to retire at 65. If you’re 45 years old, adding five more years to your timeline could boost your savings to $200,000 to $270,000 if you continue to contribute just $35 a week.
—Pay off your mortgage. This is a big one, but think about how much further your money could go without a mortgage hanging over your head. It might mean sacrificing a bigger home in the short term, but it will be worth it in the long term.

Make the Most of Your Nest Egg

Now that you know the difference $35 a week can make on your future, let’s talk about how to get the most bang for your investing buck.

—Clear your financial plate. You should be debt free (except for your home) with a fully funded emergency fund before setting anything aside for retirement. It’s the only way to free up your biggest wealth-building tool—your income!
—Choose wisely. Put your money in good growth stock mutual funds with a long history of above-average returns. Dave recommends spreading your investment dollars evenly across four categories: growth, growth and income, aggressive growth and international.
—Stick with it. Your retirement fund is not a short-term investment. That’s the only money you’ll have when you leave the workforce. Consider it off-limits until you retire and don’t let a temporary downturn scare you into a decision that will lose you money in the long term.

Take Advantage of Free Advice

You don’t have to bring in big bucks to win with money, but talking to an expert helps. It doesn’t cost a thing to sit down with a financial advisor and just look at your options. A true pro will take time to explain their recommendations in terms you can understand, so you can decide how to spend your hard-earned dollars.

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

Why You Need Some Fun Money in Your Budget

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


By Dave Ramsey

How does an indulgence allowance sound? You know, a little guilt-free spending that doesn’t find its way to creditors, insurance agents, utility companies, or grocery stores?

It’s called fun money and it’s just for you.

shopping

Fun money (or pocket money) keeps you sane as you continue to make the tough, daily sacrifices it takes to win with money. We like to think of it as the icing on the budget—a sweet topping that, in moderation, can actually help you reach your money goals. Here’s how it works:

Why You Need It

You need food, water and shelter. You don’t need to get a manicure or play 18 holes of golf. But here’s what happens if you don’t budget some “me” money: you’ll spend it anyway.

The reason a cash flow plan works in the first place is that every dollar gets a name. So even if you have the discipline of a monk and vow not to spend on small luxuries, trust us, you or your spouse will eventually buy something just for fun. And then your beautiful budget is blown!

So do your budget a favor and factor in some fun before the month begins.Because the more realistic your plan is, the more likely it is to actually work.

What It Isn’t

Fun money often gets lumped into one of a few categories: your entertainment fund, your restaurant fund or even your miscellaneous fund. It’s none of these. It’s a separate amount to spend however you want, whenever you want.

The beauty of pocket money is you don’t know what you’re going to buy with it yet.You can use it as the mood strikes you, without guilt.

But try to avoid the temptation to use your fun money as a catchall for household items you forgot to work into the budget. Or if your light bill and car repairs exceed your monthly expectations, tweak your cash flow plan or dip into your emergency fund to seal the leak. Your fun money is not overdraft protection for life’s unexpected expenses. Protect it—or you’ll find a thousand non-fun ways to spend it.

How Much to Budget

Your pocket money might be $10 or it might be in excess of $100 per month. Depending on your income, debts and long-term goals, the amount you budget could be drastically different from your neighbor.

If you’re just starting Dave’s seven Baby Steps and working toward building your$1,000 emergency fund, keep your pocket money to a bare minimum. But if you’re out of debt and working toward saving for a house or retirement, you have additional wiggle room. Just make sure you’re not spoiling yourself rotten and abandoning your long-term goals in the process. Ultimately, only you know how much fun you can afford.

Remember to Have Fun!

It’s okay to set aside some time and money for yourself each month. Even a small indulgence can do wonders for your money morale. Just be sure to set your fun allowance before the month begins and then stick with it no matter what. A healthy budget is a lot better with a little icing.

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

The Great Forest Park Balloon Glow and Balloon Race

Tags

, , , , , , , ,


DATE: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2014 UNTIL SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2014

VENUE: CENTRAL FIELD IN FOREST PARK (BETWEEN THE JEWEL BOX AND STEINBERG RINK)

CATEGORY: ANNUAL EVENTS

balloon

Festivities begin with a balloon glow on September 19 from 7:00 p.m. – 9:15 p.m. followed by fireworks. Race day activities include a children’s entertainment area, skydivers, and a photo contest prior to the launch of the hare and hound balloons at 4:30-4:45 p.m. on September 20. Rain date is September 21. http://www.greatforestparkballoonrace.com/, (314) 993-2901

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

10 Numbers That Will Revolutionize Your Budget

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


By Dave Ramsey

We’re here to talk numbers. Wait! Come back!

These aren’t chalkboard-squeaking, SAT-sweating, pencil-breaking numbers. These are fun numbers. You know the ones that show themselves on bills and bank accounts, the ones that make you wealthy. These are the numbers of the budget.

For 20 years, Dave’s class Financial Peace University (FPU) has taught families how to win with money by laying a solid foundation, which is—you guessed it—a budget! The 10 numbers below prove that even the most free-spirited among us can benefit from a little focus on the numbers each month.

Tight monetary

1 – One piece of paper is all you need to make a budget. Forget the fancy spreadsheets and scientific calculators—you just need space to write everything out. Of course, if you’re a nerd and it makes you feel better, go ahead and fire up Excel or print one of Dave’s budget forms to get as detailed as you’d like.

$8,000 – Families who learn to budget in FPU report an average turnaround of $8,000 in the first 90 days. This represents $5,300 reduction in debt and $2,700 saved. Think about where you were at just three months ago. Wouldn’t it feel nice to be $8,000 ahead today?

56% – We talk about budgeting all the time, so it might sound like it’s what all the cool kids are doing. It’s not. In fact, 56% of Americans admit they don’t budget. Many of them don’t even know what they spend each month on housing, food and entertainment. Don’t be like these folks. Be weird!

0 – A zero-based budget is the key to winning with money. Give every dollar a name, on paper, on purpose before the month begins. This means your income minus your expenses should equal zero. Take control of your money by telling it what to do!

15% — Studies show people spend 15% more money when they pay with a card instead of cash. Identify budget categories where you tend to overspend. Then make a cash withdrawal for those areas and place the money in the envelope. When it’s gone, it’s gone!

3 – A kid’s budget is broken into three areas: give, save and spend. Budgeting helps kids understand the value of work and how to use their own money to make purchases and bless others. It also teaches kids to be content—a refreshing quality in today’s youth.

20 billion – The turnaround tracker is at 20 billion and counting. More than 2.5 million families have taken FPU since it launched in 1994. The tracker is a real-time calculation of the estimated turnaround that occurs each time another family signs up for FPU. While you’ve been reading this, another family likely paid off their car loan and saved $1,000!

18% – Families who use the zero-based budget save 18% more money than people who don’t. This means they’ll build an up emergency fund and pay off debt more quickly simply because they’re applying the wisdom of giving every dollar a name. If you’re smart, you do what works.

4 – The first time you budget, it’s going to hurt. The next month, you’ll still be confused. By the third month, your needs—and the ability to meet those needs— will finally start to make sense. By month four, you’ll feel like an old pro. What once took hours will eventually take just twenty minutes and might—just might—be a little fun.

312 – Dave and Sharon Ramsey filed for bankruptcy in September 1988. As a result, they made big changes to how they handled their money. Dave and Sharon began budgeting immediately and the budgeting continues today. They’ve completed 312 budgets so far. Yes , Dave and Sharon still complete a budget each month—and that means you should too.

Budgeting really is the secret to winning with money.

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

1st Annual St. Louis World’s Fair Heritage Festival and Games

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,


DATE: Friday, September 12, 2014 until Sunday, September 14, 2014

VENUE: Forest Park

CATEGORY: Annual Events

WorldsFairForestPark
Experience this unique celebration of St. Louis history, present, and future as the magical energy of the 1904 World’s Fair is rekindled. This all “Green” free event will take you on a journey from 1904 historic exhibits, educational displays and reenactments, to live musical performances of current national and local recording artists, to a look into future technologies and innovations of regional national businesses. 4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. (12); 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 pm.. (13); 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. (14) http://www.stlworldsfare.com

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

A Busy Parent’s Primer to Conquering Clutter and Selling Your Home

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


By Dawn Kirkland

Life with kids is hectic on a normal day. There’s oatmeal in your hair, a soccer jersey on the fan and crayon on the wall—and you haven’t even finished your first cup of coffee. To top it off, you just stepped on your umpteenth Lego of the morning (ouch!).

In the midst of it all, you have a home to sell. It’s you versus the clutter, and right now, the clutter is winning. You’re beginning to wonder if it’s possible to get it sold without selling the kids first.

We’ve got good news: You can keep your kids and your sanity! Go from chaos to calm with these simple steps.

clutter

Send ‘Em Packing

The mountains of stuff, that is! It’s time to bust through the mess and make some decisions so your knickknacks don’t crowd buyers out. Feeling overwhelmed? Simply shift your mindset.

“Act like you’re going to move!” Dawn suggests. “Sit down on your sofa and make a list. Take it one job, one closet, one room at a time. Set a specific goal every day.”

It’s okay if the goal is small as long as it’s attainable. For instance, tell yourself you won’t go to bed until you’ve cleaned out one shelf of the linen closet. If you knock out two shelves—or the whole closet—before the day is done, more power to you!

Of course, sorting through a stack of towels can seem easy-breezy compared to Mount Mini-Me. But don’t let it intimidate you. Dawn offers a few painless pointers for conquering kid clutter:

—Ask Junior to pick a handful of favorite toys and books to keep in his room. (Reassure him the others won’t be gone forever!)

—Store extras in clear plastic bins in the garage or attic. Rotate toys out every few weeks.

—Place a basket in the living room so containing toys in a hurry is a piece of cake.

Engage Your Kids

Want to know a surefire way to make your job easier? Dawn says get the kids involved! It’s a great opportunity to teach them the value of hard work, and kids love contributing something important to the family.

Don’t know where to start? Try these kid-tested ideas on for size:

—Dangle a carrot. Promise your kids a surprise for being happy helpers. You don’t have to spend a lot to make it special. A day at the park with you is worth more than money can buy!

—Say thanks. If your kids do a great job, recognize their efforts with a handwritten thank-you note. This small gesture can build big motivation.

—Run drills. Assign each kid a job and practice getting your home show-ready. Up the fun by breaking into teams and racing to beat each other’s times.

—Show them the money. Give your kids the opportunity to earn bonus bucks by taking on extra jobs to help keep your home in peak condition.

Give Yourself Grace

Some mornings, it’s just not possible to get out the door with everything in its proper place. If you get a surprise call to schedule a showing before you can rush home to clean the dishes, don’t panic and miss an opportunity to get the right buyer into your home.

“Tell the agent what happened so they can prepare the buyer ahead of time,”Dawn advises. Buyers can often overlook a minor mess if they know what to expect before walking through your door.

And remember, just because your home is on the market doesn’t mean you have to erase every shred of evidence that it’s inhabited by humans.

“You’re still paying the mortgage and insurance—it’s okay to live there!” Dawn said.

Do your best to keep it neat and clean, but don’t turn it into a museum. Leaving a few traces of family life enables prospective buyers to believe their family could live there too.

Hand Your Worries Over to a Pro

Juggling family responsibilities is hard enough without a For Sale sign in the yard. Let a real estate agent guide you through your list of to-dos so you don’t feel overwhelmed. A true pro understands the power of positive encouragement but isn’t afraid to roll up their sleeves to get the job done.

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

7 products on deep discount in September

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,


Hurry up and grab these discounts! We’ve found seven products that are at their lowest prices in September, including gas grills. Our market research experts keep track of price fluctuations, and can spot what’s on sale all year long. This month you’ll be able to take advantage of some great sales for the whole family.

A couple of caveats: There will always be exceptions. Stores in your neighborhood could find they’re overstocked on an item at any time and put it on sale, for example. So keep an eye on Sunday circulars, text alerts, and social media for price cuts in your area. And bear in mind that the best time to save money isn’t always when you’ll find the best selection. Sales on some items occur when a season is coming to an end and inventories are thin.

Summer may be at an end–which explains why you’re likely to see big sales on bikes–but there are still months to take spins in many parts of the country.

Shopping tips

Find a good bicycle shop. You’ll probably pay more, but we think you’re more likely to be satisfied. Bikes from big-box stores might not be properly assembled or well matched to your body. If you don’t like the pedals or seat on a particular model, some bike shops will swap components at little or no cost.

Consider spending a few extra dollars. More money buys a lightweight frame made of carbon fiber, aluminum (or a combination of both materials), or high-strength steel and other high-quality components. But you can still buy a good bike for just a few hundred dollars.

Whether you’re looking for a basic digital camera (simple point-and-shoots with just the features needed for routine shots), or an advanced model (feature-laden cameras that include sophisticated models that let you change lenses), now is a good time to shop.

Shopping tips

Do your research. Buying a digital camera can be confusing. There are hundreds of cameras available at many different types of retail outlets (online and in traditional stores), with prices ranging from $75 to several thousand dollars. Some cameras are small enough to fit in a shirt pocket. Others are large and can weigh up to two pounds. Some are easy to use. Others look like you need an engineering degree to operate them.
 
Take the next steps. After you consider the type of camera you want and the number of megapixels you need, but before you dive into specific models, be sure to check out our brand profiles, which outline many of the most popular camera product lines and their respective character traits.

You don’t need to spend a fortune to get great-tasting burgers, steaks, and chicken at your next barbecue–especially this month. Our tests have shown that many lower-priced gas grills now have at least some stainless-steel trim, side burners for side dishes, and other perks once found only on the priciest grills.

Shopping tips

Give it a push. The more stable the grill, the better. Gently push the grill from several angles to see if it tips. Check the cart, firebox, lid, and shelves for sharp corners and edges.

Grip the handle. Your knuckles or fingers shouldn’t be too close to the lid or your hand could get burned. And while some flaring is normal, typically the greater the distance between the grates and burners or flavorizer bars, the fewer the sustained flare-ups.

While you’re checking out the great deals on mowers this month, read our buying guide to decide which type of mower fits your needs; subscribers can find our recommended models in each category in our Ratings.

Shopping tips

Don’t be swayed by numbers. Our latest tests confirm that more horsepower doesn’t necessarily mean higher-quality mowing. Mower manufacturers have swapped horsepower numbers for engine-size and torque specifications, but even those don’t guarantee better results.

Consider your lawn. A gas or electric push mower is fine for a small lawn. But you’ll probably prefer a self-propelled gas model for slopes and a lawn tractor for a lawn one-half acre or larger.

Early fall is a good time to buy many small consumer electronics such as MP3 players, DVD players, and Blu-ray players. As with many items you buy, deciding which ones are right for you depends on which type fit your needs and come with features that are important to you.

Shopping tips

Give them a try. For example, whichever type of MP3 player you choose, make sure you’ll be comfortable using the device. Look for a display that is easy to read and controls that can be worked with one hand, useful features iPods lack. When it comes to home theaters, audition systems in the store and ask about a return or exchange if the one you buy doesn’t suit you.

Consider online retailers, too. In recent years, the Consumer Reports readers we’ve surveyed who shopped online were more satisfied overall than those who shopped at a walk-in store. In fact, websites as a whole outdid walk-in stores for quality, selection, and price.

Many sales started on snow blowers last month, but prices will still be low in September. So if you couldn’t bear to think about the white stuff piling up on your driveway in August, there’s still time to get a great deal.

Shopping tips

Don’t fall for sales pitches. Manufacturers and retailers also push bigger engines—typically expressed in cubic centimeters of piston displacement (ccs)—and wider clearing swaths. But as our Ratings show, size isn’t everything when it comes to snow blowers. Some smaller machines can out-clear and out-throw the big boys for less money.

Look for important features. For example, it’s a good idea to check out floor samples. Make sure you’re comfortable with the height of the handle and with the chute adjustment. Look for a critical safety feature that stops the spinning auger or impeller when you release the handlebar grips.

September is a great time to fill in neglected parts of your yard. Trees, shrubs, flowers, and other plants will be discounted at your local garden centers.

Planting tips

Time it right. For cooler regions, planting now through the end of October gives most plants a head start in the spring, since roots will grow in still-warm soil long after air temperatures drop. Where winters are mild, the fall planting season extends into winter. Be sure to soak the root ball thoroughly at least weekly if the weather is dry in your area. In the frigid North, apply mulch after the soil freezes to prevent the soil around plants from thawing and refreezing, which can damage tender new roots.

Measure the depth. Large bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips, should be planted about 8 inches deep, and smaller bulbs, such as crocus, about 5 inches deep. If you’re combining them with other bulbs, figure on two to three daffodil and tulip bulbs (full-size varieties) per square foot. For smaller bulbs, plant three to five per square foot—twice as many for a solid bed of color.

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

21st Annual Saint Louis Art Fair

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,


DATE: Friday, September 5, 2014 until Sunday, September 7, 2014

VENUE: Downtown Clayton, Missouri

CATEGORY: Annual Events

Saint Louis Art Fair in Clayton, Missouri on September 7, 2008.

Visual artists from across the nation exhibit an unprecedented selection of the highest quality, original works of art along with three stages of entertainment, educational hands-on activities for children, culinary treats from St. Louis’ finest restaurants and much more. 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. (5), 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. (6), 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (7) http://www.culturalfestivals.com/, (314) 863-0278

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

Top 3 Tips for Home Sellers

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


When preparing your home for sale, a number of simple cosmetic changes often provide the biggest return on investment. Here are three tips to upgrade your house without breaking the bank:

  • Bring in the light. The right light creates the right mood. Adding lights to dark rooms can make your home feel warm and inviting. Bring outdoor light inside by opening curtains and installing economical suntubes.

12-IMG_6975

  • Create Space. Many of today’s buyers are looking for open rooms. Consider removing unwanted walls to make your home feel more spacious. Buyers will often pay a premium to get a bit of extra room.

02-IMG_8813

  • Replace Flooring. Get rid of that old carpet in the den and replace it with today’s newer hardwoods and laminates. You don’t have to spend a lot to make a big impression!

33-IMG_1524

These simple tips can help you sell your home and take advantage of today’s market. Please contact us if you have any questions about selling your home. We are here to help!

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 44 other followers