5 Steps to Buying a Home That Won’t Bust Your Budget


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By Dave Ramsey

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the decisions that go into buying a new home. Brand new or existing? Cottage or McMansion? Fixer-upper or move-in ready? City or country? After all, a home is a big purchase, and you want it to be a blessing for many years to come.


But one question holds the key to home-buying success: Can we afford it?

Lucky for you, you don’t need a degree in rocket science to find the answer. You just need to know how to budget. Here’s how.

Step 1: Add Up Your Income

You can’t make a budget if you don’t know how much you can spend. So sit down and add up every source of income you receive each month.

Let’s crunch numbers based on a two-earner household. In our example, John brings home two paychecks a month, while his wife Jane receives one.

John’s Paycheck 1 = $1,600
John’s Paycheck 2 = $1,600
Jane’s Paycheck = $2,800

Total Monthly Income = $6,000

Step 2: List Your Household Expenses

Next, write down every place your dollars go each month.

John and Jane rent a one-bedroom apartment in the heart of town so they can be close to work. A big chunk of their budget goes toward saving for retirement and a down payment on their new home. Here’s how their current budget looks:

John and Jane’s Pre-Home Budget
Charitable Gifts = $600
Savings = $2,200
Rent = $900
Utilities = $300
Food = $400
Clothing = $100
Transportation = $450
Medical = $400
Personal = $450
Recreation = $200

Total Expenses = $6,000

Of course, everybody’s budget is going to be different. We’ve assumed some things in this sample. If some of these categories don’t fit, feel free to make them your own.

Step 3: Calculate Home-Ownership Costs

Now it’s time to figure up the cost of owning a home. If you can’t pay cash for your home, Dave recommends keeping your mortgage payment—including property taxes and home insurance—to no more than 25% of your monthly take-home pay. That means the maximum amount John and Jane should spend on their home payment each month is $1,500.

Of course, home ownership isn’t limited to a house note. John and Jane make room for expenses like HOA fees, maintenance and repair, furniture and décor, and lawn care in their budget. They also add extra heft to utilities and transportation since they’ll have more square footage and a longer commute in their new home.

John and Jane’s down-payment goal will be complete when they purchase a home, so they reduce the amount they allot to savings.

John and Jane’s Budget: Changes Made With Home Ownership in Mind
Savings = $2,200 $900
Rent Mortgage = $900 $1,500
Other Housing Expenses = $250
Utilities = $300 $400
Transportation = $450 $550

Total Expenses = $6,000 $5,750

With these adjustments, John and Jane still have money left over—but the budgeting doesn’t stop here.

Step 4: Give Your Budget Room to Grow

Life is going to happen in the years you occupy your home. Before you get married to a mortgage, look ahead and consider events that might increase your living expenses down the road.

John and Jane don’t have children yet but hope to start a family next year. Guess what? Kids cost money! According to the USDA, a middle-income married couple spends an average of $727 a month on non-housing expenses in a child’s first years of life. Depending on what you make or where you live, it could be more, it could be less.

John and Jane build cushion for Junior into their budget by parking an additional $750 into their savings account each month. That puts their savings total at $1,650 and bumps their monthly expenses up to $6,500.

John and Jane’s Budget: Changes Made With Junior in Mind
Savings = $900 $1,650

Total Expenses = $5,750 $6,500

Step 5: Make Adjustments

Right now, John and Jane’s expenses outweigh their income by $500, so they’ve got some balancing to do. John and Jane realize that spending 25% of their income on a mortgage will squeeze out their ability to afford diapers and daycare. So they aim for a more conservative home payment and tighten the purse strings in a few other areas.

John and Jane’s Final Home-Buying Budget
Charitable Gifts = $600
Savings = $1,650
Mortgage = $1,500 $1,250
Other Housing Expenses = $250
Utilities = $400
Food = $400
Clothing = $100 $50
Transportation = $550
Medical = $400
Personal = $450 $400
Recreation = $200 $50

Total Expenses = $6,600 $6,000

When income minus outgo equals zero, your job is done because every dollar has a name.

$6,000 – $6,000 = $0


That means you can feel confident buying a home that won’t bust your budget. Just keep your mortgage to 25%—or less!—of your monthly income and don’t borrow so much that you can’t breathe if life changes down the road.

Boost Your Buying Power

Now that you know the secret to being a happy homeowner, it’s time to go out and get the most home for your money! All you need is an expert negotiator by your side. A buyer’s agent brings your best interests to the table so you can get the best deal on a home that’s right for you and your budget.

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

The Only 5 Things You Need in Your Wallet


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By Dave Ramsey

Everyone knows this universal truth: The bigger a woman’s purse, the more she’ll cram into it. The same goes for the humble wallet—all those nooks and crannies are too easily filled with old business cards, empty gift cards and expired coupons.


So make life easier by cleaning out your money holder. Because when it comes to budgeting, digging for your dollars shouldn’t be half the battle. Here are the only five things you really need in your wallet.

1. Cash

Yes, cash is bulky. There it is. But cash is also powerful.

It can get you a bargain—try flashing cash as you negotiate for your next car. It can keep you accountable—as your cash dwindles, so does your grocery budget (and we all like to eat). And it can keep you from buying that awesome grill on impulse—because if you can’t pay cash, you can’t afford it.

Credit cards may be sleeker and sexier, but can they do all that?

A big wad of cash, however, isn’t necessarily going to solve all your problems. It’sthe plan behind those tens and twenties that make them work. So before the month begins, sit down and give every dollar a name (groceries, clothes, entertainment, fun money). And instead of allowing your dollars to just float around unorganized, separate your bills with the envelope system. You can even get a simple insert to put inside your wallet, so you know how much you’ve spent in each category as the month goes by.

However you choose to organize, make sure the workhorse of your wallet is cash—not credit. It’s king for a reason.

2. Driver’s License

You need your driver’s license to drive, to fly, to cash a check, and even to buy certain over-the-counter medicines. And some folks (not you, of course) need it when they get pulled over for speeding, purchase alcohol, or want to see that new R-rated flick. No matter how you use it, this state-issued ID does a lot, so don’t forget it!

3. Debit Card

Debit cards are super handy when it comes to booking travel, filling up with gas, or shopping online. Plus, debit cards have the exact same fraud protections as their credit counterparts, as long as you run the transactions as credit.  And while your debit card can’t get you into real trouble (ahem, debt) like a credit card, it can make it easier to overspend.

So instead of making swiping a habit, restrict your debit card usage to budget categories you wouldn’t normally pay cash for. Because using dollars and cents for everything else can drastically improve the way you spend and save your money.

4. Insurance Cards

Medical emergencies and traffic accidents don’t warn us beforehand. They just happen. That’s why we pay for insurance coverage in the first place. So don’t forget to carry proof!

While most of us keep our vehicle insurance cards in the car (which is fine) it’s smart to keep your prescription drug and medical cards in an easy-to-get-to place in your wallet. Hopefully you won’t need them, but at least you’ll finally know where they are if and when you do.

5. Membership Cards

Between all those loyalty cards and punch passes, you should have a few membership cards that are actually useful. Keep the important ones like Costco, Sam’s Club, AAA and your gym membership in your wallet. But for everything else, opt for key ring cards (or just leave them in an envelope in your glove box) to cut down on all the clutter.

When it comes to your wallet, less junk means more control. So take control of your life and your money by straightening up the way you handle both. You may even find that long-lost twenty somewhere!

That alone is worth five minutes of cleaning.

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

Marriage Counselor or Financial Coach: Which One Do You Need?


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By Dave Ramsey

When you get married, you’re saying “I do” to everything, both good and bad, that comes your way.

You can bet that one of those potential topics will be money. It’s just a basic fact that how you manage your money will have a direct effect on the health of your marriage.

Since marriage and money are so related, it’s difficult to tell whether your conversations (or ahem, arguments) are rooted on the marriage or money side of the fence.

When you’re facing money issues, is it just a matter of you and your spouse getting on the same page? Or is there an underlying issue, like a lack of trust, that’s causing the financial problems in the first place?


Dave’s financial coaches inject hope into people’s lives every day, so we asked them how to know if you need a marriage counselor or a financial coach:

Situation: You’re dealing with financial infidelity.
Need: Marriage Counselor

If you’re in a situation that involves financial infidelity—for example, your spouse opened a checking account without your knowledge and used that money to buy a lot of expensive stuff—then you need a marriage counselor. There’s a certain kind of malice involved with financial infidelity. This is huge breach of trust and can ultimate destroy both your marriage and your finances.

Situation: Your spouse won’t budget with you.
Need: Financial Coach

If you can’t get on the same page with your spouse about money, then a financial coach is probably the right fit. But here’s the thing—if your spouse just isn’t listening and doesn’t want to be more responsible, you can’t drag them kicking and screaming into a coach’s office. Go by yourself if you have to. And, over time, hopefully they’ll see how you’ve changed and look to come along with you.

Situation: You’re considering bankruptcy.
Need: Financial Coach

You absolutely need a financial coach if you’re considering bankruptcy. The problem here is that a lot of possible bankruptcy filers don’t think about the long-term effects bankruptcy will have on them. A good financial coach will help you see both the short-term and long-term effects of bankruptcy.

Situation: Your spouse has a gambling problem.
Need: Marriage Counselor

At first, you may think this would call for a financial counselor because it’s an issue about money. But it’s also an addiction, and that’s a much bigger problem. In that case, let’s get the gambling problem sorted out first, then we can take a bigger look at the financial problems it caused.

Situation: You’re getting married next month.
Need: Marriage Counselor AND Financial Coach

Everyone says that you need a marriage counselor before you get married—just to prepare for life together and better appreciate your similarities and differences. And that’s absolutely true. But you also need a financial coach. So many marital problems start with money. In fact, the number one cause of divorce in America is money fights and money problems. With a financial coach, you’ll be able to dig much deeper into potential money pitfalls that might pop up later on in your marriage.

Situation: Your spouse is a “hider.”
Need: Financial Coach

What exactly is a hider? This is someone that hides smaller purchases or even cash. There’s a trust issue here. But if it hasn’t reached the point of “financial infidelity,” then we’d advise you to go with a financial coach first. If there’s a bigger issue involved in the hiding, then your coach might recommend you to a marriage counselor.

Situation: You’re both broke and you need money.
Need: Financial Coach

If you’ve got too much month left at the end of the money, then you’re in need of a financial coach. This is a basic issue that a good financial coach would be glad to sit down with you and figure out. You’ll likely start by making a strong budget and looking out for ways to make more income.

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

23rd Annual Best of Missouri Market


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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


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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.


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


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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.


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


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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


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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


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

VENUE: Forest Park

CATEGORY: Annual Events

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


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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.


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*


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