Friday, November 22, 2013

Renting Versus Buying


Many of us are in love with the dream of homeownership but should you really buy, or is it smarter to rent? Although there are always factors out of our control which can make home ownership risky (like major repairs, a down housing market).. there is a calculator by bankrate that allows you to determine at what point its smarter to buy than to rent.

The option to buy or rent is highly personal though, so lets look at the pros and cons of each.

1) Landlord usually does maintenance
2) Ability to move more freely (even if you have a lease many landlords will let you terminate early)
3) Less risky
4) Less upfront costs

1) Build equity ( you are no longer "throwing money away on rent" )
2) Customization
3) Tax breaks
4) Roots
5) Security- rent isn't going to increase!
6) Your own Rules
7) No Pet Fee's, Pet Rent, or Pet Restrictions

If you have read my other blog entries you know that I can't wait to buy! I know there is some risk especially since we may be moving in two years... but I have found a couple houses that I believe would be good to buy even if we did move because A. the price is great B. they are in a good location and C its hard finding a place that will accept our dog. Using the bankrate calculator I determined it was much cheaper to buy then to rent, in fact it would be a better move financially for us in less than 10 months! Many cities its cheaper to buy than to rent, what prevents people is being able to get together money for a downpayment.

What is your opinion? Did I miss any pro's or con's? I left neighbors out because you can get crappy ones no matter where you live, I know from personal experience but I also have good ones!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

NON GMO Fruit and Vegetable Juice


I found this great product at my local grocer: R.W. Knudsen Juice.I got three different flavors of the juice, it is labeled "Nature's Peak" and I got the tropical veggie blend, berry veggie blend, and orchard veggie blend. These juices are half a serving of fruits and half a serving of veggies.

I went on to the R.W Knudsen website and they state they have more than 125 different natural and organic juices, fruit beverages, and specialty items. The products are all made without preservatives, additional sugars, or artificial flavors.

The best things about this juice? Organic AND part of the NON GMO PRODUCT! You read that right! No GMO's! It is also 100% juice. Oh, and I got it on clearance for just .49 rather than the regular $3.99!

I have bought all the juices and just finished the tropical veggie blend. I am not a huge fan of juices in general, there is only one maybe two juices I have tried that I have really liked. This juice was okay, but not necessarily my favorite. My favorite juice has to be a raspberry cranberry blend. This juice contains pineapple, carrot, mango puree, sweet potato, and banana puree.

Tent City USA


Many of you are wondering about the title right now. Tent City is a documentary on Netflix about well Tent City, a community of homeless that was created in Nashville, TN. I would recommend to everyone to watch the documentary. We have so many homeless in our community and to me this is the answer!

  • Tent City was a purposeful community
  • The residence of tent city helped each other
  • The community was safe
  • There was little to no crime
  • There were rules to live in the community e.g. no drugs and no fighting
  • The homeless were banding together trying to build a better future
Ultimately I can't imagine being homeless. How scared would you be? Sleeping on the streets, and in tents? Communities of homeless like this would actually serve to protect the homeless and help them. Community is a great thing, and really we don't NEED money. Look at Amish communities, they are largely self sufficient. If our homeless got together and formed communities they could also become more sufficient. Rather than have a homeless epidemic we could give them land to form a community like Tent City and allow them to build structures, grow vegetables and fruit, and do their part to improve their situation! 

Homeless people aren't wanted. It's sad but its true, watch the documentary. The town of Antioch including a PREACHER all protested their very being there! Can you imagine a whole town protesting you simply being there? Giving the homeless a place where they can feel safe and build a community is a great answer!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Conscious Box Review


Well my conscious box finally arrived today, and if you don't know what that is you can refer back to my earlier blog post which includes a free coupon code for it. The box is smaller than I expected but done really cute, a box inside a box then tissue paper over the product (as shown below).

Obviously for a box that size your not getting a lot. I had read that mostly you would get samples then you would get one or two normal size products. I didn't get any normal size products. What came in Novembers box was

  • IMG_9089.jpg
  • Relax-All sample (2 pills inside)
  • Herbal M Zap (2)
  • Reboot sample (drink to combat oxidative stress)
  • MRM Veggie Protein diet supplement bar
  • Raw Milk Cow Cheese sample
  • Smarty Pants sample (6 gummies= 2 days)
  • Sunology natural sunscreen sample
  • Goddes Garden Organics SPF lotion sample
  • Better Botanicals Apricot Eye Therapy Sample
  • Mighty Leaf Organic Tea (3 pouches different flavors)
  • Wholesome Sweetners (various packets probable 10+) 
Ultimately I'm not impressed with the selection because I was hoping for more products than foods and supplements. I am not super brave with my food choices, I will try new foods but I prefer to introduce new foods slower, as in not 8 new flavors in two days. 

I also don't find this to be cost effective for me. The items provided in the box are not items I would regularly purchase if at all. The point of the box is to introduce you to new products that are environmentally friendly, however I paid around $8 in shipping and the only items in the box I could see myself purchasing are the wholesome sweeteners and sunscreen. I also think most of these samples could have been obtained free and different health or eco stores. 

Bottom line, if I think I paid to much and I just covered shipping with my free coupon code I can't recommend you SUBSCRIBE to this service. 

If you have tried this or another subscriber service I would love to know your thoughts. I will also try to review some of the products from the box.

House Hunting, Obsessed with home ownership


The Great American Dream, homeownership complete with a perfectly manicured green lawn and a white picket fence. This picture was found using google search, and it represents a generic American Dream Home. As individuals we each have different criteria for our dream home, while the picture above is nice and makes me think of happy leave it to beaver families it isn't my dream home... trust me I have given it a lot of thought.

I have been obsessed with owning a home since I was around sixteen. My goal is to have a house bought and paid for by time I am 30, 33 at the latest. I know, I know, many of you are shaking your heads right now and thinking yeah, good luck. First of all, thanks for wishing me good luck, and second let me explain my motivations for homeownership.

  1. My Background- growing up I had little stability. We moved almost every year, sometimes multiple times a year; as such, my parents were always changing jobs and we had little financial security. Although our bills were always paid I was always told we didn't have money so I couldn't do sports couldn't have this or that, so from a young age I worried about money and security. As an adult the need for a security net has intensified as I contemplate motherhood.
  2. Financial Security- our biggest monthly expense is housing. While buying a house isn't always the best idea I can find houses in my area where the mortgage is significantly lower than my monthly rent, I did the math and the monthly mortgage, taxes, pmi, homeowners insurance, and additional cost for utilities together should equal roughly our current monthly rent. For us there are houses available for what we are paying in rent. When you buy your own house your building equity and eventually you will own the house meaning no more mortgage payments and no more PMI (this should disappear when your equity goes to 20%). 
  3. Freedom- Homeownership gives you both more and less freedom if that makes sense.
  •  I am a little bit of a free spirit, having grown up moving everytime something got tough for my father. I don't mind moving, as long as I'm moving towards something a good job opportunity for example. Being a homeowner makes moving a lot harder because you have to sell the house before moving, rent it out, or continue paying the mortgage payments which isn't always feasible.
  • Being a tenant is a little bit like living with your parents, except now your paying for the privilege of living there. Being a tenant you still have to follow someone else's rules, no painting, pet limitations, in some cases visitor/tenant limitations. Being a homeowner gives you much more freedom. You can add an addition, remodel, refinish those hideous cabinets, paint the walls, there are much less restrictions!
  • Homeownership also provides a degree of financial freedom, you know your mortgage payment will never go up unless you refi, or have an arm, whereas rent often increases yearly. Once you have paid 20% of your home value you drop your PMI lowering your monthly payments and giving you more money, and once your mortgage is paid off you don't have monthly housing payments. Renting you never cease having to pay monthly!
     4. Family- My husband and I want a home to start a family in. We also want to start a family, near our              family so our children get the benefit of extended family growing up (something I didn't). Honestly this           isn't my favorite state/area but for the sake of a child and being close to family we would make it work           here for a while.

I have been looking at buying a house for at least a year and a half, in all fairness my husband and I probably had more income then since we were both working. Now that I'm in college I don't work all the time, and although we have been making it work and had extra money for savings I'm wondering what our finances will be like when he gets home (he has been at basic and technical training for the military). My husband is guard, meaning he isn't guaranteed a full time position. If he doesn't get the position we are hoping for then it is back to his old job (for the time being), which is a pay cut. 

Looking at houses off and on for that long makes me somewhat obsessed, especially if you knew how much research I have done about the process and how much time I have spent looking at houses, loan programs, first time home buying programs, loan rates, closing cost information, potential commute times, mortgage costs, etc. The crazy thing is we haven't gotten preapproved and we aren't even sure we will be buying here. Having a good secure career is more important with regards to family planning then being close to family. 

Ultimately, being a planner type personality it makes sense that I am obsessed with buying a home. I am a simple girl, I married young because all I really want in life is love, family, and security. I don't need the best of everything, I shop smart, and I don't want for a lot. I don't need a lot of material things. I don't need to keep up with the Joneses. My motivations behind wanting to be a home owner are transparent. 

Ultimately I will keep watching property virgins, house hunters, and other hgtv shows. I will keep looking at houses for sale in our potential markets and bookmarking ones that might work for us. We will keep saving up our downpayment.

Anyone else obsessed with homeownership? Comment below =)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What is your dog worth?


IMG_0559.jpgWhat is he worth? He is half wolf, so that raises the value correct? What about his coloring though? What about his size?

I always find it appalling how we place value on animals. What makes one animal worth more than another? It isn't training, or some special attribute or skill, it is almost always looks or size! Teacups are worth a lot because they are so small, purebreeds are worth a lot because they are "pure".

Is how we value animals not how we once placed value upon people? By looks? Black dogs are put down more than any other color, simply for their looks. African Americans similarly were discriminated against for their appearance. Are we so shallow to discriminate against animals based on appearance?

I think its sad when I look at animal classifieds and see what people think animals are worth. I think animals should be worth the same amount universally, unless they come with training and then I can understand paying extra for the training. In some ways its sad that animals have a value at all, they are alive and we feel the right to own them!

Shadow and Nina aren't our property, they are our companions. Our dogs are part of our family, yes I discipline and train them but I also spoil them and they are happy. I don't see how people view them as disposable, and I don't see how people can assign arbitrary values based on shallow characteristics.

Shadow is over a year old. Shadow is half wolf. Shadow chews on my lipgloss tubes, eats my candy bars wrapper and all, eats my underwear especially the expensive ones I have only gotten to wear once, will take things out of the trash, STILL has accidents inside, and has ruined 5 blinds. Shadow also jumps the fence if I don't take him out on a leash in the FENCED in yard, and will pull really hard if we don't use a prong collar when walking him. Shadow has severe seperation anxiety and destroyed an entire bathroom ripping up the flooring and scratching up the doorframe. He used to bark non stop when we left, and even a bark collar didn't deter him. Shadow has ripped up carpet around the door within the last six months. Shadow has an allergic reaction to cheaper foods (which we wouldn't have been giving him anyway if we realized how bad it was, we didn't know not to buy ANY brands available in a regular grocery store), so we have to buy him more expensive foods.

With all of his problems do you know what? Shadow is also a very loyal loving dog, he would hurt a fly and a spider but he has NEVER displayed any aggression towards a person or another animal. He loves to play and he thinks he is a lap dog. He forgives us for losing our patience with him (you would lose your patience too!), and he loves sharing your food. Shadow does tricks for a good boy, no treats needed!

Shadow is worth every penny we spend on him every month. I can't imagine trying to sell him, or breed him. Any loyal loving dog like him is priceless! How can you put a value on such a pure innocent forgiving loving animal?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tiny House Movement


The tiny house movement, as many blogs and articles as I have read on the subject none of them seem to define the movement... while its quiet obvious it is a shift towards smaller houses the reasons for the movement have been vast. I was actually inspired by the movement. I think its amazing that people live in such small places, but the design and organization of the small houses are so good that in many cases they don't seem as small.

I actually discovered the tiny house movement by accident. I was reading a local paper that offered "cabins" for really cheap. These cabins were of course storage buildings rather than meant for habitation but I sent my mom a picture as a joke seeing as how she has always wanted to own and live in a cabin. I began to wonder if it would be possible to turn the cabin into an actual house, I had seen small efficiency apartments and tiny dwellings online in stories, I hadn't heard about the movement yet... when I started googling to see if it was actually a possibility I came across the movement.

I have to say I am shocked. People who participate in the tiny house movements are really creative, many of them have built their own tiny houses themselves, they find ways around local government red tape known as permits and building codes, they figure out ways of fitting everything in small spaces and making it work for them and their family, and many came up with creative solutions for their toilets, and appliances as well.

Since I was a little girl I have always thought I would buy a bigger or at least modest size house, although I'm not sold on the tiny house movement because I will be starting a family in the next few years I can't say I'm completely opposed to it either. My mom currently has over 1,000 sq ft trailer house and its just her. She also has a shed. Why does one person need so much space? In America we all seem to think we need big houses and I'm wondering if this movement isn't a step towards a better, more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Well its easier for us to think less space might be great for others but we need more I encourage you to consider the possibilities. How much room in your current house are you utilizing? How much wasted space is there? How much junk do you have that you truly don't need or use?

There are many arguments I have read in favor of smaller houses:

  • Easier to clean
  • Cheaper to maintain
  • Cheaper on utilities
  • Closer family
  • Cheaper to buy
  • More Relaxing
  • Helps you figure out whats important
  • Frees up money for vacations, etc
  • You accumulate less clutter
  • You buy less
  • No or few unwanted guests
  • Self sufficiency
  • Financial Freedom
  • Forces you to be organized
  • Environmentally Friendlier
What do you think? Would you ever live in a small house? How small is too small?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Clinical Works Mineral Bath Soak Eucalyptus Mint


I rarely take baths. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't bathe, I'm just more of a shower girl. When I do take baths I like something extra, whether its bubble bath, candles, bath bombs, or bath soaks. In my current rented bathroom the options are limited. I don't have the beautiful garden tub I'd like... in fact my tub is part of my shower which isn't my ideal bathroom layout at all! Having a mixed shower/tub pretty much nixed candles, which leaves the other options. 

While the dollar store isn't my favorite store I can't complain about the price of just about anything in there, yes something aren't worth a dollar... but those things probably aren't worth buying at all. One thing I found in there that is more than worth a dollar were these Clinical Works Bath Soaks. I personally have tried and am out of the Body Relaxing Eucalyptus Mint. I use 1/3 to 1/4 the container every bath. 

The Clinical Works is 98% naturally derived. While that is the only eco statement I can make I would bet its still better than several other options on the market. The container is also both reusable and recyclable. I personally loved the scent and found it relaxing and aesthetically I like the look of the container and especially the product. Obviously the price is a highlight too at only $1 per container.

I decided to review this when recycling the container because until I find a better environmentally friendlier alternative this will be the only bath salts in my house. Can't argue with the price or results, especially since it makes my skin smoother after a bath =) I also think its a great stocking stuffer for Christmas, especially when put in more decorative glass containers.

Concious Box - FREE COUPON CODE!


Your probably wondering why I titled this blog post Concious Box, unless of course you already know what it is or did a quick google search before deciding to read this post (or found it using a google search =) ). Concious Box is a subscription service that sends its subscribers samples of various environmentally friendly products, that are non toxic, BPA and GMO free, and there is a vegan and gluten free box option!

This is post one of two because this post is just to introduce and explain the conscious box while my next post on the subject matter will be a review (once I receive my box). I have never really heard much of a grab box type subscription but apparently its a thing. With a quick google search I came across many subscription sites that offer to send monthly boxes containing surprise items following a certain theme. Barkbox for example sends out dog products monthly for a $29 a month subscription fee.

When considering purchasing a product I like to first read the reviews. On Conscious box they seem to be stacked from most favorable to least... not kidding! I found a few bad reviews... at the VERY bottom of the page. The main complaint is the products included in the conscious box are samples you could get for FREE at healthier food/ organic stores. Another complaint was that so many of the items were "sample" size and they didn't feel that sample was enough to determine the value of the product or if it worked well. There were also many glowing reviews praising the fact they are able to find and try quality products through this subscription service.

As promised in the title I do have a free coupon code for you, which is the reason I'm trying it. On my personal facebook I have liked a few different eco friendly pages and one shared this coupon code with me and I'm now passing it on. The code is simply onefree or follow this link and its already inputted for you.

If you try it I hope you like it but I'm not making any promises because I haven't tried it yet. I have no idea if its a good buy or not, but with the coupon its only $8 for shipping to try. There should be between 10-20 products in the box and I read it will be mostly samples with a couple full sized products and some coupons. Fingers crossed its a great service and if you have tried it or another similar service comment below and let me know!