Tips for Saving for a Down Payment to Buy a New Home

Tips for Saving for a Down Payment 2Saving money is not always easy. And when you’re trying to save money for a down payment, the task may feel more difficult. But it doesn’t have to be! While buying a home requires a healthy amount of savings, it’s possible with some planning and focus.

Before you begin

Saving for a down payment can feel overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to know how much you need before you start saving, By knowing what your goal amount is, you’ll be able to create a savings plan that works for you. While most lenders look for a 20% down payment, you may be eligible for a lower down payment depending on your loan. Check with your lender for more details.

Now that you’ve determined your target down payment amount, let’s talk about some ways you can start saving for a down payment.

Set up automatic transfers

Use automation to your advantage! Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to a dedicated savings account for your down payment. This is the most popular and convenient way to save. Your bank will automatically transfer the funds at the frequency you set without additional work from you. There are several savings apps you can use to create automatic savings as well, like Digit or Acorns.

Wondering why should you set up a separate savings account from your current one? Easy: out of sight, out of mind. Using a separate savings account dedicated to your down payment will keep you from spending your earmarked cash. Another benefit: you can earn a bit of interest as you’re saving so find a bank offering a high interest rate on savings accounts.

Pay off other debt

Paying off other debt (credit card, personal, car or student loans, etc.) will mean you have more money available each month to save towards your down payment. Do whatever you can do to reduce your current debt so you can dedicate more resources to your down payment.

Lower your expenses

Take a look at your expenses and figure out what you can reduce or get rid of. Maybe instead of paying for cable, you can switch to a streaming service. Be careful here; choose one or two streaming services to use, otherwise you run the risk of having a bill that matches your cable bill.

Make lunch or coffee at home

The daily coffee or lunch habit can be costing you a lot.  You don’t have to skip these treats entirely! Maybe instead of eating out every day, consider bringing a lunch three or four days out of the week and eating out once or twice. Likewise, if you have a multiple cup a day coffee habit, try making your morning cup at home and treating yourself to a coffee out in the afternoon. Deposit the money you would have spent into your down payment savings account.

Shop smarter

Use some smart shopping strategies to help cut your grocery expenses. Avoid shopping on an empty stomach to keep impulse purchases to a minimum. Create and stick to your shopping list. Buy non-perishable items in bulk (just items you already use and love!). Choose the store brand instead of the national brands, and look for sales and coupons for items you use regularly.

Unsubscribe to mailing lists

Remove the temptation to shop by unsubscribing to marketing emails. These emails are designed to encourage you spend money with sales and special offers.

Sell stuff you don’t need or use

Chances are you have plenty of things in your home that aren’t being used. Instead of letting them take up space, put them to good use by selling them. You can use online marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, Ebay or even Craigslist. Or you can host a yard sale. Bonus points: you’ll end up with less to pack up when it’s time to move!

Get a side hustle

Pick up a side job and dedicate every penny you earn towards your down payment fund. Depending on your skills, you can start doing freelance work or join the gig economy by driving for a car service, walking dogs, pet sitting, babysitting, or even tutoring.

Don’t look at saving for a down payment for your dream home as an impossible hurdle. By breaking it down into smaller, more manageable goals, you’ll feel like saving is achievable. You’ll be able to see the progress you’ve made and stay motivated to continue. If you’re serious about buying a new home, it’ll be worth temporarily passing up on expenses to fund this important goal.

Hayden Homes is here to help when you’re ready to buy a new home. We build new single-family homes in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington for every stage of life. Visit us on our website to learn more about our homes and new home communities. We’re looking forward to welcoming you into your new home.

How to Naturally Freshen Your Home

How to Naturally Freshen Your HomeAfter being in your home for an extended period of time, it may need a bit of a “pick-me-up.” Instead of lighting another scented candle or spraying an air freshener, try some of these all-natural alternatives to keep your home smelling clean and fresh.

Open the windows

Opening the windows and doors allows fresh air to circulate through your home, whisking away stale air and lingering smells. Have you ever gone for a hike or into the countryside and felt like you could breathe easier? That’s the power of fresh air! Clearing out offending odors is always the best course of action instead of covering them with an air freshener. Leaving your windows open for at least ten minutes a day is a good start.

Use baking soda

Baking soda is a great, non-toxic air freshener without leaving a scent. You may already have an open box in your refrigerator and freezer. Consider placing boxes in cabinets, closets, and even at the bottom of the litter box. You can also sprinkle baking soda in the trash can or on any carpeted area or rug as a deodorant. Simply let the baking soda sit on the carpet for at least 20 minutes before vacuuming.

Deodorize with vinegar

Just like baking soda, vinegar is another natural deodorizer. Placing a bowl of vinegar in a room can clear up even the most stubborn of odors. You can also vinegar to neutralize odors in the air or on fabric by mixing three parts white vinegar with one part water in a spray bottle. Don’t worry about the pungent smell. It will naturally dissipate as it dries but if you don’t want to wait, you can create a citrus-infused vinegar cleaner that smells nicer.

Fill your home with plants

Not only will houseplants liven up your home, they can help clean the air. Don’t worry: you don’t need to turn your home into a jungle; a modest collection of plants can still bring health-boosting benefits. Try plants like palms, Boston ferns, snake plants, or spider plants. If you have pets, be sure to choose plants that are non-toxic to them.

Simmer herbs or fruit on the stove

Simmer some water with citrus slices, spices like star of anise or cinnamon, or herbs like lavender or mint to easily fill your home with a homemade potpourri.

Nothing beats a fresh smelling home. These simple, all-natural air fresheners will make your home smell great. If your house could use some freshening up, try one of these ideas!

Hayden Homes has beautiful new homes for sale in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. We’re here to help you find your dream home, whether you’re buying your first or upgrading your current home. Reach out to us today!

Myths and Truths of Buying New Construction

There tends to be a lot of myths surrounding real estate, especially about new construction homes. You may have heard some of these misconceptions, like new construction homes are more expensive, but you would be surprised to learn the truth. We’re here to set the record straight about some of the prevailing myths about buying a new construction home so you can make the right decision at any stage in life.

Myth: New construction homes are more expensive

The most common myth is that new construction homes are more expensive than resale homes. While new construction homes can be more expensive, you’re getting much more for your money when you buy new. Advances in building processes and materials have made it more cost-effective to build a new home. They’re also built with modern designs and layouts, saving you from expensive and time-consuming remodeling projects. They’re also more energy efficient than most resale homes, saving you money on utilities.

Not only that, but when you buy a new home, EVERYTHING is new: appliances, heating and cooling systems, plumbing, flooring, roofing, and more. You won’t need to worry about replacing anything for several years. In addition, you may find the cost of living is slightly lower, new construction is built with energy efficient construction practices and energy efficient appliances. Plus, with our home builder warranty, it’ll be years before you have to worry about making repairs. In short, you’ll be able to walk into a home that’s completely ready for your family and built to last a lifetime.

Myth: You need a construction loan to buy a new construction home

Guess what: you don’t need a construction loan to buy a new construction home! You can finance a new construction home with the same loans you’d use to buy a resale home including conventional loans, FHA loans, and even VA loans. Most builders partner with preferred lenders to simplify the financing process and offer you appealing rates and terms.

Myth: You have to pay more for land

Unless you’re building on your own lot, you don’t have to pay more for land when you buy a new construction home. Aside from lot premiums on select homesites, land is included in the final price of every Hayden home (please see a community sales representative for details).

Myth: Building a new home is stressful

Building a new home is an exciting process! Many people enjoy watching their dream home come to life over the course of a build. At Hayden Homes, we have Community Managers who will manage the entire process for you and will provide you with weekly updates to keep you updated every step of the way.

Myth: There are too many decisions to make

For some homebuyers, choosing paint colors, materials, and finishes are the best part of buying a new construction home. But if you’re overwhelmed by the idea of choosing everything, we have you covered. We have simplified the design process to make it fun and straightforward. With our easy to use color packages, that were hand selected by a professional designer, it’s easier than ever. We can help you choose the right selections for your home and budget.

Myth: New construction takes too long

Some buyers are worried that building a home from the ground up takes a long time. Why wait months to move into a home when you can buy a resale home that’s already built? Well, if you need to make any renovations before moving in, you could still be waiting for that work to finish or live in a construction zone.

Experienced builders are able to quickly and efficiently build new homes while adhering to high quality standards. Also, we have a variety of inventory homes that are ready for buyers who may need to move within a certain timeframe so you can select from homes that are complete and ready for move in and others that are in the process of being completed. View the list of available homes throughout the Pacific Northwest today!

Buy new construction homes in the Pacific Northwest

New construction homes are a good option for homeowners. Knowing the facts behind these common myths will allow you to make an informed home buying decision. Have any more questions? Our community sales representatives are available to help!

At Hayden Homes, we have new construction homes available for sale in the Northwest, including Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. We have beautiful homes that are perfect for every stage in life. Contact us when you’re ready to buy a new home. We can’t wait to help you find your dream home.

Tips for Decorating Your Home’s Window Boxes

Tips for decorating window boxesWindow boxes are a charming way to add some visual appeal to the front of your home. They put a finishing touch on your windows and can brighten up your home with seasonal blooms and greenery. If you’re looking for new ideas to spruce up the front of your home, try window boxes!

Here are some tips for setting up window boxes and some fun ideas to try.

Choose the right plants

Before you gather your supplies, you must take a look at where you’ll be setting up your window boxes. Take note of how much sunlight your proposed locations receive throughout the day. Knowing your sun exposure will guide the type of plants you should plant.

Also take your climate into account. While window box inspiration photos abound on the internet, not every flower or plant will work in your area. Check your local nurseries and plant shops for flowers and greenery that will thrive in your area.

Prepare your planter

Once you’ve selected your planter and plants, there are a few more things to do before There are a few things your chosen planter should have: proper drainage and, if your box is made of wood, a moisture barrier.

Proper drainage is key to a healthy, happy plants. Make sure your planter has drainage holes so water can run through and not leave the soil extra wet, which can be harmful to your plants. In addition to drainage holes, you’ll want to add a layer or pea gravel or pebbles to provide an additional layer of drainage. It’s a good idea to line a wooden planter box with plastic to minimize wood rot from the wet soil.

Take care of your plants

Starting with a high-quality potting mix sets your plants up with the foundation they need to thrive. Find a potting mix containing peat, perlite, and other ingredients that improve drainage, aeration, fertility, and water retention. Mix in some fertilizer for some added nutrition.

Window boxes tend to dry out quickly because there is little soil so installing a drip-irrigation system to make sure your plants are properly watered.

Window box ideas to inspire you

Now that you know how to set up your window boxes, here are a few fun ideas to inspire you as you plan your own!

  • Galvanized herb garden: create an edible mini garden by filling a galvanized tub with fresh herbs like parsley, basil, or mint .
  • Table window box: If you’d prefer to not mount your window box to your home, you can try placing a window box on a folding table.
  • Window shelf: with a few shelf brackets, you can create your own shelf to place flower pots on, giving you endless options to easily update and maintain your plants.
  • Indoor window box: window boxes aren’t just for the outside of the house!

Window boxes can easily and quickly transform the look of your home all year long. If you’re thinking about buying a home in the Northwest, we have brand new homes for sale in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho you’re sure to love.

5 Ways to Give throughout Oregon, Washington, and Idaho

During these unprecedented times, there is a lot of need in and around our communities. As we are all seeking ways to give and help out, we wanted to provide a list of 5 Ways To Give in each of the regions in which we build. We hope you find this list helpful and we encourage you to find ways to help neighbors and organizations in need, as we are stronger together.

5 Ways to Give in the Inland Northwest

5 Ways to Give in South Washington

  • Buy Local with restaurants in the Tri Cities, Yakima, Moses Lake and Walla Walla 
  • Make to Give: https://www.joann.com/make-to-give-response/ and highlighting the local hospitals and first responder locations for drop off
  • Trios Health Care – Trios Well Wishes: bit.ly/2V9bFPA
  • Mustang Signs – Our local sign company, Mustang Signs is making face protection masks to help our local first responders (fire departments, hospitals, and police departments). $1 from every face mask purchased, will go to 2nd Harvest Food Bank. If you’d like to purchase one to donate to first responders, please email them at: info@mustangsigns.com.
  • Second Harvest Food Bank – 2nd Harvest’s partner food pantries have seen a 30% – 50% increase in visits for food assistance over the last three weeks, a number that is expected to grow as the situation escalates. Donations during this crisis will help us to prepare for more people facing food insecurity as the situation changes and escalates. Every $1 donated to Second Harvest provides food for 5 meals for hungry families.

5 Ways to Give in Central Oregon

5 Ways to Give in the Willamette Valley

  • Benton County Recovers – The Benton County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has launched Benton County Recovers, a new website dedicated to coordinating donations and volunteers for the COVID-19 pandemic response in Benton County.
  • Albany Helping Hands –  Covid-19 is impacting the homeless in your community. The homeless have a higher risk of illness, and many are over the age of 60! Your emergency gift is needed to help reach those most in need in our community. The budget does not have funds available for this unexpected demand on services for those in need. Covid-19 has required us to cancel fundraising events that normally provide the bulk of our funds! Please make your urgent gift today. Your gift will provide emergency housing for those living on the street. It’s so cold at night. No one should have to experience a night without some form of shelter.
    • An increased demand for services is anticipated as the impact of the virus drains families and seniors of already slim financial resources. https://www.albanyhelpinghands.com/
  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Emeralds have teamed up with local businesses to help make masks for our local health care providers. They are helping with delivery and pick up face mask kits along with driving all over Eugene and Springfield to get supplies to you and pick up completed masks. If you are willing and able to help please email Anne at anne@emeraldsbaseball.com, so she can coordinate pick up/drop off with you. The Emeralds will also provide instructions and a PowerPoint presentation with photos showing the steps. Once you are done with your face masks let Anne know and she will coordinate a pick time and deliver them to where they need to go!
  • The Seamsters – An open Facebook group that is making face masks for health care workers in Eugene-Springfield. This group provides instructions and support for people to make 100% cotton face masks to be used by health care workers. Masks are being donated to McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center and several other local agencies who need them.
  • First Place Kids Is looking for volunteers to help provide kids activities for families staying at SVDP’s Annex Night Shelter. Activities will take place Monday-Friday between 9am-4pm for the duration of school closures. Volunteers need to be socially responsible with the spread of the virus, and isolate themselves between their homes and volunteering at Annex Night Shelter.

5 Ways to Give in Southern Oregon

  • The Rogue Valley Family YMCA is offering Emergency Child Care. For information and locations contact Bethany Pitts at 541-772-6295 x114 or bpitts@rvymca.org
  • Covid-19 PPE DONATION HUB – Grants Pass, OR – We are providing homemade masks and other PPE to all with a focus on first responders and medical personal. We accept donations of cotton fabric, HEPA air filters, foam, rubber bands, heavy-duty double-sided tape, transparency film (for projectors), 1/4″ and 1″ elastic, and bias tape.
  • COVID-19 Recovery FundUnited Way of Jackson County is committed to standing with our community and supporting those impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Together, we will overcome this pandemic by making sure the most vulnerable among us are protected. We have established a fund to provide financial support to Jackson County nonprofits for their extra-ordinary expenses related to Covid-19 through mini grants to local nonprofits with emergency expenses. Mini grants for individuals up to $350 and for organizational expenses up to $1,000 will be considered. 100% of the funds donated will go to this important cause.
  • Adopt a Neighbor AshlandAdopt A Neighbor Ashland is linking volunteers with neighbors for safe shopping help – Adopt A Neighbor Ashland is a new services available to Ashland residents. Created by community leaders and in partnership with the City of Ashland, Adopt A Neighbor connects Ashland volunteers with their at-risk neighbors who need help with shopping or errands. Sign up at www.adoptneighbor.org to give or receive help.
  • RogueValley.recovers.org – Website collector for individuals and organizations with interest in volunteering, making donations and to register non-medical, non-first-responder needs that aren’t being met. https://roguevalley.recovers.org/

5 Ways to Give in South Idaho

Got Kids? Top Tips for Working from Home with Them

Mom working with daughter next to herIn light of recent events, many employers have shifted to full time remote work for the first time.  Working from home can present its own set of challenges, especially when you have kids you need to take care of during the day.

The thought of juggling childcare and your workload can be scary and overwhelming so we’re here to help offer some tips. First: don’t panic. You can do this!

Here are some more tips so you can still be productive while working at home with your kids.

Have realistic expectations

Let’s be real: you’re not going to be as productive as you were in the office or if your kids weren’t home, especially if you have younger kids. Thankfully you aren’t the only one experiencing this. Let your team know you’re doing the best can and be open about any possible bottlenecks in case your kids need a little extra attention that day. Take a look at your pending tasks and decide which you can reasonably take on that day and which can be pushed out a few days.

Talk with your kids about what you expect them to do during the day, when it’s okay to interrupt you, and when it’s not. If you kids have schoolwork, talk about what assignments they should work on that day (more on this later).

By discussing expectations with your family and team, you’ll set yourself up for success.

Create a plan for the day (but be flexible)

Having a schedule in place is important. It provides structure and makes everyone feel comfortable knowing what to expect. You don’t have to create a detailed schedule with each hour of the day accounted for, but setting aside blocks of time for certain activities is enough. Some schools are continuing to teach remotely so that could occupy your kids for part of the day.  Make sure you schedule some outdoor time in the backyard for yourself and kids. It’ll give them some time to blow off some steam and get outside the house.

Get creative with your work schedule

If there is another adult at home, consider a split schedule, with one parent taking on primary childcare duties for part of the day while the other works and then switching. If that isn’t possible, see if you can get creative with your working schedule, either working earlier in the morning and then again in the evening when your kids are asleep.

Take care of your most important tasks in the morning while your kids are still in a good mood and have plenty of activities to do. You can save lower priority tasks for later in the day when attention spans are shorter.

Take advantage of naptime

Naptime is parenting gold! If your kids still take naps, use that block of time to take care of tasks that need your full attention.  If your kids are too old for naps, have quiet time where they can read or play quietly in their room.

Use what works

The goal here is to use what works for your family. If letting your kids watch tv or play games on a tablet means you can be on a conference call, then do it! As long as it works and your kids are safe, it’s fine. Don’t feel guilty about doing what it takes so you’re able to get some work done.

Be kind to your kids and yourself

Even in the best of times we’re not perfect. This is an anxious time for many of us so remember to extend extra grace to yourself and kids. Things are strange so don’t give yourself a hard time for being a little bit more lenient with your kids just to make it through the day. You’re doing your best and you’re doing a great job.

While working at home with kids is a new experience for many families, it’s possible to juggle childcare and work. With a bit of planning, communication, and a lot of compassion and understanding, you’ll feel a lot better about working with your kids at home. We hope you and your family are staying healthy during this time.

How to be a Good Neighbor

Every neighborhood has its own personality. Some feel like a large extended family, coming together to host street parties while other neighborhoods are filled with people who keep to themselves. Regardless of your neighborhood’s personality, if you want to live in a good neighborhood, you have to be a good neighbor. Here are some ways you can be a good neighbor and encourage others to do the same.

Introduce Yourself

Nothing is more welcoming than introducing yourself to your neighbors. For families new to the neighborhood, allow for some time after they move in to introduce yourself if they haven’t already. This is a great opportunity to officially welcome them to the neighborhood and start to get to know each other.

Have you’ve been living in your home for a while and still haven’t met your neighbors? Don’t let the awkwardness stop you from introducing yourself! It’s worth pushing past the discomfort and break the ice.

Keep Up Your Curb Appeal

An unkempt yard can reduce property values for the entire neighborhood. Don’t let your house become the “ugly one” on the street with an overgrown lawn, peeling paint or broken windows, or toys scattered in the front yard! Do your part by keeping your yard and home’s exterior neat and tidy. If you’re unable to mow the lawn or maintain the exterior of your home, hire a lawn service or a neighborhood kid to help.

Host Respectfully

A good host is a respectful host, not only to your guests but also to those who live nearby. Keeping music and noise to a reasonable level is basic common sense, especially if your party stretches into the evening. Something that’s often overlooked is parking! Make sure your guests don’t block a neighbor’s driveway and let them know where they can park. Giving your neighbors a heads up before a party never hurts. They’ll appreciate knowing what to expect! If you’re having a large party, consider extending an invitation to your neighbors so they can join the fun.

Be Pet-Friendly

Pets are a great way to meet new people, but they’re also a great way to alienate others! Be a responsible pet owner by taking care of your pets. Make sure they remain secure in your home or yard, clean up after them, and be mindful of any barking or other noise. Remember, not everyone is an animal lover so be mindful when coming in contact with other people.

Our neighborhoods impact how we feel about our homes. When people make the effort of being neighborly, you’ll start to feel more connected to your community and enjoy your home more. Remember the golden rule still applies!

If a new home is on your wish-list this year, Hayden Homes can help! We have new homes for sale throughout Washington, Idaho, Oregon. We’re looking forward to helping you find your dream home!

Tips for Buying a Pet-Friendly Home

Girl petting her dog in front of their new homeFor many of us, our four-legged pets are part of the family. There’s no denying they often hold a special place in our hearts! Just like you consider the needs of each of your family members, it’s important to think about what your pets will need in a new home as well. Here are a few tips to make sure your new home is not only people-friendly, but also pet-friendly!

Consider Your Pet’s Needs

When thinking about the features you need in your next home, don’t forget about your pets! Be sure to consider your needs now and in the future.

  • Flooring. Look for a home that is built with durable flooring. Most homeowners opt for engineered hardwood, tile, or laminate flooring instead of carpet since they are easier to clean and keep cooler during warmer days.
  • Layout. Consider the home’s layout while touring. Make sure your pets will be able to easily move from room to room and that there will be plenty of room for everyone (and their stuff!). Be sure to consider your pet’s age and physical abilities: do you have an elderly dog that may have trouble navigating stairs? If so, a multi-level home may not be the best idea.
  • Yard space. A fenced-in yard is the top feature most homebuyers consider, especially dog-owners. Make sure the fence is sturdy and does not have any gaps that could lead to potential escapes. Also check that the plants are non-toxic.

Research Local Rules and Regulations

Be aware of any local rules and regulations that may restrict the number or types of pets you may have. Just because you own your home doesn’t mean your pets may be welcomed! Be sure to check with your city and state for breed-specific laws and limits. There may be additional requirements for pet owners to follow.

Find a Pet-Friendly Community

You’ll want to make sure your neighborhood is welcoming to pets. When touring homes, check out the neighborhood and see if there are any other pet owners in the area. Seeing other pets in the neighborhood is a good sign that pets are welcomed in the neighborhood. Be sure to notice how much street traffic is occurring as well!

Also take note of any pet services or amenities near your home: are there sidewalks or a dog park where you can safely walk your dog? Are there any veterinarians, pet sitters, groomers, or walkers nearby? How close are pet stores? Knowing if these amenities are close by will make it easier to maintain your pet’s health and happiness.

Find Great Pet-Friendly New Construction Homes

Finding a home that’s comfortable for every member of your family is possible! At Hayden Homes, we build attractive, friendly communities in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our brand-new homes for sale in the Pacific Northwest. We can’t wait to help you find your dream home.

5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

Person using a calculator to review their finances for 5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Credit ScoreYour credit score is the key to your future home. It can be the difference between being approved or denied a mortgage. It can even determine your interest rate! Wondering how credit scores can affect home buying? Check out this post for more information.

Don’t let a poor credit score keep you from getting the home of your dreams. With some hard work, you can transform your credit score. Just remember, repairing your credit isn’t a quick fix; it can take three to six months before you start to see improvement. Here are five tips to improve your credit score.

Review Your Credit Report

Reviewing your credit report is the first step to improving your credit score. Knowing exactly where you stand financially will allow you to make the right decisions as you rebuild your credit. You can receive a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. When you receive your credit report, make sure the information is accurate and report any incorrect information to the credit bureau to have it removed.

Pay Your Bills on Time

Your payment history is the most influential factor when determining your credit score. Paying your bills on time shows lenders that you’re responsible with credit and is a good indicator that you’ll continue to handle future debts responsibly as well. If you’ve missed payments in the past, get up to date on your payments and stay current.

Reduce Your Debt-to-Income Ratio

Your credit utilization, or the amount of debt you have compared to the amount of credit. Lenders use this ratio to determine if you will be able to make your payments each month. They typically like to see a ratio of 30% or lower.

To calculate your credit utilization ratio, take the total amount of credit used during the month and divide that by your total credit limit. For example, if you have a credit card with a $1,000 credit limit and you spend $300 during the month, your credit utilization ratio is 30%.

If your ratio is higher than 30%, it could indicate that you’re taking on more debt than you can afford. The most effective way to reduce your credit utilization ratio is to keep balances low on credit cards and other revolving credit like personal loans. Don’t just move money around; create a payment plan to pay down your debts.

Keep New Credit Applications to a Minimum

While you’re repairing your credit (or even applying for mortgages) limit the number of new credit applications you submit. Each new line of credit you apply for creates a hard inquiry on your report, which temporarily lowers your score.

Continue to Monitor Your Credit

Keep track of your hard work by continuing to monitor your credit. Don’t worry; you won’t hurt your score by checking your report! When you view your own credit report, it’s considered a “soft inquiry” and doesn’t affect your score.

It’s smart to regularly review your credit report so you can understand how well you’re managing your credit and if you need to make any adjustments. It will also allow you to spot and fix any inaccuracies.

Following these tips will help you establish a healthy relationship with credit and save you money in the long run. If you’re planning to purchase a new home this year, you’ll appreciate the hard work you put in to turn your credit score around.

Fun Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Home

Have plans this Valentine’s Day? If you’re not exactly sure what you want to do with your significant other this Valentine’s Day we can help. Remember: home is where the heart is, so what better place to celebrate love than in your home? Avoid the crowds everywhere by having a fun evening at home with some of these fun date ideas.

If you have kids, an at-home Valentine’s is a great way to include the whole family. If you’re looking for fun kid-friendly Valentine’s Day activities, check out these blog posts!

Dine in Style

Skip the crowded and expensive restaurants and enjoy a romantic dinner at home. Recreate a fancy dining experience by decorating the table with your best tablecloth and a few candles. Either make your own dinner or order takeout from your favorite place. Don’t forget dessert!

Have a dessert cook-off

What’s Valentine’s Day without a little something sweet? Each person chooses a dessert to make and then taste them to see who made the best one. Make your chosen dessert together in the kitchen. Need some ideas? Here are some great ones!

Cuddle up for a movie

Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to cuddle with your sweetheart and watch a romantic movie. Or choose your favorites and have a movie marathon. Grab your favorite movie snacks and settle in for a fun evening. Add a fun twist by building a blanket fort to hang out in!

Go dancing at home

Turn on some music, move your living room furniture out of the way, and dance the night away in your living room! Put together a fun playlist of your favorite dance songs, including some slow jams, and dance like no one is looking. If you don’t know how to dance, watch some instructional dance videos and learn some new steps together.

Fill a jar with future date-night ideas

Celebrate your love all yearlong by brainstorming some new date ideas. Spend the evening filling a jar with a bunch of date ideas. Before your next date night, draw an idea from the jar and have fun!

Go stargazing

Bundle up and head outside to do a little stargazing. You can make it extra cozy by bringing a blanket to share and some warm drinks. Bring a skygazing chart or download an app to learn more about what’s in the starry skies or go it alone and just enjoy a quiet evening underneath the stars.

These are just a few fun ways you can celebrate Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart without leaving home. We hope your Hayden home is filled with plenty of love this year! Happy Valentine’s Day!