Budgeting for Success: How to Manage Finances and Save for Your Dream Home

Whether you’ve been browsing dream homes on Zillow for months or you’re just taking your first steps into the housing market, you’ve probably come to the same realization: buying a house is a big investment. In today’s fast-paced and often competitive real estate environment, it’s more important than ever to be strategic in your homebuying plan.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is by setting a budget. Managing your finances and saving effectively can make all the difference in how much house you can afford, and how you go about making your offer. In this article, we’ll explore the basics of budgeting and share some tips to help you save for your dream home.

Understanding the Power of Budgeting

Yes, budgeting deals with tracking your expenses – but it’s also much more than just that. Budgeting is a strategic approach to money management that can help you make progress toward your goals while staying on top of your financial responsibilities.

Maybe you consider yourself good with money, or maybe you struggle with managing your finances. Either way, setting up and maintaining a budget can provide many benefits, including clarifying your personal and financial goals, minimizing bad spending habits, encouraging responsible savings practices, and more.

Building Your Budget

Finding your dream home is one thing – figuring out how to pay for it is another. If you’re not sure how to get started with your savings budget, we’ve got you covered.

  • Track

The first step for any effective budget is getting visibility into your finances. That means assessing your current income, expenses, and debts. Over the course of a few months (the longer, the better!) track all your income, expenses, and debts.

  • Categorize

Divide your expenses into fixed (rent, utilities, loan payments) and variable (dining out, entertainment, gifts). Then, prioritize according to what’s essential and what can be cut down. It’s not easy, but even something as simple as canceling a few subscription services or stepping up your meal prep game can add up to big savings in the long run.

  • Set Goals
    Determine how much you need to save by making an honest estimate of your expected costs. While the down payment is often the biggest savings consideration for prospective homebuyers , remember that a house is a long term investment that carries risk and responsibilities. Don’t neglect to account for closing costs, property taxes, homeowners insurance, the cost of utilities, move-in expenses and repairs.

Budgeting Tips

With your budget in place, the next step is sticking to it. Sounds simple, but like most things, it takes practice and effort to get the best results. Here are a few tips to help you on your way.

  • Create a Designated Account

Open a separate savings account specific to your goals. This helps prevent accidental spending and allows you to see your progress over time, which can be a great motivator. Shop around for a good interest rate – you’ll feel better stashing your money in an account when you know it’s returning some interest!

  • Automate Savings

Set up automatic transfers into this savings account on a regular basis. Putting more money into your savings can help cut down on the temptation to spend more and can also ease the psychological sting that sometimes comes with setting money aside for the long term. One note of caution – be sure that any automatic deposits are sustainable. The last thing you want is to overdraft your account or miss a payment due to over-ambitious saving!

  • Review and Revise

No budget is perfect, and household finances can change over time. A good budget has some built-in flexibility and should be reevaluated periodically.

Got a raise that’s bringing in extra cash? Great – factor it into the budget to avoid spending it impulsively. Likewise, if you’ve encountered unexpected expenses or cost of living increases, update your budget to ensure you’re still meeting your financial commitments first and foremost.


Budgeting for Your Dream Home

Budgeting can feel restrictive, but a good budget is an empowering tool for financial freedom. By creating a detailed budget, setting achievable goals, and practicing good spending and savings habits, you’ll be well on your way to saving for that dream home.

To further explore your financial options and learn more about your mortgage options for buying your dream home, reach out to our experienced loan officers. We’re here to help you achieve your homeownership goals.

New Office, New Leader, New State!

More exciting news about our ongoing growth and expansion efforts: First Home Mortgage is opening a new office location in Sevierville, Tennessee! That’s right – following closely on the recent announcement of our latest branch expansion in Crofton, we’re opening up a new chapter in a new state, bringing our total count to 33 offices in 21 states!

Just as with our previous office openings, we knew we’d need the right person to put together a talented team and lead our operations before we could open our doors. We’re proud to introduce Brad Guinn, a recent addition to the First Home leadership team who will serve as the Sevierville branch manager.

“I am deeply honored to lead a dynamic team and contribute to the thriving East Tennessee housing market,” Brad said. “With a strong local presence, I am dedicated to providing unparalleled service and expert guidance to the residents of Sevierville and beyond.”

Brad has 30 years of experience in mortgage and financial services, including accounting, finance, and higher education. His comprehensive experience encompasses leadership roles, specialization in construction financing, and financial planning. His insightful approach and passion for leading and teaching has earned him a reputation as a trusted advisor within the industry.

Brad is also a family man and a proud, active member of the community. Outside of work, he dedicates some of his free time to leading a local youth athletic program that he and his wife founded, and supporting his two sons in playing various sports. Additionally, he teaches corporate finance at local university campuses as an adjunct professor.

Matt Nader, our Senior Vice President and Director of Sales, shared his enthusiasm for Brad’s leadership and our new office opening.

“Brad’s financial expertise and community-oriented approach perfectly position him as a strong fit and valuable addition to the First Home team,” Matt said. “We welcome Brad as the leader of our inaugural office in the state of Tennessee and eagerly anticipate the positive impact he and his team will make in Sevierville and the surrounding area.”

Through the launch of our Sevierville branch, we mark an important milestone, entering Tennessee to extend our mission of making homeownership attainable by all.

“We’re entering a new era of growth and potential with the launch of this office,” Nader added. “Brad and his team will lead us in offering new pathways to homeownership for the people of Tennessee.”

With the help of Brad and his team, we are looking forward to making Sevierville and its surrounding areas a thriving hub of homeownership opportunities!

Safeguarding Your Home: A Comprehensive Guide to Emergency Preparedness

As we navigate through hurricane season and witness recent incidents like the Maui fires, the importance of emergency preparedness cannot be understated. Your home is more than just a physical structure it’s your sanctuary. In this blog, we’ll delve into practical steps to safeguard your home and loved ones during emergencies.

Risk Assessment: Start by identifying the potential risks in your area. Research the types of emergencies that are most likely to occur, such as hurricanes, floods, wildfires, or earthquakes. Understanding these risks will help you tailor your preparations accordingly.

Develop a Family Emergency Plan: Gather your family to create a clear and comprehensive emergency plan. Outline evacuation routes, designate meeting points, and discuss communication protocols. Ensure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities during an emergency.

Assemble a Customized Emergency Kit: A well-thought-out emergency kit is essential. Customize it based on your family’s needs and potential risks. Include non-perishable food, water, a first aid kit, medications, personal hygiene items, a flashlight, batteries, a multi-tool, and any special items for infants, elderly family members, or pets.

Strengthen Your Home’s Defenses: Fortify your home against potential threats. Reinforce windows and doors, secure loose objects in the yard, and consider installing storm shutters or fire-resistant roofing materials. Regularly inspect and maintain your home’s structural integrity.

Safeguard Important Documents Digitally: While physical copies are important, digitize crucial documents and store them securely in cloud storage. This ensures that even if your physical copies are lost, you can access vital information from anywhere with an internet connection. This includes having copies of logins and passwords if you do not have them memorized.

Review and Update Insurance Coverage: Regularly review your homeowner’s insurance policy to confirm it covers various types of disasters. Depending on your location, consider additional coverage for flood, earthquake, or wildfire damage. Keep a copy of your policy in your emergency kit.

Stay Informed: Stay connected to local news and weather updates. Utilize smartphone apps, weather radios, and community alert systems to receive timely information about impending emergencies.

Practice Regular Drills: Hold emergency drills with your family to ensure everyone knows what to do in different scenarios. Practicing evacuations, using emergency equipment, and communication procedures can make a significant difference during a real emergency.

Create a Communication Tree: Establish a network of neighbors, friends, and family members who can support each other during emergencies. Share contact information and check in on each other’s well-being when disaster strikes.

Foster Resilience and Adaptability: Prepare mentally for emergencies by discussing potential scenarios with your family. Foster a sense of resilience and adaptability, knowing that being prepared can make a challenging situation more manageable.

Emergency preparedness is a responsibility that empowers you to protect your home and loved ones during unforeseen events. By customizing your approach, developing a clear plan, and investing time in proactive measures, you can significantly reduce risks and navigate emergencies with confidence. Remember, a little preparation today can go a long way in securing your tomorrow.  


First Home Mortgage’s Crofton Branch Is Expanding

At First Home Mortgage, we know that the key to our success is the cumulative talent, effort, and dedication of our incredible teams, and that’s why we’re always seeking new opportunities to grow our talent pool. Today, we are excited to announce that our Crofton office is growing with the addition of new members of the First Home team, as well as two new leaders, Branch Managers Scott Bienstock and Michael Grossblatt!

Scott Bienstock

Scott brings over 15 years of real estate and mortgage experience to his role as Branch Manager of the Crofton office. As a former licensed real estate agent, he has a valuable perspective of the industry and unique insights into the entire homebuying and mortgage process. Scott specializes in purchases, first-time homebuyers, FHA 203k, investment properties, USDA, VA, VA rehab and conventional rehab loans.

“First Home Mortgage’s commitment to excellence and client-focused philosophy made accepting this new position an easy decision,” said Scott. “I am excited to be part of this incredible team of passionate, talented mortgage professionals serving the Crofton community.”

Michael Grossblatt

With more than two decades of experience in the mortgage industry, Michael Grossblatt brings a wide range of mortgage origination expertise and financing industry knowledge to his new role as Branch Manager. Michael is passionate about community service and is active in supporting a variety of local organizations and nonprofits. He is enthusiastic about helping his clients build wealth and accomplish their goals through homeownership.

“In the real estate and mortgage business, building and nurturing relationships within your community is the key to success,” said Michael. “As a member of the First Home Mortgage team I look forward to taking a community-first approach to helping my clients and neighbors achieve their homeownership dreams.”

A Shared Vision for Success

Scott and Michael share a common goal for the Crofton branch – to continue building on the vibrant and supportive culture where clients feel valued and supported throughout their homeownership journey. With the help of the other new members of the team, they will continue raising the bar for home financing even higher.

Welcome aboard, Scott and Michael!

Embracing the Last Days of Summer: Maximize Your Garden and Backyard

As the end of summer approaches, it’s the perfect time to soak in the last warm rays of sunshine and make the most of your garden and backyard. Whether you’re an avid gardener or simply love spending time outdoors, there are plenty of ways to enhance your outdoor space and create unforgettable memories. In this blog, we’ll explore tips on how to take advantage of your backyard before the sun sets on the summer season.

Revive Your Garden with Late-Blooming Flowers

As summer transitions into autumn, there are still plenty of vibrant flowers that can add a burst of color to your garden. Plant late-blooming varieties such as dahlias, chrysanthemums, and asters to keep your garden looking lively and beautiful well into the fall season. Don’t forget to water and fertilize your plants regularly to ensure they thrive during these final warm days.

Create an Outdoor Dining Space

Take advantage of the pleasant weather by creating an inviting outdoor dining area. Whether you have a patio, deck, or spacious backyard, consider investing in comfortable outdoor furniture and a dining set. Host a delightful end-of-summer dinner party or enjoy a cozy family barbecue with your loved ones amidst the natural beauty of your garden.

Install Outdoor Lighting

Extend your enjoyment of the garden and backyard into the evening hours by installing outdoor lighting. String lights, solar-powered lanterns, and LED garden spotlights can create a magical ambiance, making your outdoor space perfect for relaxing, reading, or stargazing. Well-placed lighting also enhances safety and allows you to navigate your garden with ease during the night. This can be a great transition to help utilize your outdoor space even into the fall months!

Start a Late-Summer Vegetable Garden

Even as summer comes to a close, you can still grow some vegetables and herbs to enjoy during the autumn months. Consider planting cool-season crops like kale, spinach, lettuce, and radishes. With proper care and protection from colder temperatures, these plants will yield a fresh and nutritious harvest well into fall.

As the end of summer approaches, your garden and backyard offer a wonderful opportunity to make lasting memories with family and friends. So, seize the moment and maximize your garden and backyard to savor the last days of summer!

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