JANE HINKEL | Litchfield Real Estate, Goshen Real Estate, Morris Real Estate, Cornwall Real Estate


Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or you’re upgrading to a larger house to fit your family’s needs, it’s vital to understand just how much house you can afford before you start shopping for homes.

When planning for your future home, there are two main things you need to figure out.

  • What is a smart amount to spend on a home for your budget

  • What are the key features in a home that will give you the most benefits for the cost

These two questions may seem simple, but there are quite a few factors that should go into determining each one.

So, in today’s post, I’m going to walk you through the process of determining what kind of house you can afford so you can make the best home buying decision for you and your family.

A smart home buying budget

To create an effective budget, you’ll need to gather some information and possibly create a spreadsheet with Excel (or a free alternative like Google Sheets).

On your spreadsheet, you’ll first want to add up all sources of income that your family has. This is the easy part for most people who only have one or two sources of income based on a salaried job.

Next, is the hard part--expenses. We can’t just use your current expenses to determine the new budget because we have to account for changes in several areas.

If you aren’t sure of the cost of living for the area you hope to move to, try plugging it into this cost of living comparison tool to see get a better idea of the cost of things like transportation, childcare, groceries, and more.

Likewise, it’s also a good idea to assume you’ll be paying more in utilities if you’re hoping to move into a home that is larger than your current home. Keep in mind, however, that different houses have different levels of energy-efficiency, so it’s a good idea to also ask the seller of the homes you’re interested in to determine what your costs might be.

Now, subtract your expenses from your income. The amount remaining should easily cover whatever mortgage payment you receive along with, ideally, 20% of your income going toward savings.

Deciding what you need in a home

The second part of determining how much house you can afford is to find out exactly what you’re looking for in a home. The number of bedrooms, bathrooms, location, the size of the backyard; all of these are questions that have a monetary value.

So, to really answer this question you’ll need a strong understanding of what you and your family’s goals are for at least the next 5-7 years, if not longer.

Once you have your long-term goals and a good understanding of your budget, you can start safely shopping for homes with a clearer idea of the type of home you’re looking for and just how much home you can afford.


Let's face it – cleaning a house from top to bottom may prove to be a time-consuming task. Fortunately, we're here to help you streamline your home cleaning efforts and ensure you can get your house ready for the real estate market.

Now, let's take a look at three steps that home sellers should take before cleaning a house.

1. Make a Plan

If you only have a limited amount of time to clean your house prior to listing it, there is no need to worry. Plan ahead, and you can achieve the best-possible results.

Oftentimes, it helps to make a checklist of which rooms need to be cleaned. You also should include the types of cleaning that need to be done in different areas of your home. For instance, if you need to scrub the bathroom toilets or remove dust from the bedroom ceiling fan, you should include these details in your checklist.

With a plan in place, you'll be better equipped than ever before to speed up your home cleaning efforts. And if you need extra assistance as you craft your home cleaning plan, it may help to consult with a real estate agent.

A real estate agent understands what it takes to prepare a house for the real estate market. As such, this housing market professional can offer recommendations and suggestions about how to plan ahead for home cleaning.

2. Establish Priorities

Once you know which areas of your home that you need to clean, you should establish priorities. By doing so, you can further streamline your home cleaning activities.

It generally helps to clean common home areas at the same time. For instance, if all of your bedrooms are located on the top floor of your house, you may want to go from bedroom to bedroom and perform extensive cleaning. That way, you can simultaneously clean all of your home's bedrooms.

In addition, it may be a good idea to schedule attic or basement cleaning first. Cleaning an attic or basement may force you to get dirty. And if you clean these areas right away, you can minimize the risk of spreading attic or basement debris into other portions of your home.

3. Pick Up Cleaning Supplies

Make a list of cleaning supplies that you'll need to make your house sparkle. Then, you can purchase these supplies and return home to kick off your cleaning efforts.

Don't forget to buy gloves, facemasks and any other items that you'll need to protect your face, hands and skin. These items will enable you to stay safe as you work in areas that may be loaded with debris.

Lastly, if you need help getting the best-possible home cleaning results, you may want to consider hiring professionals. With a team of expert home cleaners at your side, you can receive comprehensive home cleaning assistance.

Ready to clean your house? Follow the aforementioned steps, and you can quickly and effortlessly prepare to clean your residence prior to adding it to the real estate market.


A lot changes when you move into a new home. For the first few weeks you’ll most likely be focused on getting everything arranged and put away in their proper locations. You’ll be adjusting to your new work commute, meeting the neighbors, finding out where to shop, and so on.

It’s easy to forget about updating your budget during the first couple of months in your new home. However, if you want to be mindful of your spending and gauge the true cost of living in your new home, it’s essential to start tracking expenses and creating your budget as soon as possible.

In this article, we’re going to show you how to make a new budget for your new home so that you can start accurately planning your long term finances. That way, you and your family can rest assured that you aren’t living above your means in your new home and can stop stressing about spending.

Cost of living changes

When most of us move we think about the change of our mortgage payments, property taxes, and home insurance. However, there are several smaller changes that will occur in your day-to-day spending habits that you might not think to update in your budget.

First off, make a note of how much you’re spending on transportation (whether it’s train fare or gas for your car) in your new home and adjust this on your budget. This is hard to predict before you move since you can’t be sure of the traffic patterns until your first trip to the office.

Next, make a list of your monthly services, including utilities. We’re talking about internet, cable, trash and recycling, heating and electricity, and so on. At the end of the first month, add each of those to your budget and decide if you want to spend less on any of them.

One surprise expense that many people have when they move is the cost of internet. Your old plan at your former residence might not cut it if you move to an area with different coverage.

Furnishing your new home

Even if you’re moving with most of your furniture and appliances, there will likely still be expenses that you’ll need to plan for in your new home.

It might be tempting to make all of these purchases at once so that you can feel like your move is “complete.” However, the best course of action is to include these items into your monthly budget so that you are prepared for emergency expenses.

Decide which items you need the most in your new home, and prioritize purchasing those on the first month. You’ll likely realize after just the first couple of nights in your new house which items you need now and which can wait.

Budgeting apps and tools

Everyone has their own preferred method of record-keeping. Some people keep their budget in a notebook or planner, whereas others like to use an app that they can access on their phone or laptop.

There are dedicated budgeting apps and web applications that link to your bank account and tell you how much left you can spend that month and if there is an issue with your budget. Several such apps are available for free in both Android and Apple app stores.

For a simpler budget, you can simply use the spreadsheet application of your choice (Excel, Numbers, and Google Sheets are all sufficient).

Regardless of what tool you use, make sure you check in on your budget frequently to ensure you’re sticking to it and making adjustments as needed.


For those who want to simplify the homebuying process, crafting a budget is ideal. Because if you tailor your house search to your finances, you can eliminate the risk of spending beyond your means to acquire your dream residence.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you budget for the homebuying journey.

1. Analyze Your Financial Situation

Request a copy of your credit report – you'll be glad you did. You are eligible to receive a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Once you have your credit report, you can assess your credit score and take steps to improve it as needed.

Getting your credit report can help you identify outstanding debt and other financial issues that may make it tough to acquire a house. If you can correct these issues today, you can eliminate the risk that they could impact your ability to buy your dream residence in the near future.

2. Consider Your Homebuying Expenses

The price of a home is one of many financial considerations that a buyer will need to evaluate during the property buying journey. Fortunately, if you map out your homebuying expenses, you can ensure that you'll have the finances available to cover these costs as you pursue your dream home.

For example, a property inspection may be used to assess a house's condition before you finalize a home purchase. This inspection will require you to hire a professional home inspector, so you will need to make sure you have the money available to cover the cost of this homebuying expense.

You should consider home closing costs as well. And if you start saving for home closing fees and other homebuying expenses, you won't have to worry about scrambling to get the money to cover these costs as you navigate the property buying journey.

3. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Pre-approval for a mortgage is a must, regardless of your homebuying goals. If you meet with a variety of banks and credit unions, you can analyze your home financing options and select a mortgage that suits you perfectly.

Banks and credit unions are happy to teach you about different types of mortgages and how each type of mortgage works. Plus, if you have any mortgage questions, banks and credit unions are ready to respond to your queries right away.

As you prepare to pursue your dream house, you also may want to hire a real estate agent. In addition to helping you streamline your search for your ideal residence, a real estate agent can put you in touch with the top mortgage professionals in your area, help you plan ahead for various homebuying expenses and much more.

If you want to conduct a successful home search, it may be a good idea to prepare a homebuying budget. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you can craft a homebuying budget so you can accelerate the process of acquiring your dream house.


When moving one of the room most families dread packing the most is their child’s. Overflowing toy boxes, stuff crammed under the beds, and who know’s what in the closet. It’s an epic task to take on, usually with just as much cleaning needed as packing. But with a move comes a new room and a clean slate. 

Here are my top tips to keeping an organized child’s room (and for longer than 2 hours):

The most important step is to downscale the amount of stuff your child has. Toys are usually the number one culprit when it comes to a child’s clutter. Plan a day to have a massive clean sweep with your child where you work together what toys stay and which need to go. The more you can clean out the less you’ll have to move and the easier it will be to organize at the new house.

As you decide what stays think about the different categories the remaining toys fall into it. Which does your child reach for the most? Do they like to play with trains and action figures at the same time but just legos by themselves? Asking yourself these questions will help you to create organizational categories that make sense to your child.

Once you have some categories decided on, think about how to organize them. What systems do you already have in place and how do they work for your child? One of the biggest stumbling blocks families face in maintaining an organized home with children is a lack of understanding for how much a child can handle.

Keeping things simple with baskets and buckets toys can be placed in can make a huge difference in how tidy a room stays. Zippered, closed, sectioned or stacked containers, especially for young children, are harder to manage. Paired with piles of toys a child can become quickly overwhelmed at cleanup time.

By cutting down on the number of toys your child has, organizing them in a way that makes sense to how your child plays with them and opting for open containers sets your child up for cleaning success. The simpler you can make it the easier it is for them to take on the task. Pairing this setup with learning habits like cleaning up one set of toys before moving on to another will keep your child’s room tidy for months, and even years, to come.

And the biggest secret to avoid clutter from building up again? Before each birthday, holiday or gift receiving event go through your child’s toy collection and clean out what they no longer use to make room for new toys. If you want to go even further, encourage friends and family to gift your child experiences instead of material goods for celebrations.




Loading