1. Why you should pay off your mortgage BEFORE you retire

    Can you imagine being debt free when you enter retirement? Many people work very hard to pay off their auto loans, credit cards bills and other monthly payments before they retire. Doing so allows you to enjoy those retirement years without the added financial burden or stress.
    However, most people overlook the option of paying of their single largest debt….their mortgage!

    With interest rates being at an all-time low, many people often overlook the benefits of paying off their mortgage and assume that it won’t make that big of a difference in their overall financial plan for retirement. However, if you consider the many advantages that come with being mortgage free, you might just change your tune!

    1. Emotional peace of mind – Owning your home outright reduces stress, and that is what retirement is all about.

    2. Instant equity – Look at your home as an additional savings account. Once you have paid off your mortgage the value of the home is very similar to cash in your savings account.

    3. More mobility – Without a mortgage you have complete control over where you want to live. If you choose to downsize later in life, or purchase a beach getaway, you have more mobility in making these decisions if you don’t have a mortgage to reckon with.

    4. Maintain your cost of living – After you retire, your income will probably drop, but your cost of living won’t. Some expenses, like health care, are likely to climb — perhaps significantly. If you can eliminate the burden of a monthly mortgage payment, you’ll have more flexibility to handle any rising costs.

    Retirement signals the beginning of a new lifestyle. The daily grind of working 40 hours a week is gone, the children have grown up and moved on with their lives, and you are free to truly enjoy your life. Having additional financial obligations can take away from this new lifestyle. Make a list of all the wonderful places you want to go and things you want to do during your retirement! If you eliminate the monthly mortgage payment, these dreams are more likely to become realities.

  2. Summer Tips: Maintaining a Healthy Lawn

    We all know that summertime in Florida can get a bit toasty, even for Sunshine State natives! Although summer is the perfect time for beach trips, pool parties, and enjoying our local state parks…it isn’t exactly the best time for your lawn. The combination of high temperatures and low rainfall has the potential of turning your beautiful green grass into a dry, brown mess.

    Here are a few helpful tips to keep your yard healthy and happy during the summer months:

    1. Adjust your lawn mower blade height to 3 inches or higher. Mowing heights that are too short will result in weakened grass plants and weed encroachment. Short grass is susceptible to disease and drought damage. Ants and other insects prefer to live in grass that has been scalped short.

    2. Mow your lawn weekly during the summer months. All the afternoon rain showers we get here in the Sunshine State cause the grass to grow much quicker than during the winter months.

    3. While we do get plenty of rain during the summer months, this doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t need to water your lawn. It’s a careful balance…as you don’t want to overwater either, usually no more than three times per week.

    4. Keep your yard in good condition. Poor condition increases chance for disease. Pay attention and look for chinch bugs (brown, straw-colored patches) and treat promptly.

    5. If your lawn is in good condition, you won’t need to fertilize again until the fall. If you do, your lawn will grow like Jack’s beanstalk due to the rain!

    6. Summer is a good time to add mulch or replace sod. A fresh layer of mulch does amazing things to the curb appeal of your home! And, with all the rain, your new sod will take quickly to its new surroundings!

    7. Enjoy more ‘outdoor’ living time! Make time for those weekend barbeques, cookouts and pool parties.

  3. It’s That Time Again: Back to School Necessities

    Remember how fast summer seemed to FLY by when you were a child? Before you knew it the carefree days of swimming in the pool, going to movies with friends, and attending summer camp were replaced with shopping for school supplies, setting your alarm clocks and rushing to catch the school bus!
    The transition from summer fun to back to school was not always a fun one.

    If you have children, then you are aware (and maybe even secretly looking forward to the fact!) that school will be starting up again in just a couple of weeks.

    Here are a few simple suggestions to help your child (and YOURSELF) make the transition smooth and stress-free.

    1. Get your child involved in the process to make it more fun! Have them come up with their own ‘to do’ list of what needs to occur between now and the start of school.
    2. Look for ‘back to school’ discounts and sales. For example, during the month of August J C Penney is offering a free haircut for school children. Other stores like Staples, Target and Walmart are also providing deep discounts on back to school items. Don’t forget to take advantage of tax-free weekend in Florida. It’s August 3 – 5, and you are guaranteed to save an additional 6 – 7 percent on your purchases (depending on what county you live in).
    3. If your child typically takes a bag lunch to school, get them involved by creating a weekly ‘menu’ of items they would like to eat. This will save you time at the grocery store and your child will LOVE eating their personalized lunch.
    4. During the week prior to the start of school, start having your child get up a little earlier each day to get him/her used to the early morning school schedule.
    5. Have a ‘back to school’ chat with your children. If attending a new school, they are probably feeling a little anxious about it. Let them know that these feelings are perfectly natural and that you too experienced ‘school blues’ when you were a child.
    6. Plan a fun family outing or event before school starts. Go on a picnic, spend the day at the beach, or take in a movie….celebrate the end of summer!

    On the night before school starts, have your children lay out their outfits for the next day. For teenage girls, deciding what to wear on the first day of school can take a LONG time. Also, have your kids shower the night before to save precious time in the morning.

    Finally, write a simple note and hide it in your child’s lunch box or notebook. Tell them how much you love them and how proud you are of your scholarly student!