The Responsible Homeowner’s Guide to Spending Tax Returns

With tax season upon us, you might already be thinking of creative ways to spend that refund. Before you go out and blow it on treats, consider how you might make the most of it this year. After all, you are a responsible homeowner now! If you’re lucky enough to be getting a tax return this year, make the most of it by investing that hard-earned money into your new home. So, what are some responsible ways to spend your check?


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Shay Cochrane (@shaycochrane) on

Pay Down Your Mortgage One of the most responsible, money-saving ways to spend your tax return is to put the money straight into your mortgage as an extra payment. It might seem like a drop in the bucket, but over time these extra payments can shave both years and thousands of dollars in interest off your repayment.  




View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ali Latief Nuryanto (@keyviral) on

Bulk Up Your Emergency Fund
With home ownership comes responsibility. No longer can you call the landlord when your furnace goes out or the plumbing goes awry – these headaches now fall on your shoulders. There’s nothing worse than having a home emergency and no wiggle room in the bank to pay for the repairs. Credit card debts for “emergencies” can pile up fast and interest rates are high. Instead, save for the inevitable by having a dedicated savings for emergencies. A few extra thousand (or even hundred) dollars from a tax return will save the day at some point.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Cale & Raegen Ferguson (@secondmileinvestments) on

Fix the Necessary Repairs Did your home come with a few issues that still need to be sorted? Getting these nuisances under control is the perfect way to spend your tax refund. Replace anything faulty in the home or anything that you expect might need replacing in the next year or two.  




View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Hartman Haus | Jess Hartman (@hartman_haus) on

One Special Thing

After you have invested the bulk of your tax refund into one of the above areas, make sure to save a few extra dollars for something special. This could be a favorite artisan candle, a much-needed new chef knife, the perfect rug, or anything that makes your home feel special.  


View this post on Instagram

Mindful. That’s a word I used to think applied to monks or nuns, or anyone living outside of the “real” world. . What I know now is that being mindful or intentional is about really thinking about your choices before you make them. . In this context, it’s asking “do I really need this…is this wise to spend my money on…does it have a place, and a purpose?” . Everything you buy adds up to become either money well spent, or money that could have been spent doing something amazing. . So before you head to the mall, or jump online, ask yourself what you want from life and make good spending choices to get there. . 🌿Even if you don’t have clutter…what would you rather have than clutter???🌿 . . #wise #wisdom #simple #simpleliving #simplelife #simplicity #quotes #wisequotes #minimalism #minimalistlife #spendwisely #money #moneyissues #clutter #lessclutter #lessisthenewmore

A post shared by Gena-My Silver Nest (@my.silver.nest) on

Spend Wisely

Being a home owner is one of the greatest joys in life. Invest your extra dollars into your home and it will more than repay you in comfort, reliability, and financial freedom down the road. Making wise choices early on will make for smooth sailing for the life of your home. Happy spending!


Fall In Love With Your Home This Valentine’s Day!

We put so much time and effort into strengthening our personal relationships, we sometimes forget about one of the most important relationships in our lives. We’re talking about the one we have with our homes. It’s so easy to take your house for granted. Your home plays a backdrop for so many of your most memorable moments. So, why not show your house the love it shows you? Fall in love with your home this Valentine’s Day with these ideas!


Scent it Up

There are some quick ways to fall out of love with your house. Smelling like last week’s curry might be one of them. When you walk into a house, the first thing that hits you is how it smells. So, change up the greeting.


Pick out a new candle, perhaps something with roses to get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day. You can also neutralize any bad odors with a simple white candle. Not only will white candle smoke draw unpleasant scents out of the air, but there’s something nostalgic and chic about them too.


Not a candle nut? Get an essential oil diffuser and a variety of oils. From there, you can mix and match your scents all year round. For Valentine’s Day, we recommend a blend of rosehip oil, cinnamon bark oil, and lavender oil.


Host a Party

Houses do more than hold our junk. They are also the backbone of our memories. If you have fallen out of your love with your house, perhaps you’re not spending enough quality time with it?


With Valentine’s Day coming up, there’s no time better than now to make new memories. After all, everyone is itching for an excuse to have a party. Be their host. Create a night to remember that could only happen in one place…your house.


Give it a Fresh Coat of Paint

You know what’s worse than watching paint dry? Watching the same old paint already dried…for years. Changing paint color is like switching up a hairstyle. If you hate it, you can always change it. When it works, you gain a whole new appreciation for it.



Re-Do the Bathroom

Looking for a change but you’re on a budget? Go with the smallest room in the house. The bathroom is so easy to redo because all the replacements are rather inexpensive.

Pick a new theme. From there, switch up the mats, curtains, and soap dish holder to match your aesthetic. If you’re really feeling it, re-paint the room or put in a new backsplash. Who knows? The bathroom might be the good spark needed to ignite the fire behind renovating your whole house!


Make Your 2019 Resolution To Buy a Home

We can almost hear the noise makers already. New Year’s is upon us. Time to live up to the resolution you set for yourself. If you haven’t set one yet (or if you need an extra), we have a great New Year’s resolution for you. Make 2019 the year you finally do it…you know, buy a house! That’s right, 2019 is the year you are going to find the house you’ve been dreaming about. Here’s how you can make that happen in the coming calendar year!


Start Early

If we’re going to do this, let’s go all-in. Start the year of running. After all, sellers are looking at 2019 as the same clean slate that you are. Just as you are using January 1st as your launch pad into the next step of your journey, so are many others. The pickings will be nice and ripe when the ball drops. So act fast. You might get a great deal from someone who is looking to get an ultimate clean slate!


Go to a Showing

If you’re ever driving around with time to kill, stop at an Open House. The more you immerse yourself in the homebuying process, the easier it will be. Going to more Open Houses will help you decide what you want. Also, it allows you to see first-hand what the going rate is…and what you’re getting for it. This can help you balance your finances more wisely.



Talk to Your Partner/Roommate

Figure out what you want. This will help a lot. Discuss these desires with whoever you are going to be living with. Having an open dialogue from the get-go will help when you are discussing more pressing manners down the line. Go into this experience with a gameplan. Decide a number you can afford and brainstorm what is essential for your happiness in these living quarters. Having both sides of the spectrum figured out as you start the search will help you as search. That way, when you see what you want…you’ll know it!


Browse Listings

Sometimes it’s fun to fantasize. Look at extravagant houses and lust over all the amenities. Let your mind wander. Once you get excited at the endless possibilities, start to look at more reasonable ranges. Getting your gears going will help you become more serious about taking this big step in the coming year.


Talk to Friends

Want to stay local? Looking to move somewhere where other friends and family members are? Either way, tell loved ones to keep a lookout in the area. After all, if the neighborhood is good enough for them, then it’s probably good enough for you as well. Plus, can you imagine the awesome housewarming party? Be sure to invite us, too!


The Best Holiday Light Displays In Southern California!

The holidays are here. In Southern California, you might not get the blistering cold winds and get trapped in your house with 50 feet of snow. However, you will see some of the best light displays known to humankind. From the awe-inspiring to the fun, we have a list of the best holiday light displays in SoCal to get you in the spirit!

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by 𝔐𝔬𝔪𝔪𝔦𝔫’ 🌻 💛 (@vanessaayvonne) on

LA Zoo Lights – Los Angeles

One of the most unique takes on Christmas is the most family-fun you will have all winter in Southern California. That unique take is LA Zoo Lights. This Griffith Park attraction boasts thousands of LED lights. Become enchanted by the illuminating snowflakes and glittering light tunnels. Animated characters come to life and keep an eye out for the mischievous projected monkeys throughout the park!




View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Rona Par Miyasaki (@rona_par) on

Balian House – Altadena

This isn’t your typical holiday attraction but it’s definitely worth the stop. Famous ice cream maker, George Balian, owns the home. Spanning over 3.5 acres, the landscape is transformed into a majestic scene. With over 10,000 colored lights on display, you will stand in awe of a variety of holiday depictions.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Mary Kula (@marykula1) on

Upper Hastings Ranch – Pasadena

Holidays bring the community together. This is most apparent in Pasadena where the Upper Hastings Ranch neighborhood gets into the spirit of things. Walk around impressive light displays that range from jellyfish to Chinese New Year dragons! Musicians are always coming and going, performing for guests. It’s a great way to get to the know the neighborhood while celebrating everyone’s favorite time of year.




View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Lindsey Gilad (@mrs_g_vious) on

Lights on Miracle Hill – Walnut

For a religious spectacle, this is a must. These are very religious-based and center around the Christmas holiday. However, for those who celebrate (and even anyone who enjoys art), you should check out Lights on Miracle Hill. They put on a fantastic light show every night leading up to Christmas Day.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by @beverlyhillsqueen on

Rodeo Drive – Beverly Hills

The whole street gets in the spirit as only Rodeo Drive could. Holiday displays that adorn the shop window will have you gawking all day long. Be sure to stop at the Regent Beverly Wilshire. This hotel famously known for Pretty Woman is decked out in holiday lights and decor. They also throw holiday-themed events such as Nutcracker’s Tea and a Christmas Carol Luncheon. At the Luncheon, the Regent brings in snow for the kids!

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Los Angeles | LifeHacksLA (@lifehacksla) on

The Grove – Los Angeles

Rounding out the list is an annual LA staple. The Grove hosts a 100 foot tall Christmas tree! During this time of the year, their festivities include magical snowfall. Be sure to poke around and take pics at Santa’s Cottage. While you stroll, you can always expect holiday entertainment. It’s an excellent time for the entire family.


Three Events that Make October in Southern California the Place to Be

Southern California begins to shine as fall starts in the rest of the country. Warm, sunshine laden days draw visitors from afar to this area. It is not just the weather, however! There are several events in the area that are sure to make October a special time in Southern California.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Sam HaveSippy (@samhavesippy) on

The Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival The smooth sounds of jazz will fill the cooler (but still warm) autumn air as this festival gets going in October. This ten-day jazz festival is the perfect vacation destination for those that love good music and good weather all in one place. If you cannot make the entire thing, join for a weekend or even a day of enjoying the sights and sounds of the Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival. An event like this showcases why Southern California is the place to be in October.  

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Go-Doggies (@godoggies_4u) on

Haute Dog Howl’oween Parade

Is there anything cuter than a dog in a costume? I cannot speak for the dogs, but people sure do love an animal dressed up in cute Halloween garb. You can get your fill of adorable dogs all in one place – in Southern California, of course. The parade at Marina Vista Park is sure to impress as dogs of all kinds will sport costumes of all kinds.

This event does not just stop at the dressed-up doggies, as kids and adults will parade in costume as well. Vendors will be featured along with the opportunity to adopt your own pet to dress up next season! The Haute Dog Howl’oween Parade is a day full of fun capped by the parade of a lifetime. Only to be seen in sunny Southern California!


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by @moca444 on

The Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair

With warm autumn temperatures, the outdoor fair season is extended in Southern California. The Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair features food, beer and wine, games, music, and almost anything else you could imagine goes on at a festival. Art will be showcased and on sale. This event is a great opportunity to get outside and enjoy beautiful Southern California in the beginning of October.

October does not have to mean just haunted houses and trick-or-treat events! There are many ways to enjoy the great fall weather in Southern California and these October events are sure to keep you entertained.


How to Make an Extra $3000-$5000 a Month Using Airbnb

It started with social media oversharing. Then ride-sharing. Now, it’s home-sharing. Our interconnectedness is making a massive dent against corporate accommodation services like taxis…and now hotels. If you have an extra room, a house that you are looking to sell that isn’t selling, or a vacation home, you can make some serious money. Here is how to make an extra $3000 to $5000 using Airbnb.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Gadi Parker Marantz (@home_remodel_stock) on

Be Competitive and Comparable

If you own property in a city that many people visit like San Francisco, New York, or Seattle, then you might be sitting on some serious cash. Don’t underestimate your place. People aren’t paying for Airbnb to be treated like the Ritz Carlton. They’re choosing your place because of location. Scope out how much other people in the neighborhood are charging. Then see how close they are certain attractions. For instance, if there’s a place that is 3 miles from the Riverwalk in San Antonio and your place is 2.5 miles, try charging an extra $20. If people are still biting, then think about slowly increasing the prices.





View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Maisons & Co (@maisonsco) on

Put the BNB in Airbnb

Are you renting out a room, in-law, or pool house? Go the extra mile and cook them breakfast. Eggs, toast, and coffee go a long way in impressing guests and boosting the overall perception of your rental.

Not to mention, these ingredients are pretty cheap! You are guaranteed to get a high return on your investment based on a gesture that cost you less than ten bucks. Besides, you need to eat too. This is all about sharing. Share your breakfast with your guests! Advertise Your Airbnb

Want to make an extra $3000 to $5000 with your rental? Treat it like a business. Invest in getting the word out there. Make flyers and put them in common areas that hold community boards such as the post office, grocery store, or even Starbucks. Also, share your Airbnb profile on social media. Encourage your friends and family to share. After all, who better to have in your place then people your loved ones trust?

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Lucas Valley House (@thelucasvalleyhouse) on

Make it Look Good

Appearance is everything. From the listing to the actual rental itself. Make sure your photographs look pristine. Keep your profile simple and to the point. You don’t want to turn off potential renters with mouthy jargon or dark pictures.

Then there’s the actual rental. Sure, we said you can charge more based on location rather than the place itself. However, if you are offering a mattress on a floor, you’re not going to make $3 let alone $3000.

There’s a certain mystique that surrounds the words “BNB.” Keep the rental spotless. You must meet some, if not all of those expectations if you are going to find any success with your Airbnb rental.


Things to Know About Becoming a Landlord


Owning a rental property is a common way people say they make “passive” income. The opportunity to earn a profit, while not working for it is tantalizing to many people. One popular option the under-40 crowd is exploring is buying a property with a rental attached. Is the landlord life the right choice for you? Here are four things to consider before jumping in and becoming a landlord.


It is a Commitment

While many consider rental property to be a passive income, it does require time, energy, and a financial commitment. Yes, the property may pay for itself and then some but what happens when the refrigerator gives out? It is important to remember that while a tenant is paying the mortgage, you are responsible for everything else that happens to the rental space.


Quality Matters

When purchasing, or rehabbing, a space as rental property it is important to consider the quality of the work. If you have a space that looks beat up and run down, tenants are far less likely to take care of it. Providing a nice, clean living environment is essential to having quality renters who want to pay their rent.


Plan for Problems

While it can be tempting to download a lease from the internet and move forward with that as a legal document, an attorney should be considered to provide input. This way, you can be sure your lease contains everything necessary to protect you and your property. Also, a common reason rental property is not solvent is because landlords are not prepared to legally deal with the rent not being paid. You should consider having a lawyer available to pursue payment officially, to ensure you are not left in the dust.


Be Savvy

Screen your tenants ahead of time and you will avoid most problems landlords have. This will allow you to be confident that your tenants are not in any legal or financial trouble. Also, be forward thinking. Most tenants would prefer to pay their rent online. There are plenty of ways you can set up these types of payments to allow convenience for both you and your tenant.



Becoming a landlord is a serious decision. It is not a “set it and forget it” kind of job. While it is certainly a way to earn extra income, it does not come without its own set of tasks. Consider these four things before committing to becoming a landlord and make an educated decision on whether or not you are ready to take the leap.


Four Facts to Think About Before Buying a Waterfront Home

When you ask a Californian to describe their truly perfect living situation, there is a decent chance they will mention living waterfront. Waking up to the sound of crashing waves certainly sounds more appealing than arising to the more traditional southern California wakeup call – horns honking. With mortgage interest rates at a reasonably low level, now may be the time to consider buying into that perfect living situation. If you are ready to take that leap and start looking, you may want to consider what a home on the waterfront truly entails. Here are four facts to think about before buying a waterfront home in Southern California.

A post shared by Diego Mota (@diegomota_realtor) on

There is Salt…Everywhere

Saltwater and humidity can quickly erode and degrade the exterior of a waterfront home in southern California. Wood homes are certainly more susceptible to rotting from the constantly damp conditions and will require frequent upkeep and inspection. However, even the more modern homes made of stainless steel and glass require special consideration when at the waterfront. The stainless buildings require buffing, otherwise they can quickly look worn. All glass in any waterfront home should be highly impact resistant, given particularly high winds at times.

Summer Isn’t Always Sunny

For those with expectations of beautiful sunny days all summer long in southern California, you may want to temper those expectations. At times, often in June and July, there is a significant fog that infiltrates the area. It is especially bad on the coast. Home buyers looking at waterfront homes in southern California should be aware of this occurrence when shopping around. However, winter in southern California is often quite mild and can present beautiful, calm days at the beach.


Simply put, think about the purchase price of a waterfront home carefully. To get into their price range, many buyers make sacrifices like purchasing a condo or moving farther out to an area like Long Beach, California. Weighing the frustration of an even longer commute against the allure of waterfront life is certainly something to consider.

Consider Lesser Known Waterfronts

When thinking of the southern California waterfront, a picturesque beach may come to mind. However, there are other opportunities for waterfront living that may be less expensive and still on or near the water. Venice offers “canal front” homes that are not ocean view but offer waterfront living, with just a short distance to the beach as well. Considering these types of alternative opportunities could make the dream of buying a waterfront home in southern California a reality!


10 Ways to Keep Yourself Busy This Summer

Try restaurants you haven’t tried before. You know that restaurant you always pass by and say you’re going to try but always end up settling for that Chinese spot around the corner? Yeah, finally gather up the courage to get out of comfort zone and try it! You never know, it could be your new go-to joint. Learn to cook something new. I know this has been on most people’s bucket list and you can never seem to find the right time to actually make that delicious looking 10-minute meal you saw on Facebook. Summer is the perfect time to explore your kitchen.

A post shared by EVOC (@evocinstagram) on

Go for a bike ride. From the park to the beach, any outside scenery is perfect to ride your bike in the summer. It’s a good way to get leg day in without realizing you’re actually working out those calf muscles!
Craft. Whether you have kids or not, crafting is always a fun way to spend your time. You can create things you saw in a DIY video and add cute accessories to your home, or just keep yourself occupied.

Start a scrapbook. Scrapbooks are the most creative way to keep memories alive. Yeah, having pictures saved on a hard drive is one thing, but getting artsy in a scrapbook is even more fun and allows for the scrapbook to be a new addition to the family archive.

Read an entire book series. If you’re like me, you’ve been saying you’re going to read the Harry Potter books one day for the last 6 years. Finally, take your time to read that series all the way and see if you like it!

Take a yoga or dance class. This is a fun way to get some exercise in and pick up a new hobby. Yoga is relaxing and can put you in the perfect summer zen. Dancing can also be a nice way to get your grind on (and you can use your moves at the club)! If you can’t afford a class, just browse Youtube and keep up with those classes.
Binge watch Netflix or Hulu. During the fall, winter and spring, school can take a toll on your time and keep you from your favorite tv show. Summer is the ideal time to binge watch shows because you don’t have much to do to take advantage and catch up!
Volunteer. Want to try something else with your time while being productive as well? Take up volunteering at your local library, park, or even high school and gain some hours by helping out the community.
Work. Get a second job or even a third. Summer is the best time to grind because school isn’t a priority. Save up for the year and make bank!

Read More

Spring Cleaning Checklist

Here comes the most dreadful, yet satisfying time of the year: spring cleaning. Although it might seem like there could never be an organized way to clean the house, here are some ways you could start.

A post shared by endonegan (@endonegan) on

-Clean out your vacuum. A dusty vacuum won’t take you anywhere. Clean the dust cup and use scissors to cut off hair or other things that might be stuck in your rotating brush.

-Disinfect your washer and dryer. The same thing happens with your washer machine, make sure it stays clean by disinfecting the dispenser and rubber gasket. As for your dryer, use fabric softener sheets to get rid of any lint.

-Degrease your microwave, kitchen cabinets, oven, dishwasher, and fridge. Things spill and we don’t always get to it right away. Just grab some wipes and clean up those stains.

-Toss expired cabinet items. Cabinets and refrigerators clutter, this is an easy solution.

-Wash your curtains. There can be a lot of hidden stains on your curtains around the house, especially if you have kids, so take advantage of this season and wash them!
-Dust your ceiling fan. There are so much harmful particles and dust that collect on your ceiling fan. Keep your lungs clean and wipe down the blades of the fan.

-Wash your rugs and/or carpet. This is also a place where these dusty particles or stains can collect. Having a clean carpet or rug can change the aura in your house and it’ll definitely feel cleaner. -Wash your comforters, blankets, and pillows. Definitely get to these! Also go ahead and vacuum your mattress while you’re at it.

-Degunk your bathroom. Get into the sink, the shower, and even the toilet to renew your restrooms cleanliness.

-Deep clean your closet. This can be the hardest chore of all but there are probably a lot of pieces in your drawers that you haven’t touched in months. Get rid of them by taking them to your local Goodwill for people in need!
-Organize your cabinets. Just like your clothes, there are probably a lot of things in your cabinets and drawers that you don’t need, use, or that don’t work anymore. Go through those and end up with an organized desk!